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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Dunkirk

In the summer of 1940, everything went wrong. The British Expeditionary Forces landed in France and began to take up fighting positions at the start of World War II. The French heavily relied on the Maginot Line. A line of armed fortifications built to prevent any kind of invasion along the Switzerland, Germany, and Luxembourg borders. German forces unexpectedly went through the “impenetrable Ardennes Forest” an area that was only lightly fortified. In five days, the Germans captured the city of Sedan and headed west. This flanking maneuver cut off the entire Allied Army. More than 350,000 soldiers were surrounded with their backs to the sea at a port town called Dunkirk.

German forces were now on their way and had the ability to wipe out the entire British Army.  When it seemed certain that the Allied forces at Dunkirk would be encircled and annihilated, a British naval officer only had time to send a quick cable.  He sent three words to London, “But if not.”

These poignant words were immediately recognized as the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Book of Daniel. These men were given a choice:  they could worship the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar made or be thrown into the fiery furnace.

Daniel 3:17-18 shares their response:  “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

They bravely chose the furnace, rather than disobeying God. The message of these three words told in Daniel 3:18 were clear.  Even though the situation was desperate and the Army was trapped, they would not give in.

One Bible verse and three tiny words communicated a giant message. It also brought about the most unorthodox and successful rescue campaign known in the modern era. The British Navy ordered fishing vessels, yachts, and any civilian watercraft longer than 30 feet in length to report and join the naval rescue effort. The flotilla consisted of over 850 civilian and military vessels with owners and crews, ready to launch across the channel.

Just as the German General was ready to attack the surrounded city, Hitler ordered him to stop at the outskirts of Dunkirk. The German command wanted forces to continue south with their invasion of France, instead of pushing into Dunkirk. This coincidence and several days of cloudy weather gave the “Little ships of Dunkirk” and regular military boats 9 full days to rescue over 338,000 men.

Today, we call this naval rescue mission “The Miracle of Dunkirk” and it began with three simple words from Daniel 3:18.

 

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GBA

It’s okay to say, “God bless America.” In Jeremiah 29:5-7 we find some interesting concepts.  God says to build houses and settle down. God also says to seek peace and prosperity of the city. In the last verse, we are told, “pray to the Lord, for if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Here, we are encouraged to pray for the city. The governmental institution that controls and runs much of daily life. Even more interesting is the place of this suggestion, because the people were in captivity, i.e. Babylon. If Israel needed to pray for the cities, towns, and government while they were in bondage, perhaps we should pray for our nation in both good times and bad.

Nations need healing, just like people. Nations can offer forgiveness to both enemies and friends. Nations can receive our gratitude and thanks.

When we say, “God bless America” it is a prayer, not a boast.  May we continue to celebrate what is right with our Republic and pray for God’s power to make it even better.

God bless America!

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Bible teen

The Barna Group conducted a nationwide survey of over 1,000 participants between the ages of 13 and 17. The findings and factors may surprise you. While a majority of teenagers still have reverence for the Bible, their views have been heavily influenced by today’s secular society. Much of what teenagers believe today comes from public schools, the media, and the entertainment industry instead of their own family or the church.

Seven out of ten teens personally own a Bible, but only 3 percent report reading the Bible on a daily basis. One in ten teens read the Bible once a month and an additional 10 percent report reading the Bible three or four times a year. The survey also showed that 37 percent of teens say that they never read the Bible.

If those figures scare you, know that you are not alone. While we are able to put Bibles in the hands of teenagers, much more needs to be done on demonstrating the power and promise of God’s Holy Word.

Christian education in America has remained tepid for the last fifty years. Churches and faith-based organizations must come back to the task of making disciples in a Biblical manner. Ignoring the Great Commission will ultimately send the church into collapse.

When you look at Matthew 28:18-20, there are two parts to the Great Commission. The first is found in verse 19 to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The second part is often overlooked, but it’s vital to form new Christians. Verse 20 shares the necessity of “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The second part of discipleship is teaching people how to live like Jesus.

If someone gave you a gift, but never showed you how to use it, you would likely lay it on the shelf. So it is with the Bible and faith. It is inherent for mature Christians to teach the next generation.

Perhaps we should also evaluate how we teach. If Sunday school teachers are producing teens with perfect attendance pins and little knowledge of God’s Word, then we have completely missed the point of Bible classes. Somewhere and somehow there is a failure that must be fixed.

I believe the Bible is the cornerstone of Christian discipleship. Through Scripture we find faith in Jesus Christ and receive instruction on how to live like Jesus. It is God’s truth. It shows us what to believe. It delivers genuine guidance from God. It is the standard that guides our life.

As the cornerstone for discipleship, let us commit ourselves to teaching the next generation of Christians what the Bible is and how to use it in life. The teens of today deserve teachers and mentors who will help them worship, witness, and work for the glory of God.

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harriet

It was recently announced that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Harriet Tubman is remembered as an abolitionist who risked her own life to rescue others, but it is the story of her living faith that truly made her famous.

She was born into slavery around 1820 and was raised as an illiterate child. Harriet’s mother often shared Bible stories and helped to develop a passionate faith in her child.

Tubman escaped to freedom in 1849. She made use of a network known as the Underground Railroad to find her freedom. This informal, but well-organized system was composed of free and enslaved African Americans, white abolitionists and other religious activists. Most prominent among the latter in Maryland at the time were members of the Friends Church, also known as Quakers.

Even after securing her own freedom, Tubman later made more than 13 missions to rescue enslaved families and friends. Her notoriety and wide ranging success with the Underground Railroad grew. Tubman was nicknamed “Moses” after the biblical rescuer who delivered the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

Tubman ultimately led hundreds of slaves to freedom. The groups would travel at night and always in secrecy. All of her rescue missions were successful. She “never lost a passenger” and attributed all of her strength and success to God.

Today, even as Christians are being persecuted for their faith, we should look to the story of Harriet Tubman and be reminded how important it is demonstrate a living faith. Harriet’s mother could not teach her daughter to read, but she could share Bible stories to develop a lasting faith. Christians could be fined and arrested for harboring fugitive slaves, but they carved out time and space to help people in need. They shared food, shelter, and protection with fellow believers so that they could find freedom. Harriet also practiced a living faith by crossing the Mason-Dixon Line, risking her own arrest to save others who had no way to escape the cruel grasp of slavery.

Just as God has richly provided for us in 2016, may we boldly live out our Christian faith in a way that benefits others and guides them to a newfound freedom.

 

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blank page

Everyone talks about a different kind of list this time of year.  And it has nothing to do with being naughty or nice.  Our New Year resolutions for 2016 are taking shape on apps and lists across the globe.

Most resolutions focus on going to the gym and eating less.  The need for personal improvement can be physical, and it can be spiritual as well.  As you consider items for your list, here are five items that can strengthen your faith in 2016.

Schedule prayer time.  Find the right time of day where you can devote some effort to this.  Prayer is central to our faith. It is deliberate communication with our Heavenly Father. It is an act of worship. It is a spiritual discipline. It allows us to adore, petition, praise, and confess. On several occasions Scripture shows us examples when Jesus made time and space to pray. Follow in the example of Christ and find time to pray.

Meditate on the Bible.  You can read the text, receive a daily email, or listen to it on your smart phone.  Once you have a mode that is meaningful to you, make it a routine.  Spending time with God’s Word is vital to any Christian. It encourages and educates us. It provides direction when we feel lost. It reminds us that God is near.

Take a break. God gave the Sabbath for two reasons.  First, it is a day dedicated to honor and worship Him. Second, it is a day for us to rest.  Prevent burnout by setting aside work for one day out of the week.  Activities and events are always quick to crowd the Sabbath for other purposes. Resolve to use your God-given day differently in 2016.

Talk to your parents on a regular basis.  Set aside time for your family.  It can be on the phone, a video chat, or just stopping by the homestead.  Show them love and respect.  Show them that you care.  Continue to connect with them.  It will serve as a reminder of God’s love.

Try a new act of worship. This may sound radical, but too often we stay in a rut.  We stay with what we already know.  Try something new and different.  Feed your creative side and let it honor God.  Write a poem. Paint a picture. Learn to play an instrument. Create a new song or chorus for church. Volunteer your time at a local charity.  Find a new way to glorify God with a talent you haven’t used before.

As we prepare for 2016, make faith a part of your New Year resolutions.  Make a plan to strengthen your faith today and for the new year.

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Good Friday

Isaiah 53

Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

John 3:16-17

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Romans 5:6-8

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Matthew 26:2

“As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

Mark 8:31

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Matthew 27:27-31

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Luke 23:33-34

33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:39-43

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Matthew 27:45-54

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

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What is your favorite Bible translation?

The National Association of Evangelicals and CBA recently shared the results of that very question.  Both organizations surveyed their members and found similar responses.

The New International Version of the Bible is the most widely read version in the United States, receiving 39 percent in the poll.  A distant second is the New American Standard Bible with 20 percent.  It was followed by the English Standard Version with 13 percent.

The NIV has maintained popularity and influence since it was published in 1978.  The NIV was designed so that modern day readers could understand the biblical text in the same way that the very first readers understood the text.  Thirty years after its first publication, there are more than 400 million NIV Bibles in print.

The NASB has also been around since the 1970s.  Its strength is translating the biblical text literally word-for-word and has been widely embraced as “the most literally accurate English translation.”  People who are not fluent in the biblical languages, but who like to do word studies, find the NASB’s word-for-word style easy to follow.  In 1995, the NASB was updated to increase clarity and readability.

Though a relatively recent translation, the English Standard Version, has gained wide popularity since it was published in 2001. The ESV is set in the classic stream of literal translation, while paying close attention to literary beauty. The ESV Bible was the first to be published simultaneously in print and digital formats.

Feel free to share what translation you use and why.

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