Learning to Relish Isaiah

Isaiah challenges us, but we can learn to relish this prophecy. Here’s why and how to glean much from the prophet Jesus quoted frequently.

This blog is based on our scheduled reading through July 31:  The book of Isaiah (suggested “chunks” Isaiah 1-27; 28-39; 40-66)

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy” goes the old song.  I have found it easy to get out of my regular reading and writing routine.  If you are following my “through the Bible Book by Book in 2018” schedule you will have noticed that our reading in July allows three weeks for the book of Isaiah.  I hope you find this helpful as Isaiah is both an important and a challenging book.

Why Isaiah is challenging and important

Isaiah’s importance shines through the New Testament writers who frequently quoted him. Along with the Psalms, Isaiah’s words often flow from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ and the pen of the Apostle Paul.  Isaiah gives us new information about the then-coming Messiah introducing us to the “suffering servant.”  He goes like a lamb to the slaughter, bears the sins of many and “make[s] many to be accounted righteous” (53:6,11-12).   In Isaiah, we get an unparalleled glimpse of the holiness of God through the prophet’s eyes and vision.  Truly, Isaiah takes us to the heights and depths of the knowledge of God showing us the urgency and costliness of our salvation through Him.

But Isaiah is a challenging book for modern readers.  It is lengthy and it does not have a chronological narrative thread we can easily follow.  Some may have difficulty wading through the many indictments and judgments which God pronounces on the nations and on His own people.

Reading in smaller chunks

You’ll find help in reading this and other challenging books of the Bible in Ryken’s Bible Handbook where the authors encourage us to read Isaiah in small sections so we are “free to relish the individual units” in the text. These individual units include such passages as chapters 6 (Isaiah’s vision of God), and the servant songs in Chapters 42,49, 50, 53.  We find many individual verses to memorize and quote.

Here are some of the verses in Isaiah that I have relished for many years.

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.  Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)

 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Isaiah 6:5 (ESV)

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;

 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31(ESV)

God is with us

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 (ESV)

The Suffering Servant’s Sacrifice

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth. Isaiah 53:5-7 (ESV)

Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word. Isaiah 66:1-2 (ESV)

Some conclusions

Isaiah abounds in God’s promises to His people: to cleanse us from sin, to make us to be accounted righteous, to give us power in our weakness, and to accompany us in the fires and floods of life.  This prophet gives us some of the most soaring descriptions of the majesty of God (chapter 40).  Isaiah calls us to seek Him while reminding us that as the heavens are higher than the earth so are His thoughts and ways higher than ours (55:6-9).

Should we not humble ourselves before this great God who is holy but who also sends His suffering Servant to bear our sins, to bring us peace, and to heal our souls?  Indeed we should do that and worship Him in truth. Learning to relish Isaiah will help us.

Readings for the week of August 5: 1 & 2 Timothy; Psalms 46-66


Luke: the unlikely gospel writer

Luke’s Unique Resume

If we consider that the writer of the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles was not Jewish but a Gentile and not a fisherman but a physician who never met Jesus in person (Colossians 4:14), we might expect his gospel to have a somewhat different flavor from the others.  Our expectations will not be disappointed.

[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: the Gospel of Luke.]

Four Writers; Four Gospels

Each of the gospels tells the story of Jesus Christ, the God-Man who came to save His people from their sins.  Notably, all four of the gospels lead us to the cross and the resurrection of Jesus.

We call three of the gospels “the synoptics” (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). This indicates that they focus on the overview of the life and ministry of Jesus.

In contrast, John emphasizes Jesus as God the Son, who is divine and eternal. He makes his case through Jesus’ discourses about Himself and John’s own comments.

But each of the three synoptics have their unique characteristics too. Matthew addresses concerns of Jewish readers and shows how Jesus Christ is the Son of David and the Son of Abraham who fulfills Old Testament prophecy (Matthew 1:1). Unique to Matthew are five of the Lord’s discourses.  Mark presents Jesus’ life as one of action and purpose as He effectively carries out His work to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Luke’s Unique Gospel

Luke’s chronology is similar to Mark’s but fills in many encounters with needy people and twenty parables not included elsewhere.

In reading Luke, we note the writer’s care to get the historical details correct and to set the life of Jesus in the context of secular history (Luke 1:1-4; 2:1-2; 3:1-2). Luke (not Matthew, Mark and John) treats us to the prophecies and songs of praise surrounding the births of John and Jesus delivered to us through the mouths of Mary, Zechariah, the angels, and Simeon (1:46-55;67-79;2:13-14;29-32). We see Jesus healing the sick, calling His disciples, and extending forgiveness to a woman of the street in the home of a self-righteous Pharisee (7:36-50).

Luke shows us that Jesus welcomed those who were otherwise marginalized—women, tax collectors, the demon possessed, and lepers.  Jesus taught that there is hope for outcasts. More than that, there is joy in heaven when the lost are found and saved (ch. 15).  He rebuked James and John when they wanted to bring fire down on the Samaritans for their inhospitality (9:52-55).

On the other hand, those who were held in high esteem in first century Jewish society were the target of His severest words—the Pharisees, scribes and lawyers (Luke 11:37-54). He condemned the unrepentant towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum who ignored His mighty works (Luke 10:13-16). The parables of Luke 15 all point to certain judgment on those who criticized Jesus for welcoming sinners and even eating with them.

Best Small Group Bible Study Ever

In Luke we see Jesus as a Man of prayer who taught His disciples to pray through precept and example. He set His face to go to Jerusalem knowing that He would die to redeem His people (9:51).

In chapter 24, Luke recounts how the resurrected Jesus opened the eyes of His disciples to what the then-existent Scriptures (our Old Testament) said about Him. Luke concludes his gospel (and begins his book of Acts) with the ascension of Jesus which left the disciples worshiping and blessing God with great joy (24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11).

Should we not listen to the unlikely evangelist, Luke, and worship and bless God with great joy, too?

This week’s reading:  Isaiah 1-27





When Kingdoms Fall

Kingdoms  fall. So what should we do? Wring our hands and weep? It happened to Israel and Judah. What can we learn from their history?

[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: 2 Kings.]

Two Kingdoms in Ruins

What do you make of this history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and the ignominious demise of them both?  There is little to celebrate here from a human point of view.  Men, including kings, are fallen creatures who sin.  Most of the kings chronicled here used their privileges to sin in a big way, leading their nations astray from God and His law.  Eventually, their sin found them out and they paid a price.  Few did well, and fewer ended well.

Gone were the glory days and the optimism that surrounded the inauguration of David or Solomon so many years earlier.  The citizens of these kingdoms were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  They were the people God brought out of Egyptian slavery under the wise and godly leadership of Moses.  These were God’s covenant people whom He chose to be His own–the people of the Law whose forefathers had trembled before God [Exodus 19:1-6; 20:1-21].

Trying to Make Sense of It

How did they get here? The autopsy of the kingdom of Israel was “they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God but transgressed his covenant…they neither listened nor obeyed” (2 Kings 18:12).  Listening but not obeying is bad enough, but they did neither.

Josiah made a commendable effort to restore worship to Judah, but it was too late.  Nothing could stop the wrath of God unleashed through Manasseh’s evil reign (2 Kings 23:26-27).  Jerusalem and Judah would end up like Israel in captivity—cast out of God’s presence (2 Kings 24:20).

What was left?  When the dust of destruction settled, only the glory of God remained undiminished. The failure of Israel and Judah in no way reflected negatively on their God.  God did not fail His people; His people failed Him and they failed Him persistently over many long decades. The Apostle Paul centuries later would write:  “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Romans 3:4). The whole world can line up and say that God was unfaithful to Israel, but that would not make it true.

On the contrary, continuing to follow Paul’s argument, “our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God [and] through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory” (Romans 3:5,7).  All sin, even the reckless disobedience of Israel and Judah, serves to show the righteousness and glory of God.

The Right Response

How do we respond to the fall of these kingdoms?  We should be in awe of the blinding majesty and holiness of God against the backdrop of His very sinful people.  It behooves us to humble ourselves as we consider His great mercy toward us who deserve eternal hell. We should be grateful for His compassion toward us to send His Son to live a perfect life and die the most agonizing death possible as our Redeemer, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Most of us are not even members of the Jewish people who historically had the benefits of God’s word and His extraordinary works.  We were Gentile sinners outside of the covenant, but He drew us to Himself by His love and through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Kingdoms fall. So what should we do?  We should worship with all our hearts the God of grace who saves those who come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.  He is the true King of the Eternal Kingdom in which righteousness dwells—the kingdom that shall never fall.

This week’s reading:  Luke



Learning Contentment; Awaiting Glory

Our readings this week show that nothing in this world will ever completely satisfy us. But there is One who does fill our souls.

Contentment has been an issue since the Garden of Eden.  The serpent sowed seeds of discontentment in Eve and she ate the forbidden fruit that brought death.  In this week’s readings, Ecclesiastes warns us not to expect too much of life under the sun while Colossians challenges us not to expect too little of Jesus Christ in whom we find all our sufficiency and the fullness of life. In Him are found all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The letters to the Thessalonians clarify issues concerning how believers should live as they await the final day and the return of Jesus Christ.

[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: Ecclesiastes, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians.]

Here are my book titles, key verses, and thoughts from this week’s reading:

Ecclesiastes—Realistic Expectations for Life

Key verses: The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Thoughts: The writer of Ecclesiastes says that experience taught him that nothing (even the best things) in this world completely satisfy us.  But that doesn’t mean that life is meaningless or that what we do or don’t do has no importance.  There is a God. He has given us commandments to keep and He will judge us in the end including the secret things of our lives. We will not do this perfectly (Eccl. 7:20), so how can we be approved by God when we are judged?  He doesn’t tell us, so we must read on to find out.

Colossians—Christ: Supreme Everywhere & Sufficient in Everything

Key verses: For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. Colossians 2:9,10

Thoughts: If Ecclesiastes leaves us looking for something or Someone to fill us, Paul gives us the answer.  In Christ is the fullness of everything.  All things are from Him and for Him—including us, His creatures.  Look no further.

1 Thessalonians—Exhortations to an Exemplary Church

Key verse: Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 1 Thessalonians 4:1

Thoughts: Paul commends this church more than any other, but exhorts them to continue growing in sanctification in light of the Lord’s return.

2 Thessalonians—Keeping Steady while Waiting for End Times

Key verses: Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Thoughts: Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians continues his emphasis on the return of Christ and clarifies some matters that they either misunderstood or that needed further explanation. The Apostle keeps the balance of the Christians’ responsibility to obey and to trust God who completes His work in them.

Our readings this week show that nothing in this world will ever completely satisfy us. Contentment eludes us. Only Christ can fill the void in our hearts and He does that for all who believe in Him.  But we have not yet fully experienced Him.  He will return.  He will take us to Himself and to His glory.  What a day awaits us!  Meanwhile, God’s will is our sanctification, our growth in holiness that begins with the knowledge that by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone we stand justified in His presence. May these truths spur us on to growth in love and good works.

This week’s reading:  2 Kings


Good Lessons from Bad Kingdoms

Ever wonder why we read about the failed kings of Israel and Judah? Are there good lessons from bad kingdoms? Yes, indeed! Read on and see.

[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: 1 Kings]

The Sad Record of Failed Kingdoms

The history of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah does not provide support for currently popular theories of social evolution or the basic goodness of mankind.  Rather, the books of 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings display the perversity of human beings as demonstrated in the lives of so many kings.  There were no perfect kings (yet), and the best of them had obvious flaws.  Sadly, the records of many kings show only corruption and evil which extended from their personal lives into their leadership policies and decisions.

Frequently, the danger of affluent complacency, that God had warned about when Israel was still wandering in the wilderness and preparing to enter the Promised Land, later came to fruition (Deuteronomy 8:11-20).  The years of Solomon’s reign brought peace, prosperity and international recognition, but Solomon did not end well and the son who succeeded him brought permanent division to the kingdom.  They forgot God’s warnings.

Biblical Qualifications for Kingship

Furthermore, none of Israel’s and few of Judah’s kings during the divided kingdom period show any evidence of heeding Moses’ criteria for a king.  In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, there are several qualifications for a king:

  1. The king must be chosen by God.
  2. He must be an Israelite.
  3. His personal integrity must be seen in that he renounces trust in military power (horses), does not succumb to a life of sinful pleasure (multiple wives), avoids trade with Egypt, and does not seek excessive wealth.
  4. He must have a copy of the law, read it daily, and obey it carefully so as to fear God and to maintain humility.

The first two kings of Israel, Saul and David, went through a process of anointing by the prophet Samuel thereby showing that God chose them. (David honored Saul calling him “God’s anointed”). This practice was rarely mentioned in the case of subsequent kings. Solomon accumulated wives, concubines, and wealth.  He set a bad example for all who followed him.

Good News in the Bad

All this bad news about kingly failure pointed to (and still points to), the need for a King who is perfectly righteous if there is ever to be kingdom in which righteousness dwells. The good news is He has come and His name is Jesus Christ.  He surprised everyone because He did not immediately assume the throne many wanted Him to have.  Instead, He humbly went about preaching: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15 ESV). In the culmination of His ministry He laid down His life for His sheep making atonement for them by His own blood.

Was that the end? No! Death could not hold Him.  He rose triumphantly proving His victory, revealed Himself to hundreds of His disciples, and ascended into heaven in glory.

The kingdom of God is at hand!  God has revealed the King He has chosen and it is His Son—the God-Man and Son of David.  He is our King, our High Priest, and our Prophet.  Jesus the Son of God sits at His Father’s right hand and makes intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).  He has promised to come again and take us to Himself to share in His glory (John 14:1-7; 17:24).

And so…

So why read about the failed kings of Israel and Judah? Are there good lessons from bad kingdoms? Yes! Because the glory of the King of kings shines brighter against the darkness of human kingdoms—those recorded in the Bible and all the other kingdoms of this world right down to the present.

Now we wait “for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13 ESV).  As we wait, let the gloominess of every miserable reign drive us to pray “Thy kingdom come” with greater fervor than ever.  His kingdom is at hand! His kingdom is forever! [Luke 1:32].

This week’s reading:  Ecclesiastes, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians

The Joy of Being in Christ

It is hard to exaggerate all the joy of life in Christ.  Do you know what it means to be in Him?  This theme runs through Paul’s letters.

[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: Ephesians; Philippians]

Last week we delved into two well-known but very different letters of Paul.  Ephesians tells us essential truths we need to know and what we need to do about those truths. [1]  We could call it “Cosmic Perspectives for Daily Living” as Paul lays a theological foundation in God’s eternal decrees that leads to salvation, the unity of the Church, and personal ethics for believers who desire to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1).

Philippians is more personal and pastoral.  Paul holds up Timothy, Epaphroditus, and himself as examples of those for whom “to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). My favorite Bible handbook[2] nicknames Ephesians: “The Identify and Conduct of Those Who are in Christ” and Philippians: “The Joy of Living in Christ.”  The phrase “in Christ” runs through both of these letters.

A Visual of Being in Christ

Recently, my pastor, Tim Martin, gave a great illustration of what it means to be “in Christ.”  He described a set of Russian nesting dolls he obtained on a mission trip to the Ukraine.  When you first look at the set, you see just one large painted wooden doll.  Then on closer examination you realize that the doll is  hollow and inside there is another doll slightly smaller.  Inside that second doll you find another even smaller one.  You can keep opening until you have a whole family of dolls each one smaller than the previous one.  The last one is quite tiny.  When you return all the smaller dolls to their “mother,” again you only see the largest one.  And if you take that larger doll and move it or lift it up, all the other dolls inside are moved or raised up.

Here is the point. Whatever happens to the outer doll happens to all the rest, too. In a spiritual sense the same goes for those “in Christ.”  If we are in Him, He is the one who is predominantly seen.  Whatever happens to Him, happens to all those in Him. As He has been raised from death to life to sit in the heavenly places, so all who are in Him have been raised with Him and given every blessing in those heavenly places (Eph. 1:3).

Our Calling in Him

As those who are in Christ, God calls us to live a life worthy of Him (Eph. 4:1).  It is a life of joy and contentment.  It is a life of victory and hope.  He has taken us into Himself and our destiny is with Him forever.  In Him are all who believe whether Jew or Gentile.  He has broken down the dividing wall of hostility. We have received redemption, forgiveness, and adoption as His children.  Jesus Christ has sealed us by the Holy Spirit, granted us an inheritance and a purpose to glorify God the Father who chose us from before the foundation of the world.  How can we not “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4)?

Have a week of joy being in Him.

This week’s reading: 1 Kings





[1] See Displaying the Wisdom of God by Daniel Esau, Westbow,  Bloomington, IN 2012, pp 1, 25

[2] Ryken’s Bible Handbook: a guide to reading and studying the Bible. Leland Ryken, Philip Ryken, and James Wilhoit, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL 2005 pp. 527, 537

Reflections on Reading Poetry and Proverbs

Slow driving; slow reading

Mary and I recently took a drive through a scenic part of our rural Virginia county on a beautiful late Spring afternoon. We drove as slowly as was prudent in order to drink in the sights and smells of newly mowed hay fields, wildflowers and honeysuckle, cows and calves, sheep and goats, rolling hills and mountain peaks.

Our leisurely  drive that day is not unlike reading through Psalms and Proverbs. Have you noticed how you have to slow down and think when reading biblical poetry and wisdom literature ?

[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: Proverbs 6-15; Psalms 31-45]

The Bible Contains Different Genres of Literature

Psalms belong to the genre of poetry while Proverbs belong to the genre of wisdom literature.  There is some overlap as some Psalms are classified as wisdom psalms (1, 36, 37).  There are proverbs that are clearly poetic (Proverbs 8; 31:10-31).

In both of these books we are compelled to slow down and reflect.  They challenge us because they are not unified as is narrative literature.  Psalms are clearly of different types like lament, praise, historical, and messianic, but they are not grouped together strictly by these types.  So we have to change mental gears as we go from Psalm 1 to 2 to 3.

A similar phenomena is even more obvious in Proverbs where the subject can change from verse to verse especially after chapter 9.  A single chapter of Proverbs may address several different topics such as foolishness and wisdom, slothfulness and diligence, and frugality and wastefulness.

Again we have to slow down and think.  At every turn we are faced with the question: how does this verse apply to life?

Improving Our Bible In Chunks Schedule

I hope you have enjoyed reading the Bible in chunks so far.  The schedule we are using is a first draft.  I purposely scheduled the reading of Psalms and Proverbs by sections at different times during each quarter.  We could just as easily tack a few psalms and proverbs onto each week’s assignment. It seems to me a future revision of this schedule would be better if we did not assign such long readings in Proverbs for a single week.

Your feedback is welcome.

This week’s assignment is intentionally shorter because the two letters of Paul to the churches at Ephesus and Philippi are of such importance they deserve a slower reading pace.  It also will give us a week to catch up, if needed.

This week’s reading: Ephesians; Philippians










 David as King—Lessons for Life

The Bible gives us a rather in depth look at the life of David. We are fortunate in this because there are many great lessons to learn from one whose life would otherwise be an enigma.

Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: 2 Samuel

This week we returned to the life of David beginning with his mourning for the death of Saul and Jonathan and ending with some final words and his purchase of the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite for use as an altar to the Lord—a property that would later become the location of the temple of Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:1).  The story of David is one the most complete biographies in all of the Scriptures.  We get to see him up close and in depth.  His actions and thoughts are laid out for our consideration.  If this were not so, we would find his life more of an enigma than a basis for instruction in godliness.  Here are some examples:

  1. He loved the glory of God so much that he mourned the death of his enemy.

For years Saul had tried to kill David but when the king died, David mourned his death. Why was that? He loved God and His people, Israel, enough to understand that the failure of Saul’s reign was not a good thing for the nation even if it finally cleared the way for David’s own reign and eventual dynasty.  The Philistines killed Saul and decapitated “God’s anointed.”  It was right for David to mourn.  This attitude had been present in David years earlier when he offered his services to fight Goliath.  As he approached the dreaded giant, David proclaimed, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45 ESV). Nothing mattered more to David than the glory of the God of Israel.

  1. He accepted a limitation on his plans because he trusted God’s better plan.

David’s concern with God’s glory caused him to consider the need for a permanent structure for the ark of God.  He proposed to build a temple.  But God revealed to the prophet Nathan a greater plan—far more glorious than what David had imagined.  God established a covenant with David in which his dynasty would be established forever (2 Samuel 7).  In light of the New Testament, we know that on David’s throne would sit forever Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the King of kings and Lord of lords (Matthew 1:1; Rev. 19:16).  David was rightly overwhelmed at God’s graciousness to him which far surpassed David’s idea of a mere temple.  The Apostles would later understand that the true temple was not a building in Jerusalem but the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Church (John 2: 18-22; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4, 5).

  1. He learned through failure to be watchful of Satan’s schemes in times of peace and prosperity.

Military success and a well-ordered kingdom provided the opportunity for David’s temptations to abuse power and to commit adultery and murder (2 Samuel 8-12).  Although David repented of his sin there would be consequences for him all the rest of his life (2 Samuel 12:7-14; 13-24). The Apostle Peter would later write to elders of the church what he had learned about the nature of our enemy, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:8, 9 ESV).  Both Peter and David knew the lion-like power of the enemy who seeks to tear our souls apart (Psalm 7:1-2; Luke 22:54-62).  Our brotherhood worldwide experiences this kind of suffering, but Peter assures us that “the God of all grace…will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish [us]” (1 Peter 5:10 ESV).

Let us be attentive to the lessons from David’s life:  to desire God’s glory, to trust His plans, and to be watchful of the enemy of our souls especially when we feel secure and successful.

This week’s reading: Proverbs 6-15; Psalms 31-45







Emotions and the Imago Dei

Our emotions can be troublesome leading us down paths we later regret, but should we attempt to escape them? Or can they be redeemed by God for a good purpose?

Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Song of Solomon

Our Emotions and God’s Image

One theme that links the two letters of Paul (2 Corinthians and Galatians) and the Song of Solomon, is the theme of human emotions.  God created mankind in His own image and endued us with emotions. Our souls certainly have wills and thoughts, too, but emotions are very much a part of what makes us human and what reflects God’s image in us.

Emotions in the Song of Solomon

This is clear as the Song of Solomon poetically highlights the love of a man and a woman.  You may choose to interpret the poem as an allegory of Christ and the Church or God and Israel (as has been traditional), but, even so, the presence of irresistible attraction between the two parties throbs through every stanza.  They love each other.  They desire each other and suffer anguish when separated.  Nothing and no one else can replace the beloved.  They want to be together and they will do anything to be together.  Their union brings complete joy and fulfillment.

The Bride of Christ

So is the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33).  When Scripture compares human marriage to the relationship between Christ and the Church, it is not demeaning the latter relationship but ennobling the former.  For those in a good marriage it is easy to appreciate the concept of Christ loving the Church because it is explained in terms we have experienced. We understand that the human relationship, although wonderful, is a pale reflection of the eternal, spiritual one to which it is compared.

On the other hand, single believers can rest assured that, even if they never marry in this life, there awaits them a life in glory of eternal joy and satisfaction far better than anything anyone experiences in human marriage. You, as a single who knows the Lord Jesus Christ who is our Bridegroom, are joined to Christ in an eternal bond.  In glory, you will know that you have missed nothing.

The Bride Endangered

Paul pours out his emotions in his letters to the Corinthians and the Galatians reminding us that the church in this age is still not fully sanctified.  There were problems—serious problems.  The Apostle shows the tender heart of God toward these congregations.  He longs for them to know the truth  and to flee the deception of false teachers.  He feels “a divine jealousy” for the Corinthians because he brought them to Christ to be His alone but some of them are in danger of going down the serpent’s deceptive path just as Eve did so long ago. If that happens, their “thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2-3 ESV).  He pleads with them to heed his warning.

To the Galatians, Paul also expresses a wide range of emotions in response to their veering off course through the influence of false teachers toward another “gospel” that taught law keeping as a means to be justified before God.  He is astonished (Galatians 1:6) and in anguish for them.  He considers that their former love for him and willingness to suffer for him has now turned to enmity which perplexes him.  [See Galatians 4:12-20].

Good marriages and the hearts of every godly pastor and elder reflect the Lord’s love for His people.  There is an emotional bond. God loved the world and sent His Son (John 3:16).  It was not some cold, unfeeling judicial act of God. Through Christ, God showed His longing to redeem people for Himself—for our good and His glory.

Emotions–to escape or embrace?

What can we conclude about our emotions?  Should we try to bury them or escape them?  No.  It is right that we accept our emotions as part of our God-given human personalities. But as fallen creatures, we need to recognize that our emotions are not free from sin.  They need the control of God’s Spirit.  We can and should let our emotional lives reflect the Imago Dei—the image of God in us.

Let the married seek to nurture and reflect the love bond between Christ and His Church.  Spiritual leaders must pray for and seek to love God’s people as He does—watching out for their souls.  For those who are single, rejoice in the promised marriage supper of the Lamb and the eternal state of bliss that await all who are His (Revelation 19:6-10).

This week’s reading: 2 Samuel







Time Out

I hope you were able to complete our scheduled reading for last week in 1 Samuel 21-31 and Psalms 16-30.

I apologize for not writing a blog this week as I work to meet a writing project deadline.  Thank you for following this blog.  I look forward to writing again soon.             ].

This week’s reading: 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Song of Solomon