After sending out my blog on Isa 29 yesterday, I thought about how much reading material we are sending out lately, considering the Reading Through the Bible program as well. Then I thought about how beneficial it is to the mind to be a reader.
And then I found this article today. Never a coincidence:
Studies have also shown that excessive usage [of smart phones] leads to less sleep, lower self-esteem, shorter attention spans, memory loss, a lack of creativity, and decreased analytical skills.
The paradox is that the benefits reading provides are antithetical to the effects smartphones impose, yet we care more for the latter.
For starters, reading reduces stress, helps slow down the process of memory loss, contributes to a healthy night's sleep, and most importantly, increases empathy.
Analysis has also shown that those who read are also more likely to remain civic-minded and engaged in democracy.
In one of the most comprehensive studies on reading by the National Endowment for the Arts, research showed that reading contributed directly to good citizenship.
Proficient readers are twice as likely to participate in volunteer work, are more likely to vote, and are more likely to maintain a greater curiosity surrounding current events.
NEA made it clear that while the study can't prove there's causation, the interest group is positive there's a correlation:
"With lower levels of reading and writing ability, people do less well in the job market. Poor reading skills correlate heavily with lack of employment, lower wages, and fewer opportunities for advancement. Significantly worse reading skills are found among prisoners than in the general adult population. And deficient readers are less likely to become active in civic and cultural life, most notably in volunteerism and voting."
It's not that we care so much about job advancement, though such things are blessings, it is the effect upon the mind. It is clear that technology has isolated us from one another. It seems that it also makes us dumber and less able to concentrate. Now, if you are not a reader, to begin to become one is difficult at the beginning. Like anything that is a skill, proficiency takes time and repetition. And be sure to know that God doesn’t command it, so it is up to you and between God and yourself.
And when it comes to your Bible study, your reading and hearing in concentration, the same is true that there are distractions all around you and other things demanding your time, and you may conclude that you don’t have time. Why doesn’t God always make it easy for us to set aside time for His word and for Him in prayer? It reveals something to you when it is inconvenient or even down-right difficult for you to set aside time for Him. How much do you truly desire it? Does God reveal to you that you are a casual worshipper of Him and have a casual desire for His word? Or, does He reveal to you that you vivaciously desire it?
Upon Christ’s shoulders was the responsibility to be the faithful servant of Yavah. Not one man in all of history was able to do it besides Him.
Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, the chosen nation of Israel; no one was able to be perfectly faithful to God, but Jesus Christ was.
MAR 1:9 And it came about in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
MAR 1:10 And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;
MAR 1:11 and a voice came out of the heavens: "Thou art My beloved Son [Psa 2], in Thee I am well-pleased [Isa 42]."
MAR 1:12 And immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness.
MAR 1:13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.
The current opinion of the Messiah concerning Israel when He began His ministry is that it was rotten from within.
The state of public opinion concerning the Messianic expectations as set forth in the Gospels is fully confirmed by the preceding and contemporary Jewish literature. In all of them the Messianic kingdom, or kingdom of God, is represented as an earthly paradise of the Jews, as a kingdom of this world, with Jerusalem for its capital. It was this popular idol of a pseudo-Messiah with which Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, when he showed the kingdoms of the world; well knowing that if he could convert Him to this carnal creed, and induce Him to abuse His miraculous power for selfish gratification, vain ostentation, and secular ambition, he would most effectually defeat the scheme of redemption.
If Jesus would make His kingdom of the earth, the redemption of mankind would be lost.
As Jesus told Pilate, the kingdom that He built is not of this world. While it is true that He will have an earthly kingdom for a thousand years upon His second coming in order to fulfill His promise to Abraham, that kingdom will come to an end. His kingdom is eternal and not of this world. He came into this world to call us out of it.
Earthly kingdoms are rotten within, and eventually that rottenness exposes itself.
A kingdom had to be built that was eternal, righteous, and holy.
Unredeemed man would destroy any given kingdom just like they destroyed the perfect Garden of Eden and their own perfect bodies.
The Sadducees and Pharisees showed themselves to be clean, holy, and upright on the outside, while within they were rotten.
Jesus was the only teacher in Israel who saw through the hypocritical mask to the rotten heart. The other teachers only added to the volumes of rubbish that hid the truth, but the gospels have torn away them all, and restored and regenerated humanity and are the light and life of the civilized world to this day.
All of Jesus’ words were verified by deeds. Example is stronger than precept.
The wisest sayings remain powerless until they are incarnate in a living person. It is the life which is the light of men. In purity of doctrine and holiness of character combined in perfect harmony, Jesus stands alone. He breathed a fresh life from heaven into His and all subsequent ages. He is the author of a new moral creation.
Jesus knew more of the course of history and of the human heart than all the sages and legislators before and after Him. These men ask Him a silly question:
First the context:
JOH 12:27 "Now My soul has become troubled [tarasso = stirred up or agitated); and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
His temptation to be disheartened is prophesied:
ISA 42:4 "He will not be disheartened or crushed,
ISA 49:4 But I said, "I have toiled in vain,
I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity;
JOH 12:28 "Father, glorify Thy name." There came therefore a voice out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."
JOH 12:29 The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard it, were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, "An angel has spoken to Him."
JOH 12:30 Jesus answered and said, "This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.
JOH 12:31 "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out.
JOH 12:32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."
JOH 12:33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.
Here is the silly question:
JOH 12:34 The multitude therefore answered Him, "We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this Son of Man?"
Jesus, knowing, then reveals their lack of understanding and answers, not their question, but the emptiness of their hearts.
JOH 12:35 Jesus therefore said to them, "For a little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness may not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.
JOH 12:36 "While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light."
“In You I am well-pleased” is ISA 42:1 = His calling will be fulfilled as the suffering Servant.
He suffered because He was righteous, but His greatest suffering was due to the fact that He paid our debt, which involved judgment and judgment means suffering. Judgment for the sins of the world would mean the deepest, unknowable suffering. Yet without it, no man could be redeemed.
In Isa 41 God asks us to behold the idols in the world and behold the idol worshippers, and then God says to us, behold My Servant.
What do idols do for people? They only take and take and give nothing but grief in return. “See them,” says God, “and now see My Servant in whom My soul delights.”
Martin Luther was an idol worshipper, though a monk and filled with religious zeal. His belief in salvation by works made him a worshipper of himself. Wanting to get rid of him, the abbot of the monastery sent him to teach at the University of Wittenberg. In November of 1515 he began to expound on Paul’s Epistle to the Romans to his students. As he prepared his lectures, he came more and more to grasp the crucial character of Paul’s teaching about justification by faith. When at last he understood what Paul was getting at, and applied it to himself, then, he says:
“I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of the Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before ‘the righteousness of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul (ROM 1:17 "But the righteous man shall live by faith.") became to me a gateway to heaven.” [Luther]