Daily Bible Reading

Daily Bible Reading

One of the acronyms for the Bible is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. It instructs us how to act: don’t lie, don’t cheat and so on and so forth. It instructs us how to interact with other people: love your neighbor as yourself and pray for your enemies. It instructs us how to pray: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Yet, the Bible is more than basic instructions before leaving earth. In reading it, we get to know our God more. It is one of the ways to develop a deeper relationship with God. In reading it, we grow in holiness and we become transformed into the image of the only Begotten Son. We learn what it means to be a Christian.

Yet, the sad reality is daily Bible reading has ceased to exist in our lives. The Bible is forgotten throughout the week. The sad thing is we are okay with that attitude. We are okay with not reading our Bibles daily. We are okay with not communing with God daily. We are okay with not growing spiritually. We are okay, we are fine. That is scary, when our attitude towards not reading the Bible is we are okay with that.

Perhaps we don’t make Bible reading a normal part of our lives is because it is hard to understand. If we find that the Bible is hard to understand then we are in good company. The apostle Peter declared that the apostle Paul’s writings are hard to understand (2 Pet. 3:16b). Just because it is hard to understand, it does not mean that it cannot be understood.

There is no doubt that there are some secret things in Scripture (Deut. 29:29), but the words of Augustine are suitable for the mysteries of Scripture. Augustine writes, “Although many things in the scripture be spoken in obscure mysteries, yet there is nothing spoken under dark mysteries in one place, but the selfsame thing in other places is spoken more familiarly and plainly, to the capacity both of learned and unlearned.  And those things in the scripture that be plain to understand, and necessary for salvation, every man’s duty is to learn them, to print them into memory, and effectually to exercise them.  and as for the dark mysteries, to be contented to be ignorant in them until such time as it shall please God to open those things unto him.  In the mean season, if he lack either aptness or opportunity, God will not impute it to his folly.” Too often, we declare Scripture too hard and mysterious because we don’t read other parts of the Bible. In others words, if one part of the Bible is hard to understand and mysterious then there are other parts of the Bible that might explain the hard and mysterious verses, chapters, or subjects.

Another factor that should encourage us to make Bible reading a part of our daily routine is we have the Holy Spirit. One of the tasks of the Spirit is to teach and instruct believers in the Word. We are not left alone to understand God’s Word when we read. We are not left to resources, human wisdom. We have the Author of the Scripture to help us understand the Word. We need to read prayerful and meditatively if we want to get anything out of God’s Word.

The question at the end of the day is do we want to know God more intimately? If so, make Bible reading a part of your life. It is okay if the Bible is hard to understand and has mysteries because we have the Spirit to guide us through it all.

Things I wish I was told before I left for college

Things I Wish I Was Told Before I Left For College

Around June every year my commute to work gets a little bit sweeter. This is because the high school that I live near goes into summer session and the early morning traffic jam it creates takes a break for a few months. Then September rolls around and the bumper to bumper traffic returns. However, one thing that doesn’t return is an entire class of students. So as the class of 2012 starts to pack their bags, here are a few words of advice…a few things things that I wish I was told before I left for college.

Be responsible

Your college education is important. However you need to make sure that you view your education (or anything else you have for that matter) with a biblical perspective. You have been given an opportunity to attend college. This does not make you better than others who do not have this opportunity. What it does mean is that you have been blessed with something which you now are to be a responsible steward of. The parable in Matthew 25:14-30 describes the relationship between a master and his servants and how each servant was entrusted with something of great value. A few things we can observe are:

  • The amount that each servant was given varied, but as we’ll soon see the responsibility was the same
  • The ownership of these things always belonged to the master, the servants were stewards or managers
  • The purpose behind the possession of these things was not self-serving, the servants were to invest them for the master’s gain
  • The result of being a faithful and responsible steward was rewarded, the 2 servants that invested and earned interest for the master received the exact same praise even though the amount of return was different

Don’t get caught up comparing what you’re doing after high school with someone else. Realize that whatever you’ve been entrusted with is not yours. Resist the temptation to be self-serving. Seek to understand how to invest yourself purposefully for God’s gain, and “…enter into the joy of your master (Matthew 25:23)“.

Stay focused

I was in college when YouTube started gaining momentum. As if there weren’t already enough distractions, suddenly dubbed versions of old GI Joe cartoons were all the craze. There are a lot of things that will distract you from pressing onward in the manner which Paul describes in Philippians 3. The need to stay focused and press on is reinforced when Paul describes the Christian life as a race in two of his other letters in the New Testament. He describes it as requiring self control in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, so that we could win the race. He also describes it as requiring endurance in Hebrews 12:1-2, “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith”.

You’d never try to run a marathon wearing jeans and carrying a suitcase in your hands. Take the race seriously and as you run, consider what might be slowing you down. Stay focused, and fix your eyes upon Jesus.

Look out for that pop quiz

I found myself cramming a lot during college. That usually did the trick when I knew a test was coming up. However when those pop quizzes reared their ugly head I was usually caught off guard because I had spent my time doing useless things. Boy did I wish I had been studying more regularly.

Likewise, life will take twists and turns when you least expect it. Classes will seem impossible. Your transcript may begin to look more like alphabet soup. Friendships and relationships will seem like more trouble than they’re worth. Unexpected circumstances will come your way. However despite these circumstances, remember that your citizenship is not in this world but in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Remember that Jesus came to die for you and I. Remember that He came to rescue us. And explode into doxology as you put all the pieces together. However the sad reality is these are the last things that come to mind. Make it a point in college to develop a healthy habit of studying the Word of God regularly. Then you’ll be ready for any pop quiz that comes your way because you have learned and remembered these things.

While sharing about his initial reaction to finding out his daughter had cancer, Pastor Britt Merrick recalled the strength and encouragement he found as the scriptures flooded his mind, specifically Psalm 61:2. He was ready for the pop quiz. He described it as “your mind goes to Jesus (skip ahead to  8:15, but the whole thing is worth watching)“. Invest time in setting a solid foundation that is built upon the Word of God. You never know when there will be a pop quiz.

Study hard

There are so many other things that can be said, such as the importance of plugging yourself into a local church, but we’ll end it with this last point (which is extremely similar to the previous point, but still worth repeating). I trust that if we can get this right, the other things will fall into place. Study hard.

It is easy to bury yourself in your books studying for school. As much as we’d like to say we always studied to learn, a lot of time was spent studying to simply pass a test. No, we’re not flip-flopping on our previous bit of advice. Be a responsible steward with the opportunity you have been given to further develop your God-given talents for God’s glory. However, do not de-prioritize studying the Word of God, which has eternal value. May we say with the psalmist, “Your word is a lamp to my feet. And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)”.

The journey of discipleship (Mark 16:1-8)

The journey of discipleship (Mark 16:1-8)

On New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played the University of California in the annual Rose Bowl football game. In that game a man named Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for California 30 yards away from the Georgia Tech’s end zone. Unfortunately he became confused and began running the wrong way. One of his teammates, Benny Lom, overtook and tackled him just before he scored for the opposing team.

This was during the first half. Everyone was wondering what Coach Nibbs Price would do with Roy Riegels in the second half. During half-time Riegels sat alone in a corner, wrapped a blanket around his shoulders, put his hands in his face and cried like a baby.

We’re not football players, but have you experienced failure on your journey of discipleship? If we’re honest, we fail our God more times than we can count on the journey of discipleship. We visited websites that we weren’t suppose to, gossiped about a brother or sister in Christ, yelled at the wife instead of loving her as Christ loves the church, and fall into unspeakable sins.

Is there hope for us when we fail in our journey of discipleship?

In Mark 16:1-8 it tells us that there is hope for those who have failed on their journey of discipleship. In this passage you will hear three points: faithfulness ending in failure, hope offered, and what are we to do in light of hope being offered.

Faithfulness ending in Failure

We have now reached the end of the gospel of Mark. All along we have seen that the gospel of Mark is about the journey of discipleship. The women demonstrated their faithfulness to him on this journey.

The women were faithful to Jesus from Galilee all the way to Jerusalem. They ministered to him while he was in Galilee (15:41); they followed him to the cross and saw the crucifixion (15:40). They saw where Joseph of Arimathea laid Jesus (15:47) and rose early in the morning to go there to anoint the body of Christ with species. They saw the empty tomb (16:5-6). They were faithful to follow Jesus, where as the crowd, his family and the religious leaders rejected him. His male disciples fled and denied Him. The women were the last hope that someone within Jesus’s crowd would continue as faithful followers. That was not to be the case, despite their faithfulness they failed to carry the message that was commissioned by the young man to “God and tell, His disciples, and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him just as He told you.’” Their failure is highlighted through the word ‘fled’ and their silence.

They “fled” in 16:8 because trembling and astonishment had gripped them. Instead of faithfully proclaiming the message, they fled in fear. Mark is trying to paint a picture of the women’s failure through the word “fled”. This word was used in back in 14:50 when the disciples fled and again with the young man (14:52), two examples of the failure through the use of the word “fled”.

They not only fled the scene, they also said nothing to anyone for they were afraid. Their silence jeopardized the second round of discipleship. Faithful to follow Jesus but failed to proclaim the message. Is that us? Faithful to attend seminary but fail to proclaim the message of the good news. Faithful to your husband and wife but fail to proclaim gospel. Faithful to ministry to the saints but fail to proclaim the message of the good news.

Hope Offered

We have seen the failure of the women at the most pivotal point in their journey of discipleship.  Now let’s move to hope offered. The young man commanded the three women, “Go, tell His disciples, and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him just as He told you.”

Please notice the words, “just as He told you”. Where did Jesus say that He was going to meet them in Galilee after his resurrection?

Jesus told them that he was going to meet them in Galilee after his resurrection back in Mark 14:28. In that context, Jesus spoke of his violent death and prophesied his disciples’ future failure and their future abandonment of him. Jesus knew his disciples would fail, but he offers them hope, that in failure there is always a new beginning. There is always the next round. After the resurrection, the scattered disciples would be regathered in Galilee.

The journey of discipleship started in Galilee. Jesus called his disciples when he was walking along the Sea of Galilee in Mark 1:15. He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of Men.” (Mark 1:17). On way to Jerusalem, one by one the disciples abandoned Jesus.

The disciples fled and left him at his betrayal and arrest. Peter denied Jesus three times. What about us? Have we fled and left him? Have we denied Jesus? When homework and projects are piling up, is Jesus the first to be let go? When work and play time consume us, is Jesus the first to be let go? The prayer life, the quite time, and Bible reading all go to waste side until “the busy moments” in our lives are over and then we will get back on the road with Jesus. Oh, how we in our own ways have fled and left Jesus.

Here in this statement, “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him just as He told you” hope and restoration are offered to those who have failed, fled, and left Jesus in their journey of discipleship. The resurrected Christ will meet them where it all started. It is the promise of a new start, back to the point of origin, Galilee. It is a new beginning: a new iteration of the trip of discipleship. All can get back “on the way” to follow Jesus.

Don’t miss what the young man said, “But go, tell His disciples and Peter,” Is this not redundant? Is Peter not a disciple of Christ? Why did the young man say “go, tell his disciples and Peter that Jesus will go ahead of them to Galilee?”

The disciples fled and abandoned Jesus. Peter denied Jesus three times. In comparison Peter’s failure was worst than the other disciples. It is in this redundancy that we get this principle: Forgiveness and restoration are extended to those who have even experienced the worst of failure.

On this journey of discipleship for us there will be failures. There will be moments where we’ve ruined our God, our faith, and ourselves. In those moments hope and restoration are offered. Just as Jesus extended restoration and hope for the disciples in the phrase, “I will go ahead of you to Galilee” and the young man echoing Jesus’s statement does the same thing, then likewise, when we fail in our journey of discipleship, hope and restoration are offered. Hope and restoration are offered to the murders all the way down to those who tell “white lies.” The promise of a new start is extended to all. Jesus is waiting for you in Galilee, will you meet him there?

Application

We have seen faithfulness leading to failure, hope offered, now let’s move to the application. How do I meet Jesus in Galilee? Let me give you three steps:

  1. The first step is confession of sin. 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sin, God is faithful to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us of all our unrighteousness. So confess your sin to the Lord.
  2. The second step is once you confessed your sins, realized you have been forgiven. The blood of Christ has washed all your sins away. So often we hang onto the guilt and the pain of our sins. Realized that we have been forgiven and let them go. Don’t let it consume you.
  3. We left Roy Riegels at the corner with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders, and his hands in his face weeping like a baby, with no hope, during half time.Three minutes before the start of the second half Coach Price looked at the team and said, “Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second.”Riegels never moved. The coach called him and again he never moved. Coach Price went over to where Riegels sat and said, “Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that played the first half will start the second.”Reigels said, “Coach, I can’t do it to save my life. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the University of California. I’ve ruined myself. I couldn’t face that crowd in the stadium to save my life.”Then Coach Price reached out and put his hand on Riegels’ shoulder and said, “Roy, get up and go on back, the game is only half over.” Roy Reigels went back. Those Tech men will tell you they have never seen a man play football as Roy Riegels played that second half.For those who have experienced failure on their journey of discipleship, the resurrected Jesus offers hope and restoration.

    The game is only half over, confess and realize that our sins are forgiven, then get up and go back on the journey of discipleship.

May God bless you,
Dien

God’s will

TemporaryVisitors - Guest Post

Whenever there’s a 5th Sunday in a month, we take a break from the regular rotation between myselfHeliconTim, and Dien to feature a guest writer. Since there were 5 Sundays in April, this week’s post comes to you from my good friend and younger* brother, Nathan Yee.

* He does not allow me to call him “little” for obvious reasons if you’ve ever seen us standing next to each other. 


Lately I have been contemplating what it means to ‘be in God’s Will’.  We always speak about and pray that we want the ‘Will of God’ to be expressed in our life and that we would co-labor in it.  The question I posed to myself in studying this was:

Am I not seeing an opportunity that is right in front of me which God has placed in my life, that I ought to be pouring into? 

I am reminded of Paul’s missionary work and how he had a genuine desire to go and share the Gospel to the Romans. Obviously Paul didn’t just wait and not do anything and wait for God to open a door for him to get to Rome so he could fulfill his desire.  If so, the book of Acts would have looked much differently, but on the contrary what we do see is Paul actively contending for the faith everywhere God sent him.  Even though Paul didn’t immediately get to Rome in the beginning of his missionary journey, he poured everything he had into what was before him. Acts 14:20 tells of Paul being stoned in Lystra and dragged out of the city presumed dead by the locals, but immediately re-enters the city which tried to kill him.  We do not experience that type of persecution today, but how often do we bow out of opportunities to share the love of God when confronted with the slightest opposition? Paul could of said at that point, ‘I’ve had it with Lystra, my desire is to be in Rome and that is where I’m going.’ But Paul didn’t allow life’s circumstances and his own genuine desires to get in the way of doing what God had for him and followed faithfully.

We can have our desires for our life but the Lord will take us ultimately where He sees fit. Even when our desires are praiseworthy and for the God’s glory, it may not be what God has in store for us at the moment.  We ought not to let circumstances dictate where we believe God is leading us.  God has not promised us comfort and ease in following Him but the contrary ‘Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,’ 2 Timothy 3:12.  Easily we fall into a trap today where the most comfortable and logical choice is sought after as God’s plan for us.  We pour everything we have into obtaining this dream to where we have lost sight of what it says in Matthew 22:37 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’.  Lets be reminded that we are to love God for who He is rather than the blessings He gives.

I am reminded of the lyrics to ‘Give Us Clean Hands’ by Chris Tomlin, “Oh God let us be a generation that seeks, who seeks Your face, oh God of Jacob”.  We have an opportunity to have intimate fellowship with the one and true living God for all the days of our lives, let us not consume ourselves with the periphery.

For the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Shalom,
-Nathan

True Contentment (pt. 2)

Philippians 4:13

So in my last post, I posted some thoughts about New Year resolutions and how they are often manifested because of our dissatisfaction or lack of contentment with the way things are in our lives.  I moved on to talk about Gospel Contentment and how Paul is able to have such an incredible peace amidst the hardships that he was facing during his imprisonment.  What Paul shares to his beloved friends in Philippi is that he has learned to find this incredible contentment/peace in Christ through the depth of his understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how it is only through the Gospel that he can say with such confidence “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

So why do we have a Part 2 to this True Contentment topic then, Helicon?  I could totally have stopped at the end of last week’s post and ended this train of thought but I believe that God has helped me see some new wisdom and insight on the topic recently.   There were times when it was not so easy to be filled with joy or fixated or at peace with Christ, but it was in those times that I continued to pray and ask God to show me more reasons why this understanding is so important and how much further it continues to go into my foundations and faith.

Here’s why this contentment stuff is so important… like me, you WILL face times when you will encounter hardships /discouragements /trials/suffering /loss/heartbreak/loneliness!  The question is… how will you respond in those times?  Will you become so distraught that you are unable to function?  Will you start to panic and perhaps even go as far as to blame God for what happens?  Maybe you won’t panic as much, but inside you are deeply shaken to the core of the foundations of your faith and this may become the catalyst to a growing distance from God in your daily life.  You may even be rebellious due to your frustration and lack of seeing God’s activeness.

The reality is we face these dilemmas and they are a part of our lives that we cannot ignore.  Rather than facing these times, we often rather hide these struggles as we try to put on a brave or courageous face for the rest of the world to see.  What happens is we ignore these thoughts until they are upon us and then we have to struggle even more so because we are ill-prepared to face the reality of our lives.  This denial or willful blindness only makes the journey longer and the hole deeper; rather than finding ourselves to God, we feel further and more ashamed than before.  To ignore these dilemmas then would be a huge blind spot in our soul, and a place where we will be missing God’s grace and refinement (God’s there, but our blindness leads us unaware or unwilling to listen to him in those areas).

Paul grasps this hope/eschatological confidence in the Gospel… and as a result, he not only has a deep peace in the truth of the Gospel, but in the promise of the Gospel.  What is the reason we can trust God so much in the present when things look so screwed up? I think that we can have such confidence in the present because of a confidence in the fulfillment of the promise in the future.  The promise of that hope and the belief that it will be fulfilled drives our confidence in the present… and though this may seem so elementary, we can easily gloss over it in our own hearts.  The truth is that this is a very powerful ingredient to Paul’s confidence in the Gospel.  He believes what Jesus Christ has said and that God will redeem it all in the future; he has no doubt about this and this is what strengthens him in the present.  We remember the past and what Christ has accomplished, but we anticipate the future for its fulfillment.

Too often, I think our understanding of the Gospel is stuck only in the present… and rather than seeing God’s powerful work transcending time, we can only see it from the singular (even narrow) perspective of the present.  We are so easily shaken because we can only see things within the present context and never consider the Sovereignty of God & His control that transcends time.  We may consider the past and we may consider the future, but what we must remember is that God is not bound by the boundaries of time.  God sees/defines/authors the complete big picture!  I think that it’s in seeing the promise of God (with an understanding of the future) that gives Paul this unwavering 100% confidence.  He doesn’t just understand this… he KNOWS this with all of his being to be true.  This is a real faithfulness and trust in God’s promises!

This is definitely something I feel that we have to desire and constantly pray for because it is so easily forgotten.  How often has that dreaded feeling of doubt and discouragement come creeping in during a bout or season of trial or hardship?  This is why preaching the Gospel to ourselves has such an essential role to our faith and its healthiness.  It is this constant radical reorientation back towards Christ; it is that recalibration that cannot afford to be off even by a teensy bit in our lives.  We need to be focused because even the smallest incorrect focus over the distance of our lives will end up far off the target of our relationship with Jesus Christ.  This constant vigilant correction is necessary and perhaps why we are compared to sheep: who are so easily distracted and strayed.

So as I share today, do we constantly see this future promise and it’s completeness in the Gospel?  Do we see and place our confidence in these promises and earnestly desire to see these things from this mindset?  It is perhaps when you are able to do these things that you can say with as much confidence as Paul the following words: “… for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11b-13).

What do you place your confidence in when things get tough?  Do you place it in the promises that Christ will return and things will be made right?  How often do you reflect on the Gospel and preach it to yourself?  Do you believe and long for the future fulfillment of God’s promise and see it as a definite or a possibility?  This my friends will be something you wrestle with your entire life… it is a journey that you will constantly encounter such moments, and the question then is: will you continue to remember to preach the Gospel to yourself, and cling to Christ?