Category Archives: Bible Study

Proper Fear and Persuading Others

Not long ago I preached a sermon to my congregation, the following text being one of several that I used.

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” – 2 Corinthians 5:11a

There is always talk about the fear of terrorism these days, yet very few talk about the fear of God. Why is that? After all, aren’t we commanded to fear the Lord? Isn’t it the wise thing to do?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:10

The problem is that we get so distracted by the common, temporal fears of this world forget about the eternal. Some of us are terrified of what others may find in our closets, but forget that God knows all. Our minds are so cluttered with all the stresses of this life that we forget about what comes after.

Both of the previous verses also talk about “knowing” and  the “knowledge” of God. In the first passage (2 Cor. 5:11a) the Apostle Paul is essentially telling the Corinthians: “Hey, it’s because we know who God is and what He’s capable of, not to mention the fact that we must all stand before Him one day (5:10), that we do our dead-level best to tell it to you like it is!”

In the second passage, wise King Solomon is telling anyone who will listen, “The more you know God, the better you’ll understand how life works.” Knowing and understanding who God is will produce produce fear: terror in His enemies; reverential fear in those who love Him.

Jesus said: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). [emphasis added]

So, while ever-present bad news will tend to make us want to run and hide or take matters into our own hands, keep everything in its proper perspective. Those who serve the Living Savior; those who are reconciled to God by the atonement of the cross of Christ; those who were once strangers, but now have been made children of the Father, can find peace and rest in the fearfully omnipotent hand of our faithful Creator.

Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” – 1 Peter 4:19 

The only ones who should be living in terror, in fear of what may come today or tomorrow, are those who have never known God, have forgotten God, or worse, mock Him (Romans 1:18-32).

When we persuade others to fear God in the proper way, they will come to know His love and love Him in return. Then, instead of living in terror, ironically, “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15 

Are you living in fear? Can you call God “Abba, Father” (Daddy)? A proper relationship will produce a proper fear; terror is the product of rebellion.

If you don’t fully understand what I’ve written, or if you’d like to know more about how to live in peace without terror, click on the Eternal Life tab at the top of the page and follow the instructions.

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Filed under Bible Study, God, salvation, Struggles and Trials

He Heard! Selah.

“I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.” – Psalm 3:4

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. It’s a musical notation meant to make us pause and reflect on what we’ve just read (or sung – the Psalms were songs). And what better to think about than the Lord of heaven hearing our cries?

I Cried

קָרָא qârâʼ (kä·rä’), translated as “cried,” could mean to recite, read, cry out, or proclaim. But in the context, and especially sense this word has also been used of animals crying out – and since the root of this word has to do with the sound a person makes when confronted unexpectedly, or accosted – I think the cry David made was more like a loud, desperate call for help . . . like the desperate plea from a fallen child.

Just think about that for a moment. Are you a parent? What does it do to you when your child cries out for help? What does that cry sound like to you? When your child is being chased by a dog, or when he falls and gets hurt, does he recite his proclamation of displeasure? You know the difference, don’t you?

So does God for His children when they cry out for Him.

He Heard Me

What an expression of hope! What an expression of joy! David was thrilled that God would actually hear him when he called.

He heard me from his holy hill” was an expression humility…of wonder…of amazement that the Holy One would be mindful of him (Psalm 8:4). But it was also a testimony to David’s enemies who had said previously that there was “no help for him in God” (Psalm 3:2).

Oh, God hears! David wrote this song as a testimony to that fact. He reminds us that heaven is not deaf, but attentive and listening. Our prayers are not worthless words read or recited to a spaghetti monster in the sky. No, there is a God, and He hears His own.

Pause and think about that for a while. 

 

 

 

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Salvation Is His Name. Selah.

“Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” – Psalm 3:8

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. A word at the end of a verse that calls us to think… to ponder… to meditate on what has just been said. Let’s meditate for just a moment on our salvation.

They Said

They said there is no hope in God. In their arrogance, they belittled David’s faith and tried to scare him. By the thousands they surrounded David, seeking his demise.

But David was not afraid. His confidence in God was such that he could sleep like a baby, cradled in the arms of his Deliverer.

They said God could not – that He would not – help David. But that’s what they said … and they had no clue what they were talking about.

He Didn’t Listen

David’s hope was not in man; it was in God. Who were these people to say God wouldn’t help? Did they have control over the Creator of the universe? Were they to tell God to whom mercy would be given?

David didn’t listen to the lies of his enemies, and neither should we. Salvation is not something we can get by bowing down and submitting to men. Salvation is of God! And if He chooses to save us from danger, nothing can stop Him.

Prophetic Salvation

But if you don’t mind, there’s one more little thing to think about as we pause and reflect on God’s salvation. Think about the original Hebrew word for “salvation,” and then start putting two and two together.

  • The Hebrew word translated as “salvation” in Psalm 3:8 is יְשׁוּעָה (H3444) yĕshuw`ah – pronounced yesh·ü’·ä. It means “that which is delivered; deliverance.”
  • יְהוֹשׁוּעַ (H3091) is the Hebrew name “Joshua,” pronounced yeh·hō·shü’·ah. It means “Jehovah (Yahweh) is salvation.” 

  • “Jesus” is the way we spell the Greek name Ἰησοῦς (G2424), pronounced ē-ā-sü’s. “Jesus” is the Greek version of the name “Joshua.” Both mean “Jehovah (Yahweh) is salvation.

“But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57

“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:” – Ephesians 1:3

When the Enemy comes against you, find rest in the assurance that your Salvation is in Jesus Christ. He saved David, and He can save you!

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Just Hupomenō

Writer’s Laziness

I don’t know that I would call it “writer’s block”; it’s more like “writer’s laziness.” You see, I have plenty of things to write about, but very little energy to attack them with the literary fervor each one deserves. Therefore, I am going to cut and paste something from a few years ago into a post for today.

A couple of years ago I told my daughter Katie (the one in college) that I was having a “form of writer’s block.” She asked, “Do you want me to give you a random suggestion?” I said, “sure.”

hupomenoTwo minutes later she comes to me with a picture and a word: hupomenō (ὑπομένω). “Write about this,” she said.

Hupomenō?

The word is a Greek word which means “to remain under,” or, “to remain under the test in a God-honoring manner, not seeking to escape it but eager to learn the lessons it was sent to teach.”*

But it could also mean standing firm by holding one’s ground (Mt 10:22; 24:13; Mk 13:13) and persevering in spite of difficulty (2 Tim 2:10).** The words that  hupomenō is most commonly translated into are “patience,” and “endure.”

Katie’s a godly young girl, so she wrote Hupomeno on her hand as a reminder to be patient and to “endure.”

Patiently Enduring

So how are you holding up? How are you enduring? Sometimes that’s all we can do, isn’t it? Sometimes all we can do when the winds are blowing, when the waves are crashing against us, and when the sand is shifting beneath our feet is to just endure the tempest while holding on for dear life to something…or Someone…unmovable and secure.

Whatever you are under right now, don’t give up – honor God with your faithfulness. Whatever you are fighting against, just hold your ground. Whatever road your traveling, even if it seems like it’s never going to end, persevere – don’t give up till you’re home.

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:2-4 HCSB

Just hang in there; God is still God.


*Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), Ro 12:9.

**James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

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National Coffee Day 2018 – Praise God!

There are some things and people that don’t deserve a “day” for themselves, however…

Today is National Coffee Day.

How am I celebrating?

Well, first of all, I took my cup of coffee and my Bible and went outside and staged a photo. I plan on doing some study on the front porch while sitting in the antique glider, but I don’t plan on studying at this metal table in the front yard. However, it made for a decent photo, don’t you think?

Secondly, I’m going to drink coffee all day. Don’t worry, a lot of it (but not all) will be decaffeinated.

Thirdly, I’m going to pretend I’m going to Krispy Kreme to get a free cup of coffee because I’m not going to drive the 20 miles and then wait in line, only to be tempted to purchase a dozen hot, life-altering donuts (and what’s worse, they now even have a “coffee glazed”).

Fourth, I am going to thank God I’m not living as a Southerner in the Civil War (The War of Northern Aggression) when Yankee embargos kept coffee from being imported. Believe it or not, the average Confederate soldier had to substitute dried dandelion and other nasty stuff for coffee, which actually did have a detrimental effect on morale – and alertness. #*@! Yankees!

Fifth and finally, I’m going to thank God for the coffee bean and the invention of hot water, for, as the Bible clearly says (and I’m actually preaching from this passage tomorrow in my continuing series through the book of James):

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights [He provides the fire to heat the water], with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. – James 1:17 KJV

Praise God for good and perfect coffee.

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No Help? Selah

Many there be which say of my soul, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah. – Psalm 3:2

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. It’s a word that instructs us to pause and consider what was just read or sung (the Psalms were actually songs). But what good is there in pausing to think about people who want to discourage us?

There is no help for him in God.” How depressing those words are! Do they make you want to give up? Do you believe them?

Fortunately, King David, the author of most of the Psalms, did not believe what the “many” said of his soul. And neither should we, that is, if our hope Christ.

The Many

Let’s start with thinking about the “many.” Who are they? In the case of David, they were the ones who were intent on usurping his throne and replacing him with his son, Absalom. Like modern propagandists they tried to weaken King David’s resolve by removing all hope in his Rescuer and Deliverer. They struck at the very core of who he was by attacking his faith in the very God who promised “thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 7:16).

Who are the “many” in our lives? Jesus spoke of them as men who love darkness rather than light (John 3:19) and the “praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:43). Paul describes them in Romans chapter 1 as those who suppress the truth by their wickedness (18), refusing even to retain the knowledge of God in their minds (28).

So, the ones who say that God will not help are the very same ones who refuse to know nothing about God. Think about that one for a moment! What do they know??

The Help

David was not about to lose hope in his God. In a later Psalm we read : “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). Who were they, those who refused to know God, to tell David the One who made heaven and earth…the One who promised to establish his throne forever…the one who delivered him from the lion, the bear, and the Giant…was unfaithful?

David had seen the mighty Hand of God in action. He has been witness to His deliverance and protection too many times before. That is why in the very next verse he could proclaim with confidence in the face of those who would discourage him:

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. – Psalm 3:3

Just Wait

There may be people who say the very same things to you that they said to David as he hid for his life in the caves. They mock your faith and hope as you huddle in the dark, waiting for deliverance. But just hold on, believer! His promises are true! You’ve seen the way He works, and He’s not done, yet!

The “many” have no clue what they’re talking about; they can’t see your soul and they don’t know your God. So, just wait on Him, and you’ll never be ashamed (Psalm 25:3a)!

Selah.

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An Exegetical Look at 1 Peter 3:15

This post contains part of an assignment I was given in a class I am taking on cults (yes, I’m still in school – working on getting more letters after my name). I was asked to do a quick exegesis of 1 Peter 3:15.

1 Peter 3:15 KJV – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

If you would like to read it, the following is what I wrote:

Authorship

1 Peter 3:15 was written by the Apostle Peter and most likely addressed to Christians living in Rome (Babylon). There are, however, various arguments against the Petrine authorship of the letter, but none have been taken seriously by the Church. As a matter of fact, by “the end of the second century and beginning of the third century, the letter is explicitly identified as Peter’s.”[1]

General Context

The overall context of 1 Peter is one of persecution. In other words, Peter wrote this letter to Christians who were heavily burdened with “manifold temptations” and “trials” (1:6-7). Scholars differ on the exact date of the writing and to which time of persecution the letter was actually addressing, but persecution was evidently a common occurrence.

Immediate Context

The immediate context of verse 15 has it on the heels of an exhortation by Peter to live in such a way that shows love to the brethren (v. 8). Immediately following in verse 16, Peter writes that by living this way their “good conversation” will put to shame any false accusers or those who may speak evil of them. Therefore, the exhortation of verse 15 is part of an overall call to be witnesses to a hostile world who is watching and looking for any reason to find fault.

Words to Examine

There are several words within 1 Peter 3:15 that are worth examining in closer detail. By doing so, we will be able to obtain a richer and fuller understanding of the passage.

  • Sanctify. The word translated “sanctify” is the word hagiazō (ἁγιάζω), which means “to make holy …purify or consecrate; …venerate…sanctify.”[2]
  • Heart. The word translated “heart” is a word that could be understood to be the actual organ within the body that pumps blood, but kardia (Strong’s G2588) can also mean – and in this case does – the center of spiritual life.
  • Ready. Peter suggests that the Christian should “be ready always…” The idea here is that of being prepared for something. We read in Matthew 25:10 of those that were “ready” for the coming of the bridegroom. Their readiness involved preparation for a future event. When we attach the adverb “always” to “ready,” what we have then is a readiness that is always anticipating something that could happen at any time.
  • Give an answer. The Greek word translated “give an answer” is apologia (ἀπολογία), which is a verbal defense of something, or reasoned argument (G627). Paul used the same word in 1 Corinthians 9:2 when he said, “Mine answer (apologia) to them that do examine me is this…” The idea of the word has nothing to do with making an excuse for something, but to give a reason for it in defense of it.
  • Reason. The Greek word here is logos (G3056), which has to do with words, things said, ideas expressed, thoughts communicated. Jesus was called the Word (Logos) in John 1:1. He was described as the Wisdom of God expressed. The Bible is the Word of God, the inspired, written revelation by God of Himself to mankind.
  • Meekness. This word in Greek is praÿtēs (πραΰτης), which is defined as a mildness of disposition, or a sense of humility (G4240).
  • Fear. The Greek word translated “fear” is the word phobos (G5401), which carries with it the idea of dread, terror, or exceeding fear.

Expanded Translation

Taking into account the background and context of 1 Peter 3:15, including an examination of the words used in the text, the following expanded version of the verse would thereby seem appropriate:

1 Peter 3:15 KJV – But sanctify [set aside as holy and revered, set up higher than anything or anyone else] the Lord God in your hearts [your life, your essence, the seat of your emotions, your way of thinking]: and be ready always [make preparations beforehand; do the work in advance of the need; anticipate the issue and prepare accordingly] to give an answer [a well-though-out response, a reasoned reply, a logical defense] to every man that asketh you a reason [because some men want more than “I don’t knows”; they want to be convinced with language they can understand] of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear [because there are grave consequences for not being ready…1) the lost may remain in their lostness and reject Christ, and 2) the One who is Holy is judging your works].”

Conclusion and Application

As mentioned above, 1 Peter 3:15 was written to those who were enduring trials and tribulations, i.e., persecution. Today, even though we are not enduring the same kind of trials and tribulations, there are other more minor forms of persecution and tribulation we may encounter in the immediate future. Nevertheless, all trials and tribulations, regardless of the severity, should provide for us an opportunity to exhibit a “hope” that is in us and beg the reason why.

Therefore, as Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:15), we should study as those who are to be examined, so when the time comes when we are asked to “give an account,” we will not be ashamed (1 Peter 3:16), but offer our actions AND our testimony as reasons for our faith.


[1] The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude. Thomas R. Schreiner. 2003, Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville. Page 22

[2] The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. (G37)

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