Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Help Reading Isaiah November 19, 2010

Filed under: Church History,Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 9:50 am
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Here are some history dates to keep handy to help you understand much of the Old Testament. (Whynot slip a copy into your Bible?) Don’t forget, Isaiah is a book of prophecy–not historical narrative like I and II Kings. So you need to look for visual images, Biblical principles, predictions, and read with your “gospel spectacles” on. You also should read it like you were taught to read poetry, instead of like you would a novel or Harry Potter or even a history book. Most of these events after 740 BC are predicted by him—even the coming of the Savior.

Why bother with this history?…..You could say to someone (or ask yourself): Why wouldn’t you believe the Bibleis true since Isaiah’s predictions all came true? Part of the comforting assurance that we experience from reading with the right attitude and asking the right questions is the knowledge that God’s word is true, his promises are reliable, and He is always faithful to those who believe in and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

1000 BC…David is King of a United Kingdom

740BC….Isaiah’s vision of God and call to comfort God’s people

722 BC…The Assyrian Empire (capital is Nineveh) overtake the Israel (the N. Kingdom of 10 tribes) and deport many to N. Iraq and N. Iran. Daniel and his friends are part of this deportation.

701 BC.…Assyrians take over all the nations except Judah (the Southern Kingdom). Jerusalem was never captured by the Assyrians.

612-605…Rise of Babylonian Empire. Its capital is on Tigris River in S. Iraq.

586 BC…Babylonians capture Jerusalem and Judah. Deportations to S. Iraq including Daniel and friends.

539 BC….Babylon defeated by Persians under King Cyrus. Rise of 200 year empire. Daniel is moved from Babylon to Susa.

538-22…Exiles return to Judea and temple is rebuilt. (The family line ofDavid is preserved and continued, waiting for Jesus’ birth)

486 BC….Nehemiah rebuilds Jerusalem’s wall and city revitalized.

331 BC.. Rise of Greek Empire (take over Persians). Greek becomes the international language of business.

27 BC to 395 AD ….Roman Empire

 

Psalm 28 November 4, 2009

Filed under: Church History,Moral Law,Teen Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 3:05 pm

The LORD is My Strength and My Shield—Of David

To you, O LORD, I call: my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.

Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.

Reading Proverbs everyday like we have this last month gives us principles on which to live wisely. Proverbs remind me of the way less direct people talk. They give examples or tell stories or talk around what they are really trying to get across. Not that that is bad communication; it is just less direct and to the point. Like some less patient people, the commands of scripture are more directive! Do not commit adultery. Do not bear false witness. Flee sexual immorality (I Cor. 6:18). Contrast these directives with Proverbs 7:6-27: For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness….Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.

In all of these, sexual purity is the point. No matter the style or the time or culture from which it was written. In this case, from Moses to Solomon to Paul. Look how different their circumstances, cultures, and times were. Moses was wandering in the desert with a homeless people, Solomon was one of the world’s richest kings, and Paul was a missionary to non-Jews within the Roman Empire. Inerrancy of scripture, though, teaches us that all the Bible is from God in some mysterious way–whether directive or not.

My point is that there are differences in style among the writers of the Bible. Naturally that would be so. But, that doesn’t mean interpreting its meaning is open to individual style and preference or cultural ways. We need to remember this when reading through the Bible and seeking its truth for our life and knowledge of God.

At any rate, reading the Bible in our own language for ourselves is a hallmark of the Protestant Reformation. It is a treasure to hold on to and pass on to our children and grandchildren.

And reading the Bible for ourselves shows us our need for mercy. Who could ever really live as wisely as Proverbs calls us to do? Who could ever be entirely sexually pure in mind, body, and desire? That is why we need a Savior and why we need mercy from a just and sovereign God. David sees this in Psalm 28. He is crying out for the Holy Spirit to strengthen him and stir his heart to remember His Savior.

I hope He will stir our hearts today–to read His word, to remain sexually pure, to tell the truth.

Let’s read Psalms this month.

 

Halloween and Reformation Day November 2, 2009

Filed under: Church History,Family Life — womenembracingfaith @ 3:27 am

We should all teach our children and remind ourselves of our Christian heritage. October 31, 1513 is when Martin Luther tried to call the church back to the Bible. His simple act of protest plus the invention of the printing press led to revivals across Europe as people began to read the Bible in their own language. A cry to reform the worship and practice within the church rose as hearts were stirred when they began to understand the Bible’s teaching of justification by faith ALONE. This struggle continued all through the 1500’s until by the middle of the 1600’s the Protestants were able to declare their understanding of the Bible’s clear teaching on faith, worship, and the Christian life. Several similar statements of faith were published: The Baptist Statement of Faith, the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Savoy Confession. This was the REFORMATION which was so important to Western Civilization as to be a major division in every secular history book.

What difference does it make now? Martin Luther should be honored for his courage and sacrifice in standing on the plain teaching of scripture: “for by grace are you saved through faith…” and “The just shall live by faith…” John Calvin, a pastor in Switzerland, should be remembered for his faithful verse-by-verse explanation and application of the scripture. His ability to apply the teaching of the Bible to the heart and everyday life led to many revivals of true religion and to many publications in English, German, and French. He was very influencial on the British Puritans and their Scottish and American “friends.”

To be “REFORMED” today, means to be reforming all the time in this same tradition of revering the scriptures as God’s word to us — seeking to worship and live in ways that please God, using the Confessions of Faith as a guide to what the Bible says, and holding on to salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus alone. Hearts have been stirred and lives changed, families strengthened and nations built on these reformed traditions. It could happen again!

Try getting your 8-12 year old to read biographies of these men or their wives. Having the four year old dress like Calvin instead of a pirate might not be the best idea! Luther was known for his love of children and his ability to engage them in conversation; he could probably think of a way to teach this history lesson.

 

Inerrant, not Literal August 17, 2009

Filed under: Church History,Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 5:23 pm
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The doctrinal building block of looking at the Bible as inerrant is a big deal. Christian history shows us that. The Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s and the Puritan Revival in the 1600’s and then evangelical revivals since have turned on this view of scripture.

Inerrancy says that all scripture is “breathed” by God, thru the pens and voices of real men who wrote or spoke in their own languages of the time.

Literalists usually believe thaat too, but are very concerned about when to take it each word as it is written. In poetry, like a Psalm, or prophecy, like Isaiah or Jeremiah, taking something literally can really affect the meaning and application of the passage.

Moses wrote while camping in the Sinai desert. Finally, John the apostle, who knew Jesus intimately enough to lean on his chest as they talked quietly, wrote letters and about his visions while on a Greek island, exiled because of his claim that Jesus was the one Moses’ had said was coming.

Who cares whether we use the word “inerrant” or “literal?”

Look at Isaiah, for instance. In chapters 43 and 44, the preacher is calling on the nation of Judah to turn back to God and His plan for saving them. He predicts the greatest world empire of the day, Babylon, will be destroyed (v. 14). He then draws a refreshing picture of streams in the desert and wilderness beasts praising Him because He refreshes and redeems this community of people who have nothing to fear. They are God’s loved ones.

But, to quibble over whether there are literally streams in the deserts and ostriches praising God is to miss the whole point. The gospel is here. Jesus is here. There is no other rock or foundation upon which we can stand for survival into eternity. The Holy Spirit brings about praise and refreshes us as much as water in a desert.

Taking it all as without error would include remembering that in 516 or so BC, Persia invaded Babylon and sacked the greatest city and empire the world had ever seen. Isaiah got it right. He, of course, got it right in his first book about Judah being the only nation saved from the Assyrians too. And he had predicted the Babylonian takeover of the Assyrians. His prophecies were never wrong.

Inerrancy was a banner of the Reformation. It led to an exaltation and study of God’s word. That led to repeated revivals. The literal approach came in later, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s as people struggled against those who had rejected inerrancy. But, it has led to the rejection ofa lot of the Reformation doctrines.

Read your Bible like this–for yourself, in your own language. As God’s word, without error if the translation is right. But, always with a view of how it affects your heart. For instance, why do you care about the Babylonian Empire? If Isaiah got it right about that, then you can trust his predictions that God would provide a Savior, provide righteousness for you, and sustain and strengthen you in whatever you are facing today.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaish 41:10)

That is why inerrant, not literal, matters. Inerrancy with applicationleads to personal experience inworship.

 

Halloween or Reformation Day? October 31, 2008

Filed under: Church History — womenembracingfaith @ 4:15 pm
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October 31 is one of the biggest days for Christians to remember. In 1517, Martin Lurther, a German monk, nailed his ideas on a church door.  The printing press was the new way to communicate.  So his ideas soon spread and led to a great revival of God’s truth and the emergence of Protestant churches.  What resulted were five principles of scripture that were easy to understand and teach. They are:

Scripture Alone—2 Timothy 3:14-17

Christ Alone—I Timothy 2:5-6

Faith Alone—Romans 3:20-25

Grace Alone—Ephesians 2:8-10

To the Glory of God Alone—Ephesians 1:1-6

Halloween can be a lot of fun and a good time for families to “Play” together.  Children love to pretend and parents need to find ways to stimulate their imaginations.  I found that Family Play Days were a way to bind us all together and get the children to listen to us later when we decided to teach something.  Enjoy those play moments!

But, don’t leave out these five great biblical principles.  Tell them some stories about Martin Luther or John Calvin, or the Christians who died so these principles could be passed on to us.  Do you know and believe them yourself?

What if there had never been a Reformation?  Would the sovereignty of God in salvation have been smothered over another two or three hundred years?  How different would America have been without these principles? Something to think upon.  Happy Halloween.

 

Teen Spirituality June 6, 2008

Filed under: Church History — womenembracingfaith @ 11:14 pm
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Our culture has things all mixed up. We give teens so much liberty in some areas and expect so little from them in others. One area of low expectations is spiritual experience. Ann Judson turned to Christ at 16, thus beginning her personal relationship with Him. Since her journal has been preserved all these years (since 1830), how she was feeling about this personal relationship is right out there.

Ann grew up in a small town in New England where few people (only 6.9%) joined a church. They had moved far from their Puritan roots. Life was fun and very social in the early 1800’s. (Think no T.V., radio, phones, or computers to interrupt talking to one another.) She loved the parties and the clothes. She thought herself safe because of her outward morality, and this was confirmed at the age of 15 when she interpreted “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan to mean that Christian reached the Celestial City by keeping to the narrow way. Yet, she began to doubt that she was even on the narrow way:

“My heart was filled with aversion and hatred towards a HOLY God; and I felt, that if admitted into heaven, with the feelings I then had, I should be as miserable as I could be in hell.

…I began to discover a beauty in the way of salvation by Christ. He appeared to be just such a Saviour as I needed. I saw how God could be just, saving sinners through him…A view of his purity and holiness filled my soul with wonder and admiration. I felt a disposition to commit myself unreservedly into his hands, and leave it with him to save me or cast me off, for I felt I could not be unhappy, while allowed the privilege of contemplating and loving so glorious a Being… I felt myself to be a poor lost sinner, destitute of every thing to recommend myself to the divine favor; that I was, by nature, inclined to every evil way; and that it had been the mere sovereign, restraining mercy of God, not my own goodness, which had kept me from committing the most flagrant crimes.”

At the private school Ann attended, around eighty young people recorded similar personal experiences. It was happening all across America and became known as the Second Great Awakening. Revival. People of all ages experienced similar spiritual intensity. Why should we not look for that today? Perhaps our low expectations for teen spirituality stem from our need of general revival.

APPLICATION

Think about His sovereignty:

“I am the Lord, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.”

Plead for revival:

“Rain down, you heavens, from above, And let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, And let righteousness spring up together. I, the Lord, have created it.” (Isaiah 45:6-8)

This is what happened in Ann’s teen years. Her parents and sisters were also saved during this revival. People sought to please God and glorify His way of salvation through Christ. A concern for the lost nations arose. Churches formed a cooperative missionary alliance. Ann became the first American woman to go out as a foreign missionary.

Pray for revival.

You may order Ann’s biography (My Heart In His Hands by Sharon James) at amazon.com or cvbbs.com or alibris.com to find out why her memoirs affected a whole generation of American women.

 

Summer Reading June 2, 2008

Filed under: Church History — womenembracingfaith @ 5:46 pm
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Myanmar has been in the news a lot lately. Democracy, ethnic minority rights, and Christian practice has been repressed by the military controlled government. Christians face restrictions on witnessing, job opportunities, and literature distribution. It is hard for them to bring in literature from out of the country.

America’s first foreign missionary couple went to this area (then called Burma) in 1813. Ann Judson kept a journal which was published shortly after her death at thirty-seven in 1826. Her journal influenced an entire generation of Protestant women in America. It gives us an intimate glimpse into her spiritual experiences during great trials and suffering. Using an 1830 copy of the journal, Sharon James has written a biography which shows that what Ann experienced in her relationship with God was always based on scripture and was like those experiences recorded by other Christians during times of revival. My Heart in His Hands reminds us that God never changes–our hearts are also in His hands.  Your own felt experiences might be stimulated by this example of what revival feels like as well as to see Ann’s endurance through much hardship.  Ann’s husband stayed in Burma and carefully translated the Bible into Burmese while working to plant churches.  Order the book at http://www.cvbbs.com (Sharon James, My Heart in His Hands (Evangelical Press, 1998).