Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘Bible’

What Happened to Solomon?

Did you know that God gave a list of laws for kings?  Even more amazing is that one of the most famous kings of Israel broke every one of them!  (Deuteronomy 17:14-20)

DO NOT ACQUIRE MANY
War horses, especially from Egypt.  These were the armaments of that day, important for national security.
RATHER, strength and security are to be found in God alone.

Wives, source of pleasure and delight.
RATHER, the heart’s delight is to be found in God alone who gives His good gifts.

Wealth.
RATHER, God Himself is to be our treasure.  We look to Him for provision and honor.

DO
–Make a personal copy of the Scripture and read it every day!  In here we find all those things
Security:  You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope. (Psalm 119:114)
Pleasure:  How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.  (Psalm 119:103)
Treasure:  Your teachings are worth more to me than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. (Psalm 119:72)

So what happened to Solomon when he amassed warhorses from Egypt, collected 1000 wives & concubines from many foreign nations, and accumulated stupendous wealth?  You can read his sobering story in 1 Kings 10-11.

And after all these thousands of year, what person or nation hasn’t sought security, pleasure, and wealth?  But why be taken in by the fakes which go sour, don’t last, and just disappoint?  The real thing is found in only one place:  God.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold,
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land,
Yes, I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.

Chorus:
Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause,
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name.

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom,
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb.
He’s all my hungering spirit needs
I’d rather have Jesus and let him lead.
(by George Beverly Shea)

Listen to the song here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u62uYEssk7o

What to Do with a Treasure?

 

I love beautiful and sparkly things!  A treasure chest full of jewels excites my imagination.  Just imagine finding such a thing.  What would you do with it? 

Put it away unopened?                                          Treasure_chest_color

Open it once in a while, glance at the contents and then stick it back on the shelf?

Take it out often, lift out one piece at a time, and examine it in the light from all angles, appreciating and admiring the brilliance of the jewels and the intricacy of their settings?

Put on a piece and wear it, letting its beauty complement your own and allowing others to share in the pleasure of viewing such magnificence?

Okay, I don’t have a treasure like that.  But I do have a better one—a Book that contains the secrets of life, joy, wisdom, peace, and much more! 

So what do I do with it?

Do I just keep it unopened somewhere in the cupboard?

Do I open it once in a while, glance at the contents, then stick it back on the shelf and go my merry way?

Do I pick it up often, read a bit at a time (or a whole chunk), and examine it carefully in the light of the Holy Spirit’s teaching within me, growing in love for the One who crafted this treasure and getting to know Him better through what it reveals about Him?

Do I “wear it” by letting it shape who I am and what I do, how I think and act?  Are others encouraged and drawn to the Artist through the display of His beauty in me?

“Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver.”  (Psalm 119:72)

God’s Word—a joy or a joke to you?

Recently I participated in the dedication of a Bible translation into a language that had never had it before.  The highlight for me was the tears in the eyes of members of that community who shared what it meant to them! 

Those of us who have grown up with Bibles of all versions, sizes, shapes, colors, and editions too often fail to recognize this treasure right in our hands.  My recent reading in the Old Testament highlighted wildly varying responses to the arrival of God’s word:

King Josiah – When the scroll of God’s word was found in the Temple that had been neglected for decades, and he tore his robe, horrified that he and his people had not been obeying it.  What followed was major repentance, revival, and joyful celebration.

…18 years pass, and Jeremiah is receiving God’s words of warning to a nation about to be destroyed because of their stubborn rebellion against Him. 

Officials of King Jehoiakim –When God’s words are read to them, they looked at one another in fear and told Jeremiah to hide.

King Jehoiakim, who was notably the son of Josiah—When God’s words are read to him, he cuts up the scoll and burns it, then tries to have Jeremiah arrested.

When we hear God’s word, what is our response?  Do we humbly accept and obey it, or do we disdain or even try to suppress it? 

When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart’s delight… (Jeremiah 15:16)

Keeping the commandments keeps a person safe,
but scorning the way of the LORD brings death.  (Proverbs 19:16)

 

 

My Treasure

A string of perfect pearls, added one at a time.  A chest full of dazzling gems, each one sought, saved for, collected, and enjoyed.  I love beautiful things, especially jewels.  One of my favorite places is the Smithsonian museum where dazzling treasures of this sort have been  put on display for ordinary people like me to enjoy.  My own jewels consist of my engagement and wedding ring and a tiny ruby in a necklace given by my grandparents for graduation.  Oh yes, and three necklaces of inexpensive—but real!—pearls of irregular shapes and great character. 

But, as I realized this morning, I am accumulating a treasure much more lasting and precious than jewels.  Lately I have resumed the practice of memorizing Bible passages.  Having given up on it years ago, assuming that I was too old for anything to stick anymore, I was recently challenged to join a group of others my age, and off we went!  Each verse I store in my mind and heart is another rare pearl strung together together into a priceless necklace to be taken out and enjoyed anytime, anywhere. And every passage learned is another unique piece of jewelry to prize, use, and enjoy.  As I display these through my life (not just around my neck!) I know that my character will become more beautiful, and I will more closely resemble my Heavenly Father who gave them to me.

And this treasure is available to anyone, not just the wealthy.  Well, I must qualify that.  Today I participated in the dedication of a newly completed translation of the New Testament into a minority language of the country where I live.  And there I was reminded that almost 2000 languages in the world are still without any portion of the Bible. Hearing this, I am challenged 1) to appreciate the treasure of God’s word in my own language all the more, and 2) to renew my efforts to help make it available to the 180,000,000 people who do not yet have access to it in the language of their heart. 

Your teachings are worth more to me
than thousands of pieces of gold and silver.  Psalm 119:72

Which Is the Real World?

In a theater, you’re in another world.  Especially this time.  We had gone to see the movie, “Son of God.”  I love Jesus, I love the Bible, and I loved this movie!  It drew me in, stoking the fires of delight, truth, and passion as Jesus astounded his own followers and throngs of onlookers with his authoritative teaching, his powerful miracles, his surrender to the suffering that would bring them forgiveness and new life, and then the compelling end in two scenes:

After Jesus had given his disciples their assignment of taking this Good News to the world and then ascended to heaven, Peter gets up and urges the others, “We’ve got work to do!” 

Then we see the apostle John 60 years later, living a lonely existence on a prison island–when his best Friend appears to him in gleaming white, holding his nail-scarred hand out to him and identifying himself as “the First and the Last” and speaking of the final act in heaven when there will be no more tears, crying or pain.  (John wrote this down for us to read in the book of Revelation.  See especially chapters 1, 21 & 22). 

The movie over, we walked out of the theater in a daze, overwhelmed by the impact of the love, suffering, beauty and truth we’d just seen.  Suddenly I staggered under the blast of the mob scene—or rather, the mall scene:  loud music, people shopping, playing video games, eating, chatting, moving around in an artificial world, consumed with trivia.  Normally when one exits a theater, he is leaving a world of make-believe to re-enter the real world.  However, on this occasion I think it was reversed.

Which is the real world?  I don’t want to waste my time and energies on what is temporary and trivial!  I want to be motivated by those two scenes at the end of the movie. 

–“We have work to do!”  This is the task of Christ’s followers for today and as long as this world lasts.  It will cost us; He promised that, but it’s the life of ultimate fulfillment and joy.  And it will be worthwhile because…

–When it is finished, we who follow Him will enjoy that wonderful new life with Him, where all tears and pain will be only memories, where our dearest dreams come true.  And it will be much more real than this world we live in today.  That is the ultimate reality.

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
When I am alone, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
When I come to die, give me Jesus

Listen to Fernando Ortega sing this at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rZ8k9m2hwo

The First Three Sinners

It’s a new year, and I’m starting to read through a new Bible.  (This one is the “God’s Word” translation.  I enjoy reading different versions because it lends freshness.  It will be given to one of my grandchildren later with all my notes and markings.)

Each time I re-read this precious Book, I ask the Author to teach me something I hadn’t seen before, or that I had forgotten.  And He does!  Here’s what I saw this morning in the first chapters of Genesis:

Did you realize that of the very first three people who lived on the earth, each of them were given special instructions by God about something they should not do, each chose to do it anyway, each was visited by God for reprimand and punishment (banishment)—but was not killed.

I think this chart helps me see it better:

Chart of sins in Gen 3-4

 

What an amazing God we have—full of love, wisdom, justice and mercy! 

Upside Down

A reality show star who quotes the Bible is taken off the air at the same time that a polygamist is given his own reality show.

Chimpanzees’ “personhood” is being pushed while preborn (and even newborn) humans’ personhood is being denied.

Veterans’ pensions are being cut and money given instead to support those who kill millions of babies.

We are being told that we still have freedom of religion, but we are not allowed to practice it by word or deed that someone else might not agree with.

Evil is being called good, and good is being called evil.  It’s all upside down.

My response is to pray with all my heart:

Our Father in heaven:
May your holy name be honored;
may your Kingdom come;
may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  (Matthew 6:9-10)

It will all be put right when God sets up His just, loving, and beautiful kingdom on earth!

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

Two Tragedies

We’ve all been hearing about the terrible typhoon that hit the Philippines a few days ago and praying for the victims who have lost everything as well as those who are trying to help them.

But another lesser-publicized tragedy occurred on November 3 in North Korea that tears my heart just as much.  Eighty citizens were publicly executed, many of them for the “crime” of possessing Bibles or Christian videos—or even watching the videos.  And their “accomplices” were shipped off to prison camps.  You can read the heart-wrenching story at this link: http://misguidedchildren.com/foreign-affairs/2013/11/80-people-executed-in-north-korea/6530

North Korea had 80 people executed on Nov 3

When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?” Then a white robe was given to each of them. And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters—their fellow servants of Jesus who were to be martyred—had joined them.  (Revelation 6:9-11 NLT)

Bible Up, Idol Down

This sounds like a slogan from the Old Testament, but it’s actually what I read in a headline a few days ago.  American Idol (a title I always considered blasphemous) is sagging in popularity, and the success of The Bible miniseries is baffling critics.  I just have to smile.  Won’t they be surprised when God’s kingdom finally comes in all its glory and wipes all those imitations “gods” completely off the charts! 

That’s Rich!

In a language that I know, there’s a specific word to refer to how you feel when you’ve eaten too much sweet or rich food.  Though that is an unpleasant feeling, it does come to mind when I try to express how overwhelmed with awe and delight I am when intaking certain parts of God’s Word.  Like 1 Peter 1 and Ephesians 1, for example.

What can I compare it to?

–A bottomless treasure chest full of dazzling jewels…

–The richest dessert that you can only eat in tiny bites and savor every morsel…

–A sunset so beautiful it makes you want to cry…

–A garden of infinite variety, flowers of every shape and hue and fragrance…

–The sky on a starry night; the more you look the more you see…

God, your Word is wonderful!  It delights me, makes my heart sing and draws me to you.  I can never get enough—I never tire of it—I want to make it part of me.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Your Word in my own language.  And please raise up people to translate it in all its power and beauty into the 2000+ languages that don’t yet have even one word of it!

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