Tag Archives: studying the Bible

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.

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?

 

May 27; Gold, Silver, Rubies, and Wisdom

Proverbs 2-4

Yesterday I realized that Solomon’s wisdom, as extraordinary as it was, has nothing on the wisdom that is ours in the pages of God’s Word. What a privilege is ours to have access to God’s wisdom every day!

In Proverbs 3:13-15 Solomon reminds us that, like gold, silver, and precious rubies, wisdom comes from digging. He continually encourages us to “get” wisdom, or “find” wisdom. These and similar phrases tell me that just reading a few verses every day cannot produce wisdom.

In order to receive what God has available to His children, we have to ingest his Word, read it then read it again, think on it, pray about it. Understanding something requires effort.

Has anyone really ever learned a foreign language by playing a recording while they sleep? Let’s just say, I doubt it. Because if that were true, schools would be equipped with bunkbeds and earphones instead of desks and computers.

Learning takes effort. Gaining wisdom takes effort. Mining gold, silver, and rubies takes effort. And what we have in the pages of God’s Word is so much more valuable than metal and stone.

Matthew 1-3; Where Is Who?

So some guys, probably from Arabia, who were into star-gazing, and who were at least somewhat familiar with Jewish history and the prophets, see a new star in the sky. Maybe they watched it for a few days to be sure it wasn’t a Russian spy satellite or a drone or something they could explain.

Well, maybe I’m wrong about the satellite/drone thing. But I can imagine them getting out their charts and excitedly trying to put two and two together to identify this celestial phenomenon. However, their charts could take them only so far. They had to check it out for themselves.

I wonder how that conversation went when one of them remembered reading something about a Jewish Messiah being born. “Didn’t our calculations predict he’d be born around this time? Could the star be God’s sign that it’s happened? If so, this is huge! Let’s go worship Him together.”

So the men set out for parts unknown, following that strange star, believing that the Jewish God was going to send a Savior.

Here’s what made me sad today. These Gentiles came to Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish religion, and with great anticipation asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?” And no one knew!

“Where is who?”

It took the question of non-Jews for God’s people to look to Scripture for answers they should have already known.

I believe God is still putting stars in the sky to draw non-believers to Himself. God reveals Himself every day in hundreds of ways to anyone paying attention. Think about it. Evidence of God is everywhere!

So what happens when a non-believer whose eyes are beginning to open to the Truth comes to you and asks, “How do I find the Savior?” Do you know?

It seems the Jews in Jerusalem weren’t giving much thought to Scripture until the Magi came with questions. Shouldn’t they have been prepared? I think so.

And I think we should be, too. So did Paul:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (I Peter 3:15) (emphasis mine)

Dear one, we have got to be in God’s Word. We’ve got to be familiar with God’s plan of salvation. We’ve got to be able to tell anyone who asks how they can find what Jesus died to give them. We’ve got to be prepared.

So that when someone asks how they can find the Savior, our reply will be “I’m glad you asked. Let me introduce you to Him.”