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Category Archives: Bible Study

I’m glad I don’t have it all together

I used to struggle with people’s expectations. Take your pick—personality, performance, preaching—I don’t measure up to what “they” expect a “perfect pastor” should be and do. In regards to my personality, some want me to be someone different—more gregarious, more outgoing. I’ve been told to my face that I don’t have the right personality to be a pastor. One went so far as to tell me the church would never grow because of my personality.

In my lower moments, I wondered if God made a mistake. He either gave me the wrong personality when he created me, or he should never have called me into ministry. Why did he give me a task that he did not equip me for? Those were the whispers I listened to and told myself.

I was recently reading 1 Corinthians 2 for our monthly elders & wives Bible study. I was struck by the fact that the apostle Paul took great pride in his weakness. That way, the focus was on Jesus rather than himself.

1 Corinthians 2:1–5 – 1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul explains that he gave up asking God to take away his thorn in the flesh because he learned to depend on God’s grace. He discovered that his weakness was actually a position of strength.

2 Corinthians 12:8–10 – Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Since I seem to fall woefully short on the perfect pastor scale, that must mean there is more room for God to demonstrate his power. My weak personality and preaching skills (according to some) are actually a position of strength. It means God has more room to work and that more glory will go to him. Rather than whine and complain, I need to give thanks that God wired me as he did. I need to spend more time praying that God will demonstrate his grace and power.

Thank you, Lord, for how you put me together. Thank you for the training and experiences you have brought me through. Thank you for my weaknesses and limitations. Thank you for putting in a position where I have to depend on you. Pour out your Spirit and demonstrate your power and glory. Amen!

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2020 in Bible Study, Personal growth, Scripture

 
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Be a doer

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2019 in Bible Study, Scripture

 

Keeping heredity at bay

As I was exercising one morning last week, I was struck with the fact that the older I get, the harder I have to work to keep my heredity at bay. In that sense, my parents did not do me any favors by passing on their genetic makeup to me.

My father had high blood pressure all his life. When I was in my 20’s, our family physician told me never to get heavy if the condition was hereditary. Now that I am in my 60’s, I have to pay more attention to what I eat and how much I exercise. On top of that, my dad had glaucoma and my mother had cataracts. I have to get my eyes checked on an annual basis to keep track of those potential conditions.

At to that my recovery from a broken leg/hip two years ago. I continue to do my therapy exercises trying to regain more strength and mobility. I feel like Frodo Baggins at the end of The Lord of the Rings where he tells Samwise Gamgee that some injuries never heal completely. Despite all my efforts and exercises, I wonder if my leg will ever be 100% again.

If I go to this much trouble and effort for my physical health, how much more attention should I pay to my spiritual health? In the same way that I have to exercise and have annual physical checkups, I need to exercise spiritually as well. Colossians 3:5-17 instructs me to allow my old sinful habits and practices to die. In their place, I need to cultivate healthy spiritual character qualities. I need to stop my old bad habits and cultivate some new healthier habits of the heart.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Whether spiritual or physical, I need to work hard to ensure good, healthy habits.

 

A six-week study of the book of Revelation

Over the past six weeks, I taught a summer series on the book of Revelation at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on Wednesday evenings. We met for 90 minutes each night from July 3 – August 7. Because of time constraints, we only focused on the book of Revelation rather than do an extended study of eschatology and pull in all the references to end times prophecy in the Old & New Testaments. Much of the material was gleaned from Dr. Tom Constable’s Expository Bible Study notes. (Dr. Constable was one of my profs at Dallas Theological Seminary.) Here are links to the various outlines I distributed each week.

 

How the Bible is typically presented

Dave Krok used this graphic during his Bible lessons at Awana Camp. I thought it was pretty creative and decided to find and use it myself.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2019 in Bible Study

 

Don’t take the summer off from God

Don’t take the summer off from God is the theme of a letter I recently sent to the congregation of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. I encourage you to take it to heart and apply it to the congregation where you worship.

 

Rules for interpreting the Bible

This week I am preaching on Hebrews 6:1-8. Verses 4-6 are some of the most difficult verses in all of Scripture to understand. I thought it was important to review the rules and principles for interpreting Scripture as I waded into the passage.

I believe that Scripture should be interpreted using a literal (also called normal or plain), grammatical, historical hermeneutic. This approach incorporates the following principles:

1) Interpret the passage literally. Accept the plain sense unless it doesn’t make sense.

2) Examine the grammar of the text. Study the parts of speech and verb tenses. This allows for figures of speech and the language of appearance.

3) Study the circles of context. Each verse must be interpreted in its various contexts (immediate context, context of the book, other books written by the same writer, whole of Scripture). What comes before/after the verse? Does the author use the same word/concept in other parts of the book? If so, it should be interpreted consistently throughout.

4) Examine the historical context. What can you learn from the culture and history of the time in which the book was written? How does this help you understand what is presented in the verse or book?

5) Compare Scripture with Scripture, allowing it to interpret itself. Don’t build a doctrine on an isolated verse. Find out what the whole of Scripture says on the issue.

6) Recognize the progressiveness of revelation. God added more and more detail as time went on.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2019 in Bible Study