Advent Peace

advent candlesFor to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
-Isaiah 9:6-7

One of the many titles the Son is known by is Prince of Peace, peace being the focus of the fourth Sunday of Advent. Isaiah 9:7 specifically says Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end and it goes to describe him sitting on the throne of David. Part of the Isaiah prophesy has been fulfilled in the first Advent of Jesus Christ; the child was born, the son was given. He was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) to a virgin mother (Isaiah 7:14). But he has not yet sat on the throne of David, and during his earthly ministry he even said “I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) There is prophecy yet to be fulfilled in the second appearing (advent) of Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of Lords. Continue reading

Looking Forward to Reading the Bible

Bible store I have been bragging on the ESV Bible for a number of years, but my working philosophy is that to understand the message of scripture as fully as possible one needs to read a variety of translations. I grew up in churches that were “King James only.” Sometime around 2002 or 2003 I read through the Bible in the New Revised Standard Version. I was considering which version to read next – possibly even the NIV, if you can imagine such a thing – when I was introduced to the ESV. Mike Jones, the pastor at my ministry ordination, gave me a thinline ESV (after asking which translation I would prefer) and Michael Spencer later gave me an ESV Study Bible when that was released. Continue reading

Can Your Bible Walk on Water?

ESV, waterproofOkay, this Bible doesn’t literally walk. But the cover and every page is water proof.

When I was introduced to the ESV in 2003 it was pretty new to the market. There were few options and no other ESV products available. A few years later the ESV Study Bible was introduced; I have one of those really big ones from the first print run. Today you can get large print or compact Study Bible, Thinlines, New Testaments, Student Bibles, plus some rather unique editions. The waterproof ESV pictured above (available here) has a camo style cover. It also come in a pink for girls and a gender neutral style. You can submerge the entire book and the pages are impervious to damage from water.

My comment was that coffee stains would wipe right off it, and another customer on the same aisle laughed and said he was thinking the same thing!

Before Abraham Was, I AM

jesus_teachingIt’s quite a few verses but to get the full context we need read John 8:31-59. 

In an oft quoted verse of scripture Jesus tells his followers “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Many of us are familiar with these words even those who have not read the Gospels. But the audience that day asks how they can be set free, claiming they have never been enslaved to anyone. Let’s think about that claim. The defining moment of Jewish history is the Exodus from Egypt and the way they encountered God at Mount Sinai. They had served as slaves for hundreds of years in Egypt. The nation of Israel was taken into Babylonian captivity and later by the Assyrians. In Jesus’ day their land was a province of the Roman Empire. To claim they had never been enslaved to anyone was an exaggeration at best, but what Jesus really meant was that anyone who sins is a slave to sin. He really riles them up by telling them their father is not Abraham but the devil, and they do what their father does which is try to kill him. They will then claim they have only one father and that is God! Jesus says if that were so they would love him for he came from God, but instead they are the offspring of murdering Satan who is a liar and the father of lies. They accuse him of being a Samaritan and possessed by a demon, and it all comes to a head when Jesus tells them Abraham rejoiced to see them in his day. Continue reading

The Temptation of Jesus

Jesus tempted by SatanI have written on this subject before but certainly not recently. This post from 2009 focuses on the nature of sin as the easy way out. Stealing is easier than hard work, one night stands are easier than putting time and effort into a relationship, etc. Just about every example of sin that can be listed involves an easier or quicker way of getting something that would take time, effort, patience or involve suffering to obtain otherwise. Is also involves settling for less than what God has in mind for us were we to to do it his way instead.

I want to focus here on Jesus’ responses to each of Satan’s suggestions. Read the story in Matthew 4:1-11 and notice some things with me. Continue reading

From the Archives: Lessons from the Garden of Eden

I have been physically ill for much of this week and there hasn’t been a new post since Monday. I’ve been digging in the archives and to be honest probably don’t post “reruns” often enough. It’s been six years since this post was published. There is constant turnover online as blogs disappear and new ones are created. I certainly have many more friends and followers today than way back when. And of course some things are worth repeating. From July 2008, here is Lessons from the Garden of Eden.

 

7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.    -Gen. 2:7-9

 

Lesson 1: We are special to God. Human beings are made in God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:26-27).  What does that mean exactly?  I’m not even sure.  People will tell you what it means, but truthfully, we don’t really know for sure.  We do that no other being in creation is described this way.  Continue reading

Not What I Expected

bibleFirst, let me put in a good word for Bible Gateway. They rolled out a major site redesign earlier this year and added a ton of interactive features. You will notice the Bible Gateway Verse of the Day on the left-hand side bar and a Bible Gateway Blogger Grid badge on the right. Scripture references in my posts are linked to the Bible Gateway site, in ESV, but there are many other English versions and other languages available. I use the site every day and will continue to, don’t get the wrong idea.

I also get a plethora of email from Bible Gateway and recently decided to participate in a scripture memorization type of Bible Study. Continue reading