This week’s memory verse: James 1:17


Readers: this week’s memory verse is below. Another one from chapter 1 of James. As always, please study and memorize this verse with an understanding of where it is in the context. Interpretation will never be accurate unless it is accomplished within context.

James 1:17 (ESV)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Have a great week!

A Verse to kick off 2012: James 1:22


First, an apology is due for missing last week’s verse as you can imagine, time is not something that seems to be available around this time of year with Christmas and New Year’s consuming a lot of it. I simply never got around to choosing a verse for last week and am very sorry about that. I do hope that despite my absence you stayed in the Word!

This week I want us to look at a verse that is short, simple, sweet, and extremely challenging:

James 1:22 (ESV)

But be  doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Notice the first word. That should cause you to do something: study the context. Meditate and memorize, but understand this verse in the context. Seek to understand how the original audience would have understood these words, then work to uncover what the text means (not what it means to you).

Have a great week! And be sure to stop by with your thoughts 🙂

A Lamp to my Feet, Focusing on Christmas – Isaiah 7:14


December. Christmas. Crowds. Spending a lot of money. The usual, right? This is what Christmas has become and it couldn’t be more distracting. Christmas is a time for us to remember, reflect, and worship because of God sending his one and only Son to us in the form of a baby who would grow into a man and eventually give his life on a cross for those who would believe in him (John 3:16). That is why we celebrate Christmas. 

This week is a simple verse. Actually just one verse. I want you to spend as much time on this as you have with the passages in the past. Really study this and think about what it says. You are probably familiar with it, so that will cause you to read it very fast and glaze over it. Fight that urge and take your time. Do some research and bible study (remember to do so with the context in mind). This will be a rewarding exercise and I look forward to seeing what you learn through he week.

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 
 
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I look forward to discussing this verse with you on Sunday!!

When Studying the Bible, Always, Always, Always, Know the Context


Watch the TED Talk from 2010 below. In it, Doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre shows how witholding test data on drugs is being used to push drugs on the market, to say that certain drugs are better than others, and that a drug will do a certain thing most of the time. This is bad science.

As a student of the Bible (both as a Christian and as a student in a University’s Religion Department) there is one thing in particular that this video made me think of.

A classic example will flesh this out for you.

A young man is in a dating relationship with a young woman. This young man is uncertain about how to proceed with the relationship. So, like any good young man, he looks to God. He first stumbles across 1 Corinthians 7:36c, which says, “They should get married quickly.”

His heart rate goes up. God wants me to ask her to marry me! But, when?

He then stumbles across John 13:27, which says, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”

His questions answered, and having heard directly from God on what he should do and when he should do it, he closes his Bible and goes to sleep, dreaming of marrying his girlfriend.

What’s the problem with this? Well. Everything actually. What he read is in the Bible, yes. But, what he read has what we call context. If there is one thing that should be drilled into every Christian’s head when it comes to teaching, preaching, and learning from the BIble it is that context determines meaning.

If our eager young man would have bothered to read the context surrounding his snippet of text he would have noticed two things. First, that Paul was writing a specific instruction to a specific people. There was a problem in the Corinthian church of engaged couples acting as they shouldn’t (like married couples). In this light he says, “GET MARRIED!!” Second, after this verse (v. 36), there is a conjunction…”but.” Our young man should have continued reading. Paul instructs that if the young men are able to practice self-control and have decided to not marry, they should not. He concludes by saying this, “So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better” (v. 38).

And, obviously, John 13:27 is a quote of Jesus telling Judas, he betrayer, to do what he is going to do quickly, his betraying of Jesus, which has nothing at all to do with marriage and thus does not apply to our young man’s question of when to marry.

Context, context, context. In light of the video above, data, data, data.

“We cannot make decisions in the absence of all information.” – Ben Goldacre