Contemplative Bible Reading

Some thoughts about Bible verses

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Jesus—Horrified(?) (yes, by me)

October 15th, 2017 · No Comments

Mark 14:33 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and horrified.

I find the words used in this translation to be fascinating. Jesus was distressed and horrified. Horrified? Jesus? He had all power. What horrified Him?

I think we could write a dissertation or two on this. Jesus was about to take on my sins and nail them to the cross. My sins. How could my sins horrify Jesus? That means that my sins are horrible to Jesus. Oh, ooops.

My sins are horrible to Jesus.

Well, okay. That about sums it up pretty well for me. And to think that Jesus took my sins voluntarily. Does my life show appropriate (or any) appreciation? This isn’t a very upbeat little blog post, is it? There are times when a little sobering is needed (like daily).

→ No CommentsTags: Mark · New Testament

Pray for It, We have It (what is it?)

October 14th, 2017 · No Comments

Mark 11:24 (New Living Translation)

I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.

I’ll pray for a million dollars (maybe ten or a hundred times that for good measure) and believe that I have received it. It will be mine, right? Perhaps that is a bit too literal a reading of the verse. Perhaps that is much to childish a reading of the verse. Perhaps I am being to childish.

What’s a one, ten, or a hundred million dollars compared to things that are important. Perhaps Jesus is talking about important things like love, patience, forgiveness, and the like. How about I pray that I love my neighbor? I believe that God has granted me that, I love my neighbor.

Again, maybe this is all about focusing on what is important. Faith, hope, love, and the like. Maybe this is all about maturity.

→ No CommentsTags: Mark · New Testament

Wrought in God

October 8th, 2017 · No Comments

John 3:21 (American Standard Version)

But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God.

Another well-known passage in an older translation. We don’t use this language anymore. In some sense, these words have been pushed to the back corner of some old collapsing church building—doeth, cometh, manifest, wrought.

What does it mean to do the truth and have works wrought in God? Wrought in God basically translates to today’s “done in God.” Still confusing? To do something in God is to do something based on the foundation of the love and righteousness of God. I do this because I am of God; I am Christian.

Working backwards, doing something as a Christian, in righteousness, is doing the truth as Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Me? I try. Others? I see plenty of others performing works that have been wrought in God. I strongly believe that God sends these people through my life so that I may learn the truth in the light. Thanks be to God.

→ No CommentsTags: John · New Testament

The Light of Men

October 7th, 2017 · No Comments

John 1:4 (American Standard Version)

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Let’s look at a familiar passage in what today is an unfamiliar translation.

I don’t see well in the dark. I guess that is an understatement as I can’t see anything in the absence of light. God made our vision system that way. It is no surprise that God had people write about Him in terms of light and dark. He understands our weakness in darkness.

Jesus is the light of men, i.e., the light of mankind. How do we know where we are going? We see Jesus, i.e., see the light, and that light shows us the way. It is unfortunate that many of us see the light, see Jesus, and decide to go towards darker places while still using the light of Jesus that is shining at our backs.

Why do I do that? That is my miserable human self getting in the way, blocking the light of Jesus with my backside. Thank you God for providing the light so we can see where to go. Thank you for accepting us as we turn to the light.

→ No CommentsTags: John · New Testament

Love of Telling Lies

October 1st, 2017 · No Comments

Zechariah 8:16-17 (New Living Translation)

16 But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. 17 Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord.”

We live in the era of fake news. Perhaps this “era,” like many others, will pass quickly—maybe by Christmas.

Yes! Those people lie all the time and hide it in social media. “Those people” always seem to be “them.” And ask me on any given day who “them” is today. “Them” never seems to include “me”—at least not in my mind.

Here’s a tip. Next time I hear someone (you know, one of them) say something scheming or that isn’t true, I say, “That’s not true. That isn’t helping anyone.”

Perhaps everyone will quickly tire of hearing me say that. Perhaps everyone, including them, will stop.

I don’t know. I do, however, know that the Lord hates all these things.

→ No CommentsTags: Old Testament · Zechariah

Pilate’s Woes; My Woes and My Blessings

September 30th, 2017 · No Comments

John 19:11 (New Living Translation)

Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above.

Jesus is talking to Pilate. Pilate is having one of those days when you ask yourself, “What did I do to deserve this?” Pilate is hanging out in his political job when the Jews, the troublesome lot they are, come screaming to him about a fellow Jew who should be executed. The Jews, conquered and bereft of power, can’t legally execute someone, so they come to you screaming that you kill someone for them.

What a headache. Then this fellow that the Jews want executed looks at you and says the above. These Jews and their religious fairy tales. Why wasn’t I assigned province in Germania or Brittania or somewhere else?

How many days do I go to work or somewhere and shake my head and ask the same question as Pilate? Really, what did I do to deserve…

Well, I did nothing to deserve the blessings from God that I can neither count nor measure. Woe is me? How about…blessed is me. What did I do to deserve these blessings.

Please God, help me in my unbelief.

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Timeless Admonitions for Society

September 24th, 2017 · No Comments

Amos 5:15 (New Living Translation)

Hate evil and love what is good;
turn your courts into true halls of justice.
Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies
will have mercy on the remnant of his people.

This one is pretty simple. Yet it is one of those that we tend to forget to or regret.

Hate evil and love what is good. How could we possibly mess up on that one?

Turn your courts into true halls of justice. Again, how could we possibly mess up on that one?

Somehow we do mess up on these. Note that there is a lot of “we” in this post. These are admonitions for society, not just for me. Still, I am part of my society and I have a large role to play in doing what God tells us all to do.

→ No CommentsTags: Amos · Old Testament

Watch Us Run

September 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

Hebrews 12:1-2a (New Living Translation)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, …

Let us run the race God set before us…God has given us all a task. The writer of Hebrews, among countless others, is one of us running this race. We are not alone like in track and field races. We have a group with us. We will not be embarrassed all alone in the open with our gangly running style.

And let’s look to the grandstand. This isn’t PE class where no one is there. Jesus is sitting in the front row cheering us. (Try to imagine that picture for a moment or two.) And Jesus isn’t alone. With Jesus is a huge crowd of witnesses to the faith in God. A bunch of the more famous witnesses were mentioned in the previous section of text (we know it as Hebrews 11 or “The Faith Hall of Fame.”).

And on top of all this support from friends, neighbors, saints, and Jesus Christ Himself, we don’t have to carry any burdens. We don’t have to think about monthly bills, or what we might have to eat, or what the boss thinks of us, or our grade point average, or my sore back, or my bad eyesight, or my extra pounds I carry, or anything. We are allowed to discard every weight—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—that might slow us.

Wow! Stand back and watch me run! Or maybe I, well, uh, you know. There is so much going on in my life and…

Please God, help my in my unbelief.

→ No CommentsTags: Hebrews · New Testament

Approaching God’s Throne of Grace

September 17th, 2017 · No Comments

Hebrews 4:16 (New Living Translation)

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

This is priest language. It is used to describe how priests would enter the temple to come near to God. They were special persons from birth. Us? Not born special, but made special by the blood of Christ. Let us come to God confidently (as He has promised us this access if we believe).

Why come to God? So we can have His mercy, i.e., His forgiveness of our sins. So we can have His grace, i.e., God’s favor to help us in time of need.

Do I approach God often or at all? What is wrong with me? Where is my confidence? Why don’t I fully realize the gift of Jesus Christ? Please God, help me in my unbelief.

→ No CommentsTags: Hebrews · New Testament

Relenting and Punishing

September 16th, 2017 · No Comments

Joel 2:13 (New Living Translation)

Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
    but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
    He is eager to relent and not punish.

“God’s gonna getcha for that” (George Jones and Tammy Wynette)

This is often our view of God. Have a little too much fun and stick your toe across some line drawn by some person and WHAMO! God gets me for that. God is just sitting up there watching for me to slip up so He can punish.

Hmmm, what  is the last phrase of the above verse? Relent and not punish? That disagrees with good old George and Tammy and if you can’t trust a classic country song, well, what can you trust?

And then there are the preceding phrases about mercy, compassion, and unfailing love. Hmmm. Have to think about those, too.

There is much I can write about becoming a slave to sin. Let’s save that for some other day and other blog post. For today, let’s consider God’s mercy, compassion, and how He desires to relent on the punishment.

→ No CommentsTags: Joel · Old Testament