Category Archives: Bible study

It’s A Miracle! (Genesis 30)

Have you ever wondered why God didn’t set Jacob straight when he thought putting strips of poplar and almond branches in the water trough would cause perfectly white mating sheep to produce striped and spotted lambs? Does it surprise you that God increased Jacob’s flock in spite of this ridiculous practice?

I remember a well-meaning Sunday School teacher saying the branches in the water frightened the sheep, and the trauma from that shock caused the offspring to be spotted and striped. Interesting.

But does the Bible actually teach folklore or hocus-pocus? Of course not!

I went to Google and found several different theories about this. But most of the articles I read agreed to some degree. Here’s what I found:

First, let me ask you this: How many of you take herbal supplements? Have you ever eaten a handful of almonds for their health benefits? I think Jacob, through God’s leading, might be the first recorded herbalist. (If you want to know more about it let me direct you to answersingenesis.org; Jacob’s Odd “Breeding Program” of Genesis 30. I found that article very interesting).

However, setting all the science aside, the best explanation of Jacob’s breeding program  is found in 31:6-12 when he describes his vision. The bottom line is…

it’s a miracle.

It was God who caused the increase. It was God who strengthened the sheep and produced striped and spotted offspring. God did that, with or without the medicinal benefits of the branches.

God has given us doctors, medicines, even herbs to aid in healing. But do not be misled, healing is a miracle. It is of God, not science, not medicine, not hocus-pocus. If God uses the science He created to bring about healing – it’s a miracle! If God heals apart from any scientific explanation – it’s a miracle!

We can spend all day trying to figure out the “why and how” of Genesis 30. I’ve spent too much time on it today, myself, when I firmly believe God just wants us to see Him in this passage. Period. God could take two perfectly white animals whose genetics would naturally produce perfectly white offspring, and create a spotted lamb in order to bless Jacob. That’s the bottom line.

It’s a miracle!

 

Surprised By Scripture (Genesis 16, 21)

Ishmael was fourteen years old when Isaac was born. Does that surprise you? How many of us remember that picture on our childhood Sunday School classroom walls of a weeping Hagar, with a baby in diapers under a bush behind her? The Bible does not paint that picture.

Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born (16:16) He was 100 years old when Sarah gave birth to Isaac (21:5). Fourteen years separated the brothers. When Abraham banished Hagar and Ishmael, Ishmael was a teenager, according to God’s Word..

I am reminded today how important that God’s children read and re-read His Word, put down the commentaries, block out the voice of teachers (and bloggers), and let God speak. Sometimes when we read the Bible, instead of reading God’s Word, we end up reading Charles Stanley’s word, or Kay Arthur’s word, or the word of that dear Sunday School teacher, or the word of the writers of our church denomination’s theology. We read the words on the pages of the Bible, but we hear what others have said instead of hearing the voice of God.

I know God will not give any of us a new revelation, a “truth” not already in Scripture. But I think God would have us read what He wrote and let Him point out what He Himself would say to each of us every time we do.

Last month our Ladies’ Bible Study discovered that Mary Magdalene was NOT an immoral woman. Scripture does NOT identify her as the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery. Does that surprise you? Read the Gospels and see if you can find Mary Magdalene’s name associated with sexual sin anywhere.

I will tell you it was hard for some of us to let go of the picture of Mary Magdalene as a reformed prostitute. We’d been taught that from childhood. Yet we had to rethink the voices from our past, and accept only what God said about Mary in His Word. It surprised all of us.

God has so much to say to you today. Read His Word and let Him tell you what that is. Don’t assume that the words you are skimming over mean what you’ve always heard they mean. Read with the intention of understanding, and let God reveal Himself to you in a personal, life changing way, according to the Bible.

You may be surprised by Scripture, too!

The Audacity! (Job 32-37)

It’s one thing to speak God’s Words. It’s another thing to speak for God. A young Elihu had the audacity to claim he spoke for God. He had all the answers, and was determined to “enlighten” the others with his superior wisdom. In the end, he was as much a fool as the rest of them.

There are way too many people who have the audacity to speak for God: TV preachers who claim to have a special message from God telling us we should be healthy and wealthy; The young woman involved in the Bethel Movement who claims she got a special word from God through a giant angel, and therefore can speak for God; Joseph Smith, who claimed he received special glasses from an angel so he could read magical scrolls, and therefore speak for God.

The audacity! Sadly, millions of people fall for the lies.

Yet the Apostle Paul said this:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unreachable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

Paul knew we need to let God speak for Himself – because He alone is able. None of can come close to having the mind and knowledge of God. We are NOT His equals.

I always cringe when, at the casket of a person who has met their eternal fate, someone says, “It was God’s will,” or “God needed another angel,” or “Now you have someone looking down and watching over you.”

The audacity! How dare anyone speak for God, especially at such a vulnerable and critical time in someone’s life.

Do you really want to claim you know God’s will for anyone’s life and death? Where in God’s Word do you read about Him not having enough angels, or that a human ever looks down from heaven onto this sinful world? Or are you claiming God has visited you with an extra-Biblical message? Be careful.

Doesn’t the Bible tell us that in heaven, God wipes away our tears. (Revelation 21:4) I’ll tell you right now, if my mother was still watching over her children these past 24 years, God would have needed to dry bucketsful of tears as her heart repeatedly broke over the sins her five daughters have committed since she was here. Does that sound like heaven to you? It certainly is NOT the heaven Scripture describes.

Warren Wiersbe says this:

“No matter how smart you think you are, you never know enough to ‘play God’ in somebody’s life.” (With The Word; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; p 300)

God has spoken for Himself in the pages of Scripture. Let’s not assume we can speak for Him beyond what He revealed in the Bible. Let’s determine to only speak God’s Words as recorded there.

God. doesn’t need any of us to speak for Him. In fact, we can’t.

 

 

 

 

December 21; A Charge

2 Timothy 2-4; Hebrews 1

I hope you will read Paul’s charge to Timothy and hear God speaking to you. The fact is, the time of Jesus’ return is 2,000 years closer than when Paul wrote these words. We may be 2,000 years before that blessed event yet today, but Scripture tells us to be prepared. It could be 2,000 years from now. It could be today.

This is Paul’s charge from chapter 4:

  1. Preach the Word
  2. be prepared in season and out of season
  3. correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction
  4. keep your head in all situations
  5. endure hardship
  6. do the work of the evangelist
  7. discharge all the duties of your ministry

Friend, our relationship with God has to be intentional. It cannot be mere emotion, or something we put on a shelf like a trophy. You and I need to be using our minds, keeping our heads in all situations.

In chapter 3 Paul talks about the evils of the last days and warns us about those who live lives of greed, pride, disobedience, slander… He tells us to have nothing to do with them. Why?

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires… 

Now before you men start to feeling smug here, I’ve known some pretty gullible men, too. I don’t think I’m going out of bounds to suggest this warning is for all of us. None of us are immune from the wiles of the devil.

And I can’t help but think evil is worming its way into our homes through the internet and cable TV. Be ware!

That’s why my prayer is that any who read this blog will be encouraged to be in the God’s Word every day. Reading. Studying. Praying about it. Memorizing it. Re-reading it. And obeying it. Please let God grow you and strengthen you through the pages of His precious Word. And take Paul’s charge to Timothy as your own.

 

 

December 13; Are You Dressed?

Ephesians 4-6

I had a rare day yesterday where I had no responsibilities, no plans, no reason to leave my house. All day. I will confess I stayed in bed much longer than I normally do, didn’t make breakfast until 11:00, and thought: “I could stay in my pajamas all day.”

Well, I didn’t do that last one. I did put clothes on eventually, if you can call leggings and a sloppy shirt clothes. But let’s just say I would have been totally unprepared for company.

Not so today. I’m up, showered, and dressed, ready to tackle my day. Or am I?

Sure I have the jeans, shirt, shoes and socks I’ll wear to clean a storage closet out at church. I’ll stop at the grocery later, pick up some things I need for Good News Club, drop off something at the elementary school, then come home to get cleaned up and ready to go to a friend’s house for game night. But am I really prepared for the day?

Paul tells us we need to be prepared for war every day. We need to put on the full armor of God so we can stand against our enemy, Satan. We need to put on the belt of Truth, the breastplates of righteousness, the Gospel army boots, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit.

If I read Paul right, those things don’t magically appear any more than street clothes would have automatically replaced my pajamas yesterday if someone had come to my door. Getting ready for my day requires intentionality.

So let me ask you (and me), are you dressed? Have you spent time in God’s Word, spoken to your Commander? Have you intentionally asked God to prepare you for battle today? Because, friend, there will be battles today. Are you dressed for the occasion?

 

November 21; Wave Maker

Acts 15-16

When we read Paul’s story we often read words like, “sharp dispute” (15:2), and “sharp disagreement” (15:39. We see him unjustly imprisoned and beaten (16:16ff). Life isn’t always smooth when you are passionate about Jesus.

Maybe you are facing opposition because of your faith. You might be experiencing prejudice and unfair treatment because of your relationship with Jesus. I hope you are because that means, if you are truly acting and speaking in obedience to God’s leading,  you aren’t just satisfied with hoarding what God has given you. It means you are out there making disciples. I think Paul has something to say to us about how to handle opposition toward us who share the Gospel.

In the first case I sited above, Paul went to the elders of the church when he found himself in disagreement with some of the fellowship. They discussed both sides of the issue, and the result ended up encouraging and strengthening the people involved.

Is there an issue within your fellowship that has you at odds with someone? Then go to the elders. Look for a solution that will glorify God, and encourage and strengthen other believers.

In the second situation, Paul and Barnabas parted company. I think that is a sad end to a dispute, but might be necessary if an agreement can’t be made. But here is what I notice about this in Paul’s story. Neither man stopped sharing Jesus. In fact, God used their split to bless two missionary teams instead of the one. I believe if God is in it, He can bring something good out of every situation. (We will find out later that fences were mended. It can happen with you, too.)

And when Paul and Silas were in prison for healing a girl, they demonstrated Godly character even then. While the men were praying and singing praises to God in the middle of the night, the prison doors flew open and their chains fell off. But Paul didn’t run. He didn’t kill the sleeping guard. He stayed right where he was, in order to face those who had put him in prison.

Even when he faced his captors, he did it without malice. He didn’t rant and rave about how unfair it all was. Paul didn’t pray that God would zap them and give them what they’d given him. He simply showed them they were the guilty ones.

Sometimes I think because Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, and to love one another, we interpret that as not making waves. Paul was a wave maker. But in the situations I see in these chapters in Acts, he faced opposition without sinning. He didn’t stoop to their level. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he didn’t back down, either.

So today, I want to make some waves. If God gives me opportunity, may I make someone uncomfortable in their sin, in order to point them to the Savior. May I stand up for God if someone speaks against Him. I want to turn the other cheek without cowering, and face my opposition with the same strength Paul demonstrated, empowered by the same God Who empowered Paul.

I don’t want to be satisfied with smooth sailing. I want to be a wave maker, and do it for the glory of God.

 

 

November 18; Determination

Acts 13-14

When Paul and Barnabas entered a city and began preaching the Gospel of Jesus, one of two things generally happened. One is that people believed and were saved. The other is that people didn’t believe, and wanted to kill Paul and Barnabas. Even the city that wanted to worship the men as gods ended up stoning Paul and leaving him for dead.

What speaks to me about Paul and Barnabas is their steadfast determination to share Jesus, no matter the cost. Do you know what Paul did after the stoning? “…he got up and went back into the city.” (14:20) He left the next day, but the fact that he went back at all speaks to me.

It makes me wonder how many times I have shared about Jesus, only to be met with opposition or ridicule, then avoided that person the next time we were in the same vicinity. I wonder how steadfast is my determination to share Jesus with lost people, whatever the cost.

The truth is, most people don’t automatically become believers the first time they hear the Gospel. In fact, hearing they even need a Savior can make people very angry. Am I one and done? If they don’t drop to their knees and pray for forgiveness after hearing my testimony or my sermonette, too bad. Move on, Connie. Or run for your life. But don’t make the mistake of talking about God with them a second time. They might get mad.

I hope that isn’t true for any of us. We can learn from Paul who counted it joy to be persecuted for Jesus’ sake. Certainly we who know Him can count it joy if someone tries to hurt our feelings because we are sharing the Gospel, can’t we?

Let’s be determined to share the glorious truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone today, and again tomorrow, and the next day if it’s necessary. Let’s be determined to be obedient to God’s leading no matter the cost. People need to hear the truth. Let’s be determined to be the ones who will tell them, then tell them again.