Saturday, January 28, 2012

Psalm 19:7 – 14 “How to have devotions”


Psalm 19:7 – 14 “How to have devotions”

Devotions – time alone with God in prayer and reading the Bible.

***** Devotional Bible reading is different than Bible study.  It is looking for a “heart – word” from God.  It is relational in focus rather than “practical” or “intellectual.”

 1.        Ever struggle with devotions?

            a.         The “struggle:”
                        1.)        Some people struggle having devotions. 
                        2.)        Others struggle with the significance of devotions.
            b.         Reality:
                        1.)        “This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book.”

[NOT exactly correct… Fact: your relationship with God is often reflected in the time and effort you put into the Bible.  When your relationship is weaker the struggle is greater.]

                        2.)        “Busy” Does it seem that life start early and fast?

[Fact: you have time for what you make time for BECAUSE that is your priority.]

2.         So how do we have devotional Bible reading?

[Note: Psalm 19:1 – 6 is about “general revelation”… it is what everyone can know by looking at creation.  Psalm 7 – 11 is about “special revelation”… what is known through the Bible.  Psalm 19:12 – 14 is our response to what we know.]

            a.         Understand exactly what the Bible is:

                        1.)        [v 7] It is “perfect.” Literally: “entire” or “whole” or “complete.” It is spotless and harmless, as being absolutely well-meaning, and altogether directed towards the well-being of man. [K&D]
                        2.)        [v 7] It is “trustworthy.” It carries the idea of “certain,” “permanent,” “to support,” and “to nourish.”
                        3.)        [v 8] It is “right.” Meaning they are straight, upright, correct.
                        4.)        [v 8] It is “radiant.”
                        5.)        [v 9] It is “pure.”
                        6.)        [v 9] It is “firm.”         

            b.         Understand exactly what the Bible does:

                        1.)        [v 7] It revives, restores, and refreshes the soul.

Discovering the nature and will of God, the duty of people, the belief and practice for happiness now and into eternity… is like a cold drink of water on a hot day (or in our present case a hot chocolate on a cold day).

It is the point were the damage done by sin is undone as we turn to God through the Bible.  Reason and enlightened philosophy do NOT work (as someone claimed this week).  It is the work of God, through the Bible that transforms us.

                        2.)        [v 7] It makes wise the simple.

Teachable disciples continuing to walk in the instruction of the Bible… we have the movement from simple to mature!

                        3.)        [v 8] It gives joy to the heart.

Revived (KJV “converted”) then made wise… now rejoicing in that progress!  Sin and guilt are the curse of sin but the redeemed of the Lord, freed from sins terrorism, has joy!

                        4.)        [v 8] It gives light to the eyes.

Many get bogged down in despair… depression can cause us to pursue unsheathing things…  but living in the freedom of God’s Word there is “light.”  We no longer are slaves to sin.  We are no longer blinded by the “god of this age.” 

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature's night; thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” [Charles Wesley “And Can It Be?”]

                        5.)        [v 10” “They are more precious than gold… sweeter than honey.”
Gold is valuable… and shiny.  Honey is sweet… and some claim healing.  We desire the beauty of gold.  We desire the value of gold.  We enjoy the sweetness of honey.  Yet better than all that put together is found in the Bible.
                        6.)        [v 11] “By them your servant is warned.”

Ever notice that just about everything we purchase comes with a warning?  Certainly nobody is that stupid?  REALITY CHECK: when was the last time you complained or grumbled?  The Bible says that “unbelief” and cost a generation of Israel 40 years in the desert… dying.

If you had cancer, would you rather know about it and be able to do something about it?  Did you know that prostate cancer is the biggest risk to men… while colorectal is the third biggest cancer risk to men?  Both are easily treated if caught early enough… but mean don’t get checked… (obvious reason)

            c.         Understand that the Bible makes healthy demands on us.
                        1.)        [v 11] We are reminded that there is “great reward” in keeping the word of God.
So what’s the “reward?”  Eternal life, yes.  Joy now, yes.  But it also seems that we are spared all sorts of agony between here and there.
                        2.)        [v 12] We can be free from the darkness in our lives.

Errors, hidden faults, and the deceitfulness of our hearts all work to our downfall. We struggle in life and not know why. We argue with God and get no place.  Sometimes God gives us the desires of our heart but sends leanness into our soul.

                        3.)        [v 13] We can be free from the slavery of sin.

Willful sin is like an addiction.  It is presumptions BECAUSE we are expect God to forgive us afterwards… the problem is they rule over us and will harden our hearts to God.  They stuff up our ears and make us unwilling to listen.  They make us cover up and protect what ought to be brought out into the light and cleaned up.

3.         Why have devotions?

            a.         We need to deal with two things:

                        1.)        Our mouth.

Jesus said that it was out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks [Matthew 12:24].  James claimed that it corrupts the whole person and sets the whole course of life on fire [James 3:6].

                        2.)        Our heart. [The “will”]

Proverbs tells us “ABOVE ALL ELSE” to guard the heart BECAUSE everything in life comes from it.  Our choices, our attitudes, our emotional responses all come from the heart.

The heart is a picture of who we are… what we put into the heart will change it… and change our attitudes, our behavior, our words… everything.   

            b.         What words and thoughts (meditation) are you programming your heart with?
Are they pleasing and acceptable to the LORD?

4.         Final tips:

            a.         Set aside time… deliberately.  It’s an appointment to keep.
            b.         Pick a place… somewhere with no distractions.
            c.         Start the day with God, end the day with God.
            d.         If you have family make one of those times a family devotions.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Psalm 139 “How to understand Psalms correctly”


Psalm 139 “How to understand Psalms correctly”

Basic ideas in Hebrew poetry.

             a.         Hebrew poetry “rhymes” ideas… expansion, compare, contrast, etc…
            b.         Hebrew poetry must be understood in structure.
            c.         Hebrew poetry is meant to reach the heart in ways didactic (information) doesn’t

1.         Notice the structure:
           
            a.         Psalm 139 has four stanzas (separate unit of thought with a poem) of six verses each.
            b.         The four stanzas of Psalm 139 follow an ABAB pattern.
            c.         “A” is a “positive” thought process while “B” is a negative thought process.
***** This pattern is the key to understanding Psalm 139 BECAUSE the last stanza is NOT an orphan.  If fact, the last stanza is a strong response to the theological truths found in the first four. *****

2.         Notice the key thought(s):

            a.         Often it is found in the first verse: “You have searched me.”
***** Hint: often the key thought if found in reoccurring words or phrases/ideas. *****
            b.         Notice the key idea of each stanza:

[vv 1 – 6] God KNOWS me.
[vv 7 – 12] God SEES me.
[vv 13 – 18] God MADE me.
[vv 19 – 24] God TESTS me.
            c.         Note theological themes:
[vv 1 – 6] God is All-knowing (Omniscience)
[vv 7 – 12] God is present everywhere (Omnipresence)
[vv 13 – 18) God is all-powerful (Omnipotent)
[vv 19 – 24] God is the final judge.

3.         Expand the thoughts of each stanza:

I.          God knows me. [1 – 6]

            A.         This is a personal Psalm… it’s about a personal relationship with a personal God.
                        1.         God tracks our actions (“when I sit and when I rise”) [v 2]
                        2.         God inspects our thoughts (“perceive my thoughts from afar”) [v 2]
                        3.         God hears every word, even before we say it (“Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely”) [v 4]
                        4.         God knows our tendencies (“familiar with all my ways”) [v 3]

            B.         Privacy issues?
                        1.         It’s fearful and staggering to know our government and commercial interests track us and profile us…. (MI has a predictive program that is supposed to predict the possibility of an individual committing a future crime… for the purpose of preventing it.)
                        2.         Yet, God knows this BECAUSE that’s who God is… (“you hem me in” = surrounds me) [v 5]

***** Notice the positive thought process.  It is of awe.  This leads to the negative tone of the next stanza… it’s a natural one, “where can I go…” to escape this all-knowing God?*****

[Linnaeus] “Live innocently; God is present.”

II.         God SEES me. [7 – 12]

            A.         Can I flee? [v 7]
                        1.         Heaven or the grave? [v 8] “you are there”
                        2.         Flying or on the other side of the sea [v 9] “your hand will guide me… hold me fast”[v 10]
                        3.         “Surely darkness will hide me” [v 11] “darkness is as light to you” [v 12]

            B.         “Night” is often a metaphor for sin.
                        1.         We’d like to hide… we’d like to think God is not there when we deliberately sin.
                        2.         Natural desire to be “alone” to do whatever we want to do… but we are not. Jesus said that “men love darkness instead of light BECAUSE their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)

III.        God MADE me. [13 – 18]

            A.         This is an all inclusive special act of creation:
                        1.         [v 13] “inmost being” who we are as a person… (mind) soul/spirit
                        2.         [v 15] “my frame” (skeleton/bones), “woven together” (joint and muscles)
                        3.         [v 16] “all the days” (skills, abilities… everything that I would become)

            B.         Fact: we are moral and accountable beings.
                        1.         We are made for this life and eternity.
                        2.         Made in His image and redeemed with Jesus blood.
                        3.         PROBLEM: we are troubled with outward defects but not troubled by the greatest deformity of the spirit… our separation from God due to sin.

***** God designed everyone on purpose, with a purpose. Everyone reflects the image of God somehow… that’s why God takes the ending of life personally. *****

IV.        God TESTS me. [19 – 24]

            A.         A dark twist… David seems to join God and express his frustration at “sinners.”
                        1.         Makes sense… if God KNOWS everything and God SEES everything and God can DO anything, then it is best to be on God’s side…. Right?
                        2.         Outcry: “slay the wicked” [v 19]
                        3.         Outrage: “away from me you bloodthirsty” [v 19]
                        4.         Offended: “misuse your name” [v 20]
                        5.         Opposition: “I had those who hate you” [v 21] “nothing but hate” [v 22]

            B.         Remember the ABAB pattern (positive, negative, positive, negative]?
                        1.         At this point David seems to have an “oh poop” moment.
                        2.         What is David guilty of?

Is David wicked: think what he did with Bathsheba.
Is David bloodthirsty: think what he did with his friend and Bathsheba’s husband.
(David was denied the honor of building the temple because he was “a man of blood.”)

***** At this point, David is crying out to God against people just like him. ****

            C.         Reality: if you are going to throw rocks at your neighbor’s glass house you are going to be breaking your own in the process.  That speck in the other person’s eye vs the plank in your eye.
                        1.         “Search me” (v 23) The spotlight is now turned back on himself…
                        2.         “Know my heart” (v 23) David stops running.  David stops finger-pointing.
                        3.         “Test me” (v 23) David is willing to put himself in the line of fire of God’s justice and wrath.
                        4.         “Know my anxious thoughts” (v 23) True is that we are more interested in joining our cherished sins in dreading God than joining a reconciling God against hated our sins. (William Arnot)
                        5.         “See if there is any offensive way in me” (v 24)

***** Fact: sin hides from us, prevents us from understanding our true condition, makes us think we are more virtuous and righteous than we are. *****

4.         Draw a conclusion

            a.         Prayerful examination is difficult, unsatisfactory, almost impossible (James Vaughan)  but absolutely necessary.
            b.         Don’t mock God by asking then make no effort to act on the result of the scrutiny. (Henry Melville)
            c.         The reason you are brave enough to pray this prayer (morning and evening) is that you want God to LEAD you.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2 Timothy 2:14 – 16 “How to use the Bible correctly”


2 Timothy 2:14 – 16     “How to use the Bible correctly”

I.          What does it say?
            A.         There is a duty to us regarding the Bible.
                        1.         We must “correctly handle the word of truth.”
                                    a.         This is important because something is at stake.
                                    b.         We will see this when we expand the context (unit of thought).
                        2.         This duty is enforced by a test.
                                    a.         Paul tells Timothy, “as one approved.”
                                    b.         The image is one who has passed a test… become competent.
            B.         The is a duty toward others.
                        1.         Context: (larger unity of thought)… Is the reminding and warning of God’s                                     people.
                                    a.         AGAINST quarreling about words [v 14]
                                    b.         AVOID godless chatter [v 16]
                        2.         Why is this important?
                                    a.         Avoid what is of no value (saves time).
                                    b.         Avoid what ruins us (saves the soul).
                                    c.         Avoid becoming more and more ungodly (saves our character and                                                 behavior). (In verse 17 it uses the image of gangrene.)
II.         How do you do this?
            A.         Start with the tools:
                        1.         A clear translation (many fail because the translation they use is difficult                                      for them to read… it’s foggy).
                        2.         Find a concordance… “an alphabetical index of the principal words”                                              [dictionary.com]  Generally found in the back of a Bible.
[Useful alternative: cross references… generally found in the “center column.”  Concordance has short sentence so you can scan it quickly.]
                        3.         Paper and pen (or pencil)… Some has said that a pen is the best set of                                           eyes you have.  [Idea: keep this as a journal… it shows your thought                                               process.]
            B.         Follow the path….
                        1.         Lots of ideas and models available….
                        2.         Here’s how I do this…

III.        I use a three step process: Observe, Interpret, Application
            A.         Observe… Start with one unit (small then expand to larger… CAUTION a unit of thought must not lose focus).
                        1.         Common sense… what does the text say?
                                    a.         Start with the natural reading and understanding of what you are                                                  looking at.
                                    b.         Remember that words find meaning in relationship to others.
[Ill.  Printer, road, glossy, bold, folded…. (Did I just make sense?) Of a Deep Space 9 show where a virus hit the victims’ brain… they spoke words but because the words were out not connected then there was not meaning.]
                                    c.         Context: the relationship of one word to another… sentence…                                                         paragraph.
                        2.         Proficient:
                                    a.         What kind of literature is it?
                                                1.)        2 Timothy is an “Epistle” (letter)… both personal and                                                                       instruction.
                                                2.)        Epistles are straight forward in linear logic… one idea leads                                                           to the next.  (More on types of literature tonight.)
                        3.         Advanced:
                                    a.         Historical context…
                                                1.)        Paul is writing to Timothy a very personal letter on how to                                                              do ministry.  
                                                2.)        The principles are good for all to follow even if you are not                                                                        in the formal ministry.)
                                                3.)        At this point… admit to an underlying belief: “priesthood                                                                 of the believers.” EVERY believer is in ministry (one why or                                                                        another).
                                    b.         Greek….
                                                1.)        “Do your best…” KJV starts with “study” (word picture).                                                                   Literally carries ideas of “hungry” or “diligent” and                                                                                     “obedient.”
[Image of someone who is preparing for something that is very important… getting a driver’s license.]
                                                2.)        “correctly handles” Gr… word picture of cutting straight.
[Image of Paul, who was a tent maker… the straighter the cut of the fabric the less waist, the easier to use, the better the final product is going to look.]
                        4.         Paper and pen observation:
                                    a.         Outline the unit of thought… make the connections.
                                                1.)        Look for repeating words, phrases, or ideas.
                                                2.)        Highlight the “little words.” [I capitalize them]
                                                            a.)        But, even though… PURPOSE
                                                            b.)        As, for, so… CORRELATION
                                                            c.)        To, also, like… COMPARISON
                                                            d.)        So then, therefore… RESULTS
                                                            e.)        Until, now, then… TIIME
                                    b.         Look for a key word (or two… if the passage is longer)

            B.         Interpret (Not that you know what it says, it’s time to understand what it says!)
                        1.         Write out the timeless truth(s) [depending on how long the unit is].
                                    a.         Idea: What is the principle that applies to everyone at all times.
                                    b.         Stick with the obvious.  Keep the “face value.”
                                    c.         Be aware of and honestly admit when you impose another idea                                                     on the text.
                                    d.         FALSE TEACHERS love to use the word “context” to misdirect the                                                   obvious, plain, and simple meaning of the text.  (Almost always                                                      the “context” of the wider message of the Bible will mean a                                                     theological grid…. Key to pick up on this is when the “context”                                                     disagrees with what you are reading…. Or is used to explain away the meaning.)
                        2.         Using the concordance (or cross reference) see if there are other                                                  passages that address the same truth.  RULE: “Scripture interprets                                                 Scripture.”
                                    a.         What we are doing is “connecting the dots.”
                                    b.         Example: we will notice 2 Timothy 3:14 – 17
                                                1.)        Observe the Bible will make us “wise for salvation.”
                                                2.)        Observe the Bible is useful for four things…
                                                3.)        Observe the Bible is used for a final goal “thoroughly                                                                      equipped for every good work.”
“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” [Ephesians 2:10]
                        3.         How does this connect with Jesus?
                                    a.         Maybe it has something to do with our fallen condition.
                                    b.         Maybe it has something to do with God’s grace
                                    c.         Maybe it has something to do with salvation or justification.
                                    d.         Maybe it has something to do with holiness.
           
            C.         Application… what does God want?
                        1.         Categories of what God may want:
                                    a.         What do I need to believe?
                                    b.         What do I need to see?
                                    c.         What do I need to feel?
                                    d.         What do I need to want?
                                    e.         What do I need to do?
                        2.         Clues in the text:
                                    a.         Pay attention to the verbs!
                                    b.         Adjectives and Adverbs are commentary.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” [v 15 NIV2011]

Friday, January 13, 2012

Clear Translation Needed

Just up-loaded the audio for the 1.8.12 sermon.

Have you ever wondered why you struggled with reading your Bible?  Here's an idea to help you.