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Psalm 1 December 14, 2018

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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I’ve recently started reading through the Psalms with the aid of a commentary by Charles Spurgeon. I should note that I’ve previously read through the Psalms. I hope to acquire a deeper appreciation for the range of emotions that are expressed in this book – along with a deeper understanding of God Himself and His relationship with His creation.

I plan to blog about this experience as I read through both the book and Spurgeon’s commentary. Each post will generally correspond to a specific Psalm (exceptions will be made for longer Psalms).

For starters, here are my thoughts on Psalm 1.

Summary: In this passage, the psalmist draws a sharp contrast between two parties.

The first party consists of those whom God regards as being in a right relationship with Him. These “lucky bums” consistently strive to obey His commandments, bringing glory to His name – as He succors them.

The second party consists of those whom God does not regard as being in a right relationship with Him. Since they are useless in His eyes, He will subject them to eternal punishment.

Thoughts: In verse 2, the psalmist commends those who consistently strive to obey God’s commandments. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

And yet, in David’s day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses! How much more, then, should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all our houses! But, alas, what ill-treatment is given to this angel from heaven! We are not all Berean searchers of the Scriptures.

This passage should challenge us, as believers, to ponder the following questions. Do we actually block off time to study Scripture on a daily basis? If so, do we ponder what we have read throughout the day? Is our daily study of Scripture challenging certain facets of our relationship with God (and others)? How can we (painfully) put Scripture into practice? How can we maintain our focus on God and His commandments in the face of myriad distractions? This psalm sets a high bar for the modern-day believer, and we would do well to wrestle with the challenge of clearing it.

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The Temptation of Jesus October 27, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 4:1-11.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness. Satan then attempts to tempt Him by:

  • encouraging Him to turn stones into bread – since He is the omnipotent Son of God
  • encouraging Him to leap from the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem – since Psalm 91:11-12 states that He can rely on God to protect Him
  • offering Him the entirety of worldly wealth – if He will worship him.

Yet Jesus rejects these temptations by citing the following passages from Scripture:

  • Deuteronomy 8:3 – where God asserts that man obtains true life from His words
  • Deuteronomy 6:16 – where God warns the Jews in the desert against testing Him
  • Deuteronomy 6:13 – where God warns the Jews in the desert against idolatry.

At this point, Satan withdraws to plan further assaults on Jesus, while angels arrive to refresh Him.

Thoughts: This is a challenging passage, as it forces us to assess the truth of the following statements:

  • since Christ is fully human, it is possible for Him to sin
  • since Christ is fully divine, it is not possible for Him to sin.

After contemplating this passage, I think that as believers, we readily accept at least certain aspects of the humanity of Christ. For example, we have little difficulty assuming that His earthly sojourn was marked by:

  • hunger
  • thirst
  • physical pain
  • mental anguish.

Yet this passage – and His struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane – raises the following question: was it possible for Christ to commit a sin during His earthly sojourn? If not, then does this passage depict a legitimate struggle between Christ and Satan? Perhaps this passage inspired numerous heresies that attempted to explain it. If so, then we need wisdom and strength from the Holy Spirit to determine what God is saying to us in this passage and how we should respond to Him in light of it.

Here, we see that Christ responds to the temptations of Satan by quoting from the Old Testament. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

It will do us no good if it only lies still in our houses. We must be actually familiar with its contents, and have its texts stored in our memories and minds.
Knowledge of the Bible never comes by intuition; it can only be got by hard, regular, daily, attentive, wakeful reading. Do we grudge the time and trouble this will cost us? If we do we are not yet fit for the kingdom of God.

This passage spurred me to consider my responses to temptations. In those instances, I find that I recite statements that align with specific Biblical passages – i.e. while I do not quote from Scripture, my thought reflects the spirit of specific passages. Now I do wonder if I should quote from Scripture in those instances. Perhaps such quotations would constitute a stronger response to Satan when he tempts me, as that would demonstrate the firmness of my devotion to God and His words.