Monthly Archives: November 2015

And Such Were Some Of You

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.  – Proverbs 3:27(NKJV)

I read Eric Metaxas biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer a few weeks ago and I have been thinking about this idea of “withholding good from whom it is due” and what does that mean in our life.  In Bonhoeffer’s day, he of course was speaking about how the German church refused to stand up to Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies etc.  The church didn’t want to look bad to their society so it was easy for them to justify their leaders immoral positions.

But I think most of us miss a great application of this idea of his point. We have stood back and let our society & culture become over run with sin.  We endeavor to explain it away and rationalize our current morality.

Recently, I was told about an informational gathering at a church where, in an attempt to communicate how rampant the problem of sex trafficking is in our society, a film was shown about how a porn convention operates.   Some of those who attended this meeting where deeply offended and approached the leaders of this gathering expressing their objections to this film.  They were rebuffed and told how this was just “reality” and everyone has seen this kind of thing before.

Well maybe, but is it necessary? Really? A porn convention? In church?

I am beginning to accept the fact that I am somewhat out of the norm.  I think sin is wrong.  I don’t think it should be condoned and further it grieves me deeply when I read (or hear) how in our churches, we accept the lack of moral standards of the world and embrace that same lack of standards.  Many attend church and often lead in areas of ministry, yet they display a real lack of decorum when it comes to sexual matters.  Whether it’s living in sexual sin or using inappropriate language, I think we have missed a golden teaching opportunity to be a beacon of truth and righteousness in our society.

You might say I’m a prude and maybe I am.  But I think the church is missing some wonderful teaching opportunities.  If we really believe sin is bad and God can and does empower His people to live above the filth around them, let’s take some stands for righteousness.  Let’s encourage people to step out of a life of sin, rather than looking the other way.  Let’s not encourage activity that leads to sin, but give people instruction from God’s Word on how we as followers of Jesus are to be the “called out ones.”

Here is what Paul tells us:

Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionist will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9b-11 (NKJV emphasis added).

Paul says …”and such were (past tense) some of you.”  In other words, this kind of activity was how you conducted yourself in the past.  But now, you know better.  Don’t act like that anymore.

Just a few verses later Paul writes, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.”

I’m afraid we want so badly to be accepted and loved by people that we refuse to take any stances for righteousness.

I’m not passing judgment on anyone’s standing before God.  But I am challenging those of us who claim the name of Christ, to live to a higher standard that what is acceptable to our society.  Just because living together before marriage is no longer taboo in our world, it still isn’t God’s standard.  Just because we are told that having wine with dinner is a normal part of living, doesn’t make it the right thing for us to do.

Have we have become like the German church of the late 1930’s?  We want to be loved and accepted, we want to fit in and be a big tent, welcome everyone and not hinder anyone from coming to Christ.  Those are wonderful goals and I would agree with striving towards those ideals.  But we can’t sacrifice morality and righteousness just to please our society.

Spend some time in His Word and let it speak to you about righteousness and sin.  Let His Word, not society set your moral standards and take a stand for Him.

Blessings My Friend.

-jm

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Bible Study – It’s Just Too Hard

Bible study often is treated as doing your taxes.  It’s something you know you need to do, but it isn’t something you want to do.  If that is your first thought, then I wish to help you.  Common objections to bible study often go along these lines:

I can’t understand it.

I don’t know Greek or Hebrew.

I don’t have the time.

It’s too hard and I need someone to explain it to me.

Bible study is for pastors.  Bible reading is for the rest of us.

But I am here to tell you EVERYONE, and I mean everyone, can study the bible and learn very practical insights and application for their life.  You don’t need to know Greek (or Hebrew), you don’t need a ministry degree, you don’t need commentaries or even dictionaries.  You can be a child with little or no real world experience or you can be in the twilight of life – it make no difference!  Everyone can study the bible on their own and learn from it.

Many Christians think having daily devotions is bible study.  Reading a verse and then someone’s comments or thoughts about that verse may be helpful, but it isn’t bible study.  Most of your time has been reading someone else’s thoughts not really seeing what the text says.

study biblesIt’s the same with various through the bible reading plans.  While that sounds like a good idea (and one can make a good case for them), the temptation is to just read the text so you don’t fall behind your plan.  Reading becomes a chore as opposed to it being the way God communicates to us.

So, with all those ideas in mind, let me propse to you a simple way to study the bible.  All you need is a bible (any version you wish), pen and notepad.  That’s all.  No study notes, study guides, dictionary, lexicon or commentary.  Just your bible and something to write on.

Take a story or passage of Scripture and ask yourself these some questions about the text.  The first question is…

What does this passage tell me about God?

Just read a passage – maybe 10-15 verses (it can be less!) and ask yourself what this tells you about God.  Think about it, how do we know about God?  How do we know who He is and His character?  How do you know Him?  It’s through His Word!  So, it is reasonable to conclude that if you read Scripture, you can find out about Him.  Read a passage and ask yourself “What does this tell me about God?” then write down your conclusions from that passage.  Even a short passage can yield a wealth of information about God.  After you do this over a period of time, you might find you’ve developed an entirely new understanding of Him!

The next question…

What does this passage tell me about myself?

One awesome thing about Scripture is how revealing it is.  I often have some incorrect thinking about myself and the bible can fix that.  I may think too highly of myself – it has a way of humbling me.  I might think of myself in too derogatory of a way and forget I am a child of the King!  The bible has a way of correcting my thinking.

You’ll need to insert yourself into the text.  What if you were there and heard this (or witnessed it) first hand?  How would you feel?  If you heard those words of the prophet or Jesus or Paul directly, how would you respond?  Do this with every character or groups of characters in the text.  Ask yourself, what is this telling me about myself?  What if I was there?  Write down your thoughts.

Finally, there is the last question…

From this passage, what lesson or application can I apply to my life?

This can be gleaned from your answers to the first and second questions or it can be something you see separate from them.  The point here is that once you know something about God and something about yourself, you can see or apply this passage to your life – beyond than just learning the basic story.  After all, if I am to live the Word and let it is to “light my path” (Psalm 119:105), it needs to be more than just a story.  Write down your thoughts on how this applies to your life.

Over time, you will develop a great set of notes about who God is, who you are and how you are to be directed by God.

These are simple, yet quite profound ways to read and study the bible.  You’ll find you will grow in Him and you bible knowledge will be quite a bit more than just knowing stories or the order of the Old Testament Minor Prophets.  The bible will become real to you… and you didn’t need to know Greek!

So go study the bible!  Blessing my friend!

-jm