Category Archives: Bible study

Look Up

Psalm 57

David didn’t have Google. He couldn’t pull a MacArthur, Henry, or Moody Commentary off the shelf, turn on the TV to a Charles Stanley sermon, or listen to a podcast by a popular preacher. David didn’t look to Kay Arthur or Joel Osteen for answers.

In 1 Samuel 23 we see David go directly to the Lord for answers. And in Psalm 57 David shares what that entails.

  1. I look to you for protection
  2. I hide beneath the shadow of your wings
  3. I cry out to God most high
  4. I cry out to God who will fulfill his purpose in me
  5. I place my confidence in God
  6. I thank and praise God
  7. I praise God for his unfailing love and faithfulness

If you read 1 Samuel 23 you’ll see God did answer all of David’s questions.

Now, if you’ve been with me for awhile you know I don’t discount the wisdom of people shared in sermons, blogs, and commentaries. In fact, Matthew Henry said something that got me thinking along these lines this morning, and prompted me to take a closer look at Scripture.

In regard to Psalm 57:3 Henry points out “that all (David’s) expectation is from God… Those that make God their only refuge, and fly to Him by faith and prayer, may be sure of salvation, in His way and time.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary in One Volume; Marshall, Morgan & Scott; 1960; p 636)

Did you catch the word “only” in that? Henry goes on to say that we can look for answers on earth, but if we do “refuge fails, no help appears.” Have you found that true in your life? I don’t care if it’s my blog rantings or the careful study of men like Matthew Henry. We can’t be your refuge! Only God can be that, and really, you shouldn’t want or need another!

Henry also says on page 636 that “those who lift up their hearts to things above may expect all good.” If we look at the Bible, in the accounts of people like Moses, Joel, David, Paul, James, etc. we will hear the exact same thing. God is the giver of good things, including insight into His Word and the rules and ability to follow them.

Oh that the Church – you and I – would put aside the books and blogs and TV shows and open our Bibles. Oh that we would not depend on the teaching of man, but would allow God to teach us by His own Words. Oh that we would stop fashioning our religion, our worship, our churches according to what makes people comfortable, and look to heaven above.

Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.

Everything We Need

Psalm 34

Sounds like another health and wealth gospel. But don’t let that fool you.

In reality, there are Christians who are sick and starving, homeless and without means to provide for their families. So how can we make sense of verses 9-10 which clearly say if we fear God, we’ll have all we need. If we trust God, we will lack no good thing.

Tell that to the Christian living on the streets with a cancer diagnosis.

But why is it people who truly fear, worship, stand in awe of God, and people who trust God and submit to Him are some of the most joyful, most contented people around? It’s because God is true to His Word.

God does give us everything we need. The Apostle Paul expressed that beautifully in Philippians 4:11-13, and again in 2 Corinthians 12:9. I hope you’ll take time to read those verses and hear what someone who had a tough life says about what God gives.

Matthew Henry, on page 610 of his Bible Commentary published by Marshall, Morgan & Scott in 1960, that if we look at this psalm as merely promising physical comfort we miss the most important thing. God not only works FOR us, He works THROUGH us. To me that means God is right there with the Christian, leading, directing, comforting, strengthening, and revealing Himself in marvelous ways.

The psalmist encourages us to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” and there is joy when we attach ourselves to Him in all circumstances. God is a personal God, intimate, present.

Romans 8:28 tells us that God works things out for our good if we love Him. 2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us that our troubles today are leading toward an eternal glory that far outweighs any hardship we face in this lifetime.

So yes, God does give us all we need, and we lack no good thing when we taste and see that He is good!

The Winning Side

I Samuel 14

We all like to be on the winning side. I was a die-hard Cleveland Indians’ fan for literally decades (until they got woke) and I will tell you it wasn’t always fun wearing Chief Wahoo t-shirts. Many years people would laugh at “the mistake on the lake.” But during the 90’s when the Indians made serious runs at a World Series title, Indians fans came out of the woodwork! The Chief was everywhere, and “Go Tribe” was our mantra. It was so fun!

Winning draws people in. That’s what happened in 1 Samuel 14. When Jonathan and his armor bearer were defeating the Philistine army, people noticed and got excited. Warriors literally came out of hiding in caves and joined the battle BECAUSE they were winning.

Well Christian, where are you in this battle against our enemy? Are you hiding in your pew and behind a few praise songs? Do you turn on a live stream in your home on Sunday mornings?

Or are you out there wielding your sword? The truth is, if you know Jesus as your Savior you ARE on the winning side in this war against Satan. We WILL win this war. Satan WILL be defeated!

But we need you today. We need you to get out there and join us in the battle we face today.

If you aren’t serving in your church, if you aren’t forging relationships with your neighbors in order to introduce them to their Savior, if you aren’t studying the Bible, praying, growing, standing up, and moving ahead – you need to crawl out of your hiding place and join God’s army. Now! You won’t be sorry.

It’s great being on the winning side!

Proof Enough

Judges 6

Gideon needed proof. But he had proof.

When he realized he had been entertaining the angel of God, I would think that would have been proof enough. But a doubtful Gideon asked for another sign.

Jesus tells us it’s a wicked generation that asks for a sign. (Matthew 12:39, 16:4). Yet some people think they need the experience of speaking in tongues, or witnessing a miraculous healing, or seeing feathers fall from the rafters in order to believe that God is who He says He is.

Yet these same people often don’t take time to watch the sunrise, or may fail to marvel at the tiny fingers and toes of a newborn. They aren’t blown away at how God heals the scratch on their arms, or at seeing His strength in the wind. A changed life when a sinner repents ought to speak of the existence, will, and working of God in our lives and in this world.

But for some, that’s not enough.

Foolish and wicked.

We tend to look at the sky, at current events, at man’s opinions to find proof that Jesus is coming soon, when God has given us His word that He is coming again. That should be all the proof we need.

Jesus Himself spoke of heaven and hell, of grace and judgment, of holiness and sin. It’s pretty foolish to question Him or doubt what He said is true. Look at His birth, and His life on earth. Look at the cross. Look at the empty tomb. All proof that He has the authority to speak for God.

Do you need proof God exists? Read what He says about Himself. Trust that the Bible is true. Obey what it says. Seeking a sign or an experience is self-centered and anti-Christ.

Seek Him. He’s not hiding. He’s given you all the signs you need if you’ll just get out of the way, and pay attention.

He is proof enough.

Be Strong and Courageous

Joshua 1

One of my goals in writing this blog is to encourage people to fall in love with God’s Word. I hope you are all reading it every day and allowing God to speak His Words directly to you.

Today, I just want to share what God said to Joshua as he was to begin leading Israel after the death of Moses. In the times in which we live, it just might be exactly what God wants to say to us, too. May it challenge and bless you as it has me this morning.

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. This is my command – be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:8-9)

Are You Taking Notes?

Deuteronomy 17

In Good News Club yesterday, one of the third graders got out his notebook and began to take notes. One of the volunteers, not knowing what he was doing, asked him to put it away. He obeyed.

Later, he let me look at what he’d written. He’d copied the memory verse, our five rules, our “Word Up” which was: God Can Change Me. He jotted down things from the lesson like, “All have sinned,” “Not everyone goes to heaven,” “Jesus died for our sins,” and John 3:16. He did such a good job!

One of the commands God gave the kings of Israel was to copy His law in their own hand. Then they were to keep their copy and read it every day.

This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way…” (17:20)

Moses also said that in writing and reading the Law, the king would learn to fear God and learn to obey the instructions.

Here’s a thought: if you are one who says you have trouble understanding Scripture, or have trouble concentrating on what you’re reading, get a notebook and a pen and begin to copy a portion of Scripture in your own hand.

Maybe copy the book of John. Or some psalms. Or copy James or one of Paul’s letters. You might be surprised at how that simple act can help your understanding, and retention of God’s Word.

It was commanded of Old Testament kings. It might be useful for God’s servants in 2022.

But even if it doesn’t help – it certainly can’t hurt!

Don’t Make It About You

Job

They made it about them. Job’s friends didn’t listen to him. Not really. They all ended up telling Job how he had hurt their feelings. They were quick to talk in generalities, but none of them even acknowledged Job’s honest distress, or tried to understand what he was feeling.

Job was hurting. Job was lost and sick and confused. But his friends never once considered where Job was coming from. Instead, they all had something to say about “them,” those wicked people out there, the greedy, the rich, the guilty. Their speeches were impressive.

And meaningless.

The issue was Job’s horrible tragedy. But they made it about them. I’m reading from the New Living Translation this year and I had to laugh at how they put Job’s plea:

Listen to what I am saying. That’s one consolation you can give me. Bear with me, and let me speak. After I have spoken, you may resume mocking me. (21:2-3)

You go, Job!

Do you know someone who is hurting? One of the best things you can do for your friend is listen. Not talk. Listen past his (or her) words and into his heart. Put aside the cliche’s (God knows best, you are strong, you can do this, pray about it, God’s in control, etc., etc., etc.) and just listen. Take in what he is saying and try to understand without thinking about solutions, or even thinking about your own experiences.

Your friend may be asking questions – but he probably isn’t ready to hear the answers you think you have. He wants you to hear him. Give him that respect.

And remember, your friend is hurting. It’s not about you. Don’t make it be.

Unreasonable Demands

Genesis 49-50

Jacob told Joseph he wanted to be buried in Canaan with Abraham, Sarah, and Leah. That wasn’t an unreasonable request considering Joseph’s position and wealth. So when Jacob died, Joseph and the family, along with a group of Egyptians took his body to Canaan and buried him there with fanfare.

Joseph, when he was dying, said he too wanted to be buried in Canaan. His request wasn’t entirely reasonable at the time. He acknowledged that, and asked that WHEN they were able to leave Egypt, he’d like them to take his bones. He knew his family didn’t have the means to make that happen right then. In fact, it took about 400 years before they were able to take Joseph’s bones out of Egypt.

I’ve heard of people who make outlandish requests of loved ones concerning funerals, ashes, or distribution of stuff after they die. I’ve known people who go to great lengths and expense to fulfill last wishes, too.

Why? Do those facing death have such a need for control? Do they think they’ll be forgotten if they don’t continue to pull strings after they’ve gone? Do the remaining loved ones think the deceased are watching them to be sure they obey them?

Here’s what I believe Scripture teaches: absent from the body, present with the LORD. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

It doesn’t say present with Grandma. It doesn’t say present with a telescope pointed at Earth.

We sometimes place unreasonable demands on our loved ones. And we make them feel guilty if they don’t do exactly what we, or some deceased loved one, tells them they must do. Sometime it’s just not feasible.

Friend, the things that happen to your body and your stuff after you die will be up to the living. You won’t know. You won’t even care. You’re going to have enough on your mind for eternity to think about who is feeding your cat.

If you are facing death, let me take some pressure off. Let go of trying to control your loved ones. Love them today. Gift them today. Make memories for them to have when you are gone.

And, if a deceased person has placed unreasonable demands on you – let it go. If you must, honor them in some other way. Trust me – they really don’t care right now.

Death at the Hand of God.

Genesis 38

Does God lie in wait to take out evil people like an army sniper? That seems to be the case with Judah’s sons Er and Onan. Scripture is very clear: these were bad men – and God killed them.

So are we to assume this is God’s MO? That if you are bad enough He just mows you down, gives you cancer, or a bullet in your head?

Yes. And no.

God wants us to know death is a part of the curse handed down because of Adam’s sin. God causes death for every human being because all have sinned and the wages of sin is death. But common sense – and life – tells us there are some very evil people in the world living to a ripe old age.

So no, God doesn’t make it a habit of killing sinners, Aren’t you glad? We don’t know why God chose to kill Er and Onan like He did. And He doesn’t owe us an explanation. But what happened to them is not a blueprint for God’s dealing with people.

In fact, Scripture repeatedly shows us how patient God is with us sinners, how quick He is to forgive a repentant heart, how He longs to save whosoever believes. Look at how many chances God gave the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Read in the New Testament what Jesus did for sinners when He went to the cross.

I think the lesson here in Genesis is that all of us will die at the hand of God. Some will die young, others will live to be 100 years old. Our deaths won’t have as much to do with whether or not we were good or bad, as it will have to do with God’s Sovereignty.

Death will end life on Earth for all of us unless Jesus comes back first. That is His Sovereign will.

I see Er and Onan dying in their sin, because I believe had they repented we would be reading about that. That makes me want to warn us all. Because we are going to die.

My prayer is that we will be ready to die by accepting the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus. Your death could come today. My death could come today.

The question is: are we ready?

(Luke 21) Mind-Numbing

Jesus, talking about what was and is to come, said something that has me thinking. Verse 34 says:

Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly like a trap.

I get the carousing and drunkenness. Alcohol dulls the senses, muddles the brain. Someone in that state is physically unable to focus because of the drug in his system. But why would Jesus put worry in the same mind-numbing category?

Do you think our society is plagued with worry? It seems people worry about COVID, whether or not someone is vaccinated, racial issues, the economy, the very future of our society. There are still people who refuse to leave their homes because of worry.

Some of the things people worry about are real, others are imagined or exaggerated. But Jesus doesn’t make that distinction here, does He? It appears He believes any worry is as mind-numbing as alcohol.

Sitting here and going over this in my mind, I am beginning to see the implication here. If we worry, we’re not thinking clearly. If we worry, it’s hard to focus on anything else. If we worry, our minds are on ourselves and our situation. And if that’s true – our minds cannot be on God.

Now here’s where I see worry like drunkenness. One drink or one moment of worry can be controlled. We put the bottle down, or we change our thinking. The second drink makes it harder to resist a third. A second moment of worry makes it harder not to continue to worry. And when drunkenness or worry overtakes us, our minds are numb to the things of God.

Verse 36:

But be alert at all times, praying…

You can’t be alert with alcohol in your system. I get that. What stands out to me today is the idea that worry has the same effect.

God has a lot to say about worry in His Word. If you are one who struggles, let me suggest that you get out a concordance, or Google “Bible verses about worry,” and let God encourage you.

Be alert. And pray.