Tag Archives: Scripture

A Peek Behind the Curtain

They were dispersed over a large area and feeling quite alone. Experiencing great difficulty on many levels. They likely felt very discouraged. Perhaps they even questioned their faith in this carpenter from Nazareth who had come back to life.

I’m speaking of John’s intended audience, those first followers of Jesus who would have read the book or letter of Revelation and marveled at all the strange imagery.

I don’t imagine that the life of following Jesus was turning out exactly like they had expected. It seldom does.

John the Baptist saw Jesus and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

But just a short time later when he sat in jail about to lose his head, John sent disciples to ask Jesus if He was the One they had waited for or if they should wait for another. I’m guessing that John thought doing life with God would be different.

Hadn’t Jesus come to heal and comfort and restore? Why is following Him so difficult, so unpleasant at times? Is it really worth all the hardship and sacrifice?

In The Wizard of Oz Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal a man masquerading as the great and powerful Oz. They are given a different perspective on what’s really going on and who is in charge; and it’s a big disappointment.

But the peek behind the curtain given to John in the form of a vision is much different. In it we catch a glimpse of what life will be like in the very presence of God. And it’s awe-inspiring!

In John’s day, Rome appeared to be in control; but it was really God who was working behind the curtain of our reality.

In our day, Washington, D.C. appears to be in control; but it is really God who is working behind the curtain of our reality.

The center of the universe is heaven, and the center of heaven is a throne, and there is Someone, our triumphant God, sitting on the throne.

Why is following Jesus often so difficult now?

Because we are not home yet!

So hang in there and keep running the race. Keep fighting the good fight. Hold onto the faith.

One day soon God will make all things new!

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

2 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christianity, Eternity, God, Heaven, Hope, Kingdom of God, Persecution, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Suffering, Trusting God

Blinded by what we want to see

When the great astronomer Percival Lowell got a new twenty-four-inch telescope on a mountain in Flagstaff, Arizona, he “saw” a network of canals on Mars that confirmed the theories of Italian astronomers.

He mapped them on a globe, and his 1908 book Mars as the Abode of Life laid out proof that these canals were built by intelligent beings.

Obviously, he was mistaken. But he brings to light a common problem we all have a tendency towards. Sometimes, like Lowell, we see things that aren’t really there.

We approach Scripture with our mind already made up. And then, not surprisingly, we find what we’re looking for.

So when we delve into God’s Word to learn about our Creator and His dealings with mankind, let’s be sure we do so with a good measure of humility.

Then maybe, just maybe… we’ll learn something we weren’t already looking for.

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christianity, Humility, Scripture

Our ultimate hope

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

~ 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Death, Eternity, Faith, Heaven, Hope, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Serving

Mercy and grace to spare!

One of my favorite passages!

May you be overwhelmed today by God’s lavish mercy and grace!

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Grace, Kingdom of God, Mercy, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Trusting God

Taking God at His word

If I fail to live as I’m instructed, I undermine my own credibility to remind or teach my family to live as they’re instructed. How can I credibly teach others to obey God if I don’t? You and I need to make sure we are obeying as well, and that we are providing a climate where obedience can flourish.

Such a climate begins with our own respect for and adherence to Scripture. We cannot take our cues from our culture. We must return to drink deeply from the headwaters. Christian thought springs directly from the nature of God and its revelation in His Word.

Every major tenant of our faith is a matter of revelation not explanation. Each is a mystery to be learned no way other than by revelation. We know what we know by taking Him at His Word. We apprehend His intentions and affirm our allegiance by believing what He says. Whether it is the nature of our salvation or the nature of our homes, we take it by faith, trusting and obeying.
~ Excerpted from Tender Warrior by Stu Weber

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Scripture, Trusting God

Let’s keep God out of the cook book

There are certain times and places when a ready-made recipe is exactly the right approach.

  • Brain surgery.
  • Rocket science.
  • Navigating deep oceans in a sub.
  • Flying a jumbo jet.
  • Building a finely crafted timepiece.
  • Parachuting through the clouds.

These occasions, and many others like them, are best accomplished with a well-laid plan of action. There is little room for error and precision is essential.

Recipes are even quite useful in a kitchen. But they are of little value when it comes to doing life with God.

“Recipes are useful in a well-lighted kitchen. Recipe theology, that collection of practical biblical principles that tell us what to do in every situation, treats confusion as something to be solved rather than entered. It reduces the mysteries of life to things we can manage.” ~ Larry Crabb, Jr. – The Silence of Adam, Page 66

There is no one-size-fits-all Biblical solution to every circumstance because we are not privy to God’s Upper Story plans. Two people in similar situations may be led by God to respond differently.

I’m not suggesting that God’s timeless truths or principles change, but that doing life with God doesn’t fit into a nice, tidy box.

It it did, there would be no sense of adventure. There would be no challenge to stretch our faith. There would be no reason to trust God in the midst of uncertain circumstances.

God invites us to come to Him any time we want. But don’t just run to Him for a solution. Join Him in the journey and delight in discovering new things about God and yourself.

What will be our adventure with God today?
***

If you’re following along in The Story read chapter(s) 12 for this week. You can check out The Story by clicking on the page tab above.

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

4 Comments

Filed under Bible, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Scripture, The Story, Trusting God

Fitting the pieces together

The Bible displays an Upper Story and a Lower Story. 

The Upper Story tells the big picture, the grand narrative of a loving God seeking relationship with mankind as it unfolds throughout history.

The Lower Story contains the details of particular people, the episodes we’ve become familiar with: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the flood… even our own stories.

This Upper Story is really a framework around which we approach and apply any one part of the Bible.  It unifies God’s whole message to us and helps guide us through the difficult times in life by doing two things:

  1. Reminding us of God’s eternal, long-range plan and,
  2. Putting our experiences into a divine context formed by a perfect, loving Creator.

God’s agenda in the Upper Story is to reach every man, woman and child, all around the world, with His grace and truth. Eternity with God is a divine party; a celebration to end all celebrations and God doesn’t want anyone to miss it.

Our agenda in the Lower Story tends to be comfort and enjoyment. Such longings are not inherently wrong or evil, but they seldom serve to advance God’s Upper Story agenda. And quite often, they are directly opposed to it.

Jesus’ death on the cross could be described with many words, but comfort and enjoyment would not be among them. Yet He endured such pain and agony to fulfill His part in advancing the Father’s Upper Story agenda.

So, by putting all we read from Scripture into the larger picture, we can make modern-day applications that take into account the grand, mysterious ways of God, and guards us from misapplication that can result from an isolated “what this verse says to me” approach.  In other words, the Upper Story creates the context for the Lower Story.

For example, without the Upper Story, a lost job could be seen as an event without hope.  But put into the context of the larger chronicle of our lives, and God’s perfect design, that lost job can be seen in a very different light, perhaps as an opportunity for God to advance His kingdom agenda.

So when you seek to understand something from the Bible, or the events and circumstances of your life, remember… there is a bigger, Upper Story being written into which the smaller details fit.

We may not always understand how they fit, but we can trust the One who is writing The Story!

***

If you’re journeying with us through The Story then read Chapter One this week. If you’ve not heard about The Story you can check it out by clicking on the page tab above.

4 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christianity, God, God's Will, Grace, Kingdom of God, Life in General, Scripture, Surrender, The Story, Trusting God, Truth

How reading the Bible can destroy your soul

We can often use the Bible in ways that stifle spiritual life or even destroy the soul.

Really? Stifle spiritual growth and destroy the soul? That’s the observation made by Richard Foster in Life with God. He points out that the root problem has to do with two common objectives people have for studying the Bible.

The first issue is the practice of studying the Bible for information or knowledge alone. There is much that we can learn from the Bible and learning is a vital part of growing. But knowledge alone tends to make us arrogant.

The second issue is that people often study the Bible to find some formula that will solve the pressing need of the moment. When we go looking for simple formulas we greatly increase the risk of taking Scripture out of context and this can lead to some unhealthy conclusions.

The real danger in these two common ways of approaching the Bible is that they leave us or someone else in charge. They are, in fact, ways of trying to control what comes out of the Bible rather than submitting to the process of transformation that Scripture can accomplish in us. When we approach the Bible from the perspective of whole-life discipleship to Jesus, amazing changes can take place in us.

So how do we approach Scripture in a way that promotes real life change?

READ with an open, focused mind and a surrendered heart. Ask God to help you understand the context (big picture) of what you’re reading and the author’s original intentions.

REFLECT on what you’re reading. Pause to reread portions of it and let it soak in. If something really speaks to your heart highlight it or make a note. If something raises a question jot it down to explore later.

RESPOND to what you’ve read. Is there an action to take or an attitude to adjust? Is there a sin to confess or a praise to offer God? Prayerfully invite the Holy Spirit to continue speaking to you from what you’ve read.

Use a small notebook to record your daily reading, reflecting and responding. This is a great way to review your journey with God through Scripture and can be an encouragement when times get tough.

***

If you’re sharing our journey through The Story then read chapter one in it and The Heart of the Story. If you’re just hearing about The Story and want to know more click on the page tab above.

11 Comments

Filed under Bible, Holy Spirit, Morphing, Prayer, Reflection, Scripture, Surrender, The Story

Invited to unveil a bigger story

Remember all those people in the Bible that were part of God’s unfolding story? Abraham, Gideon, Esther, Paul and countless others? On the day that God invited them into His bigger story, do you suppose they woke up thinking it was just another day?

What if today is not just another day but a God-appointed moment in time? What if today is specifically designed for you and me to participate in His unfolding story? What if God wants to use us to unleash His story of grace and redemption into the world right where we are – today?

“God is not merely the Creator of our life. He is also the Author of our life, and he writes each person’s life to reveal his divine story. There never has been nor ever will be another life like mine—or like yours. Just as there is only one face and name like mine, so there is only one story like mine. And God writes the story of my life to make something known about himself, the One who wrote me. The same is true of you. Your life and mine not only reveal who we are, but they also help reveal who God is.

… Your story helps reveal the Greatest Story, the story that God is telling about himself. God intends for each of us to live for a greater glory, and a greater story, than our own.

So take seriously the story that God has given you to live. It’s time to read your own life, because your story is the one that could set us all ablaze.”
~ Excerpted from To Be Told by Dan B. Allender

Are we giving ourselves to be part of God’s unfolding story?

***

To learn more about The Story and how you can participate in the journey, click the page tab above.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, influence with the world, Life in General, Scripture, Surrender, The Story

5 Reasons NOT to read your Bible

1. It may change your assumptions about God.

It’s common to have wrong perceptions about God until we encounter Him through the Scriptures.

2. It may show you that you’ve mistaken religion with relationship.

Many churches promote a system of behaviors rather than a relationship like what we see in the Bible.

3. You may give up trying to be perfect.

There is one common trait shared by all those people who are part of God’s story – they were misfits who messed up A LOT!

4. It may affect how you relate to others.

You may begin to see people not for how they can benefit you, but for how you can impact them.

5. It may challenge you to leave behind a legacy.

You may be compelled to give your life to a greater cause, a bigger story, one that extends far beyond your pleasures or comforts.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16

There is no substitute for spending time in God’s word. If you’ve ever struggled with reading through the Bible or are looking for a new adventure, our church family is going to be sharing a journey through The Story.

But you don’t have to be a part of our church family to share in the adventure. You can read the books for yourself and follow along with my blog. Click on The Story tab above to read more about it.

Wether you join us or not, make it a priority to spend time with God in His word!

***

8 Comments

Filed under Bible, intimacy with the Lord, involvement with the church, Scripture, The Story