Bible

 

Man praying with the BibleI have started reading a different translation lately. I am reading the New Living Translation (NLT) and I was told it’s on a 6th grade reading level. I really like it so I guess that says a lot about my mental capacity! One of the things that ignited my passion for God’s Word is when I read a different version and started hearing the truth differently that I had heard since I was a kid. I still love The Message (paraphrase) by Eugene Peterson as it paraphrases the Word of God in everyday, contemporary language.

I came across a passage of scripture this morning where Jesus is addressing the “religious leaders” who were calling Him out for healing on the Sabbath. He had instructed a man who had been lame for 38 years to get up and walk and take his mat with him. The religious leaders majored on the minors quite frequently. They were upset that the man was carrying his mat. They were also upset that the man was healed on the Sabbath. They seem to miss the point for sure. Jesus starts explaining Who He is and that frustrates the religious leaders even more. He then speaks clearly where the issue really is. Check this out…

39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. (John 5:39 NLT)

If I read the Bible and miss seeing Jesus; I’ve missed the point of The Word completely. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, this Word of God is about The Word of God – Jesus. The Old Testament sets up His coming to earth and the New Testament introduces Him to the world and shows us how to live and follow Him.

I don’t want to become so dogmatic about studying the Bible that I miss The Point of the Bible – Jesus. I would not know Him without the Bible. He changed my life starting many years ago. He is still changing my life today. The way He lived – The way He loved – It’s all in the Bible. He is God Who came to the world as a human and lived and worked among us. He not only saved me from hell; He inspires me to live in a way that honors my Creator. The Presence of Jesus in my life via His Spirit has changed my perspective and my response to everything. I enjoy reading the Bible to hear more from Him and more about Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Quick

quickI grew up playing basketball every chance I had. In Kentucky, basketball was to preferred sport. It’s a fast-moving game and quickness really counts. Quickness counts in lots of sports – football, tennis, NASCAR, swimming, just to name a few. Golf on the other hand, doesn’t require quickness as much as it does accuracy and distance. Quickness even helps in baseball even though it’s a “slow-moving” game, the quickness of players and the bat speed when hitting matters. Quickness matters a good bit even in my everyday life.  I think it is in James where we are challenge with good quickness to listen. Check this out…

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19 NIV)

I have much to learn about quickness. I have learned over the years that if I respond to situations too quick, I might make a mistake. However, if I move too slow, the decision is irrelevant. Asaph reminds the people of Israel to return to following the Lord because He responds quickly. Check this out….

13 “If my people would only listen to me,
    if Israel would only follow my ways,
14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies
    and turn my hand against their foes!
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
    and their punishment would last forever.
16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
    with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” (Psalm 81:13-16 NIV)

I want to start every day seeking counsel from the Lord. I want to give Him each day at the very beginning of the day. I want Him to direct my path each day. I want to follow His guidance each day. I want to hear from Him all throughout the day. I can’t begin to describe the peace that rules my heart, when my life is surrendered to Him. I have given up control, but He has everything under control because I trust Him. He is so quick to respond to my needs, my requests, my hurts and my joys!  I can’t imagine my life without the Lord leading.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Right Response

 

Man praying with the BibleI remember as a kid that I hated to disappoint my parents in disobedience. I also remember a parent sending one of my kids to their room while I decided on a punishment. This delay sometimes helped me to calm down before handing out the discipline that was called for. I could tell when I got to the child’s room if they had the proper attitude of repentance.

The Lord responds to repentance. When the young king Josiah was only 26 years old he started repairing the temple to it original beauty and splendor. In the renovation process, an original book of the law was found. It was brought to the king who read it and repented. He then sent word that he wanted to inquire of the Lord about repentance and what he read there about what might be coming upon the people due to their disobedience over the years. Check this out…

26 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of the Lord, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 27 because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. 28 Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.”’

So they took her answer back to the king. (2 Chronicles 34:26-28 NIV)

The Lord loves a humble and repented heart. He was moved by Josiah’s humility and therefore he didn’t live to see the punishment that was being handed down for the nations previous disobedience.

I believe humility is a core component for me as a Christ follower to have. I believe that the Lord despises a prideful heart. There are times when I can become “proud” of humility and this hurts the Lord’s heart. I am not above being humbled when my pride puffs me up. It is crazy how fast my pride can swell and cause me pain when humility is imposed.

Jesus told the story of a religious leader and a tax collector who were both at the temple praying. The religious leader was proud of himself and prayed a haughty prayer about he was thankful that he wasn’t a sinner like others including the tax collector who was broken and humble before the Lord. In fact the tax collector was so humiliated by his sin that he couldn’t lift his eyes. Jesus spoke to the contrast of this situation. Check this out…

14 ‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’ (Luke 18:14 NIV)

I want to approach the Lord in humility. I’m not all that. I am a sinner saved by God Who has no limitations on His grace. I deserve to be punished, but instead He saved me and welcomed me into His family. I’m forgiven and full of hope because of Jesus. He is living in me and through me. I can’t take credit for anything I’ve done or said – it’s Him not me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Return

 

u turn sign clip art cartoon illustrationThis word can be a noun or a verb. As a verb it means to go back to a place or turn one’s attention back to something. As a noun it means an act of going back to a place or activity or an act of going back to a previous condition. Whether the word return is used as a noun or verb, it implies coming back or going back to something or someone. The Lord has watched me return to Him many times over the years. I somehow get it in my head that I can live without Him and I try only to fail miserably. He always welcomes my return.

Zechariah was speaking on behalf of the Lord as He calls for the return of His people. Check this out…

2 ‘The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore tell the people: this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Return to me,” declares the Lord Almighty, “and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

16 ‘Therefore this is what the Lord says: “I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,” declares the Lord Almighty.

17 ‘Proclaim further: this is what the Lord Almighty says: “My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.”’ (Zechariah 1:2-3; 16-17 NIV)

Sometimes when I see the word return, I see it as retreat. I might see it as failure and I’m coming back to “lick my wounds” before trying again. I think retreat is necessary in battle when I’m up against a tough opponent. I should take a step back to assess and gain perspective on the situation.

In this passage the Lord is promising to return to His people as they return to Him. He is very willing to accept me back home, I need to move in His direction. I enjoy going on short trips rather than long trips, because I love being home. When I’m walking in step with the Lord and I feel His Presence in me it is like being home multiplied many times over. Being at home with the Lord is a place of comfort, peace, steady heart, filled with love and grace. Every time I leave His Presence, I miss what I have with Him and I return again and again.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Power of Repentance

 

I am sorryI believe in repentance. If I’m repentant, then my heart is humble and I’m taking ownership of my behavior and my screw-ups. Repentance is a perquisite to restoration. Repentance cleans up the mess that confession has made. I need repentance on a daily basis. I own my mistakes and profoundly apologize for them.

Jonah gets a second chance to follow the Lord’s leading. Check this out…

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’

3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.’ 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

‘By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.’

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:1-10 NIV)

Repentance is the proper response to the truth.

Repentance is the proper response to a warning from God.

Repentance is the expression of humility from sinful mistakes.

Repentance is turning from the wrong direction and heading toward the Lord.

The people of Nineveh really responded to Jonah’s preaching. In three days he turned the entire city toward the Lord. This is really the proper response to Jonah’s message. The Lord had compassion because of their repentance. This journey of Jonah speaks volumes about the compassion of God. I’m a grateful recipient of The Lord’s Compassion.

Pressing On!

Dwayne