September 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.

Job 40-42:17

     God asks Job if he can answer His questions and Job replies that he has no answers, that he has said too much already. God further asks Job if he is willing to discredit God’s justice merely to justify himself. God then describes two creatures that are too powerful for humans to hunt. There is debate as to whether these were real creatures or mythological ones. On the one hand, the writer certainly seems to be describing creatures that he thought were real beasts. It makes no sense in this context to use creatures that are made up. On the other hand, the descriptions match up with no creatures that we are aware of living in that area in that era. I am of the mind that Behemoth and Leviathan describe real creatures that modern science believes were extinct by this time, although I do not know specifically what.
     Job responds that he was wrong to challenge God. Job takes back everything he said and repents. God then turns His attention to Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. God tells them that they had not spoken accurately about Him as Job had done. Interestingly, Elihu is not among those at whom God expresses anger. I am glad that I am done the Book of Job for now because it is a difficult book to study in the manner I am doing this. On the other hand, I can see how it is a book that calls for regular reading in order to put everything in perspective and I am looking forward to when I get to it again next year.

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

     If we know what it is to fear God, we should work to persuade others. It is better to focus on what is in the heart than what is seen, but sometimes we need to point out accomplishments for the edification of those who only respect that. Since Christ died for everyone, those of us who still live should live, not for ourselves, but for Him. If we are in Christ, we have been recreated into a new being.
     God reconciled us to Himself through Christ. The other day I read a blog that talked about the atonement of Christ. It mentioned that a standard theory as to the nature of that atonement was that Christ received the punishment that was due to us. That is not wrong. But there is another important way to look at it. Our broken relationship with God is a result of our sin, but it is we who turn from God, not God who turns from us. God does not reject a relationship with us because of our sin. We reject a relationship with God because of our sin. Part of the reason that Christ died for us was to convince us that God still loves us despite our sin. There is much more to this than that and perhaps I will do a blog on it if the Spirit continues to move me on this subject.
     We are God’s messengers to deliver this message to people. God wishes to be reconciled with us to the point that He was willing to suffer and die, even though we were the ones who did the wrong that broke the relationship. We should be reconciled to God and spread the word to other sinners that God wants to repair the relationship with them as well.
      As I was reading this passage and looking at what it says to me, it was all over the place, jumping from one idea to another. Yet it flows smoothly and all of these ideas fit together nicely in this passage, even though as I tried to highlight them I felt like I was jumping around.

Magrat stalks

Psalm 45:1-17

     Today’s psalm reads like a royal wedding song to me. First it praises the king for his might and for his faithfulness is defending truth, humility and justice. Then it encourages the queen to put aside her homesickness for her family and friends who are now far away and take comfort in the love of her husband, the king. The lands of rulers who love justice and hate evil will thrive.

Gandalf explores

Proverbs 22:14

     Today’s proverb has an interesting construction. It tells us that the mouth of an immoral woman is a dangerous trap that those who anger the Lord will fall into. It does not say that those who fall into the trap of an immoral woman’s words (or mouth) will anger the Lord. It says that those who anger the Lord will fall into the trap. Angering God makes one susceptible to the trap of immorality.

August 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.

Gandalf and Tabitha

Job 37-39:30

     Elihu concludes by telling Job that God is more powerful than we can even imagine. He controls the thunder and the snow and the rain. God causes large bodies of water to freeze over. Elihu than challenges Job, asking him if he understands how God controls the weather. If Job can do that, then, and only then, is he competent to question God’s judgement. Elihu tells us that we cannot look at the brightness of the sun in the sky let alone the brightness of God’s glory.
     After Elihu concludes, God answers Job. God asks Job if he was there when the Earth was created. God asks Job if he can cause morning to happen? Has he explored the depths of the sea? God goes on to ask Job a long series of rhetorical questions about his knowledge and his power. I read this list of questions that God asks of Job and realize that mankind has answered some of them, but not all. And even most of those we have answered our answers are incomplete. Mankind has spent centuries studying how different aspects of the weather work and our understanding is still incomplete. And what understanding we have comes from many people combining their knowledge over all that time. Ultimately, we were not there when the Earth was created, we can only guess at what happened by extrapolating from things that we see happening today. How often do scientists go back and re-examine their assumptions about how the Earth was formed on the basis of new discoveries?

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10

     Paul starts off with saying that he speaks because he believes. Do we speak what we believe? If we are afraid to speak out what we believe about Jesus and the resurrection of the dead, does that suggest that perhaps we do not really believe it? I think that Paul is indeed suggesting that if we believe we will speak, those around us will know our beliefs. Paul goes on to say that he is not discouraged by the infirmities of his earthly body. He tells us that the pains and dysfunctions that he suffers and which are steadily getting worse, either as a result of aging or of the hardships he endured, are of no consequence next to the spiritual renewal he is receiving. He does not focus on what can be seen and experienced but instead focuses on the unseen which is yet to come.
      Paul tells us that our earthly bodies are a tent which will be replaced by an eternal house, our heavenly bodies. Paul makes an important point here. One which we often overlook when we speak of heaven. He tells us that we will indeed have bodies in eternity. We will not just be disembodied spirits. There is some kind of physical reality to heaven, although it is one that is beyond our ability to comprehend. Paul expresses his desire to to enter heaven not as a desire to leave his body, but as a desire to enter his heavenly body. I had never noticed that this passage is a partial defense against gnosticism, which tends to view our physical bodies as evil to be suppressed. But he, also, defends against those who fear death, pointing out that as long as we remain in our earthly bodies we are physically apart from God. When we leave these earthly bodies we will enter into heavenly bodies in the presence of God. He concludes this section by proclaiming that whether he remains in this body or enters into his heavenly body his goal is to serve God.

Does anybody know the name of this plant?

Psalm 44:9-26

     In yesterday’s psalm, the psalmist told us how God won victories for those who were faithful. He gave full credit to God for his successes. Today, he speaks of the trials he now faces. This psalm tells us that sometimes those who trust and follow God will experience hardships and trials they do not understand. Yet even in those times we must call on the Lord. God’s love is unfailing and He will not try us beyond our ability to endure.

Butterfly Bush

Proverbs 22:13

     This proverb is fairly simple. The lazy person can always find an excuse to avoid hard work. We need to examine, I need to examine whether my reasons for not doing something are legitimate. or just an excuse not to work. I know that I excel at coming up with excuses not to do things, or to put things off. I must strive to be more faithful in carrying through on those things I choose to do.

August 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.

Tabby and Gandalf

Job 34-36:33

     Elihu accuses Job of arrogance. He explains that God made everyone and they all are equally important to him. We have no ability to decide when God will bring judgement against us. God will bring us before judgement when He chooses. Elihu asks who has the knowledge or power to justly criticize God’s judgement? Elihu suggests that people need to come before God with one of two declarations, “I have sinned, but I will sin no more.” Or, “I don’t know what evil I have done—tell me. If I have done wrong, I will stop at once.”
     Elihu goes on to point out that when we sin it brings no harm to God and when we do good it brings no benefit to God. Our sins and our righteousness effect only ourselves and other people. We may not see God, but He hears the cries of those in distress and brings judgement in His time. Elihu points out that God is both mighty and wise, yet He holds no one in contempt. Elihu warns us to be careful to not let wealth seduce us into sin. God is all-powerful and wise, no one is has the power, wisdom or knowledge to condemn His actions as wrong. Instead we should praise Him for His wondrous acts.

Magrat comes running

2 Corinthians 4:1-12

     Paul declares that his ministry is from God. Because of that he refuses to use deceptive or underhanded tactics to attempt to spread the Word. He will not distort God’s Word to make it more palatable to those he preaches to. I think this is an important point. We should not attempt to disguise the fact that we are preaching the Gospel. That does not mean that it is wrong to try to make our presentations entertaining, but we should not attempt to hide the fact that we are presenting the Gospel. When the Gospel is veiled and hidden from sight it is because Satan has blinded people so that they will not see the truth.
     Paul tells us that we must always make clear that we are frail servants of God’s perfection. Jesus was the only perfect man. We are imperfect sinners whose only goodness is from the Spirit working within us. The God who said, “Let there be light” is shining His light through us. We must continually give over our sinful bodies to death so that Jesus’ resurrection can be revealed through us.

Rose Bush

Psalm 44:1-8

     It is not through our strength and power that we enjoy success, but through the grace of God. The good life I lead is not because I am such a wonderful person, or because I have skills that make me better than others. It is because God has chosen to grant me these blessings. I will continue to rely on God, trusting that He will provide for me.

Potted Rose of Sharon

Proverbs 22:10-12

     There is a certain type of person who mocks those with whom they disagree. Even when they are right in the positions they take, their approach to disagreement leads to quarrels and conflict. It is better to speak graciously to those with whom you disagree. In that manner you are more likely to convince a third-party of your position. If your plans rely on treachery they are likely to be disrupted.

August 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.

Gandalf looks around

Job 31-33:33

     Job concludes by once again declaring his innocence. His list of sins that he has not committed include sins of omission as well as sins of commission. He declares that he has not lusted after women, nor has he refused to help the poor. He has not used his power against the weak, nor worshiped false gods. He did not gloat about his wealth, nor rejoice in the misfortune of others. Job then asks for someone to point out what sin he has committed. He says that if they do, he will happily confess the sin.
     At this point Job’s fourth friend, Elihu, speaks out. He was angry with Job because he refused to admit that his suffering was a result of his sin and he was angry with Job’s other friends because they had failed to refute Job’s arguments. He had waited for the others to answer Job because he was younger, but when he saw that they had no more to say, he spoke out. Elihu tells Job that he is wrong to declare that he is without sin and that God is punishing him without cause. He continues to say that Job is wrong to accuse God of not responding to people’s complaints. God does indeed speak, but people do not recognize His words. God gives people warnings in many various ways, including dreams and nightmares. He disciplines them with sickness and other misfortune. Elihu then offers Job the opportunity to say more before he goes on.

Tabby watches the world go by

2 Corinthians 3:1-18

     Paul asks if he needs a letter of recommendation to the Corinthians or from the Corinthians. He answers this question by declaring that the Corinthian believers are his letter of recommendation. Written not with ink, but by the Spirit of God. This letter is not written on stone tablets but on human hearts. And thus Paul begins to segue into his next point. Before he does that he declares that his confidence is in God through Christ, just as ours should be. Not that he is capable of doing anything on his own, what competence he has to carry out his ministry comes entirely from God. His ministry is to declare God’s new covenant that is not of written laws but of the Spirit.
     The old covenant of written laws, which came written on stone tablets, began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look on Moses’ face. Moses’ put a veil over his face to prevent the people of Israel from seeing the glory of God that they could not bear to face under the old covenant. Paul tells us that even today those who seek justification through Moses’ law have a veil over their hearts when they read it such that they do not fully understand the words. That veil can only be removed through belief in Christ. When we turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away so that we can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. Then God makes us more and more like Him by gradually changing us into His image. We were created in the image of God, but sin damaged that image. Now God offers us the opportunity to have that image repaired, bit by bit, as we strive to follow Christ and acknowledge that, just as God created us to begin with, we must allow Him to recreate us in His image.

Rose of Sharon in bloom

Psalm 43:1-5

     The psalmist declares that the cure for depression is to look for God’s light and His truth and to follow them. If you are depressed, put your hope in God and praise His name. I will look to God’s light for guidance and follow it to where He wants me to go. My prayer to God today is that He shine His light on the path He wishes me to follow and place His Spirit in my heart to direct me on to that path.

Rose bush in bloom

Proverbs 22:8-9

     The first of today’s proverbs tells us that those who “plant” injustice will harvest disaster. Sometimes people justify committing injustices against others by claiming that others have committed injustices against them. This proverb tells us that doing that is like putting poison in the food I eat today because someone put poison in my food yesterday.
     The second proverb tells us that those who share their wealth with the poor will be blessed. In part that blessing is the knowledge that one has fed the poor. This proverb convicts me once again that I must reduce my debt so that I will have more to give to those in need. I must strive to work harder so that I have more resources to help those less fortunate than myself.

August 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.

Gandalf examines some wood

Job 28-30:31

     Job continues speaking in today’s passage. He discusses how man digs deep into the earth to recover precious resources. He tells us that despite mankind knowing where to find gold, silver, copper, iron, precious stones and other valuable resources, we do not know where to find wisdom. Wisdom is more valuable than all of those resources and yet no amount of them can purchase it. Only from God can we obtain wisdom. He is the only source of that precious commodity.

“The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;
to forsake evil is real understanding.”

     Job then tells us that before his trials began he was a pillar of the community. Everyone respected him and listened to his advice. He used his resources and power to help those in need, opposing those who oppressed the weak. But now, even those who everyone knows are no good dare mock him. People laugh when the “no-goods” harass him. His suffering is great and no one is helping him.

2 Corinthians 2:12-17

     Paul uses an interesting metaphor here. He says that believers are the fragrance of the knowledge of God to both the saved and the unsaved. This is a great metaphor because scents can be perceived very differently by different people. To some people a scent may be very pleasant, while other people perceive the very same scent as vile. So it is with us if we are faithful. Those who are saved perceive us as a pleasant fragrance, while those who are perishing perceive us as the smell of death. I think this is an important thing to understand. All too often, we as Christians become upset about the negative view that the world holds of Christians, but that negative view is inevitable because no one likes the smell of death. The unsaved will always have a negative view of Christians.
     Paul concludes this section by telling us that he preaches the word of God with sincerity. In this he is unlike so many who corrupt the word of God for personal profit. I think there are two warnings for us in what he says here. The first warning is to pay attention to the motives of those who preach the gospel and to be suspicious of the teachings of those who are profiting from doing so because they will often distort the gospel in order to increase their own profits. The second warning is to warn us against doing the same thing. Paul tells us that he preached the true gospel without distortion because he knew that God was watching him. This is a warning to us that we also should preach the true gospel without distortion because God is watching us. We should preach the gospel with sincerity and not for self-aggrandizement.

Cucumber flower

Psalm 42:1-11

     The psalmist says that he thirsts for God in the same way that a deer thirsts for water. As I read this today, I realized that the psalmist was suffering from depression when he wrote this. The psalmist tells us that he remembered when his life was joyful. He associated with others who were worshiping God. He sang for joy and gave thanks. Now, he is discouraged and sad. However, the psalmist also recognized the cure for his depression. The cure was to put his hope in God and to praise Him once again. This is easier said than done when we are facing the demons of depression, but if we discipline ourselves to do so, it does work. We must remember to praise God when times are good and when times are bad. If we remember to praise God when times are good, it is easier to praise God when times are bad.

Black-eyed Susans

Proverbs 22:7

     Another proverb that tells us that we should stay out of debt. I am convicted of this and will strive to get out of debt as fast as my finances will allow. There is more to this than that though. These passages are an indicted of my financial habits, but they are also an indictment of many Christians in this country. All too many of us are too willing to take on debt.

August 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.

Gandalf & Tabby

Job 23-27:23

     Job declares that he would like to go before God’s court and make his case, but he does not know where to find it. Job expresses the common human desire for God to explain why things are the way they are. Nevertheless, Job is confident that God knows where to find him and that when God tests him he will come out pure. He tells us that God will do whatever He has planned and controls our destiny. Job then asks why the wicked are not brought to judgement. Job in this speech asks why the good suffer and the wicked prosper, a question that people ask time and again.
     Bildad again responds to Job and tells him that he must be guilty of some great sin, because no one is innocent before God. Job replies very sarcastically, thanking Bildad for his great wisdom, essentially telling him that what he said was useless even if true. Job then discusses how powerful God is. He explains that what we can see of God’s power is just a small part of it, that God’s power is so great and wonderful that we cannot even begin to comprehend it. Job proclaims once more that he will not tell lies. After having in previous speeches said that the wicked prosper and are not punished, here Job says that God will indeed punish the wicked, that their prosperity is fleeting and disaster will come upon them.

2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11

     Paul starts off this section with two things that call for our attention. The first thing is something that we should try to imitate. Paul tells them that he has conducted himself with holiness and sincerity that are from God. That his actions do not derive from human wisdom, but from God’s grace. This reminds me of a discussion I had about my congregation’s worship team the other week. I expressed my dissatisfaction with an aspect of it and the person I was talking to responded with, “I feel the same way, but studies show…” and in their mind that was the end of the discussion. I think this points up a flaw in much of the thinking we use to conduct Church today, an over reliance on human wisdom. The first question about a program in the Church should not be, “What is the most effective way to do this?” The first question should be, “What is God’s way to do this?” I am not claiming that the way I would like to my congregation to conduct worship services is God’s way to do it. I do not know, but I think we should pray about it and try to design our worship services around God’s will, not just around “what works” according to man’s definition of working. When we plan our programs in the Church we should seek God’s plan for those programs and the words “studies show…” should not be the end of the discussion (although they do have a place in the discussion).
     The second thing that calls for our attention is that Paul tells us that he does not write anything that we cannot understand. Paul expresses the feeling that the Corinthians only partially understood his earlier writings. But he also expresses the hope and expectation that they will come to fully understand what he wrote. I think this is an important message for us and I think it applies not just to Paul’s writing but to all of Scripture. There is nothing in Scripture that we cannot understand. There may be passages that we do not understand, but if we turn to God and ask for His Spirit’s guidance we can come to understand them. This is why I am doing this Bible Study blog to read through the Bible in a year. There are passages I do not understand. I fully believe that part of understanding them is seeing how they fit in with other Scripture. Which means that I must become more familiar with all of Scripture and that means reading through the Bible on a regular basis.
     Ordinarily, after what I have already written about this passage I would move on to the psalm, but there is another segment of this passage that I think needs to be highlighted. In 1 Corinthians Paul wrote about a man who needed to be disciplined by the Church. Here Paul tells them that the man has expressed his remorse and changed his ways. Now it is time for the Church to welcome him back and forgive him. This passage is the other side of Church discipline that too often those Christians who do practice Church discipline do not follow through on. Once the Church has disciplined a believer and the believer acknowledges their sin and turns from it, the Church must welcome them back and offer them forgiveness. They must be brought back in and shown the love of the brotherhood once again. Church discipline is not about punishment. It is about restoring people to a right relationship with God.

2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11

     The psalmist says that those who are kind to the poor will be blessed. Other translations say that those who have regard for the weak will be blessed. In both cases it carries a sense of providing aid for those who cannot for one reason or another fully care for themselves and do not have the ability to repay us for what we do for them. But then the psalmist says something interesting, “Heal me, for I have sinned against You.” That phrasing seems awkward, asking God for healing because we have sinned. What is the psalmist getting at here? Some other translations read, “Heal my soul,…”. Certainly it is easier to understand if we take it as a request for soul healing because our souls need healing as a result of our sins. I think that gives me the insight to see what the psalmist is saying (or at least what the Spirit is saying to me today through this passage). When we sin it results in us needing healing. Sometimes that healing is of no more than our soul, but often times our sin leads to our physical bodies being damaged as well. When we have sinned we need God’s healing of our souls, our minds and our bodies.

Gandalf uses Tabby as a pillow

Proverbs 22:5-6

     The first of today’s proverbs tells us that the path followed by the wicked has many dangers and those who value life will avoid such a path. The second proverb tells us that if parents direct their children on to the right path the children will not depart from it. Does this mean that every time people turn out badly it is a result of the failure of the parents? I don’t know. I do know that all of the circumstances where I witnessed the parenting as an adult where the child turned out badly the parents were guilty of bad parenting. On the other hand, I know several people who turned out badly, yet all of their siblings have followed their parents in following the Lord. So, I just don’t know. I do know that those people who I have witnessed raise their children well, the children have turned out well and those people I have witnessed modeling bad behavior for their children have had children who follow that model. I do however know parents whose children turned out badly that I cannot imagine not modeling good behavior for their children, but I did not know them while they were raising their children.

August 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.

Job 20-22:30

     Now Zophar gives his second response to Job. Zophar restates the argument made by Bildad. He claims that the wicked inevitably face trials and disaster. Zophar says that the wicked will face suffering and deprivation in this life. Job replies that such is not the case, that sometimes the wicked prosper their entire lives. He says that the wicked never seem to suffer for their sins. Job asks who can confront God over this apparent injustice since God sits in judgement of even the most powerful.
     Eliphaz replies to Job yet again. This time Eliphaz makes the argument outright. He says that Job is suffering therefore he must have sinned. Eliphaz speculates that Job was guilty of a series of sins. Eliphaz tells Job that if he turns away from these sins (the only evidence he has that Job has committed them is that Job is suffering), God will take that suffering from him. This is a classic example of something we should not do. We should not cast judgement on people based on what is happening to them. We should judge people based on what they do, not on their circumstances in life. You should judge them on their actual actions, not the appearance. You should not judge a fellow Christian because you saw his car in a strip club parking lot. You should go to him and find out why his car was in the parking lot. Perhaps it broke down and that was the closest place to get it off of the road.

2 Corinthians 1:1-11

     Today I begin reading 2 Corinthians. Paul starts off this letter by offering praise and thanks to God for the comfort He has given to him in the suffering he has experienced. Paul says that God comforts us so that we can offer comfort to others. Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians that he, and those with him, had experienced troubles beyond their ability to endure. Things got so bad that they expected to die. As a result of these troubles they stopped relying on themselves and they began to fully (and only) rely on God. Paul tells the Corinthians that God did rescue them from death and expresses his confidence that God will continue to do so. Paul, also, emphasizes the importance of praying for those who are facing troubles. He tells us that such is a help to those enduring trials.
     The contrast here between how Paul views suffering and the ways that Job’s friends viewed it is stark. Paul tells us that as we face trials, God will give us comfort and the strength to face them. We can then take that comfort and share it with others who experience suffering and trials. Reading this now seems so appropriate. A couple that grew up in the congregation I am part of recently experienced the death of their daughter. They had left our congregation 10-15 years ago to go into prison ministry. I know that this situation must be breaking their hearts, yet I also know that they are comforted by the outpouring of prayers that they are receiving from all over. I do not know how, but I know that God will offer them comfort in this situation and that they will use this comfort in their ministry to those who are facing their own trials.

Psalm 40:11-17

     It has not been often that I have seen a thread run through the passages I read each day, but today there is indeed such a thread. We have the passage from Job where Job and his friends struggle with finding the meaning of suffering. Then we have the passage from 2 Corinthians where Paul tells us that God will comfort us in times of trouble if we fully rely on Him. Now we have the psalmist crying out to God in the midst of his troubles. He declares that those who seek the Lord should rejoice and be glad in God’s mercy. We should shout out our praise of God for all to hear. We must acknowledge our need and accept that only through the hand of God can we be helped and saved.

Proverbs 22:2-4

     Well, the thread does not quite continue into today’s proverbs. We are all God’s creations. This means that we should reject attempts to dehumanize others, whether they be rich or poor. We should make plans to deal with future dangers to the best of our abilities. If we are humble and fear the Lord, He will provide for our needs and more.

August 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.

Tabby is determined

Job 16-19:29

     Job again responds to Eliphaz. He condemns his friends for offering him no comfort in his grief and condemning him as a sinner without pointing out to him what his sin was. Once more he cries out for a mediator between himself and God. Job finishes out this argument by expressing the hopelessness of this life if the Gospel is not true. Once more I praise God that we have just such a mediator as Job was crying out for and the grave is not our end.
     Bildad responds to Job a second time. This time all Bildad does is point out all of the ways that God brings judgement against the wicked. His argument appears to be that since Job is suffering these things, he must be wicked. Job responds to this by telling his friends that they think they are better than him, when in fact they are not. They are using his suffering as evidence of his sin without pointing out what that sin is. While we as Christians are called to confront our brothers and sisters in the Lord over their sins, we are called to do so in love and admitting that we too are sinners. We must confront the sin and not the sinner. Job then tells us that he knows that his Redeemer lives and that he will see Him when He at last stands on this earth. He tells us that even though he may die before that day happens, he will nevertheless see Him with his eyes. Jesus will return and if we have died before that day comes to pass, we will rise from the dead to see our Redeemer stand upon this Earth.

I know that my Redeemer liveth,
And on the earth again shall stand;
I know eternal life He giveth,
That grace and power are in His hand.

I know, I know, that Jesus liveth,
And on the earth again shall stand;
I know, I know, that life He giveth,
That grace and power are in His hand.

Tabby takes a drink

1 Corinthians 16:1-24

     The Corinthians had asked about the money that was being collected to help those in Jerusalem. Paul tells them that they should collect money out of what they earned each week and put it aside, rather than waiting until it was time to send it and try to collect it all at once. I think this is a great example of how we should approach all such giving. As we earn money we should put a portion aside to give to those individuals and organizations which are doing the Lord’s work. How much and for what causes is for each Christian to decide for himself. This is an area where I am still working on my self discipline.
     Paul asks the Corinthians to look out for Timothy when he comes to them because he is doing the Lord’s work. He tells them not to treat Timothy with contempt. We do not know why Paul feared that Timothy would be poorly treated, perhaps it was because of his youth. Whatever the reason, it is a lesson for us that we should judge people seeking to serve God on the basis of their actions, not on the basis of their age, experience, or background. Paul tells us that we should be strong and courageous in the faith and above all we should do everything in love. One of the themes I get from this letter is that we should test all of our actions and speech against the standard of whether or not they are done for love. When I confront someone about a perceived sin, am I doing so out of love for them? Or am I doing it to feel superior to them? When I do something for others, am I doing it in the manner I would wish others to do for me if I was in those circumstances?

Gandalf and Tabby

Psalm 40:1-10

     This psalm is a great teacher for me. I have learned to wait patiently for the Lord. Perhaps not as patiently as I sometimes should, but still, I think that I can say that I have learned patience. And I trust in the Lord, I have confidence that in His time He will deliver me from the trials I face. However, I still struggle with not being afraid to speak out. All too often, I hide His Gospel in my heart rather than sharing it with those around me. Certainly, I have room for learning more patience and for greater trust in the Lord, but the area I really need His Spirit to work in me is in my willingness and desire to share with others my faith in Him and what I believe that He can do for them. I pray that the Spirit will move in me so that His words will burst forth from me.

Tabby and Gandalf

Proverbs 22:1

     A reputation for honesty and hard work is more valuable than money. There are times when you will have needs that no amount of money can meet. When you come to those times, having a good reputation will see you through.

August 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.

“What’s over here?”

Job 12-15:35

     Job again replies to his friends. He begins by sarcastically referring to them as the source of all wisdom. He then tells them that he knows a few things himself and that they are not better than he. Job tells them that true wisdom and power belong to God. Job says that his friends are accusing him with lies. He says that they are attempting to make God’s case using lies and that they should fear that God would judge them for doing so. There is an important lesson here for us. We should be careful not to use untruths in our attempts to bring others to God. If we know them to be untrue, they are lies, but we should do everything we can to ensure that statements we use in our evangelism are true (it is not enough that we believe them to be true). Job asks to make his case before God. He wants God to answer his arguments and show him where he is wrong, where he has sinned. In the conclusion of this argument Job says something interesting. He tells us that when people die they are no more. But he says that if people were resurrected this would give him hope through his years of struggle. This is the very hope that that we have through Christ’s resurrection.
     Eliphaz now responds again. Eliphaz tells Job that his words are empty of wisdom. He then makes an argument that goes like this: The wicked suffer because of their wickedness. You are suffering, therefore you must be wicked.

Gandalf the Gray looks around

1 Corinthians 15:29-58

     Paul wraps up his argument for the importance of believing in the resurrection by saying that if there is no resurrection we may as well live the life of hedonists. I know people who choose to be atheists because it allows them to live such a life. Paul warns us not to be fooled by such people. He warns us not to let bad company corrupt us, while we should not avoid the company of sinners we need to be careful not to let them influence us to sin.
     Paul then addresses the issue of what our resurrected bodies will be like. I do not know what issues Paul was addressing here. However, he says some things that people have believed throughout time. People have believed that if you died with disfigurement, or if your body was mutilated after death, you would go through eternity with those disfigurements. Paul tells us that no, we will not have our earthly bodies throughout eternity. Our earthly bodies are buried imperfect, but we will be raised with perfect bodies. He further tells us that not everyone will die, but all Christians will be transformed. When Christ returns, those who have died will be raised and those that yet live will be transformed. At that time our bodies, that today are subject to entropy and will eventually die, will be replaced with bodies that are not subject to entropy and will never die. Paul wraps up this section by telling us that nothing we do for the Lord is ever useless.

Tabby looking around

Psalm 39:1-13

     The message that I get from this psalm is one I do not think was intended by the psalmist. The psalmist says that he resolved to be careful not to sin in either word or deed and as a result was silent before the ungodly. But as he stood there in silence, the Spirit moved within him and words burst forth. I pray that God will work with me in this manner. I resolve to attempt to keep my silence in the face of the unsaved until the Spirit gives me the words to speak, words which I pray He will make burst forth against my resistance. I, also, ask that the Lord remind me again to be doing His work while I still have the time to do so. Our time on this earth is short and there is much work to be done.

Tabby and Gandalf play

Proverbs 21:30-31

     Today’s two proverbs are entirely linked. No matter what plans we make, no matter how wise we are, nothing we do can bring about an outcome against God’s will. It is important that we make ourselves ready for the war, but victory will only be ours if we place ourselves within God’s order of battle. God will be victorious no matter what forces are marshaled against Him. we will only be victorious if we marshal with God’s forces and follow His commands in the battle.

August 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.

Tabby kitten with mother

Job 8-11:20

     Job’s friend Bildad now replies to Job. Bildad starts off with a circular logic argument. He says that Job’s children must have been guilty of some sin, since they died in the natural disaster. Therefore their punishment (death in the natural disaster) was well-deserved. Bildad’s argument can be summed up this way, “They died, therefore they deserved to die.” Bildad then tells Job that if he would only turn to God his troubles would all go away. Bildad says that the wicked seem to flourish, but they soon wither and disappear. He argues that on the other hand, those who have integrity before God will enjoy untroubled lives. Bildad’s argument rests on the assumption that Job has turned away from God and/or rejected God, when Job has already said that such is not the case.
     Job responds that he agrees with Bildad in principle, but asks how anyone can be innocent in God’s sight? Job tells us that God is so mighty that none dare challenge Him. In addition, God is so wise that none can win a debate against Him. Job cries out that what he needs is a mediator between himself and God because he cannot stand before God in his own strength. Job makes an absolutely valid point, we cannot stand before God in our own strength and wisdom. Thankfully, God has provided us with a mediator between us and Him, Jesus Christ. Job goes on to cry out the question that all people ask when they suffer, “Why are You doing this? Why me?”
     Job’s third friend, Zophar, now speaks up. He continues the line of argument made by the first two. He declares that Job must be guilty of some sin deserving of this punishment. Zophar goes further and says that Job’s sin probably deserves even worse punishment than he is currently suffering. Zophar notes that no mortal can possibly comprehend all there is to know about God. But Zophar goes on to say that all of Job’s troubles are the result of his sin and if Job would only confess it and turn from it his troubles would go away.

Tabby kitten gets ready to go exploring

1 Corinthians 15:1-28

     Paul now addresses the issue of the resurrection of the dead. He begins by basically saying, “OK, let me go over the basics of what I first taught you.” He tells them that if they do not hold to this teaching all of what they believed about what he taught is in vain. He then goes on to sum up the Gospel. He tells them that Jesus died for our sins and then was raised from the dead. That there are still those alive who witnessed all of this, including seeing the resurrected Christ. He points out that he and the other apostles preach the same message.
     Paul then asks them how some of them can say that there is no resurrection from the dead if Jesus was raised from the dead? He then makes two points. The first point is that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then faith in Him is useless. Second, he points out that if there is no resurrection of the dead than all of the apostles are lying about God and nothing they have said can be trusted. However, Paul says that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Jesus is the first of many to be raised from the dead for eternal life. Those who believe in Him will be raised when He comes back. When Christ returns He will have destroyed every ruler and power and authority such that everything is subject to Him. Death will be the last such authority to be destroyed. I know people who argue that they are Christians but do not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Paul argues that there is no value in faith in Christ if there is no resurrection of the dead. Further he argues that if there is no resurrection of the dead, than the teachers of Christianity are liars and all of their teachings are lies.

Gray kitten goes exploring

Psalm 38:1-22

     The psalmist cries out from his suffering and confesses his sin before God. He makes no defense of his actions, but begs God for forgiveness. He is sorry for what he has done and resolves to change his ways. He chooses to wait upon God to either defend him or punish him. That is my wish to always lay my life before God and wait for Him to act.

Tabby kitten comes out to play

Proverbs 21:28-29

     The first proverb contrasts those who bear false witness with those who listen carefully. I had to read this several times in several different translations before that connection made sense to me. It then hit me that this was talking about how sometimes we think people meant one thing, and we tell others that that is what they said, when if we had listened carefully we would have realized they meant something very different. Even further I think it was talking about people who intentionally distort part of what someone said to make the original speaker look bad over against people who listen carefully to what the original speaker said and relay their meaning accurately.
     I had a similar problem with the second proverb. Most translations said something along the lines of wicked people bluff their way through but the godly think before they act. I had trouble seeing what it was getting at. Then I read the New Century Version which translates this as:

“Wicked people are stubborn,
but good people think carefully about what they do.”

Looked at from that perspective I could see how it made sense. I have known people who always try to bull their way through even when it turns out that things will not work out like they planned. These are usually people who do so either because they selfishly want what they will get out of it, no matter what the cost to others or because they are unwilling to admit that they were wrong.