Contemplative Bible Reading

Some thoughts about Bible verses

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The Outside and the Inside

September 10th, 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.

At the time and place of the prophet Joel, people tore their clothes as a sign of grief. Their torn clothing signified the rip in their lives that had occurred in some way or another.

Well, as we often do, persons had come to abuse this form of showing grief. Perhaps something happens that should break my heart, but I’m not too broken up about it. After all, if those other people were hard working and worthwhile and smart and clever like me and all sorts of other things…they wouldn’t be in bad shape and I wouldn’t have to feign grief over them. So…I’ll put on a shirt that I was about to toss in the Salvation Army bin and tear it a little so everyone can see that I am expressing the obligatory amount of grief. Aren’t I a good person? Huh?

And God will only see the surface like the persons around me and…ooops. God will see into my heart and know that I am putting on a show and don’t really care about those folks who should have been good like me and all that selfish stuff. Funny how God can see inside me and tell when I am putting on a show.

Sorry folks. Sorry me. God wants true grief when grief is appropriate. God wants true concern for my fellow man. God wants the truth in my life. Please God, help me in my unbelief.

→ No CommentsTags: Joel · Old Testament

The Same Precious Faith

September 9th, 2017 · No Comments

2 Peter 1:1b (New Living Translation)

I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have. This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior.

This is a letter to those who share the same precious faith that the writer has. What is that same precious faith mentioned here? (We can have faith in a lot of things.)

It is the belief that, even though we didn’t see it with our own eyes, Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God and came here to take our sins away so that we can be blameless in the sight of God.

That faith in the unseen is a precious one. It has been the basis of life for countless persons for 20-some centuries and continues today. It is a precious faith.

→ No CommentsTags: 2 Peter · New Testament

Everything I have is Yours

September 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

Luke 15:31 (Holman Standard Christian Bible)

Son, he said to him, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.

This statement comes at the end of the parable of the Prodigal Son. The father is talking to the older brother. I have always stumbled through this parable. There is something or other that doesn’t fit right in my way of thinking.

Why didn’t the older brother know that everything the father had was his? How could he miss something so simple and important?

Like I wrote earlier, there are things about this parable that just don’t fit with me. Perhaps one day.

→ No CommentsTags: Luke · New Testament

The Highest Rest

September 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

Mark 2:27-28 (Holman Standard Christian Bible)

27 Then He told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

The Sabbath is rest. It is God’s gift to man—rest for the weary.

Jesus came to take away the sins of the world. The give us all rest from the burden of our sins. Jesus is the rest of rests. The premiere relief from toil and suffering. The highest or Lord of the Sabbath rest.

Thank you God for rest from our burdens. Thank you that Your Son took our burdens and gave us rest.

Note: looking through this blog, I find that this is the third time I have written about Mark 2:27 with each having a different commentary. Such is the richness of the Word.

→ No CommentsTags: Mark · New Testament

Tips for Life

August 27th, 2017 · No Comments

2 Timothy 2:22 (New Living Translation)

…pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

I consider these tips or recommendations as opposed to commands. And I consider these to be pretty darn good tips.

  • do what is right
  • be faithful to Jesus Christ and his teachings and way of life
  • love one another
  • be at peace with yourself and others
  • find people who have a heart towards God and spend your time with them

Yes, pretty darn good tips.

→ No CommentsTags: 2 Timothy · New Testament

Angels and Animals

August 26th, 2017 · No Comments

Daniel 6:21-22 (New Living Translation)

21 Daniel answered, “Long live the king! 22 My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.”

Daniel survived the night in the lion’s den. He is telling the king what happened. Please remember, even though the king loved and respected Daniel, the king put Daniel in the lion’s den for a night. This is no time for fairy tales.

An angel shut the mouths of the lions.

Hmmm, something to infer: angels have power over animals and other creatures (let’s not delve into angels and power over humans today).

Ever see an animal acting “strangely?” Ever wonder why? Any angels in the area? I’m not writing about illusions performed by trained ponies. Ever heard of a bear not taking food from a small, human child? Something to consider.

→ No CommentsTags: Daniel · Old Testament

Power, Love, and Self-Discipline

August 20th, 2017 · No Comments

2 Timothy 1:7 (New Living Translation)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

God has given us a spirit of, let’s see:

  • power
  • love
  • self-discipline

Seems like an odd list. None of these things is not like the other or something like that. Perhaps we have lost something in the translation. I like all three of these. I like being powerful. Love, well, that is really important to God. Self-discipline, now I really like that one. I have lots of that. Thanks God for giving it to me.

Still. Seems like an odd list. Perhaps one day I will understand.

→ No CommentsTags: 2 Timothy · New Testament

Short-Term Nonsense (at least to a guy like me)

August 19th, 2017 · No Comments

Daniel 6:1-3 (New Living Translation)

1 Darius the Mede decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces, and he appointed a high officer to rule over each province. 2 The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interests. 3 Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire.

Daniel was chosen to supervise the high officers of the land. He was chosen to protect the interests of the king. Daniel excelled. Daniel was then placed over not only the land, but the empire—all the lands conquered by the king.

Let’s back up a step or two. Daniel’s people were smashed by this king. Jerusalem and the Temple of God were looted by this king. This king was horrible toward God’s people.  Why is Daniel working so hard and so well for this king? Please, explain this one to me.

Well, you have to look at the big picture. But what if I don’t want to look at the big picture? Someone explain why God is having these horrible people prosper. Short term. Right now.

If God doesn’t do things that make sense to me…well, I’m gonna’ do something or other to really hurt God. Well, I’ll just…

Enough silliness. It didn’t make any short-term sense for Daniel to help Darius prosper. God had a plan for His people to be stuck there for 70 years. Prosperity meant prosperity for God’s people. Any fun to be one of the stuck-ees who didn’t live in the palace like Daniel? No. Any fun to watch your parent grow old and die in a foreign land. No, again.

Was it possible in all this to love God and love your neighbor? Yes. Oh, we go back to the important stuff. Hmmm. Maybe all that other stuff wasn’t so important. Maybe I need to keep my mind and heart on the important stuff.

 

→ No CommentsTags: Daniel · Old Testament

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