Psalm 19 is one of the best daily prayers I’ve ever found. Commit it to memory and use it in your prayers each morning. Just like your daily bath or shower makes you physically clean, praying Psalm 19 makes you spiritually clean. It’s a great way to fulfill 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
For the word of God is living 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. (Hebr. 4:12-13)
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mark 8:31-33)
The Lord’s use of parables always gets my interest. A parable is a fictional story meant to illustrate a principle or truth. The word parable comes from the Greek parabollo, which literally means “to throw alongside.” Aesop’s fables demonstrate a secular application of this teaching method.
The Bible isn’t such a complex document that it requires years of formal education before you can begin to comprehend it. I’ve always believed the Bible was meant to be understood by any believer who can read and has a serious interest in knowing what it says. I say this because I believe the Bible is best approached by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit rather than one’s own intellect. James 1:5 says that any of us who lacks wisdom need only ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault.
If you’ve had trouble understanding the Book of Revelation, this summary and paraphrase is sure to help. Written as John might have told it today, the Revelation Story makes one of the most complex and controversial books of prophecy in the Bible so much easier to comprehend. Faithful to the literal interpretation with just enough background to make it a truly informative, even enjoyable, read.
His purpose was to make in Himself one new man (the Church) out of the two (Jew and Gentile), thus making peace and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross by which He put to death their hostility. (Ephe 2:15-16)
The history makes it so clear. God and man simply could not dwell together. When they tried, man’s sin eventually drove God away, lest He destroy man. For a time He did OK as long as He kept Himself locked up in that little room they called the Holy of Holies. But all during that time, only one man, the High priest, could visit there and him only once a year and then only after great ceremonial preparation. Some say they actually tied a rope around the High Priest’s ankle so they could pull him out of there if he did anything wrong and God had to destroy him. Even that eventually failed and it wasn’t the kind of relationship God wanted with His children anyway.
Even in the midst of our very worst rebellion, we can’t stop being our Father’s children.
Prodigal means “given to extravagant expenditure.” The word never appears in the parable of Luke 15, or anywhere else in the Bible for that matter. I think the Lord would have titled this story, “The Parable of the Two Sons,” because we’re to learn from the behavior of both. But since He didn’t, we tend to focus on only the “bad” son and miss the lesson in the behavior of the “good” one.
No portion of scripture provides a more succinct view of our need for a savior than Mark 9-10. When praying recently about how to best present this passage in a Bible study, the Lord clearly said, “Get the big picture.” Suddenly I saw these two chapters in a new light … the definitive presentation of the “Mission of the Messiah.” It goes like this.
Q. I am sponsoring a child in South America through a Christian organization that works through local churches. I am struggling with this because the church they are working through does not teach OSAS. So if they believe that they can lose their salvation, are they really depending on the Grace of God and should I be giving this church my money ?
Q. This isn’t a theological question. You seem to have a good grasp on ministry and I’m hoping you can help me with a group-dynamics question relating to a small group setting.
I lead a small group in our church. One couple seems to be very good at getting us off-track from the study. As a leader, I don’t know how far to let the discussion wander from the point.
This occurs every week. When it happens, I pray for discernment but, quite honestly, I don’t perceive any clear guidance either way, so I let it go on until the conversation comes around to where I can grab it and continue with the study. By that time, I feel the train of thought has been cut and it’s difficult to continue.
Do you have any insights into the issue of leading small group discussions?
Q. My question deals with some thoughts I can’t make sense of. Jesus died so his blood covers our sins from God’s sight. Still, He knows our needs and we’re to pray to the Father. If the Father can’t see our sins now, will they be exposed after the rapture if we don’t ask for forgiveness? Also, do we pray for healing to make the Father aware of our need or just our desire? I’m having a hard time reconciling what the blood covers with how we pray.
Q. Does my tithe have to go to a church? Or is it just a matter of sending it to an organization that I feel does good work in my community, or even a nationwide organization? I haven’t found a church that uses the discretionary funds they get the way I feel is right. Don’t I have a duty to make sure these tithes I give be used for the right purpose? Really, what should that purpose be?
Q. If Jesus paid our sin debt past, present and future, then everyone in the world is already saved, because all sins by everyone now alive were future sins when Jesus died. That being the case, why are so many preachers who teach this doctrine still trying to get people saved? It seems like they are talking out of both sides of their mouth.
Q. I believe that Jesus died for each and every one of our sins. But if no matter what sin we commit, we are already forgiven, what’s the point in not sinning? I have confessed that I have a struggle, a sinful enjoyment. That enjoyment is revenge on someone that hurt me so much. I’m guilty of it, I feel evil. But I enjoy it! And that is wrong, I am aware of it. I feel very bad when I see the person is hurt, but I feel it is what they deserved. I realize it is a sin (at least I think it is), but I can’t restrain myself. Even when I have confessed, my behavior has not changed! Isn’t the Holy Spirit supposed to change my behavior?
Q. Many people feel that the angel being described in Daniel 10 is Jesus in a Old Testament appearance. But in verse 13 He (Jesus) admits to being detained by an angel called the prince of Persia, who I believe is either Satan or one of his underlings. How can anything or anyone stop Jesus?
Q. I’ve been reading your site for a couple of years now and it (and you) have greatly contributed to my spiritual growth. May God richly bless you.
What does it mean in Genesis 1:26 & 27 were it says that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them”? What is the “image of God?” What makes man so special (as opposed to angels) that we can be forgiven of our insurrection against God and they cannot.
Q. I understand your view on replacement theology and how we have not displaced Israel as God’s people. Through your post on “The Great Pause” I’ve seen how God has only paused His time line for Israel. In accordance with Romans 11:17, my church teaches that we are grafted into Israel. What exactly does that mean? To what extent? Are God’s promises for Israel for us too? Should we be observing Jewish feast days or is the church totally separate from Israel?