Category Archives: Bible

Yes, Jeremiah 29:11 Applies to You!

Jeremiah 29:11 is a beloved verse for multitudes of Christians. And that is understandable when you consider its content:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

I’ve seen Jeremiah 29:11 on refrigerators, Facebook cover pages, car windows, framed art, and permanently inked onto human skin.

I have also heard Christians rebuke other Christians for assuming Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise that can be claimed by them today. The argument goes something like this… “Jeremiah 29:11 does not apply to us today. It was written at a specific time for a specific people. You cannot claim it as a promise for yourself.”

I get it. I totally understand that it is vital that we study our Bibles in context and that we do not take verses out of context. Yet, I also think it is entirely appropriate for Christians today to draw hope and comfort from Jeremiah 29:11. Here’s two good reasons why…

  1. Though Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise given by God to Israel, under the old covenant, its content is consistent with the promises of God given to believers under the new covenant.
  2. The New Testament instructs us to take the Old Testament promises and see them as fulfilled for us and through us in Christ: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20, NKJV)

Now, that said, let me bring some balance. One of the legitimate reasons that many Christians are concerned about claiming Jeremiah 29:11 as a personal promise for today is that sometimes people make assumptions about the verse that simply are not true. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. A Christian is going through a very hard time, reads Jeremiah 29:11 and assumes that this means that the trial they are going through is definitely not God’s will and He will quickly rescue them from that trial. Yet, Jeremiah 29:11 was written to God’s people when they were experiencing the discipline of God in their lives. In the midst of the trial God had given them, He wanted to remind them that His ultimate goal was to bring them to a place of peace and prosperity. As for the assumption that God would soon rescue them, that was definitely not the case for the people to whom this promise was originally delivered. In fact, Jeremiah 29:10 said that they would be under God’s discipline for seventy years!
  2. Someone hears Jeremiah 29:11 and assumes God is going to give them a glorious future and they have no responsibility themselves. I have actually seen people claim this verse for themselves while they are living in blatant, unrepentant immorality. My dear friends, it does not work that way. If you are truly a child of God and if you are living in rebellion against your loving Heavenly Father, don’t expect Him to give you peace and prosperity. Expect Him to discipline you (see Hebrews 12:6-8). You have a responsibility to be calling upon Him in prayer and seeking Him with all of your heart (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

So, in summary, Jeremiah 29:11 applies to you after all! But make sure you first understand it within its immediate context, as well as the context of the entire redemptive story.

You Are Loved!

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Do You Ever Sing the Psalms?

Do you sing the Psalms?   I’ll admit, I have very little experience or knowledge in this area. But I do want to grow in my knowledge and, hopefully, practice of singing the Psalms. After all, Psalms are, by definition, songs. They were meant to be sung. Many of the Psalms are preceded by instructions to the musicians who would lead the people in singing the song (psalm). For example, these words precede Psalm 55 (MEV):

For the Music Director. With stringed instruments. A Contemplative Maskil of David.

Perhaps you are aware that many churches in the past only sung Psalms in their worship service. Churches that started using hymns in worship were considered by the traditionalists as liberal and radical! It seems that today the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, because now it is rare to go to any church that sings a single Psalm in an entire calendar year!

I believe we need to find some balance. After all, we are commanded to sing Psalms:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  (Colossians 3.16, MEV)

Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.  (Ephesians 5.19, MEV)

So where find resources to help you sing the Psalms? Here are some websites that might be of service to you on this topic:

The Psalms Project – Gifted musicians, including some well-known Christian artists, combine to set the Psalms to contemporary worship.

Contemporary Psalms – Blogger Christine Longhurst has set up an index of contemporary worships songs inspired by the Psalms. Some of the links are broken/out of date.

Prayerbook – Artist Brian Moss is seeking to write tunes for all the Psalms. Looks like he has two CDs out so far, covering Psalms 1-30.

If you want to go for a more traditional approach, there is always the Scottish Metrical Psalmbook (commonly known as the 1650 Scottish Psalter). These metrical psalms are the books of Psalms, rewritten to be easily set to song. Here is the always popular Psalm 23 in metrical form:

1. The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

2. My soul He doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for His own Name’s sake.

3. Yea, though I walk through death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill,
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

4. A table Thou hast furnished me
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

5. Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me,
And in God’s house forevermore
My dwelling place shall be.

Here are a couple of youtube videos of Psalm 23 in this form:

 

If you are interested in owning the 1650 Scottish Psalter, the Trinitarian Bible Society has copies available for as little as $5.50. They also offer it as an appendix to the Windsor Text Bible. I own this version (TBS Windsor w/ Metrical Psalms). If you want a cheaper copy, they have the hardback edition for only $20.

Finally, I found thepsalmssung.org, a blog that offers mp3 musical renditions of several of the psalms. It’s worth a browse, at minimum.

Mid-Summer Update (2017)

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I have slowed down the blogging this year, and significantly cut down on Twitter. Facebook is where I spend most of my social media time. That said, I thought it would be good for me to give a mid-year update here on my blog.

First, I am using a new Bible reading plan this year. It is a simple read through the Bible in one year schedule from Ligonier Ministries. This particular plan divides the Bible into six Old Testament and six New Testament readings per week (M-F and one Weekend reading assignment). I like how this approach gives you one day per week for catch up, because no matter how disciplined a person is, life has a way of causing you to miss a day here and there. The one weekend reading is a little longer than those during the weekdays, especially in the Old Testament.

Second, I wrote earlier this year about how 2016 was the first year in which I reached my goal of reading an average of one book per week. This year I’m a little behind schedule in accomplishing that, but I am not so far behind as to make the goal unreachable. The genre in which I have been reading the most is fiction, and more specifically, westerns. I have been reading an excellent series by Elmer Kelton on the Texas Rangers. His fictional stories are considered to be very accurate when it comes to the history of the western frontier.

One ministry book that I am currently reading that is outstanding is Daniel Henderson’s Old Paths, New Power. Henderson believes that more than anything, churches need to have pastors and leaders who spend much time in the Word and in prayer, based on Acts 6:4. I agree. The challenge is keeping this priority front and center.

Third, I have been doing more traveling than I have done in years. This April my mother was diagnosed with cancer for the third time in her life. I’m basically visiting her (both driving up and flying up) about once every four to six weeks. Add to that our summer vacation with my in-laws at the beach in South Carolina in June and this has turned into the summer of travel!

Returning from one of our visits to Nonna in May, we were able to take a little side trip to Stone Mountain where we made the 40 minute hike to the top. Above is a picture from the summit.

 

 

Bible Rebinding Specialists

I personally own three Bibles that I have had rebound, two by Diego Caloca in California and one by Leonard’s in Indiana. I’m increasingly asked about this subject and thought it would be good to provide a list of Bible rebinding specialists. By providing this list, I am not personally endorsing all their work. As mentioned I have only used Deigo Caloca and Leonard’s, and were pleased with their work. That said, I know of other pastors and Christians who have used some of these other companies and have been pleased with their work as well.

The two companies I have used:
Caloca Bible Rebinds – https://calocabible.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/CalocaBR
Leonard’s Books – http://www.leonardsbooks.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/leonardsbooks/?fref=ts
Others
McSpadden Book Binding- http://www.mcspaddenbookbindery.com/

Twelve Scriptures on Walking With God

I recently did a personal Bible study on walking with God. Using a concordance, I found 62 Scriptures that really spoke to me directly on the subject. Over the last few weeks I narrowed the list down to 12 favorite Scriptures on the subject, which I hope to put to memory:

And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.  – Leviticus 26.12

For the Lord is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.   – Psalm 84.11

Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.  – Psalm 119.133

Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.  – Psalm 143.8

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  – Proverbs 3.5-6

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left; remove thy foot from evil.  – Proverbs 4.25-27

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.  – Proverbs 20.7

And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.  – Ezekiel 36.27

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.  – Habakkuk 3.19

For we walk by faith, not by sight.  – 2 Corinthians 5.7

This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  – Galatians 5.16

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. – 3 John 4

What Will Bring Revival? It’s Really Quite Simple…

Now that I’ve been a Christian for 29 years as well as a pastor for 21 years, I have seen a lot of trends in American Christianity over the past few decades. One of the more disappointing trends has been the amount of hype surrounding certain books, movies, conferences, movements, Bible studies, and, even, “revivals.” I cannot recall how many times a of these various mediums were going to possibly usher in a revival which would transform our nation.

Let me mention a few examples. From each of these examples, God has certainly done a whole lot. People have been saved. Lives have been changed. I do not want to minimize that fact. Praise the Lord for how He used these tools to reach people!

In each of these cases I can recall Christian people enthusiastically suggesting, or hoping, that this particular “thing” would be the catalyst for national revival or spiritual awakening.

(1) 1990… A Bible Study… “Experiencing God” featured the teaching of Henry Blackaby, and consisted of a VHS video series matched with a workbook. The premise of the study is to find out where God is at work and to join Him there. Excellent counsel! But national revival from the study itself? Twenty-five years and counting… not yet.

Continue reading What Will Bring Revival? It’s Really Quite Simple…

Great Prayer… Wrong Verse?

In that classic film The Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya says to Vizzini, in regard to his frequent use of the word “inconceivable”:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I’ve increasingly been hearing evangelical Christians, in prayer, say something like this: “Lord, you told us to ask for the nations and You will give them to us as an inheritance, to the ends of the earth. Lord, we’re asking.” The point of the prayer is great: petitioning for global evangelization. Far be it for any reader to read into this post that I am not excited about this emphasis!

My point is that the verse referenced, Psalm 2:8, is the wrong verse for this prayer.

Psalm 2 is a prophetic Psalm that makes perfect sense when you see it in the light of God the Father and His Anointed, God the Son. When you read the whole Psalm you soon realize that God the Father’s offer to give all the nations to His Son is so that He might pour out His wrath upon them. Verse 9 is clear: “You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

This is a prophetic Psalm of the coming judgment of the Son of God when He returns in glory. Only those who fear the Lord and bow their knee to him now will escape His wrath, as verses 11 and 12 reveal:

“Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”

So, as much as I love the spirit of this prayer I’m increasingly hearing, I must say to those who are quoting Psalm 2:8 in reference to global evangelization…

You keep quoting that verse. I do not think it means what you think it means.