Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

One of the fads of 1970s America was the motorcycle jump. This trend reached its high (and low) point on September 8, 1974. Thousands of spectators gathered around the Snake River Canyon in Idaho to see if Evel Knievel could jump across the chasm in a specially designed “sky cycle.” In the end, however, it was unsuccessful. Knievel made it only part of the way across the gulf before his parachute deployed and he dropped to the canyon floor below. Some spectators asked, “How far across the canyon did he get?” But that wasn’t the point. He didn’t make it all the way across, so he fell short of his goal.

This scene is a good illustration of sin. The Bible talks about sin in Romans 3:23, where Paul declared, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No one is capable of bridging the gap between God and ourselves by our own efforts, but the Savior came to do just that on our behalf. Christ perfectly fulfilled God’s standards, then gave His life on the cross to pay for our failure and wrongdoing. Where we could only fall short, Christ’s work, offered in love, accomplished all that was needed.

Our response is to trust Him and receive this matchless gift of salvation.

There is no other name on earth By whom salvation’s given Save Jesus Christ the Lamb of God, God’s precious gift from heaven. —Stairs
The cross of Christ bridges the gap we could never cross on our own.

By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing . . . I will bless you . . . —Genesis 22:16-17

Abraham, at this point, has reached where he is in touch with the very nature of God. He now understands the reality of God.

My goal is God Himself . . . At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.

“At any cost . . . by any road” means submitting to God’s way of bringing us to the goal.

There is no possibility of questioning God when He speaks, if He speaks to His own nature in me. Prompt obedience is the only result. When Jesus says, “Come,” I simply come; when He says, “Let go,” I let go; when He says, “Trust God in this matter,” I trust. This work of obedience is the evidence that the nature of God is in me.

God’s revelation of Himself to me is influenced by my character, not by God’s character.

’Tis because I am ordinary, Thy ways so often look ordinary to me.

It is through the discipline of obedience that I get to the place where Abraham was and I see who God is. God will never be real to me until I come face to face with Him in Jesus Christ. Then I will know and can boldly proclaim, “In all the world, my God, there is none but Thee, there is none but Thee.”

The promises of God are of no value to us until, through obedience, we come to understand the nature of God. We may read some things in the Bible every day for a year and they may mean nothing to us. Then, because we have been obedient to God in some small detail, we suddenly see what God means and His nature is instantly opened up to us. “All the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen . . .” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Our “Yes” must be born of obedience; when by obedience we ratify a promise of God by saying, “Amen,” or, “So be it.” That promise becomes ours.

Cultivating the Devotional Mood

        Maintenance of the devotional mood is indispensable to success in the Christian life.

Holiness and power are not qualities that can be once received and thereafter forgotten as one might wind a clock or take a vitamin pill. The world is too much with us, not to mention the flesh and the devil, and every advance in the spiritual life must be made against the determined resistance of this trinity of evil. Gains made must be consolidated and held with a resolution equal to that of an army in the field.

To establish our hearts in the devotional mood we must abide in Christ, walk in the Spirit, pray without ceasing and meditate on the Word of God day and night. Of course this implies separation from the world, renunciation of the flesh and obedience to the will of God as we are able to understand it.

In 1924, a boy named Johnny, who loved to play basketball, completed the eighth grade in a small rural school. His father, rich in love but short on money for a graduation gift, gave Johnny a card on which he had written his own 7-point creed, which he encouraged his son to start following daily. Three of the points were: Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible. Make each day your masterpiece. Pray for guidance, and give thanks for your blessings every day.

Jesus, in what we often call the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13), taught us to approach our heavenly Father each day; it’s not something to be said once and forgotten. Through it we offer God praise (v.9); seek His kingdom and His will (v.10); trust His provision (v.11); and ask for His forgiveness, power, and deliverance (vv.12-13).

Throughout his life, Johnny sought the Lord’s strength to live each day for Him. He became a three-time All- American basketball player at Purdue University and one of the greatest college coaches of all time. When Coach John Wooden died at the age of 99, he was honored most of all for his character, his faith, and the many lives he touched.By God’s grace, may we make each day our masterpiece for Him.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessing and privilege of being able to drink deeply from Your Word. Give me guidance as I seek You. I want to know You and to have my life bring a smile to Your face.
Commitment to Christ is a daily calling.

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103

I wonder how many of us got tired of hearing our moms tell us, “Eat this, it’s good for you!” And you can bet that if it required a lot of coaxing, it wasn’t the most appetizing dish on the table!

Thankfully, there are a few items on the good-for-you menu that go down a little easier than eggplant or brussels sprouts. Like honey, for example. Who doesn’t love a glob of honey slathered thickly on buttered toast? And not only does it taste good, but scientific studies show that honey has great medicinal value. For one thing, it helps reduce cholesterol. It’s loaded with antioxidants that help fight cancer. And a bit of honey and lemon mixed with hot water has a sure soothing effect on a sore throat. In food world, there’s nothing else quite like honey. No wonder the psalmist David used it to describe God’s Word when he exclaimed, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

If we’re honest, our attitude doesn’t usually match up to David’s. Can we really say that God’s Word is “sweet” or, for that matter, “sweeter than honey”? Usually it’s more like, “Oh, I guess it’s good for me, so I have to read it.” When we engage the Bible with that attitude, it’s no wonder that it seems like a bland, flavorless experience.

So let’s start reading the Word expecting to have a meaningful, personal encounter with God. For me, it cannot be just an exercise in reading through the Bible in a year or making sure I read a chapter a day, or any other system that allows me to put a tic mark on my spiritual checklist next to the “Bible reading” obligation. Each encounter with Scripture has to be a search for something that is relevant to my life. I need to read until I hear Him speak in a way that reaches to the core of me. If it comes quickly, I may not need to read further. But if it takes more time than I had planned, I need to keep reading until my soul, heart, and mind have been revitalized.

When I read about the fact that God is sovereign and fully in control of everything that is happening in my life (Jeremiah 10:23) and ultimately manages the whole universe (Colossians 1:16-17), how sweet is that? When I read that He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5), and that He works everything to a good conclusion (Romans 8:28), it settles my spirit with a sweet taste. When I read that this world is not my home (1 Peter 2:11) and that my home is heaven, a place where God will wipe away every tear (John 14:3; Revelation 21:4), there could be nothing sweeter!

The more we read the words and promises that fill our hungry hearts and provide healing antidotes to our wounded souls, the more we will understand the psalmist’s enthusiasm for God’s Word. I’m telling you right now, when your life goes south, when you are confused and don’t know what to do, your next best meal is not going to help you at all. But the words of God will be just what you need. So, go ahead—eat it—not only is it good for you, it’s sweet!

Whatever your approach, reading the Bible should be a dynamic experience that is alive with flavor and excitement. As you continue to connect with God through His Word, relish every morsel. After all, His words are sweeter than honey!


  • Do you agree with the psalmist that God’s Word is “sweeter than honey to my mouth”? Why, or why not?
  • If it has been a while since you’ve tasted the sweetness of God’s Word, perhaps it’s time to change your approach to Scripture. If so, try one of these suggestions: (1) Read a few psalms each day along with one chapter in Proverbs; (2) search through the Bible to learn all you can about a topic such as love or money; (3) read through a short New Testament book in one sitting; (4) choose one passage and memorize it.

Isaac trembled violently and said, ‘Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!’”—Genesis 27:33

The Torah portion for this week, Toldot, is from Genesis 25:19—28:9 and Malachi 1:1–2:7.

Toward the end of the Torah portion, Isaac wanted to give the birthright blessings to his son, Esau. But Rebekah knew better. During her pregnancy, she had been prophetically told that Esau would be unworthy of receiving the blessings, while Jacob would need them to fulfill his mission of spreading the Word of God. So Rebekah coached Jacob on how to trick his father into giving him the blessings. The plan succeeded, and then comes the moment when Isaac realized that he was duped.

The real Esau returned from a day of hunting, ready to be blessed. Isaac asked, “Who are you?” Esau answered “It’s me, your son Esau!” And then it all comes together in one crushing moment. As the Bible tells us, “Isaac trembled violently . . .” The Sages explain that Isaac didn’t tremble because he was angry. He trembled because he realized that he had been terribly mistaken. This was no ordinary shudder. This was the kind of shuddering that shakes a person to the core. Isaac’s whole outlook had been wrong, and only now did he fully understand God’s plan for his sons. All of Isaac’s hopes and dreams for Esau came crashing to the ground.

We can feel Isaac’s pain. The moment is sad and heart-wrenching, but at the same time, it is strengthening and inspiring. How many of us could walk away from a lifelong belief and humbly accept that we were mistaken? And yet, Isaac does just that.

There is a story in the Talmud about a rabbi who spent his life’s energies studying a word that appears hundreds of times in the Bible: ‘et,’ loosely translated as ‘and’ or ‘also.’ The rabbi had a theory that every time the word was used, there was an additional law to be learned about the subject at hand. He spent his life extrapolating those hidden laws – until one day he was stumped. He was forced to conclude that his theory was wrong, and he discarded what had been his entire life’s work. When his students asked him how he could do such a thing, the rabbi answered: “Just as I was given reward for expounding, so I shall be given reward for refraining.” The rabbi knew when to quit, and he wasn’t too proud to admit when he was wrong.

We all know what it’s like to find out that we have been mistaken. It is humbling and can shake our world. But there is something much worse than letting go of a long-held belief; it’s continuing with the same faulty outlook and repeating the same mistakes over and over.

We can learn from Isaac on how to confront our mistakes and let them go. Only then can we change our course and move on with grace.

Tell Me The Story

Posted: November 14, 2012 in Joe Stowell
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“All these things happened to them as examples and . . . for our admonition.” 1 Corinthians 10:11

Now that I have grandkids, I’m back into the classic children’s Bible stories. Wide-eyed stories like David and Goliath, Noah’s ark, and Jonah and the big fish quickly capture a child’s imagination!

But there’s a danger here—not with the stories themselves but rather with our attitude toward them. If we view them simply as kids’ stories, kind of like the Grimm’s Fairy Tales of the Bible, we miss the point.

The stories of the Bible were never meant to be outgrown. There are profound lessons to be learned from the amazing accounts of those who faced giants, floods, and fish!

Hundreds of years after the fact, the apostle Paul explained that the things that happened to Moses and the Israelites as they wandered through the desert “happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition” (1 Cor. 10:11). These stories are about us. They mirror the tensions we face daily as we too seek to apply God’s will and ways to the realities of our lives. They teach us of the treachery of sin, our desperate need to trust God unflinchingly, and the importance of staying faithful and true to Him regardless of what happens.

Don’t ignore the old stories. You might be surprised what God wants to teach you through them.

We learn the blessed Word of God To fix it firmly in our heart, And when we act upon that Word Its truth from us will not depart. —D. De Haan

Stories from the past can give us pointers for the present.