Category Archives: Bible

Unreasonable Demands

Genesis 49-50

Jacob told Joseph he wanted to be buried in Canaan with Abraham, Sarah, and Leah. That wasn’t an unreasonable request considering Joseph’s position and wealth. So when Jacob died, Joseph and the family, along with a group of Egyptians took his body to Canaan and buried him there with fanfare.

Joseph, when he was dying, said he too wanted to be buried in Canaan. His request wasn’t entirely reasonable at the time. He acknowledged that, and asked that WHEN they were able to leave Egypt, he’d like them to take his bones. He knew his family didn’t have the means to make that happen right then. In fact, it took about 400 years before they were able to take Joseph’s bones out of Egypt.

I’ve heard of people who make outlandish requests of loved ones concerning funerals, ashes, or distribution of stuff after they die. I’ve known people who go to great lengths and expense to fulfill last wishes, too.

Why? Do those facing death have such a need for control? Do they think they’ll be forgotten if they don’t continue to pull strings after they’ve gone? Do the remaining loved ones think the deceased are watching them to be sure they obey them?

Here’s what I believe Scripture teaches: absent from the body, present with the LORD. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

It doesn’t say present with Grandma. It doesn’t say present with a telescope pointed at Earth.

We sometimes place unreasonable demands on our loved ones. And we make them feel guilty if they don’t do exactly what we, or some deceased loved one, tells them they must do. Sometime it’s just not feasible.

Friend, the things that happen to your body and your stuff after you die will be up to the living. You won’t know. You won’t even care. You’re going to have enough on your mind for eternity to think about who is feeding your cat.

If you are facing death, let me take some pressure off. Let go of trying to control your loved ones. Love them today. Gift them today. Make memories for them to have when you are gone.

And, if a deceased person has placed unreasonable demands on you – let it go. If you must, honor them in some other way. Trust me – they really don’t care right now.

A Benevolent Master

Genesis 47

Submitting ourselves into God’s hands is a process. He reveals an area of our lives we need to turn over to Him and when we do, He blesses us! But before long He lays His finger on another area of our lives we have yet to submit to Him. And He’s always faithful to bless us when we lay that part of our lives at His feet.

I see that truth demonstrated in Joseph’s dealings with the people during the famine here in the book of Genesis. He didn’t start out by making them slaves. Yet gradually, as they submitted one thing at a time, they become totally dependent on Pharaoh for everything. They gave up their money, their flocks, their land and family, and finally themselves.

But in doing so, they received everything they needed in their lives. They became willing servants to a benevolent master.

Do you see the comparison? The Apostle Paul often identified himself as a slave or servant of Jesus. Is that where you are in your own walk with the Lord? Or are there areas in your life you’re still holding onto, reluctant to give up control?

Let me urge you today to submit that person, or dream, or attitude, or activity to the Lord. The blessings far outweigh your struggle to remain in control. Give your “self,” your family, your health, your plans, your pride to God and become a willing slave to The Benevolent Master.

Death at the Hand of God.

Genesis 38

Does God lie in wait to take out evil people like an army sniper? That seems to be the case with Judah’s sons Er and Onan. Scripture is very clear: these were bad men – and God killed them.

So are we to assume this is God’s MO? That if you are bad enough He just mows you down, gives you cancer, or a bullet in your head?

Yes. And no.

God wants us to know death is a part of the curse handed down because of Adam’s sin. God causes death for every human being because all have sinned and the wages of sin is death. But common sense – and life – tells us there are some very evil people in the world living to a ripe old age.

So no, God doesn’t make it a habit of killing sinners, Aren’t you glad? We don’t know why God chose to kill Er and Onan like He did. And He doesn’t owe us an explanation. But what happened to them is not a blueprint for God’s dealing with people.

In fact, Scripture repeatedly shows us how patient God is with us sinners, how quick He is to forgive a repentant heart, how He longs to save whosoever believes. Look at how many chances God gave the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Read in the New Testament what Jesus did for sinners when He went to the cross.

I think the lesson here in Genesis is that all of us will die at the hand of God. Some will die young, others will live to be 100 years old. Our deaths won’t have as much to do with whether or not we were good or bad, as it will have to do with God’s Sovereignty.

Death will end life on Earth for all of us unless Jesus comes back first. That is His Sovereign will.

I see Er and Onan dying in their sin, because I believe had they repented we would be reading about that. That makes me want to warn us all. Because we are going to die.

My prayer is that we will be ready to die by accepting the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus. Your death could come today. My death could come today.

The question is: are we ready?

(I Timothy) The Richest Man In Town

What does God think about the health and wealth/prosperity gospel as preached by the likes of Myer, Copeland, Jakes, Hinn, Robertson, Osteen, etc? In I Timothy 6:2-10 He’s pretty clear. The Apostle Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit calls it false doctrine, godlessness, and the teachers conceited know-nothings, “whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain.”

He goes on and says some people who crave wealth have actually walked away from the faith. It’s that serious.

Please change the channel. If you are listening to prosperity preachers you are in danger. God is asking you to be content with what you have. Not simply resigned to it, but actually ok with it. Content.

Do you take joy in your relationship with Jesus, or would you find a bit more joy with a heftier bank account? You are in danger if you equate God’s blessings with material gain. Believing there is a correlation between God’s blessings and wealth is believing false doctrine.

Be content.

Now that doesn’t mean don’t work hard. In 2 Thessalonians God, through Paul, makes it clear if you don’t work – you don’t eat. He talks to rich people in 1 Timothy without condemning their wealth.

Be content with what you have. Use what you have – little or much- for the glory of God. The widow gave a few pennies, but Jesus commended her as though she’d dropped a million dollars into the offering plate. (Luke 21)

Besides, if you know Jesus as your Savior, if He is Lord of your life, you are already the richest man in town!

(Luke 21) Mind-Numbing

Jesus, talking about what was and is to come, said something that has me thinking. Verse 34 says:

Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly like a trap.

I get the carousing and drunkenness. Alcohol dulls the senses, muddles the brain. Someone in that state is physically unable to focus because of the drug in his system. But why would Jesus put worry in the same mind-numbing category?

Do you think our society is plagued with worry? It seems people worry about COVID, whether or not someone is vaccinated, racial issues, the economy, the very future of our society. There are still people who refuse to leave their homes because of worry.

Some of the things people worry about are real, others are imagined or exaggerated. But Jesus doesn’t make that distinction here, does He? It appears He believes any worry is as mind-numbing as alcohol.

Sitting here and going over this in my mind, I am beginning to see the implication here. If we worry, we’re not thinking clearly. If we worry, it’s hard to focus on anything else. If we worry, our minds are on ourselves and our situation. And if that’s true – our minds cannot be on God.

Now here’s where I see worry like drunkenness. One drink or one moment of worry can be controlled. We put the bottle down, or we change our thinking. The second drink makes it harder to resist a third. A second moment of worry makes it harder not to continue to worry. And when drunkenness or worry overtakes us, our minds are numb to the things of God.

Verse 36:

But be alert at all times, praying…

You can’t be alert with alcohol in your system. I get that. What stands out to me today is the idea that worry has the same effect.

God has a lot to say about worry in His Word. If you are one who struggles, let me suggest that you get out a concordance, or Google “Bible verses about worry,” and let God encourage you.

Be alert. And pray.

(Matthew 16-18) Satan Loves Rabbit Trails

Evidently there are some Bible critics who say that, because the Gospel writers differ in their accounts of Jesus’ words and actions, one cannot trust Scripture to be infallible. That, my friend, is an argument that cannot hold water. I’ll tell you why.

I taught school for 37 years. So I saw 100 or more children walk through my classroom door 180 days during each of those 37 years. I would teach the same lesson to different groups of children throughout the day. Sometimes I’d teach a lesson to one group on one day, and the same lesson to a different group of children the next day. And sometimes I’d teach the same lesson to yet another group the next school year.

The message of those lessons didn’t change, but the audience, the exact words I used to convey the message, the location of the classroom I was in, and sometimes the school in which I taught changed. The message of the lessons stayed constant, however.

If Johnny wrote an account of my first period lesson, and Jimmy wrote an account of the same lesson given during third period, chances are their accounts would not be word for word. And if Johnny’s little brother wrote an account of that same lesson a year later, I’m pretty sure there would be some differences there, too. The message of the lesson would be the same. Some of the illustrations might be similar. But each boy would tell their own accounts from their own vantage point, using their own words.

Do you think Jesus taught his lessons only once? Or could it be possible he shared the same lesson in one city to one audience, and again in another city to a different audience?

My point is this: don’t get bent out of shape if you notice subtle difference in Scripture. Don’t miss the message God wants you to hear. And don’t think you can’t trust Scripture because of chronology or numbers or names.

Those are rabbit trails not worth pursuing. Satan loves it when we chase rabbit trails because it gets our focus off the truth he does not want us accepting. Read God’s Word for the message.

It’s a good one!

(Luke 7) Who’s Doubt Is It Anyway?

I have appreciated considering the opinions of Bible scholars as I read through my Apologetics Study Bible this year. (Holman Bible Publishers; 2017) It often amazes me at the issues they address, indicating the lengths some people go to try and disprove the Bible.

Evidently there is a discussion about what kind of roof tiles that were on the house the paralytic’s friends dug through to get him to Jesus. Yeah, roofing.

And, is it the Sermon on the Mount, or the Sermon on a Flat Area on the Mountain? There is actually a debate about it. Why?

Skeptics use these kinds of things to suggest because the Gospel writers differ on certain details, the Bible must be full of errors, and therefore untrustworthy. I usually just shake my head and move on, but thankful that should someone use arguments like these, I’ll be prepared to point them back to what is really important.

But sometimes the comments in the Apologetics Study Bible are just plain wrong (in my opinion). One such opinion jumped out at me today, and I’d like us to consider 7:18-30. The apologist would have you take for granted that what you read here is the fact that John the Baptist is “expressing doubt” that Jesus is the Messiah because he sent two of his own disciples to ask Jesus point blank if they should be looking for someone else, or was Jesus the real deal?

First of all, all we know is WHAT John did. Scripture does not tell us WHY. So I read what the apologist said as his opinion. You can read my comments as mine – because that is all they are.

Based on John’s life, not just his imprisonment, here’s why I believe we are seeing something other than the prophet’s doubt:

  1. John recognized Jesus before either of them were even born. (Luke 1:44)
  2. John grew up spiritually strong. (1:80). He dedicated his whole life to preparing the way for the Messiah. (Luke 3:4-6)
  3. John had no hesitation in identifying Jesus as the One he’d been telling them about. (John 1:14-15, 29-35)
  4. From that moment on, John’s ministry was all about retreating into the shadows. “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
  5. Now Jesus’ ministry is in full swing. Some of John’s disciples began following Jesus. But obviously not all of them had made the switch. John was in prison, and maybe he was pretty sure he wasn’t going to get out of there alive. Maybe he wanted his remaining disciples to accept Jesus before he died. They needed to believe Jesus was the One to follow. So just maybe John sent them to Jesus because of their doubt, not his.
  6. Here is my final observation on the subject, and maybe the most telling. Jesus proceeds to talk to the crowd about John. Read it for yourself in Luke 7:24-28. Is there a hint that Jesus thought John was doubting? “I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John…”

My point is this: we’ve all made assumptions based on a verse or two. Let me challenge us to let Scripture speak for itself as we consider it all. Think about what you are reading, don’t just assume you know what it means by looking at the face value. Question, then dig deeper into God’s Word to find the answers. Use your ability to reason, and ask God to direct your thoughts.

Sometimes it’s hard to get the voice of our third grade Sunday School teacher, or our youth pastor, or some renowned evangelist or popular author out of our heads. My prayer is that, as we read Scripture we won’t be able to get the voice of God out of our heads, that another verse or passage or story from the Bible will come to mind to help us consider what God is saying to us today. Let’s not just read the Bible verse by verse, but lesson by lesson, truth by truth.

And may God grow us, bless us, and find us faithful to the Truth of His Word.

(Mark 3-6) Not About Me

Do you find it interesting that, of all the Gospel writers, Mark (who is believed to have written Peter’s experiences with Jesus) didn’t write about Peter walking a few steps on the water? Did Mark and Peter omit that fact to save the apostle from the embarrassment of admitting he sank when he doubted? Maybe. But I doubt it.

Scripture doesn’t explain this omission so I can only guess at the reason behind it. On the surface, the fact that Peter even got out of the boat in the middle of a rain storm and walked toward Jesus on top of the water is amazing, and something to celebrate. Talk about faith! Talk about a miracle! Regular old Peter the fisherman walked on water. You don’t hear that happening every day!

Yet when it came to chronicling the life and work of Jesus, Peter kept that detail to himself. I don’t think it was to hide his doubt, or to save face. I think that Peter understood that it wasn’t about him at all. This narrative was about Jesus.

Even today when people hear “walking on water,” they think of Jesus – not Peter. And that’s exactly what I think Peter wanted.

Does my life point to me, do I seek attention and applause? Do I “share” what Jesus is doing in my life so people think what a great Christian I must be?

I want to take a page from Peter’s life. Take me out of the picture. I want my life to be about Jesus, to make people think of Jesus, to shine a light away from myself and point to Jesus only.

It’s not about me.

(Matthew 19) The Impossible

Do you believe all things are possible with God? I do, because Jesus said so. But what are the “all things?”

Does this half-verse mean I can do anything I set my mind to because God can do the impossible? If I’m determined to get that promotion at work, or buy that vacation home at the price I can afford, or get my magic number of followers on SnapChat so I can become an influencer, am I to believe I can succeed because God can do the impossible?

Don’t base your view of God on seven words of a partial verse in the Bible.

What God wants us to know in this portion of His Word is that He can save anybody. He wants to assure us that no one has done so much evil, or is so prideful, or has too hard a heart, that He can’t forgive them when they repent of their sin.

These verses should inspire us to pray for the salvation of our loved ones living so far from the Truth we’re tempted to think they have no hope. God wants us to know they HAVE hope!

Keep praying. Keep being obedient. God might use you to do the impossible in that person’s heart and life.

I beg you, don’t use this verse as a magic wand, believing God has promised to make your dreams come true. He’s not that shallow.

(Matthew 13-15) What Our World Needs

Jesus speaks so often about the difference between head-knowledge and heart-knowledge, of obedience for the sake of the Law, and willing obedience for the sake of Jesus.

Christianity is not a list of rules to follow in order to earn God’s favor. It’s a changed heart that is the result of repenting of sin and accepting the forgiveness God provides through Jesus. It’s a changed heart that wants to obey God out of love and appreciation for having received God’s favor at the cross. It’s willing obedience in light of God’s grace.

Oh, for changed hearts, not just people who do good things, or go to church, or simply wear His Name.

It’s what God demands. And it’s exactly what our world needs.