VIDEO Learn to Fear

Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Psalm 34:11

Think about how much time we invest in learning in our modern society. We begin with one year of kindergarten, then twelve years of graded school, then four years of college, then up to five years of graduate school. Then, for some professions, like the medical field, there are three to seven more years of specialty training. Some people spend twenty years or more learning because education is valuable and usually contributes to greater success in life.

But how often do we think about learning to fear the Lord? That is, do we consider growing deeper and deeper in our relationship with Him as a “curriculum” of sorts? A curriculum that lasts a lifetime? This was a common theme in the nation of Israel. Citizens of Israel were expected to be taught how to fear the Lord—how to honor Him, trust Him, love Him, worship Him, and more. And the main vehicle for that learning was the Word of God—the words of His law (Deuteronomy 31:12-13).

When you read and study your Bible, think of it as learning to fear the Lord—a curriculum that lasts a lifetime.

Let us learn to trust [God] for who He is. Elisabeth Elliot

Psalm 34 • Taste and see that the Lord is good

Slum Songs

They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Isaiah 35:10

Cateura is a small slum in Paraguay, South America. Desperately poor, its villagers survive by recycling items from its rubbish dump. But from these unpromising conditions something beautiful has emerged—an orchestra.

With a violin costing more than a house in Cateura, the orchestra had to get creative, crafting its own instruments from their garbage supply. Violins are made from oil cans with bent forks as tailpieces. Saxophones have come from drainpipes with bottle tops for keys. Cellos are made from tin drums with gnocchi rollers for tuning pegs. Hearing Mozart played on these contraptions is a beautiful thing. The orchestra has gone on tour in many countries, lifting the sights of its young members.

Violins from landfills. Music from slums. That’s symbolic of what God does. For when the prophet Isaiah envisions God’s new creation, a similar picture of beauty-from-poverty emerges, with barren lands bursting into blooming flowers (Isaiah 35:1–2), deserts flowing with streams (vv. 6–7), castaway war tools crafted into garden instruments (2:4), and impoverished people becoming whole to the sounds of joyful songs (35:5–6, 10).

“The world sends us garbage,” Cateura’s orchestra director says. “We send back music.” And as they do, they give the world a glimpse of the future, when God will wipe away the tears of every eye and poverty will be no more.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

How have you seen God turn the “garbage” of your life into something beautiful? How might He wish to bring “music” out of your pain?

Holy Spirit, turn the poverty in my life into something beautiful.

When Human Strength Fails

2 Samuel 11

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul says that God provides us an escape route whenever we are tempted. But what happens when we refuse to take the help and instead implement our own ideas? Eventually, our human strength fails, and we give in to temptation. So it was with King David. He’d experienced the Lord’s rescue countless times, but he still allowed temptation to fill his mind and dictate his actions. And it came with consequences.

In today’s passage, we see that David took some time off and stayed at the palace, which probably appeared harmless enough—one of the perks of being king. And requesting Bathsheba’s presence must have seemed like a pathway to pleasure. But these choices led to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband and set in motion a cover-up. Ultimately, the Lord demanded an accounting.

Like David, we may consider the company we keep, places we go, and choices we make as relatively harmless. But later, after we’ve succumbed to temptation, we’re filled with regret.

Fortunately, that is not the end of the story for the king or for us. David’s heartfelt repentance was accepted by God, and if we confess, ours will be, too (1 John 1:9). Ask the Lord today for discernment to recognize the temptations in front of you and the strength to take His way of escape.

Reporting on the Parables

“And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.” (Mark 12:1)

This parable of the vineyard had an obvious meaning, for even “the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders” to whom He was speaking (Mark 11:27) “knew that he had spoken the parable against them” (Mark 12:12). The same parable and the events surrounding it are reported in Matthew 21:33-46 and Luke 20:9-16.

But there is another question that has been raised about this parable, as well as all the other parables that have been reported in two or more different gospels. That is, if the Bible is inerrant in its very words as Jesus taught (e.g., Matthew 5:18; John 10:35), then why did the writers often vary in their reporting of the words of the parable?

It should be remembered, however, that Jesus probably spoke in Aramaic, whereas the written accounts were in Greek. Furthermore, two of the writers (Mark and Luke) were not present at the time so would have to obtain their accounts from someone who was there (e.g., Luke 1:1-2). Flexibility in translation and reporting is always possible with different translators and different reporters.

The doctrine of divine inspiration of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), however, applies not to the process but to the result. The Spirit of God was free to use the writer’s own research, vocabulary, and style in reporting an event so long as there were no factual errors or irrelevancies in the final result. In fact, such minor differences often give greater depth and credence to the reported event since they help in proving that the different writers were not in collusion but simply telling of a real event from different perspectives. HMM

Public Reading of Scripture

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. —1 Timothy 4:13

Of course we of this generation cannot know by firsthand experience how the Word of God was read in other times. But it would be hard to conceive of our fathers having done a poorer job than we do when it comes to the public reading of the Scriptures. Most of us read the Scriptures so badly that a good performance draws attention by its rarity.

It could be argued that since everyone these days owns his own copy of the Scriptures, the need for the public reading of the Word is not as great as formerly. If that is true, then let us not bother to read the Scriptures at all in our churches. But if we are going to read the Word publicly, then it is incumbent upon us to read it well. A mumbled, badly articulated and unintelligent reading of the Sacred Scriptures will do more than we think to give the listeners the idea that the Word is not important….

We should by all means read it, and we should make the reading a memorable experience for those who hear.   NCA027

Lord, as we read the Scriptures publicly, we are both declaring the very Word of God Himself and drawing people into an experience of worship. Help us never to take that lightly or address it carelessly. Amen.

The Evidence of Power

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. —2 Corinthians 4:7

A sharp contrast is observable between Spirit-filled Christians of St. Paul’s time and many who claim to be filled with the Spirit today. Paul’s converts received the Spirit by faith to be sure, but they actually received Him: thousands now go through the motion of taking Him by faith, and believe they do so take Him, but show by their continued feebleness that they do not know Him in real power….

And unless they see it differently later and decide to go through the hard way, they are fated to spend the rest of their lives in secret disappointment.

Let it be remembered that no one ever received the Holy Spirit’s power without knowing it. He always announces Himself to the inner consciousness. God will pour out His Spirit upon us in answer to simple faith, but real faith will be accompanied by deep poverty of spirit and mighty heart yearnings. PTP056-057

The essential condition of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to yield everything to God, even the things that in themselves may be harmless. Why? For no other reason than to prove our will is wholly laid down and that God is all in all. CTBC, Vol. 2/244

The Strongest Force in History

Luke 24:4, 12

Sorrow and love sleep lightly. As a result, it was early in the morning when the women found their way to Jesus’ tomb. In their hands they carried, as a representation of the love in their hearts, spices to anoint the body of Jesus. When they came to the tomb they found the stone rolled away. Luke tells us that “While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them” (24:4).

Guilt and shame also sleep lightly. Peter had spent sleepless nights as he thought about his failure in denying and deserting Christ. When the word reached him that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty, he rushed to see if it was true. Luke tells us, “He saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened” (24:12).

Jesus challenged the two foes that people in all their strength cannot handle-sin and death—and conquered them both. The empty tomb stands as the strongest force in history. There is a power in the resurrection that gives deep meaning and purpose to life.

Wondering minds, then and now, begin to see from the signal event in history that truth is stronger than a lie. The claim of the resurrection is so great that, if true, nothing else matters, and if not true, it is the biggest deception ever.

Most of the disciples died violent, agonizing deaths. While men may die for what they think to be true, they will not die for what they know to be a lie. Truth is stronger than a lie.

The whole existence of the church rested on the strength of the resurrection. After the crucifixion, the disciples found themselves despondent and despairing. But after seven weeks and Pentecost, a very different Peter preached to a mob.

A new sense of power was experienced. Apart from the resurrection, there would be no church. If the enemies of Jesus had succeeded, that which is false would have been shown to be stronger than truth.

Wondering minds, then and now, begin to see from the strongest force in history that life is stronger than death.

The resurrection is the strongest force in history, for it shows us that truth is stronger than a lie, love is stronger than hate and life is stronger than death.

John Busby, The War Cry