Bible Thoughts — Psalm 119 (Monday Mid-Day)
The Challenge is this week is to read Psalm 119 in 8 verse sections, three sections per day, all throughout the week. Certainly we can read more in our Bibles than just that, but on at least three daily occasions, we want to read about the value and power of the Holy Word of God. It is about lunchtime on Monday (section 3 for me), so I’d like to share:
Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.
I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me.
My soul is crushed with longing after Your ordinances at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, who wander from Your commandments.
Take away reproach and contempt from me, for I observe Your testimonies.
Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors. (Psalm 119:17-24)
Bible Thoughts — Little Room for Bible Thoughts!
Our title for this week comes from an observation of this week’s News and Notes. Notice that I didn’t have much space left for this article! There are many great things happening at our local work, like visitors coming every week, new members identifying, baptisms, multiple adult bible classes and ongoing group meetings. Opportunities abound for us to serve the Lord, even outside of a worship assembly! We can be involved every day in the growth and strengthening of our local church!
There is also a significant list of people among us who need our help and support; some have been sick, others are away at college. All need to know that we care and are praying for them. So once again, great opportunities for service are before us in the form of cards and calls to these brothers and sisters.
Our local church is not set up to strip you of what rightfully belongs to you. We do not have a panel of secretaries or line of preachers “on the payroll” to write these cards, make these calls and visits, or extend hospitality to folks among us. That would be a crutch for our work and unfair to you. Each and every member at Eastside has the privilege of helping and encouraging and strengthening the people noted on both sides of this publication. Each Eastside member has the opportunity to prepare for Bible classes, attend group meetings and worship faithfully for our benefit and growth.
Let us APPRECIATE that there isn’t much room left on this week’s News and Notes for Bible Thoughts. Because God has filled our family with people and opportunities to serve and love and cherish in Christ! And please remember, each person matters, and every individual contribution will determine our collective strength as a people for the Lord:
“…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects in Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:15-16).
Bible Thoughts — Tents and Buildings
We can all readily understand the difference between a tent and a building. Tents are temporary. While the nicest ones can offer some basic amenities, most simply offer cover from the elements and hopefully the ability to keep mosquitos and raindrops out. You wouldn’t want to live in a tent; it simply wouldn’t provide what you wanted or needed.
A building is greater in every way. It is build to last, maybe of brick or wood, and built upon a concrete base. In the case of modern houses, buildings provide every conceivable amenity, from plumbing to electricity; kitchens, bathrooms, family rooms and comfortable bedrooms. I live in a building. And I like it.
And I have to believe that if I lived in a tent, while I’d find a way to live with it, I’d look forward to one day throwing it away and moving into a 3/2/2 with red door! And since my wife would be none too pleased with a nylon home, I’d probably work hard and tirelessly to make the upgrade happen.
This is the precise imagery the Paul uses when comparing the body we now have with the spiritual dwelling God will give the faithful on the day of reckoning. I’m thinking about preaching on this section next week, so I won’t illuminate points in this article, but please read this beautiful section describing the ultimate upgrade:
“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight – we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:1-10).
I know what you are living in. The real question is: what are you living and preparing and laboring for?
Bible Thoughts — Messianic Messages from a Maskil
Nicolas was almost an Ethan. Long before we had considered naming our third child Nicolas (after the proselyte from Antioch in Acts 6:5), Sommer and I had always liked the name Ethan. However, a criteria for us was to name him after a Bible character of faith (first child Hannah, second child Luke). So, almost on a whim, we searched the Bible for Ethan. And, there he was! In fact, there may have been several Ethan’s referenced in the Old Testament. One in particular was a musician who lived during the time of king David.
He was an “Ezrahite” (of the descendants of the great preacher and reformer, Ezra), and he wrote a Maskil (a wise psalms) recorded as Psalm 89. Around the time of David’s rule, there was much prophecy concerning the eventual coming of Christ to rule forever and with great power. In II Samuel 7, Nathan spoke for God to the king: “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (v13).
We know from the New Testament that this is not just referring to Solomon, but more importantly, Jesus. As Gabriel shared with Mary: “And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:31-33)
So too did Ethan sing praises to the Father concerning the coming of the Son. Please note three sections from this inspirational and hopeful psalm: “I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations” (89:3-4). “He will cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ I also will make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My lovingkindness I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall be confirmed to him” (89:26-29). “His descendants shall endure forever and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful” (89:36-37).
Jesus is risen, ruling, righteous, and reigning on His eternal throne. His people are established faithfully, fruitfully, and forever in His sight. Are you a child of God and servant of the Son? Will you sing of Him, think of Him and honor Him today and every day that you live under the scope of His mighty throne?
This is just a quick note today concerning the goal of a Christian’s life. “I press on to the goal for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:13). This goal is not necessarily heaven, but the daily striving to grow in faith and service. If we do that, heaven is as good as ours! The Apostle Paul strove to raise the bar of his highest spiritual level and be a little more and do a little more for Jesus every day. Is that your goal?
We must never forget the parable of the Talents. The one talent man didn’t lose his talent, but also didn’t cultivate, mature or multiply it, and when the master returned, he was punished. The other two gentlemen who received 2 and 5 talents, “immediately” “gained” for the master, and had evidence of progress and growth when the master returned. That’s what Jesus is looking for: not the largest amount, but the one who has tried the hardest to be all they can be for Christ.
If that is your goal, consider some practical things we can do to strive for it. In Titus 2, we are told to be a people “zealous for good deeds.” God has done so much and heaven is certainly the reward He has prepared, but will be given to those who set the goal and press on to be zealous for good works in Christ. And what are those works? Well, it depends on the role you have and the stage of life you’re in.
Take a few minutes this week and read the book of Titus. Paul writes this letter to a preacher and implores him to press Christians to greater works in Jesus! Hear his plea: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing them to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).
Around this section and throughout the whole book he challenges us to reach for this goal!
Older Men: 2:2
Older Women: 2:3-4
Younger Women: 2:4-5
Younger Men: 2:6-8
Find yourself in this list: who you are, who you’re going to be, who you want to be. And then read of the tasks set before you, so that we can all press on to the goals for the prize of the upward calling of God!
Bible Thoughts — The 4 Voices of Psalm 2 —
The Second Psalm doesn’t get near the attention of the First Psalm, or even more popular ones like, Psalm 23 or 100; however, it is a powerful message about Christ and how He is viewed by others. The Psalm is 12 verses in length, which naturally breaks down into four categories. Each section (3 verses each) represent the voice of some one or some group concerning Christ. Let’s note that and then make a few application points:
V1-3 – The Nations Speak – “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us.’”
V4-6 – The Father Speaks – “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.’”
V7-9 – The King Speaks (Jesus) – “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
V10-12 – The Faithful Speak (Psalmist) – “Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”
Okay, the question of the day: which voice is yours? We are in this Psalm somewhere. Where are we? We are not the Father. He announced His anger at the sinful and the placing of His Son on the throne. We are not the Son, who was exalted to a place of ultimate power and rule. But are we the first group? Do we represent the nations of people who seek to put Jesus out of their lives and live for themselves? I pray not. Those three eliminated, we must find ourselves in the fourth voice. We must be those who announce Christ! And we should be telling the world to be wise and revere the God of all. God will punish those who reject His Son, but reward those who serve Him. Let’s not just be those who serve, but also those who announce to friends and family and neighbors: You must honor the Son, the ruler of all who sits beside the Father in Power!
Bible Thoughts The Rechabite Reward
Last evening, our brother Chuck Durham delivered a powerful lesson from Jeremiah 35. The Israelite people invited the Rechabite people to come with them and drink wine. The response was absolute: “we will not drink wine.” In fact, they went on to explain, we will “not build a house,” we will “not sow seed…not plant a vineyard or own one” (35:6-7). Now, this may seem like an odd set of restrictions. Firstly, the Israelites were a godly people, so how could you go wrong doing as they were doing? Secondly, why can’t you sow seed, plant or own vineyards? Is there something inherently sinful about that? We might be quick to make a list of justifications for why they were being too restrictive and not enjoying life as they should.
However, their answer is more sound and meaningful than any justification we might introduce. “…For Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall not drink wine…’” And Jonadab went on to command them concerning not only wine, but seeds and vineyards. Now as Chuck pointed out in the lesson last night, that was 250 years earlier! These people were still honoring their father! It didn’t matter if the laws made sense to the world. It didn’t matter if “religious people” invited them to do differently. They were descendants of Jonadab and they held to his patriarchal laws.
What would God say about this? Would God consider their allegiance “dated” or “obsolete?” The fact is: God was impressed with their commitment! “Then Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father, kept all his commands and done according to all that he commanded you; therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me always’” (35:18-19).
God rewarded them for allegiance. Won’t you embrace and take hold of the Rechabite Reward? The blessing of God to stand before Him, IF we hold to His pattern. The religious world will invite us to change. They will try to justify departures from Scripture. And honestly, some New Testament patterns and commands may not be exactly what you think they should be. In those moments we must make a choice: my way or God’s way. Will my faith be about my reasoning or God’s timeless laws through Christ? In Jeremiah 35, the Jews (who departed from His word) found “DISASTER” while the Rechabites found God’s mercy.
Bible Thoughts “Led by the Spirit of God” by Kris Emerson
Last night after services, about 30 Christians met at the Smith’s house for a Bible study. There was a combination of Jr. High students, High School kids, College age, and parents. We discussed the Bible. Sounds overly simple, right? Each person participated by telling us what makes the Word of God amazing to them. The adults had the more challenging task of finding verses to show us the value of the Gospel. All did very well and it was tremendously uplifting!
I pray that when you look at the Bible you see more than just an old book; more than just sound words; nore, even, than words from heaven. It is, as we discussed yesterday morning, the Holy Spirit’s effort to work through you. He wants to shape your life, educate you, and build holy and heavenly character in us all. As the Word is living and active in us, so too the Holy Sprit is pleased to work through our faith.
When we can connect the Word in us with the Spirit in us, it can help in interpreting passages concerning the Holy Spirit. Look at what the Apostle Paul said of Him in Romans 8: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (8:14-17). There are some mighty encouraging points in this passage. We can be children of God as adopted sons and daughters. We can be heirs of God and Christ and see glory! But such things require something of us.
We must be led by the Spirit of God. When He directs our steps, our steps will align with the path of righteousness. The Spirit testifies of salvation, and we testify also, as we live by the Spirit’s direction. This is accomplished through the Gospel. Earlier in the letter Paul wrote: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel. For it is the power of God for salvation to all who believe, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, ‘for the righteous man shall live by faith’” (1:16-17).
The questions must be asked: Will you be led by the Spirit today? Will your spirit and the Holy Spirit be aligned in testimony to your faith? Will you be righteous according to the Spirit? If these are your goals, then make it a daily requirement, as necessary as eating or drinking, to open and read the Life-giving Word. Some read a Psalm per day. Some do their Bible lessons. Some read the whole Bible in a year. Whatever your plan, resist the pressure to close the book and grieve the Spirit. He can help you be what God has created you to be: heirs to glory.
Bible Thoughts by Jon Banning
What does it mean to glorify? We sing a lot of songs with this word in it. (“Glorify Thy Name (505),” “Glory to God (299),” “Glory to His Name (8),”). We talk about bringing glory to God all the time. But what does it mean to glorify? What actions are associated with this idea of glorification?
In the “religious community” the word glorify is commonly seen as a synonym to the word praise. The idea is out there that bringing glory to God is the same thing as bringing praise to God, but I believe that the word glory carries a much larger meaning, and a much more important meaning. Don’t get me wrong, our praise to God in song should definitely bring glory to His name, but I believe that where praise stops, glory continues.
I Corinthians 6:20 says, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” We are supposed to use these bodies we have been given to bring glory to God. And as was stated above, proper glorification of God requires so much more than just singing hymns of praise as some would have us believe.
I Peter 4:11 pretty much sums up the idea of giving glory to God, “Whoever speaks is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in ALL things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
In everything we do, we are supposed to act in a way that demonstrates our love and service for God. Every step we take should be a step that draws us closer to God. (In your life have you been taking steps closer to God or further from Him)? ALL of our steps should be glorifying to God and bring honor to His Name. Every word we speak should be directed and driven for the glorification of God. Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from out of your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Every thought we think should be a new battle plan for defeating Satan or a new idea on how to lift up God in my life and truly glorify Him. Where praise stops, glory continues, and continues, and continues and continues. I Peter 4:11 says, “So that in ALL things God may be glorified.” Everything we do should be structured around the glorification of our God in heaven. Because He deserves the glory…
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. AMEN!” Jude 24-25.
Bible Thoughts by Jon Banning
In Psalm 130 we are told, “Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that you may be feared.”
All of us have been in “the depths” (verse1). There are times in our lives where we stumble and fall. These things are going to happen; we constantly wage war against our flesh, we live in a world where sin is accepted and applauded, and we just aren’t perfect. There are times when we stumble. Sometimes our sin is a minor setback that we recover from quickly, just a momentary lapse in judgment, but other times instead of a momentary lapse of judgment our sins becomes a continuous string of wrong choices. Sometimes we let our sin get out of control and we do terrible things and behave completely contrary to what God desires. Sometimes our sin drives us further and further down away from God down into the depths and into the clutches of Satan.
We have all been there, and when we find ourselves in the depths, at the end of this long line of sin we need to take up the cry of the Psalmist in Psalm 130. This man pleaded with God to answer his prayer, he wanted to get out of the depths! He wanted to be redeemed and restored! And he was, because he served and we serve a merciful loving God who forgives us of our sins.
No matter how wicked we become or how deep we go into the depths, God’s love conquers all. It doesn’t matter what we have done or the sins we have committed, a penitent heart, a prayer to God and pledge to live for Jesus will solve it all. Let’s be grateful for the great, merciful and forgiving God that we serve!