August 1, 2012 Bible Study

     I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.

2 Chronicles 30-31:21

     After completing the re-dedication of the Temple, Hezekiah sent out couriers to all of Judah and Israel, inviting the people to a Passover celebration. In addition to the lands that he controlled, he sent the couriers into the lands of the Northern Tribes to those who remained after the Assyrians took many of them into captivity. This was not the correct time for the Passover, but Hezekiah and his advisers decided to hold it at this time because it had not been celebrated in a long time, except by a few individuals. Hezekiah gave the couriers a message that emphasized the importance and benefits of returning to following God’s commands. For the most part the people of the towns and villages of the Northern Tribes ridiculed the couriers. Nevertheless, some men from those territories came to the Passover celebration. On the other hand, the people of the lands of Judah were unified in their positive response to Hezekiah’s messengers.
      When the crowds started arriving in Jerusalem, they cleared away the pagan altars that Hezekiah’s father had constructed in Jerusalem. After the Passover celebration, the people went throughout the land and destroyed the pagan altars and objects of pagan worship. In many ways this reminds me of a modern revival meeting. The people gathered for a multiple day event of worship and praise. When the event was over, they were galvanized to a new commitment to faithfully following God. They went out and destroyed those things in their daily lives that tempted them to sin. In addition, the people began giving free will offerings to the service of God. Hezekiah strove to follow God’s laws and commands and the people followed his lead. We should be praying today that leaders such as Hezekiah rise up within the Church and lead a similar revival among us.

Romans 15:1-22

     In yesterday’s passage, Paul told us not to argue about “disputable matters”, such as what it is appropriate to eat, or what days we should worship on. Today he begins by telling us that those of us who are strong in our faith must be considerate of those who are weak in their faith. This means whichever side of the debate you are on, he is talking to you, because obviously, at least on the point of debate, you will think your faith stronger than that of the person whom you are disagreeing with. Therefore, Paul is putting the obligation on you to build the other person up. We should strive to live in harmony with one another in order to give glory to God.
     Paul tells his audience that he is confident that for the most part they already know what he is writing. He tells them that he knows full well that most of what he is writing is just a reminder for them. Paul concludes this section by telling them that he has striven to preach the Gospel to those who have never heard it before, rather than preach where someone has already started a church. This is the reason he has not yet been to Rome. First, because he had been busy preaching in towns closer to him that had not yet heard the Gospel. Second, because someone else had already preached the Gospel in Rome.

Psalm 25:1-15

     If we trust in God, we will not be disgraced. We will not be disgraced because we will look to God to discern what path we should follow. If we look to God with humility, He will lead us down the path we should follow. Even when we go astray, if we turn back to Him, He will show us the path we should choose. We do not need to be constantly looking around for traps and pitfalls, because God will rescue us from them. If we keep our eyes on God, then just like Peter, we will be able to walk over top of danger/water without fear, but if we take our eyes off of Him to look at the dangers, we will sink beneath the waves. Although even then, when we cry out to God, He will save us.

Proverbs 20:13-15

     If you work hard and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, you will have enough to eat. Wisdom is more valuable than wealth. If we strive after wisdom, we will have sufficient resources to live comfortably. If we strive after wealth and miss wisdom, wealth is liable to slip away as well.

July 31, 2012 Bible Study

     I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.

2 Chronicles 29:1-36

     King Ahaz had shuttered the Temple and promoted the worship of various pagan gods. When he died his son Hezekiah took the throne. Hezekiah’s mother was the daughter of Zechariah. We are not told for sure, but this was probably the same Zechariah who instructed Hezekiah’s grandfather, Uzziah, in the fear of God. If this was the case, Hezekiah is an example of how much influence a godly mother can have. Hezekiah’s father, King Ahaz, not only did not worship God, preferring the worship of other gods, he interfered with others doing so by shuttering the doors of the Temple. However, upon taking the throne the first thing Hezekiah does is to open the Temple doors and get them repaired. Hezekiah summoned the priests and Levites and instructed them to clean out and purify the Temple. It took them eight days to clean out the courtyard and eight more days to clean out and purify the Temple itself.
     When the cleansing of the Temple was completed, Hezekiah called upon the people to gather for a re-dedication service. Hezekiah provided an offering for consecrating the people to God. We cannot get a good feel for it from the description, but this service was much like a festival. While the offerings were being made we are told that the singers sang accompanied by trumpets and other instruments. When these offerings were completed, Hezekiah instructed the people to bring their own offerings to the Temple. The people brought so much in the way of offerings that there were not enough priests to prepare them all, so the Levites helped them do so.

Romans 14:1-23

     Paul discusses disputes over what people eat and drink and over the celebration of Holy days. He tells us not to argue over such things. Some people think it is OK to eat anything, others will only eat vegetables. Paul tells us here that whichever side of that dispute we are on, we should not condemn those who take a differing position. In addition, Paul references some who emphasize worshiping the Lord on a particular day vs some who hold all days alike. Paul seems to come down on the side of those who hold all days alike, but sees no problem with some people emphasizing a particular day. On both of these disputes, Paul says that it does not matter which side we are on, as long as our goal is to honor God.
     He goes on to tell us that we must not cause others to stumble. He gives the example that he believes that nothing is unclean in and of itself. However, if someone believes that it is wrong to eat certain foods, then for that person it is wrong. If a fellow Christian has a problem with something we choose to eat, we should not eat it in their presence, and we should keep the fact that we sometimes eat that between ourselves and God. If you have doubts as to whether or not it is right to do something, than it is a sin to do that something. Or to put it another way, if doing something makes you feel guilty, don’ do that something. We should not eat or drink anything that will cause another to stumble. This is the basis for the only valid argument that I have ever heard from Christian teetotalers. They argue that some people are alcoholics and if those people consume any alcohol they will be unable to control themselves and will drink to excess. This seems to be true. The teetotalers therefore argue that we should not drink alcohol in the presence of alcoholics because we may cause them to be tempted to drink alcohol if we do so. They further argue that we should not drink alcohol in the presence of anyone because we do not know who is or is not an alcoholic. They further extend the argument that we should not drink at all because we do not know who will observe us buying the alcohol in the first place and thus be tempted. I do not subscribe to this argument, but it has merit. As Christians, we should be sensitive to drinking in the presence of alcoholics. I am not so much concerned with those who are aware of their problem, because I can encourage them in their choice to abstain when I am drinking. The place for special care is around those who have a drinking problem but refuse to acknowledge it.

Psalm 24:1-10

     Everything belongs to God. All parts of our lives should be dedicated to honoring Him. We should not attempt to close God out of any part of our lives because it all belongs to Him. Everything we have and everything we are is God’s. If we do not dedicate all of our actions to His service we are failing in our duty to Him.

Proverbs 20:12

“Ears to hear and eyes to see—
both are gifts from the Lord.”

     Notice it does not say anything about mouth to talk. Our ears and our eyes are used to observe the world around us. I think it is interesting the order they are listed. Perhaps we should focus a greater part of our observation on what we hear relative to what we see than we tend to.

July 30, 2012 Bible Study

     I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.

2 Chronicles 26-28:27

     Uzziah succeeded his father Amaziah on the throne of Judah. We are told that Uzziah did what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord and was successful as a result. Uzziah built a well-trained large army and conquered much of the surrounding territory. His spiritual mentor was Zechariah. However, after Zechariah died, Uzziah entered into the sanctuary of the Temple, where only priests were supposed to go, and burned incense. The high priest and eighty other priests confronted him over this. He went into a rage against them for opposing him on this. While he was in this rage, he broke out with a contagious skin disease (usually translated as leprosy). When the priests saw this, they rushed him out of the Temple. Uzziah lived in isolation in a separate house the rest of his life. His son Jotham took charge in his name until his death when Jotham became king.
     We are told that Jotham also did what was pleasing in the sight of God and continued expanding the power of Judah. However, it mentions that the people of Judah were not faithful to God during this time. When Jotham died his son Ahaz succeeded to the throne. Ahaz did not follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Instead he cast metal images for the worship of Baal and offered sacrifices at pagan shrines. He even went so far as to sacrifice some of his own sons in the fire. While Ahaz was king, Judah was invaded by a force from Israel which captured a large number of people and took them as slaves. However, a prophet of the Lord confronted them for taking their fellow descendants of Israel captive as slaves and leaders of the people of Israel demanded that they not bring them to their towns as slaves. The Israelite force returned some of their plunder (possibly all, the passage is not clear) to the captives and returned them to Judah. King Ahaz attempted to hire the king of Assyria to help him, but the king of Assyria plundered Jerusalem as well. King Ahaz shuttered the doors to the Temple to prevent anyone from worshiping there and set up altars to pagan gods throughout Jerusalem and the rest of Judah.

Romans 13:1-14

     The first part of today’s passage tells us to submit to the governing authorities. They only have such power as God has delegated to them. God has instituted governments to punish wrongdoers. In addition, Paul tells us that those who are in positions of authority in government were placed there by God. We should obey governing authorities not just to avoid punishment, but to please God, since He has established them. This includes paying taxes. We are, also, to respect and honor those in positions of government authority.
     Paul follows this up by instructing us to owe no one anything, except for our obligation to love one another. Paul tells us that the commandments can be summed up by “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Time is running out, the Lord will be returning soon. We must avoid wild parties, drunkenness and sexual immorality. We must strive to serve the Lord and not seek ways to indulge our evil desires.

Psalm 23:1-6

     Today’s psalm is one that anyone who knows the Bible at all is familiar with. There is a reason for this, it contains a lot of basic truths. The Lord is our shepherd. He will guide us to those places where all of our needs will be met. Even when we pass through difficult and dangerous places and times, we need not fear because God will protect us. If we faithfully follow the Lord’s guidance, when we finish this life we will dwell in His house for eternity.

Proverbs 20:11

     Today’s proverb tells us that even children are known by the way they act. Considering that, how much more will we as adults be judged by our behavior.

July 29, 2012 Bible Study

     I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.

2 Chronicles 24-25:28

     When Joash got old enough to start acting as king one of the first things he did was to instruct the Levites to go throughout Judah to collect the tax imposed by the Law of Moses and use it to repair the Temple. This was not done and Joash became impatient. He set up a chest at the gate of the Temple for people to put money into. This money was given to men who were given responsibility to repair the Temple. These men hired workmen of all sorts and got the Temple repaired. When the Temple repairs were finished the money left over was used to create new articles for sacrifice and worship services. We are told that as long as Jehoiada, the priest who had raised him and put him on the throne, was alive Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord.
     However, after Jehoiada’s death Joash began worshiping Asherah poles and other idols. Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah, confronted Joash about his sin in front of the people. Joash ordered him stoned to death. The following spring the Arameans invaded and plundered Judah. Joash was seriously wounded and a couple of his officials plotted together and killed him. Joash’s son Amaziah took the throne after his death. The chronicler commends Amaziah for only punishing the men who killed his father and not their children. Amaziah then began going to war with the intention of expanding his power. He attacked Edom and conquered it. Along with other plunder Amaziah brought back the gods of Edom and began worshiping them. A prophet confronted Amaziah about this and told him that God had determined to destroy him because he would not give up the idols of Edom. Amaziah then makes war against Israel and is defeated soundly.

Romans 12:1-21

     Today’s passage from Romans is full of a lot of stuff that is very important. The first thing Paul talks about is offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God. Part of what he is saying is that we should be willing to suffer and die, just as the burnt offering sacrifices died. But I think there is much more to it because of what he says next. Right after telling us to be living sacrifices, he tells us not to conform to this world but instead to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Just as today, in Paul’s time there was a strong element of the culture that emphasized that we are sexual beings and that sexual activity is an inherent part of who we are. That somehow we cannot help but be sexually active (and perhaps promiscuous, although that is generally less explicitly stated). Paul here is telling us that we must not conform to the world’s expectations, but instead keep our bodies pure and holy. Our minds must be transformed by the Holy Spirit to control our bodies.
     Then Paul goes on to another topic. He first tells us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. There are two sins he is addressing here. The first is thinking we are better than others. The second is just as bad. It is thinking that others are better than us. We should look at ourselves carefully and with “sober judgement”. We should analyze our strengths and weaknesses. Then he tells us to focus on doing what we are good at, what we have been given a gift from God to do. Many times what Paul writes needs to be carefully read and thought about to understand what he is getting at, but not here. From the New International Version:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

     Paul goes on with more important guidelines for our daily lives. Guidelines that are easy to understand, but hard to follow. He tells us that when those around us are happy, we should be happy with them. When they are sad, we should be sad with them. He tells us to not be too proud to associate with and befriend those that society thinks of as beneath us. This is not quite as easy as it seems. There are places where there are two or more groups that consider all of the other groups as beneath them; no person of true class would associate with that other group. We cannot just say, “Those people look down on these people, so we will only associate with these people.” If we do that then we are doing exactly what Paul told us not to. We are being too proud to associate with that other group because we are better than them by associating with this group that they look down on.
      Paul goes on to tell us that we should not seek conflict with others. We should strive to be at peace with others as much as it is within our control. This does not mean that we fail to defend our beliefs when others attack them. It does not mean that we pretend to agree with other people. This is something I struggle with, when does defending my beliefs cross the line and become conflict that I could, and should, avoid?
     Finally Paul tells us not to seek “payback” for those who do wrong to us. Not only should we not seek payback, we should strive to do good for those who have done us wrong. Paul gives us two reasons why we should do good to those who do wrong to us. The first is that God has stated, “It is mine to avenge. I will repay.” Do we really think we can extract a more fitting revenge than what God will give out? The second reason he tells us to do good to those who do wrong by us is that by doing so, we will make them feel much worse than anything we can do to harm them. But I think there are two other reasons why Paul tells us not to seek revenge. Seeking revenge is bad for us. Have you ever noticed how some people become consumed by their revenge? The desire to make others pay for the wrong they have done us eats into our souls and damages us much more than any harm we inflict on others. I have heard seeking revenge described as taking poison and expecting someone else to become sick and die. The final reason Paul tells us not to seek revenge but to rather seek to do good for those who have wronged us is because it is a good witness to those who see our actions. Several years ago, a man went on a shooting rampage at an Amish school, killing a number of children before killing himself. The story made an even larger national impact than it would have anyway because the immediate response of the Amish community was to reach out to his family and offer comfort. They went to his funeral. I remember people saying, “What is wrong with these people?” But people were also impressed.
     Paul finishes today’s passage with something that we must remember. We cannot overcome evil with evil. If we try, evil will overcome us. The only way to overcome evil is with good. If we respond to evil by doing good, than good will win…even if those who do evil continue to do so.

Psalm 22:19-31

     As I said yesterday, the first half of this psalm contains images that the New Testament writers saw as foreshadowing of the crucifixion. And Jesus just before he died, made reference to this psalm by calling out its opening line, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” As I said yesterday, by quoting the first line, Jesus was calling upon the entire passage. Yesterday we looked at the first half of the psalm where the psalmist was overwhelmed by his trials, just as Jesus was overwhelmed by His suffering. Today we look at the rest of their experience. In the middle of this suffering they declared that, even though they felt abandoned, they were not abandoned by God. That God was standing by them in their trials:

For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
He has not turned his back on them,
but has listened to their cries for help.

When Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He was declaring his immense suffering and pain. But He was also declaring His praise to God and His belief that God would rescue Him. Which indeed God did on Easter morning with the Resurrection. The psalmist told us, and Jesus, when he was hanging on the cross about to die told us, those who seek the Lord will rejoice. In the depths of His suffering on the cross, Jesus rejoiced to be serving God’s plan. There are many stories of martyrs doing the same. During the Reformation, the various government authorities which persecuted those who followed the Bible rather than the religious dictates of the government took to removing the tongues of the martyrs before burning them at the stake or otherwise killing them tortuously because they wanted to stop them from declaring their joy at suffering for following Christ as they died these horrible deaths.

Proverbs 20:8-10

     Today we have three proverbs. The first is one that we know is not always true, but it is one that ought to always be true. When it is true, a country will be in the process of becoming stronger and more prosperous. When it is not true, a country will be in the process of becoming weaker and poorer. The second proverb reminds us why we need God’s grace, because we can never be pure enough on our own to approach God. The final is related to the first, if people apply different standards (whether of weight and measure, or of behavior) to favored groups than to disfavored groups, society will suffer.

July 28, 2012 Bible Study

     I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.

2 Chronicles 21-23:21

     When Jehoshaphat died, his son Jehoram succeeded him. Jehoshaphat had given his other sons gifts of gold and fortified towns in Judah. However, Jehoshaphat had gotten a daughter of Ahab as a wife for Jehoram. When Jehoram became king he killed his brothers and some other leaders of Judah. In addition Jehoram reintroduced pagan worship into the Kingdom of Judah. His power was much reduced from that of his father. An alliance of neighboring peoples invaded Judah and killed all but Jehoram’s youngest son. When Jehoram died, the passage says that no one was sorry to see him die and he was not buried in the royal cemetery.
     Jehoram’s youngest son, Ahaziah, succeeded him on the throne. Ahaziah was no better than his father. Ahaziah joined the King of Israel, his uncle on his mother’s side, in a war. When the King of Israel was wounded in battle, Ahaziah went with him to his place of convalescence. While there, Ahaziah was caught up by a revolt against the King of Israel and killed along with him. Upon Ahaziah’s death, none of his sons were old enough to rule. Ahaziah’s mother, Athaliah, seized the throne. She was the daughter of King Ahab of Israel. Athaliah set out to kill all of the remaining royal family. However, Ahaziah’s sister, Jehosheba, took Ahaziah’s infant son, Joash, and hid him in the Temple. Jehosheba was married to the high priest Jehoiada.
     Joiada raised Joash. In the seventh year of Athaliah’s reign, Jehoiada staged a revolt and place Joash on the throne. Once Jehoiada had placed the crown on Joash’s head, he led the people in religious reform. They tore down the temple of Baal in Jerusalem and killed the priest of Baal. Jehoida re-established the burnt offerings called for in the Law of Moses.

Romans 11:13-36

     Paul here tells us that the rejection of God’s good news by the children of Israel led to salvation being preached to the Gentiles. He goes on to say that if their rejection led to salvation for the Gentiles, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. Paul says that God broke off the branches of Abraham’s family tree that rejected His gospel and grafted those Gentiles who accepted it in their place. If God was willing to graft wild branches on to His cultivated tree, won’t he be eager to graft the original branches back on? Paul seems to me to have two purposes here. The first is to once again remind all believers that they have no basis for pride in themselves over others. The second is to combat a feeling of hostility among Gentile believers against Jews. He is telling them that they have no basis for seeing themselves as better than Jewish non believers. Paul says that even though the Jews have rejected Christ now, the time will come when they will turn to God and accept His Gospel. He finishes today’s passage by reminding us that we can never know enough to judge God’s decisions and, since everything we have comes from God, we can never place God in our debt.

Psalm 22:1-18

     Today we have the first half of Psalm 22. This psalm is one that is heavily associated with Jesus crucifixion and death by the writers of the New Testament. Jesus Himself references it when He cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” just before He died. The Gospel writers and other New Testament writers reference Psalm 22 as a prophecy concerning Jesus’ death and it certainly contains imagery that closely resembles that of the crucifixion. The psalmist talks about the piercing of hands and feet, dividing the garments among them. Today we see the depth of depression that was the crucifixion experience, but we must remember that by rabbinical tradition of the day to quote the first line of a Scripture was to call for the entire passage. Tomorrow we will see the rest of Psalm 22 which Christ referenced just before His death.

Proverbs 20:7

     This proverb tells us that the godly walk with integrity. I often have to ask myself if I live up to this. I know that I try to, and I know many who think that I do, but I know that I do not always succeed. I often wonder how many people have rejected the Gospel because of my failure to live my faith with integrity? How many more might the Spirit been able to reach if I had lived my faith with greater integrity? Or to put it another way, who have I failed because they saw me failing to live according to what I say I believe? I can only pray for God’s Spirit to strengthen me and make it so I live more faithfully in the future. I cannot change the past.

July 27, 2012 Bible Study

     I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.

2 Chronicles 19-20:37

     Jehoshaphat was a king who traveled among his people. One of the things he did was to appoint judges throughout the land to hear cases concerning the Law of the Lord and civil disputes. He even set up an appellate process with the high priest having final say in religious cases and a civil authority having final say in civil disputes. He instructed the judges to make their judgements in fear of the Lord, warning them not to pervert justice, show favoritism, or take bribes.
     At some point after this, several of the neighboring kingdoms joined forces to attack Judah. Jehoshaphat ordered a nationwide fast. In response many of the people of Judah came to Jerusalem with their families. Jehoshaphat calls in the Lord for rescue from the attacking armies. The Spirit of the Lord came upon one of the men in the gathering and he prophesied that they should go out against the enemy army, but that they would not need to fight it. The following morning the army of Judah marched forth, singing praises to God. While they were on their way to confront the enemy armies, the three armies began fighting each other. By the time the army of Judah reached the battlefield, the enemy armies had completely killed each other. They found so much plunder among the dead of the enemy armies that it took them three days to gather it all. After this battle, all of the neighboring kingdoms were afraid to attack Jehoshaphat.

Romans 10:14-11:12

     Paul begins today’s passage with an important logical progression. He has just finished telling us that all anyone must do to be saved is call on God for salvation. Here he tells us that in order for people to call upon God for salvation they must first believe in Him. Then he tells us that in order for people to believe in God they must first be told about Him. He finishes this by saying that in order for someone to go to tell people about God and his salvation they must be sent. This tells us that we as a Church should not be waiting for people to feel the call from God to go out on missions and then supporting them. We should be calling people, sending them out on missions and supporting them. There is nothing wrong with the first, except that it is not as good as the second. While we should be sending people out to missions, we must not let the better be the enemy of the good. (It is good that people go out on missions. It would be better if they were sent out on missions.) When I found the clip art for this passage I had one thought, no, we cannot change the world. However, God can change the world through us, if we let Him propel our feet to take us to the place where He wishes us to bring His message.
     Paul tells us that salvation comes from faith and faith comes from hearing the word. However, he tells us that not everyone who hears the Gospel will accept it. He further tells us in particular that many of the Jews have rejected the Gospel. He tells us that some Jews have listened to the Gospel and received salvation. He tells us that it is like when Elijah was depressed and cried out to God that he was the only one left, God told Elijah that He had 7,000 others that had remained faithful. This is something that we must remember when we begin to think that everyone around us is hostile to faith in God. There are more around us who are faithful to God than we might think.
     Paul concludes today’s passage by telling us that it was God’s plan that many of the Jews would reject the Gospel, so that the Gospel might get preached to the Gentiles. That through the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews, the world was blessed. However, Paul tells us that the Jews are God’s special people and He wants them to turn to Him. He tells us that if the Jews turn to God and accept His salvation, this will bring an even greater blessing to the world.

Psalm 21:1-13

     The psalmist tells us that those who trust in the Lord will be kept from stumbling by God’s unfailing love. He also tells us that the wicked plot against God’s plans. However, their plots will fail and when God turns His attention to them, they will run and attempt to hide.

Proverbs 20:4-6

     Today we are told that we must take action when the time is right. If we put off action, it may be too late and we will go hungry. The second proverb tells us that sometimes people who know how to deal with our problems are reluctant to give us advice, but if we are wise we will find a way to draw that advice out of them. The third proverb tells us that many people will claim to be our true friends, but it is very hard to find one who is truly reliable.

July 26, 2012 Bible Study

     I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.

2 Chronicles 17-18:34

     Jehoshaphat succeeded his father Asa on the throne of Judah. Jehoshaphat was deeply committed to following God’s commands and he became a strong and wealthy king. Jehoshaphat sent teachers to the various towns of Judah to teach the people. Along with the teachers, Jehoshaphat sent Levites with copies of the Book of the Law to teach the way of the Lord. Jehoshaphat formed an alliance with Ahab by marrying his son to Ahab’s daughter. Jehoshaphat went on a state visit to Ahab. Ahab threw him a great feast and during the feast requests that Jehoshaphat join him in retaking a city. Jehoshaphat agrees but says that they should find out what the Lord says first. Ahab summons 400 prophets who all testify that God will give them victory. Jehoshaphat responds by asking for a prophet of the Lord of whom to ask the same question. This always struck me as odd until I noticed that 400 was the same number as the number of prophets of Baal that Elijah confronted on Mt. Carmel. When I noticed that I realized that these were 400 prophets of Baal. The phrasing of this passage suggests that Ahab and others in the region considered Baal and Yahweh interchangeable. However, the passage also shows us that the followers of God did not and that people like Ahab knew this but would try to pass off Baal as the same as Yahweh anyway. This in my mind is similar to Muslims claiming that they worship the same God as Christians. I believe that Christians will recognize that the characteristics of Allah, as understood by Muslims, is significantly different from the characteristics of the God that Christians worship. Muslims proclaim that they worship the same god as Christians, but the god they worship has different characteristics than the God that Christians worship.
     Ahab admitted that there is a prophet of God in the land, but said that he hated him because he always said things that Ahab didn’t like. Jehoshaphat tells Ahab that kings should not talk like that. So Ahab summons Micaiah, the prophet. When the officials summon Micaiah, they tell him that the other prophets are prophesying victory and he should do the same. When Micaiah comes before Ahab, he tells him that he will be victorious in a sarcastic voice, making it clear that he is only telling him what he has been told by court officials to say. Ahab insists that Micaiah tell him what God said. Micaiah then tells him that God told him that if Ahab goes to war, he will be killed. Ahab goes to war anyway and is killed.

Romans 9:25-10:13

     Paul wrote that God had foretold salvation for the Gentiles when He spoke through the prophets that those who had been told they were not His people would be called the children of God. On the other hand, He had also foretold that many of the Jews would reject His offered salvation when He said through the prophets that only a remnant would be saved. Paul tells us that the Gentiles, who had not been trying to meet God’s standards, were made right with God because they accepted God’s gift by faith. On the other hand, the people of Israel, who attempted to get right with God by keeping the law, were not made right with God because they refused to accept God’s way and attempted to accomplish it on their own merits. Paul goes on to tell us that this is true of everyone. No one can become right with God on their own merits. The only way to become right with God is to confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead.

Psalm 20:1-9

     The psalmist tells us that some boast of military might and worldly power. He tells us that those fall down and collapse. But we should boast in the name of the Lord and rely on Him. If we do so, God will raise us up and help us to stand firm. We will raise a victory banner in the name of the Lord.

Proverbs 20:2-3

     This proverb tells us that it is dangerous to arouse the anger of those with political power and that the honorable avoid a fight whenever they can. Only fools insist on quarreling.

July 25, 2012 Bible Study

     I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.

2 Chronicles 14-16:14

     Asa succeeded his father Abijah to the throne of Judah. King Asa pagan shrines and altars from much of Judah. We are told that as a result of Asa’s dedication to God, Judah had many years of peace. During this time Asa built up the fortified towns of Judah. At one point a large Cushite (which is either southern Arabia or Ethiopia) army attacked Judah. Asa’s army was vastly outnumbered, but Asa called on the Lord and they were victorious and acquired a vast amount of plunder. After this battle a prophet came to Asa and prophesied to him that if the people of Judah would continue to seek the Lord, they would have peace and prosperity. Asa called the people together to renew their covenant with God. We are told that during Asa’s reign many people migrated from the lands of the Northern Tribes into Judah in order to worship God. Later in his life Asa came to rely too much on human skills. When King Baasha of Israel invaded, Asa sent messengers to the king of Aram requesting his assistance. The king of Aram attacked Israel, forcing King Baasha to withdraw from attacking Judah. A prophet condemned Asa for allying with the king of Aram, telling him that if he had trusted God to rescue him from King Baasha, God would have given victory not only over Baasha, but over the king of Aram as well. In addition, when Asa developed a serious foot disease at the end of his life, we are told that he relied entirely on his physicians and did not turn to God for healing.

Romans 9:1-24

     Paul tells us that he would be willing to be cut off from Christ if that was what it took to bring salvation to all of the Jews. It was a source of sorrow and grief for Paul that so many Jews rejected the Gospel about Jesus. Paul tells us that not all of Abraham’s descendants are the children of Abraham’s promise (that is God’s promise to Abraham concerning his children). I find the rest of this passage troubling because Paul seems to say that God chooses to cause some people to be receptive to His offer of grace and others to reject it. I am not sure that is what Paul is saying here because there are other places where he talks about people choosing to have faith in God.
     One thing Paul does talk about here that is clear is that God has made each of us to fulfill different roles in this world. Some of us were chosen and crafted to be glorious vessels of God’s glory. Others of us were chosen for more mundane and less glorious purposes. We are clay being shaped and fired by the Potter to serve His purposes in this world. We should take pride in that whether we are designed for a use that is glorified (a decorative vase) or one that is mundane (a chamber pot).

Psalm 19:1-14

     The psalmist tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. Even though they do not speak, they proclaim God’s wondrous love to those who are willing to listen. This theme is echoed by Paul in Romans 1 when he says that God’s nature can be seen through that which God created, but some choose not to see. Just as the sun shines down on all of the earth, so does God’s goodness pour forth on all who pursue Him. The psalmist goes on to say that the commands of the Lord are more precious than gold and sweeter than honey. The psalmist tells us that the laws of the Lord are trustworthy and firm. They are clear to all who truly wish to know them. But the psalmist tells us that we have trouble recognizing our own error, the best we can do is to strive to avoid those actions which we know to be sin. If we do this, God will forgive us our less blatant failings.

Proverbs 20:1

     This proverb is so obvious that it seems redundant to say it. Yet, there are many who think that they find wisdom while under the influence of alcohol. There may be times when the consumption of alcohol will improve your life, but times when you are seeking wisdom are not among them.

July 24, 2012 Bible Study

     I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.

2 Chronicles 11-13:22

     After the Northern Tribes chose Jeroboam as their king rather than Solomon’s son Rehoboam, Rehoboam returned to Jerusalem and prepared to make war against them to gain control over them. The prophet Shemaiah received a word from the Lord that they should not fight against the rest of Israel and the warriors of Judah and Benjamin chose to listen to this advice. Instead of going to war against the Northern Tribes, Rehoboam fortified towns and strengthened the defenses throughout Judah. The priests and Levites that had been living among the Northern Tribes moved to the area controlled by Rehoboam because Jeroboam would not allow them to serve as priests. Jeroboam appointed his own priests to serve at shrines he created where they offered sacrifices to goat and calf idols Jeroboam had made. Jeroboam’s decision to create shrines to idols led many Israelites to move from among the Northern Tribes to the area controlled by Rehoboam.
     Rehoboam spent some time consolidating his control over the territory he still controlled. In addition to fortifying towns and stationing troops in them he gave his sons administrative authority and stationed them throughout in some of those towns. Unfortunately, once Rehoboam has firmly established himself, he stopped trusting in God and turned away from Him. When God brought the Egyptians up to attack Jerusalem, Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah turned back to God to save them from the Egyptians. We are told that the Egyptian Pharaoh ransacked the treasuries of Jerusalem, but left Rehoboam as king.
     Rehoboam was succeeded by his son Abijah. Abijah and Jeroboam went to war against each other. Abijah mustered 400,000 troops and Jeroboam mustered 800,000. When the armies faced off against each other, Abijah told Jeroboam’s forces that Judah continued the practices of worshiping God, while Jeroboam had driven off the priests of God and replaced them with priests to pagan gods. Abijah told Jeroboam’s army that they were fighting not just against the army of Judah but against God Himself. Jeroboam outflanked Abijah’s army and attacked from the front and the rear. The army of Judah called on God and was victorious.

Romans 8:26-39

     Paul writes that the Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness. We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit will intercede for us as we lay before God our concerns. God will search our hearts and the Spirit will intercede for us so that our needs and wants become aligned with God’s will. Paul tells us that all things work together for good for those who love God. Paul goes on to say that if God is for us, who can stand against us? If we fully rely on God, there is no reason to fear any power on earth or in supernatural realms because none of them can stand against God. Even when we face trouble, calamity and/or persecution we should know that God will still work to bring about good for us. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. He will continue to love us no matter what our circumstance and we should strive to return that love. We must always strive to remember these two things no matter what our circumstance. First, God will work in all things for the good of those who love Him. Second, nothing is able to stand against God and separate us from His love. No matter what hardship or trial we face we can have confidence that God is using it to bring about good for us.

Psalm 18:37-50

     The Lord lives and He will pay back those who seek to harm us. He will hold us safe from our enemies. We can trust in Him.

Proverbs 19:27-29

     We are never too old to learn. There should never come a time in our lives when we are unwilling to take instruction from those who know things that we do not.

July 23, 2012 Bible Study

     I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.

2 Chronicles 8:11-10:19

     Today’s passage begins by telling us that Solomon built a palace and moved his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, into it because the Ark of the Covenant had been King David’s palace and that made it Holy ground. We are further told that Solomon assigned the priests and Levites to their tasks in the Temple according to the system created by David.
     The next story is one which has fascinated people throughout history. It is the story of the Queen of Sheba coming to visit Solomon. She had heard of Solomon’s great wisdom and came to see if the stories were true. We do not know where the Kingdom of Sheba was located, although modern scholars tend to favor a location on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula in what is now Yemen. That certainly makes sense to me as the reigning monarch of a kingdom could not afford to travel much further than that from their kingdom and expect to still be the ruler when they returned. In addition, reading between the lines of this story, it reads as a trading mission on her part and follows on the passage that tells us that Solomon sent trading ships sailing into the Indian Ocean. The Queen of Sheba brought gifts of great value to Solomon and he sent her home with gifts of equal or greater value (that sounds a lot like a trade mission). In addition, it is after the visit from the Queen of Sheba that we are given an account of the great wealth that Solomon gained through trade each year. Also, it is likely that her comment about Solomon’s great wisdom is a result of him understanding the value of his location as a hub of trade between Asia, Africa and Europe.
     When Solomon died his son Rehoboam succeeded him to the throne. The people of Israel requested that he reduce the burden of government (taxes and forced labor) that Solomon had placed upon them. Rehoboam first discussed this request with his father’s advisers. They told him that if he agreed to the people’s demands they would be his loyal subjects. Rehoboam then asked the young men he had grown up with what they thought. They told him that he should tell the people that he was going to put even heavier demands upon them. When I read this, I want to ask them what they were thinking with advising such a course of action, but I know where this mindset comes from. Throughout history there have been the sons of the politically powerful who do not know or understand the things their fathers did to amass their power and think that people will have no choice but to bow to whatever whims they have. Rehoboam rejected the advice from his father’s advisers and took the advice of those he grew up with. This had the entirely predictable result that the Northern Tribes rebelled and chose Jeroboam as their king.

Romans 8:9-25

     Paul continues his theme on slavery to sin by telling us that we are no longer slaves to our sinful nature. Instead we have been adopted as children of God. We no longer have an obligation to obey the sinful nature. If we continue to obey the sinful nature we will die. On the other hand, if we accept the power of the Holy Spirit to put to death the acts of our sinful nature, we will have life. God’s Spirit has made us His adopted children and heirs. God is not just our Father, but our Dad.
     Paul points out that if we are to share in Jesus’ glory, we must also share in His suffering. He points out that the entire world is groaning as it awaits the day it will be finally completely freed from death and decay. I think Paul has a twofold meaning here. In part he is reiterating something Jesus said. Jesus said that since the world persecuted Him, we should expect it to persecute us. Paul is restating this here. But he is also talking about how our bodies are subject to the frailties and infirmities of this life. We should not expect to not get sick, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit provides us with a taste of what it will be like when we are released from all sin and suffering (I am not sure what he means by that). We, as believers, wait with hope for the day when our frail, sin-wracked bodies are replaced with new perfect bodies. We do not yet have bodies that are free from sickness, that is something that we must wait for patiently, but with confident hope that we receive them.

Psalm 18:16-36

     The psalmist tells us that even though his enemies attacked him when he was vulnerable, God rescued him and provided him with shelter. The psalmist tells us that God shows Himself faithful to those who are faithful and shows integrity to those who have integrity. This means that if God appears to be unfaithful, it is because we are unfaithful and if God appears to lack integrity it is because we lack integrity. I have noticed that the people who complain the most about not being able to trust others are those who are the least trustworthy. The psalmist goes on to tell us that God rescues the humble and humiliates the proud. There are two things here. The first is that we should not take credit for our successes but acknowledge the debt we owe to God for the things outside of our control that contributed to that success. The second is in some ways more important, we should not take credit for other people’s success, even if some of our actions contributed to that success.

Proverbs 19:26/a>

     In our society we do not think much about children who treat their parents badly. We spend much more time concerned with parents who abuse their children. Yet the Bible spends a lot of time talking about the importance of treating our parents with respect. I think that we can see all around us the impact of our society for the last two generations teaching many of our children to disrespect their parents and those older than themselves. I fear that many who believe that respect for parents comes naturally will soon receive an unpleasant surprise.