Bible Study – Cherish the Knowns, Work on the Unknowns

Three unknowns

Three unknowns

Since I’ve started a bit of “birding” in the backyard, I’m discovering just how many unknowns I have. Here are three unknowns that decided to get a bite to eat at the same time. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable from my Boy Scout days (which I admit was quite a while ago), but, I’ve gone beyond my knowledge level of the cardinals, mockingbirds, and bluebirds – and realized my ignorance.

When I say “gone beyond”, though, I don’t mean I’ve forgotten them. I have learned that we have the Northern Cardinals, Northern Mockingbirds, and Eastern Bluebirds. But, whether I knew the more specific name or not, the bright red of the male cardinals will always make them a favorite of mine. The songs of the mockingbirds are beautiful, and the blue of the bluebirds is amazing.

It reminded me of Bible Study. As we’ve heard and read the Bible through the years, we’ve probably had more exposure to the well known, and appropriately well loved, verses and passages – “For God so loved the world..”, “The Lord is my Shepherd…”, the Christmas and Easter stories, etc. But, it’s also probable that even though they are familiar, the Holy Spirit has given us additional insight, understanding, and application of these passages at different times. By continuing to study and listen, we learn more about what we thought we knew completely.

And, if we expand what we read and hear to include the whole Bible, we learn more about our glorious God. Things we may have had in the back of our mind become clearer because there is wisdom throughout the entire Bible.

Thanks to help from some of you, I’ve learned of the Pine Siskin and the Chipping Sparrow, and now can enjoy my knowledge of them also. But, the red of the male cardinal will always be a favorite and the blue of the bluebird will always be amazing. As we search the Scriptures, we will discover more verses that will become cherished – but we will always rejoice and be comforted and amazed that “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16 NKJV

Keep the Paths of Righteousness Open, for His Name’s Sake

English: Back Walk, Wymondham. Looking east al...

“The way to keep a path open is to walk on it”. When you first read this proverb, like many of them (including some in the Book of Proverbs) it seems obvious and not very deep. Of course the way to keep a path open is to walk on it – what’s so significant about that? The significance is not in the statement of fact, but in our reaction to it – from our thoughts on what it means in relation to our lives.

When I first heard this, I thought of a path through tall grass along the edge of a lake. Here and there the path veers off to a clear fishing spot on the bank. Over time if you don’t walk on it and keep it open, it will become covered with grass, weeds and thorns. At some point, trees can even start covering up the clear spots.

Several other “paths” in life came to mind:  The path between me and God; The path between me and my wife and family; The path between my house and the Church; The path between me and my Brothers and Sisters in Christ; The path of service; The path of obedience; The paths of righteousness.

All of these paths must be travelled constantly to keep them open. If we neglect them they can become covered in weeds and thorns, making them more difficult to walk. If we neglect them too long we may find that trees have grown up and obscured the paths completely.

The mention of the “paths of righteousness” is meant to bring to mind the 23rd Psalm: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake” (v3). I believe that tells us why we are to continue walking these paths to keep them open. Not just because they’re “good” things to do, but we are to keep them open for God’s name’s sake. All that we do should bring glory to God. Allowing weeds, thorns and trees to cover a path we should be walking doesn’t bring glory to Him, especially if it is the path between us and God.

The Fragrance of Christ – Part 2

English: Perfume burners lampes Bergers França...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“But, thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 ESV

Last week I used this verse in reference to the fragrance of four-o’clocks in the garden. As I thought more about it, another fragrance came to mind – women’s perfume.

Not all women’s perfume is pleasingly fragrant to me. Some is too strong (or applied too heavily) and is overpowering. Some has what I consider a strange smell – but that’s just a matter of taste.

But, I do have a favorite perfume that other women wear (other women being all who are not my wife, Sharon). My favorite perfume that other women wear is any one that reminds me of Sharon. If their perfume is one that Sharon uses, the fragrance takes my mind immediately to her.

That seems to be the way to spread the fragrance of Christ. Our actions and words should remind others of Jesus and take their minds immediately to Him.

Unless the Lord Builds the House, or Grows the Figs

Fig Preserves

We finally found success. Sharon was able to make strawberry-fig preserves this year.

I’m not sure how long we’ve had the tree but it’s been a while. There were 2 or 3 winters that were cold enough to kill it back and it would start over. The last few years there haven’t been enough figs at one time to gather (but I did munch on them as I walked by the tree).

Fig Tree – Fruitful after all these years

Here’s the tree that finally bore the good crop this year. It’s still relatively young, so hopefully we can look forward to many more years of figs.

I guess the lesson is to be patient – continue working with your trees (or your Bible Study, or your ministries, or your prayer life, or yourself, etc.) and hope and plan for the best. And, of course, rely on God’s help, because nothing will be successful without Him.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Psalms 127:1 ESV