Calvin on the Book of Psalms

Calvin on the Book of Psalms

John Calvin, the sixteenth century pastor-theologian in Geneva, known most often for his theological treatise, The Institutes for the Christian Religion, should equally be remembered for his commentaries on almost every book of the Bible. As I finish an overview of the book of Psalms at my church, consider how Calvin introduced his commentary on this penetrating part of Scripture: The wearied and resplendid riches which are contained it this treasury it is no easy matter to express in words; so much so, that I well know that whatever I shall be able to say will be far from approaching the excellence of the subject. But as it is better to give to my readers some taste, however small, of the wonderful advantages they will derive from the study of this book, than to be entirely silent on the point, I may be permitted briefly to advert to a matter, the greatness of which does not admit of being fully unfolded.   I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.   The other parts of Scripture contain the commandments which God enjoined his servants to announce to us. But here the prophets themselves, seeing they are exhibited to...
Preparing for Sunday – Psalms, Part 2

Preparing for Sunday – Psalms, Part 2

Below is the weekly post our church produces to help prepare our congregation for the Sunday morning gathering. Each summer, I take time to preach overview sermons through the Old Testament. We began last week in Psalms. This week we’ll look at a few more significant take-aways from this beautiful book. For those who live in the Kansas City metro area, we invite you to come to Summit Woods Baptist Church at 10:30 am. Carefully Think Last week we considered the book of Psalms as a whole. This week we will focus on how the Psalms affects our faith in God. Look through several headings of several psalms in each of the five sections of the book. List some of the musical terms that you see referred to (i.e.., “to the choirmaster,” “maskil,” “mahalat,” etc.). While it is difficult (if not impossible) to know what these refer to specifically, what do they indicate about the importance of music and how these psalms were to be played? Read through the following psalms: 7, 35, 58, 69, 85, 109, 137. What does the psalmist say about his enemies? Why does this not contradict the gospel of Jesus in the New Testament? Or does it? If you think so, explain. Read through the following psalms: 2, 8, 22, 69, 110. These are often referred to as Messianic psalms; those that speak of the coming of the Messiah. What characteristics do you learn about the Messiah? What indicators are there in each passage that this refers to the future Messiah and not someone else? Prayerfully Meditate  If the book of Psalms is an ancient...
Preparing for Sunday – Matthew 13:44-52

Preparing for Sunday – Matthew 13:44-52

Carefully Think Read Matthew 13:44-52 List the parables described here. What are the similarities between each of the parables? What are the differences? What is the emphasis of the first two parables that do not have a stated explanation? What is the emphasis of the thrid parable that is explained? What are the new and old things that Jesus is referring to in the last parable (vv 51-52)? How is this final parable (vv 51-52) a good summary of the three parables before it? Of all the parables in chapter 13? Prayerfully Meditate How do you see your participation in God’s kingdom similar to the man who found the hidden treasure and the merchant who discovered the valuable pearl? The disciples could identify themselves with the parables (v 51). How do you personally identifiy with each of these parables? What is it about the kingdom of God that you find overwhelmingly, joyfully, compelling that you would give up everything to have it? How do you cultivate and maintain such a compelling joy in the things related to God’s kingdom? Intentionally Act Do you find anything in your life distracting you from the deepest joy in the kingdom of God? How can you focus your heart on the kingdom this week? What will you do? How will you respond? How could you use this passage as a means to encourage someone else? Who would that be in your life? Make plans in your heart and schedule to do that this week. Pray for those who will be in attendance Sunday do not love God’s kingdom like the man who finds...
Preparing for Sunday – Matthew 13:24-30, 36-44

Preparing for Sunday – Matthew 13:24-30, 36-44

For those who will be attending Summit Woods Baptist Church this Sunday, here are a few ways you could begin preparing your heart for our gathering to hear God’s Word: Carefully Think Read Matthew 13:24-30, 33-36. Make a list that compares the telling of the parable (13:24-33) and the explanation of the parable (13:36-43). List things like the setting of both sections, the characters involved and what they refer to, etc. In one sentence, how would you summarize the main idea of this parable? How does this parable speak to the situation that Jesus has been facing with the fierce opposition surrounding him (Matthew 11-12)? When does Jesus say that expressions of sin and deception will be finally dealt with? How? Prayerfully Meditate Is Jesus referring to how the church is to deal with sin in her midst? How can you tell and why? How would Matthew 18:15-20 fit with what this parable is instructing? Does this parable teach that we should not confront false teaching in the world or apply church discipline? How and why? Think through how this parable should shape the way you think about God and how we should respond to deceptive teachers, false converts, and the general promotion of what is sinful or unbiblical in our world. How should you respond? Why is how Jesus deals with sin and those who promote it painted in such fierce and violent terms? Intentionally Act List ways you could apply this parable to your attitude and actions this week. Use this list as a prayerful reminder this week. How would this parable assist you in praying for...
Studying and Preaching Overviews of Biblical Books

Studying and Preaching Overviews of Biblical Books

For the past three summers, I have preached overview sermons through the Old Testament. Three years ago I spent the summer preaching through the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible). Last year I taught Joshua through the Kings. This summer I just completed a series through the Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel). To be honest, these are some of the most difficult sermons for me to prepare and to preach. The difficulty in study lies in the challenge of covering the entirety of large books in such a short time. Teaching these books is equally daunting in trying to cover large sections of very rich material in a short amount of time and often in what seems such a cursory manner. And yet, every summer, I receive a host of positive feedback from many in our congregation as to the benefit they derive in these overview series. Some have expressed their lack of exposure to preaching through the Old Testament. Others have indicated that they have never seen how a particular book was put together. Still others have mentioned how refreshing it has been to see the central theme of each book and how these books relate to one another. We have found much benefit from the past 3 years of studying the Old Testament together. Why should a preacher/teacher spend time preaching/teaching overviews of biblical books? What steps are most helpful in studying for these sorts of messages? What principles govern how you teach them? Let me see if I can help you with a few pointers from what I have been learning over the...
Preparing for Sunday – Daniel 7-12

Preparing for Sunday – Daniel 7-12

For those attending Summit Woods Baptist Church this Sunday, here are a few ways to prepare. Carefully Think Read through Daniel 7. How was the imagery of Daniel’s vision interpreted for him in 7:15-27? Make a list of what you learn? What is God’s role in the events described in this vision? What phrases do you see in Daniel 7 that would give any indication as to the timing of these events? Read Daniel 8 – how does this vision differ from the one in chapter 7 in terms of its interpretation? What does Daniel 10 suggest about the unseen spiritual world and earthly affairs? What does all of the vast detail in the vision of chapters 11 and 12 reveal about God’s sovereignty over the affairs of history and the future? What indication do you see in Chapter 12 that these events are yet future? Prayerfully Meditate What effect should the kind of detail about historical and future events, like those described in Daniel 7-12, have on your view of God? Your choices? Your anxieties? Your confidence? How should Daniel’s description about the world’s future impact how we view what is happening in our culture now? What would a God-centered response to our own cultural changes be in light of what we read in Daniel? How could Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 assist you in your own approach to confessing sin? How could Daniel’s prophecy as a whole assist you in praying about the coming of Christ? Intentionally Act Pray for Christ’s soon coming. How would he find you if the events of his coming were to begin...
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