Posts tagged ‘Bible’

Peace Be With You

And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.   Luke 24:36

How do we get peace? It’s what we all want. When your best friend in the world is upset with you, nothing feels right anymore. When your mom or dad, sister or brother, son or daughter tell you to leave them alone for whatever reason, you feel isolated and dejected. When your core beliefs are attacked by someone you respect and love, you feel anxious and alone. So when the disciples witnessed not only the death of Jesus, but the humiliation and repudiation of Him and His ministry, they were distraught. They had no peace.

Every year there was a friendly battle between the firefighters and policemen in my home town. They would gather in the street in front of the large downtown Fire Station. The object of the battle was to use the force of the water from the fire hoses to push the other side behind a line drawn on the street. The water pressure coming from those hoses was massive. It would knock anyone off their feet and push them back. The confrontation was set up to be like a tug-of-war, but with water pressure. Both sides faced each other head on. So when the policemen sent some of the men to sneak around to the side of the firefighters with hoses, they easily blew them back behind the line. The battle was over. I saw my dad and other firefighters swept off their feet and rolled backwards like rag dolls. I was humiliated for my dad and all the firefighters. That image is seared into my memory.

I imagine the disciples felt a 1000 times more humiliated and confused when they saw Jesus spit on, called names, flogged, and placed on a cross. Whatever peace they had in their hearts was ripped out that day at Calvary. Their world spun out of control. I can only imagine they had a sick feeling in their stomachs from an anxiety that caused a deep ache in their hearts and a fog in their heads. And so they were dejected when Jesus walked with two of them on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection. There He “took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)  As they looked at Scripture through the eyes of Jesus, they began to see a bigger story. Their former belief in Jesus as their earthly savior was replaced by the truth that He was their heavenly Savior who had come to reconcile them to the Father. As Jesus explained the Scriptures to them, they felt a “burning” in their hearts. (Luke 24:32) This burning is none other than the Word of God piercing the heart like a sword.

We can do one of two things with that burning. We can reject it and go our own way, or we can accept it and follow Jesus. We read that all of the disciples gathered sometime later to hear how two of them had met Jesus. Perhaps those two were explaining the Word when He suddenly showed up and said, “Peace be with you.” Peace always follows Jesus. The disciples felt a burning in their hearts when Jesus taught them the truth in the Scriptures. But they didn’t have peace until they sat down with Jesus, ate with Him, and saw Him for who He truly is – their Savior.

Peace doesn’t come from the burning in my heart. But that burning can motivate me to invite Jesus into my heart. When I eat with Jesus and open my heart to Him, peace settles my stomach, calms my heart, and clears my head. No wonder Jesus tells us in Revelation 3:20, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Do you want peace? Eat with Jesus.

Are You Ready to Plow?

 I said, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.”  Hosea 10:12

I grew up in Indiana, went to college in Michigan, and spent over 15 years in Illinois. When it comes to planting soy beans and corn, you have to start with plowing the soil. This is because there is so much clay in the soil that it becomes as hard as cement. If you were to plant seed in the Spring without plowing the soil, it would never germinate and there would be no harvest in the Fall.

And so it is with the human heart. Our hearts become hardened by bad decisions, misbeliefs, and the arrows of emotional trauma that come from things like rejection, isolation, loss, and abuse. Only God can break up the hard soil of your heart and plant the seeds of righteousness that Hosea writes about. But how do you plow the heart and where do you get the seeds of righteousness?

I have found prayer and meditation on His Word to be the most effective way to plow my heart. Without prayer, the Bible is just literature. But with prayer, the Author of the Bible interprets it for my life today! The Bible then becomes a living and powerful tool to change my thoughts and behaviors. Paul says it this way in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” When I pray the Word of God, open my mind to His thoughts, and seek His will, then my thoughts and desires are “exposed.” That describes plowing! It is just like the farmer that exposes the soil to the sun and rain. Plowing the heart with God’s Word through prayer exposes the heart to the light of the Son and the rain of the Holy Spirit. It can be disruptive to my plans and desires. It can be unsettling to discover that my thoughts and actions have been wrong when I thought they were right. But that’s the point of plowing – disrupt the soil to prepare it for a harvest that could otherwise never occur.

The harvest of the heart is what we are all seeking in life – LOVE! We all seek to be loved and to love. There is no greater need of the human heart than love. But our hearts have been hardened due to a lack of love. When I plow my heart each morning by submitting to Jesus and reading His Word, God plants the seeds of His Word in my heart resulting in a harvest of love. And it all happens because I was willing to be disrupted. I was willing to allow Him to change my thoughts and beliefs and desires. It happens when I let Him plow my heart. It can be painful for sure. But the harvest of love is worth it. 

 

What Role Does the Bible Play in Your Life?

You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15

I was raised in the church and taught to read the Bible every day. This is great advice as it can certainly enhance one’s walk with God. The problem arises when I feel like I have to do this in order to be saved. Doing things to be saved does not save me, even doing good things like reading the Bible! And so when I read 2 Timothy 3:15 today, I was encouraged once again to focus on my real need in life – a relationship with Jesus.

Paul tells Timothy that he has been taught the Scriptures, knows the Scriptures, and has been given the Scriptures for one thing and one thing only. The role of Scriptures in Timothy’s life, and in our lives today, is for wisdom to receive the real focus in life – Jesus. The Scriptures were written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit for one purpose – to lead us into a trusting relationship with Jesus. Salvation is given to us by grace when we trust Jesus with our lives.

It’s so easy for us to make salvation about what the Bible teaches about death, the second coming, the judgment, the law, etc, etc, etc. What the Bible teaches gives us the wisdom for life replacing a selfish worldview with God’s worldview that then can help us accept salvation as we trust in Jesus. Once I grasped this reality, I began to love reading the Bible. As a kid, reading the Bible was something I had to do if I wanted to be a Christian. Today, reading the Bible is something I love to do because I feel closer to Jesus. When I read the Bible today, I hear God speaking to me. My trust in Jesus then grows.

However, the really amazing thing about God is that He reaches out to you differently than He reaches out to me. Some people have a close, abiding, trusting relationship with Jesus who read the Bible much less or much more than do I. So I have learned to keep my focus on Jesus and not on the amount of Bible reading that you do, or that I do. 

What role does the Bible play in your life? What wisdom does it provide for you? Is it part of your relationship with Jesus? Or is it just another rule you feel like you have to follow in order to be a Christian?

Connections Depend on Roots

Pam and I bought our first home in Redlands, California while I was in medical school. We were excited to be the first owners of this newly constructed home. That is until we discovered the amount of work it took to landscape around the house located on a corner lot. Let’s put aside the obvious issues of money, time, and creativity for the purposes of this blog and focus on the project itself for an important life lesson I learned that summer of 1979.

We began by installing the irrigation system. Pam helped me dig the trenches, lay the PVC pipe and connect the valves. It was much easier than I anticipated which gave me an inflated view of my landscaping expertise. I then installed the edging to define the areas of the future planting beds which again went without a hitch. Now I’m really certain of my landscaping skills and knowledge. Now it was time to purchase the shrubs, trees, perennials, and groundcover. Once home with these precious living things, I checked the instructions supplied by the nursery for planting each item. This is when I realized the process was slightly more involved than taking the shrub out of its pot and putting it in a hole in the dirt. I needed to buy additional supplies to place around the roots, carefully maintaining the integrity of each plant’s root system.

Due to my tight schedule and need to get the plants in the ground as quickly as possible, I decided to skip the instructions and get the plants in the dirt. Once completed, the yard looked beautiful. The trees and shrubs were green, the perennials were colorful, and the groundcover was lush. The beauty lasted for about 2 weeks. This is when I began noticing the groundcover was thinning out and the leaves on the trees were wilting despite plenty of irrigation. And then the perennials lost their color and the shrubs began to die. Not every plant was dying, but a significant number were in deep trouble. I consulted a local horticulturist who told me the problem was the roots. I had not taken the proper care to make sure the roots were transplanted without damage. And then I had not given the roots the necessary nourishment to overcome the trauma of the transfer from pot to hole in the ground. I purchased replacement plants and carefully followed the instructions with much better success.

Our connections with one another are as fragile as the roots of plants. And our connections depend on the roots we develop throughout life. This is where the Bible becomes a treasure not to be ignored if we want to have meaningful and abundant growth in our personal lives resulting in healthy relationships with others. I have found the Bible to be a reliable source of guiding principles of relationships. These principles form the roots in our lives which will blossom into loving connections with one another. No wonder Paul gives this advice in Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” I have learned the hard way to follow instructions when  dealing with roots. I encourage you to care for your roots and nourish them in the One who gave His life so we could have life abundant.

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