Category Archives: Bible study

April 5; The Past Is The Past

Judges 10-13

Today we read about two men who became leaders of Israel. Jephthah, described as a mighty warrior, led the people in some decisive victories in a civil war against their warring family. Samson, a man with super-natural physical strength, led Israel against the Philistines. They were both great leaders, albeit flawed individuals.

I am struck by their very different beginnings. Jephthah was the son of a man named Gilead and an unnamed prostitute. His brothers, as soon as they were old enough, drove Jephthah out of their lives. No son of a prostitute was going to get any of their inheritance! But Jephthah used his gifts and abilities, and eventually rose to a position of power in Gilead.

Samson, on the other hand, was born to a married, God-fearing couple whose goal was to raise their son exactly according to God’s plan. It would not have been easy to raise a Nazarite, even back then. But these godly parents were determined to do just that. We’ll read that Samson grew up to be a great leader in Israel.

Sometimes we might be tempted to use our own beginnings as a weight to hold us down. Maybe we weren’t born into a middle class Christian family. Maybe our parents never married, never went to church. Maybe we weren’t able to afford college. So we let our past dictate our present.

In contrast, maybe we were born with that proverbial silver spoon in our mouths, went to the best schools, wore the best clothes, drove the coolest cars. Maybe our parents made sure we were in church every time the doors were open, and we can quote Scripture like a Baptist preacher.

Does one past guarantee success in God’s kingdom while the other guarantees failure? Is how we were raised an indication of our ability to serve God? The answer, of course, is NO!

Your past is past. It’s your choices today that render you useful or useless in God’s plan. A privileged child needs to come to God in exactly the same way as a child who grows up on the streets.

Neither Jephthah nor Samson allowed their past to be a “thing.” Both men followed God and chose obedience.

Here’s something else God has laid on my heart. Sometimes we let our own past sins hold us back from serving God. We tell ourselves we have no room to talk about sin, being the filthy sinner we were. We tell ourselves no one would take us seriously, considering the bad choices we’ve made in our past. I think God would remind us that when He forgives sins, He buries them, washes them away, never to remember them ever again. The past, under the blood of Jesus, is the past.

You can’t control or change your past. But God has given you today – this minute – to choose Him.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13b-14)

Choose God today. Then see what He can do with a yielded heart. I know that God can use even the likes of you and me.

March 19; It’s a Battle

Deuteronomy 19-21

When you go to war against your enemy, Satan, and see the media, government officials, and special interest groups that seem stronger than you, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who rescued you from being slaves to sin, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, our High Priest Jesus Christ Himself, shall come forward and address the army. He shall say, “Hear, O Christian, today you are going into battle against your enemy Satan and his army. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” (from 20:1-4)

I think we sometimes forget we are at war. We’re still pretty comfortable here in the US and many of us have been lulled into a false sense of security and peace. But make no mistake about it. We are at war.

I have also heard some soldiers in our army say, “It’s too much. The country is too far gone. The end is near.” Are we really ready to raise the white flag in surrender? I don’t see that battle plan in Scripture at all.

Are you willing to say Satan is too powerful for God? Or are you going to quit with the excuses, put on the whole armor of God, and join an army of Christians ready to stand up  and be counted? Whether it’s a battle for your soul, or the battle for our country and the world, we are at war. And sitting back and doing nothing is doing something.

I pray you will ask the Lord what you can do as a soldier in His army. Remember who the enemy is. It’s Satan. Our enemies are not flesh and blood. Not homosexuals, newscasters, politicians, abortion doctors, or the annoying neighbor next door. But the lies they believe, fueled by evil, are the things I believe God would have us fight against.

Light always overcomes darkness. That is, if someone is shining the Light. It’s a battle God delights in winning. Are you in?

 

March 17; You Must Not Listen

Deuteronomy 12-14

The first commandment God gave Moses was “You shall have no other God before me.” Now, as the Israelites are ready to take the Promised Land, God inspired Moses to remind them of that. But something he said has me thinking today.

In his warning about worshiping false gods, God inspired Moses to tell the Jews, and us, that there will be people who look and sound religious. Some will be able to perform miraculous signs and wonders. Don’t be deceived. If they preach a doctrine, a gospel other than the one spelled out in the Bible, “You must not listen…” (13:3)

The other day I saw several TV ads from someone who claims to be a minister, selling “miracle water.” There was a Bible verse on the screen, testimonies from people who supposedly received thousands of dollars in the mail after drinking the water. The affordable “seed faith donation” must make it tempting to some. After all, he says he’s a preacher and he talks about the Lord.

Let me ask you this: According to Scripture, did Jesus or the disciples ever charge people for healing them? Was money ever exchanged? Does the Bible indicate that there is even something close to “miracle water.” Did Jesus or the disciples use water as the source of their power to do miracles?

This questionable preacher was already exposed as a fraud a couple decades ago. But here he is again on TV, reeling in a new generation of needy, vulnerable people. Makes me angry.

Friend, please let the Bible be your final authority. Please don’t fall for the lies because you haven’t searched the Scripture for the truth. “You must not listen to the words of the prophet…”

Moses says this is the test: do you love God with all your heart and soul? Follow Him. I know for certain that He is the God who answers prayer without you buying a miracle potion from anyone.

I guess I hadn’t thought that listening to false prophets, giving consideration to doctrines that don’t align with Scripture, (even religious-sounding as some are) is breaking the first Commandment. a form of worshiping another god.

Once again I am encouraging us to be in the Word. Reading our Bibles, not just picking out a verse here and there. Meditating on Scripture and asking God to reveal His Truth. I know it’s tempting to think “I’ll try anything,” when things are difficult. But don’t.

March 14; Listen, Learn, Labor

Deuteronomy 3-5

The history lesson is over. Now Moses goes on to lay down the Law for the Jewish people ready to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. But before he does, he says this:

Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn themFollow them. (5:1, emphasis mine)

Hear them. Learn them. Follow them. I believe God would have us do the same.

We’ve got to be a people who hear what God says. I pray your pastor is faithful to the Truth of Scripture, that you are faithful to attend church and Bible studies, and that you read God’s Word for yourself every day. And I pray that when you hear God’s Word, you really hear Him. Pay attention. Meditate on what you hear. Discern the truth and reject the lies. God’s Word is alive. Let it speak to you. Listen when God speaks.

I pray that you are memorizing Scripture, digging into God’s Word to really learn the Truths it contains. Don’t just listen to a sermon, or read a chapter, then walk away and forget it. Every time you listen to God’s Word you have an opportunity to learn something. I pray that you will listen with understanding. That you won’t just be a hearer of God’s Word, but a student of God’s Word as well.

I pray that you are using what you’ve learned. I pray that your time in God’s Word translates into action. What does your relationship with Jesus LOOK like? Do you base your decisions, your actions, your relationships on what you have read and learned from God’s Word? As you serve God, does your labor come from obedience to His Word?

The thing is, some of us are good at one, maybe even two of the three. We can listen intently on Sunday morning, pat the preacher on the back and tell him how good the sermon was – and mean it. But we walk out of those doors and never give it another thought.

Some of us can quote entire chapters of God’s Word. We can tell you the names of every disciple, and can quote the Ten Commandments in order. But we never hear God’s voice, and our lives are no different than the unbeliever. I am reminded Satan can quote Scripture, too.

Some of us are good people. We volunteer at soup kitchens, give generously, attend church, and serve on committees. We don’t drink or smoke, we don’t use vulgar language, and we love everyone. I know a lot of really good people who have nothing to do with God. And if God isn’t in it, we labor in vain.

Moses suggests we can’t do one without the other two, and please God. Being a child of God takes intention. Listen. Learn. Labor. In that order.

February 24; Road Trip

Leviticus 24-25

Many moons ago, children, if you were going on a road trip, and if you belonged to AAA, you could go and get what we called a TripTik. An agent would sit down with you, map and highlighter in hand, and help you plan your route.

He or she would look into their files and even tell you where you might run into road construction and delays. He or she would re-route you around busy city streets, tell you about tourist attractions you might want to see. And when it was all said and done, you would walk out with a highlighted map, books on restaurants, motels, and sites to see, and the spiral-bound TripTik itself, including fold-outs with detailed city maps.

You can’t know how fun and how satisfying it was to turn a page after the first 50 miles, then another, and another as your trip progressed. Guess you had to be there. But trust me, glancing at your phone is just not the same.

I read today how Moses, when an Egyptian/Jew blasphemed God, had the young man put in prison until God told Moses what to do. The law was plain about a Jewish person who blasphemed the Name. You stone him to death. But there was no specific direction for a guilty half/Jew. So Moses waited until he got the word from God.

I’ve often considered my Bible a roadmap. But when you think about it, it isn’t really. It’s not like a TripTik that gives you inch by inch directions, including detours. Warren Wiersbe tells us the Bible is more of a compass. It keeps us going in the right direction while we, “…walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) (Be Holy; Published by David C. Cook; 1994; page 143)

My Bible is not a road map. But in its pages are everything we need for our journey. Everything we face in this life is addressed in Scripture. Every decision you need to make has a parallel in the Bible. But you have to know what the Bible says.

It takes a bit of maturity to recognize the treasure that is ours in the Bible. It’s not a quick-fix. It’s not a step by step instruction manual. It’s much more than that. It’s the living Word of God.

We have got to be prayerfully in God’s Word every day, listening to the direction God wants us to hear. It takes patience and intentionality. We may be detoured occasionally as God points out other truths He doesn’t want us to miss. But if we read it, if we use it, it will get us where we are going on this road trip called life.

And we’ll enjoy the journey!

 

 

 

February 23; Prepared

Leviticus 22-23

As a Sunday School teacher, and a Bible teacher for our Good News Club, I need to be careful. What a privilege I have to be entrusted with sharing the Word of God. But as I read God’s instructions to Aaron, I am reminded that God demands I take care of sin in my own life before I stand before anyone I plan to teach. I’m reminded that my obedience must come before my service.

If I take a position of leadership, I need to be sure my offering is not tainted by sin, like an Old Testament Jew offering a deformed animal to God. I’m not talking about a monetary tithe. I’m talking about the offering of my time as I study God’s Word and prepare a lesson. I’m talking about the time I spend in prayer concerning the lesson. I’m talking about those Sunday mornings and Tuesday afternoons when I share what God has laid on my heart.

If you are a pastor, a teacher, a nursery worker, a song leader I would suggest you approach your responsibilities with the same intentionality as Aaron did. And, really, the same goes for any of us who dare to share the Gospel with people we come in contact with. May we search our hearts and confess sin as God reveals it. And may our ministries be blessed because we did it God’s way. May Jesus be glorified in each of us.

February 20; Not Diseased Any More

Leviticus 13:47-15:33

Don’t read these chapters while you are eating. It’s pretty disgusting to read about leprosy and mold and body fluids with a spoonful of cereal in your mouth. Trust me.

But don’t let that stop you from reading these chapters. God has some serious warnings, and a beautiful promise for us to hear through His Word today.

Scripture often uses leprosy or disease as a physical picture of the effects of sin in our lives. (Ps 147:3; Isaiah 1:5-6; etc.) So as I read chapter 13 I see that sin goes deep into our souls. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us:

The heart is deceitful above all and desperately wicked. 

Paul even said in Romans 7:18:

For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) no good thing dwells.

If you believe in the innate goodness of humanity, you would be wrong.

The diseased person was considered unclean, and anyone coming in contact would also be considered unclean. So lepers were forced to live in isolation, outside the city. Even then, if a person would come near, the leper had to shout, “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn them not to get too close.

The Bible tells us sin isolates us. Oh, we may enjoy hanging out with other sinners, but your sin is your sin, your hangover your hangover, your venereal disease destroying your body. And, be warned: Hell is the ulitmate isolation. Don’t count on receiving an invitation to a party there. Don’t expect to even be chained to the wall next to your buddy. Your sin, your choice to isolate yourself from God, will isolate you from everyone and everything, including God, for eternity. Not into nothingness, but into an eternal state of knowing you are unclean, and without hope.

Don’t stop reading with chapter 13. There is a sweet picture in chapter 14 of forgiveness, of cleansing. I love how the former leper is pronounced clean. It’s a description of Jesus Himself; confined to a clay jar of flesh and bones, blood shed and applied, then He rose again! It’s also a picture of me: bound in a clay jar of sin, accepting the blood of my precious Savior, and free to fly, free from the disease of sin!

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9) That’s a promise you can count on!

Oh, another thing. Notice in chapter 14 the priest went to the leper. The priest defied the “Do Not Touch” order and went to where the leper was. Does that remind you of anyone?

I love Jesus so much!

Chapter 15 reminds me of my responsibility to others. There is nothing sinful about bowel movements, sex between a husband and wife, (or a sneeze). But allowing myself to do those things without cleaning up, can be harmful to those with whom I have contact. It involves a washing every day, sometimes multiple times a day.

God tells us to be holy, like He is holy. That doesn’t involve a bath, or baptism, at some point then assuming you’re fixed for life. Every time God points out a blemish, a sin, I need to throw it under the blood. I need to repent, receive His forgiveness, let Him clean me up. And once that is done, I am not diseased any more. And I need have no fear of spreading the disease of sin to anyone else.

Thank you, God for drawing us this picture in Your Word. Some of the details of the diseases, the creeping crud, the body fluid are disgusting. But I’m reminded sin disgusts you even more. Thank you also for the picture of forgiveness in the two birds used for the cleansing ceremony. Thank you for the truth that once I was lost, diseased, disgusting, I am found, heal, and holy in your sight because of what Jesus did for me. I love you!