Categotry Archives: Sunday meditations

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Sunday Meditations: The Big Deal About Sin and Grace

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Categories: Sunday meditations

For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” –Gal. 3:10, NASB

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Sunday meditation, but Galatians 3 has been stirring in my soul all week–and particularly the verse above.

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Sunday Meditation: Convinced in Our Own Minds

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Categories: Meanderings (look it up), Sunday meditations

One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him….One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind….I know and am convinced in the Lord that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (Rom. 14: 2-3, 5, 14, NASB, emphasis mine)

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Sunday Meditations: Psalms of Ascents

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Categories: Sunday meditations

For this installment of the bi-weekly Sunday Meditations, I have a slightly different approach than normal. For the past few days, several passages from the “psalms of ascents” (Ps. 120-134) have been rolling around in my head and heart. Yesterday, I read them all the way through.

The “psalms of ascents”, as this set of 15 psalms is called, were traditionally sung by Jewish pilgrims as they walked the long ascent several times a year to the City of Jerusalem. They are songs to accompany “ascending the hill of the Lord.” I love these psalms because as I read them through, it’s as though I can feel my own soul being lifted up; taken together, they form an upward progression. (It is surmised that they were once one psalm, set in parts like Psalm 119 which comes immediately before them.)

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Sunday Meditations: The Voice

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Categories: Sunday meditations

The voice of the Lord is powerful,
The voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
Yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon…
The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve
And strips the forests bare;
And in His temple everything says, “Glory!”
–Psalm 29:3-9, NASB

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Sunday Meditations: The Just and the Unjust

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Categories: Sunday meditations

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” –Matt. 5:43-45, NASB

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Sunday Meditation: It Was for Freedom

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Categories: Sunday meditations

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” –Gal. 5:1, NASB

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul was addressing an attempt of religious Jews to enforce the Law of Moses on the young Gentile Christians, including telling them they needed to be circumcised like the Jews. It wasn’t so much the act of circumcision that Paul was coming against–it was all the religious legalism that it represented. Paul was trying to reinforce the gospel of grace to these young believers.

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Sunday Meditations: It’s Alive

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Categories: food for thought, Sunday meditations

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart. -Heb. 4:12, NASB

Taken in the context of the passage, this verse really seems to be talking about how the word of God tests and proves our obedience and trust, challenging us with truth–thus, the judging of thoughts and intents, and so on. But I am thinking in particular about the idea at the beginning of the verse–that the word of God is living and active.

I am not one who believes that the Bible is the only way God speaks, but I do believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and a plumbline by which other words are measured. Even so, I think it’s a difficult thing to get our minds around sometimes, the idea that this book could be more than just a historical document, but is a living and active document–something that didn’t just speak one time, but still speaks today. If it is alive…what does that mean, exactly? How is the word of God living and active?

For me, that idea has multiple layers. On one layer, to give an analogy, I think of our United States Constitution, which is often talked about as a “living document.” What it means for the Constitution is that it was written for longevity, and that it can be amended and adapted to deal with circumstances our Founding Fathers couldn’t even have conceived of over 200 years ago. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that the meaning of the Constitution can be reinterpreted and changed, and that’s a can of worms that’s gonna stay shut for now. 🙂 But that’s the idea behind a living document, that it can adapt and speak a fresh word generation after generation. I see the Bible as sort of like that–although not as something we are allowed to reinterpret for our own convenience. Rather, I think that God in His wisdom has spoken multiple layers of meaning into His own Word, so that it somehow has the ability to speak relevant things across generations and cultures. A great example of this is the fact that so many Scripture texts addressing the nation of Israel thousands of years ago carry fresh meaning for the church today, and read as though God spoke them directly to us, and for us.

Another layer of the Bible being alive and active lies in the way that God sometimes personalizes Scripture for us. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but I have had times when as I read a passage of Scripture, in its words I will hear something clearly spoken to my immediate circumstances, as if God just prophesied directly to me through the Bible. There are even a couple of passages that I might call “lifetime” passages for me–where God has woven it deeply into my own narrative, as if to say, “This passage is for you; this describes what I’m doing in your life. You are living out these verses.” It isn’t something where I think we ought to get all mystical and start imagining that God is personalizing every verse somehow–that can get flaky really quickly. But if Christ is real, if we are following a real Person on this journey, it stands to reason that there ought to be times when He will speak back to us specifically, and often He uses His own “living word” to do it. That, to me, is a very real way in which the word of God is alive and active.

If you’ll indulge me, I’ll share an example of one passage that I believe God has personalized for me. Realize that what I’m about to share is highly subjective, not a doctrinal kind of thing. It is the first three verses of Psalm 40:

(1) I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.
(2) He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
(3) He put a new son in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord. (Ps. 40:1-3, NASB)

I had read these words before, but one day over a decade ago, I read them, and had a deep inner knowing that God was going to play these verses out in my life, and that it was going to take place progressively over an extended period of time. I heard God speak into my spirit, “You are in the season of verse 1.” I was in a time of need, and I had been seeking God about it for awhile; I knew by through this experience that He had heard my cries, and that this would be my comfort while I continued to wait for the process to unfold.

A few years later–yes, years later–at a time when I was revisiting these verses, I heard in the same manner, “You are now in the season of verse 2.” I knew that I was now beyond just the waiting, and that I was to anticipate movement and change as God fulfilled this verse in my life. As is the case most times when God says something to us, I had no idea how painful the process would be, how much deep re-shaping would be done in my life–how much transformation was about to take place. We think we know what God means when He says something. Then we find out. 🙂

What’s interesting is that even through the process, there was a time when I thought verse 2 was already fulfilled in my life. After a long time of trial, I came into a period of rest, and I reasoned that this was God “making my footsteps firm.” Then I went through another major period of transition and upheaval, which led to our family moving from Tulsa to Denver. I have to admit, by this time I wasn’t even thinking about Psalm 40, or wherer I might be in the process. It had now been five or six years since I had heard, “You are now in the season of verse 2.” In fact, I was in such a time of transition that I was no longer sure of anything I’d heard or hadn’t heard. All I knew was to lean on God and do my best to trust Him, and hope it would all make sense eventually.

Then a couple of weeks ago, just on a glance, I happened upon Psalm 40 once again. As I read the words, they shook my insides with a whole new sense of meaning. “He set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm.” I instantly tied it in with other psalms which speak of how God’s rescue is described as “setting our feet on high places.” And I thought of Denver, the Mile-High City. A high place, which I felt I had arrived at almost by chance. And it was all I could do not to double over and weep right there in the coffee shop. And the Voice came: “You are coming to the end of verse 2.”

Trust me. This thing is alive.

I have not yet heard that I am in the season of verse 3, although I expect that is coming. What I can say is that in the days following this experience, my world has continued to be rocked as I have watched God make our footsteps firm in more ways than I can describe. I am watching it happen right in front of me. It is breaking me and humbling me and reminding me that Someone is in control who is much greater than I.

And this brings me to another layer of meaning about the word of God being alive and active: It has the creative power to bring transformation. For many of us believers, we see that as being God transforming our circumstances; what we fail to realize is that the Bible isn’t really meant for transforming our circumstances as much as it is for transforming us. Before Psalm 40 could change my circumstances–it had to change me. Deeply. This is the power of a living word.

The practice of lectio divina is an ancient practice that Catholics in particular have preserved, but more people are starting to recover. Lectio divina involves reading a passage of Scripture slowly, several times, pondering it for meaning, and asking God to personalize its meaning for our lives. I haven’t practiced this regularly (although I’ve always done it rather loosely, not even knowing what it was); but I really like the heart behind it. For in our modern times we have a tendency to place demands on Scripture, drilling it and analyzing it and questioning it for its meaning. Lectio divina, however, does the opposite: it allows the Scripture to drill into us, and ask questions of us. Where so many of us have reduced the Scripture to a passive mystery-document to be mined for the truth it contains, this ancient practice values the Scripture as an active, living document that works change into our lives. Whether or not we practice lectio divina specifically, I think it holds great merit for us to hold the word of God in this manner, and with this kind of respect. The Bible isn’t something we have the right to use and exploit to get what we want; it is something that works in us to bring forth what God wants.

It is, after all, His word; and it is alive. Can you think of any ways it is tranforming you?

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Sunday Meditations: No Escape

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Categories: Sunday meditations

Ps. 139:7-12 (NASB):

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will leade me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

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Sunday Meditation: Accurately Handling the Word of Truth

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Categories: Sunday meditations

I’m thinking at the moment about some words the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim: 3:16-17, NASB)

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Sunday Meditations: In All Our Ways

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Categories: food for thought, Sunday meditations

I’ve never been a fan of memorizing Scripture, but I have to admit that with all the passages I was required to memorize in Christian school, a lot of it stuck with me. My first month there, we had to learn Proverbs 3–the whole chapter. I can still remember huge portions of it, but especially this part:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3: 5-6, NASB)

Now, 30 years later…learning those verses was the easy part. Learning to live them–that’s the hard part.

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