Passion Turns to Holiness

I performed a wedding for one of my former students last week. Don’t you just love seeing a couple so committed and the excitement that surrounds them and their families and friends? Can you picture the last wedding you were at where you felt that way?
Of course, you know they have a long way to go and it’s just beginning. They don’t even understand all they are committing to and how they will feel next week or a year from now, but the passion and a promise is a good occasion to start the marriage.

But there must be constant and continuing work on all things that develop character. I think the best description of a good marriage is to put two rocks in a bag and knock them together over and over until it is sand. This is a beautiful end result, but of course it’s the most difficult thing you will do in a normal life.

The scriptures describe our relationship with God much like a marriage. Starting with passion, like Psalm 84, “How lovely is your dwelling place O Lord Almighty. My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.” And then continuing with a promise in verse 10, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

Good beginnings are followed by trials and testing. Psalm 88:1-3, “O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave.” We might wonder why life isn’t easier and why God doesn’t make it all smooth. Well, I don’t understand all that goes on, but I do know somehow God uses these times to make us more dependant on Him and to enrich our character and give us a heart to help others on the same journey.

I would like to add one last note on character development. Psalm 85:10-11 says, “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness spring forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.” This seems to imply that as we submit to the process of passion, promise and challenge, God creates holiness in us. It could be something that looks different on the outside and on the in. Conversely, if we bail out, we miss a lot of good things God has for us just around the corner. So our call today is to enjoy our love affair with the Savior whether we are in an exciting time or in a challenging time and He will bring good things into our heart.

Tips for Reading- (Interpretation tip # 16)

Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.

We have two more weeks in the area of interpretation and then we will go onto application as we begin the book of Hebrews. We have started a series about knowing when to interpret the Scripture as a figure of speech. This week we will go over some of the actual figures of speech.

For example, when the words “as” or “like” are used, you can guess that it’s a simile: “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3).

Or, if exaggeration is being used to say more than is literally meant that’s a Hyperbole: “I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to serve you” (2 Corinthians 11:8).

Anthropomorphism is when we attribute to God human features or actions. “The Lord’s hand is not so short that is cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1).

If you give human characteristics to an inanimate object, or an animal it would be called Personification: “The moon will be abashed and sun ashamed” (Isaiah 2:23).

Now, you might be saying, this sounds a lot like school! But, it’s true the better reader you are, the better biblical student you can become. The scriptures are rich with insights and truths, and we are called to obey these life-giving words as faithfully as we can. I will give a few more figures of speech next week, but in the mean time keep looking for them in our reading this week and see if you can see how they help us understand deep truths.

Notes from David’s Journal

Psalms 89 and 90 are two Psalms not written by King David. Most of the Psalms were penned by the one after God's own heart, David, but not these two. Psalm 89 was written by someone named Ethan the Ezrahite. We know nothing about him. He was evidently associated with King David (see Psalm 89:35). Perhaps he even learned how to write psalms by watching or being taught by David! We don't really know. Yet, the psalm is a beautiful one. It's written claiming God's great mercy and grace. It speaks of his great faith in God. Enjoy reading it.

Psalm 90 was written by Moses, "the man of God.” It shows his deep and abiding faith and his trust in prayer. Notice in vs.10 that life expectancy in that day was around 70 years, perhaps 80 in some situations. Modern medical technology has advanced our years a decade, maybe two. But guess what? We'll still die! That's why we need eternal life in Jesus Christ. He came to rescue us from death and give us eternity with our Creator. Notice also in vs.17 Moses' prayer for success. Can we pray for success? Why not? As long as God receives the glory and we know it all comes from Him, go for it! After all, what's the alternative? Failure? God works through it, but success is more fun, especially when we know God and God alone gave it to us.

AuthorAlexander Vijay Smith