Archive for the ‘bible study’ Category

Who did you tell? (Psalm 145)

February 26, 2018

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4

The news was to be a secret. No one except the people involved were to know what was about to be revealed to the public.  However, the news leaked and the important moment of revealing was diminished because someone told before hand.

The above illustration is something that all of us have experienced in relationships and in the work place.  Someone said, “Somethings are to be kept silent.”  I would agree wholeheartedly.

However, there are some things that are not to be kept secret.  You ask, “give me an example?”  My answer, The revelation of God!  God intends for His people to declare who He is and what He does to the entire world.  This is the Psalmist direction in Psalm 145.

In this Psalm we are lead on a glorious mission of discovery.  R.C. Sproul comments: “This is a spiritual fireworks display,” Cited from The Reformation Study Bible.”

The author vows to praise the Lord each and every day, Vs: 2.  We read of the impossibility of every running out of things to praise Him for, Vs: 3.  God’s desire is for us to reach the next generation with the truth of who God is.

We ask, how do we accomplish this task?  Vs: 5-7

  • We have to daily meditate and marinate on God’s Word.
  • We have to daily share as a megaphone what we are discovering.

The Psalmist gives us an example of how this is to happen in Vs: 8-21.  I encourage you to take time and read slowly through verses eight through twenty-one.  I have placed the verses in two categories and I have given each verse to one or the other.

  1.  We see the character of God in Vs: 8-9, 13, 17.
  2. We see the mighty deeds of God in Vs: 9-12, 14-16, 18-20.

Now that you have read these verses, spend your day in mediation and marination concerning who He is and what He does.  Also spend your day looking for people to share with what you are discovering and experiencing.

Here is an awesome song to sing as you go along the day:

 

How Great Is Our God
The splendor of the King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God
Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end
The Godhead Three in One
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb
Name above all names
Worthy of our praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

 

Advertisements

Examining the Wall (Ezekiel 13; Psalm 52-54)

September 10, 2014

“When the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash.  Say to those who smear it with whitewash, it will fall!”  Ezekiel 13:10b-11

Years ago my parents decided to remodel the outside of our home.  I can still remember the mess around our home during the project.  One of the things that my dad decided was that he would have the outside of the house bricked.  He hired, what he thought to be, the best brick mason he could find.  One evening he came home to inspect the days work.  I watched as he took a sledge-hammer and knocked it down.  I asked my dad, “Why did you do this?”  He responded, “The wall was not straight, it will fall under pressure.”

In Ezekiel 13 the prophet compares the religious leaders teaching to that of a wall that will not stand.  The fact is, they were not teaching the Word of God.  Here is God’s inspection of the wall, “Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing.  You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the Lord.”

Think it through:

1.  Who are those in whose teaching you can trust?

You and I (as followers of Christ) are facing an onslaught of false teaching in our day.  It is of great importance that we know the truth.  In knowing the truth we are building a wall to keep the enemy of compromise out of our lives.

2.  What type of teaching are you engaging in?

Each of us (as followers of Christ) live by a set of values and a set of rules.  We not only practice them, we proclaim them to others.  Again we are building a wall for others as well as ourselves.

We must be careful to build according to God’s Word and not according to man’s word.  If we are building according to man’s philosophy we will surely fall.

Our response:

“We are mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds.”  II Corinthians 10:3

1.  This day, I want to build a wall for my family that will stand in the storms of life.

2. This day, I want to see the Devil’s walls torn down in our nation and in our city.

For these things to happen, I must give myself to God’s Word. I must study it, submit to it, and sow it in the world.  When I do these things, I am building a wall that will stand!!!

The End Is Important (II Samuel 6, I Corinthians 16)2.3

September 11, 2013

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.”  I Corinthians 16:13-14

Each day I am blessed in many ways, as is the case with all who read this blog.  Our great and glorious God showers us with daily blessings.  One of those daily blessings for me comes as I leave for the office.  The last thing that happens is a kiss and hug from my children and my wife.  After this comes the last and important statement from Sherry, “Be careful.”  This gentle and loving reminder comes from a wife who wants me to reach my destination.

I must confess, there are days when I take this for granted.  In these moments, I am careless in travel.  Only the grace of God sees me through.  Much in the same way, “God has one last important statement for his followers in each of his books of the Bible.”  Often we take these statements, or chapters for granted.  Such could be the case in I Corinthians 16.  However, let me challenge you to be careful to see the importance of what He writes:

1.  Paul writes about always remembering the need to give, Vs: 1-5.

Every week we should be givers beginning and branching out from our local churches.

2.  Paul writes about always remembering the need to go, Vs: 6-10.

The gospel is to be taken to the world.  Every day you and I are in the world.  We need to be going to the world armed with the gospel.

3.  Paul writes about always remembering the need to have grace, Vs: 11-18.

In every circumstance we are to be mature (act like men) in our Christian walk.

4.  Paul writes about always remembering the need to be ready for the Lord’s return, Vs: 19-24.

Our Lord has come and He will return again.  Until then we are to be faithful to His word and His work.

Brothers and sisters, do you see the importance of the end?  These things are crucial to our development in Christ.

Taking it out for a spin:

As you read God’s Word, pay close attention to what is said in the end.  It could be the very practical step you need to do the will of God.  I challenge you to reread I Corinthians 16 and discover the importance of the end.

This is Good Stuff (Deuteronomy 31; Psalm 119:97-120)

June 26, 2013

“How sweet are you words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth,” Psalm 119:103

Recently I received a copy of a book entitled, “The Insanity of God.”  Needless to say the book was GOOD STUFF.  But if you had seen me while I was reading this book and even now you might make the following observation, “This is what Good stuff does to a person.”

The book is about the persecuted church.  I am forever altered by what I have read.  Things that I have struggled with for years have been solved for me.  But the result of these struggles have brought, as I said to one of my brothers in Christ, “Miles and miles of repentance.”  I recommend the book to you, it is good stuff.

However, there is a book that I recommend even more, “It is the Bible.”  Psalm 119 teaches us of the great value of the Word of God.  In our particular section of reading for today we concentrate on verses 97-120.  Notice the good stuff in these verses:

1.  God’s law gives us great understanding, Vs: 97-104

This understanding humbles us as we have been given knowledge that helps us overcome our enemies.  We have been given knowledge that is greater than earthly teaching.  We have been given knowledge that helps us overcome our enemies.

2.  God’s law is a lamp and light to our path, Vs: 105-112

Because of God’s Word we can walk in the light and bypass the darkness.  Romans 6:12-23 gives us a great picture of this truth.

3.  God’s law gives us daily hope, Vs: 113-120

According to God’s promises we now have life, Vs: 116.  According to God’s promises we are held on solid ground in a sinking world, Vs: 117.

Praise be unto God for his Good Stuff!!  Because of Christ we do not have to fear the law.  In Christ we can delight in the law because it gives us the way to live now that we are recipients of grace!!!

Question, “Are you getting the good stuff?”  If not consider setting a table each day where you can get alone with God and read his Word.  It will be the best meal of your day.

The Fog Has Set In

May 8, 2012

“But if you have bitter jealously and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false about the truth.”  James 3:14

It was very foggy outside when I got up this morning.  I tried to see through the fog but it was impossible.  One of the things I wanted to see was if God had chosen to open the bud on a particular flower that was close to opening last evening.  But because of the fog it was impossible.

In this moment I was faced with a choice, I could either complain about the fog or I could accept the fog.  I chose to accept the fog and simply pray, “Lord,  lift the fog in your time-table.”

This morning our More for Christ readings could possibly look like a great fog in our lives.  Our chapter for consideration is James 3.  The chapter begins with a strong warning of the seriousness of teaching.  In verse two the writer seems to be shifting subjects when he begins to write about our speech.  In verse 13 it seems that our writer shifts subjects again and now is writing about wisdom.

The fog comes when we try to read this scripture or any scripture without and informed homiletic.  In every passage we must apply the homiletic of three simple rules.  Here they are: 1) What is the context of the passage?  2) What is the content of the passage?  3)  What is the intent of the passage?  When we apply these simple homiletic rules the fog will life.

The context of James 3 comes on the heels of James teaching in chapter 2 concerning faith that works.  Those who possess faith live a life that reflects this faith.  Here in chapter 3 we see a particular part of this life being dealt with.  The area is in our speaking.  This is why we see the illustration of teaching.  The specific content of the text is an examination of our words (Vs: 3-12) and the wisdom behind our words (Vs: 13-18).  The intent of this passage is for the reader to understand how crucial it is for the follower of Christ to become mature in their speaking.  The only way this can happen is if the follower of Christ severs himself from fleshing wisdom and seeks to grow in spiritual wisdom.  When this happens our speech will be, “Pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, and good fruits, impartial and sincere,” James 3:17.

Question, “Has the fog lifted from this passage?”  For me, the fog has lifted and I can see clearly my need to severe myself completely from fleshing wisdom.  I want to be able to be known as a man who has the proper speech.

It is my hope and prayer that this blog has helped you today.  I challenge you to daily apply these principles in your bible study.  You will see the fog lift.

The Toughest Part Of Teaching

February 2, 2012

“So practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do.  For they preach, but they do not practice.”  Matthew 23:3

Question, “Are you a teacher?”  The fact is everyone is a teacher.  We either teach in the technical sense of communicating information to others or we teach by the way we live our lives.  This mornings Bible reading, Matthew 23:1-26, confronts each of us at both levels of teaching.

Some people would maintain that the toughest part of teaching is in the communication of information.  Such people cite the time needed to prepare, laboring over material and the stress of making sure you are correct.

Still other people would maintain the toughest part of teaching is in the carrying out of what you teach.  Such people allow the text of scripture to first shape them before they share with others.

In my life I honestly can say, “The toughest part of teaching is in carrying out what I teach.”  In the process of communicating truth, I find such joy in allowing the scripture to speak to me.  As followers of Christ we have the Holy Spirit to guide us to understand the scripture.  But when it comes to carrying out the truth I teach, I sometimes forget to walk in the power of the Spirit of God.

This morning I found great conviction as Jesus shared how the Scribes and Pharisees carried out their teaching.  Here is the overview:  They taught the law but did not live the law (Vs:3).  They pretended to keep the law in the crowd but in private it had no effect (Vs:4-5).  They longed for recognition for what they wanted others to think they were doing (Vs:6-7).  They were even glad to take honor for what they should have given honor  to God for (Vs:8-10).

As I read these verses I found conviction in that I do not always test the validity of my teaching in its effect on my life.  I confessed that I far to often am more sensitive to my obedience in crowds than I am in private. I was challenged to never want to gain recognition for God’s word.   The fact is my old  nature wants to take all credit for teaching.

In this moment when there was blood on the floor and tears in my eyes, I found myself crying out to God, “What is the solution to this problem?”  The answer came in Vs: 11-12, “The greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Those who desire to be a humble servant find success in teaching.  I pray that you and I take time to discover what this means.

In the verses that follow, Vs:13-26 we see the devastating results of what happens if we fail to practice what we preach.  I challenge every teacher (Yes, you are one) to both strive to know and do what the word teaches.

For further study Luke 14:11; 18:14, James 4:6,10; Proverbs 29:23.

 

Two Amazing Words

January 10, 2012

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “follow me.”  And he rose and followed him.”  Matthew 9:9

Certainly words have powerful implications in our lives.  The writer of Proverbs wrote about the implications, “There is both the power of life and death in the tongue.”  Many years ago a group of reporters got together and as a joke wrote a false story about an attack on a certain nation.  The news spread and those nations went to war.

Words reach down to the depths of our hearts and stir us.  I can still remember Sherry’s response when I asked her to marry me. No greater words could have been spoken than her words, “Yes, I will.”  Words can reach down to the depths of our hearts and scar us.  Many people’s lives have been altered by the condemning words of another.

This morning scripture reading, Matthew 8:23-9:13, gives us examples of the power of words.  For example, Jesus words of authority forced demons to come out of two men, 8:28-34.  Jesus words to a paralytic brought healing and eternal life, 9:1-8.  And finally Jesus words to Matthew changed his direction of life.

Question, “Have the words of Jesus impacted your life?”  Consider with me, Jesus words to Matthew.  They are two simple words, but they have great impact, “Follow Me.”

These two words speak to us about a change in direction.  Matthew was an open sinner (Tax collector).  But on this day, Jesus called him to cease walking in sin and to follow a new direction.  In Matthews following of Jesus he was openly repenting of his present course and he was making a total break from his old life.

Those who have been impacted by Jesus words follow the same path.  Notice what Matthew does:  He first invites Jesus to his home (9:10).  What a picture of the Lordship of Christ.  One who comes to Jesus must surrender to the lordship of Christ.  He secondly invited others to his home (9:10).  Matthew wanted his friends to meet Jesus.  He wanted his friends to hear the same words he had heard.

Notice Vs: 13, “Go and learn what this means.”  Jesus words to those who did not like Him were to the point.  There were those who could not understand Jesus words.  They could not understand why Jesus was speaking to sinners.

Theirs was a works based salvation that demanded a regimented life of sacrifice.  Jesus words to them are amazing, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”  Question, “Do you know what this means?”

It is my prayer that you spend time seeking to discover what this means.  It is my prayer that you spend time inviting others into your home in order that you might share with them the amazing words of Jesus.  It is also my prayer that you personally here two amazing words from Jesus.  “Follow Me!”

For further study, Mark 2:14-22.  Also consider reading Tim Keller’s book, “The Kings Cross.”  

Did You Hear Him?

January 3, 2012

“And behold, a voice from heaven said, “this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:17

This mornings Bible reading covers Matthew 3:1-4:11.  The setting of the text is, “In those days.”  As an avid reader of history, I always leap with anticipation when an author writes, “in those days.”  For example, I was given a new book entitled, “The murder of Lincoln.”  The first 15 chapters detail the last week of the Civil War.  At one point, I found myself become unnerved as I read about a particular battle.  In this moment, the author was successful in getting my mind in those days and he was successful in getting his point across.  This point was, “The war pointed out the height of man’s depravity.”

We discover in Matthew 3 that John The Baptist was in similar way trying to get people’s minds in the setting of what was taking place.  In classic Matthew form we are reminded of the coming of the King (King Jesus). Here is an exert from John’s preaching, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Vs:2.  

John The Baptist was given the task of spreading the news of the Kings coming.  Certainly John was faithful.  The response to his preaching was varied.  There were those who responded to the message with repentance and others responded with rejection.

All of his ministry climaxed in 3:13-17 when Jesus came to John to be baptized.  Certainly Jesus was not a sinner, nor did he need to be baptized as a public proclamation of his faith.    His baptism was for our example and for the proclamation that his public ministry was getting underway.

The bible records that when Jesus came up out of the water, “A voice from heaven said…”Question: “Did you hear the voice?”  In this moment, there is a crucial point to be made.  This was the Father speaking in authenticating the ministry of Christ.  Matthew under the anointing of the Holy Spirit writes as one who heard.  The fact is, Matthew was not there, but God was there.

Here is the crucial point.  This is God’s word!!!  Man did not write down his opinion.  Man wrote down what happened.  Brothers and sisters, we can trust God’s word as His truth.

Here is another crucial point.  As followers of Christ, we have a special gift that enables us to hear the voice of God.  This special gift is the Holy Spirit. “But you have been anointed by the Holy One and You have knowledge,” I John 2:20.

The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to hear his voice.  At this point, one might ask, “How is this possible?”  Here is the awesome answer.  God’s voice is heard in his word.  Those who know Christ hear his voice as the Holy Spirit illuminates our minds to the truth of his word.

This day, praise Him for his voice.  This day, seek to grow in your understanding of His voice.  This day, seek to share his word with others.

For greater understanding read II Peter 1:16-21.

Please Pay Attention

December 22, 2011

And now, O Israel, listen to the statues and the rules that I am teaching you,  and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” Deuteronomy 4:1

There are moments in my son’s life when I wonder, “Does he ever pay attention?”  Example, “Recently, I asked him to do what was an easy task.  15 minutes later he was off doing something else.  I asked, ‘John, did you complete the task I gave you?’  He responded, ‘What task?'”

Brothers and sisters how often does God speak to us through His word, through preachers, or through some circumstance that drives you to the word, and we don’t even hear?  In Deuteronomy 4, Moses is clear concerning Israel’s path to a life of fulfillment.  She was to listen-obey-live-and possess.

Simple is it not?  Just listen, then obey, and you will live in the place where I will place you.  Or maybe it is not so simple, “If you add or take away from my word…”  If we do not listen correctly we will be doing things God does not desire,

Listening correctly is crucial to our lives.  Think about all the things that keep us from listening correctly:  1)  A polluted heart-in such moments we hear what we want to hear.  2) A bitter heart-in such moments we cannot hear because we are out of fellowship with God.  3) A boastful heart-in such moments we are not listening.  We are trying to dictate to God.  4) A idolatrous heart-in these moments we are serving other Gods.

I wonder, were you convicted by any of the things you just read?  Certainly I was convicted as I walked through Deuteronomy 4. Each of these distractions were listed.  However God has the answer of how to pay attention:  “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget, the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart…” vs: 9.

Daily we must guard our heart ( Proverbs 4:23) so that we stay focused on listening to God.  Never cease paying attention to God.  Never allow false Gods to creep into your spiritual ears.  Open his word and listen!  Oh what glorious news you will hear for your life.

Rules, Rules, And More Rules

November 16, 2011

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law,” Gal. 5:18.

This morning, I spent much time in Exodus 21-23.  To be transparent, I even prayed before getting out of bed, “Lord help me to not just look at these chapters as just rules. At first glance Exodus 21-23 could look like, “Rules, Rules, and more rules.”  However, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Question, “When you read God’s word, do you consider it to be a rule book or do you consider it to be God’s love letter to you?”

It was very important, as God’s people were being prepared to live a new live in covenant with God, that they know the rules of how to love life. Chapters 21-23 are rich in teaching us how to live in community with others.  These chapters are also rich in teaching us how to live in covenant with God.

Here is how Moses describes these rules 40 years later, “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and you son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days will be long,” Deut. 6:1-2.

These rules would be daily reminders to God’s people of their need to love their God.  Their love is evidenced by their obedience to the rules set before them.  Imagine how differently our world would be if everyone followed God’s rules? However we do not have to imagine how life is when people try to live by their own rules.

When this happens there is no respect for human life and there is not reverence for the one true God.  This past week, I asked myself, “What rules do people live by?”  For example, the scandal at Penn State University, has left many asking, “What rules governed the decision of the football coaching staff to do nothing about sexual abuse?”

Here is one preachers take, “I think the number one rule that governed the coverup was self-preservation by all parties involved.”  I believe this was at the core of Israel sin problem.  When you find Israel under God’s judgment, she would cry out for mercy. God would give mercy and for a while she would follow the rules, but then she would wonder and once again face judgment.

People, who look at their history often ask, “Why did they not just keep the rules?”  Well, the same reason you and I do not keep the rules.  We cannot keep them on our own.  This is why we trust in the power of the cross.  At the cross Christ purchased our redemption and at the cross we find victory over sin.  At the cross we gain the honor of becoming a new creation in Christ.  We are indwelled by the Spirit so that we can live by the rules for a different reason.  We live by the rules because we are being ruled by Christ whom we love and adore.

Brothers and sisters, God’s word is not just a rule book.  God’s word is a relationship book that gives direction to those who are in relationship with Him.