Posts Tagged ‘bible study’

Deep Waters

Posted: February 4, 2010 in Bible, Christian, faith, Religion
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16    He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

he drew me out of deep waters.

17    He rescued me from my powerful enemy,

from my foes, who were too strong for me.

18    They confronted me in the day of my disaster,

but the Lord was my support.

19    He brought me out into a spacious place;

he rescued me because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:16-19

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Heb. 11:6

Are you beaten down? Fed up? Closed in?

Is the weight of debt bearing down?

Is the certainty of separation terrifying?

Is the pain of suffering exhausting?

Is your resolve evaporating?

Are you wounded? Weary? Worried?

Then you know deep waters.

This Psalm was part of my reading today and it was very timely. You see, someone I love is suffering and has only days to live. The joy I feel for him that soon he will enter into the glory of heaven and the presence of our heavenly Father (whom my friend loves deeply) is tempered by the despair from the inevitable void that will be created when he is separated from us. My friend Bob is like a father to so many fatherless. He is a strong anchor to which we tether our weaker crafts keeping us from drifting into the darkness. And now we must find our way relying on the truth he so laboriously invested in us.

Grief can sometimes engulf us leaving us floundering in the dark, drifting, sinking. King David wrote Psalm 18 after he was delivered from Saul’s hand. He had been driven out to the wilderness by someone who wanted him dead. He was hiding like a criminal in a cave: cold, desperate and alone. David knew despair, he knew deep waters.

Our Savior was no stranger to suffering and sorrow either. But as compassionate as he was about our temporal sufferings, Jesus was most concerned about our eternity. “Christ reached down and took hold of me, He drew me out of deep waters.” Just as air is most precious to a drowning man, the grace of God is most precious to a depraved man. Yet, He rescued me because he delighted in me? Faith delights the Lord. He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. And seek Him we must, lest we drown in our own depravity.

Are you in deep waters right now? Tether yourself to Christ. Even if your circumstances do not improve to your liking, the condition of your heart will. We cannot seek something we believe does not exist. When the heart is pure, the mind is willing to submit, to endure, to overcome. Christ said we would suffer; he did not rescue us from pain. He gives purpose to the pain and in doing so, He gives us hope. After the recent earthquake in Haiti it was reported that the people (80% of which are Christians) were singing in the streets. A pure heart knows hope. When a believer is stripped of all that identifies him as self, then he sees clearly to grasp the only hand that can draw him out of the deep waters.

Update 2/4/2010: Bob went to be with the Lord today. We will miss him terribly, but assuradly we will honor the investment he made in us. Bob, you loved the Lord well and it has been one of the greatest priveleges of my life to call you “friend.”

This is a response to a “God Question” from a friend. I hope you are blessed as we examine scripture together.

#2) Does anyone know the scripture reference that says “God does not bring a desire to your heart that he will not fulfill”

This is a teaching that has emerged from Psalm 20:4 “May he give you the desire of our heart and make all your plans succeed.” An honest look at the context reveals that the promise you quoted is not supported by the text. The text does not say anything about God creating desires in someone heart. We must be very careful not to spiritualize the text such that we apply a meaning that was never intended lest we embrace a false teaching and miss the intended blessing.

This Psalm is a prayer for Israel’s king when he is called to defend himself and the nation in battle. And insomuch as David is a typecast for Christ we are justified in extending the application of the meaning to the church and the triumph of our Savior over his enemies. Setting the stage for this text we see that the king has been called into battle, that a prayer or song is composed to be presented at a sanctuary service on his behalf. After sacrifices were offered and accepted by God, the Levites (singers) and the congregation would join in the prayer of supplication for the king before he left for battle.

In applying this text to the church, it is the duty of all believers to gather together and intercede for the interests of Kingdom. We all experience distress and appeal to the power of our loving Father to protect us, rescue us and help us overcome the enemy whomever or whatever that may be. A final note, a man’s desires reveal his character. If a man loves the Lord, then his desires will reveal it. Righteous desires are always in agreement with God’s will as revealed in His Word, so we can be confident that when we contend for the faith, success is inevitable.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14

The errant teaching occurs when we make man the center of scripture; for instance, some teach that if I have a desire, because I am a Christian and I claim that “God gave me this desire”, God will make it happen. We all have evil and righteous desires, believers included. Am I to assume that because I claim the blood of Christ that God can be manipulated to achieve my will?! Of course not! God does not serve us, it is the other way around! Secondly, how do you know that God gave you that desire? Our faith is not based on arbitrary indulgences; we have an objective standard by which we can determine truth. The degree to which we know God and surrender to His will as revealed in Scripture, is the degree to which we will experience victory in our lives.

The next two posts are a couple of “God questions” from a friend. I hope that you are blessed as we examine scripture together.

#1) In the book of Matthew when Jesus is performing his miracles why does he always tell whoever

he healed, “See that you do not tell anyone”. He says that a few times in Matthew and Mark.

But other times he does not say that.

 A word of warning is in order when we are seeking to determine what someone was thinking when he said or wrote something. We need to be very cautious in drawing conclusions about the meaning of a text when the meaning is not clear. In particular, assuming someone’s motives without proper sufficient evidence is not beneficial and can lead too errant conclusions. That being said let’s examine whether we can determine a motive from the context of these verses without superimposing false presuppositions.

 Jesus proclaimed the gospel openly, but when he was met with resistance he resorted to teaching in hard to understand parables. Then he would reveal the deeper meaning to those who believed. As you pointed out, Jesus tried unsuccessfully to keep his presence a secret. This is characteristic of a humble servant not to draw attention to himself, but to the Master. Matt. 12:16-21 quotes Isaiah 42:1-4 and gives us a better understanding as to the character revealed by Jesus’ actions and perhaps his motive.

 16 warning them not to tell who he was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

18    “Here is my servant whom I have chosen,

the one I love, in whom I delight;

I will put my Spirit on him,

and he will proclaim justice to the nations.

19    He will not quarrel or cry out;

no one will hear his voice in the streets.

20    A bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,

till he leads justice to victory.

21       In his name the nations will put their hope.”

 And again in Mark 8:27-33 Jesus gives a reason for his secrecy.

 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

28            They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

29            “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”

30            Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

31          He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33            But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

34            Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

 Unveiling Jesus’ identity as the Messiah initiated the unveiling of his destiny to die on the cross. It was the death of Christ that the church is to embrace and that Peter rejected. Believers comprehend the salvation of the cross and resurrection which was Jesus’ destiny and purpose, unbelievers however consider the cross an offense.

 “The secret of the kingdom has been given to you.” Mk 4:11

“What is truth?” –Pontius Pilate (~33BC)

Ideas have consequences. It only takes a brief scan of the front page of your local paper or a 60 second sound bite on CNN to confirm this reality. What determines whether our beliefs have ultimately positive or negative consequences? Could it be whether or not our beliefs correspond with reality?

As my children grew older, their insatiable desire for answers grew with their stature. I recalled at 8 years old my own persistent questions drove my mother to schedule weekly sessions for me with the pastor so I could quiz him… and give her a break. The sad thing was that he was ill equipped to answer my simplest questions. “Who made God? How do we know God is real? Why does God send people to hell who never heard of Him?” What is even more tragic is that 30 years later as my children began to ask these same questions, I realized that the church was still grossly ill-equipped to grapple with these issues. So where is a mother to go to find the answers?

 My journey to find answers led me to a study of Christian apologetics and I in turn invested that knowledge into my children. But I am still grieved by the failure of the church to equip members to defend their faith and give a reason for the hope they have. I think things are changing with the emergence of wise men and women welcoming challenges to their faith on the public stage. Conferences are popping up all over the country to educate and equip the faithful, but do conferences effect real change especially for women?

I know that for me as an external student separated from the camaraderie of my peers, my motivation is challenged in the absence of community. Conferences are good for me in that I can mingle with like minded people who are as passionate about equipping the church as I am. But that connection soon fades as everyone goes about the business of building the Kingdom. We are each islands to ourselves, lacking unity and ultimately effecting little change. One challenge I hear repeated by those in the field of apologetics is that it is an uphill battle, not for the faint of heart. But what if we all banned together creating a unified network focused on meeting the challenge at the grass roots level?

 The effort to equip the church with the tools to defend the faith has up to now been largely a top to bottom effort. We offer conferences, write books, speak to large audiences to get the information in the hands of the church, but is real discipleship accomplished in mass or in person? If those involved in the Christian Apologetics movement are really serious about equipping mothers raising up the next generation, they needs to offer community and one-on-one (or one-on-few) discipleship. When the church successfully equips moms such that they know what they believe and why, then our children will have a faith built on rock.

 The latest studies are showing that children raised in Christian homes are not losing their faith in college as previously believed; they are losing their faith in 7th and 8th grade when they are still in our homes. Our children need to know that the Christian faith corresponds with reality so that, when they do leave our homes, they know what they believe and why. It is the mother who speaks truth into her children everyday who will one day see her children “rise up and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31:28  When the women of the church are well prepared to answer the tough challenges to their faith, we can change the world.

  14     What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15     If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16     and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17     Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18     But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Jas 2:14-18.

One cannot have faith without works anymore than one can have love without mercy. Why do you get up in the morning?  Because the baby is crying? Because someone has to pay the bills?  Because you have a “to-do” list the length of your arm? When love motivates me, my whole attitude changes. The day is no longer about what I have to do, but what I get to do. I get to serve my family, I get to provide for my family, I get to breathe another day.  Faith and works, mercy and love all produced by grace bring glory to God. Make Lamentations 3:22-24 your prayer today and let Him be the reason you get up in the morning.

  22     The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23     They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24     “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” La 3:22-24.