Contemplative Bible Reading

Some thoughts about Bible verses

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For Believers and for Unbelievers

February 25th, 2017 · No Comments

1 Corinthians 14:22 (New Living Translation)

So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers.

There are some things that are good for believers and unbelievers. There are some things that are bad for both groups.It appears that there are some things that are good for one group and not bad for the other group, but not good for them.

Have I confused everything yet?

I read this verse to mean that believers and unbelievers are two different groups of people. Not everything is a good use of time for persons in the different groups. Sometimes we forget this. God, help me to remember this and grant me the knowledge to know the difference.

→ No CommentsTags: 1 Corinthians · New Testament

Let’s Explain (gently)

February 19th, 2017 · No Comments

1 Corinthians 8:5-7 (New Living Translation)

5 There may be so-called gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship many gods and many lords. 6 But for us,

There is one God, the Father,
by whom all things were created,
and for whom we live.
And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things were created,
and through whom we live.

7 However, not all believers know this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated.

This is part of a longer discussion doing what is Godly and not hurting someone by crossing their culture or family history. In these verses, the topic is eating food in or near a temple where another god is worshiped. To some persons, eating that food is an act of worship to another god.

The writer is trying to explain that there is only one God. These temples and their food practices don’t matter—they are meaningless.

To me, the key phrase is at the start of verse 7:

However, not all believers know this.

Oh, okay. So, let’s patiently explain this. And let’s be sensitive to the influence of culture and family history and tradition and all other sorts of things that will make the explanation far more difficult than I think it should be.

Not easy. Lord, help me.

→ No CommentsTags: 1 Corinthians · New Testament

No Fear of Murder (this time)

February 18th, 2017 · No Comments

Acts 7:57-59 (New Living Translation)

57 Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him 58 and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.

At various times in the New Testament era, the Jewish officials were hesitant of killing a follower of Christ. They hesitated about killing Jesus himself, but went through the proper political channels to have the Romans perform the killing. There were times when they hesitated to kill the Apostle Paul, and so on.

Note here, there is no hesitation. They had Stephen testify of his faith—then they killed him. They used a form of execution given in the Old Testament law—stoning by the community. Still, they did not go to the Roman authorities or anyone else.

In a legal sense, they murdered Stephen in front of the community, and “got away with it.”

And notice how Stephen correctly calls this murder “sin.”

→ No CommentsTags: Acts · New Testament

The Jesus Reaction

February 12th, 2017 · No Comments

Matthew 20:31b-34 (New Living Translation)

But they only shouted louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

32 When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?”

33 “Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” 34 Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.

Two blind me are by the side of the road. They know Jesus is passing, so they scream for Him to be merciful. The crowd told them to be quiet (see a previous post).

How did Jesus react?

First, Jesus recognized them as real persons. He stopped, looked at them, and spoke with them.

Second, Jesus asked what they wanted. He didn’t assume anything. He didn’t assume they wanted money, food, clothing, revenge against the local crowd that disdained them, etc. He asked.

Third, Jesus touched them with his hands. So many people who are hurting in this world in our time simply want someone to touch them. We often treat our dogs and cats much better than we treat the hurting stranger.

They just want to be treated as Jesus treated these men—as real persons.

→ No CommentsTags: Matthew · New Testament

Embarrassing the World

February 11th, 2017 · No Comments

Matthew 20:29-31 (New Living Translation)

29 As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind. 30 Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

31 “Be quiet!” the crowd yelled at them.

Two blind men wanted Jesus to heal them. As Jesus, and a large, noisy crowd, passed by, these blind men shouted to gain Jesus’ attention. The commentaries and commentators I have read claim this “shouting” was more like the “screeching of madmen.” They were hysterical. The image that comes to mind is the “Don’t taze me man! Don’t taze me!” I saw on TV a few years ago.

The crowd reacted with, “Hey, quiet down. You’re embarrassing us.”

I can see them turn to Jesus and the disciples and say, “Sorry about this. Yes, these fellows live here with us, but, you know, they’re just sort of not with it. You know, the town nuts. Please don’t think the rest of us are like them.”

I guess things aren’t much different today. The cry to see Jesus is sort of embarrassing to most of us.

→ No CommentsTags: Matthew · New Testament

The Face of an Angel

February 5th, 2017 · No Comments

Acts 6:15 (New Living Translation)

At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.

How did Stephen appear in this verse? Whatever it was, everyone was staring at him. I guess is appearance was remarkable in some way. The rest of the verse states that his face was a bright as an angel’s.

How bright is an angel’s face? I have never knowingly seen an angel, so I am at a loss here. Why does everyone assume an angel’s face is bright? How was Stephen’s face suddenly so bright?

Okay, lots of questions without answers. Sorry, I don’t have any answers to my own questions. Something changed in Stephen’s appearance; something caused the stares of everyone. God performed a miracle here that left an indelible impression on those present. Did they do anything from the experience? Again, I don’t know, but I am guessing that they did.

→ No CommentsTags: Acts · New Testament

Knowing Disobedience

February 4th, 2017 · No Comments

Leviticus 10:1-2 (New Living Translation)

1 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. 2 So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.

These two short verses tell of what seems to be an obscure event resulting in the death of two priests in the desert tabernacle. In studying these verses, I have been surprised at the amount of strong conviction of commentaries and commentators.

I find much to be missing in the (hi)story. The first verse seems to be a summary that lacks details. The key word there for me is “disobeyed.” Whatever the details may have been, Nadab and Abihu disobeyed God and were struck dead immediately.

The Bible contains the stories of thousands who disobeyed God, but were not struck dead immediately. I am eternally thankful that I have never been struck dead for my many instances of disobedience. Why were these two struck dead in a manner that everyone knew came from God? Again, I don’t know as I can’t find all the details.

It seems to me from the summary, that they knew what to do and what not to do and what the result would be. They did it anyway. I emphasize the word “knew.” There was no matter of opinion or disagreement involved. They K N E W. Please, don’t extrapolate this case to current cases of opinion. And please forgive any offense I have caused in this post.

→ No CommentsTags: Leviticus · Old Testament

A Simple, Powerful Prayer

January 29th, 2017 · No Comments

Psalm 17:7 (New Living Translation)

Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.
By your mighty power you rescue
those who seek refuge from their enemies.

This is as simple as it can be; this is as powerful as it can be.

God, please show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.

Please God, today. Please. Grant me the wisdom to see your wonderful ways that are already here, now.

→ No CommentsTags: Old Testament · Psalms

Multiplying My Troubles

January 28th, 2017 · No Comments

Psalm 16:4 (New Living Translation)

Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
or even speak the names of their gods.

Do you have enough troubles in your life? I do. I suppose I could handle more, but why would I bring more trouble into my life?

Want more troubles in your life? Here is the recipe: chase after other gods.

Let’s reverse the lesson. Want fewer troubles in your life? I certainly do. Chase after the one true God.

This isn’t complicated, is it?

→ No CommentsTags: Old Testament · Psalms

A New Life

January 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

Colossians 3:1 (New Living Translation)

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.

Allow me to paraphrase this.

Jesus of Nazareth, the one anointed to take away the sins of the world, rose from the grave and sits next to God the Father. While still living here on earth, act like you are with Jesus up there in heaven.

Simple. Almost impossible. Someone cuts me off in traffic? Who cares? I’m sitting on the couch and chatting with Jesus, the one anointed to take away the sins of the world, and God the Father. What’s traffic? What’s a promotion at work? What’s the worry if dinner is ten minutes late or Xfinity has terrible customer service?

Oh, that is what this one verse is telling me? Well, uh, I, er…gosh, I have a lot of excuses in my life for a bunch of things that don’t matter. God, please help me in my unbelief.

→ No CommentsTags: Colossians · New Testament