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The Lord is My Shepherd

One vital part of the teaching program of most churches is missing: that of teaching believers how to enjoy their Bible. Most seem content to have followers in the Sunday service as spectators to a show plus some points to help them in the coming week, and don’t forget to come next Sunday! I want to demonstrate how easy it is to get daily encouragement from reading your own Bible.

Possibly the most well-known and constantly used passage is Psalm 23, written by David. It is almost universally used at funerals, the hymn versions are also favorites, and I would guess a majority of church attendees could recite it from memory. It is really best discussed at Easter, as it follows Psalm 22, the psalm of the Cross. I even found my notes when I preached on verse 1 on Palm Sunday in 1965 and 1982 (yes, Pete and Repeat!). Let’s use it to show how to enjoy your Bible without a college degree! The first suggestion is this: simply read what is written!

Psalm 23 1611 KJV
Psalm 23 from the 1611 KJV
“The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1a). It is interesting that most of the popular translations and paraphrases do not attempt to change the words of this phrase from the original 1611 edition of the King James Version. I suspect this is because the phrase is so ingrained in English speech and literature. There are no long words here; just five simple words that everyone can understand.

Notice first that the statement is about a relationship between “The Lord” and “me,” that is you, the reader. And this relationship continues through the six verses of the psalm. “He makes me…,” “he leads me…,” “he restores my…,” and so on. Underline the me’s, the my’s, the I’s. Put a circle around “The Lord,” the he’s, the thy’s, the thou’s (or you’s and your’s, depending on your translation). As D.L. Moody said, “Never buy a Bible you can’t write on.” Continue reading

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The Impact of Pentecost summary

I have been following the impact of the Day of Pentecost on the early days of the new Pentecostal church under the title “Such as I have give I you.” I have covered Acts chapters 1-6, the period before the church looked beyond the borders of Jerusalem, and it will help you to review these with me using the key verses that I have taught.

beggingIn writing about the early church, E.W. Kenyon gave a viewpoint that was not taught to me in ministerial training. “Acts was written by Luke between 63 and 65 AD. It is a history of the first thirty-three years of Christ at the right hand of the Father. It is a sample of the supernatural life of the sons of God carrying out the will of their seated Lord. In is the only unfinished book in New Testament… The Book of Acts is a record of the Holy Spirit’s taking Jesus’ place on the earth for thirty-three years. It is a revelation of God in the infant body of the New Creation.” (Advanced Bible Studies [1930s], Lesson 27.)

Just weeks before the Day of Pentecost, the apostles had heard heard the Great Commission from the lips of Jesus. “Go therefore and make disciples [learners] of all nations …” (Matthew 28:19). They were to “make” disciples of Jesus even though he would not be present. Peter’s recounting of the events over the past few months brought about 3,000 new disciples on that day. The twelve apostles then started to disciple the new believers, who “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, [and] to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42 ESV). Continue reading