A regular (daily, weekly, monthly) specialty serving of significant
or insignificant musings from the mind of an Italian Pastor.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blogging through the Bible...Prayer of David

May we have the same attitude as that of David.

1 Chronicles 17:16-27, Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said:

“Who am I, LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, my God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You, LORD God, have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men.

“What more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant, LORD. For the sake of your servant and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made known all these great promises.

“There is no one like you, LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and to make a name for yourself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You made your people Israel your very own forever, and you, LORD, have become their God.

“And now, LORD, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The LORD Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel’s God!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you.

“You, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. So your servant has found courage to pray to you. You, LORD, are God! You have promised these good things to your servant. Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, LORD, have blessed it, and it will be blessed forever.”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blogging Through the Bible...OT Grace

For some reason, we in the church have created a false perception. It goes like this: "The NT God is a God of love and grace while the OT God is a God of wrath and judgment." Have you ever heard that, thought that, believed that, felt that? I don't know how you could not thanks to an overwhelming preference for the NT in today's churches. The OT seems unexplainable. It seems harsh. It seems messy & bloody. It goes against our sophisticated, western, idealism.

And yet, when I sit down and read the OT, not just picking and choosing stories but really reading it through, I can't help but walk away amazed at the grace of God. Is there wrath? Yes! Is it at times unexplainable, harsh, messy & bloody? Absolutely! However, look at what God had to work with!

Look at the major failures by even the good guys: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Gideon, Saul (good guy?), David, Solomon...and that is just to name a few! I don't have time to list all the "should be good guys gone bad," or the "always were very bad guys."

And yet, God continues to fulfill His promises. He continues to keep a remnant of the faithful even in the midst of the darkest of times. He sticks with families of rulers because of the covenants He made even when the families completely reject Him.

God is ALWAYS a God of love, grace, mercy, compassion. And yet, He is a God who takes care of sin (Ex. 34:6-7). As we continue through the depressing stories of failure and sin, watch for God's grace. It is there! Don't miss it!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Blogging through the Bible...Obedience vs. Sacrifice

Day 21. Has it really been three weeks already! I have to say, B90 has been awesome. We are right in the middle of some great stories! For today's post, I just want to bring up a simple verse that is not so simple to apply. 1 Samuel15:22 - But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."

Let's set the context of the story. King Saul disobeys God. God had said for Saul to wipe everything out in a neighboring nation. However, Saul keeps the king alive and some choice selections from the livestock. When asked by Samuel why he didn't obey Saul answered that he had in fact obeyed. Not only did he just obey, he did better than obey. He kept all these great animals to sacrifice to the Lord.

The verse I quoted is God's reply through the prophet Samuel. How often do we disobey when we think we are obeying? How often do we dishonor the name of the Lord and we excuse it because we had "good intentions." People hate the church because the church is full of people who "have good intentions" and yet are so Christ-less in their lives at the same time. People hate the church and yet love Jesus. How can that be? It can be because we are falling into the trap of Saul. The Christian life is not difficult to understand. Jesus summed up all of the OT Law in two commands: Love God and love others. How often do we fail in one of these two areas all the while "having good intentions?"

Obedience is better than sacrifice! Just obey! Be like Jesus! Imagine how different the world would be today if the church were filled with Jesus followers instead of Christians!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blogging through the Bible...God's Promises!

Am I the only one who hit a road block in our B90 Challenge? I'm not going to lie, Leviticus through Deuteronomy was pretty killer for me. I got in one of those mental states where I was kind of numb to what I was reading. My eyes were seeing the words but my brain was not engaged. Have you been there yet?

This fog continued into some of the book of Joshua. Especially when they started carving up the land...BORING!!! But, then something awesome happened. I caught myself and woke up. Not literally, but figuratively. A verse then popped off the page at me that made all of this worth it. Joshua 21:45 says, "Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled."

Did you catch that. Not one promise of God failed! How often do we blame God, feel abandoned by God, ignored by God, insignificant to God. Yet, God fulfills His promises. God never changes. God doesn't fail. We may not always know what God is doing. But, God always is working out the details.

This makes promises like Romans 8:28 so special. All things work out! All things are for an ultimate good to be achieved. We may not always know why or understand, but that doesn't mean God isn't at work.

So take heart. And in this B90 journey, don't allow the fog to creep back in. You might miss pure gold like Joshua 21:45!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Leaping through Leviticus

We have just finished the book of Leviticus in the Bible in 90 Day Challenge. Going in, I knew that the Leviticus/Numbers sections are tedious at best and downright boring at worst. However, reading them through at a fast rate has been a great experience! In the teaching section of our B90 Sunday School class, professor John Walton, OT professor at Wheaton, challenged us to look at Leviticus through the concept of God establishing a foothold in a fallen world.

When reading Leviticus in this way, I came away realizing just how holy the God we serve is. Mankind had to approach Him with fear and trembling because we are sinful and broken. The way to God was detailed and complicated. We are to honor and fear God, balanced of course with love. An amazing picture of this balance is found in the pages of C.S. Lewis' series The Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan, the great lion representing God in the story, is an animal that the children love. He wrestles with them, they hug and pet him, he protects them. However, he is also fearsome, powerful and violent. That is the God we serve.

The most amazing part of the story is that now we have open and unlimited access to this God through the person of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Because of Jesus' death on the cross, we can approach our God, yes the God of Leviticus, with confidence. Let us not think that we need to fear God and love Jesus. While they are three persons they are also very much one being. We have a God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), who loves you and loves me! This God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) should also be feared and respected. The God of Leviticus is still very much the God we serve and love. Let us never loose our fear of God. Yet, let us also never lose our love for God. He is a God who is worth loving with everything we have and are!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blogging Through the Bible...A Shining Star in a Dark Sky

I love the story of Joseph. If you aren’t reading with us, or if by some chance you got behind and haven’t read about Joseph yet, stop and read Genesis 37-50.

What amazes me about this story is the faithfulness of Joseph. At first glance, it doesn’t seem that remarkable. I mean, isn’t this how a believer is supposed to act? Isn’t this the type of life demanded by God, talked about by Jesus and most recently brought to our attention in popular books such as Crazy Love?

However, what is truly remarkable is that of anyone up to this point, Joseph had the greatest reasons to disobey God and lose his faith. Every excuse we come up with was at Joseph’s disposal. He was betrayed by his older brothers. He felt abandoned by God. He was alone in a culture that wouldn’t have cared if he slept with his master’s wife and would encourage worshiping other gods. His father wasn’t exactly a pillar of moral living. His brothers had done much much worse. In fact, up to this point, had any of the “heroes of the faith,” many of whom had much more comfortable lives than Joseph, not fallen to some sort of sin? Why then shouldn’t Joseph be given a pass?

And yet, Joseph didn’t budge. He remained strong. He kept the faith. He didn’t give up! What excuses do you have for your sin? What reasons do you have for not being able to help but fall for a temptation? Joseph proves that there never is an excuse. This is validated in 1 Cor. 10:13-14 which says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Let each of us commit to be a Joseph!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blogging through the Bible...Sex & Marriage???

Day 3: Through Genesis 40:11

So for my first official post during this amazing Bible in 90 Days Challenge, I have to ask: What is with the Old Testament men's sex drives? I mean seriously. I feel at times like I am reading about an HBO special...no not the Sopranos - the Hebrews!

Did anyone just have one wife? Even with multiple wives these men still seem to shack up with quite a few ladies of ill repute (many of whom are close relatives???). And what did God say about it? Actually, not very much.

I could say that this is one of those weird, unexplainable phenomenons found in the Old Testament. I could use a popular explanation and say that we just can't explain the God of the Old Testament and thank goodness for the New Testament that makes everything ok.

Well, I'm not going to do that. Mainly because I don't think that the New Testament can fix the problems of the Old Testament. Otherwise, you have to say that there are problems with the Old Testament or with the Old Testament God. God is God. He always has been God and always will be God. God didn't change.

While there aren't specific words from God against the sexual failures of some of these men (the Law had yet to be given), there are obvious and drastic consequences. God warns mankind about sin. When sin happens, consequences happen. Sometimes there are natural consequences; such as the strife caused by having jealous wives (Gen. 29). Sometimes there are divine judgments; such as Sodom and Gomorrah being incinerated with burning sulfur from heaven (Gen. 19). Finally, just because there isn't a recorded condemnation from God doesn't mean there wasn't one. We don't know how much of the Law was given to individuals before Moses brought the official Law to the nation of Israel. We assume we have written down everything God ever said. Everything in the Bible is from God. I highly doubt everything from God is in the Bible. In fact, the life of Jesus (only 33 years worth) was recorded as a highlight reel (John 21:25).

As we take this journey though the Bible in 90 Days, remember that God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8)!