Archive for November, 2011

Thankful…Really!

Posted in Church, Scripture on November 22, 2011 by nmpreach

A few days ago, the sermon premise was to be thankful despite circumstances.  The text was Matthew 14:22+.  I also alluded to James 1 – “Consider it pure joy my brothers…” and mentioned 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “…give thanks in all circumstances.”  About halfway through the sermon, Job also came to mind, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” 1:21.

I was aware of some people in the congregation dealing with new challenges that at first glance seem insurmountable.  However, the sermon text and premise was set weeks ago.  I’ve always made it a point to preach without having someone or their specific need in mind.  In fact, I approached one and told them the premise of the sermon prior to Sunday, in an effort to alleviate the thought that the sermon was about their particular situation.

After the service was over, I was approached by a few people who mentioned how it spoke to situations in their lives – many of which I was unaware.  I’m often amazed at how God works and I felt blessed.  I continue to pray that God alone gets the glory.  I was also approached by someone who has been a believer for many years.  This particular person said something like (I can’t recall their exact words.), “I know what you were saying.  But is that really possible?  Can we really say what Job said?  I’m not sure I can thank God when something horrible happens.”  It was at this point that they mentioned a horrific tragedy in their own life.  This person was still struggling with something that happened months ago.

So here’s where you come in.  Is it really possible to have the faith that Job displayed?  Can we truly be thankful in ALL circumstances?  Or is that just a pious way of looking at things?  We know what the text says.  There’s no argument as to the words on the page.  But is it really possible?  Or are we kidding ourselves?

I’ve got my own thoughts.  What about you?

 

DANGER Will Robinson!

Posted in Scripture on November 16, 2011 by nmpreach

During my freshman year in college, I was reminded of a valuable lesson when studying Scripture.  Everything must be read in context.  Of course, I knew that was important.  But hearing how the professor explained the lesson caused a “lightbulb” to fire in my head.  How many times had I read Scripture out of context?  How many times did I read the Bible while only allowing those things that I liked to rise to the surface?  Answer:  All too often!

I resolved to study harder and smarter.  That must include reading in context what is written.  Why would the gospels have different details included or excluded?  Why does the Apostle Paul write what he does?  What were the original readers intended to “take away”?  All of these questions (the whos, whats, whens, whys, and hows) plus several others must be asked to determine the context.  I can hear my professor years later state emphatically, “Context is king!  What’s the context?  Interpret Scripture with Scripture.  Context is king!”

Recently, I’ve been led to study and (eventually) write on what I consider to be some serious issues.  While studying, I’ve been reminded of the importance of how one interprets Scripture and not to “read into” what’s being studied.  This happens way too often.  Well-meaning people recite a verse, while having no idea of what the context was.  T-shirts are loaded with texts that are often misused or misquoted.  Philippians 4:13 anyone?  If I may, that text has nothing to do with being a body builder.  The context is Paul is in prison.  He believes he will die there.  And he’s okay with that.  But if he doesn’t, he’s satisfied with whatever comes his way.  That’s the context.  That’s important.

There are many other examples.  You can probably think of your own examples.  But here’s a thought: Before reciting a verse to yourself or someone else, know the context.  Understand why the author would write those words and what the original readers were intended to understand.  If you don’t understand the context, it’s a dangerous place to be.