Category Archives: Bible study

July 16; Stop Trying So Hard

2 Kings 18:3-7, 20:20-21; 2 Chronicles 29:2, 32:32-33; Isaiah 24:1-27:13

When I read Isaiah’s words I see Jesus, the Rock eternal, the upright One whose life, death, and resurrection makes the path of righteousness level, and who makes salvation a wall and a rampart that protects His children.

So many religions require their followers to do certain things, to suffer in certain ways, to make sacrifices in order to attain favor, or god-likeness, or whatever the goal of that religion is.

On the other hand, Jesus says: “Here, let me do that for you.”

In other religions people can be at different levels, different stages in their pursuit of heaven or actualization or enlightenment.

Jesus says, “Believe in me.”

Salvation Jesus’ way is a gift, not something you strive for or earn. In Jesus’ economy we are all equal. No one is saved more than someone else by virtue of a series of completed tasks.

Ask.

Receive.

That’s it. No matter who you are. And if you’ve done that you know there is such peace and rest given to us. When we finally stop trying so hard to earn that unattainable goal, and allow Jesus only be our goal, we can rest in His grace.

Isaiah has so much to say about this. I hope you’ll read it and see Jesus, see how He cares for His children, how He shows grace to the wicked in order to bring them to Himself. Let Him speak to you about your relationship with Him in 2019.

Then rejoice with me in the truth of 26:3,

You will keep him in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

July 15: Pass or Fail

Isaiah 37:14-38:22, 39:1-8; 2 Kings 20:1-18; 2 Chronicles 32:24-31

When I was in college I had the opportunity to “audit” a class or two. I was permitted to attend a class that wasn’t required for my major.  I could attend the lectures, do the work and take the tests, but my grade would be either pass or fail instead of the usual letter grade or percentage like in my other classes. It gave me the opportunity to learn a topic of interest without the pressure of making a grade for my GPA.

I think we are living life on a pass/fail basis. Not that we are simply auditing life. In fact, the result of our lives has much more significant outcomes than a GPA. Because in the end, we will either go to heaven or hell. Pass or fail.

During the course of our lives, we face times of testing. Sometimes we go through difficulties in life, and come out on the other side stronger in our faith, our relationship with the Lord more real than ever. We pass that difficult test, so to speak, and realize we really do have faith in God. Like Job, in all these things we do not sin. Actually, the tests involving hard times, illness, grief can be the easiest tests to pass because we can recognize the enemy, and face it head-on with God by our side.

But we’ve got to understand that hard times are not Satan’s only weapon against us. It’s not the only test he throws our way. Often that snake will revert back to his Garden of Eden tactics: pride, flattery, friendship.

Read what went down between Hezekiah and Merodach-Baladan the son of Babylonian king Baladan. This enemy sent men to Hezekiah with presents and good wishes. Isaiah says Hezekiah gladly received the enemy, gave them the grand tour of the palace and storehouses and sent them on their way. The enemy had tapped into Hezekiah’s pride, and the king couldn’t wait to show off.

Hezekiah had passed the war and illness tests. But he miserably failed the test of pride. Let’s remember that it’s Satan’s sole mission to trip you up. He’s throwing darts and trick questions your way, hoping you will fail to be true to God. And often, his methodology is flattery, success, and pride.

Paul, in his second letter to Timothy says:

Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babbling: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

I think Paul and Isaiah would both tell us to arm ourselves with the Word, ground ourselves in the Truth of Scripture, put on the whole armor of God so that when, not if, Satan throws a pop-quiz at us, we will be ready.

Then look what else Paul tells Timothy: watch out for the flattery, the pride. Those things will lead to ungodliness, which is a fail.

You will be tested today. Will you pass, or fail?

 

July 13; Blind and Numb

Isaiah 29-32

Who would intentionally blind themselves? Who chooses to live life in a stupor? Yet God says in 29:9:

Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine; stagger, but not from beer.”

Now, before you suggest we all take needles to our eyes and have a lobotomy, let me remind us God is warning His people about the consequences that are coming their way because of sin. Then He says, “Go ahead. Put your head in the sand if you want. Numb yourselves against the Truth if that’s how you want to handle it.”

In verse 11 He goes on to say they are taking His warnings like nothing more than words on a scroll. They give the scroll to someone, but the recipient can’t open the scroll. They hand the scroll to someone else, but that person can’t even read.

“Well,” the people of God say, “We tried to warn them.”

These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (29:13)

First of all, are you aware of the Truth of Scripture, or have you blinded yourself and numbed yourself to the warnings? If that’s the case, stop right here and get out your Bible. You have the Truth at your fingertips. Ingest it.

Secondly, if you know the Truth, how are you sharing it? Or are you? Do you think everybody should just “know” what God says simply by watching your lifestyle? Do you expect people to understand God when they are ignorant of who He even is? I hope you aren’t just throwing a verse or two their way and expecting them to get it. People without the Truth have blinded themselves. They are numb toward anything from God. How are you reaching them?

And lastly, where is your heart in relationship to God’s? That may be the most important question of all.

As you read these chapters today, let me encourage you to allow God to speak to you as though you were one of those ancient Jews. Be Ariel. Be Jacob. Be those obstinate children and hear God’s warnings – and His promises!

He wants to talk to you today about your heart’s condition, about your knowledge of His Truth, and about your witness as one entrusted with this precious gift. Hear Him.

Or are you going to blind yourself and numb yourself toward His Words?

July 9; Voices

2 Kings 18:13-19:37; 2 Chronicles 32:1-23

How do you know what to believe? The Assyrian king made some good points, used facts and figures to prove his point. It was true that King Hezekiah had removed all the high places and altars the people had used to worship the gods of the surrounding nations. The children of Israel had seen those places and altars removed themselves, so they knew what Sennacherib said was true.

It was true that the Assyrian army had defeated many people in many lands, and not one of their gods had been able to save them against Sennacherib’s forces. Not one. Sennacherib was not lying.

He made a good argument. It sounded right. But he was wrong. Read what he actually said to the Israelites:

Do not believe (Hezekiah), for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my fathers. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand! (2 Chronicles 32:15)

Again, Sennacherib wasn’t lying. He was absolutely right to say he conquered those nations and not one god stepped up against him. So what were the people supposed to do with that?

There are so many voices vying for our attention these days. Some try to do what Sennacherib did and say God is like all other gods. Some voices try to deny God all together, and can give scientific “proof” to support their distorted opinions. There are voices that quote Scripture to convince us that what they say is from God, but they are only twisting what God really says in His Word.

What I learned from theses Scriptures today is this: The Israelites new what God said BEFORE Sennacherib opened his mouth. They’d heard the Truth spoken and, therefore, could recognize the lies.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles. (2 Chronicles 32:7-8a, emphasis mine)

And that’s what I want to get across to us today. Read, meditate on, devour God’s Word. Spend quality time in the Bible every day. Put down the self-help books, the parenting books, the positive thinking books, and open your Bible. Turn off the TV preachers, the “experts” who want you to feel good about yourself, and open your Bible.

There are voices out there speaking your language. But what they say is straight from Satan. Oh, they sound good. They site impressive studies, quote a Bible verse or two. But their opinions are not necessarily God’s Truth.

So how do you know if the voices you are hearing are true? Open you Bible.

 

June 30; Hear It

Isaiah 7:1-10:4, 17:1-14

We’ve already established that Ahaz was an evil king. Yet in the chapters we read today, God inspired the prophet Isaiah to go to Ahaz and give him a word of encouragement. And, to prove God was true to His word, Isaiah told Ahaz he could ask for a sign – any sign – and God would do it.

Ahaz replied, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”

Sounds rather pious, doesn’t it? Well, neither Isaiah nor God were impressed.

The truth is, God is always giving signs to prove His existence, His power, His Son. Some people flat out say, like Ahaz, “I don’t want to hear it.” Period.

I see this attitude in tons of literature written, and the multitude of “experts” on TV who attempt to disprove God, or to get around God, or to make ourselves God. I see it in the lives of people who live like there is no God. Yet God continues to reveal Himself day after day after day.

I bet the sun rose where you are this morning. I bet your heart is beating, that your lungs are filled with oxygen. I bet the tide came in sometime today, went out, and will come in again just like it did yesterday. And I bet, if you let yourself, every time you held a newborn baby, you recognized the amazing work of God with awe and wonder.

Did you know it was to Ahaz that God inspired Isaiah to pen the famous prophesy about the coming of Jesus?

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel… For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…

That was written about 500 years before Jesus’ birth. That and so many other prophesies written and fulfilled concerning the Messiah prove without a doubt God is who He says He is, and that Jesus is the Son. For those of us who know Him, we read these prophesies and our hearts soar, our love for Him overflows.

Please don’t be one who refuses to accept the signs, or who rejects His word. My prayer for all of us today is that we will not only WANT to hear it, we will look for it in nature, in the face of a loved one, in the peace that comes from His presence, and the overwhelming joy of sins forgiven through Jesus’ blood.

Oh, He’s out there. He’s throwing out sign after sign to get our attention. Don’t ignore it.

Hear it. Hear Him.

 

 

June 21; That’s Harsh

2 Kings 9:1-11:3; 2 Chronicles 22:7-12

Jehu obeyed God, as hard as it might have been. Every person in Ahab’s family from the oldest to the youngest was executed. All the priests of Baal were also killed. These were enemies of God, and they had to be eliminated. Sin had to be removed at all cost.

It’s tempting to think God through Jehu is too harsh, the penalty for being related to Ahab too severe. But that’s because we don’t understand how much God hates sin, no matter how small or how innocent we think the sin may be.

God abhors sin. God cannot exist where sin is; not in a nation, or a heart. Until we see sin through God’s eyes we will allow God’s enemy to live.

I’m certainly not talking about killing people. Jesus died so sin can be eliminated through His own blood, so no one ever has to die for sin ever again. But in order to receive the forgiveness Jesus bought there on the cross, we have to make that choice and accept it.

We have to put sin to death in our own lives, sever relationships if necessary, turn off the TV and computers, put down that glass or that bag of chips, forgive…

Hear God say to us that He is deathly serious about sin in all shapes and sizes. Hear Him say He will not tolerate your sin or mine. Hear Him as He shows us in His Word how He views sin, and how He deals with sin. His own Son died, took the penalty for every sin we’ve ever committed. God is that serious about sin.

It is harsh. You might think it’s too harsh. But you aren’t God. And the truth of the matter is, that harsh penalty was paid by Jesus on your behalf. I pray you accept it, embrace Him, and look at sin through His eyes.

May 29; The Wisdom Cycle

Proverbs 8-10

Solomon seems to talk a lot about the relationship between wisdom and righteousness. First of all, he says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Not the love of the Lord. Not doing things for the Lord. Not a cleaned up life. And not the philosophy of today which tells us love of self is the beginning of wisdom.

Fear of God.

For those people who don’t know Him, that fear ought to look like the cowering, petrified, scared to death kind of fear that ends up in the attempt to escape Him. He is THAT God.

For those who recognize that, who realize the fearfulness of God, PLUS His great sacrificial love, their’s is a fear that looks more like obedience, respect, and awe. Now that’s the beginning of wisdom!

Solomon says that kind of wisdom leads to righteous living. Righteous living is blessed by God. One of those blessings is more wisdom which leads to more righteous living, then blessings, and wisdom, etc.

The “wisdom cycle.”

It’s the never ending cycle of the sanctified life, growing  in grace and knowledge of Jesus. It’s the yieldedness that produces a vital, productive life blessed by God, and used by Him to share the wisdom with others.

Do you fear God? You should. That fear should make you want to resist Satan in every way like I talked about yesterday. Living a righteous life is blessed by God, draws us closer to Him. Living a righteous life is wisdom – with benefits.

Jumping on the “wisdom cycle” is the wise thing to do.