Misinterpreting Scripture

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…

John 5:39

When it comes to reading and understanding the Bible, there are at least five main schools of thought people use to interpret Scripture. They are:

Allegorical View

Liberal View

Neo-Orthodox View

Devotional View

Grammatical, Historical View

The Allegorical view was used by many of the early church fathers. Everything they read was viewed from a mystical, spiritual platform. There was no literal, concrete understanding of Scripture applied from a known real world. Interpretation was solely a subjective understanding of a non-physical, super-natural dimension.

The Liberal view analyzed Scripture from a current, cultural worldview based on man’s reasoning capabilities. If science cannot justify it, it must not be true. If it is not rational, then there is some error. Scripture becomes a personal, subjective study of its contents.

The Neo-Orthodox view Scripture as God’s spoken word to specific people at specific times and not necessarily meant for everyone everywhere at all times. However, when God’s written Word becomes meaningful and purposeful to the individual is when then God speaks to the individual.   

The Devotional view simplifies Scripture to a “what’s in it for me” approach. It views the Bible as a self-help book extracting principles and values for personal enhancement. It at times focuses on the narrowest topic and excludes the global overview of the subject matter.

The Grammatical, Historical view looks at the context of the writings from the then culture when written and the known historical and literature data accumulated from then to arrive at its meaning and purpose at the then time. From there, Scripture is transferred to the present time under current conditions and made applicable and relevant in today’s culture.    

Most of us, depending on our upbringing, will initially start reading Scripture from one of these viewpoints. Slowly though over time, as we become more of an amateur theologian, we will eventually fall into the Grammar-Historical view. Though we will occasionally, depending on the context and subject matter, entertain the other viewpoints, our main emphasis will be to become more and more a historical student of the Bible.  

With the internet and libraries of stored reference, everyone who desires to know more about the Bible and its contents can become an avid student of Scripture. No one person on earth has the corner knowledge of Scripture. We are all studying and discovering more and more of Scripture’s practical implications for today. Yes, it takes time, but what you gain is a more confident reassurance of the Triune God’s involvement and love for you and humanity.

The bottom-line: no matter which viewpoint you use, the main focus is still Jesus Christ. When we realize HE is the centralized character of the entire Bible, then the various chapters and sections always seem to better align themselves built upon the foundation of the Incarnate Triune God. This is why we learn, integrate, and grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ through the application of Scripture in our everyday world. We discover more of who Jesus Christ IS and God’s overall purpose and plan for humanity.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Money Trap

…give me neither poverty nor riches;

    feed me with the food that is needful for me,lest I be full and deny you

    and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal

    and profane the name of my God.

Proverbs 30:8-9

Money is simply the medium of exchange between two parties. Somewhere back in time, someone came up with the inspiration that paper supported by something of value was easier to carry around for trade rather than livestock, land, and crops. Eventually, paper money became the norm.

Yet money is the god of many. Those who have it want more; and those who don’t have enough want more. And then there are those who treat money as an evil necessity and the cause of world problems who believe everyone should have more than enough without having to work for it.

Then there are times when our pride blinds us into thinking that money is evil and poverty is good. Others feel guilty they have abundance; they are OK with those less fortunate to rob and steal from others. Then there are others who make their life mission to earn more than they can spend in multiple lifespans. They never have enough and too much is their baseline.

Today’s Scripture came to my attention as a young man entering the business world. Still young in the faith, I wasn’t sure how to relate with money. This Scripture helped me to stay focus. I enjoyed working, earning, and spending on those items which brought me pleasure. Besides, food, shelter, clothes, car, and entertainment, I also gave to causes which were close to my heart. My desire was not to be wealthy, retire early, nor live a lavish lifestyle. Instead, I chose to walk with my Lord and learn how to live the life HE gave me.

In the prayer Jesus taught his disciples (Luke 11:3), he requests from his heavenly Father only food for today. He shared parables of people who invested their time accumulating food where they had to build larger barns (Luke 12:18) to store the crops for future period and emphasized they risk abandoning their walk with God. Jesus also said the rich will have greater difficulty entering God’s Kingdom (Luke 18:25). However, HE also emphasized that nothing is impossible for God.

Life is living between two extremes. Being rich or being poor are two extremes of wealth. For many of us, we will learn to live life in between. And I am OK with that. For it places us right where today’s Scripture highlights the better place to be. Enough for today so I continue to lean on the Triune God, favorably walk with HIM, and bring HIM no shame but honor and glory for WHO HE IS.

Money is a necessity in today’s world. God knows what we need and will always provide the means to satisfy our needs. The money trap is emphasizing the cash rather than the God of wealth.  God owns everything. He can easily open the gates of prosperity for you to enjoy. But HE also knows prosperity can easily destroy you unless you have the character to manage the wealth. HIS purpose is to prepare you for eternity; not live comfortably and satisfy every insatiable desire you have. When you come to know HIM, you will also come to know yourself and realize the wisdom of living between the two extremes.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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I Can’t

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

You are correct. If you think you can’t, then you have already accepted and acknowledged your defeat. You have surrendered before even attempting to make a difference. You have isolated yourself under the tent of hopelessness. And you are right. Without the resources, support, and internal fortitude to convert your situation into a plan of action, you might as well give up and acknowledge “you can’t.”

We all will come to a place somewhere in life when we will acknowledge the circumstances and situation is so overwhelming that we throw up our hands in defeat and contemplate quitting. We may have knocked on doors, spent every last dollar in our name, and nothing seems to work. We have secured a ring side view of our limitations, and even hear the voices of others who have said from the beginning that you can’t, so why even try.

And they are correct. Most of us have been beaten-up spiritually, mentally, and socially by the time we reach the age of adulthood.  We have been placed into a self-imposed box of blind ignorance and accept the restrictions as normal behavior. Our human condition has been chiseled into a fragment of the God-given potential you and I have been given from birth.

But God, in HIS divine character provides us the means to overcome this world’s destructive forces. And those forces include the self-imposed restrictions we place on ourselves.

Jesus Christ is the way to a full, meaningful life.

When I reached the end of my rope as a teenager and realized the mess I produced in a short-time of trying to do it my way, I knew either this kid would end up in prison or a box six feet under unless something immediately changed; I reached out to God. I didn’t have any personal relationship with Him. I didn’t know how to pray. I didn’t know squat. But I did realize my world was collapsing and I didn’t have the knowledge, resources, nor wisdom to get me out of the mess. So, I went to the Source of Life.

Since then, I have come to realize HE is always with me and wants what is best for me. HE simply wants me to dance with HIM through the everyday details of life. He enjoys sharing HIS life with me and I with HIM.

And no, life hasn’t been easy. Life is designed to prepare you and me for eternity. The challenges, obstacles, and daily crap that happens, are the means for you and HIM to get together and learn how to dance through the maze of garbage thrown your way. But you have gained the confidence knowing you already have a seat at the table of the King. Lord Jesus has already chosen to share His authority and abundance with you. He has chosen to live in you via the Holy Spirit. When you have this faith proven over time and different circumstances, your holy swagger exudes faithfulness with humility, confidence with compassion, and serendipity with purposefulness.

You have come to know HIM and want to make HIM known to others as HE makes you more and more like HIM in character and attitude. Yes, you even come to know you can do all things through HIM. You don’t look at your limitations any longer. Instead, you look at the God-Man who took humanity’s misery and limitations upon Himself so you and I could now begin tasting eternal life as HE prepares you and I for our seat at HIS table in HIS kingdom. HE is the reason we can say “yes, I can.”

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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No

Galatians 5:24

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

A simple two letter word that most of us have great difficulty executing when needed.

                                                                        NO

How often, when we are tempted, do we immediately put on the breaks and give ourselves a quick, determined “NO?” How many times this past week did our carnal desires win out?

What is the problem with saying NO to ourselves? Are we afraid of missing out on something? Afraid to hurt someone else’s feelings? Fearful of what others may think of us? Or are we such a narcissist that we believe we are God’s best gift to mankind?

Sometimes I even shock myself to discover how little self-control I exercise in my daily walk. I want; I expect; I deserve; I don’t care; me, me, me – It’s all about me.

Whew! When the ugliness comes alive, and this old man fumigates the room, everyone needs to disappear. Otherwise, my two-year old nature surfaces and he has a very strong self-centered ego which gets him into trouble at times.

Yes, those were the younger days when I didn’t even realize I had a problem with self-control. “No” was only a word in the dictionary and reserved for two-year old children. It took a few years plus God’s Spirit to open my eyes and see the ugliness of a life without self-control.

For example, I could eat a gallon of ice cream or a large bag of chips in one sitting without any known ramifications. I could work 24 hours without sleep for days and not talk with family members or friends; just be strictly focused on what I was doing.

I did whatever I wanted without considering the consequences to myself and others. My sole purpose was to satisfy me, myself, and I.

Thankfully, the Spirit would slap some sense into me. Realizing my self-narcissistic tendency, I started a repentance process that even continues to this day. With the assistance of the Holy Spirit and His fruit of self-control, I may still struggle at times, but have learned the great joy of saying “No” to the self.

The short-term struggle now most often leads to a long-term satisfaction found only in Jesus Christ. Those of us born in the United States definitely struggle with an over-abundance of material and choices which make being a Christ-follower more challenging at times then our brothers and sisters in third-world development countries.

Yet the battle is the same for both of us. We learn to deny ourselves and allow the Spirit to work in us and through us for the glory of God. The end result is always best for you and I for the long term. “No” may be a short two-letter word, but the impact of a properly placed “No” is the beginning of allowing our Triune God to complete His purpose of producing a spiritual masterpiece in you and I. Therefore, use wisely.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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God Wants Your Friendship

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

When someone wants to be your friend, how do you normally respond?

Do you immediately welcome them into your world without hesitancy?

Or do you quickly put up a wall and slowly keep them a distance away until you are more comfortable with them?

Do you allow anyone be your friend or are you selective? What criteria do you use to evaluate any potential friend?

Do all your relationships require them to become a friend?

Jesus wants you as a friend.

Abraham was a friend of God (James 2:23).

The Lord considered Moses a friend (Exodus 33:11).

Jesus even called his twelve disciples’ friends (John 15:15).

In this Scripture Jesus is inviting you and I to eat with him. In the Jewish custom, when you had a meal with someone you are letting them and the world know you are welcoming them into your world as a friend. Friends share time and their possessions with one another. The relationship Jesus wants with you and I include being a friend.

Of course, HE is still King, Lord, and Savior which carries all the responsibility and authority along with the titles. But even a king desires friendship; not because of his riches and influence, but because He simple enjoys hanging out with you. And you enjoy Him for being himself without all the trappings of royalty, power, and fame. Is not that what true, close, and abiding friendship means?

I for one am thankful He is my friend. In fact, HE is my best friend; and also happens to be my Lord, King, and Savior – which I always respect and hold in honor in our friendship. And I am OK that He also wants to be your friend. There is more than enough of him to go around. So, if you haven’t done so yet, take up his invitation and learn what real friendship is all about. You have my recommendation. You truly will be more than pleased with the relationship.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-Present | Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Holiness

1 Thessalonians 4:7

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.


What do you picture when you think of holiness?

I recall back in my bachelorhood days an incident which help me crystalize how misguided religious and non-religious people classified holy people.

After an afternoon date with someone who was visiting the area for the first time, and before we went our separate ways, she looked at me in a stunning poise. Her words slowly out of her mouth were half being spoken to me and the other half as if she was thinking out loud. Simply paraphrasing, she was amazed that someone who was a baptized believer could have so much fun without harming anyone or doing anything semi-destructive in the process. I was dumbfounded. For me, being a recent follower of Jesus Christ was more exciting than anything I have experienced at that time and I wanted to live it out.

Yet she explained that she grew up in a household where dancing and even playing cards was considered taboo. Where “Christians” didn’t laugh and joke but carried on with serious discussions about life. That life was serious and there was no time for unproductive enjoyment.

I don’t recall my exact reply, but did mutter something about God must be the most enjoyable Being in the universe to hang around and I wanted to be like Him. Maybe I was fortunate to understand early in life that holiness wasn’t just about doing the right thing all the time like God, but being like God.

Think about it. God is holy. Therefore, holiness is the natural characteristic of God. What is God like?

From the natural inclination to express Himself in a loving manner at all times, he does ALL things from a heart of love. Yes, even when He disciplines or reproves us, He does so from a position of love. We may not think so, but like an adult looking back at their childhood, we realize that most of the time our imperfect parents disciplined us for our own good. God does the same.

His holiness includes not only doing the right things at the right time, but also being the person of love. From the position of love, He expresses His holiness with imagination, creativity, and foresight; He plans and executes his work to perfection; He laughs, cries, and even uses humor to illustrate a point. Yes, He is gentle and kind and merciful, but also spanking, chastising, and disciplining those He loves. He is the embodiment of joy and the author of faithfulness and competency.

What you soon realize is holiness contains more than just doing the right thing. It is being fully human by experiencing the divine nature of God. From the divine position, one learns to live life to the fullest without the worldly, imposed conditions. Love, joy, and peace aren’t goals to strive for but the outer expression of Him who lives in us. As we submit to His authority in our lives, we become more and more like Him in character and being. The work is not ours but his. We may put in the effort, but at the end of day we know without Him, the rock we push all day will not move without his cooperation. At the end of day, He is glorified.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-Present | Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Good and Evil

Romans 16:19
…but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

How do you determine what is good and what is evil? What is the basis of your knowledge? How do you justify your standards of judgement?

Without a real God, your basis and mine is only an opinion. Only a Being who is always naturally good has the qualifications to determine what is and is not good. Otherwise, your view is only as good as the next person.

What human do you know is always good? Always makes the good decision? Always says the good word in a time of need? Always leaves you impressed with the goodness that flows from them? I know no such person.

I know many who believe they are good. They compare themselves with others and though admit they are not perfect; they believe they are better than most.  They create standards of righteousness which they themselves cannot adhere too but expect others to live by. And when people don’t live up to their standards, they feel superior in their ability to live such a holy life.

History has demonstrated, when one loses contact with the living God, one becomes isolated and empty of the love of God. When the love of God is not freely allowed to be activated within a person, that person lives a life of darkness; searching for goodness, but never actually experiencing the power from within. The end result is evil behavior.

Evil is simply the absence of goodness. Just as cold is the absence of heat and darkness is the absence of light, so is evil the absence of good. The evil heart is absent of goodness. Goodness is the basis of God’s character; including love and joy. When God is allowed full access into a person’s inner being, His attributes become alive within one’s attitude and values. The end result is behavior which produces goodness in the world.

The Bible lists acts of goodness and evil. The history of mankind is a record of good behavior and bad behavior. The inspired writings throughout the Bible gives knowledge to mankind on how to properly relate and produce goodness in one’s actions. The source of that knowledge is God himself.

You and I can argue all day long on what is good and what is evil. Neither of us is an authority on what is good or evil. But God IS. He designed life which is an outgrowth of HIS character. Only HE has the absolute authority to determine good from evil. So, if you want to have the same knowledge and be able to sort through the garbage that our culture calls good, start by reading the Book. And likewise, ask God to give you the Spirit of discernment to separate the good from the evil, and the character to act upon that basis. And as you grow in maturity, you will come to know HIM who deserves all worship and help HIM become known to others through your good actions and words.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-Present | Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved