Psalms overview

Hi,

There are 150 Psalms, so don’t panic – we won’t be doing them all at once. Since each one can stand alone, I thought I would mix in a few here and there. So this is Psalms week. I plan to cover 1-3. We’ll cover a chapter of Proverbs now and then as well instead of doing it as a whole book.

The Book of Psalms is a collection of songs and prayers that covers the range of human emotions. It is cliche’-free. Some are confessions, others are requests, others are full of praise, and many are a mix. People go to the Psalms for comfort, to learn about God, to praise God, to thank God and more.

I’m continuing to aim at three to four posts per week on this blog. Hopefully that is a good pace for everyone. At this rate we’ll get through the whole Bible in about eight years. Seriously. We’ll probably pick up the pace when doing the historical books like Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.

In Him,
Neil

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What Jesus didn’t say?

cross3.jpgLifeSite News reported that Dr. Bob Edgar, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches, said “Jesus never said one word about homosexuality, never said one word about civil marriage or abortion.” He said this to CBS News at a recent gathering of liberal Christian leaders in Washington.

Sadly, this is a common sound bite from people who should know better. Their reasoning goes like this:

  • Whatever Jesus did not specifically condemn in the Bible is morally permissible (or unimportant).
  • In the Bible, Jesus did not specifically condemn abortion or homosexual behavior.
  • Therefore, abortion and homosexual behavior are morally permissible (or unimportant).

There are several problems with this reasoning.

  1. As you may have noticed, their “logic” goes off track in the first bullet. In the Bible, Jesus also didn’t specifically mention slavery, drunk driving, child sacrifice, and many other sins, but they are still sins.
  2. Jesus is God (and anyone quoting him like Edgar did should know that), so He authored all the moral laws in the Bible – including the crystal-clear ones against homosexual behavior and murder. And He created the institution of marriage, of which 100% of the verses refer to the ideal as a one man/one woman union.
  3. He may not have specifically mentioned these issues because they weren’t hot topics for his primarily Jewish audience. And Jesus reiterated the original purpose for marriage, and noted that it involved one man and one woman.

For “leaders” like this to (mis)quote the red letters and to commit the logical fallacy of arguing from silence is negligent and foolish.

Hat tip: RealChoice blog

Philippians 4

This reading is Philippians 4.

Paul starts with a plea to two women who are arguing. It must not have been a matter of church doctrine, or he would have addressed it. Petty disagreements in the church can hold back our witness and service.

V. 4 is famous (“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!). We are commanded to rejoice always.

V. 7 is one of my first memory verses. We are told not to be anxious about anything. We are to pray with thanksgiving, regardless of our circumstances. The “peace of God that transcends all understanding” is often interpreted to mean a peace that is so fantastic that we can’t even understand it. That may be, but it also might mean that the peace will surpass our understanding of the problems that were making us anxious to begin with. In short, the peace of God may put everything into perspective for us.

After Paul tells us not to be anxious, he tells us what to fill our minds with in v. 8. This is a great reminder that we get to choose what we think about. It is easy to get into patterns of negative thinking about failures, hurts and disappointments. But we can elect to think about what is true, noble, right, lovely, etc.

Verse 13 is often misinterpreted to imply that we can do all kinds of spectacular things with Christ’s help. That may be true, but that isn’t what this verse is saying.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

But reading verse 12 you can see that the context is that with Christ’s strength, we can be content whether living in plenty or in need.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Learning to be content with what we have is a great secret indeed!

V. 19 contains a great promise: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Verse 22 shows how the Gospel had already reached Rome and into Caeser’s household (“All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.”)

The next reading is Psalm 1.

Where?!

alamo-007.jpgWe visited San Antonio years ago, taking in the touristy things like the River Walk and the Alamo. At one point, we looked at a Catholic church that had a large, realistic crucifix in the entry way.

It apparently made a big impression on Daughter #2, who was three at the time, because later she matter-of-factly explained to her grandmother that, “Jesus died on the cross at the Alamo.” Duly noted.

Are Christians self-righteous?

Technically, no. By definition, authentic Christians realize that their righteousness gets them nowhere with respect to God, because they are still sinners. They realize that they must have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them to be reconciled to God.

That doesn’t mean we don’t act self-righteous at times. But it isn’t a Biblical concept.

The truly self-righteous people are those who thing that their good deeds will persuade God that Heaven just won’t be all it could be without them. They are the ones who think they don’t need Jesus’ sacrifice on their behalf.

We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.