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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

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I had the privilege this morning of listening Dr. Keith Palmer, a guest speaker at Southwest Hills Baptist Church, preach on Psalm 43 (“Quieting the Disquieted Soul”). Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Peace doesn’t come when our circumstances change, but rather when we see Jesus as our exceeding joy.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching my final sermon as Pastor of Cross Creek Bible Church on Romans 1:16-17. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: We are not ashamed of the gospel – believe it, preach it, and live out it’s consequences for God’s glory and our good!

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on 2 Timothy 3:1 through 4:5. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Because we live in perilous times, we need to have a realistic view of mankind, not despair, continue in what we’ve learned, and preach the Word!

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on Colossians 1:15-20. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Jesus Christ, the Lord of creation and redemption, has first place in everything.

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On a recent radio program, Dennis Prager brought up the idea of the news of the day being either interesting or important. O.J. Simpson, for example, being paroled from prison is interesting. The decision by the hospital and courts in Britain to override the authority of Charlie Gard’s parents is important to the broader culture. Prager said that talk-show hosts such as himself have to be able to tell the difference between the two.

That got me thinking about hermeneutics – the art and science of interpreting the Bible (yes, my mind does work that way!). Distinguishing between the interesting and the important in a particular passage of Scripture is necessary for proper interpretation.

For example, it’s interesting that Psalm 34 is an “acrostic psalm,” or “alphabetical psalm.” The first verse begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each successive verse with the next letter (and so on, down through the entire psalm and alphabet). It’s an interesting piece of information, but it doesn’t rise to the level of importance for one reason – the acrostic structure doesn’t make any difference in how the psalm is interpreted. The structure of Psalm 34 (as well as Psalms 9, 10, 25, 37, 111, 112, 119, and 145) doesn’t have much to do with it’s meaning.

The meaning of Naomi’s name, however, is important. Naomi is introduced to us in the book of Ruth – she’s Ruth’s mother-in-law. In Hebrew, her name means “pleasant” (Ruth 1:2). She started out “pleasant,” but after her husband and both of her sons died, she was left destitute with two daughters-in-law. Upon her return from Moab to Bethlehem, the women of the city said,¬†“Is this not Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me”¬†(Ruth 1:20-21). Naomi went from “pleasant” to “bitter” (the meaning of the name Mara). That’s not simply an interesting tidbit or factoid, it’s important ¬†because it helps us understand the story of Ruth and Boaz, as well as their part in the history of redemption as ancestors of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When you read and study God’s Word, learn to make the distinction between what is interesting and what is important. It makes a huge difference.

P.S. A word to pastors and teachers of the Bible: I know you want to share the wealth of your study with those to whom you preach and teach (I know i do!), but spend more time on the important than you do on the interesting. Important changes lives; interesting rarely does.

 

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As I begin reading the sordid history of the kings of Israel and Judah in my yearly Bible read-through, I’m struck by one big thought: We need a king who’s good – one we can count on and one we can follow.

That doesn’t describe the vast majority of kings in the ten northern tribes called Israel or the two southern tribes called Judah. Out of a total of forty kings – twenty in both Israel and Judah – only eight followed the Lord. The history of the divided kingdom is bleak. How that must have disappointed and discouraged a good number of Jews (not all, of course). “Can’t we just have a good king, and not one of these losers?”

But one of God’s purposes, among many, was to teach the Jews not to put their hope, trust, and confidence in earthly kings, rulers, and leaders. (I think there’s a lesson here for us, too!) Human beings, even if they know the Lord and follow Him, are fallen and sinful. They’ll disappoint us. The kings were also used by God to whet the appetite for a perfect king – one who would rule with perfect justice and righteousness.

If you understand the overall flow of the Bible, you know that there is a King who fits the description of the perfect King – One who came once and will someday return. That King is Jesus Christ! He’s the King we’ve been waiting for. He’s the King we need! He’s the King who is God, can be counted on, and followed. All of the kings of Israel and Judah, whether good or bad, look forward to Jesus Christ – the King of kings and Lord of lords!

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Philippians 1:18b-26. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The gospel advances whether we live or die, and when we live, Jesus Christ is the hub around which everything else revolves.

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