Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Tag: Psalms 42

Why Did Jesus Tell Stories?

February 12 – Today’s Readings – Mark 4-6 and Psalms 42

Did you ever wonder about the Parables and why Jesus used them so often? One hint is given to us in Mark 4:12 – “so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!” Sounds confusing doesn’t it? – Almost as if Jesus did not want people to understand the good news and turn to Him.

Now we know that Scripture interprets Scripture and we also know that in the Word, God’s heart for all nations has been plainly revealed from the beginning – just think of John 3:16 as an example. In order to get a clearer view of Mark 4:12, we then need to rely on scholars who have delved into the meanings of words more than we have. Here’s how the passage reads in The Message Paraphrase – “These are people – whose eyes are open but don’t see a thing, whose ears are open but don’t understand a word, who avoid making an about – face and getting forgiven.”

The Amplified Translation of the same verse reads – “In order that they may [indeed] look and look but not see and perceive, and may hear and hear but not grasp and comprehend, lest haply they should turn again, and it [their willful rejection of the truth] should be forgiven them.”

Is it possible that God, who knows the thoughts of people, holds back on certain truth because they are cold-hearted and have rejected His love? When Jesus spoke to the religion-filled, sin-sick world of His time, He used stories to illustrate spiritual truth. Most often when He confronted people directly, it was in dealing with hypocritical religious folk – those who thought they could work or bluff their way to heaven and those who tried to put people under the bondage of heavy religious rules.

Our society is very hard of hearing when confronted directly. This attitude is rather like a teenager putting both hands over their ears, when “mom” is speaking to them, – and yelling “LA LA LA LA LA LA”! Surely there must be a way to get through to this culture of ours. Perhaps instead of confronting the world with all the “deep truths” of the Word, we should be more like Jesus and use a simplistic approach. “Follow Me”, He said to the disciples, and they did. What they didn’t know was that they were embarking on a life-long journey of faith – a journey that would revolutionize their lives and ultimately change the world.

We too need to engage our world by simply following Jesus and letting our light shine. When the Holy Spirit prompts us, we need to be ready to share “the pearls” of God’s truth and make disciples of all nations. The real task at hand is to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit so that we know whom we are speaking to.

Questions:

1. Tell of another Gospel parable and comment on its meaning.

2. How can share Christ with people by using modern parables?

A Downcast Soul

August 12 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 46-48 and Psalms 42

“Why are you downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalms 42:5)

I’m taking a break from Jeremiah this morning to focus on a theme from Psalm 42. According to our best understanding the “soul” of man is a combination of his mind, his will and his emotions. This psalmist is expressing the different ways our “souls” can either help us or discourage us from an attitude of worship.

– The soul can “thirst” and “pant” for the presence of God – “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (Psalms 42:1)

– The soul can be exuberant and joyful – “Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation.” (Psalms 35:9)

– We can be full of thanksgiving and hopefulness and we can “pour out” our souls before God.

– Our souls can be at rest – “My soul finds rest in God alone.” (Psalms 62:1)

– On the contrary, our souls can be “downcast” or “disturbed”. “I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.” (Ps.31:9)

– “When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted (Psalms 77:2)

– Our souls can also be in “mourning”, “oppressed”, in “agony” or generally be an emotional mess – “My soul is in anguish” (Psalms 6:3)

– “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” (Psalms 119:28)

When the Psalmist speaks to his own soul, telling it to hope in God and praise Him, which part of his “inner man” is he speaking with? – It’s the spirit of the man. We are body, soul and spirit. The soul can easily rule over the body with its stress and depression or with its exuberance and worship. The body responds and follows along for the ride – turning on or off according to the soul’s whims. The spirit of a person is the God sensor – that part of you that can respond to the Spirit of God and act according to the Word regardless of the will of the soul or the lust of the flesh. You (your spirit) can tell your body and soul what to do! This is ultimately how things like divine healing take place. Your spirit says “yes” to the Word and the Spirit of God – your body and soul respond.

The next time your soul or body tells you, “I don’t feel like it”, speak to it, saying, “He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalms 23:3)

Questions:

1. Tell of another situation from Scripture where a person “took hold of” their own soul and made it obey God.
2. Tell of a situation where you had to “get a grip” of your soul in order to get the victory in Christ.

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