Sunday, January 20, 2008

McCheyne Reading Plan: Catching Up

Disclaimer: In posting these thoughts, questions, and ramblings I feel it wise to give a disclaimer. There are many people that are far more knowledgeable and gifted in expositing the Word of God than I. These thoughts are not intended to be in-depth analysis of the text. They are thoughts. They are questions. They are ramblings. It will be a display of what God is teaching me through His Word. In depth study will be done at a different time. It is also good to know the author's goal. 1) To be accountable in reading through Scripture. 2) To share these thoughts with others. Possibly for someone else's edification; possibly for my own. 3) To glorify God through His Word. 4) To spur one another on in taking up Scripture and reading! So without further ado, here are today's readings:

Matthew 15:

Apparently the disciples were not very hygienic. Maybe Jesus never taught them proper hygiene, since they do not wash their hands before they eat.

I love this dialogue between Jesus. "Why do you not obey tradition?" Jesus, "Why do you not obey God?" Ouch.

I wonder how often because of our tradition we "make void" the Word of God.

verse 12. It is easy to sympathize with the disciples here. It would have been difficult to go against the established authorities and leaders. "Hey, Jesus you are offending the Pharisees, shouldn't you be careful?" We must be careful not to give undue offense but when the truth of God is being dishonored we must not care about offending those who hold to tradition over the Word of God. Even if it means church conflict because we change an unbiblical tradition to the disapproval of a "Pharisee".

Apparently there are "plants" that are planted but not so by the Father. Is this similar to the parable of the wheat and tares?

It's quite obvious to us today what Jesus is saying. But I wonder how often we do not understand truly what Jesus is saying. I think of the big "NO's" of Christianity today and few are on this list. We are very harsh on some things (and some which perhaps do not even defile) and others on this list we ignore. How often have people been censured for false witness and slander?
I have never really understood the story of the Canaanite woman. It seems so uncharacteristic of Jesus. It sounds as if Jesus does not have a concept of Gentile inclusion. Is this tongue in cheek? He saying it almost sarcastically to the disciples to teach him that he was not sent only to the lost sheep of Israel? Nonetheless, her persistence "wins Jesus over". What are your thoughts on this passage?

True biblical healing will result in glorifying the God of Israel.

Imagine being so dedicated and passionate about hearing what Jesus has to say that you do not eat for three days.

Acts 15:

Do stories of conversion strike joy in my heart as it did these brothers?

There are Pharisees still in the mix. It seems as if the Jewishness of Christianity in his seminal stages was quite prominent. Acts 15 will prove to be a major turning point. I imagine it must have been a very big debate. You can certainly sympathize with the thought that they must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. This had been their entire life. It is not as if they are meaning to denounce Christ. They are wanting to be faithful to their heritage and all that they have been taught. Christ and His gospel was so revolutionary that it had to come with such difficult questions as these.

verse 7, (If I am reading it correctly) certainly seems that God made a choice to save certain Gentiles. This certainly sounds like the type of election described by Calvinists, but perhaps because I am one I am reading this into the text. Lord, help me to read your word for what it says and not put doctrine into it. Rather I pray that my doctrine find its source in the Holy Scriptures and the glorious God of which they reveal.

"cleansed their hearts by faith". This is very significant. The Jews are wanting a cleansing of the Gentiles. Peter is saying the Spirit of God has already done this.

I wonder why James gives these four instructions. Did Gentiles have a huge problem with these things? In reading some of the ancient literature it appears so. Are we still today to follow this?

Why is James concerned with men "proclaiming Moses"? There is a sense in which we must proclaim the Law, but certainly not at the expense of proclaiming Christ. May we never proclaim only the Law!

"gone out from us"...does this mean that they are heretics and it is synonymous to saying "gone away from us"? Or is this saying they are brothers (albeit confused) that are fruits from us as if he is saying "came from us"?

May it be said of us, "Men who have risked their lives for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ".

I pray that I might write, teach, and preach with such grace that those that hear the Word might, "rejoice because of its encouragement".

Even sharp disagreement can be used by the Lord. I have, however, always been saddened by this disagreement between Paul and Barnabas.

Nehemiah 8:

"And the ears of all the people were attentive..." Dear Lord bring that to our church. Bring that to my heart, that I might ever be attentive to your Holy Word and the preaching and proclaiming of it.

I would like to begin having the people in the congregation stand at the reading of the Word. I would love to see congregational reading of the Word instilled again into our church. I would like to begin this at youth group next time we meet. Not for the sake of the practice itself but to revere our hearts to God's precious Word.

I am told that verse 8 is pointing to expository preaching and I believe it so. The Word must be read "clearly", and we as expositors must "give the sense", and our goal must be that "the people understood the reading".

I asked an earlier question about the authority of Nehemiah. Here it says he was a governor. How he got this title I am not certain. But this is why he is able to speak with such authority.

Verse 9-12 Something about this section of Scripture is still floating around in my head. The Word is read the people are weeping. Weeping for sorrow it appears. Why are they sad? Is this sadness not mourning and good? Why are they commanded to celebrate? So, then should we not celebrate instead of mourn when we understand the Word? Are there times when a clear understanding should cause weeping? Are these general principles or specific to the story?

Isn't it ironic that we have to be commanded to celebrate and party? It seems like lost people get celebration a little better than we...and it is we that have the most to celebrate. Yet, perhaps this is our time of mourning and fasting because our bridegroom has not yet came back. Oh, but one day we will out celebrate any drunkard in Times Square on New Years Eve!

Day by day he read from the book of the Law. I wish we still had such assemblies daily. It seems to me that in times of the Great Awakening and in the ministry of many dear saints that they meetings about every day. We struggle now to have an evening service or a few days in a row. Lord, cause us to hunger and pant after You and Your Word.

Genesis 17:

Is this a separate covenant? I think it is. This time Abe has conditions. Walk before God and be blameless. (What exactly does it mean to walk before the Lord)? It does sound very similar to the prior covenant. Is this one different?

It is neat that many times when men have an encounter with God he changes their names. We are indeed a new creations-this is a cool reflection of this glorious truth. It seems as if this covenant is conditional whereas the prior one is less so. I should study these more.

Again as we read such things in verse 14, I see why the early Christians had a problem with doing away with circumcision.

Circumcision would have to take a lot of faith.

Even after Abraham messed up with Hagar, God's grace and promise are still going to come to fruition. This is very comforting for those of us that mess up in many diverse ways. There are certain things in God's plan that cannot and never will be jacked up! That's wonderfully freeing.

It must have been a huge gut-buster to fall on his face laughing. And to think that he is doing this with the Almighty. What a relationship they must have had. But we see that part of this is unbelief, and God certainly is not pleased with this laughter. Abraham is begging for God's blessing to be given to Ishmael. But God's plan is through Isaac. The Child of Promise not the Child of the Flesh.

You get the idea that God is not surprised by the spreading of Ishmael's descendants. Yet, he cannot be pleased with their damnable doctrines. But as a fulfillment of this look at the world's supply of oil....much of the riches come from descendants of Ishmael.

I will probably have our son circumcised (for medical not religious purposes) before the age of 13. Is there significance in the fact that Ishmael is circumcised? Do Muslims get circumcised? Even Abraham's servants are circumcised. Does this mean that the promises and blessings are extended to even them? If so, then we can see God's inclusive nature even here.

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