Category Archives: Musings

Fresh and seasoned thoughts about the practice of Sabbath.

Devotional On God’s Word. Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105

Light and darkness cannot coexist.  The deeper the darkness, the brighter even the smallest flame appears.  Light dispels darkness.  Without the light of God’s word, we walk in the darkness of confusion.  God reveals his path to us by the light of the Scriptures.  God’s word clarifies the path marked out for us with the brilliance of his wisdom.

The light of God’s truth brings every aspect of our lives into perspective.  In his light, we know who we are and by his light, we walk by faith.  Because we have his light we know where we are and where we are going.  Drawing closer each day to his light is the goal of our existence.

When we turn away from God’s word, we turn into our own shadow.  Rebellion against the light of God’s revelation makes our darkness unbearable. The moment we repent and turn back to the truth, the fullness of the light of God is present to us.

God’s word is a constant light.  Scriptures’ energy is never diminished and its flame is never extinguished. The closer we live by the light of God’s word, the more we gain from it.  The closer we live to it, the more of our path we can see by it.  The better we live with it, the more we embody the light.

God’s spoken word is seen best in the light of the living word, Jesus Christ.  John says of Jesus: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”  Jesus is the eternal word of the Father made flesh and sent to dwell among us.  God gives us his written word to study and obey, and he sends us the “Word made flesh” to follow and adore. The written word and the living word work in cooperation.

We find traces of Jesus all throughout the Scriptures.  And when we find enough of the Scriptures in our hearts, perhaps others will find Jesus in us.

Empty or Dead

Eastern mysticism teaches a person to empty one’s self of one’s self. 

Christ teaches us to die to ourself. 

When we die to ourselves we find the power of the resurrection alive within us. 

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Luke 9:23

A Devotional on God’s Word (4/24/2016)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

God did not give us facts to know. He gives us truth to live.

To be sure, the Bible contains facts.  It is a reliable witness to God’s events in history.  But we dismiss the Bible’s claims upon our lives if we only receive it as a collection of abstract proofs.

The word “fact” is an abstraction.  Something is factual only in comparison to other statements about how we experience the world.  We remember facts, and recall facts, and quote facts to suit our arguments.  Facts serve our purposes. We arrange facts in order to tell lies.

Facts are safe.  Facts only make demands upon our intellect.  Facts fill our brain but leave our identity intact.

Truth, on the other hand, is concrete.  God’s word is truth. God’s word is the incomparable standard by which all our thoughts and actions and affections are judged.

God’s truth is dangerous.  It destroys our identity but resurrects us to new life. His word challenges our claims to independence from God and brings us into a relationship with God. We engage with God’s word in order to align our life with truth.

The truth we encounter in the Bible has its origin in revelation.  God speaks to us from outside our world of experience and reason and understanding. He tells us of his invasion into this world in order to call people to a different world.

God’s word is truth even when we do not understand it.  It is truth even when we do not believe it.  God’s word is truth even when we do not agree with it.

The only way to “correctly handle the word of truth” is to incarnate it.  When we obediently live the commands of God, and the teachings of Christ, and conform ourselves to the pattern of life given in Scriptures, we bring truth to life within our lives.

A Devotional Word on God’s Word

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:12-13

 

The Bible should come with a warning label. It is not a safe book.  Scripture is as dangerous as exposed electrical conductors.  It looks safe to touch and handle, but when we connect with it, it shakes us to our core.

The Bible is not like any other book we read.  Novels, textbooks, biographies, and reference books can all be set aside when we finish them.  God’s word, on the other hand, gets inside of us. It takes up residence in our hearts and we take it with us wherever we go.

God’s word does not seek our agreement.  Its claims are not voted on, or ratified, nor are we consulted in God’s instructions to us.  God speaks to us as a peerless authority.

The Bible’s goal is transformation. Transformation comes through mortification.  We die to ourselves, little by little, with each chapter, verse, and word we read.  In reading the Bible, we die into a new life.

We don’t read God’s word, we experience it.  When we open Scripture, we interact with God. God is present to us as we encounter him in his word to us.

Approach God’s word with fear and trembling.  Approach it regularly. Approach it reflectively.  Approach it seriously.  Approach it humbly. All of God’s children are students of his word.  We listen to it in the classroom of our devotion to God, and we live out his instructions in the laboratory of the world he created for us.

Opening God’s word is the bravest and best act of Christian obedience we can perform on a daily basis.

 

Study the Word Until It’s as Sweet as Honey

Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
Ezekiel 3:3

We don’t have to think about our need to eat food.  When our stomachs are empty, or our blood sugar drops, the brain sends out signals we cannot ignore.  The body demands to be nourished.

Just as the body aches when no food is present, so the soul aches when it is not fed.  God told the prophet Ezekiel to “eat this scroll.”  God’s word is not to be read.  It is to be ingested.

We consume God’s word through our eyes.  We roll its themes, its doctrine and its instructions around in our mind.  But ultimately, it seeks to enter our hearts.  The mind is the vessel for abstractions.  Abstract thoughts can be appreciated, but they can also be ignored. The heart, the seat of our emotions, is where the word seeks to be planted. The heart deals with the word of God through action.

We have not fully ingested God’s word until we have “hidden it in our heart.”  The heart ruminates on God’s word.  The word is digested by the heart so that the word becomes part of our living experience with God.  In the heart, God’s word shapes our affections and our aspirations.

What we consume becomes part of who we are. Who we are is a product of what we consume.

Before we reach maturity as a believer, the word of God seems intimidating, foreign, and stale.  But after we get a taste of it, and feel the benefits of feasting upon it, we can’t help but want more of it.  As we grow in the discipline of study, we delight more and more in God’s word.  It becomes to us as it was to Ezekiel: as sweet as honey.

Our attitude towards the study of God’s word is reflective of our maturity as a believer.  We never run out of our supply of God’s word to consume. Our challenge is to develop an ever increasing appetite for the word, and an ever enlarging capacity to live what we have read.

What is Our Goal in Reading God’s Word?

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
Psalm 1:1-2

What is our goal in studying God’s word?  Blessing.  The first Psalm opens our minds to what the entirety of the Bible holds for us…a blessed life.  A blessed life is one that pursues the path of God.  God provides for his children who are “walking in the truth.”

The study of God’s word is not about gaining information, though it contains much information.  The study of God’s word is about transformation.  God reveals himself, and his will, and his desires for us through his commandments, through sacred history, and through the testimony of those who walked with his Son, Jesus.  Every serious believer must take God’s word seriously.

As we study God’s word, it exposes our sin and shortcomings. It judges every thought, inclination and affection.  It convicts us and challenges us.  And at the end of the day, it is the measure by which we can say if we were faithful or not.

God’s word is revelation.  In God’s word we hear the voice of God as he speaks to us.  As we muse on God’s word, “deep calls out to deep”, and our soul finds its creator and its captain. God’s word is God’s voice.  His voice always leads us closer to himself.

Psalm 1 directs us to a substantial life.  The chaff (vs 4) is blown away by the wind of judgment.  The seed and the kernel are saved, are kept, and are blessed by God.  Only by living the word does a believer “grow in grace and knowledge.”

Meditation, and the study of God’s word, requires more than reading. It requires engagement.  Studying God’s word is not merely a mental task.  It is spiritual work.  Engagement with God’s word works upon us to bring us to a place of absolute agreement with God.  It dissolves our will in to the will of the Father so that his “will may be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Sermon Outline from February 14th, 2016

Roadblocks to Obedience

From the Story of Moses

Challenges to Obedience

·      Polytheism

Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Joshua 24:14

·      Pharaoh-ism

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. Number 11:4-5

·      Silence from God

Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. Exodus 12:40-41

Moses’ Objection: “Who Are You?”

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” Exodus 3:13

·      Do You Have Authority?

 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. Matthew 7:28-29

·      Can I Trust You?

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

·      Where Have You Been?

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Psalm 90:4

God’s Objection Breakers

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14

·      I’ve Been With You From The Beginning.

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ Exodus 3:15

·      My Promises To My People Remain The Same.

“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’” Exodus 3:16-17

·      You’re Future Lies With Me.

“And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.” Exodus 3:21-22

Moving From Objections to Obedience

·      Review God’s Promises

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9

Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. Joshua 23:14

·      Remember All God Has Done

What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? Psalm 116:12

·      Recognize God’s Sovereignty 

Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

 

Three Valentine’s Day Tips From Rylie

Have you bought that special someone in your life that special something yet?

No?

Well Good!  Because you are going to want to hear Rylie’s advice before you do anything.  You have just enough time left to take advantage of these genius tips.

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1. Be Original

Every other kid is giving away Valentine’s cards with tattoos in them today.  Don’t be every other kid.

Go out on a limb.  Be creative.  Explore your heart and express your true feelings.

Here’s a simple formula to remember: Unique = Awesome.

2.  Be Personal

It’s not as easy as going out and buying a Hallmark card.  You have to have the person you are giving a card or gift to in mind.

What do they like?  What will make them happy?  What will put a smile on their face?

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3.  Invest Some Time

Time is the key factor in making great Valentine’s gifts.

When we invest time into what we give, the value of the gift increases exponentially (that is if you’ve followed the first two pieces of advice and have made the gift unique and personal).

Postscript

A couple of my friends made my day extra special. I got these two cards earlier this week.  I have them on my desk at the office and have been showing them off to everyone who comes through my door.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

To Move Forward, Look Back From Time to Time

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Last words are powerful.

We’ve been looking at Moses for the past couple of weeks.

We’ve heard some of his objections to following God’s call on his life.  We’ve started to see how God’s responses to Moses’ objections lead him to obedience.

Now, for a moment, we’ll turn our attention to Moses’ legacy.

Moses handed the keys to leadership down to Joshua Son of Nun.  Joshua led the people of God across the Jordan river and into the Promised Land.

Before Joshua died, he gave the people of God a parting word to direct them to stay faithful in following God’s plan for their lives.

He reminded them that God has proven himself to be faithful.

Sometimes, before moving forward, we must look back.  We need to look back over our lives and see how God has proved himself in his goodness to us.

We need to look back and remember that God has never abandoned us or forsaken us.

We need to review the promises God made to us that set us on the course he laid out for us.  Those promises are still as good today as they were the day we accepted the salvation God freely offered.

Our God is a promise-making and a promise keeping God.  He doesn’t fail.

 

What Kind of Name is I Am?

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I Am Who I Am.

There is no other way for God to describe himself to Moses.  He is the incomprehensible one. He is ineffable.  He is eternal and we can’t get our limited minds around this limitless God.

So when Moses goes back to the people, he is supposed to say, “I Am has sent me!”

God unpacks the depth of his name for us.

Here’s how God expresses that:

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’”
Exodus 3:15

The people remember Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. These are the fathers of the Hebrew people. It was to these men that God communicated his will, and his desires, and his promises.  God didn’t have to offer them a name, because then knew him personally.

The patriarchs gave God authority over their lives by believing him and pursuing him in obedience.  That’s what the patriarchs were known for: their faith in God!

As we’ve see, the great I Am was with the people from the beginning.  I Am’s presence with the people was seen in Egypt as God prospered them and prepared them to be a great nation!

I Am is faithful to his promises.  Because God is who he always is, his promises remain the same.

I Am Keeps His Promises.

When God tells Moses, I Am has sent you, he’s telling him that nothing has changed about the covenant and the promises I made to Abraham.

God is good and his goodness has not been abated with the passing of time.  His memory of the promises he made long ago has not deteriorated in the least bit.  All is firm and secure.

 “Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’”
Exodus 3:16-17

God made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that were irrevocable. Everything that has happened up to this point has been done in order to get God’s people to the promised land.

God is not working against the circumstances.  God is creating the circumstances necessary to to get his people, all of his people, out of Egypt and into the land he promised their forefathers.

If God’s people had not come into Egypt in the time of Jacob, they would have starved to death.  They came in and settled in the fertile Nile delta with it’s rich grazing pastures.  They prospered and multiplied.  If one Pharaoh after another that rose up would have left them alone, they would have stayed there for not just hundreds of years but perhaps thousands of years.  But there arose a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph.  Do you think this was an Accident? Or perhaps providence?  God made Egypt stink so badly that his people would want to leave.  They would be ready to “get out of Dodge” because of the forced labor and the murder of their boy babies.

Through Moses, and the plagues, God was going to make the Egyptians ready to send the Hebrews away.  Egypt would be to be so glad to see the Hebrews leave that they would send them off with their gold and silver and clothing!  God was orchestrating all of this so that God’s promises, which have not changed in the least, would be fulfilled to his people.

When I AM who I AM makes a promise, his promises never fail.

Your Future Lies with I AM.

And because God, I AM, was faithful he could assure them of the future he had planned for them.

God turns from telling Moses who he is, and of the promises he made in the past to Abraham Isaac and Jacob, to telling Moses about the future.

Attached to the great I Am, is the connotation that I AM Will ALWAYS BE I AM.  And that eternal I Am has created a future for his people.

The people of God have no future in Egypt. They are destined for destruction if they remain where they are.  But with God, with the I Am of the past, present and future, they have a reason to set out in faithful obedience to God’s instructions.

In essence, God tells Moses, “Your Future, And the Future of the Israelites, Lies With Me.”

The gods of Egypt can not help you. Pharaoh himself is against you.  The silence of God has been broken by the thunderous command of God to GO!  Now, your course is set and you must leave.  As the Israelites leave Egypt, God gives them a picture of the blessings the future holds for them:

“And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”
Exodus 3:21-22

‘You’re future LIES WITH ME,’ God tells Moses. God gives Moses a glimpse of what is to come, and the blessing God’s people are to receive, and the resources they will have, all by being obedient to follow God in this uncertain time!