Monday, January 31, 2011

Hearing the Scriptures in the Scriptures

I had a seminary professor who admonished us that if we were reading something in Scripture and did not hear at least three other passages of scripture, then we did not know our scripture well enough.

Today I was going through the One Year Bible Reading from Biblegateway, and came across this passage in Exodus 12.

11 “After the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your ancestors, 12 you are to give over to the LORD the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the LORD. 13 Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.

From it I recalled this passage.
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”a]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[a]

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

And of course when I kept reading in the devotional, there it was. Someone else has set this up to find the parallels for us. Do you hear the similarities too? A strange sense of foreshadowing is taking place here to remind us that this time the Donkey will not redeem the Lamb.

(Of course the cynic and snark did crop up and I wondered why the Lamb of God would redeem the asses of this world)


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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Praise in Spite of Pain

I got an email the other day from a friend, right after I had preached on Psalm 40 and the similarities to Psalm 70. After that, I read through a short book by Matt Redman, The Unquenchable Worshipper. All those thoughts began to come together, and I wanted to connect a few pieces.

First, Psalm 40 and Psalm 70. Turns out the two Psalms are the same from the end of verse 12 in Psalm 40 to the end, and all of Psalm 70. I talked on Sunday about how the lament part can be an ingrained response, whereby, no matter what happens we still fall back on "I am poor and needy". We can start to change the refrain which is what Psalm 40 seems to do, only to find ourselves back in the same rut.

I was thrilled then to see how David Youngdale, a sometimes reader of this blog, put together another piece of scripture.

"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them."
-- Acts 16:25
Singing and praising and thanksgiving all go together.
Paul and Silas had been beaten with many stripes, cast into prison, their feet were in the stocks. But at midnight they prayed and sang praises unto God. Aloud. And the prisoners heard them.
Most people in similiar circumstances would have griped and complained something like this.
Silas: Paul, are you still there?
Paul; Silas, where else could I possibly be?
Silas: I'll tell you my poor back is hurting me so bad. I don't understand why God sent this on us. I don't understand why God let this happen to us. He knows I've tried to serve Him and do my best.
That kind of praying would have gotten them further in instead of out. God didn't have them thrown in jail. The devil did. But there's truth and instruction here to help us in our midnight hour, the hour of test, of trial, when the storms of life come. That's a time to pray and praise and sing and give thanks!
Confession: I praise and thank God at all times. I don't ever have a "poor old me" attitude. I keep an attitude of praise.

I found Matt Redman's commentary on unquenchable worship helpful. He talks about how the ways to put out a fire are to remove one of the three elements: Heat, Oxygen, or Fuel. But, I have to admit my favorite part of the story was his citation of an event involving Charles Wesley.

None of these incidents or stories deny that there is pain or hurt in the world or in our lives, just that God is somehow greater than all of them. Paul and Silas were not healed of their injuries. Charles Wesley did not miraculously find himself standing on a solid floor on an upper level again, nor does the Psalmist stop having trials and tribulations as life continues, but in the midst of it all, somehow, someway, the desire to worship and praise overwhelms the spirits of those who are at work for God.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Occasionally I post, and even then I rarely get comments (no this is not an appeal for comments for my otherwise flagging self-esteem)

But, I often struggle with what I should do with comments from "Anonymous". I am grateful for the few folks who, though posting as Anonymous by default, add their name at the end of the comment they make. I tend toward throwing out the Anonymous comments, as I do with such comments in the local church (anonymous letters, notes, comments, etc). However, I have found that I do need to read them (well, except for the SPAM), and discern whether the comments are adding to the conversation, either in how they challenge my thinking or in contributing some piece of neglected wisdom, or clarification.

How do you handle your "Anonymous" Comments?