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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

2008 home Bible Study picnic
Our 2008 home Bible Study picnic

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"The Necessity Of Context"

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1). 

Last night members of our Small Group Bible Study, along with some invited guests, came over for a cook-out. We had a lovely evening, warm fellowship, and a great variety of homemade foods.  We also had the unpleasant scent of a freshly fertilized field across the road but fortunately it was not overpowering!  However, as we concluded our time together the heavy-duty liquid fertilizer trucks arrived, one after the other, and distributed tons of liquid animal waste on the fields all through the night.

Brooksyne and I are accustomed to walking outside within minutes of our awakening in the mornings, but the country air did not greet us with the usual fresh smell this morning.  Rather the pungent aroma of newly fertilized fields wafted in our direction. We went back inside the house, turned the air on, and decided today is a nice day to stay inside. Last night Galen, a farmer friend of ours, gave an interesting perspective as the trucks were arriving.  With a twinkle in his eye he said, "It smells like money to me!"

As we gathered for a group picture last night I recalled an announcement made when last year's photo was taken. Mike, JoAnna, Ken, Nila and their newborn son, David, were sitting on our porch swing. Eyeing the photo subjects in my camera I exclaimed, "Wow we have five people on the swing."  Joanna cryptically informed me and others gathered around them, "No, actually there are six people on the swing."  After doing a quick mental recalculation and still seeing only five people, we finally caught onto her subtle announcement that she and Mike were expecting their first baby.  Though baby Adoree' was unseen by the physical eye she was still present in last year's photo.  In last night's photo 6 month Adoree' is quite visible.

Jerel and Fran Book
I recalled last year's instance during our photo take last night and mused whether we might have any surprise announcements this year. Jerel, a retired pastor, spoke up, "I have an announcement!" The group became silent as we waited for him to speak.  With a straight face he announced, "I'm expecting..." He then paused as we all wondered what in the world he might mean. Then he concluded his partial sentence, "homemade ice-cream."  We all laughed as the ice-cream crankers returned to work and, sure enough, a few minutes later we all shared some delicious vanilla homemade ice-cream.

Homemade ice cream
Jerel's quip got me thinking. If I were to neglect finishing his sentence readers would be left to all sorts of imaginations and wrong interpretations, largely due to the "crazy" world we live in today.  It seems that it's that way with studying the Bible as well. It's very popular to quote from the Bible. Politicians do it as do entertainers; at times making it say something to fit their agenda that is contrary to the intent of Holy Scripture.  Sadly, there are also believers who misuse the Scripture to support their argument.

Hermeneutics is a big word that many won't be familiar with having to do with the proper interpretation of Scripture.  In Bible College this is a required course and a very important fundamental teaching for all who seek to be messengers of God's Holy Word. A foundational rule in hermeneutics is the importance of context.

Today's verse provides a classic illustration. I can correctly state that "The Bible says there is no God" and quote Psalm 14:1 to prove it. Of course I am taking the phrase out of context and making it mean something altogether different than intended by its author. The full verse states, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'"

Let us all seek to be diligent students and teachers of God's Word and make every effort to rightly interpret it!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, we don't want to be numbered among the foolish who build their houses on the shifting sands of this insecure world.  Instead we want to be among the wise who build our faith on Your timeless and eternal principles, including those that stretch us as they bring us into conformity to Your will for our lives.  Nations are in uproar and kingdoms fall when humanity ignores or abuses Your Holy Scriptures.  Help us to be people of integrity who approach the Scriptures with holy reverence and appropriate response as we seek to live for You.  In the name of Your Son, Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Jerel and Fran Book
Here's last year's photo of "six on the swing"!
Ken and Nila with David, Mike and Joanna are on the right side.
Joanna is holding the sixth, 
Adoree, who was born this winter in this year's photo.

Additional study resources concerning Hermeneutics and Bible interpretation:

Biblical Hermeneutics  A "statement" type presentation with commentary by Norman L. Geisler.

Biblical Hermeneutics 2 This is a listing of many resources on Bible study and interpretation. Note: For some reason this site locks up when I try to open in Firefox but opens OK in IE.

The Ten Principles of Bible Interpretation

I once saw a bumper sticker that stated, "April 1, National Atheist's Day".   Intrigued and annoyed, but not necessarily surprised, I moved my car in closer to read the small print.  It was actually a witness for the Lord, as it quoted the daily verse (Psalm 14:1).  It was then that I made the connection, "O yeah, Fool's Day is April 1"!  Now certainly there is and, at least since the time of David, has been a relatively small segment of the population that is avowedly atheist.  In my opinion atheism requires a great deal of faith, but certainly not the kind of faith I ascribe to!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

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"Word Of God Speak" or video version.

"Ancient Words"
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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