Contemplative Bible Reading

Some thoughts about Bible verses

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In These Final Days

August 13th, 2017 · No Comments

Hebrews 1:1-2a (New Living Translation)

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son…

In these two simple sentences, the writer notes how human history changed direction. For a few thousand years, God told a few persons what to tell everyone else. Then, in a brief lifetime, God changed the communication channel. God sent his Son with the message.

I sit here with two thousand years of hindsight. The change is obvious to me. How could anyone not see it? I try in vain to take the place of the people who were alive at the time. It would be great in one respect to claim, “The universe changed in my lifetime!” In another respect, that would be the epitome of prideful arrogance. Aren’t I special? God chose my generation to be THE ONE.

Here is the difficult-to-accept part of this simple message. I want to be a prophet. I want to have a cousin of mine be a prophet. I want that special position. Come on God, speak to mankind through me me me. Send your Son with the message later or something, okay?

Then again, the lives of the prophets weren’t that good. God, once again, help me to accept me being me and You being God. Help me in my unbelief.

→ No CommentsTags: Hebrews · New Testament

An Unusual Aptitude

August 12th, 2017 · No Comments

Daniel 1:17 (New Living Translation)

God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.

God gives us things. God gives us abilities. Sometimes, as in this verse, God gives us an unusual aptitude. The dictionary calls this, “a natural ability to do something.” Funny how nature does this stuff without God, but let’s not digress too far.

God gave Daniel and his three Israelite friends the ability to understand every aspect of literature and wisdom. Not too good at physics or chemistry, but that wasn’t what these four young men needed at that time at that place. God had them excel where He needed them to excel. They were in the heart of a government bureaucracy of a wealthy country. Literature and wisdom were important; they were unusually talented, and others noticed.

What is my natural talent? What did God give me? And I guess the more important question is, how am I using what God gave me? How are we all doing with this?

→ No CommentsTags: Daniel · Old Testament

Kidnappers

August 6th, 2017 · No Comments

Exodus 21:16 (New Living Translation)

Kidnappers must be put to death, whether they are caught in possession of their victims or have already sold them as slaves.

This is what Joseph’s brothers did to him. Now the law, as stated here, came after the (hi)story of Joseph and his brothers. Still, I doubt that any observer would justify what the brothers did to Joseph.

One thing is easily lost in this kidnapping and punishment law: you have to consider the person you kidnap to be a person. Throughout the ages, persons have some to consider others as less than persons, not really or fully human.

We seem to find a way to justify what is unjustifiable.

→ No CommentsTags: Exodus · Old Testament · Uncategorized

The First Holy Sabbath

August 5th, 2017 · No Comments

Exodus 16:22-23 (New Living Translation)

22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much as usual—four quarts for each person instead of two. Then all the leaders of the community came and asked Moses for an explanation. 23 He told them, “This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord. So bake or boil as much as you want today, and set aside what is left for tomorrow.”

I believe this is the first Sabbath given to God’s people. The intent was clear: a day of complete rest. The rest was set apart for the Creator.

Wow. Great. Rest. Everyone welcomed it. Right? Wrong.

What is it about gifts that we struggle to accept them? God told the people, “You don’t have to gather food on the day of rest. Just sit back and relax. I’m giving you enough on the sixth day to carry you through. Just relax, folks. Really, no kidding. Relax.

We just couldn’t accept it.

→ No CommentsTags: Exodus · Old Testament

Capital Punishment in Egypt

July 30th, 2017 · No Comments

Exodus 8:26 (New Living Translation)

But Moses replied, “That wouldn’t be right. The Egyptians detest the sacrifices that we offer to the Lord our God. Look, if we offer our sacrifices here where the Egyptians can see us, they will stone us…

Stoning—throwing rocks at a person until they die—was what God’s people used for capital punishment. Where did they learn that? Perhaps from the Egyptians? Or did the Egyptians learn it from God’s people?

Anyways, here it is. Moses describes what will happen if God’s people offer to Jehovah in from of the Egyptians—stoning.

→ No CommentsTags: Exodus · Old Testament

God’s First Son

July 29th, 2017 · No Comments

Exodus 4:22-23 (New Living Translation)

22 Then you will tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son. 23 I commanded you, “Let my son go, so he can worship me.” But since you have refused, I will now kill your firstborn son!’”

This is one of those posts where I have questions and no answers. These verses seem to disagree with John 3:16 and the phrase “God’s only son.” God is telling Moses that Israel—the people descended from Abraham—are God’s firstborn son.

Of course this could all be explained with literary license or something like that. God wants to emphasize the ultimate punishment of Pharaoh and Egypt and the death of the firstborn. Hence, God notes that Israel is His firstborn. Perhaps that is an answer to the unasked question. Perhaps not.

Still, something to consider on a day when considering the unfathomable riches of God is appropriate.

→ No CommentsTags: Exodus · Old Testament

A Law before “The Law”—the Time of Never

July 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

Genesis 34:7 (New Living Translation)

Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the field as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious that their sister had been raped. Shechem had done a disgraceful thing against Jacob’s family, something that should never be done.

A group of brothers is furious that their sister had been raped. This was “something that should never be done.”

Note that this (hi)story is in Genesis. This all occurred before God the Creator gave Moses “the law” as part of the Ten Commandments. Note that everyone knew this was wrong.

I could fall into all sorts of trouble here by discussing controversies of theology that have names I don’t know. I find it sufficient to note once again that before Moses banged out the Ten big ones on stone, people everywhere had a strong sense of right and wrong. There were some things that you did not do. If you did them, the community would punish you.

In our post-post-post-post…modern world, it seems we have lost this idea that there are “somethings that should never be done.” We have replaced the “never” with “Well, ya’ know, there are times when you have to…” And note that I write “we” as in all of us. Yes, me, too.

Perhaps we need to return to the time of “never.”

→ No CommentsTags: Genesis · Old Testament

Slaves (?) to Righteous Living

July 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

Romans 6:18 (New Living Translation)

Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

Followers of Christ are now slaves to righteous living. Uh, er, what? Freedom in Christ makes me a slave to something? Some explanation please?

An attempt: as a “slave” to righteous living, righteous living is my owner or master. Let’s use the term “master” to step away from the slavery angst.

Righteous living is my master and teacher—my mentor. I look to it for guidance on how to live and be and interact with others. I look nowhere else. I seek instruction from nothing else and no one else. Righteous living is everything to me.

I no longer look to sin as a guide. I look to righteous living and the Creator of righteous living.

Life is much easier now. I still suffer the slings and arrows of life in this world, but it is much easier.

→ No CommentsTags: New Testament · Romans

You Carry the Blessing

July 16th, 2017 · No Comments

Genesis 28:14 (New Living Translation)

And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants.

God is speaking to Jacob. God is passing on the blessing and task to Abraham’s grandson as He did to Abraham and then to Isaac.

Wow, this is great, right? My family will bless the earth. Aren’t we special? All we have to do is cruise through life and everyone will look at us and cheer and thank us and…

Well, not so much. Carrying a blessing is a responsibility. It can be a chore. Others can be, uh, how shall we say it, jealous.

Today, all Christians carry the blessings. This means I carry the blessing. Am I up to the task? Do I act every day like I have a blessing to pass along to everyone I meet? Perhaps God will cut me some slack and let me drop the blessing now and then for a day or a year or two. This blessing carrying can be not-so-much-fun at times.

God, thank you for sending people and situations into my life daily that remind me of the blessing. Help me to always carry it with joy and freely share it.

→ No CommentsTags: Genesis · Old Testament

Designated for a Special Purpose

July 15th, 2017 · No Comments

Exodus 31:13 (New Living Translation)

Tell the people of Israel: ‘Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

God is giving instructions to Moses to pass along to His people. God has set them aside for a special purpose. He wants all the people of the earth to be able to recognize these special people who are set aside for a special purpose.

One of the unique things God gives these people as a sign is the Sabbath—a day of rest.

See people resting on the seventh day of the week? They are special. The Creator chose them to do something for everyone else.

Now, we can disagree on the details. We can discuss for centuries, as people have, the special purpose God gave the descendants of Abraham and how that special purpose continues or doesn’t continue today. Still, at that place at that time, God put up a big billboard pointing to these people.

Do we have such a sign today? What is it about Christians that the world looks at us and says, “Wow, look at that. Those people are different.” What is it about me that the world looks at me and says, “Wow, look at Dwayne. He is different.” Rats. How did I come to realize this challenge that I often fail to meet? Please God, help and guide me daily.

→ No CommentsTags: Exodus · Old Testament