Tag Archives: scripture

The Journey Has Just Begun

Back on September 30 I posted the blog “Remembering Hymns and Their Place in the Church.” In that blog I committed to writing about a different hymn each day through the end of the year.  At the time, I thought it didn’t seem too much.  When I found myself in the middle of it, there were days I was not sure I could make it. Between my job, my various ministry commitments and my family, finding time to throw this into the mix was at times, near impossible.  But here we are, 93 days later and I lived up to my commitment.

Everyday, yes some were later in the day before they got published, but everyday I wrote. What I found is that some hymns I know like the back of my hand.  Some, I thought I knew, (maybe I only knew the first verse) but had never really looked at all the words. Some hymns are brilliantly profound and beautiful.  Some of the things we find in a hymn book, well there is a reason they are never used.

Most importantly though, I confirmed what I had already believed. The hymns still have a place in the church.  They bring unity to a diverse body.  They allow a genuine corporate worship of the body, that is everyone is personally involved in the worship and not simply following the whims of the leader. They are filled with deep reflection on the words of scripture.  They present theological truths that are foundational to what we believe.

Are hymns the only form of worship music? No.  There is a place, a time, a purpose for each.  But hymns, perhaps, best embody what Sunday morning has always been.  A time for the body to come together and renew as they join together to worship God as one.

So for the past 92 days I have written each and every day. As I move forward, there are still more hymns to consider. Starting today and going through Easter, I will continue to reflect on hymns, but I will cut back to three days a week.  My plan is to publish on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning to allow me the needed time to spend on my other ministry commitments as well.

Thank you to each of you who have joined me on this journey and I invite you to continue as we move now from the birth of Christ, to His glorious resurrection.

Knowing Your Weaknesses, Strengths and Where to Turn

Luke 4:1-13

New International Version (NIV)

4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

This passage is very familiar to many of us. Christ temptation in the wilderness. I, in fact, have preached on it and wrote a blog on it a couple years ago. (An Opportune Time)

But as I reflect on it today I am struck by two things. First, temptation can come through our weaknesses.  As much as we may think we have it all together, the Devil knows better.  He knows what our weaknesses are. Of course most of us have not gone 40 days without food, but we all have those desires within us that are as strong as any craving for food can be. Acceptance, greed, lust, whatever our point of weakness is, the Devil knows it. The question is, do we. Jesus knew he was hungry. But he was prepared for the temptation he would face.

The second thing that strikes me is that it is not just our weaknesses, but also our strengths through which temptation can come.   You see the Devil offers Jesus everything. And this may seem odd at first glance, after all isn’t everything rightfully Jesus’ anyway? But that’s my point. Everything was rightfully Jesus’.  He had willingly given up his right to everything by becoming obedient to the father (Phil 2). The Devil new this and played off the deep down desire to be all that he truly was.  Jesus more than had the right to everything, He knew he would have it all again, after completing his mission.  It is to this that the Devil played.  The Devil say’s, “You know that it is all yours anyway, so why go through all of this.   I’ll tell you what, I’ll just give it to you.  You only need to do one little thing.”  But again Jesus was prepared.

So I am reminded that I need to know my weaknesses and my strengths.  What are those things I want but do not have?  What are those things that I have and do not want to let go of?  But knowing is not enough.  I have to ask, am I prepared?  Jesus did not rely on his own strength to resist but relied on the word of the Lord.  His strength was found in His knowledge of God’s word and His relationship with the Father.  These things can only be reached by spending time in God’s word and in prayer.

Lord help me to know you.  I pray that I would not rely on my own strength but in you alone.

The Doctrine of Revelation

For many the term revelation brings up images of profound discoveries of hidden secrets. This is partially a result in Christian circles of an automatic connection to the last book of the Bible known as the “The Book of Revelation”. While such a description is indeed a revelation, not all revelation fits that description. The term revelation used in theological circles has a simple meaning. Revelation is the act of God making himself, truths and information otherwise unavailable known. When the fact that the very nature of God can not be contained is combined with His desire to have a relationship with human kind, it must be made known. (John 3:16, II Peter 1:4) Revelation must occur. Now having defined revelation we will see that it can be subdivided into two categories.

1) General Revelation –
The first category is General (or Natural) revelation. General revelation is simply the act of God revealing himself by means of His creation. God reveals himself through nature. (Psalm 19:1-6, Romans 1:19-23) When we see the vastness of the night sky or the majesty of the mountains, when hear the power of the rolling thunder or the roaring rapids, when we feel the gentle breeze or the warmth of the sun we experience God. He and his character are revealed to us.

In addition, God reveals himself through people’s own consciousness (Romans 2:14-15). The fact that we are self aware, that we can learn and grow, that we have a concept of right and wrong is a testimony to God.

2) Special Revelation –
The second category is Special revelation. Where general revelation was God revealed through natural means, special revelation is the act of God revealing himself through means that are not “natural” or are “special.” These are divine action in history and include, though are not necessarily limited to, Miracles (Exodus 4:3-5, I Kings 18:30-39), Spoken Word (I Samuel 3, Acts 9:4), Visions (Isaiah 6), Angelic Visits (Luke 1:11-20), Dreams (Matthew 1:20), Incarnation of Christ (John 1:1, 14, 18) and Scripture (II Timothy 3:16).

Holy Scriptures –
The Bible is the most available form of special revelation. All 66 books of the Bible are the inspired word of God. What does this mean? Inspired literally means God-breathed (II Timothy 3:16). It refers to the way in which God has communicated his message through those who wrote the scriptures.

So what does it actually mean to be inspired or God Breathed. First, it is not dictation. That is to say that God did not simply say the words and the authors wrote them down word for word. Second, it does not mean that God simply gave the authors a nebulous concept to share as best they could. Rather, inspired means that God spoke the very words (Galatians 3:16) through the writers in their unique personalities and styles of writing (II Peter 1:21). That is to say, the scriptures are the very words of God, and at the same time they are the very words of the authors. As a result of this unique characteristic, the Bible may be understood through study and the illuminating guidance of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:12 – 13).

Further, as they are the very words of God, the scriptures are inerrant (John 10:34-35) in their original writings. The very fact that they were inspired (breathed) by God makes it impossible for them to contain errors. Having said this, it must be understood that this claim can only be made of the original writings as penned by the authors. (Thought through much study and research the current Bible is trustworthy.) That is to say the very words put on paper by the authors’ hand were the inerrant words of God.

Finally, the scriptures are the proven authority for life (Isaiah 55:11). The Bible itself testifies to this fact as did Jesus Christ. (II Samuel 22:31, John 17:7-8)

God has revealed himself. Though many of us may not experience miracles God speaking directly to us, visions, Angelic Visits and Dreams we can see Him through His Creation and we can know Him though His inspired word.