Wird Geladen

Lessons from my own bible study

Archive for the category “Bible”

1 Corinthians 2:11

Is there anyone who can understand his own thoughts except his own inner spirit? In the same way, no one can know the thoughts of God except God’s Spirit.

This effectively splits us into two parties in one brain. The Conscious Man who’s having thoughts he doesn’t understand, and The Spirit of the man, who understands and interprets the thoughts. That’s comforting. At least SOMEBODY understands me.

Unfortunately this translation of this verse gives no guarantee that the spirit will clue the idiot side in.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

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1 Corinthians 2:7-8

7 But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

“None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (v.8).” A different translation calls them “The princes of this age”. It’s kind of an insinuation about the quality of our role models. Paul seems to be saying, “Your celebrities, the princes and authority figures, the people you give your time and effort into obsessing over- the people on TV, the glamorous job in this or that industry, the address you wish you could say you lived at, they lead to nothing. You’re following the wrong horse, because their flashy gold or lavish lives or book smarts or accomplishments or skills or nice features are not leading them or you toward God. In fact they’re actively working against Godliness by distracting your mind from fulfillment. They’re crucifying the Lord of Glory, as are we all, every time we choose wickedness over God.”

Compare that to the power of the wisdom which comes from God. “Which God decreed for our glory”, meaning our glorification- literally our improvement. I’m all about self improvement. I’m bad at mental math and analytical thinking. I wish I were better with numbers, less forgetful, more detail oriented, and focused. I wish my brain worked a lot better than it does, lets put it that way. I understand now that God is the road to my self improvement. More than these mind-sharpening apps and self-help books I’ve got, God can provide actual change at the foundational level. Our improvement is actualized by the power of God. Just since beginning this Word of Wisdom series I’m not forgetting things anymore. Little details don’t escape my notice, and I make fewer and fewer stupid mistakes. I don’t even get distracted as much. This is because I know I’m growing. When I forget something, I pray to God, “Thank you, God, for improving me away from such stupid mistakes. I know that next time my mind will be clearer and your wisdom will make me that much more capable. I’m getting better, God, by your Power.” This is working because I’m choosing to go where I know wisdom exists, and away from Death and Destruction. I’m turning down temptation to sin and devote my mind to frivolous matters (TV princes and the ruling wisdom of my day, for example). The improvement I see in myself is a demonstration of God’s power for everyone to see.

And not so I would be glorified, but so I would be improved. So that I can get prepared to use His power. I started this whole series because I wanted to know God’s will for my life. Wouldn’t that make the job search/city search easier if I knew where God wanted me to go? But we need to be useful in order to be used. In order to find out what God’s will for my life is, I first need to be capable of fulfilling that will. The wisdom of God teaches me everything I need to know so that I can become mature, powerful, and capable of achieving my potential. Because we need to be capable, trustworthy, of using the power. No one gets the power of God who isn’t of the right spirit to use it.  That’s why it is “Secret and hidden”. And until I understand the fear of God, His will for me is to seek and find that understanding wholeheartedly.

God can’t be glorified until we’re glorified. We cannot have God’s power until we understand what it’s for. We do not get God’s power until we seek Him. And then it WORKS.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

Romans 11:33

33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Those depths are  a part of us. Imagine that chest from Harry Potter. Open up the first keyhole, it’s got some clothes in it. Open up the second key hole there’s whatever. Third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and then  get to the seventh keyhole and it’s a tunnel! The depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God are not outside of ourselves but within, available and brimming with the Christ Truth of all things. Paul says “Oh! My God! The depths of that cavern which in my heart holds your riches and wisdom and knowledge…I can’t even…I don’t…” He speaks as if he’s seen it.

Within those depths I believe lives every other human soul. Since those depths are inside of us, then we are all a part of one another as part of God. One. Jesus knew the depths of his soul. He alone had gone to the walls, and knew the layout of the inside of the Cave of Wonders in his heart. That’s how he was able to connect with every living person on the planet. That’s how he is able to love us- because he knows us there. That’s how Jesus healed the sick, too. He saw the healthy person inside of every sick person, and called out “Come up here!” We all have this power. The deeper into the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God we go, the further out into the world we spread, and the more we connect to it, heal it, and love it.

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Job 28 (Part of the Word of Wisdom Series)

Yes! So many good things in here.

Who: Job

What: Compares jewels/gold to wisdom/understanding

Why: “[Wisdom] cannot be bought with the finest gold.” v. 13

Here’s some great pull-out quotes:

“But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? Man does not comprehend its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living (v. 12-13).” Certainly in our culture today, apparently in Job’s thousands of years ago, wisdom and understanding are not prized. People spend so little effort, or maybe I should say so few people spend a great deal of effort, actually trying to become wise, and gain understanding of their world and life. We disregard wisdom and understanding; we just don’t get how important, useful, valuable, wonderful, precious, terrible, difficult, rare, majestic, helpful, valuable,  worthwhile they are. Now gold, on the other hand, rubies, sapphires, silver, iron, ore, oil, cast, bitches, TV’s, paintings, end tables, rugs, cars, houses, registered breed dogs, fancy maps, bedknobs and broomsticks- we’ll scratch and beat our way through years and years of solidified shit to get our hands on. We forsake what is valuable and truly hard to get for what is fleeting and within our reach. Job says “Neither gold nor jewels can compare with [wisdom] (v. 17),” in terms of beauty and worth. Actual worthiness. Actual value. Truth. True meaning- wisdom has some, gold has none.

“God understands the way to [wisdom] and he alone knows where it dwells (v. 23).” In fact it says, when God was setting up the Earth, at the very beginning when he was measuring out the waters and calculating the gale force speed for the wind and such, he was also organizing wisdom. It is a precious resource in this world just like the oceans, the rain, the ore, the gold. “He looked at [wisdom] and appraised it; he confirmed and tested it.” This is metallurgy imagery. Appraisals, like diamonds, measured for worth; testing, like gold, measured for strength and purity. God worked on this wisdom just like we men work on gold. You can practically hear the clang of his hammer on the anvil, beating understanding into shape. You can smell the burning and the sweat on his brow as he worked, truly expended effort, to clarify and perfect the wisdom and understanding which would fill up this world. Gold he simply laid down on the ground; the wisdom he made. And then he gave it to us. He told us where to go to find it. “He said to man ‘The fear of the Lord- that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding (v. 28).'”

Well I have not been shunning evil. I have feared the Lord, I think. But I have no understanding yet, of what that means. What it means is that I shun evil. To fear the Lord means to be on his side. A respect, hunger, appreciation, use of all things good is wisdom. Understanding this world, how we live in it, how it works for us, how we work for it, begins and ends with casting evil out of it. We are not made for evil. Gold is not made for evil. The rocks and stones and dust and leaves and animals are not made to interact with evil. We’ve got to understand that evil is anathema to the smooth running of our world (metaphysical plane). Shun it. Get it out. One man at a time turn your back on evil and make it leave- send it down to the depths to dwell with the gold and iron-ore. Shun evil, and wisdom shall prevail. “It means to have respect and reverence for God and to be in awe of his majesty and power. That is the starting point to finding real wisdom.”

“Miners put an end to darkness, and search out to the farthest bounds for the ore in gloom and deep darkness (v. 3).” Look what we’re willing to go through to get this junk. We gladly, eagerly, descend into gloom and darkness. We subject ourselves to utter misery, “far from where people dwell…they sway suspended, remote (v. 4)”, in search of these riches.

Another interpretation of (v.13) says “Mortals do not know the way to it, and it is not found in the land of the living.” Men do not have wisdom to give and share. Reading philosophy books or looking to leaders and thinkers is no way to find a path through life. They are blind leading the blind. “No leader can produce enough insight to explain the totality of human experience.”  A complete view of us humans, our lives and everything included in it, is available to God. “He looks to the ends of the Earth, and sees everything under the heavens.” We, therefore, can also see that. We can see where we are going, form plans, ideas, prioritieswe can get things right! Gold gives us no method of achieving that. I gives no achievement whatsoever. Nothing we can possibly buy or read or forge in fire or program on a computer can give us that insight. Only The Bible. “When looking for guidance, seek God’s wisdom as revealed in the Bible. To be lifted above and beyond the boundaries of life, we must know and trust the Lord of life.” To be lifted above and beyond the boundaries of life.

This has been part of the Word of Wisdom Series

“I Have Crossed The Jordan With Only This Stick”

Jacob prayed: Oh God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant. For with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies.
                                                                                                        Genesis 32:9 & 10

25-second context: Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, took advantage of him for 20 years of indentured servitude. In that time Jacob amassed vast wealth and a huge household. After getting tired of being scammed he fled with his wives, 11 children, slaves, cohorts, and vast herds back to Canaan.

This is my new favorite verse of the Bible! An encouraging prayer for the power of God even when we are unable or unwilling to accept it. He is in power, not we. And isn’t that a comforting thought; that we should reap the benefits of His goodness, steadfastness, wisdom, and love even though we don’t think we ought to.

Jacob’s feeling of unworthiness didn’t come from sin, or lacking righteousness. He’s talking about the feelings of inadequacy, doubt, unworthiness that come from being limited by our own lack of skill. I don’t deserve these blessings because I am not wise enough, smart enough, skilled enough, hard-working enough, nice enough, liked enough to go out and get them on my own. I don’t deserve these blessings because they don’t represent the achievements I’m capable of. I don’t deserve these blessings because I’m literally not good enough at life to earn them.

By myself all I have is this one stick. By your love alone, Oh Lord, it has become two companies of men!

We have a God who does not operate on the do-earn basis. He pays wages to his laborers based on the faith and love with which they do their work. Sometimes I think that God can see love the way moths see ultraviolet light. We have a God who happily gives out the prizes of our hearts based purely on His love for us, and the joy He expects us to get from it, and the trust that we will put our gifts to good use and do them justice.

Jacob was clearly not a savvy business man! He got cheated by his boss for over 20 years. But God saw that Jacob’s heart yearned to lead wisdom into control, and to feel his power gifted into his whole company. He took care of Jacob, knowing that his desire for such things came not for his own benefit but from their desire to see God worshiped.

Take heart! Go out into the world with just your stick in your hand! Do whatever it is that comes to you with all love and faith in God. Work hard and always let your life glorify God. If you do this, God will turn your stick into two enormous companies of men!

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Wanting God At The Center Of Our Lives

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.
                                                                                                 Gal 5:6

No action we perform is going to put God at the center of our lives. The tips in this series only work to clarify and solidify in our minds “Yes, that is what I want: for God to be at the center of my life.” Once that mindset is decided, God takes up the work alongside us, with us, to form a union in Him.

We must never underestimate the two-sidedness of this relationship; the urgent desire that God has for us to get to know Him. The whole reason Christ died was to set in place the spiritual mechanisms that let us and God be united. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that our hearts and lives become God-focused:

No one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received that spirit so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.  
1 Cor 2:11-12

Wanting A God-Centered Life Requires A Deeper Choice

Choosing to focus our lives on God only comes after a harder decision has been made: change. We have to want the inevitable changes that come as the Holy Spirit moves us into Godliness.

Paul says to the Galatians:

Walk by the spirit, and you will no longer gratify the desires of the flesh.
Gal 5:16

A God-centered life requires that we deny ourselves and let the Holy Spirit transform us into new beings entirely. This verse is not a commandment but a truth! When we choose to change, the Spirit clears out our sinful human habits- anything about us that does not worship God- and fills us with light to guide us toward ultimate righteousness.

Change is a painful and daunting task. It requires we do that one thing which is completely anathema to our Selves: submit. In the war between God and Self, Satan fights his hardest on the side of Self, and submission is what He fights against.

The Holy Spirit Helps Us

But even here we find comfort through the Holy Spirit! In this miserable struggle between Self and God, the Holy Spirit offers us the ultimate pass: we do not have to earn our Godliness. Technically we cannot. Before Christ, we were not worthy of God’s love. Now the Holy Spirit makes us worthy through no power of our own. All we have to do is submit to letting ourselves be changed. God does the rest. It’s still not easy, but at least it only requires one step.

Success Comes Through God Himself

But isn’t that beautiful?! Responsibility for our salvation does not lie in our hands! Our livelihood and flourishing success is not ours to worry about! What a comforting thought.

When we desire God to be at the center of our lives, changes will come that amaze and thrill us. Our hearts come to see the enormous value of empathy, love, compassion, and consideration. This is because our work is no longer our own. Our decisions aren’t guesses- we don’t worry that what we’re deciding is right, useful, effective, or righteous. We can trust that everything will be set up for us to the good of the Kingdom.

This is all because every move and prayer contributes to a higher project for which we are not ultimately responsible, and to which all of our contributions can only be put to use for good. The most mundane parts of our day gain meaning because God accepts our offer to let them contribute to His Kingdom.

God works all things for the good of those who love Him.
Romans 8:28

Our thoughts, passions, urges, and directions come from no other place than God himself. They go to no other place than God’s glory.

Practical Application- Change + Tips 1-5 = Trust

Build others up and let it change the way we speak. Pray regularly and let it change the way we use our time. Be responsible with our bodies and possessions and let it change the way we live. Concentrate on what and how much we sacrifice to God and let it change the way we think.

Feel the urge to submit to these changes, but also feel the urge to resist them. Where there is resistance, know that God is immediately at hand to discuss the matter. Waste no time with thinking “I’ll worry about that later” or “I wonder what that means?” God is always in our thoughts, available the instant an issue arises. We can ask for strength in the desire to overcome our natural sinful urges. We can ask for clarity to see how important it is that we overcome this temptation in the first place. We can pray to be successful, even if not a single ounce of ourselves actually wants to be. When we do this, God carries us through and set us down closer to His center.

Practically, this means we have to trust that those changes will be for the better of us and God’s Kingdom. We need to trust that they are at work even though we can’t feel them, and can’t see the end of the means of which we are a part; like ivy slowly covering a brick wall.

The Promised Result

Keep going in the faith, trust, and excitement that it will become easier and easier to find God as we search for Him. Our centers will get closer and closer to His, thus we’ll have less distance to travel. Get to know God so that we can contribute to His Kingdom. That’s the purpose of our lives.

TIP #5- WANT GOD TO BE THE CENTER OF OUR LIVES, AND HE WILL BE.

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This post has been the final addition in the “Putting God At The Center” Series, a project of learning how we can bring our lives to focus on God.  The four previous posts are: Centering Our Conversations On GodMealtime PrayerWorshiping God By Worshiping Our Bodies, and We Worship Whatever We Sacrifice To. If this series has helped you, I and other readers would love to know how! Please comment, like, and share!

Centering our Conversations on God

“Preach the gospel always, with words if necessary.”  -St. Francis of Assisi

I have not come to baptize but to preach the gospel. And not with eloquent words, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
                                                                                                                1 Cor. 1:13

The job and directive of a God-centered life is to proclaim the Gospel. But Paul says he preaches not with eloquent words. One does not have to be talking about God to have a God-centered conversation. Saying God’s name out loud is not the most practical way of communicating Christ by our speech.  Nor is it the most effective, really.  We say God’s name more times a minute simply by building others up.

Let no evil come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
                                                                                                              Ephesians 4:29

Consider that everyone has pain that they’re not sharing with the world- pain that’s hiding just below a fake smile. This is a pain we cannot reach, but which Jesus can most certainly heal. Whether they know it or not, they’re waiting to hear God’s name- as there is need. And whether we know it or not, our conversations are an opportunity for us to give grace to someone who’s hurting, even in the simplest way. Literally to bring Jesus to them.

We do this by encouraging one another. Be Loving. Patient. Kind. Inclusive. Polite. Constructive. Funny. Pleasant. Helpful. Build people up! Make them smile! Make them glow! God reaches the world through us. We convey His message when we build others up. The impulse to do this comes out of a heart full of the simple wish that everyone should feel the joy of God all the time.

We don’t have to fake smile in order to do this. We should never deny our own emotions for the sake of letting someone else have a good day. Paul tells the Ephesians “Be mad, but do not sin (Eph 4:26).” Whatever our mental state, we must first and foremost preach God’s name. And we shall be rewarded for this.

The wages of doing our job are that our hearts become God-centered. It’s a fascinatingly roundabout process (not to mention easy to the point of cheating). A mouth that worships God feeds the heart that worships Him. And the heart that wants to see God worshiped pours forth the words to get the job done. In what may be the most miraculous concept of the entire Bible, Jesus says:

The Word of God feeds you going in as well as going out.*

Short story: yesterday I rode my bike to meet a friend at a café. The place she chose was very far away. The long drive, cold wind, and bad traffic all put me in a terrible mood. In my anger I blamed her for picking somewhere so out of the way, along with a bunch of other things that were actually my fault. I rode along thinking how silly this girl was, imagining all the nasty things I would say once I got there. But then I remembered this sermon. “Saying something nasty to her won’t make either of us feel better,” I thought. “I don’t know what kind of hardship she had in getting here either. It just wouldn’t do any good to be negative. I wonder, if I bring God into our conversation by being encouraging, will my anger and pain disappear?” So I dug down deep, found what little positive vibes I had left in my heart, and poured them out onto her once I arrived. And you know what? It totally worked! I felt instantly better, and we had a great time! Both my heart and hers got filled by the Holy Spirit just as soon as I brought Him into the mix. It was extremely encouraging.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
                                                                                                Luke 6:45

The power of the cross of Christ is that our hearts would be filled with good. A God-centered conversation blesses both the speaker and the listener by building them both up. The Holy Spirit works through a quick, positive word of encouragement in ways we cannot fathom. He moves out from the abundance in our hearts to ease the pain of everyone involved.

Such habits of speech can have no other result than to center our hearts onto God. If we focus our conversations on uplifting whomever we’re speaking to, we’re actually focusing on achieving God’s will and spreading His name throughout the universe. Whenever we concentrate our efforts onto the actions of the Holy Spirit, in any capacity, we are praying. Conversations, hearts, lives- all three will naturally flow toward God as we pray for them to do so.

Encouraging words are the physical manifestation of our desire for others to have God’s peace, and to live a God-focused life. They spring into reality out of the spiritual universe burning inside our own hearts. They lay onto our listeners like a warm breeze on a cool day- a blessing from somewhere else.

Tip #4: Build others up with speech, and our hearts will center themselves on God.

*I was in a rush and didn’t have time to cite this, but I know it’s in there! If anyone knows please write it in the comments

Happy Lent today, dear readers. I hope you find a great church service to go to. Or a beautiful Bible passage to connect you to Jesus’s sacrifice. If you falter in your Lenten resolution, just remember NEVER to beat yourself up over it. Move on and praise God anyway. Amen.

This post has been the new addition in the “Putting God At The Center” Series, a project of learning how we can bring our lives to focus on God.  The three previous posts are: Mealtime PrayerWorshiping God By Worshiping Our Bodies, and We Worship Whatever We Sacrifice To.  Stay tuned for the final installment and please comment, like, and share!

Mealtime Prayer

Praying before we eat is one of the simplest ways I can think of for getting God into the center of our lives.

It waters our relationship with God

Paul is referring to the Corinthians’ failure to pray before eating when he says:

For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
Paul1 Corinthians 11:30

He implies that praying before every meal builds us up and makes us strong, both in faith and life.  Just as food is central to our lives, culture, and survival, so is the prayer that comes before it.  If we let God bless our food, we let Him also bless our lives, culture, and survival.

Mealtime prayer is an act of worship

Food sits before us, our appetite tells us to eat, eat, eat!  By sacrificing these impulses for just a few seconds to consider God and thank Him for his goodness, we affirm that we choose God first (I wrote earlier that we worship whatever we sacrifice to).  Mealtime prayer is an exercise of obedience through which we display our love and appreciation for Him who loves and appreciates us.

Meals offer us built-in check points with God throughout our day

Praying before each meal is the perfect opportunity to align ourselves with God’s peace, joy, and love.  Three times a day, they’re an opportunity/reminder to thank Him for our blessings, as well as invite Him into our hearts.  Through mealtime prayers we can celebrate God’s gift to us in short, positive bursts.

(I’d like to add here that a few weeks ago I put an alarm in my phone to ring at 3:00 every day- when it goes off and I stop whatever I’m doing and just say a short thanksgiving for letting me be where I am, doing what I’m doing, safe and sound.  I call it “Hour of Prayer”, and it has really be uplifting for me, so I recommend it to my readers as well!)

We must understand that sacrificing a few seconds before each meal is only going to be done, and thankful prayers only going to be prayed, if we truly delight in God’s warmth.  Thus mealtime prayer also allows us to constantly consider where our hearts lie.

“Examine yourselves, and only then eat the bread and drink the cup.”
  Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:28

Is God important enough to my heart that He comes before food?  Am I fully aware of the wonderful miracles Jesus has wrought in my life that brought me to this table here and now?  Do I understand what those miracles mean for me eternally?  Do I care?  Asking ourselves these questions three times a day will certainly yield answers, and quickly too.

Mealtime prayer nourishes our relationship with God.  We worship Him by sacrificing the time.  We remind ourselves what good things He’s done for us over the course of the day.  We consider our position in Him.  These three acts together bring us out of ourselves and focus our minds on God instead- both in the long and short term.  When we pray before we eat, we scoot closer to God in ten-second bursts.  It’s a powerful habit that will very quickly put Him at the center of our lives.

Tip #3- Make a point to pray before every meal, giving thanks to Jesus for His gift of freedom to us, and assuring God that we want Him to be at the center of our lives. 

The problem I have with all of this is that I can never remember to actually do it!  Praying before I eat is not a habit of mine yet, so I always end up sitting there after I’m finished thinking “Oh man, I should have prayed first!  I’ll get it next time.”  How do you remember to pray before meals?  What kinds of tips can you offer other readers to improve their (and my!) consistency in mealtime prayer?  Your comments will add huge value to this series!

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This post has been the new addition in the “Putting God At The Center” Series, a project of learning how we can bring God to the center of our lives.  You can read the previous two posts:  Worshiping God By Worshiping Our BodiesWe Worship Whatever We Sacrifice To, as well as the project directive.  Stay tuned for the next installment, and please comment, like, and share!

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