My wife and I currently read the daily devotional The Lord My Portion by Watchman Nee after dinner. The devotionals have been extracted from some of his later writings. Of the 280+ entries so far this year a few have raised our eyebrows, most are pretty good and helpful, and a few are extraordinary for their incisiveness and clarity. One of the later is from October 2nd. We first heard this read out at a church we were attending last year and it prompted me to buy the book.
I’m currently reading a book entitled The Holy Spirit of Promise by J.Oswald Sanders first published in 1940. Oswald Sanders was New Zealand-born and served as the general director of the China Inland Mission (later renamed to Overseas Missionary Fellowship). He was born in 1902 and died in 1992. He was a prolific author between the 1930s and the 1990s. One of his better-known works is Spiritual Leadership (1967). One chapter (chapter 12 of 16) in The Holy Spirit of Promise is entitled “The Administrator of the Church”.
What follows is my assembling of a number of outlines of the book of Isaiah from a variety of sources. The point is that there are many variations between these sources. The only real commonality is that chapters 1 through 39 are pre-Babylonian exile and chapters 40-66 are post-exilic. From Executable Outlines I. The Assyrian Period - Conflict And Victory (1-39) A. Prophecies Concerning Judah And Jerusalem (1-12) B. Prophecies Concerning The Nations (13-27) C.
A couple of years ago I wrote about using Search the Scriptures (StS) as a part of my daily Bible reading regimen. Between April and June 2021 I used StS when reading the first nine chapters of Luke across 25 daily studies, and the first 26 chapters of Genesis across 19 studies. At the time I quite appreciated the discipline of answering specific questions based on the passage. I will often make notes on passages I read but this may take the form of observations about the text, or some historical or contextual information.
For the last two weeks I’ve been reading Isaiah in my daily bible reading. And at my current rate of a chapter a day, I’ll still be reading Isaiah for another seven-or-so weeks. As I’ve read I’ve been a little confused trying to follow the line of narrative or prophecy from chapter to chapter or even within chapters. My normal bible only contains paragraph headings but nothing in the way of cross references or study notes I can readily refer to.
Last month I came across the following statement from CS Lewis quoted on the Tolle Lege website. For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hands.
A couple of months ago I was reading a book that made reference to a couple of parables found in Matthew 13. The first, found in Matthew 13:44 from the ESV reads: [Jesus said] The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. I have always identified and understood that the believer is the person who finds the treasure; and that the treasure is the gospel message of salvation through belief and faith in Jesus.
Something Bill Muehlenberg quoted on his site yesterday from CH Spurgeon has got me thinking. Bill quotes Spurgeon as follows: Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and reread them, masticate and digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times and make notes and analysis of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed.
This is a copy of the first sermon I preached. The year was around 1992. I have done some very light editing. Reading back over this sermon thirty years after its appearing, I would be happy to preach it today. That can’t be said for all of my sermons! Exodus 3:1-20 “What’s in a Name?” Introduction Read through the newspaper… Watch the television… Listen to the radio… Within a short time you’ll discover (if you haven’t already) that Australia is in a recession1 – the world is in a recession.
Around six years ago I bought a copy of The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers. It was on special–reduced by around $20. It contains something-like 40 books either on biblical topics, Bible books, or daily devotional readings. I’ve dipped into the volume sporadically since–though not for several years now. Until that point the only book of Oswald’s that I had read was My Utmost For His Highest. The fascinating backstory is that Oswald didn’t write ‘My Utmost’.
In my previous post I discussed some of the rationale and methodology for writing in your Bible. I made reference to a method for making more extensive notes than will fit in the margin of a Bible. Several methods exist including two developed or certainly implemented by the New England pastor and teacher, Jonathan Edwards in the mid-1700s. Firstly, Edwards had a Bible especially made comprising the Bible text on small pages interleaved with larger blank pages so he could make notes on pages that contained three times as much blank space as Bible text.
On 6th January 2022 I recommenced something I hadn’t done in over 30 years–marking my Bible. I used to make marks in Bibles–underlining or highlighting significant verses; very occasionally making a brief note next to a verse; making a copy of the ‘Bridge to Life’ diagram and verses in the back pages, etc. I stopped making notes or underlining in my Bibles, as I said, something like 30 years ago1. The reason I stopped was because I didn’t want to be distracted the next time I read a passage by something I had underlined or noted on a previous occasion.
I undertook a Bible ‘stocktake’ the other day to ascertain just how many paper Bibles I have. The predominant purpose was to see if I could donate some to a local op-shop. The Bibles in my collection include: Revised Standard Version pew edition New Living Translation Bible Study for Men hardback English Standard Version 2001 centre column reference hardback English Standard Version 2011 Single column legacy trutone New Revised Standard Version pew edition New King James Version Thompson Chain Reference leather New King James Version pew edition New King James Version Spirit-filled Life Bible hardback Christian Standard Bible pew edition English Standard Version Study Bible trutone Of these I have decided to donate the ESV centre column reference Bible and the NKJV pew edition to the op shop.
Every few years I give some thought (and prayer) to what sort of material I should use for devotional reading. I would class much of Andrew Murray’s and AW Tozer’s works as ‘devotional’, but this is not what I have in mind. Some call is a quiet time, some a devotional, others call it spending time with the Lord. What I mean is some form or structure or intent of daily guided reading of Scripture with or without some additional commentary.
In this post I want to develop some thoughts regarding 2 Peter 1:8-11. The ESV1 text reads:  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.  Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
I’m intending to cover a little more territory in this post than the previous couple in 2 Peter 1. The verses I want to comment on are 2 Peter 1:5-11. the ESV1 text reads:  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
Continuing my look at 2 Peter. The verses under consideration in this post are the same that were the subject of my alliteration the other day, viz. 1 Peter 1:3-4 from the ESV1 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
As I wrote the other day in my alliterative post on 2 Peter 1:3-4 I’ve been spending time in 2 Peter. I’ll post some thoughts on my reading in 2 Peter as I progress. The first two verses of 2 Peter 1 in the ESV1 read, ‘ Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:  May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve spent some time reading in and meditating on Peter’s second epistle. 2 Peter 1:3-4 from the ESV1 reads: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Here are some thoughts regarding Psalm 119: The central theme is the word of God. Some of the sub-themes are how obedience to and knowledge of the word of God leads to deliverance and salvation. The Psalmist recognises that much of the word contains God’s promises which flow from God’s goodness and faithfulness. There is a deep understanding and reliance by the Psalmist on the Lord’s goodness and sovereignty. Some of the verses are in the form of prayers, others are statement or declarations of intent.
The last stanza! After spending nearly 6 months of daily considering a verse from Psalm 119, we’re at the end. This last stanza covers verses 169 to 176 and all begin in the Hebrew with the letter tav. It can also be transliterated as tau or taw. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 169. Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word!
Second last stanza. In this post we’re considering the twenty-first stanza - verses 161 to 168 prefixed in the Hebrew with the letter shin. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 161. Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. Persecution comes to all believers in some form or another. In the Psalmist’s case his pursuers wanted to kill him and destroy his reputation and legacy.
Third last stanza. In this post we’re considering the twentieth stanza–verses 153 to 160 prefixed in the Hebrew with the letter resh. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 153. Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law. Further prayers for relief–for ‘deliverance’ which is the Hebrew chalats (H2502). Its root meaning is to pull something off or strip something away. He is not seeking reinforcements or resilience, but instead the removal of the cause of the affliction.
We’re closing in on the end of the Psalm. These reflections below are on the nineteenth stanza which covers verses 145 to 152. Each verse in the Hebrew begins with the letter qof. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 145. With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes. This verse continues the dominating sub-theme of the Psalm seeking to be obedient in the face of pursuit and persecution.
We’re up to the eighteenth stanza of Psalm 119–looking at verses 137 to 144 where each line in the Hebrew begins with the letter tsade. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 137. Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules. Here we see the necessary connection or relationship between a righteous God and His laws. If the Lord is wholly righteous, then His decrees (and acts) will also be right.
We’re considering the seventeenth stanza of Psalm 119 - from verses 129 to 136 prefixed with the letter pe. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 129. Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The Psalmist recognises the beneficial character and purpose of God’s word. The word translated as ‘wonderful’ reflects the miraculous and marvellous. The use of the word ‘soul’ is interesting. It is the Hebrew nephesh (H5315) and literally refers to a breathing creature, but can be read as a man, a person, the self or soul.
We’ve made it as far as the sixteenth stanza of Psalm 119 - from verses 121 to 128 prefixed with the letter ayin. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 121. I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors. One of the very few verses in the Psalm that doesn’t make specific reference to God’s word, testimonies, precepts, law, way, etc.
We’ve made it as far as the fifteenth stanza of Psalm 119 - from verses 113 to 120 prefixed with the letter samech. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 113. I hate the double-minded, but I love your law. An interesting comparison/contrast being drawn here. I guess the inference is that if one loves the law of God (and the consequence of seeking to be obedient to it) that double-mindedness is precluded.
We’re looking at the fourteenth of twenty-two stanzas of Psalm 119 - verses 105 to 112 prefixed with the letter nun. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 105. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Perhaps the best known verse from this Psalm? Inspiration and lyric-source for the song Thy Word by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. An interesting metaphor that indicates the Lord illuminates both the path we should take and the position of our feet.
We’re looking at the thirteenth of twenty-two stanzas of Psalm 119 - verses 97 to 104 prefixed with the letter mem. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 97. Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. This is one of the better known and most frequently quoted verses from this Psalm. David’s love for and appreciation of the word of God was so great that he declares that it is the object of his meditation continually.
Continuing on to record my reflections on a verse of Psalm 119 each day that began here and left off here. We’re looking at the twelfth of twenty-two stanzas of Psalm 119 - verses 89 to 96 prefixed with the letter lamed. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 89. Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. This verse firstly contains the idea that the Lord’s words are for perpetuity - continuing forever.
A couple of months ago I mentioned that I was reading in the early part of Luke’s gospel using Search the Scriptures to guide my reading and questions. I’ve since completed that, done some reading/studying in 1 Peter using a different method and have recommenced Search the Scriptures reading in Genesis. In just the second week of readings from Luke I came across three instances where the Bible text didn’t accord with what I been told it meant over the years.
Over the past week-and-a-half I’ve been spending time reading the early stages of Luke’s gospel. I’m not reading aimlessly or randomly but have begun using Search the Scriptures - which is a book first published in 1934 and revised in 1949 and 1967 that seeks to encourage regular, systematic Bible reading and study. The material in Search the Scriptures covers the entire Bible and contains studies to take exactly three years if it is used daily.
We’re looking at the eleventh stanza of Psalm 119 - verses 81 to 88 prefixed with the letter kaf. This will bring us to the half way mark in the Psalm. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments are: 81. My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait for Your word. Interesting to see the words ’languishes’ and ‘wait’ in this verse. It runs counter to the idea common in Christian (and other) circles that we always need to be doing something.
We’re looking at the tenth stanza of Psalm 119 - verses 73 to 80 prefixed with the letter yod. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments are: 73. Your hands made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments. Begins (as all sensible thinking should) with an acknowledgement of God’s creatorship2 and, therefore, a prayer for understanding. Here the understanding is sought to enable the Psalmist to learn the commandments.
We’re up to the ninth stanza from Psalm 119 - verses 65 to 72 prefixed with the letter tet. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 65. You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according to Your word. An interesting phrase or concept - that God has ‘dealt well’ with David. Equally interesting is David’s observation of this state of affairs. We can rely on the fact that God will deal with us is accordance with His word.
We’re up to the eighth stanza from Psalm 119 - verses 57 to 64 prefixed with the letter chet. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 57. The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words. The word translated as ‘portion’ is the Hebrew cheleq (H2506) which refers to an allotment, inheritance or portion. The verse is a declaration of intent. The word translated as ‘promise’ is the Hebrew amar (H559) and can be read as to say or to speak, to call out or declare, to promise.
We’re up to the seventh stanza from Psalm 119 - verses 49 to 56 prefixed with the letter zayin. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 49. Remember the word to Your servant, In which You have made me hope. An interesting turn-around in this verse where David asks the Lord to remember His word. Is this word the general revelation of God’s will to the Jewish people as David would have received it (the Torah or first five books of the Bible)?
In the Christian media in recent months there has been something of a back-story about Ravi Zacharias detailing accounts of the sexual exploitation and abuse of women. That back-story came to the front in early February when the Board of Ravi Zacharias’ International Ministries released, in full, an independent report into Ravi’s exploitative and abusive activities. There can be little doubt that what Ravi is stated to have done over the course of many years is true, and that a number of women who sought to bring this into the open were silenced, ignored and/or bought off.
We’re now looking at the sixth of the 22 stanzas of Psalm 119. This covers verses 41 to 48 under the letter vav (also spelt waw). These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 41. May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to Your word; This is the first (and indeed only) verse from the Psalm whose structure per the NASB continues over two verses.
This is my fifth post reflecting on stanzas from Psalm 119. This covers verses 33 to 40 under the letter he (also spelt hei). These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 33. Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall observe it to the end. This verse contains a prayer or request and a declaration. The first clause prayer is answered in many ways and times, but seen explicitly in Scripture in John 14:26 (which I mention in relation to Psalm 119 verse 26) where Jesus speaks about the role of the Spirit.
This is my fourth post reflecting on stanzas from Psalm 119. This covers verses 25 to 32 under the letter dalet (also spelt daleth). These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 25. My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word. ‘My soul cleaves to the dust’ is such an interesting and evocative phrase. A soul (our mind, will and emotions) grovelling and wallowing in the dust.
My third post looking at a stanza of Psalm 119. This covers verses 17 to 24 under the letter gimel. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 17. Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word. The word translated as ‘bounty’ is the Hebrew gamal (H1580) and speaks of bestowing, doing good, rewarding or serving. So ‘deal bountifully’ could equally be ‘do good’, ‘bestow reward’.
This is the second post looking at a stanza of Psalm 119. The first looked at the first eight verses called aleph. This second stanza is called beth (apparently pronounced like ‘bet’). In Hebrew these eight verses all begin with the letter beth. These eight verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 9. How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
This is my first post looking at a stanza of Psalm 119 which I’ve spoken about here and here. The first staza of Psalm 119 is entitled ‘aleph’ - being the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet where each verse begins with this Hebrew letter1. The first eight verses, from the NASB®2, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 1. How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD.
This year (all nine days of it) I’ve been taking advice that pastor Philip Henry gave to his son Matthew some 300 years ago. Matthew was the author of the well-regarded commentary he called An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, but is more commonly known today as Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary. I wrote about this particular piece of advice mid last year. The advice is to meditate on a new verse from Psalm 119 each day.
Much of what we do, how we dress, where we go, what we eat and what we celebrate is built around or at least partly dependent upon seasons. A season is a period of time during which certain conditions exist or prevail which facilitate, encourage or discourage particular behaviours. Some seasons are designed to fit within a calendar year whilst other seasons can exist for much longer or shorter periods of time.
We come to the final chapter, and final post on my comments and reflections on the book of the prophet Micah. Micah 7 begins with a brief lament by Micah as he seeks righteous people in Israel but, like a fruit-picker arriving after the harvest, finds little joy (verse 1). Instead he finds people who are violent, seek opportunities to undertake violence, and do it well (2-3). He finds rulers and judges who are corrupt and can be bought with the bribe.
Micah chapter 6 is very much a chapter in two parts. Whilst the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible make it easier to find specific sentences, sometimes the divisions run counter to the narrative and make it more difficult to understand. The chapter divisions in use today were added in the early 13th century, and versification we use was added in the mid-1500s. Micah 6:1-8 The first three verses are a recap of the indictment of the Lord against His people, Israel.
We come to Micah, chapter 5. The early verses (from 2 through 4) speak of the coming Messiah. The words prophecy that one will come from Bethlehem, from the tribe of Judah and will become the ruler of Israel. Interestingly Micah also recognises or speak that this ruler is “from the days of eternity”. Verse 4 is worth quoting in full: And He will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God.
Continuing my thoughts on Micah. Today we’re on chapter 4. The first 5 verses contain a prophecy of what will happen in the last days or latter days. This is a time to come. There is some beautiful imagery in these verses, viz. And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it.
Further thoughts on the prophet Micah - this time on chapter 3. Micah 3 is a short chapter - 12 verses - and is a chapter in three parts. The first part - verses 1 through 4 details more of what we saw in the previous chapter about injustice, oppression, evil being perpetrated against the people by the elite (the charges are specifically against the “heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel”).
Continuing some thoughts on the book of the prophet Micah. Today looking at chapter 2. The chapter begins with the Lord’s/Micah’s indictment against the people: Woe to those who scheme iniquity, Who work out evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, For it is in the power of their hands. They covet fields and then seize them, And houses, and take them away. They rob a man and his house, A man and his inheritance.
In April, May and June I posted some thoughts on what I had been reading in the first 13 chapters of the major prophet, Jeremiah1. Towards the end of May and into early June I read my way through one of the minor prophets, Micah2, reading a chapter (more or less) every day or two. As I read, I journal. This journalling may take the form of observations or comments about the text.
In a book that I’m currently reading, Ancient Paths, the author, Corey Russell quotes Matthew Henry who quotes his father Philip Henry about the benefits of meditating on a different verse from Psalm 119 every day. (Yes, I’m quoting someone who quotes someone who quotes someone who speaks about quoting a Psalm). But let’s go to the source. Here’s what Matthew Henry had to say about his father Philip in Matthew’s work entitled An Account of the Life and Death of Mr.
Past, Present, Future - Ephesians 2:1-10 Makeovers For some reason we, as a nation, have a fascination with makeovers. There are a number of Australian home renovation shows on TV - The Block, House Rules, Better Homes and Gardens, Grand Designs Australia. You could perhaps include Lego Masters because the premise is the same - to turn a pile of bricks into something else. And the number of shows available from the US and UK is huge - shows on buying, renovating then selling houses, cabins, houseboats or tiny homes.
This the third and final post in a short series looking at some interesting verses from the first thirteen chapters of the prophet Jeremiah. The first part considered aspects of chapters one through six whilst the second part covered chapters seven through twelve. This final part takes a look at chapter thirteen and focuses on one fairly extensive word picture that is painted or drawn in the first eleven verses. The extensive quote is from the New American Standard Bible.
Around a month ago I posted some thoughts from the first six chapters of Jeremiah. I’ve now finished reading the first thirteen chapters (out of fifty-two) and have moved on to another book1 for the time being. Like that previous post I’m intending to quote from the New American Standard Bible. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Earlier this year I began reading in the book of the prophet Jeremiah as a part of my not-quite-daily “quiet time”/“devotional time”/“time with the Lord” 1. I’ve read through Jeremiah several times in the past but not spending time to pause and ponder 2. These days I would read something like 10 or 15 verses - maybe a third to half a chapter at a time and make some notes as I go.
I was looking through some notes I’d made a month-or-two ago whilst reading the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzuro. In it he advocates that believers participate in the Daily Office which are set times of stillness, Bible reading and prayer each day. He suggests the components and indeed the times and frequency can vary and be flexible, but there is value in setting aside multiple parts of the day for spiritual input and reflection.
Lectio divina (‘divine reading’) is a Bible reading method that is more than a Bible reading method. It has its origins in 6th century catholicism, but before you switch off, bear in mind that most historical Christian spiritual practices have their antecedents either in biblical times, the early church or catholicism since there were few alternatives until the reformation in the 16th century. It was first practiced by Benedict of Nursia in the 6th century and further developed bu Guigo II, a Carthusian monk in the 12th century.
There is a saying amongst theology/seminary students that a little Greek is a dangerous thing. I’m not Greek so I can’t really comment. Oh, wait. Greek language, not Greek origin. The meaning behind the phrase is that it can be unhelpful for untrained or unqualified people to attempt to read and/or understand and/or translate and/or interpret the Koine Greek that much of the New Testament is written in. I presume this points to the potential dangers of misunderstanding, misinterpreting and misapplying the text.
The Tabernacle Lamp stand At the beginning of the year Mark commenced a sermon series looking at something called “Tabernacle Prayer”. I want to spend some time retracing the steps we’ve taken because people have been away and may have missed parts. This Tabernacle Prayer is a tool that was developed by David Yonggi Cho who is also known as Paul. David Yonggi Cho was the pastor of a church in South Korea that has a membership of something like one million people, with over 200,000 attending weekly.
As we approach the end of each calendar year I give some thought to different approaches or materials for Bible reading in the new year. Over the years I’ve used the M’Cheyne Bible reading method which involved reading two or four chapter of the Bible each day. This will take you through the New Testament and Psalms twice a year and the Old Testament once (or halving that if you read two chapters a day rather than four).
On this Christmas Day 2019 the first thought I had for the day was to thank God for sending His Son Jesus into this world to redeem it. My second thought was about polarisation - that this world is becoming more polarised, more intolerant, more nationalistic, more patriotic. These days it seems that you’re either right about everything or wrong about everything. It is difficult to hold a view that is in opposition to someone else without being painted as wrong in many areas.
Theophanies ‘Tis the Season Many churches around the world – and particularly those of a more liturgical bent or traditional history follow a church calendar. This calendar allocates various days and weeks throughout the year into seasons. Each season emphasises significant aspects or events within our faith and so provides opportunity to reflect on those aspects. Broadly speaking these seasons are Advent, Christmas and Epiphany at this time of year and then Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost.
Faith is as faith does – Hebrews 11 Introduction We haven’t been here for the past couple of weeks but Mark tells me we’ve commenced a sermon series looking at prayer. A couple of week’s ago he spoke on Derek Prince’s 7 conditions for answered prayer. And last week he spoke on perseverance. One of the underlying Scriptural bases for those ideas is found in Hebrews 11:6 (reading from the NJKV):
The Sword of the Spirit and Praying in the Spirit – Ephesians 6:17-18 A Spiritual Armour recap A couple of months ago we started a series of sermons on the Holy Spirit. We began with his titles, his ministry and receiving the Spirit. We moved onto the Spiritual Armour of God from Ephesians 6. This recognises fact that we’re engaged in a war whether we realise it or not, and whether we want to be or not.
This is the second post looking at some of the detail of studying God’s Word edited by John B Job. The original post is here, and the first more detailed post is here. This chapter is written by Jean Rutherford who, early in the chapter writes: It is our minds, as well as spirit and will, which are needed in analysis of any Biblical passage. Lack of spiritual life leads to dry academic discussion; lack of mental discipline and hard thinking leads to ‘beautiful thoughts’ floating in a void and to an unbalanced view of God’s truth; lack of will makes the whole operation sterile, since the object of Bible study is to help us to discern God’s will and His purpose for us, and then to obey Him.
This is the first post looking at some of the detail of studying God’s Word edited by John B Job that I first mentioned a couple of posts ago. The chapter (written by Laurence Porter) by way of introduction, compares devotional Bible reading with Bible study and states the following: Studying the Bible is complementary with and not an alternative to devotional reading. Thorough Bible study can enrich and inform devotional reading.
Shod Feet – Ephesians 6:15 Spiritual Armour Around a month ago we commenced a series looking at the Holy Spirit. In between there were some special services for NAIDOC week and Mark resumed this series two weeks ago. At that time he began looking at the armour of God from Ephesians 6. The path we’ve come down is that the Holy Spirit is within us to teach and equip and counsel and remind and empower and gift.
A month-or-so ago I came across a book at a second hand bookshop called studying God’s Word edited by John B Job. It was published by IVP over 45 years ago1 and so the style is a little dated. Despite that, the content is helpful. It covers different ways or methods of, not surprisingly, studying God’s Word. Some of these methods include analysing a book of the Bible; analysing a passage or chapter; character and background studies; word studies and theme studies.
[The following is the text of a sermon preached in our church on Sunday 30th June 2019] Holy Spirit: A Pencil Sketch Biography Studies and Masterpieces Good morning and welcome to our class in Australian Art 1943-1944. For our first slide 1 I’d refer you to this controversial work from 1943. What can you tell me about the title of the work, the name of the artist, the size of the work, what media was used, the style of the work, the nature of the controversy surrounding it or indeed something about the subject?
[The following is the text of a sermon preached in our church on Sunday 19th May 2019] God, or not God: Matthew 7:13-14 Banners and Standards Have you seen movies where troops are led into battle by someone holding a flag? Perhaps these movies are set during the times of the Roman Empire or during the American Civil War. The flags they bore were known as the standard. This person carrying the flag or the standard was the standard bearer.
[The following is the text of a sermon preached in our church on Sunday 7th April 2019] Beyond DNA: Heart and Mind DNA Over the past month-or-so we’ve been speaking about DNA. Mark and Nigel haven’t been giving us science lessons. They have been talking about some of the things we do as followers of Jesus, as the church of God. They’ve been using the analogy of “spiritual DNA” to illustrate how we have a desire to see God’s best for ourselves, our families and our community.
[The following is the text of a sermon preached in our church on Sunday 24th February 2019] Legacy This Is Your Life Who remembers the television show “This Is Your Life”? My first recollection of it is being hosted by Mike Willesee in the 1970s. My deep research into this on Wikipedia informs me that it began in 1975 with Mike Willesee. Digby Wolfe hosted the second season in 1976, then Roger Climpson to 1980.
Late last year we became aware of a couple of books by New Zealand author, Richard Brunton. He has written two books, The Awesome Power of Blessing and Anointed for Work. They’re both more like booklets but pack a stack of helpful information and encouragement about, well, blessing and anointing. They are both available as free downloads from his website, and can be purchased as paperbacks. Do yourself a favour and get them both - if you want to.
[The following is the text of a sermon preached in our church on Sunday 9th December 2018] Destination and Journey: Abraham Destination and Journey A few weeks ago when I was first praying and journaling about what I would preach on today I was impressed with the idea of speaking on destination and journey. I was pointed towards Acts 7 which is Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin before he was stoned to death.
[The following is the text of a sermon preached in our church on Sunday 21st October 2018] Redeeming, Restoring, Transforming Love The Parable of the Wobbly, Secondhand Bookcase A number of years ago I purchased a bookcase from a Vinnies shop. The bookcase was probably made 60 or 70 years ago and is oak. When I got this bookcase home I found that it wobbled. The glue joints had clearly broken.
There are about five gazillion ways to study the Bible, and three gazillion ways of reading it. I know. I’ve tried them all. “Hyperbole” – the use of obvious and intentional exaggeration. For as long as I’ve been a Christian I’ve looked at different ways of reading the Bible, and different ways of studying it – from reading plans to meditation; from chronological to inductive; from prepared study guides to randomly opening the Bible and reading.
[Below is the text of a sermon I preached at our church on 12th August 2018.] 1 Samuel 30 and John 4 Sin versus Failure What is the difference between sin and failure? Is it possible to fail without that being construed as sin? Can sin ever be regarded as anything but some form of failure? How do you see the distinction between sin and failure? I think that all sin is a failure, but failure is not necessarily sinful.
Don Carson credits his late father for saying “A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text”. What that basically means is that if you don’t provide the context for a sentence or quote then you can interpret it or make it say whatever you want. A further way of looking at that is to say that words only make sense in sentences, and sentences only have meaning in paragraphs, etc.
I had a thought this morning – not always a good thing – that if I were creating a website where the purpose was to present Biblical truth regularly, then it would be hard to go past the name “Bible Butcher: Fresh Meat Daily!” Perhaps it is a good thing that I’m not creating such a website, otherwise biblebutcher.com may have been registered.
[Below is the text of a sermon I preached at our church on Easter morning, 1st April 2018.] Matthew 27:46 Aramaic – Heart Language My offering today is half sermon, half reflection. As I pondered and prayed about what to speak about a couple of weeks ago a phrase came to mind. I gave God the opportunity to change His mind but I kept coming back to this particular phrase.
I picked up a book at an Op Shop this morning called Diary of Kenneth MacRae (no point wasting all that printing on a leading “The”). As far as I’m aware I’d never previously heard of Kenneth MacRae. The thing that attracted me to the book in the first instance was that it was published by Banner of Truth. Banner of Truth is a publishing house based in England whose aim is to make available quality Christian books.
I had something of a revelation this morning about how I view God. I tend to see or treat God like a petrol station. You pull up, fill up and then drive away to get on with life. But the idea came to me that a more complete or holistic view would see God the Father as the petrol station; Jesus as the fuel tank in my vehicle; and Holy Spirit is the fuel.
I’m currently working my way through reading Mark’s gospel. I read a bit, write comments on verses or ideas that strike me, read a bit more, write a bit more. Once I’ve identified three or four ideas that strike me, I then turn to look for and note what seems to be the primary application or relevance of these verses or ideas for me. Once I’ve tackled that I then turn to prayer and write a prayer that what I’ve read and identified as relevant or applicable may be seen in my life.
For the past two months I’ve been busy, unbelievably busy, ridiculously busy. I know how it began, I hope I know how it will end, but what I don’t know is when it will end. It all began with a prompting, I believe from God, to read 1 Peter - the first letter or epistle attributed to Peter in the New Testament. In 1 Peter chapter 1, verses 6 and 7 we read:
In Australia at the moment there is much debate about same sex marriage.1 What do I think about same sex marriage? I believe it is not the ideal for society, and I base that on God’s view as I understand His written word, the Bible. It is clear to me that God’s intent for the family is that it comprises a man married to a woman and that children are conceived, born and raised within that context.
[Below is the text of a sermon I preached at our church on Sunday morning, 9th July 2017.] Philippians 2:12-13 Worked Out When was the last time you worked out? For some it may have been this morning, last week, maybe years ago, and maybe never. But the real answer depends on what I mean by “working out”. Is that physical activity at a gym, or could it mean any physical labour?