Category Archives: Bible

Thoughts and impressions directly associated with a bible section or verse

Toll of rejection

Being rejected more than once can be a bruise that will not heal quickly.  It seems to linger on until the next blow or rejection.  Sometimes you get to a point where you don’t feel quite as bad.  It becomes an acceptance of the off-color places in your soul.  It can even get to a place where you feel as though you deserve the abuse.  You feel like you don’t belong in the mainstream.  That you belong on the outside edge.  A place where you expect a disapproval.

In the Bible, a person like this would have been called unclean.  You start to feel like an outcast. You just want to give up.  You don’t want to be around those who tell you over and over, “You don’t belong here.”

Then comes the story from the Old Testament.  He was the son of Jonathan, who was the son of King Saul, Israel’s first king. You see Mephibosheth was disabled.  Both of his feet were useless.  In those days he would be called an outcast, a mistake, a person who didn’t belong.

When King David invited him and the rest of the family to join him to eat with him, he reacted just like someone who had been rejected so many times before.

In response to the invitation of King David, he hung his head down low and Mephibosheth said, “Who am I that you pay attention to a stray dog like me?” 2 Samuel 9:8.  You see rejection had taken its levy on his heart.  He could not see himself in the presence of the King, let alone eat with him. He had taken all the worlds opinion of him and deep down in his soul, he didn’t think himself worthy to be acknowledged, let alone invited in.

The church is becoming the instigator of pointing fingers at the different, the ones that don’t quite fit the mold.  And in response, those who need acceptance and love the most have started to believe the lies that they don’t belong. That they don’t matter. That the “church” will never have a place for them.

And yet King David, the man after God’s own heart, was not deterred. He insisted to Mephibosheth: “You belong here.”

And the story goes: Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, taking all his meals at the king’s table. He was lame on both feet.” 2 Samuel 9:13

Christians, churches, humanity — this must be our attitude toward anyone  and toward any person or group whom society has deemed “less than.” The fringes of society, the ones who are rejected turned away and told they don’t belong.

We must — like King David — insist otherwise.

Because if you are a human being, then you are indeed an image-bearer of the Most High God. So hear me when I say: You belong here.  You belong on this earth.  You belong at the King’s table.  You belong at the feet of Jesus.


Simple and easy

Luke 5 presents a unique insight into what it is to be open to guidance.  Guidance even from someone that is not an expert.

The air was permeated with the smells of old fish and rope.  The little ship had been out all night with Peter and his crew but with nothing to show for their efforts; not even a single straggler. They were bone tired and were washing and stretching their nets out on the beach to dry.   They were looking forward to a time of relaxation in the cool morning breeze with the gentile sun on their face.  These men were tired and just wanted to go home.  But here comes a crowd heading right for Peter and his freshly laundered nets.  There is no record of Jesus asking to use the boat but he needed a pulpit.  At risk of losing both his nets and boat Peter and his crew sat in the boat behind Jesus trying to stay awake as Jesus taught the crowd.

“When He finished teaching, He said to Simon, ‘push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch’”. (Luke 5:4).  It is with a little hint of sarcasm that Peter responds; “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow.”

Here was this itinerant teacher, without a synagogue in which to teach, telling me a full time journeyman master fisher how to fish.  The nets now well trampled had to be washed again. It did not look like Jesus was any hurry to get out of the boat. He continued to sit in the bow with a look of expectation and a smile that Peter would come to look for before any great lesson to be learned or miracle to be had.  With a rough hand over his brow to shadow his eyes from the early sun and knowing full well there were no fish to be had this time of day, Peter agreed.  He had the crowd move off the nets and placed them again in the boat and set off tired and  probably a little more than frustrated.  The instructions from Jesus were simple and not very creative.  “Go out to deeper water and throw out your net.”  It was a waste of time for the master fisherman. It went against all the experience and intuition accumulated over his career.

I don’t know where the fish were all night but everyone within a mile took a detour that morning and found the net.  Peter tried with all his strength and skill to bring the net it but it would not come because of all the fish.

Jesus did not explain it was a great miracle to show Peter some well needed lesson.  No new teaching for the fisherman.

Sometimes following Jesus is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.  Remember the one telling you to fish is also the one who created the fish.


Bible by Chapter and Verse

There are literally thousands of Bible study helps available.  There are commentaries written as academia and some for simple understandings.  There are handbooks, dictionaries, synoptic comparisons, expositions, translations, word studies in both Greek and Hebrew, parallel companions, daily Bible readings, prayer guides and on and on. I have to confess I have quite of few of these helps.  But every one of them depend on the work of another.  Never-the-less, without the work of a Bible scholar in England in the 13th century, it would have been much harder to study the Bible.

Stephen Langton was the medieval Archbishop of Canterbury.  He was the most prominent churchman in England. He was the one working with the Barons of England to force a faithless King John into signing the Magna Charta.  Quite a revolutionary for his time.  What this churchman is not well known for and the subject of this blog is something he added to the Bible that all the others that followed including me and you as we look through the Bible.  The next time someone asks you to lookup a verse in Isaiah they will give you a chapter and a verse number.  That convention was created by Stephane Langton.  He went through the entire Bible dividing it up in what, was to him, the most logical places to put chapters and delineate the verses.

Imagine how hard it would be to lookup John 3:16 if all you had was the text without any numbers to guide you along the way?  Each time the preacher says, “my text will be found in the fourteenth chapter and the third verse, you are depending upon the work of Stephen Langton.  Know full well his divisions were to the Latin Vulgate for the Holy Roman Church. But even after translation of scripture into all the languages of the world, Steven Langton stands in the background helping you find your favorite scripture.

Since the 13th century each expositor, scholar, printer, publisher, copier used this method.  Thank you Rev. Stephen Langton.

Glorious Unique

There are two epistles in the Bible that are most misunderstood: Romans and Hebrews.  I am doing a methodical study of Romans but I took a detour and opened my Bible to Hebrews this morning.  Hebrews 3:1.  “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, who we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.”  (NIV).

Fix your thoughts, consider, gaze upon, study view upon view, intensely stare until it becomes the only thing you see.  To open your eyes wide and do not squint at the blazing true Son.  Do not fear the burning of your eyes.  Be blind to all else.  Jesus is the perfect last sight.  Do not be afraid of being lost in the vision.

As Isaiah stood in the temple he was struck by a vision of God.  All else became blurred and shadow.  So we are to stop what we are doing focus only on the apparition of Jesus. Stare, focus until nothing else is as important.  Remember he is not just an historical figure.  He is the infinite Jehovah.  He was not just one person’s concept that bloomed into a religion.  Jesus our teacher and our priest.

It is only in a focus on Jesus do we really see our own predicament. Our vision, our fixation on Jesus reveals our place.  It is not a “What would Jesus do?” moment.  It is not a walk as he walked time.  It is not a comparative religion time.  Doing it the Jesus way is not the goal of our vision our fixation.  Our reason for gawking is a step to the Spirit of Christ.  Works are easy.  Doing things like Jesus is not as easy but doable. The problem is that we can do it all and not catch the vision of Jesus.  “If any man has not the Spirit of Christ – he is none of His”.  The motive, the reason for the fixation is to find not what to do but what to be.

Oh that we were more like that perfect vision.  Oh that because of that enraptured gaze we become more like the perfect character of Jesus.  If we could only grasp the heavenly demeanor, the sweet anger against sin, the heart that grasped a child, the mind that conceived a path for the sinner to find something more than self.

Today we look through a glass that is sometimes smoked over.  But for a glimpse of the divine knowing full well there is a day coming, when the full vision will be ours to behold.  We will behold the perfect. We will see more than an image in our minds but the Glorious Unique. No longer will we need to be exhorted to fix our minds.  It will be our minds.

Two By Two- Agreement from AMOS 3:3

Back in the day I was a enthusiast for dirt track racing.  Each Friday night I would accompany my Father-in-Law up to Chico’s dirt track and on Saturday it was Anderson.  We had worked all week to get the well bruised car running again and fix all that was broken.  Each race would start with the announcer proclaiming, “Here they come two by two just like ducks to water.”

Wouldn’t it be great if there were no disagreements in the church?  Wouldn’t it be great if we all just marched along two by two like ducks go to water?  The other day I over heard someone say there was a scriptural mandate for getting along.  They were saying  we should all agree in the church with a quote from Amos 3:3. They were saying there is no place of disagreement in Body of Christ.

I want express my disagreement with that philosophy.  There will always be disagreements in any organization that includes people.  A former pastor of mine used to say, “To dwell up above with the saints we love, that will be glory.  But to dwell here below with the saints we know, well that is a different story.”

Amos was not saying that two people have to agree on the same thing all the time. The scripture is not even about man and man. It is about God and man.

Let me add a number of translations of Amos 3:3

  • How can two walk together, except they be agreed? (King James Version & New King James Version)
  • Do two walk together, unless they have made an appointment? (Revised Standard Version & New Revised Standard Version)
  • Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? (New Living Translation)
  • Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment? (New American Standard)
  • Do two people start traveling together without arranging to meet? (Good News Translation
  • Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? (New International Version)

This is but one of many rhetorical questions in Amos. This question was asked to bring about conviction to the Israelites who were hearing the same thing from all the prophets. Amos asked them this question as a wake-up call for them to realize that all of God’s prophets were unanimous in prophesying the same thing against them because they had all received the same message from God.

The people were turning a deaf ear to ALL the prophets. Amos tried to convince them that the combined prophecy from these men were inspired by God’s Spirit. That’s why they could prophesy the truth. The two of them (Amos, the prophet) and (God, the giver of the prophecy) were indeed walking together.

There is nothing wrong with two people walking together. There is nothing wrong with two people agreeing with each other. However, know that the original meaning of the scripture was about God and man; not two humans.

From now on, let’s be aware that “the two” are not you and someone else. It should be you and God.
God and man cannot walk together, except they are agreed.

  • God and man must be clear about the same direction.
  • God and man must make an appointment to meet at the same place.
  • God and man cannot walk together if man is walking contrary to God.
  • You won’t feel God’s presence unless the two of you are walking in the same direction at the same time.

By the way it does help that you are going in the same direction: your spouse, your boss, your parents or your Pastor.  But remember God MUST be walking with you as well. Seek God’s glory and include Him in your walks. If one is out of step, guess which one it is?

Sins of leader vested upon the people?

I struggle with the concept of the sins of a leader are vested upon the people.  It is stated in the words of Moses:

Keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation. Exodus 34:7

My study today is found in II Samuel 24:1-4.  A quick boiled down commentary is needed first:

1.        God was angry with the divided Hebrew nations of Israel and Judah.

2.       God’ anger was characterized by a burning anger.

3.       God incited (encouraged or stir up) violent behavior of David to do something that the people would not like.

4.       The punishment of the two nations was to be a census.  This meant everyone that was not in their tribal lands had to return to be counted.

5.       David really didn’t understand the command from God and decided only to count the men at arms. He probably thought they were the only ones that counted.

a.       It was probably easier for David to delegate the job to someone else

b.       It was probably David’s thinking that his own people were protected by soldiers rather than God.

c.       God was angry at the people not at him.

6.       David gave the Joab and the army commanders with them to do the census of the rank and file of the army.  Then told them to report back when they were finished.

7.       Joab, trying to understand the need explained to David that the number of soldiers were not as important as the Lord God who led them.

8.       Joab questioned David as to why then did he need a census of the solders.

9.       David just told him to do it.

So the pain of a census was now moved from David measuring all the people, to the commanders who had to count the solders.  Joab and his commanders left and did what David the kind commanded.

Picking up the story at verse 10.

1.       Somehow,  between the time of the sending of Joab and the commanders  and the results being returned, David realized his mistake.

2.       David was filled with guilt and asked God to forgive him after a contrite confession.

3.       While still in bed the next morning Gad the prophet showed up and presented three options of punishment for David.

a.       Three years of famine

                                                               i.      They had just endured a famine a few years earlier

                                                             ii.      It affected both of the countries of Judah and Israel including David and his household.

b.       To be pursued for three months by his enemies.

                                                               i.      It would not affect the people.

                                                             ii.      It would be a punishment for David only.

                                                           iii.      I would put David’s on wellbeing in jeopardy.

c.       A plague across both nations for three days.

                                                               i.      It would affect the people

                                                             ii.      David probably assumed Jerusalem would be spared

4.       David responded with the one the least likely to affect him. “Don’t let me fall into human hands.”

5.       The Lord sent a plague and killed 1.3 million people.

6.       The plague was approaching David’s home in Jerusalem and he realized this sin of his might actually affect him.

7.       David cries out to the avenging angel of plague and realized he was the cause of the punishment and he was now close to being touched by his sin’s consequences.

8.       David OK let it fall on me and my family.

Here is the issue number one:  Who was God really angry with? 

1.       Was it at David the anointed king and leader of Judah?

2.       Was it at the two nations that could not join together to be the theocracy they were designed to be?

3.       Was it general anger at everything both the king and the nation were doing?

Here is my take in simple terms:  The people were not where they should be in their relationship to God.  David’s response was to interpret wrongly what God wanted and the people paid the price.

Now after all that I end up with the concept why did 1.3 million die by plague in Israel and Judah?  I don’t believe it was because David sinned by not doing what God wanted.  What God really wanted was for David to lead the nation back to a righteous relationship with God.  The people were punished severely for their behaviors, their conscious acts, for their rebellion, for not following the will of God.

A thought on Perfect

I was sitting in my office this afternoon cleaning out a number of files off of my temporary thumb drive because it was full and I wanted to save some more important files. I can across a picture I had taken a month or so ago. It was of two of the most perfect persons in the whole world. Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not prejudiced just because these two little souls are my grandkids. I caught myself getting a little misty and my analytical side broke in. What is perfection?
One of the oldest definitions is the one from Aristotle:
Perfect is that
1. which is complete — which contains all the requisite parts;
2. which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better;
3. which has attained its purpose.

The first of these definitions is a part of the second, but between the second and third there is a giant difference. Something or someone is perfect that could not be better and something that has attained the designed purpose.

I struggle with comparisons. And following Aristotle’s line of logic there is no comparison in perfection. One cannot be better than the other. A grandson who would rather ride a bicycle over home made jumps is no less perfect than a granddaughter who prefers a swing on a homemade contraption in my back yard. Blond long hair is no less perfect than short blond hair. A “I love you pop pop” filled with bravado is no less perfect than a little smile and two pointing fingers directed to the depths of my soul. Both of my grandkids are complete, nothing could be better and reaching their purpose.
What is perfect? Perfection is that which brings a teardrop to the eye.

Matthew 5:48Matthew 5:48

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.