Welcome to Day 1519 of our Wisdom-Trek, and thank you for joining me.
This is Guthrie Chamberlain, Your Guide to Wisdom
Bible Study – Prayer and Plausible Interpretation – Meditation Monday
Wisdom – the final frontier to true knowledge. Welcome to Wisdom-Trek where our mission is to create a legacy of wisdom, to seek out discernment and insights, and to boldly grow where few have chosen to grow before.
Hello, my friend, I am Guthrie Chamberlain, your captain on our journey to increase wisdom and create a living legacy. Thank you for joining us today as we explore wisdom on our 2nd millennium of podcasts. This is Day 1519 of our trek, and it is time for Meditation Monday. Taking time to relax, refocus, and reprioritize our lives is crucial in order to create a living legacy.
For you, it may just be time alone for quiet reflection. You may utilize structured meditation practices. In my life, meditation includes reading and reflecting on God’s Word and praying. It is a time to renew my mind, refocus on what is most important, and make sure that I am nurturing my soul, mind, and body. As you come along with me on our trek each Meditation Monday, it is my hope and prayer that you, too, will experience a time for reflection and renewing of your mind.
We are continuing our series this week on Meditation Monday as we focus on Mastering Bible Study through a series of brief insights from Hebrew Scholar, Dr. Michael S. Heiser. Our current insights are focusing on accurately interpreting the Bible. Today let us meditate on…
Bible Study – Prayer and Plausible Interpretation
· Insight Thirty-Seven: Prayer Doesn’t Guarantee Your Interpretation Is Accurate
God is not a vending machine. He is not the genie of all genies in covenant with his people to grant their every wish. No mature Christian, of course, would ever think of God in such terms. We know that God does not always give us what we ask for in prayer. We trust that God has good reasons for such denials. Paul asked the Lord to rid him of the mysterious “thorn in the flesh” three times, but the answer was no (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Even Jesus was refused when he asked God to deliver him from death on the cross if it was God’s will.
Upon reflection, this pill isn’t so hard to swallow. Perhaps the thing we so desperately want wouldn’t be good for us. Perhaps our motives aren’t entirely upright. Even if they are, maybe God has something better planned. These reasons are hard to fathom, though, when we ask God to illuminate our mind to understand Scripture. Why wouldn’t God want that?
Of course, God wants us to understand the Bible rightly. He desires our understanding as he expects us to kindly treat our spouse, tell someone the gospel, or meet someone’s emotional or financial need when it’s in our power to do so (Proverbs 3:27). But all of these spiritual endeavors depend in part upon our own will, discernment, and ability. Bible study is no exception.
This is transparently obvious when you think about it. We know from their writings that Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley prayed that they would adequately understand Scripture and believed God had answered that prayer. Yet these famous theologians came to dramatically different conclusions on many topics and in many passages. For example, John Calvin is renowned for his insistence that the salvation of individual believers was predestinated, an idea Wesley rejected. Luther’s judgment that James’s book didn’t belong in the New Testament would have drawn objections from the rest of these theologians.
While it’s certainly appropriate to ask God to guide our study, it’s our responsibility to develop skill and experience in studying Scripture. Prayer is no cover for either meager effort or failure to address our own inadequacies as students. Most Bible students accept that until they’re in the heat of a theological joust or feel the urge to explain why their church is better than someone else’s. Resist the temptation to believe that you prayed yourself correct or to say to yourself, “but for answered prayer, I might be mistaken.” Hone your skills and ask God to help you do the best you can.
· Insight Thirty-Eight: All Interpretations Are Not Equally Plausible
As a Hebrew Bible scholar with many years of in-depth study, Dr. Heiser shares this somewhat humorous story…“It’s time for a confession. I’m lethal to small group Bible studies. Honestly, I don’t try to be. I don’t sit there waiting to pounce on a defective interpretation. I pray for invisibility. Trust me; I’m not opposed to ‘normal folks’ sharing their impressions about something they’ve read in the Bible. Scholars don’t own that space. It does my heart good to see people engaged over Scripture, even if I know their conclusions are wide of the mark. But sooner or later, somebody (usually my wife) notices I’m there and asks me what I think. Oh well. There’s always another small group.”
Dr. Heiser continues, “Offering my two cents is uncomfortable because I can’t bring myself to be dishonest about Scripture. As a biblical scholar, I realize that the scriptural standard for truthfulness doesn’t eliminate tact or compel exhaustive critique in this situation. But every effort at diplomacy seems to end in spilling the beans that not all interpretations are equally plausible. Whether others let on or not, I instinctively know that something I’ve said just consigned one or more viewpoints to the dustbin of defectiveness.”
We’re all wrong at some point in our understanding of Scripture. It’s unavoidable. Yet I’ve seen this indisputable truth produce disconcerting responses. For example, some people get defensive. They cherish their viewpoint so much that it distorts clear thinking. Some people presume that since no human knows everything, any idea that exists is possible. Not true. The word “possible” is necessarily held in check by the word “plausible.” They are not interchangeable. It strokes our ego to think we can do or be anything and that all our thoughts deserve careful consideration, but the truth is that we can’t and they don’t. Yes. I suppose it’s “possible” that I could be an NFL quarterback next year. The year after that, it’s “possible” that I’ll win a Grammy for my debut rap album. But these possibilities are so absurd that they are not at all plausible.
Many people get discouraged if they’re mistaken. This is more common. Don’t let the inescapable reality of imperfection paralyze you from studying the Bible. As the saying goes (most often attributed to Voltaire), “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Good but imperfect Bible study is better than no Bible study. God doesn’t expect perfection in our study of Scripture. He expects perseverance.
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
That is a wrap for today’s meditation. Next week we will continue our trek on Meditation Monday as we take time to reflect on what is most important in creating our living legacy. On tomorrow’s trek, we will explore another wisdom quote. This 3-minute wisdom supplement will assist you in becoming healthy, wealthy, and wise each day. Thank you for joining me on this trek called life. Encourage your friends and family to join us and then come along tomorrow for another day of our Wisdom-Trek, Creating a Legacy.
If you would like to listen to any of the past 1518 daily treks or read the daily Journal, they are available at Wisdom-Trek.com. I encourage you to subscribe to Wisdom-Trek on your favorite podcast player so that each day will be downloaded to you automatically.
Thank you for allowing me to be your guide, mentor, and, most of all, your friend as I serve you through the Wisdom-Trek podcast and journal.
As we take this trek together, let us always:
- Live Abundantly (Fully)
- Love Unconditionally
- Listen Intentionally
- Learn Continuously
- Lend to others Generously
- Lead with Integrity
- Leave a Living Legacy Each Day
I am Guthrie Chamberlain reminding you to Keep Moving Forward, Enjoy Your Journey, and Create a Great Day Everyday! See you tomorrow!