Category Archives: Thru the Bible
“The Bible’s really not about you – it’s about him.” Darrin Patrick in his great book Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission, shares a thoughtful list by Tim Keller on Jesus in the Old Testament. Take a look:
- Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.
- Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.
- Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.
- Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”
- Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.
- Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.
- Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.
- Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.
- Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.
- Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.
- Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.
- Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.
- Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.
Touching on Faith and works this weekend at Bridge Church. Remembered these charts that I found helpful about the different motivations for the teachings of Paul and James. While Martin Luther thought James to be a “strawy epistle” and some use it to defend works based salvation, I believe they were dealing with different sides of the same coin. What is the place of works in the believers life?
The leadership blunders of Ahab may seem far removed and unlikely for you and I, but actually they’re not. I’ve been reading/studying through the kings of Israel this year and finding much instruction in the messed up ones as to what to avoid as a spiritual leader. Lest I fall, I’m staying on guard for these in my life:
Idolatry: Ahab ignored the Word of God and turned to idolatry – 1 Kings 16:29. His desire and worship was divided and weighted toward self and other gods. Reminder for me as a church leader that success and growth can be an idol. Worship Jesus only. No evidence that his heart changed even when God showed up and demonstrated that his other gods were bogus – 1 Kings 18. Question: Is my heart wholly God’s or am I pursuing idols of my own making?
Unwise Associations & Lack of Teachability: Ahab demonstrated an absent of wisdom in relation to the people he gathered around him, which is most evident by his marriage to the manipulative, Baal worshipping Jezebel – 16:31. But also, prophets in his court were only rewarded by saying what Ahab wanted to hear and eventually were just handed over by God to a lying spirit. Honesty and honest counsel were not desired or valued by Ahab, so he didn’t notice. He did notice when someone disagreed with him or made him look bad, even when it was for his good. Question: Am I able to hear honest counsel and do I value those who will say the hard things to me in regard to my leadership and organization?
Blindness: Ahab blamed others when things went bad for the nation – 1 Kings 18:17-18. During a season of drought brought on because of his disobedience, he pointed the finger at the messenger, Elijah, instead of considering his part in the divine intervention regarding the nations idolatry and distance from God. Question: Am I blaming others for what I could have controlled? Am I blaming others instead of working toward solutions?
Covetousness: In greed, Ahab coveted another man’s possessions and success, even when he himself had far more than this one man – 1 Kings 21:4. Like a child, he pouted and only found relief and contentment after learning of the man’s deceitful demise and death. Question: Am I coveting the success of another instead of planting for success in my own vineyard? Is there anyone that I am passively wishing evil for?
Passivity: Ahab allowed himself to be incited by his evil wife, Jezebel – 1 Kings 21:25-26. Instead of leading and doing the right thing, he allowed himself to be led into some of his stupid mistakes by others. As leaders, who we listen to and trust is most important. Passivity is the attitude that comes with lack of concern and self-centeredness. His passivity allowed him to look the other way while Jezebel plotted murder. It also led to a smile when the person that stood in the way of his own desire was unjustly killed. Question: Am I leading or being incited by the most vocal around me? or by the desire for “success”?
Product: One of the scariest quotes about being a parent and leader to me is: “You teach what you know, but you reproduce who you are.” Ahab reproduced what he was – 1 Kings 22:51-53. Question: What is the product of my life? What are others becoming because of my influence? How will my actions today affect the next generation?
Where did the early church get their boldness? They actually asked for it, instead of protection, provision, and blessing (Acts 4:29). Even in the face of threats and public humiliation. Our prayers reveal what we believe about God and our hearts priorities. Praying for protection and provision in the face of danger makes sense, unless God has commanded you to be witnesses and promised to be with you every step of the way (Matthew 28:19-20). Praying for protection and provision makes sense if your believe that God’s goal for your life is happiness, safety, and peace instead of holiness and fruitfulness (1 Thess. 4:3-8, John 15:16). I thank God for his protection and provision in my life, but I hope I have the kind of faith that seeks boldness and courage when its threatened.
I’ve been spending some time reading the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). It’s more than a high moral code, it’s a search light that is truly penetrating if we’ll allow it to be. Here are some questions I will be dwelling on during my study the next few weeks:
- Am I hungry and thirsty for righteousness? Matthew 5:6
- Is my heart pure enough to see God? Matthew 5:8
- Is my life giving light to all? Matthew 5:15
- Do people give glory to the Father after observing my life? Matthew 5:16
- Am I harboring anger toward anyone? Matthew 5:22
- Have I insulted anyone? Matthew 5:22
- Do I consider any other person as worthless? Matthew 5:22
- Is there a brother or sister that has something against me? Matthew 5:23-24
- Is there lustful intent in my heart? Matthew 5:28
- Is there anything in my life that is causing me to sin? Matthew 5:29-30
- Am I resisting instead of serving evil and difficult people? Matthew 5:38-41
- Are my possessions availabe to those in need? Matthew 5:42
- Can I pray for my enemies? Matthew 5:44
- Am I concerned about performing righteousness to be seen and praised by others? Matthew 6:1-2
- Am I praying, fasting, and giving to be seen by men or to be obedient to God? Matthew 6:5-24
- Am I serving my money or is it serving me? Matthew 6:24
- What does my spending say about my heart’s condition? Matthew 6:21
- Am I anxious of worried? Mattthew 6:25-34
- Am I seeking the things of the world or God’s kingdom and righteousness first? Matthew 6:33
- Am I conscious of the logs and specks in my eye when I look at others? Matthew 7:1-5
- Am I holding other people to a standard that I am not willing to be held to myself? Matthe 7:1-2
- Am I asking, seeking, and knocking for good things from heaven? Matthew 7:7-11
- Am I looking for and desiring an easy way over the path of obedience to God? Matthew 7:13-14
- What good fruit is coming from my life? Matthew 7:17
- Am I doing the will of the Father? Matthew 7:21-23
- Am I hearing and doing the words of Christ? Matthew 7:24-25
This Sunday, we will begin a series of messages at our church on the Old Testament book of Jonah. We will not be covering the science of how a man can live in the belly of a whale or fish for three days. If you are one that must have scenarios here are a few informative articles on the question:
I personally like the humorus story of the atheist who asked a lady if she really believed the Bible to be true.
“Yes,” said the lady.
“Then.” Said the atheist, “tell me how a whale swallowed Jonah, as a whale’s stomach is no bigger than a man’s head.”
“I don’t know,” said the lady: “but when I get to Heaven I will ask him.”
“What if Jonah is not there,” said the atheist.
“Then you can ask him,” said the lady.
The Exodus story is a favorite of mine. God’s people are slaves to a King in Egypt who has forgotten about, or intentionally and conveniently overlooked, Joseph and his God. The people are suffering, being used, being held captive (just as sin and circumstances can do to us) but “God heard their groaning…” (Exodus 2:24).
Just as God heard their groaning and rescued them, He waits to hear our groans and cries for help. What are you groaning for today? Here’s my list:
– Genuine love among Christians
– Genuine love from Christians to the world without Christ
– Genuine passion from Christians to be used by God
– Genuine kingdom mindedness from churches
– A genuine movement of God that would sweep across our cities
– Genuine leaders who serve humbly and unselfishly and out of a passion to see God’s kingdom grow
– Genuine unity in churches that can see the needs of people and the urgency of the Gospel instead of pet peeves and petty selfishness
More personally, I’m groaning for a friend whose marriage is on the rocks, for a family member that’s addicted and dying, for a number of friends who are struggling to see the world through the lens of past abuse and injustice, for grandparents who are desperate for a grandson’s salvation, for parents who are desperate for their children to come home, for a friend who’s trying to start over again after years of addiction, for a mother of two abandoned by a husband, for a family in substandard housing, for a friend suffering from an incurable disease. I’m groaning for my two boys to understand and give their lives to and for the cause of Christ. I’m also groaning because spiritual leadership is lonely and hard and messy and uncertain. But I am certain that God is hearing my groaning and working actively in all of these situations.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” That’s what the children of Israel did while in Egypt and that’s what I’m doing today. Father, thank You for caring, for hearing, for sending Your Son, for rescuing, for encouraging, for empowering…………..”
What are you groaning for?
The deceptive hearts of Jacob’s sons eventually bit their own when in a group-fit of hatred and jealousy, they sold their little brother Joseph to some traveling slave traders. But God brought Joseph through family violence, slavery, false accusation, imprisonment, and possible bitterness of heart and vengeful thinking toward all those he could have easily blamed for his misfortune. He completes his life as one of the most influential leaders in the world at the time, saving many Egyptians and other nations from death by famine and drought.
Lesson: God can bring good out of the dry, painful, unjust episodes of our lives.
I like what Jacob said about his son Joseph before he died, “The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harrassed him severely, yet his bow remained UNMOVED; his arms were MADE AGILE by the hands of the Might One of Jacob” (Genesis 49:23-24). God kept Joseph from falling by the arrows of discouragement, despair, bitterness, dissappointment, etc. And God used him and grew him and blessed him in His time.
Like Abraham, Isaac had a heart to respond to Yahweh. He obeyed by moving when God said go, worshiped by building altars everywhere he went, believed God’s promise/blessing just like his Father had. Abraham’s obedience impacted his next generation. Abraham’s deceit also was passed along. Just like his Father, Isaac lied about his marital status (Genesis 26:6-11). From this point forward deceit is a common denominator among the sons of Abraham and Isaac. The sons were blessed by God, they worshipped and called on God, AND they continued to live lives of deceit. Isaac’s son Jacob would deceive him by stealing his blessing from the elder son Esau. Jacob would be caught in a web of deceit himself from cousin and Father-in-law Laban (Genesis 28-31) and expect deceit from his brother upon reuniting with him (when you have in your heart ill-will toward others, it may be hard to imagine them not having it toward you). Jacob’s sons deceit culminated in hatred and jealousy toward their own brother, which led them to sell him into slavery and then lie about what happened (Genesis 37).
A couple of lessons: 1) God’s grace can overcome human sinfulness. God remained faithful to Abraham’s boys and blessed them and used them to build a nation.
2) As Father’s, we are laying the moral and spiritual foundation for future generations.
Lord, help me to pass on obedience, a heart of worship, and belief in your promises to my boys.
The next man with a heart to obey was Abram in Genesis 12. God said GO, so he went. Even when he wasn’t sure where he was going. God said I will bless you, so he believed (Genesis 15:6). God spoke, he worshipped by building an altar (Genesis 12:7; 13:4,18; 22:9). He was a friend of God (James 2:23), walking with God to complete His purposes. God fulfilled His promise to and through Abram (later Abraham) and we are reaping the fruits of that promise (Genesis 12:3 – in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed)
Contrast Abram with the people in Genesis 11. God’s desire for them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). They disregarded God’s desire in order to seek greatness, fame, and meaning on their own. “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower…and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). God’s desire, “fill the earth.” Their desire, “lest we”…fill the earth. God accomplished his will by other means as He confused their languages (Genesis 11:7-8).