This Is Going to Hurt Me More than It’s Going to Hurt You

June 14, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Hebrews | 1 Comment
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Chastening is sometimes referred to as punishment, but since it really has a goal of correction, rehabilitation, and restoration, it would probably be better thought of as discipline rather than punishment. Strictly speaking, a criminal sentenced to prison has not been chastened; he has been punished to pay a price for doing wrong regardless of whether he mends his ways. However, punishment may turn out to be chastening, depending on the response of the person being punished. Punishment has to do with the goal of the punisher, although it may be transformed into chastisement in the mind of the one being punished. Chastisement has to do with the goal of the chastiser and the response of the one being chastised. It is very important to understand this distinction. When I chastise my children, they can respond in one of two ways: (1) with bitterness and a determination not to be broken; or (2) with a contrite heart and willing obedience. Can there be joy in chastening? Not during – it’s grievous for both parties while it’s going on.

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Hebrews 12:11

The oft-parodied parental expression from the parent about to administer a spanking to his child is, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” and, although the child would beg to differ, it is is true that it does hurt a loving parent to chastise his child with corporal discipline. But think how much more it must hurt our loving God!

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

Grief is worse than sadness or mourning. Grief is a painful regret mixed with indignation and sorrow. It’s an amazing thing that I can grieve the Holy Spirit – I ought to strive not to do it – but, when I’m chastened, I must respond to it the right way, and grow and profit from it. If I don’t, I will be guilty of spurning the Word of God and making the chastening a root of bitterness. It’s bad enough to have a root of bitterness springing up between believers, but the devil wants a root of bitterness to spring up between me and God. When I am tending the garden of my heart, it’s not enough to love flowers – to love the spiritual fruit I should be bearing. I must also hate weeds, and be constantly digging up the roots of bitterness.

The Bible calls the tool that you use to discipline your children “the rod of correction.” We sometimes call it a “paddle,” and there is another spiritual (albeit embarrassing) lesson in the Bible about the “paddle.”

And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:

Deuteronomy 23:13

Most translations say “equipment” or “spade” or “implement,” but the King James Version calls it a “paddle.” The paddle in this verse is for burying – outside the camp – that which would defile and make unclean a camp of God’s people. That’s what we need to do with bitterness – deal with it – go outside the camp and bury it – not bring it in among the family of God.

In the Christian race, we are to look diligently.

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Hebrews 12:15

We are to look diligently for a root of bitterness, because such a root will hinder our relationship with God, and because, by it, many will be defiled. If we don’t look where we’re running, we might step in something and track it into the house of another believer, or worse, into the house of the Lord – the local church – and cause a big stink.

Up to Spec

June 8, 2016 at 10:46 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Exodus | 2 Comments
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And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;

Exodus 35:30-31

After the people had given abundantly towards the materials to be used in constructing the Tabernacle, the Lord “super-charged” Bezalel’s already-existing (and already God-given) talents. There are some things at which you are naturally very skilled, but the Lord can make you even better at them once they are consecrated to His service.

And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made; And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.

Exodus 36:4-7

Moses gave a commandment saying don’t bring any more stuff, rather than telling the people to just keep building or making it more elaborate, because what had been given was to be used for a specific work which the Lord had commanded to be done in a very specific way (“up to spec” or “to certain specifications,” we might say).

And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.

Exodus 36:5

God wouldn’t be impressed with their ideas. He would be pleased with obedience.

And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about.

Exodus 37:1-2

The command to build the Ark had come earlier in the description of what to build (Exodus 25:10-15), but the actual building of it came much later in the order of construction. This was so that the Ark – the holiest of all the Tabernacle furnishings – wouldn’t be left lying out in the open for everyone to gaze upon. The curtains of the inner sanctum – the Holy of Holies – and even the curtains in which it was to be wrapped for traveling – needed to be manufactured first to protect and shield it.

And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Exodus 38:8

The laver was for purifying and washing. It was to be made of brass (most likely an alloy of tin and copper in those days, probably the purest brass they had). This brass would have come from their mirrors. As a father of four daughters, this is one of the ways I know that that the Israelite people were really excited and willing about obeying and giving: The women gave up their mirrors! Seriously, though, it does make a good object lesson. They got their eyes off themselves and onto God. There’s a reason why they call a mirror you can sit down in front of a “vanity.”

Cross-Eyed

March 23, 2016 at 11:32 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Common Expressions, Mark | Leave a comment
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The sight of Jesus hanging on the Cross must have been gut-wrenching for those who followed Him and loved Him (and who had not fled and abandoned Him by this point). For most of the spectators, however, including the chief priests and the scribes, it was an occasion for mocking and cruel derision.

And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.

Mark 15:29-31

They were not at all ashamed to look fixedly at the Cross, jeering and taunting the Lord, making a jest that, if only He could get Himself down from there right in front of their eyes, then they would become believers.

Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

Mark 15:32

You may have heard the expression “cross-eyed,” which is used for a person whose eyes both appear to look independently inward toward his nose, instead of looking in the same direction. Children who are able to make their eyes do this intentionally are sometimes warned by a parent or teacher: “You had better stop making that face, or it will freeze like that!”

Today, as Christians, we ought to look fixedly with our mind’s eye at the Cross, as we consider Christ’s great sacrifice there. Refusing to take the bait and get down from the Cross in His Own power, He instead remained there, paying our sin debt in full, and ultimately laying down His Own life before being taken down and buried, only to rise again victoriously from the grave on the third day! We don’t think of contemplating the Cross of our Savior as “getting stuck like that,” but we should often and regularly meditate upon it with hearts of gratitude, affection, repentance, faith, wonder, amazement, reverence, and obedience. Had He come down from the Cross before death, the religious leaders who mocked Jesus would have no more been convinced of His Deity and glory than they were by His miracles, compassion, and Words of Truth. For us, though, we place our trust in the crucified and resurrected King of Israel because He died and rose again.

All Dressed up and Nowhere to Go

February 26, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | 1 Comment
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Most Christians, if they have been serious about their Bible study, are familiar with the armor of God. There is a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, a shield of faith, etc. There are also shoes:

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Ephesians 6:15

It sure sounds like we’re getting all dressed up and ready to go somewhere, but the Bible actually tells us that we’re getting dressed up not to go somewhere, but to stand.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Ephesians 6:10-14

The Christian life is a walk.

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Ephesians 4:1

It pleases God when we walk with Him.

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Genesis 5:24

That’s what we must remember. We’re not walking to GET TO God. We’re walking WITH God – and growing as we walk. Enoch drew nigh unto God by walking with Him. As Christians, we need to be on the move, but we need to be more concerned with being WHO God wants us to be, than we are with being WHERE God wants us to be.

Hindsight is 20/20

December 14, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | 1 Comment
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“Hindsight” means looking back, or looking at something after the fact. Often we get into a difficult spot and look back and wish we had known what was going to happen, thinking that, if we had known, we would have done things differently. I experience this quite often when I find myself sitting in a traffic jam. “If only I had taken that exit I flew past five miles ago!”

The expression “Hindsight is 20/20” refers to the way that our foresight is often severely limited or blurry, although we seem to have perfect vision when it comes to evaluating our actions once we have already seen the consequences. Attributing 20/20 hindsight is our way of resigning ourselves to our current situation while forlornly wishing we could have seen the future.

God, unlike us, has “foresight” that’s better than 20/20. He always knows what to expect.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Jeremiah 29:11

Many times the enemies of God will experience hindsight, and, if you think it’s frustrating for you, as a child of God, when you wish that your foresight had been as accurate as your hindsight, imagine how it’s going to be for those who didn’t believe the Word of God.

Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back.

Nahum 2:8

Nineveh repented under the preaching of Jonah, but after a while the Ninevites went back to their old ways, and when Nahum and the other prophets warned them, they prophesied that, when they were conquered, their commanders would order them to stand, but they would be like water draining out of a pool, and they would not “look back.” In other words their hindsight would be a reproach to them.

Spiritually speaking, we don’t have to wait for 20/20 hindsight to evaluate the outcome.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

When you get discouraged, when you don’t have peace, go ahead and cheat a little, and get out your hindsight ahead of time. We are in Christ, and He has overcome the world.

Sometimes we get a little discouraged because what we expect doesn’t happen. Even John the Baptist got a little discouraged. People heard him say, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” but they forgot what had to happen to a lamb for it to take away sin.

And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

Luke 7:19

Did you ever wonder why God doesn’t let us see everything that’s going to happen? Some people think it would take all the fun out of life if there were no surprises, but the reality is that God, for the most part, wants us looking forward, not looking back. A famous quote, often used at the commencement of new a venture undertaken on the foundation of an old establishment, says, “Hats off to the past, coats off to the future.”

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:59-62

A farmer trying to plough straight rows and looking back would do a terrible job. When we say, “Let’s get moving,” generally speaking, we are looking forward. It’s hard to grow in Christian maturity if you’re always looking back. Remember Lot’s wife. (A husband once said, “Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. My wife looked back and turned into a mailbox.”) Looking back is a sign that we’re still yearning for the things of the world, the things of the flesh. We’re not supposed to fondly remember those things anymore. As Christians, we’re looking ahead because we’re following what we love. We’re following Jesus.

Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

II Timothy 4:10

I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;

********************************
The world behind me, the cross before me;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

Attributed to S. Sundar Singh

Hindsight may be 20/20, but, as believers, we’re not worried about our hindsight. We’re too busy following… and looking back may lead to turning back.

Think Again

October 12, 2015 at 9:55 am | Posted in Common Expressions | Leave a comment
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Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s.

II Corinthians 10:7

In Chapter 10 of II Corinthians the Apostle Paul is writing to the believers in the church at Corinth, and in some ways defending himself. He’s saying, “Look, if these people who speak out against me are bringing my outward appearance into it, that should be a warning right there.” So, he’s refuting the false teachers, but he’s doing it in gentleness and meekness. If the church members at Corinth claimed that they belonged to Christ, then they should not have been against Paul, for he certainly belonged to Christ, too.

The expression, “What I think…” too often really means, “I’m right and you’re wrong, and here’s why.” We must remember that, in order to draw near to God, it is never necessary to push someone else away from Him. There is room near God for the people with whom we are not in total agreement about every single secondary issue.

When I start to say, “Well, I think,” in a negative way, I need to “think again.” If I’m speaking to a brother or sister in Christ, we are in this together.

Flesh and Blood

May 11, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Hebrews | 1 Comment
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Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

Hebrews 2:14

It was important for Jesus to become flesh and blood, so He could die and break the power of death and the power of the devil. Angels aren’t flesh and blood; they’re spirit beings.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:12

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

I Corinthians 15:50

For this reason, if we are to inherit eternal life, we must be “born again,” and, in this second birth, we must be “born of the Spirit.”

To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

Galatians 1:16

The Apostle Paul always tried to remember not to be proud even though He was elected by God to do great things. He did not want to glory in his flesh.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 16:17

Jesus told Peter that he was blessed because his confession of faith was based on listening to God, not just on what he had seen with his flesh-and-blood eyes.

For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

Leviticus 17:11

The Bible tells us that that thousands of years ago God told people that the life is in the blood. George Washington died after being “bled” as a means of healing, even though there was a Bible right there on his bedside table that would have refuted this so-called “science.”

When Pigs Fly (a.k.a. Deviled Ham)

May 1, 2015 at 11:24 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Matthew | 2 Comments
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And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

Matthew 8:28-34

This account of the Gadarene demoniac (who I like to call “the nude dude in a rude mood”) can also be found in Mark Chapter 5 and Luke Chapter 8. It is a miracle which shows that Jesus does not always answer prayers by just granting what we request. In this story the ones who got what they asked for didn’t get what they wanted.

The demons asked to be sent into swine: answered.
The townspeople asked Jesus to leave: answered.
The healed man asked to go with Jesus: denied. Jesus told him to go home and be a witness.

Don’t Let ’em Give You the Slip

March 23, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Hebrews | 6 Comments
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Thank You, Lord, for helping us to see Your superiority, for helping us to see that You are supreme – better than Adam, better than Moses, wiser than Solomon, more holy than David, better than the angels. Thank You for blessing us. You have neither left us, nor forsaken us. Please help us never to leave, nor forsake, You. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

There is an admonition for us in Hebrews Chapter 2. It is really the first of five, and it’s not the sort of admonition that reads as if someone is being fussed at (the way the Holy Spirit sometimes did through Paul when writing to the Corinthians). These admonitions in Hebrews read more like warnings and encouragements, but they are still tricky things to handle. In our flesh, if a brother or sister in Christ says, “I see you’ve been getting away from the things of God…” we tend to get defensive or get our feelings hurt. We ought to pray for each other, sure, but we also, at times, have to exhort, encourage, and talk straight with each other.

My children used to listen to a cassette tape in the car by a group called the “Best Buddies.” The songs were somewhat childish, but they generally had very good reminders of Scriptural principles. One of the songs said:

Are you teachable?
Are you agreeable?
Are you being somebody nice to talk to?
Know-it-alls are often very lonely
So humble yourself and you can learn from everybody!

The Best Buddies

It’s been a good reminder for me over the years to listen more than I talk, to try to be humble, and to try not to be disagreeable, even when I do disagree.

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

Hebrews 2:1

You’ve probably heard the old Bible study adage, “What do you do when you see ‘therefore?’ You back up and see what it’s ‘there for.’”

But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Hebrews 1:13-14

“Because you have received the Word of God directly from the Son, and because you are the heirs of salvation, let Me,” the Holy Spirit seems to be saying, “encourage you with a warning: Give heed to what you have learned, lest you let it slip.” In other words, don’t slip up in reading God’s Word, in studying God’s Word, in meditating on God’s word, in obeying God’s Word. Our attention has a tendency to “drift,” and something that’s not tied down or held in place, can “drift away,” but the Bible is telling me in Hebrews 2:1 that the onus is on me – on the one doing the holding – not to let things “slip” – to “heed,” to pay attention to what I’m supposed to be holding. If you’ve been to a marina, you’ve seen “slips” – those things to which people tie their boats so they won’t float away.

We have the same admonition concerning strong doctrine.

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Titus 1:9

Won’t Hold Water

March 6, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | Leave a comment
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When we say that something “won’t hold water,” we mean that someone has expressed an idea or opinion, or proposed a plan of action, that, upon closer scrutiny, is faulty, and lacks the consistency or integrity to be relied upon.

For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:13

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, the Lord’s people committed two evils. First, they ignored the God Who had chosen them. They had forsaken Him Who was the Fountain of living waters. How it must grieve God to see us deliberately disobey Him! However, it’s just as bad to act like He’s not even there, as though we are participating in a sort of practical atheism.

The second evil was that they tried to try to hew out cisterns (troughs or little pools) as places to hold their blessings by their own machinations, without regard to God’s plan or purposes. These were broken cisterns. They were not going to be able to hold the living water. Our self-made or self-righteous attempts to replace our reliance on God will not hold anything worth having. They will become sad little puddles – stagnant and muddy, full of parasites – and they will make us sick.

What did Jesus say to the woman at the well? “Drink this water and you’ll just get thirsty again. But I AM the Living Water – drink of the Lord and you’ll never be thirsty again.”

More often than not, our own ideas, plans, and desires “won’t hold water.” Living water doesn’t have to be “held,” because it transforms the drinker.

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