Is the desire to be famous wrong for Christians to have?
What does it say about our hearts?
“I want to be famous so that I can use MY INFLUENCE for the Lord.”
This sounds good and noble on the onset but focus on the statement “so I can use MY INFLUENCE for the Lord.”
It is not wrong to use one’s influence for kingdom purposes but desires like these need to be filtered at the heart level. Are we really bent on making the Lord known or are we merely using Him as a vehicle for us to be known? Are we forgetting the fact that God is God and if He wants to MAKE HIMSELF KNOWN, He can do so? He can use people like you and me, but that is His discretion. We cannot command Him and say “God, MAKE ME FAMOUS, so I can make you known.”
Who are we to dictate upon God, OUR STRATEGY? Is He not God who can do all things and knows all things?
After several years of studying the Bible inductively in BSF and being reared by the expository preaching at GCF, I still find myself in awe and overwhelmed with God’s Word. We can never settle with what we already know. In school (like I have shared with a lot of you), there are a lot of things I needed to unlearn and that is very humbling.
Upon entering seminary, we were told that we’ll have to put off the pre-conditioning we’ve grown with. Now that doesn’t mean that our previous understanding of the Bible is entirely bad or wrong. There’s just that reality that there are certain positions we’ve come to accept as true but when you get to the nitty gritty of the text, you’ll be surprised that the original intended meaning isn’t so similar with how a lot of people have been interpreting it today. We have to keep in mind that when people read and interpret the Bible, biases come along with it–intentionally or unintentionally. These biases may have been ingrained in us through culture, education and the church.
A common mistake we make is taking one verse alone and interpreting it without the passages before and after. There’s nothing wrong with using verses from the Bible and making them a personal, motivational reminder. However, we have to make sure that we know the context of the passage and the book. For example, a verse that is often misused is Matthew 18:20:
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
When you look at this verse, it does look very encouraging in terms of prayer. So many times, I’ve heard this recited in sermons and prayer gatherings. The passage in Matthew however, talks about dealing with sin or conflict in the church. It discusses rebuking a fellow believer in private about the sin.
If the fellow believer takes heed, then “you have won him over”–>this phrase can also take on so many meanings. “Won him over” meaning you won the argument or “won him over” meaning you have won his confidence? In the literal translation from Greek to English, it reads “you gained your fellow believer.” So the “winning the argument” angle is not what the passage meant.
This is just an example of the many verses taken out of context. I would love to share more but each verse might require a separate blog entry each. 😀
LEVELING UP MY HERMENEUTICS SKILLS
I’m amazed that with just a few verses, you can unpack a ton of things. Context. Main clause. Subordinate clauses. Key words. The words in the original language. Did the author use the word the same way we use it today? The intended audience—who were they? Where were they located? What was life like for them at that time? So many questions. We were doing termal, grammatical, literary and contextual analysis yesterday when my classmate David told me “Nasa exegete talaga yung trabaho no? Yung exegete yung mag-tatanong, siya din hahanap ng sagot sa text.”
And it made me think, as one person I can only ask so many questions. I cannot ask all the possible questions that may arise from the text and THAT IS HUMBLING. For me, it means that as a community of believers studying the Bible, team work is essential. One cannot do it alone. Our pastors, before they preach their sermon, present their outline and manuscript to a group of other pastors and church leaders and they discuss the text, the interpretation and what it means for us in the present day. In school, I like that we are also usually in groups when we do our Bible exercises for it broadens the way we observe and interact with the text, allowing us to see things from a different perspective.
There’s still more for me to learn and unpack. The Bible is truly a wonderful book and our God–though He is infinite and incomprehensible is definitely KNOWABLE.
God bless you! Until the next seminary diary…when I finish with my reading assignments! 🙂
Sometimes, the simplest Bible study methods bring forth the most enriching one-on-one meetings with the Lord. I have been using the SPECS/SPECK method for about two years now and even if I’ve been going through BSF, inductive study and homiletics, this method never fails to let God’s Word speak where and when I need it most. SPECS/SPECK is an acrononym for:
Sin/s to avoid
Sin/s to avoid
Promise/s to claim
Promise/s to claim
Example/s to follow
Example/s to follow
Command/s to obey
Command/s to obey
Stumbling blocks (or others use Significant Truth)
Knowledge about God
When you are studying a verse (better yet, a passage) during your quiet time, try using this method and as always, begin with prayer—ask God to speak to you through His Word. If there are sins you need to be confronted with, if there are examples you need to follow in your own life. Be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading. At times, personal Bible study can bring about discomfort and in my experience, that usually means that there is something being challenged in me—an area of compromise, a sin I need to confess and repent from or it could be a challenge to obey and trust Him more.
My passage for today is 1 Kings 11, which talks about Solomon’s downward spiral because he allowed himself to be led astray by his pagan wives. Imagine, the man deemed the wisest king of Israel, backsliding because of the compromises he allowed into his life? My initial reading of the passage made me notice the compromises he made:
Intermarriage for political alliances
Trusting in these alliances instead of depending on God
Infidelity to the Lord
Not using the godly wisdom made available to him to make wise, God-glorifying choices
Now let’s use the SPECK method:
SINS TO AVOID
Solomon intermarried with nations God prohibited (a clear act of disobedience)
Solomon loved many (foreign) women
Solomon let his wives lead him astray
His heart turned after other gods (infidelity)
His heart was not FULLY DEVOTED TO THE LORD HIS GOD
Did evil in the eyes of the Lord
Did not follow the Lord COMPLETELY
PROMISES TO CLAIM
I don’t want to claim these promises as mine. Although I know that the Lord has many promises in the Bible for those who put their faith in Him, we also have to be aware that some promises in the Bible are given to SPECIFIC PEOPLE MENTIONED in the narrative. Say for example, we cannot claim the promise given to Abraham “I will make you the Father of many nations.” That promise was SPECIFICALLY given to him.
In this passage, I see God fulfilling His promises on the account of David, even if Solomon spiraled downward.
There were still two tribes left for David
Solomon reigned until his death
Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) succeeded him as king
Promises to Jeroboam:
If you do whatever I command you and obey, do what is right in my eyes, I will build an enduring dynasty, I will give Israel to you.
EXAMPLES TO FOLLOW
Despite David’s sins, God remembered him and thought of him dearly because he was after God’s heart
David obeyed God’s commands and decrees (v. 34-36)
COMMANDS TO OBEY
Walk in obedience, do what is right in My (God’s) eyes, obey My (God’s) decrees and commands as David did
KNOWLEDGE ABOUT GOD
The Lord remembers and rewards the faithfulness of his servants (David)
The Lord was still very gracious to Solomon (on the account of David) despite his disobedience and idolatry and did not take the kingdom away from him
The Lord appeared to Solomon TWICE. MINDBLOWN. So Solomon had THAT PRIVILEGE, yet he still went astray.
The Lord can raise up LEADERS AND ADVERSARIES. Jeroboam did not have Solomon’s noble birth, yet God made him a king. God can thward systems that have been put into place just because HE IS GOD, HE IS SOVEREIGN AND HIS PLANS WILL PREVAIL.
The Lord is MERCIFUL. He could have killed Solomon or punished him severely but the guy still reigned until his death. I wonder if Solomon ever repented when he was faced with his adversaries. Did he call out to God?
PRAYER: Lord, I pray that you would always remind me to rely on you and not on my own strength and capabilities. Seek my heart Lord, and see any offensive way in me. Bring to mind compromises that I need to confess and repent from. Help me to JOYFULLY OBEY YOUR COMMANDS, to be FAITHFUL and like David, RUN AFTER YOUR HEART. Amen.
The church in Pergamum (modern-day Bergama) was the third to receive a letter in the Book of Revelation. While they were commended for staying true to Jesus, they were rebuked for some of them followed false teachings.
Pergamum/Pergamon was a wealthy city that was known for its healing center–the Asclepion, its library–which boasted of 200,000 volumes written on costly parchment (sheep skin) and its temples dedicated to the Emperor Trajan, Athena and Zeus.
The church in Thyatira was commended for good deeds, faith, love, service and perseverance. However, it was rebuked for being tolerant of Jezebel, a false prophetess who led some believers astray. She was given time to repent of her immorality but refused. Jesus warned that she would be cast on a bed of suffering along with those who commit adultery with her.
On with the rest of our Greece tour! In this video we go around Thessaloniki, visit the Baptistery of St. Lydia, the Archaeological Site of Philippi and end our day at Kavala/Neapolis where Paul was said to have first set foot in Europe after a Macedonian man appeared to him in a vision telling him to “Come over to Macedonia and help us!”
What leadership lessons can we pick up from Moses and Aaron as they were challenged and defied by the people entrusted to them?
Numbers 16 talks about Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Korah was a leader from the Kohathite clan while Dathan and Abiram were from the Tribe of Reuben. They connived and rose up against Moses, bringing together with them 250 other leaders from the Israelite tribes. Watch to see what principles you can learn from both sides.