Monthly Archives: June 2013

Where Did That Come From?

Devotional Text: Psalm 69:9

Psalm 69 may have a familiar sound to it for New Testament readers.  That’s with good reason.  No less than six different texts from this Psalm are quoted in various places in the New Testament: verse 9a in John 2:17; verse 9b in Romans 15:3; verse 21 in John 19:28-29 (and parallels in Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36); verses 23-24 in Rom. 11:9-10; and verse 25 in Acts 1:20.

These verses are used in reference to Jesus’ emotion when cleansing the temple, the hatred His followers would experience, His thirst on the cross, the death of Judas Iscariot, people’s acceptance or rejection of the gospel, and the fact that a Christian’s priority ought to be pleasing others rather than self.  All from this one Psalm.

Here’s an important point—a single passage of Scripture may very well have more than one application.  We’ve probably all experienced this on a practical level.  A Scripture which has had meaning to us previously, then, due to some new or different circumstance in our lives suddenly it takes on significance in a whole new way.

This is not to say that the Bible’s meaning changes from situation to situation.  Instead, its application in our lives very well may change.

This is all part of the fact that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

God’s word doesn’t change, but we do.  No matter how we may change or what may come into our life, we will never become anything for which God’s word does not apply.  And, as we change—which we all inevitably do—the Bible remains ever new.  Consequently, the I’ve-read-that-before excuse never applies to Scripture.

Never stop reading your Bible!

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

June 30 Bible Reading: Psalm 69, 135

Despite the attribution of Psalm 69 to David, some have concluded this Psalm is from the time following the Babylonian captivity.  It is believed vv. 35-36 date the Psalm to this time period. Remember, the inscriptions at the heading of the Psalms (not all contain these inscriptions) though quite old, are not a part of the inspired text.

Psalm 135 is thought, by some, to be dated later than David due to the similarity of language between this Psalm and portions of Jeremiah. Following the exile it was clear that the prophet had been exactly right about the fate that he said would befall God’s people.  So, his words were borrowed—so the theory goes—as this Psalm reflects on God’s great acts.

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For June supplemental reading introduction CLICK HERE

For June’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

June 29 Bible Reading: Psalm 137, 74

Psalm 137 contains the only certain historical reference to place it during the time of the exile—and thus possibly the latest of all the Psalms.  Psalm 74, if not written during this time, certainly expresses the attitude of God’s people in their captivity.

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For June supplemental reading introduction CLICK HERE

For June’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

Do You Remember?

Devotional Text: Psalm 137:1

Memory is a powerful feature of the human psyche.  What a blessing to be able to recall the past with clarity; and what a curse.

Memories may soothe and comfort and make us smile.  They may also irritate and agitate and stir up remorse or regret or anger, they may make us cry.

From captivity in Babylon, Israel recalled Zion and wept.  Those were, no doubt, tears of remorse.  Unfaithfulness to God had led to her fall.  Why had they not listened to the prophets’ repeated warnings?

Those were tears of sorrow.  The temple had been such an integral part of national life and no doubt for many, held precious personal memories as well.

Those were tears of angst for a people displaced from their home.  “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (v. 4).

Tomorrow will carry memories of today. Not all of what happens today is in your control, but much of it is.  You are making your memories.  Shall you rejoice or weep?

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

June Supplemental Reading Introduction

June Week 5: Supplemental Reading
June 29-30

June’s two supplemental reading days will focus on Psalms apparently written during the time of exile or after.  The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and the seventy years of exile had greatly affected the Jews’ understanding of themselves and their relationship with God.  Aside from the explicit historical reference of Psalm 137, this shift in perspective seems to appear in several of the Psalms and has led many to believe they were penned during the time of restoration, though this is far from certain.

For June’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

You Did Wrong; Now What?

Devotional Text: Ezra 9:4

Punishment itself doesn’t necessarily cure wrongdoing.

Think about God’s people coming out of Babylonian captivity. The captivity was a punishment from God for their sinfulness.  God made that very clear.

So, upon leaving their exile, were they cured of their sinful ways?  Hardly.   Both Ezra and Nehemiah had to lead the returned people out of sinful practices (Ezra 9, 10; Nehemiah 13).  To the people’s credit they did respond positively to these efforts, which is unlike the response of the people to similar efforts of the prophets before the exile.

The punishment didn’t cure them of wrong doing, but it did seem to get their attention.

People can sometimes be critical of others (or of themselves) because they have done wrong.  Not to justify the wrong at all, but everyone does sometimes.  The real issue is not whether or not one has done wrong, but what do they do about it?  That’s the kicker.  David wasn’t a man after God’s own heart because he never did wrong.  It was his response to his own sin that landed him that designation.

Be wary of the man does wrong flippantly, but even more so of the one who judges others simply on the basis of their having sinned.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

June 28 Bible Reading: Catch Up Day

This is the scheduled day to catch up on your Bible reading for the fourth week of June in case you may have fallen behind.  Though no Bible reading is planned for today, you may wish to consider the following thoughts drawn from this week’s reading.

1. The time of the Jews return from captivity is often referred to as the “restoration of the Jews.”  That is a fitting description.  They were able to be restored to their homeland, the temple was rebuilt, the city walls were reconstructed, and the religion as spelled out in Moses’ law was reinstated.   One of the important keys for successful restoration was the teaching and explanation of God’s word.  Of Ezra it is said he “set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).  In addition, Ezra and Nehemiah arranged for God’s word to be read and taught.  “They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading” (Neh. 8:8).

Any effort at restoration to God apart from understanding and following His word is futile.

2. An interesting emphasis on family is found in the closing pages of Old Testament history.  Both Ezra and Nehemiah deal with the issue of marriages to foreign spouses whose influence would be away from God, not toward Him (Ezra 10; Nehemiah 13).  Malachi looks toward the return of “Elijah the prophet” who will, among other things, “turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6).

Families are critical to a right relationship with God.

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For June week 4 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

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Family is a Big Deal

Devotional Text: Malachi 4:6

The Old Testament ends in a striking way.

A person gets a sense of what’s going on at this time, the status of God’s people, the prevailing attitudes and concerns—both of God and the people, the events of historical significance all by reading the historical books of Ezra and Nehemiah as well as the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

The time of the return from captivity—including all three returns led by Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah—were a time of restoration.  It’s not only a physical restoration of Jerusalem with its temple and walls, but also a restoration of spiritual life as led by Ezra.  The word of God’s messengers was not only about that present time, but also looking forward to the future of the great, coming Messianic kingdom.  God was still at work!

It’s in the midst of all these grand and glorious themes that the final words of the Old Testament speak to the relationship between fathers and children.  Granted, this may have as it’s primary application the forefathers (fathers) and their descendants (children) all being on the same page with the will and plan of God.  Still, the mention of the family relationship is striking.

Fundamental to God’s plan for faith among His people is the role of fathers.  Back in the days of the Judges the unfaithfulness is traced to the fact that a generation arose that was ignorant of God and His good works (Judges 2:10).  Whose responsibility was it to communicate this vital information?  Fathers! (Deut. 6:6-9; 11:18-20; Psa. 78:4-5).  This same principle applies in the New Covenant–fathers teach their children (Eph. 6:4).

Among the magnificent and monumental works and plans of God for the salvation of humanity stands the common yet critical place of the family.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

June 27 Bible Reading: Malachi 2:17-4:6

One of the primary themes of Malachi is the discrepancy between what God has said and done and how His people perceive it.  A literary formula is repeated throughout the book, “…says the Lord, but you say…” (1:2, 6, 7; 2:14, 17, 3:7,8, 13).  Half of those are found in yesterday’s reading and half in today’s.

The parting words of the prophet look to a coming age when Elijah the prophet returns.  In the pages of the gospel we see an anticipation of the Jewish people of the return of Elijah (Matt. 16:4; 17:10-11; 27:47; Mark 6:15; Luke 9:8; John 1:21, 25).

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For June’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

Arguing With God

Devotional Text: Malachi 1:2

I’m not a very good arguer.  Whenever I get into a discussion infused with some intensity and higher than normal emotion my mind tends to shut down.  My goal becomes getting out of the conflict at virtually any cost rather than sensible resolution.  That personality trait does not serve me well.  I’m trying to learn better.

Sometimes, though, we argue without realizing it.  I suppose in its simplest form it is to counter one statement with another.  The form of that counter may be verbal, it may be written, it may be by action.  What we say or do is in disagreement.

That being said, we often argue with God.  That’s what Malachi said.  Several times, he employs the formula “…says the Lord.  But you say…” (1:2, 6, 7; 2:14, 17; 3:7, 8 , 13).  God’s own people were saying and doing things in disagreement with what God said.  They were arguing with Him.

Take the first instance; ‘“I have loved you,” says the Lord.  But you say, “How have you loved us?”’ (Mal. 1:2).  That still happens doesn’t it?  God’s says “I love you”—primarily through Jesus (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16).  Then we hit some rough spots in life and think God should fix them or even prevent them, and when He doesn’t we think, “If God loved me He would…”  God says; we say.

God says…

  • our top priority should be His kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33)
  • we should put others’ concerns and interests ahead of our own (Php. 2:3)
  • life is not found in the abundance of one’s possessions (Luke 12:15).
  • blessedness is found in poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, peacemaking, etc. (Matt. 5:3-12).
  • and so on.

But what do we say/do?

By the way, in case you did not know or had forgotten, arguing with God is a losing proposition.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE