Lessons learned

There are many ways that people learn. Some learn in certain ways better than others or by a combination of methods. Some of these methods are:

  1. reading
  2. speaking
  3. hearing

I was homeschooled in my early years. Once I could read on my own, I could go off, read my lessons, and complete my assignments. I still love learning through reading.

Once I began public school, I learned that not everyone could be so easily self-taught. Some of my peers struggled through silent reading time. There were kids in my class who had to hear the lesson in order to retain the information. And there were students who had to repeat main points back to the teacher to ensure that they grasped the concept. And there were some still who used a combination of these things, as well as others, to learn.

In the days of Moses and Joshua, silent reading was almost unheard of. When the Book of the Law was read, it was read aloud.

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

Do you know that only 19 percent of churchgoing Christians read the Bible daily? (A Christian is considered to be churchgoing by attending church just 3 of 8 weeks.) It is no wonder that the Word of God has so little power in our lives.

Consider this, if every professing Christian were to read a portion of the Bible every day, how would you expect the world to change? If we all read the scriptures out loud, would there be even greater change?

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17 (NIV)

If just over 7 percent of Christians read their Bibles daily, it is no wonder the church has lost its influence on society. It is no wonder we are perceived as weak hypocrites.

There is a reason why God was so emphatic about Joshua keeping the Book of the Law near him.

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Joshua 1:7 (NIV)

Our success, both personally and as the body of Christ, I believe, is based entirely on our grasp of the Word of God. Most Christians have never seen a move of God. They don’t even know what it’s supposed to look like because they’ve never read or heard about it. The more I read about all that God has done, all the miracles Jesus performed, the power that came with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the more I crave those things. I yearn to see God move the way He did in the days of the early church.

Our mouths are required for a move of God. We need to open up our mouths and pray. We need to speak the Word of God with boldness and courage. We won’t see the Word come to pass until the Word passes our lips.

Read: Joshua 1-3, Luke 1:57-80

All of it

Read: Genesis 42-43, Matthew 13:33-58

When asked if she was aware that Jesus loves her, my four-year-old niece matter-of-factly responded, “Yes, I know that,” as though it were a silly question that didn’t even need to be asked in the first place.

The love of God toward His children—us—is something we should be reminded of every day. But there are many other things from the Word of God that we, like my niece, scoff at. Of course we know that. Do we really have to go over it again?

Matthew 13:52

We often make the mistake of throwing out the old in favour of the new. We do it with almost everything we have. When something is of no use to us, it gets tossed rather than repaired or renewed. Many Christians have done the same with what we may view as old ideas. We accept Jesus’ teaching, but nothing else. Yet, Jesus himself told his disciples that the old is just as important as the new. Maybe even more so since the old is the foundation on which the new has been built.

An argument may be made that Jesus came to free us from the law. He did. He came to free us from the bondage of it. There was no way that any human being could fulfill every letter of the law. Another way had to be made to access God.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Matthew 5:17 (NIV)

If we view the Old Testament—the Law and the Prophets—as obsolete, how then can we fully understand Jesus who is the fulfillment of it?

Matthew Henry said that, old experiences and new observations all have their use. Our place is at Christ’s feet, and we must daily learn old lessons over again, and new ones also.

I have never met a person who reads through their Bible over and over again and says that they discovered nothing new. If God’s mercies are new every morning, surely there is revelation to follow. And we should seek it with all that we are. God wants to reveal Himself to us through His Word—all of it.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask of God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

James 1:5 (NIV)

While you wait

We wait. Sometimes it seems like half of our lives are spent waiting. We wait at red lights and stop signs. We wait in line at the grocery store. We wait for a meeting to start. We wait for the workday to be over. We even wait to fall asleep so that we can start it all over again and wait some more.

So what do you do while you’re doing all of this waiting? Do you stare of into spacing hoping time will somehow move faster? Do you pull out your phone and check work emails or see what your friends are up to on Instagram? Do you have a book to read or a magazine? Or you you stand tapping your toes in impatience?

Some of us don’t mind the wait. We have something to occupy our time. Others of us can’t stand the wait and hate idle time.

As members of the church, we’re all waiting for something—Jesus’ return. And, while we wait, we can be be idle or we can use the time as an opportunity.

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.

2 Peter 3:10 (NLT)

God isn’t meandering along His way trying to give us a lesson in patience. He is waiting for us to get our work done.

And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to live a pure and blameless life. And be at peace with God.

2 Peter 3:14 (NLT)

We’ve got some time and we’ve got a commission. We can either wait around hoping someone else does it, or we can get to work gathering as many into the family of God as possible.

What are you waiting for?

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 45-46, 2 Peter 3

Speak out!

There are two ways of learning things: you can learn the hard way and figure it out on your own, or you can seek out an answer or advice from someone who already knows. The concept is not new. It’s existed literally since the beginning of time.

We seek out those who have learned the hard lessons or who have gleaned those lessons from others. It’s how we, as humans have gathered our wealth of knowledge. Each generation (should) learn from the previous. It’s all dependent on the previous generation sharing their knowledge and the current generation listening and understanding what is being passed to them.

In high school, I was a smart kid. I learned quickly. I graduated with the highest honours possible. Nearly straight A’s. A’s in everything but Math 11. I distinctly remember one day in class where I just couldn’t grasp a concept, so I asked the teacher for help. He told me I’d have to come after class if I wanted help. Not possible. Where most student’s days ended at 2:15, I had another class after that. I explained that to the teacher. He shrugged. I asked if he could help me in class (as far as I could tell, he wasn’t doing anything else, and wasn’t it his job as a teacher to teach me?). He looked at the problem and told me I should know how to do that already. Well, I don’t, which is why I’m asking for help. He said I should have learned that the year before. Obviously, I didn’t. I’d have to come to after school help. I couldn’t (I liked band class way better than math anyway). I never did fully understand the concept and my grade reflected it.

That teacher had knowledge that, had he been willing to share it with me, would have helped me to maintain my straight A status. He could have helped, yet he withheld that information. Now, that’s just high school math and, contrary to what every teacher ever told me, I never needed algebra in the “real world”—not even in the fifteen years I worked in finance and insurance. But what about the knowledge we, as Christians, have? What do we know that could help others? Has God done great things for us? Has He come to our aid when we’ve called on Him? Has He loved us? Has He rescued us?

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has saved you from your enemies.

Psalm 107:1-2 (NLT)

If one of the the only ways people can learn is from others, what are we showing or teaching them? Are we silent and withholding like my math teacher or are we vocal and willing to share about the great things God has done in our lives?

Those who are wise will take all this to heart
they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.

Psalm 107:43 (NLT)

The only way something will show up in history is if it’s recorded—whether we write it down or pass it down orally. The only way history will show the faithful love of the Lord is if we keep talking about it. History doesn’t record silence. It records difference-makers.

Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 107-108, Romans 12:21-33 

Consequences

We all have to live with consequences—both good and bad. To every action there is a reaction. Current culture would have us believe that we need only endure the good consequences. The bad ones, well, there’s always a way out.

What would happen if we changed our view of “bad” consequences? What if, rather than avoiding them or pretending they don’t exist, we learned from them?

All through Numbers (and most of the Old Testament), Israel suffered the consequences of their disobedience. Some would say that God was rather harsh with them. Remember that, because of Moses’ pleading, God was not as harsh as He would have been otherwise. Over and over again, Israel, despite being a living, breathing miracle, rebelled against God.

A group of leaders tried to usurp Moses as leader. The earth swallowed them and their families. The rest of that group burned to a crisp. Ten of the twelve men sent to scout the land returned with the (incorrectly assumed) news that they could not take the Promised Land. As a result, they wouldn’t live to see Israel inhabit the land. A man gathered fire wood on the Sabbath. He was taken outside the camp to be stoned to death.

What did all of these things have in common? They all went against what God had already commanded. God wasn’t being a bully, He was simply living by His word. One would think that, after a punishment or two, that Israel would have taken the hint and repented of their evil ways. Unfortunately, we still haven’t learned our lesson. We refuse to look at the consequences of our actions as our own doing.

Society as a whole has adopted the mentality of victims, much like Israel did as they wandered the wilderness. Rather than accept their fault in the matter and work to avoid similar situations in the future, they wandered aimlessly complaining about their hard life. The reality was that they could have obtained the Promised Land in a matter of months after fleeing Egypt. Their disobedience kept them from the promise.

Take a look at the “bad” things in your life. Are they things that have been done to you or are they a result of your own action (or inaction)? Try to avoid getting defensive right away. Really look at yourself. Now, how much can you change by simply adjusting your attitude and correcting your course?

The “bad” things can often serve as good reminders that we’ve veered off course and need a correction.

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 16-17, Mark 6:33-56

Silent awe

In my attempt to look deeper into today’s reading from Matthew, I stumbled upon a commentary that expresses what I could not. So, instead of reading my ramblings, I’ll let you read it for yourself:

The teachings of that wonderful last day of Christ’s ministry, which have occupied so many of our pages, are closed with this tremendous picture of universal judgment. It is one to be gazed upon with silent awe, rather than to be commented on. There is fear lest, in occupying the mind in the study of the details, and trying to pierce the mystery it partly unfolds, we should forget our own individual share in it. Better to burn in on our hearts the thought, ‘I shall be there,’ than to lose the solemn impression in efforts to unravel the difficulties of the passage. Difficulties there are, as is to be expected in even Christ’s revelation of so unparalleled a scene. Many questions are raised by it which will never be solved till we stand there. Who can tell how much of the parabolic element enters into the description? We, at all events, do not venture to say of one part, ‘This is merely drapery, the sensuous representation of spiritual reality,’ and of another, ‘That is essential truth.’ The curtain is the picture, and before we can separate the elements of it in that fashion, we must have lived through it. Let us try to grasp the main lessons, and not lose the spirit in studying the letter.

MacLaren’s Expositions

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 7-9, Matthew 25:31-46

Put to shame

If you spend any time at all on social media, you will eventually see something about shaming. Passenger-shaming, drink-shaming, body shaming, and more. While some believe it is their God-given right to shame whomever they wish, there are also those who believe that no one should feel any shame at all. Where is the line?

As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

Luke 13:17 (ESV)

I believe shame to be useful as pain is useful. Do we want to feel it? Of course not! Should we feel it? Perhaps.

Like pain, shame often tells us that something is wrong. When Jesus continued to perform miracles on the Sabbath, the rulers of the synagogue were indignant. Apparently performing miracles was considered work. Jesus then proceeded to explain his reasons and the men of the synagogue were put to shame. They used religious excuses to avoid doing the real work they were called to.

I don’t think Jesus’ intent was to make them feel like horrible people, but rather to use their shame as a tool to correct wrong thinking.

If you feel shameful about your actions, were they the right actions? If you feel shameful about your words, were they the right words?

The next time you feel ashamed, take a moment to think about the reasons why. Rather than becoming angry and indignant to try to make yourself feel better, use that feeling as an indicator. Like pain tells us that something is wrong, shame can work the same.

Didn’t Jesus come to take away shame? Yes, He did! But He also told us to turn away from the things that bring us shame.

Sin no more. Feel shame no more.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 7-9; Luke 13:1-21