Category Archives: Bible study

September 17; Hold Your Horses

Ezra 8:15-10:44

Ezra had the go-ahead from the king, and from God to gather the Jews and head home. Ezra immediately organized the people, but when he discovered there were no priests or Levites among them, he waited. He sent for the spiritual leaders, and didn’t move until they were present.

But Ezra didn’t move out the minute the priest got there, either. He led the Israelites in a time of fasting and prayer. They humbled themselves and asked God for a safe journey for all of them, men, women, and children.

Have you ever found yourself moving ahead of God, of jumping into service without really praying about it, of beginning a ministry before you humbly give it to God?

Hold your horses!

I think Ezra’s example is a good one for all of us excited about doing God’s will.

He knew upfront that God was in it. But Ezra still prayed. He surrounded himself with Godly people and they prayed. He humbled himself. He gave the journey to God, asked God to protect him, and to bless their efforts.

And God brought them all safely home. Sounds like a recipe for a successful ministry to me.

 

September 16; Getting Our Priorities Straight

Ezra 7:1-8:14; Psalm 106

There’s no question Ezra was used by God in amazing fashion. He was instrumental in re-establishing Jerusalem as the City of God, of re-settling the returning Jews into the Promised Land, and of reminding the Jews of their relationship with God and their need of Him.

But there is one verse that struck me today as I read these verses. Ezra 7:10:

For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.

Sure, Ezra wanted the temple up and running again, he wanted the exiled Jews home again. But he wasn’t devoted to any of that. His devotion was toward God’s Word, for himself and for others. Ezra had his priorities straight. And because he spent time in God’s Word for himself, then shared it with others, he was able to then do great things for God.

Sometimes I think we forget that first important step. We get busy doing things for God, teaching SS, singing in the choir, volunteering, visiting… we neglect our personal time in God’s Word.

Please don’t let this blog, or a commentary, or a study guide replace your time reading the Bible, opening God’s Word and allowing Him to speak to you personally. I mean, I’m glad you drop by here to see what God has impressed on my heart. But don’t ever let that take the place of allowing Him to speak to you directly through the pages of His love letter to you.

What are you devoted to? Let’s be sure we all have our priorities straight.

August 12; Where Do You Live?

Ezekiel 10-13

I thought of what Jesus said in Matthew 7 as I read more of Ezekiel’s vision this morning. God is telling Ezekiel that the Jews were about to face judgment for the sins they’d been committing. The Jews were a religious people. But the religion they were following was an affront to God.

False prophets had lulled them into a stupor, a false sense of security. They seemed to have believed God was just blowing smoke. He’d talked about punishing them for years, and nothing happened yet. They were still free to live like they lived, so there was a message of peace in the land.

I’m ok. You’re ok.

But even though they worshiped in the temple, and identified themselves as God’s chosen people, they were about to find out God is serious about His judgment for disobedience. His patience is not weakness. God told them they were living behind a flimsy whitewashed wall that was about to come falling down upon them.

Jesus told the parable of two men, one wise and one foolish. The wise man, He said, built a house on the strong foundation of the Word of God, and nothing could shake it. The foolish man, however, built his house on sinking sand, and like the flimsy wall in Ezekiel, it collapsed when the winds began to blow.

Last week I took a ten day challenge to read only the Bible, and to let God be the only commentary I considered. I have loved it!

Today I am reminded that God’s Word is the strongest foundation I can build my life upon. Not religion. Not theology. Not opinion. And certainly not myself. There are people out there preaching peace when there is no peace, whole denominations tweaking God’s Word to be politically correct and tolerant. There are some satisfied with religion, and who go through the motions of worship faithfully.

But I’m afraid they are living behind flimsy walls.

So my question for us today is, where are we living? Are we living on lives built on the sure foundation of Jesus? Are we deeply grounded in the Words God Himself breathed into existence? Can our lives withstand the storms of life because our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness?

Or are we hiding behind religion, church attendance, love, peace, good deeds? Those sound like flimsy walls on sinking sand to me.

So I’ll ask again. Where do you live?

August 9; The Breath of God

Jeremiah 23:9-40, 27:1-28:17

Do you know what the Bible says about itself? “I am God-breathed.” Paul, in his second letter to Timothy tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed” (3:16) It’s in there!

In the passages I read today, God is telling Jeremiah that when he hears prophets prophesying, Jeremiah needs to ask them, “What has the Lord spoken?” and “What is the Lord’s answer to you?” I think it’s important for us to know the answers to those questions, too.

I don’t care who is speaking – what does the Bible say? The Bible is God’s Word to us. It is the final – the only authority by which we measure every thought and word and action.

The only revelation of God to man is written in the pages of the Bible. He has not – and will not throw out an addendum or recant what He breathed into life thousands of years ago. Everything He wants us to know is contained in the pages of Scripture. Period.

This Bible we hold in our hands is God’s Word. It doesn’t merely contain God’s Word. It is the very breath of our Creator.

I hope you read it today. I hope you inhale the Breath of God.

 

 

August 8; Not A Chance

Jeremiah 51:1-64, 11:18-12:6

I read these passages a couple times today because I just couldn’t wrap my brain around what I was reading. Jeremiah is saying God is going to destroy the Babylonians because of their sin. He is going to devastate the land. God is going to avenge His people. I see a picture about how God views sin, and that the consequences for sin are serious.

I guess it should make me glad to think God is going to destroy the enemies of the Church, that atheists and terrorists and false teachers and… will get what is coming to them, and that we will come out on top. But I have trouble wrapping my brain around that because I keep thinking: these are people for whom Christ died, people He wants to spend eternity with. Doesn’t John 3:16 say that God loves and died for the world? Is it true that He doesn’t want anyone dying without Him. Or not?

I can rejoice with the ancient Jews whose enemies were going to be punished. They lived before the cross. We live after the cross. I’m just finding it hard to rejoice thinking anyone goes to hell since Jesus died to save them. But isn’t the message of Jeremiah that the enemies of God’s people will be defeated in a very violent, very decisive way?

Yes!

But God reminded me my battle isn’t with flesh and blood. My enemies are not atheists, terrorists, false teachers… My enemy is Satan! The enemy is sin, evil.

So I read these passages a third time and instead of picturing bloody corpses, I pictured powers and principalities, wickedness, and hate. I pictured Satan and his thugs, sin and the hold it can have over me.

Gone! Annihilated! Crushed!

I believe Babylon is a picture of my real enemy, Satan. And Satan doesn’t stand a chance against my Savior!

Not a chance!

 

 

August 4; No Matter What

2 Kings 24:5-6,8-9; 2 Chronicles 36:8-9; 1 Chronicles 3:10-16; Jeremiah 9:16-21, 10:17-25; 12:7-17, 19:14-20:18; Daniel 3:1-30

Our Sunday School lesson this morning centered around Paul’s second letter to Timothy. We talked about how important it is for us who know and love the Lord to spend quality time in God’s Word, the Scriptures that are God-breathed. We were encouraged to read it and ask God to give understanding and direction as we grow in Him.

Our daily Bible reading and prayer time is crucial because, like Paul said, Christians can expect persecution. It will happen. Jesus told us in John 15 that the world hated Him, and we who love Him should expect to be hated by the world, too.

In my quiet time today, as I read the passages in my chronological Bible for August 4, I heard God tell me the same message. I read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. I read about Jeremiah who was beaten and forced to spend the night in stocks at the Upper Gate of the Temple. All four men were persecuted because they would not back down. They would not compromise what they knew to be true.

The time is coming, dear Christian, and is now here when we, too, could face persecution for loving Jesus. We can expect it. The liberal agenda is gaining strength, and they hate us. They consider us their enemy. And they want us silenced. We need to be praying for them every day.

Let’s gear up. Let’s train ourselves by studying God’s Word while we still can, hiding the Truth in our hearts. Let’s encourage each other to be strong. And let’s stand together without compromise, no matter what.

August 3; A Ten Day Challenge

Jeremiah 46:1-28; Daniel 1:3-21, 2:1-49; 2 Kings 24:7

I would imagine most of you know the account of the Jewish men exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the young, strong, handsome men hand-picked to serve in the king’s palace. We first meet these four in training camp.

As part of the grooming process, the captives were given “royal food and wine.” I’m not sure of the exact menu items, but it’s likely the food was rich and perhaps had been sacrificed to the Babylonian pretend gods. Our boys politely declined the royal food, and asked for veggies and water instead.

When their guard told them to forget it, the Jewish men made a deal. “Give us 10 days. Just 10 days, and if we look like we’re starving after 10 days, we’ll eat the food you give us.” The guard agreed.

And after 10 days of just the basics, “they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.” (Daniel 1:15)

So as I was reading this this morning, God seemed to be throwing down a challenge. What if we put away our commentaries and theology books, study guides and sermon notes. What if we turned off the TV preachers and, as much as I’d miss you, stop reading blogs, and for 10 days determined to read just the Bible. What if we read it, re-read it, studied it, prayed over it, memorized it. What if we would let the Bible speak for itself for 10 days.

The captive Jewish boys thrived after getting back to the basics. I wonder if we wouldn’t, too.

You might argue that it’s hard to understand Scripture without the help of others who have studied it before us. If that’s what you are thinking, make this a part of your challenge: Grab ahold of it and don’t let go until God blesses you, like Jacob did the night he wrestled God. Pray that God would speak to you through His Word, reveal a bit more of Himself through the Words He breathed. And don’t stop reading until He does. Do you think that if you read God’s Word, and ask Him to speak to you, to reveal Himself to you, He won’t?

This thought just came to mind. What if we would all get out a notebook and record at least one thing God reveals to us as we study His Word each day. Maybe copy a verse that spoke to us. We would end up with 10 personal messages from God. Does that thought thrill your heart?

When Daniel heard that his life and the lives of his friends were threatened, they got together and prayed. God heard their prayers and revealed the mystery. If you take this challenge, you might ask a friend to pray for you, too. Please know I’ll be praying for you.

Are you in? I hope so. Maybe I’ll see you again Tuesday August 13, and maybe you’ll be so excited about reading the Bible you won’t have time to read my posts. That would be awesome!

May God bless you as you open His Word every day. May He teach you, open your eyes, convict you, encourage you, and give you the understanding He has for you. He wrote this Book for you. Let it be to you what He has wanted all along.