Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How do You Respond to Hearing God's Word?

Take a look around you . . .

How many Bibles do you see?

Where are they sitting? The floor? A table? A shelf?

How long since they were last opened?

I'm not trying to make you feel guilty, but I do want to challenge you today, the way I've been challenged recently.

This one starts with a book my three year old niece signed out of our church library. I've read a lot of different stories to her, but, while I don't mind reading most of them, I'm not used to them being anything other than stories to me - some familiar, some not. To say I was a little surprised when the one I was reading to her began to challenge might be an understatement.

I went home later that evening still thinking about it. The story was a simple one about a kid who lost his Bible and hadn't been treating it well, and why he should treat it better once he found it. As I sat at home that evenings, I counted at least 10 Bibles on the shelf by my chair, another on a table, and there's one in my office at work. And then, who knows how many available through the Bible app on my phone. All of them used at some point or other - some more than others.

I left the thoughts about it at that, until I was reading in Nehemiah  a couple weeks later, when I couple of verses prompted the thoughts again.

To set the scene a bit: Nehemiah had returned to Jerusalem and had led the rebuilding of the wall, with the other exiles that had returned. It was now complete and they had been re-establishing the residents of the city. All who could understand had gathered to hear Ezra, the priest, read the Law of Moses aloud.

Nehemiah 8:5-6 says:
Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, Amen! Amen! Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. (emphasis mine)

When Israel heard God's Word being read they stood to their feet and then they bowed low in worship of God.

When I read those words, all the questions I had asked a couple weeks ago cam flooding back.

It was different for Israel because they didn't each own their own copies of God's Word, but I began to wonder if we could learn something their response to God's Word. Something I wonder if we've lost with all our easy and immediate access to Bibles today. Something I've lost.

How do I treat God's Word?

How do I respond to it being read?

The Bible is God's Word to us. God speaking to us through it - into our lives today.

But, maybe I've gotten so used to it being always available I've forgotten what a privilege it is to have it so easily accessible to me?

Maybe it's become so commonplace in my life I don't treat it the way I should?

I'm not saying our Bibles should be objects we worship. But, I do wonder if the way we treat them can, at least sometimes, be a reflection of the value we're placing on God's Words to us? Maybe there is value in us reflecting on the way we treat the Bibles we have and whether that reflects the value we place on it, or if there's some inconsistency there we need to deal with.

How does my heart respond to hearing God's Word?

Maybe it won't be the right place to physically stand and then bow low in worship in response to God's Word, but even then, we still can in our hearts.

What is the attitude and response of your heart to hearing God's Word?

Is how you treat your Bible (or Bibles) a reflection of that? Should it be?

Do you need to change something here?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Speak Lord

Speak Lord
Your servant is listening
Seeking Your guidance
Desiring to know Your ways

Speak Lord
Your servant is listening
Pursuing You
To know You more

Speak Lord
Your servant is listening
Teach me to hear
To recognize what You say

Speak Lord
Your servant is listening
I want to follow You
To obey what You have to say

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

What Does it Mean that we Shouldn't Judge?

Does the Bible really say "Do not judge"?
Or, are we taking a few words that are part of a larger teaching and using them out of context?

It's something we hear often in Christian circles or even thrown at us by non-Christians. "You're not supposed to judge." I believe we're actually misunderstanding and, as a result misquoting, Scripture here.

What does the Bible actually say?

(I realize this next part is quoting a fair bit of Scripture one after another, but without them the rest of the post won't make as much sense. Please read through the passages.)

"Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly." -John 7:24

"Do not judge, or you to will be judged. For in the same way you judge other, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of saw dust in your brother's eye, and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." -Matthew 7:1-5

"Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block in the way of a brother or sister." -Romans 14:13

"Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart." -1 Corinthians 4:5

"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. . . . Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else." -Galatians 6:1 & 4


As I read these passages of Scripture and look at them within the overall message of Scripture, I wonder if, in saying that all of these passages say "do not judge," we're missing what the bigger picture is. All of these passages say we need to be looking at our own lives first, before we say anything to another brother or sister in Christ.

We're not being told that we shouldn't say something to another believer about and area where things might need to changed in their lives. We're being cautioned to make sure we've been dealing with our own stuff first. We can't and shouldn't call others on their stuff if we're avoiding dealing with the stuff in our own lives.

Our job is also not to look for areas where we can point out the sin or other issue in the life of another believer. We're not supposed to be going hunting for those things. If that's what we're doing, then people may be right in telling us not to judge.

All of these passages also speak to situations with another believer. We're not told to do the same with those who don't claim to be Christians - only with other Christians.

To go back to the question I asked at the beginning: Does the Bible actually say "Do not judge"?

I think that is just a small part of what Scripture actually says, and to only quote that part misses the point. It's not about never saying something to another believer - it's about making sure we're dealing with our own stuff first, and not running around looking for things to call our in the life of another Christian.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Intentional

Birds chirping.
Squirrels chattering.
Wind rustling the trees all around.

No cell phones.
No computers.
No electricity.

Just a quiet space, away from all the noise of every day life.

Sometimes it takes purposely getting away from it all for things to actually go quiet.

Games.
Hiking.
Kayaking.
Campfires.
Time with friends.

A pace of life I believe God created us for, but a pace we seem to struggle to live at in our everyday life.

It seems like so often when I go away, I'm reminded of the importance of time away, and then I go right back to my noisy life, always running from one thing to the next, when I get home without changing anything. I catch a glimpse of what it could be and then do nothing to change it.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I do the same thing in lots of areas . . . my time with God, my relationships with others, eating better, exercise . . . almost anything could be added to the list. None of these are things that we are going to change without some intentional planning on my part. I have to decide to make the change and then do something about it.

We all have to make that same choice when there's something we want to change in our lives. We have to make a plan and be intentional about making it happen.

Is there an area of your life you want to change?
What is the first step you can take to make that change?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

He Will Meet All of Our Needs

In Paul's closing words to the Philippian church, he writes some challenging words:
"And my God will meet all your need according to the glorious riches of His glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19, emphasis mine)
These words are a powerful declaration of truth. But they're also sometimes hard words to live by.

There are two small, but incredibly powerful words in this verse:


WILL


ALL


Paul doesn't say that God might meet some of our needs. He says that God WILL meet ALL or our needs.

I think we sometimes struggle with this because we don't see God giving us what we want in the moment, or providing for us in the way we think He should. In those times, it can be hard to believe that God is doing what this verse says.

God will meet our needs, but maybe not the way we expect or the way we want Him to. We may see something as a need, when God sees it as a want and know it's better for us if He doesn't supply it.

These words challenge me: Do I believe them? Even when it doesn't look like I expect?

We can be sure that God will never leave us without something we need to live the life He has for us.