Category Archives: Bible study

(Psalm 1) Blessed To Bless

I’ve never really studied the psalms. I’ve read them often and have been blessed and challenged by certain phrases that stand out to me as I quickly read over them. But I’ve never dug deeper into them as I have other places in God’s Word. I think it’s time.

So using the opinions written by Bible scholars like those who contribute to my Apologetics Study Bible, Warren Wiersbe’s “Be Worshipful,” Matthew Henry, Josh Hunt, and others, I’m going to take one psalm at a time, word by word, and prayerfully consider this portion of Scripture like I’ve never done before. This could take a while.

I memorized Psalm 1 in the KJV when I was a youth. It’s taken decades to really look at what God would have me know through these familiar verses. In fact, as I’ve looked at this psalm for the past 2 1/2 hours, I am challenged to do what it says!

The first word in this psalm is “blessed,” or “happy,” and isn’t that something we all aspire to? I don’t know that anyone would say they just want to be miserable and to go through hard times. So, here is the key to happiness according to God’s Word:

First what not to do. Don’t go the way of the world. Don’t go along with the crowd. Don’t take what your professors or politicians or rockstars or pro-athletes or peers or news anchors say as gospel. The loudest voices aren’t always the right voices, aren’t always the truthful voices.

Some of those voices mock Christianity, reject Truth, deny God. Do you want to be happy and blessed? Don’t walk with them. God would have us know that the blessed, the happiest people are those who don’t listen to the ungodly, are those who don’t align themselves with unbelievers.

Here’s the other aspect of the key to happiness: Love God’s Word. Yes, love the Bible. Read it, but don’t stop there. Pray about it. Think about it day and night. Let it become a part of you.

Commentaries and study guides help. I’m going to be looking at several while I study the psalms in the next few weeks (or months at the rate I’m going). But there isn’t a Bible teacher or Bible scholar who can replace the treasure that is God’s own Words.

In fact, if you need counsel, direction, advice for life, there is no better place to go than to the Giver of life! Happy, blessed, are those who make Scripture a priority.

The psalmist compares people who are grounded in God’s Word to a healthy tree, planted by water, and bearing fruit. It is a picture which demonstrates that our nourishment comes from spending time in God’s Word. Reading the Bible and allowing it to feed us produces fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Now here is something Warren Wiersbe said, “We must remember that the tree doesn’t eat the fruit; others eat it.” (Be Worshipful; by Warren Wiersbe; David C Cook publisher; 2009; p 22))

When we delight in God’s Word, we bear fruit that will bless others. That in itself is WHY we are blessed. If we want to be blessed so we feel blessed, if the blessing stays with us and becomes more important than the Giver of the blessing, that is idolatry. And idolatry is sin. (from page 21 of “Be Worshipful)

The prosperity the psalmist speaks of is the number of eternal souls saved by the fruit we bear.

The psalmist gives a warning to those he calls, “wicked,” those who follow the way of sinners and sit with the ungodly. Their judgment is sure. In the end, they will be separated from the righteous (not the sinless because none of us are without sin. But righteousness comes to those who delight in God’s Word and bear fruit for the kingdom as a result of an encounter with Jesus).

That separation is ruin. Loss. Pain. The antithesis of anything right. And it will never end.

I am challenged today. I do love spending time in God’s Word. I want to love it more. I am blessed by the Spirit’s gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But I don’t want to just sit here and get fat on my blessings. I want to bless others with the blessings I’ve received.

Well, this was a long post. If you are still with me, thanks! Not sure I would have done the same if I were you. I pray that you and I will delight in God’s Word every day, think about it throughout the day, let it nourish us and strengthen us so that we bear fruit today, and that someone will be drawn to our precious Savior because we are doing what Psalm 1 instructs us to do.

To we who are blessed, let’s be a blessing.

(Job 37-42) Blessed Be The Name of the LORD

So after God spoke and Job repented, God blessed Job with even more material blessings than he’d had before the trouble began. Doesn’t that seem to support the prosperity gospel so appealing to so many theses days? If you say the right thing, manufacture the right faith, BOOM – you win the lottery. Makes me want to get my checkbook out and write a big one to Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Peter Popoff, Kenneth Hagin, and the like. Let that “seed money” do its thing.

I’ve sat here for quite a while this morning, trying to make sense of this because I don’t believe the property gospel is Biblical. I can think of many examples of believers who struggle physically and financially, yet consider themselves blessed. I believe the above mentioned public figures are charlatans. But the health and wealth gospel seems to be here in Job’s life. I went to the internet and read things from sources I trust, and even from sources I consider questionable to try to make sense of this passage.

Then I prayed.

Yeah, I know. I got that backwards, didn’t I?

God seemed to point me back to chapter one. And I was reminded that the book of Job is not primarily about suffering or loss, or even restoration. It’s about worship. Remember Satan challenged God on the idea that Job worshiped God because his life was easy. Satan’s premises was that if things turned for the worst in Job’s life, he would stop worshiping God.

The book of Job is full of imagery. We see pictures of nature, of creation, God’s supremacy, and His intelligence which is far above our own. We hear Job question, and can almost feel his agony. But what we don’t see is Job turning his back on God.

In fact, in the end, Job confesses his sin and falls on his face before the one true God as he realizes God’s ways are far above our own, and that through it all, God can be trusted.

However, as demonstrated in the book of Job, God delights in blessing his obedient children. Job once again enjoyed a materially blessed life. He had other children to fill his household. His physical problems were behind him. But here is what I think God pointed out to me today: Job wasn’t blessed because of things. He was blessed by his relationship with God. Remember what he’d said from the beginning?

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. (1:21)

If we make the book of Job about material blessings, we miss the point. The question asked and answered in these chapters is: is God worthy of praise and worship no matter the circumstances of life?

The answer is a resounding YES! Read what God says about Himself as He asks Job those probing questions. Is He worthy?

Paul told the church in Philippi (4:11-13)

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

That’s the message from Job’s life. Is it your experience as well, or are you waiting until your ship comes in before you truly worship God?

I pray we will all bow before our Creator God who is holy and righteous and does all things well. I pray that no matter what our struggles or disappointments or challenges or devastating circumstances, we will with Job continue to say:

Blessed be the name of the LORD.

Not because we think saying that will get us out of our trouble or move us to Easy Street. May we say it believing it’s true because:

The NAME of the LORD is worthy.

(Job 32-37) Whatever Your Age

I found myself laughing out loud today as I read these chapters in God’s Word. And every time I have that experience, it’s because I see myself in what I read. And usually, not in a good way.

I don’t know how much younger Elihu was than Job and his buddies. But is seems there were more than a few years between them because Elihu sat with them for some time without speaking, out of respect for his elders.

Now, I’m projecting here but I imagine Elihu was a typical young person. I see him rolling his eyes, shaking his head, snickering under his breath at what he perceived as ignorance in the older generation. After all, Elihu was woke. So when he got his chance, he would teach those old geezers the wisdom of youth.

“Pay attention,” he says. “I’m going to open my mouth and tell you where you are wrong.”

He then proceeds to prove he has no more understanding than the others. If you read his sermon, you’ll see him refer to himself about as often as he refers to God. Elihu isn’t hesitant about pointing out his knowledge and wisdom.

Oh, there are several times Elihu gives God a nod for giving him knowledge, and for having superior knowledge. But I see a lot of young Elihu in these chapters.

Now, before anyone thinks I am targeting millennials, let me confess I remember being young, too. I remember rolling my eyes at the things my dad would say. I mean, I’d gone to college and he didn’t. I was enlightened and he wasn’t (or so I thought).

Trust me when I say this, kids. One day you are going to be faced with the realization that you aren’t as stupid as your kids will think you are, either.

I don’t think this portion of Scripture has to be only about youth versus age. There’s a little Elihu in all of us. And it’s a sin. It was a sin when Adam and Eve thought they understood God apart from His Word, and it’s a sin today. There is no wisdom, no understanding that isn’t written in the pages of the Bible.

Now here is where I laughed out loud today. Elihu’s final words are found in verse 37:24b and they are hilarious.

(God) does not look favorably on any who are wise in heart.

Except, of course, me. Right?

Dear Elihu is condemning the very thing he himself is guilty of. But I don’t think he sees it like that. He thinks he’s pointing a finger at Job and his friends, not considering there are three fingers pointed back at him.

I hope you have knowledge of Scripture. I hope you study your Bible, memorize verses, can share the accounts of people who lived during that time. I hope you have an understanding of who God is and what His plan is according to the Words He inspired men to write down. I hope you have wisdom from above.

But let’s not think, even for a second, that any of that is our own doing. Let’s not put ourselves anywhere near the level of God. I don’t care how old you are, or how young.

It’s about God. Whatever your age.

(2 Chronicles 28-31) It’s Just The Beginning

The Jewish people had just participated in a worship service beyond imagination. There were sacrifices for days, songs, trumpets, praises.

“There was great rejoicing in Jerusalem, for nothing like this was known since the days of Solomon son of David, king of Israel.” (29:26)

But it’s what happened after the benediction that spoke to me today.

“When all this was completed, all Israel who had attended went out to the cities of Judah and broke up the sacred pillars, chopped down the Asherah poles, and tore down the high places and altars throughout Judah and Benjamin, as well as in Ephraim and Manasseh, to the last one. “ (31:1a)

We have put so much emphasis on the experience of worship we neglect why we worship. If attending church on Sunday doesn’t inspire and equip and encourage us to get out there and confront sin, if we don’t leave the sanctuary like people shot out of a canon eager to go and make disciples, to be salt and light, fishers of men, why do we bother getting out of bed on Sunday morning?

I believe Scripture tells us the evidence of true worship is what happens next.

And pastors: If your goal isn’t to inspire your congregation to use their worship of God as a catalyst to share the Gospel, why do you bother getting out of bed on Sunday?

Worship isn’t the all to end all. It’s just the beginning.

(I Chronicles 22) Provide the Tools

God had told David he would not be the one to build the temple, but that his son Solomon would carry on the work instead. It had been David’s great desire to build a fitting home for God, whom he loved, and it must have been a disappointment when God closed that door.

David’s reaction – his prayer – following the devastating news is a lesson we all could learn when faced with our own disappointments. But something else spoke to me today as I read God’s Word.

Maybe it’s because I just spent a week with my niece and her sweet family that I was prompted to consider what David did for Solomon in this situation. David, as he looked at that closed door and realized he would not see that temple built, as he came to grips with the fact his son would be charged with carrying on the mission, got busy making sure Solomon would have everything he needed for the task.

David didn’t decide to let Solomon figure things out for himself. He carefully – and at great cost – provided Solomon with the tools he’d need in the future.

Spiritually speaking, parents, that’s what you need to be doing, too. Are you carefully providing everything your children will need for carrying on the cause of Christ after you are gone? Are you reading the Bible and talking to them about it? Are you worshiping with them in a Bible-believing church fellowship? Do they see you praying, and witnessing, and living a life that speaks to them about Jesus?

Or are you going to assign them the task of figuring things out for themselves? If you think they can be the temple without you providing the tools, you are taking a chance with their eternal souls. Are you prepared to take that chance?

Provide the tools.

(2 Kings 18-20) Generations To Come

I’m not a big fan of King Hezekiah. Yes, he did some good things, and Scripture says he did right in the eyes of God. His prayer is an example, and a challenge to me. But I’m not sure I like him.

Verse 20:19 seals the deal for me when Hezekiah said all he cared about was his own comfort and safety. Too bad about his kids.

But I’m reminded he isn’t the only one looking out for #1, or living for the moment. I’ve been guilty of that, too. And you know what? I’m not sure I like me either, during those times.

If I’m not concerned about what life will be like when the babies in my family are grown, or if I have no passion for the kids in my church or neighborhood, or the dear ones in the school down the street, what does that say about me? I might as well pull the covers over my head and eat bonbons all day, get fat on my blessings, and die.

Because I certainly am not serving God unless I’m working toward making the world more Christlike by actively inviting people to know the Savior. I don’t have to be good with kids, teach a Sunday School for first graders, or even volunteer at the schools. But I can pray. I can support Bible-based children’s ministries, I can encourage parents, teachers, and caregivers in the name of Jesus. I can be an example of someone who is devoted to Jesus and interested in the souls of the next generation.

Do you know the percentage of people who give their hearts to the Lord as adults compared to that of children? It’s shocking. Someone recently showed me a statistic that said 2/3 of Christians say they accepted Jesus as a child. Children need to hear about Jesus and be given the opportunity to surrender to Him while they are young. I am not saying reaching out to adults isn’t important. It is. God is not willing ANY should die without Him. But let’s not neglect the next generation while reaching out to the present one.

I do not want to entertain the same attitude Hezekiah had. I’m not ok thinking the children alive today may have to face persecution and suffer for the Name. I’m not ok thinking the Gospel may not be recognizable in years to come. Yes, I most likely will be gone.

But can I be ok knowing that young people around me might have to live through God’s judgment for my decisions? Or that the same young people might become so hardened to the Truth that they never receive God’s grace?

We all have a responsibility in reaching children for Christ who will reach children for Christ for generations to come.

(2 Kings 16-17) What Do We Lose?

I’m going to challenge you to read these two chapters today. I’ll let Scripture speak for itself. But if you can’t read both chapters, hear what I believe God would have us consider today:

“To satisfy the king of Assyria, he (King Ahaz) removed from the Lord’s temple the Sabbath canopy they had built in the palace, and he closed the outer entrance.” (16:18)

“They (the Jews) feared the Lord, but they also worshiped their own gods according to the practice of the nations from which they had been deported.” (17:33)

“They (the Jews) feared the Lord but also served their idols.” (17:41)

Do you recognize the Church, or maybe your own heart? Are we trying to worship God and still satisfy the world? What do we lose when we do that?

I once heard someone we commonly refer to as a “worship leader” say his goal was to make worship fun.

Fun for whom? God?

Really?

What do we lose if worship becomes about the enjoyment of the worshiper? What do we lose if we water down Scripture to make it more palatable for the listener? What do we do if we hide behind a cutsie name for our fellowship so the world will feel comfortable?

What do we lose? What does Scripture tell us?

(I Samuel 25-27) Me Time, or Our Time

It’s hard to reconcile David, a man after God’s own heart, with the liar we read about here in I Samuel. David had placed himself in a difficult situation when he made himself at home with the enemy. It was easy to sin, surrounded by sin.

But my question is, why did he go there in the first place? God had proven Himself to be firmly on the side of David against Saul. David admitted God had delivered Saul into his hands – twice! David could easily have rid himself of the man who wanted him dead, yet David spared Saul both times, not wanting to sin against God or God’s anointed.

It sounds like, even after the obvious hand of God on his life, David was tired of running. And even though he probably knew God would continue to give him victory, David was weary of the battle, and didn’t see an end to his trouble.

He needed some “me time.” And he found it in the territory of the real enemy – sin. David learned you can’t surround yourself with sin and expect it not to rub off. And if you choose to live with the enemy, you are inviting some serious problems.

So, where are you living? With whom have you surrounded yourself? We are to go into the world and share the Gospel, but we are not to be comfortable there. What fellowship does the light have with darkness? The two cannot exist together.

What we read here in I Samuel is a very dark time in David’s life. I think the sad thing about it is, he is living with the enemy because of his lack of faith in God, who had only proven Himself faithful. Maybe God just wasn’t moving fast enough for David.

“Me time” is a popular concept today. And I’m not going to say whether or not I think it’s a good thing. I will, however, boldly say it is wrong if the “me time” moves you away from God, and closer to the enemy. You might be discouraged, weary, frustrated, disappointed, or burned out. And maybe God is nudging you to take a step back for a time. But, dear one, don’t use that as an excuse to dabble in the things of this world. Don’t allow yourself to feel at home with the enemy.

I’m not saying David was wrong to want to get away. The problem began with where he went. He didn’t go to God. Instead, he snuggled up with God’s enemy.

If you are needing some “me time,” spend it with God. Get to know Him better by reading your Bible and asking Him to reveal Himself. I would suggest you don’t go to self-help books or sit yourself in front of the TV, or turn to alcohol or partying or anything like that. I don’t believe there is any better “me time” than the time you share in a private encounter with God.

There is nothing sweeter than turning “Me Time” into “Our Time” with the Lord.

(I Samuel 3-7) What Do You Know?

So many questions seem to arise from the Old Testament account of God’s history with Israel. Just in these few chapters in Judges people have asked:

“Who or what toppled the Dagon idol?”

“What kinds of tumors were there, and what caused them?”

“Why would God kill people simply for being curious?”

“How could an entire army of trained soldiers be that afraid of a thunder storm?”

People who think they have to understand everything written in Scripture are foolish. But so is the person who reads Scripture and never tries to understand. It’s one thing to have faith. It’s another to be satisfied with blind faith.

What if you were asked the questions cited above? What if someone who is seeking the truth came to you for answers? What do you know about falling idols, tumors, thunderstorms, and the ark?

What do you know about God? Simply saying you believe is not enough. You need to know what you believe… and why you believe it.

I started telling you how I would answer the questions I shared at the beginning of this post. But I feel God is challenging you to do your own investigation. Just let me encourage you to let Him speak to you through His own words, not the words of a blogger like me, or a study guide, or the internet, unless they point you to specific verses in the Bible that back up what they say. Be careful to not accept opinion as fact. The answers, everything you need to know has been given you by God Himself. I would encourage you to start – and end – in the pages of Scripture to find the answers you are looking for.

So let me ask you again, what do you know? Can you share it with someone who needs to know? I believe God would have us all be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Him. I believe we need to be ready to share what we know to be true, according to Scripture.

(Joshua 1-5) The Forever Miracle

Do you believe in miracles? Some people read things like the Israelite’s crossing of the Jordan River, and because it would be impossible, write it off as fantasy, folk-lore, imagination. Others come up with what they think are plausible answers like the pull of gravity on that particular day at that exact time…

What these people don’t seem to understand is, if the event could be explained, it wouldn’t be a miracle. If we can understand the “how” of it, it isn’t miraculous. So the question again is, do you believe in miracles?

Do I believe the Jordan River water stopped flowing, that a new generation of Jews crossed over on dry ground like their fathers had crossed the Red Sea? I do.

Can I explain it from a scientific perspective? No.

Have I ever seen river water stop flowing like reported in the book of Joshua? Never.

Then why in the world would I believe it to be true?

Because I believe in the God of the Bible. And because I believe in Him, it’s not that hard to believe in miracles. In fact, I’ve seen even greater miracles than the Jordan River crossing.

Every time a sinner repents and is changed from the inside out through the blood of Jesus, there’s a miracle. There is no greater miracle than true repentance because it’s eternal. All other miracles had a time frame. Not so salvation.

It’s the forever miracle.