September 1, 2013 Bible Study — Anyone Who Belongs To Christ Is a New Creation

     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.

Magrat yawns
Magrat yawns

Job 40-42:17

     God asks Job to answer His questions. Job replies that he is unworthy. He has spoken, but he has no answer to God’s questions. God then asks some more questions. First, He asks Job if he wishes to discredit God’s justice and condemn God in order to prove that he is right?
God then asks Job if he has the power to match God? Can he humiliate the proud and punish the wicked? God then asks Job if he can tame Behemoth, which God made, the same as He made Job? Then God asks if he can catch Leviathan, also made by God? A description is given of both, Behemoth is an herbivore and Leviathan a carnivore. We are unable to determine if these are fanciful descriptions of real animals (my personal opinion), or descriptions of mythical beasts which the writer thought were real.
     Job answers God once more and admits his fault in questioning God’s wisdom. He tells us that he had been talking about things about which he knew nothing. Job repented his anger with God. God then told Bildad, Eliphaz and Zophar that He was angry with them for misrepresenting Him (it is worth noting that God does not say anything against Elihu). God tells them to offer sacrifices and ask Job to pray for them. They do as instructed and Job does pray for them. The book concludes by telling us that Job prayed for his friends and God restored his fortunes to even more than he had had before.


     I am not sure what to make of this, but it struck me that Job, the one who was suffering, prayed for his friends. Usually when someone we know is suffering, we go to them and pray for them, for them to receive relief from their suffering. In this case, it was the one who was suffering who prayed for those who came to see him, and was then relieved from his suffering. I know that this situation is a special case, but perhaps we should give some thought to asking those who are suffering to pray for us?


2 Corinthians 5:11-21

     Paul told the Corinthians that since he knew what it was to fear the Lord, this knowledge inspired him to attempt to convince others. Paul goes on to say that if he is out of his mind, as some perceive him to be, it is in service to God. On the other hand, if he is in his right mind, it is in order to be of service to his fellow believers. In either case, Paul is compelled to act as he does because of Christ’s love. Because Christ died for all, therefore, in some sense, all have died. As a result, those who continue to live because of their faith in Him should no longer live for themselves, but should live for Christ.
     We are no longer to regard anyone from a worldly perspective. If we belong to Christ, He will have made us into a new creation. God has reconciled us to Himself, and thereby given us the ministry of spreading the word of His reconciliation. It is our task to tell everyone we meet that God is in the act of reconciling everyone who will accept to Himself through Christ Jesus. He has made us His ambassadors from the kingdom of God to the nations of this world.


     This is a word of great hope. God has made us into something new. We do not have to remain stuck in the same old rut of falling into all of our old sins. God has transformed us and will continue to do so every day. More importantly, we need to remember that we are God’s ambassador’s in this world. We may be the only sample of what God is like that some people ever see. We are called upon in every way, every day to act as representatives of God. As ambassadors, we have two jobs. One is telling people how they can emigrate to God’s kingdom because God is seeking immigrants to His kingdom. However, all too often we forget that the other part of being God’s ambassador is convincing people that they want to emigrate to God’s kingdom. We are to live a life that makes others want to be like us.

Magrat spots something to play with
Magrat spots something to play with

Psalm 45:1-17

     Today’s psalm is a wedding song for a king. The only part of it which touched me today was when the psalmist said that the king defended truth, humility, and justice and then a little later when he said that the king loved justice and hated evil. These are the characteristics of a ruler who will have God’s favor in all of their actions.

Magrat debates getting up
Magrat debates getting up

Proverbs 22:14

     Today’s proverb tells us that the words of an immoral woman are a trap into which those who anger God fall. I am not completely clear on what the writer means, but I believe he means that the same behaviors which anger God make one susceptible to the traps in the words of an immoral woman.


August 31, 2013 Bible Study — >Where Were You When I Laid the Foundations of the Earth?

     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 37-39:30

     Elihu continues, telling Job that his heart pounds when he thinks of God’s voice and wondrous power. He describes some of the ways in which God speaks and some of his wondrous acts. Then he asks Job a rhetorical question. He asks Job if he understands how God does these things. Elihu concludes by saying that since Job is so wise as to understand these things, he should teach others what to say to God.
     When Elihu had finished speaking, God answered Job from a whirlwind. God starts by asking Job some questions. He asks him if he was there when the earth was created? The whole of chapter 38 is a beautiful rebuttal to those who think they know how the world came to be and that they can dismiss God as unimportant. I will quote here one example I found especially poignant:

Where does light come from,
and where does darkness go?
Can you take each to its home?
Do you know how to get there?
But of course you know all this!
For you were born before it was all created,
and you are so very experienced!

Chapter 39 continues with more examples of things which exceed human understanding and demonstrate the limits of human wisdom.


     When God begins speaking to Job He asks the question which Ken Ham paraphrases so brilliantly when people tell him that this earth was created in some way that contradicts the Genesis account. God’s words here:

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?

Ken Ham asks:

How do you know? Were you there?

There are many who challenge this as an easy question to answer, but that is because they do not listen to the whole follow up. That question is directed at those who dogmatically insist that there is no God because the whole universe came into being by random chance. It is a question about how do you know what you know and, more importantly, how do you know what you do not know? It is only when we recognize the limits to what we know that we can start to accept that God is beyond our ability to fully understand, that we have to take something on faith and it may as well be God.


2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10

     Paul quotes the psalmist as saying, “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Paul tells us that because he knows that the God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise him and those who listen to his message, he cannot help but tell people about the Gospel. As God’s grace reaches ever more people will cause those who believe to give thanks for the greater glory to God. Paul never gave up because his spirit was being renewed every day, even though his body was wasting away. Paul was able to accomplish this because he did not look at the troubles he faced in this life, rather he looked at the things of God which cannot be seen.
     Paul expresses his full confidence in God. Telling us that he would rather die and leave this earthly, corrupted body to be with Christ, but willing to stay within his earthly body for as long as God had use for him here. This whole passage gives us a model which we should strive to follow. Paul regards this life as something to be endured in service to God, but longed for the day when he would join Jesus in heaven, whether through death and resurrection or through transformation upon the Lord’s return. This made any trials or pains which he faced eminently endurable because the worse they were from a human perspective the more they demonstrated that God was honoring him by allowing him to share in Christ’s suffering.


Psalm 44:9-26

     In today’s psalm, the psalmist tells us that God has allowed his enemies to triumph over him and made him experience suffering. All of this has happened despite the fact that he has remained faithful to God. Despite being in this situation the psalmist trusts in God to rescue him from his troubles.


     There will be times when our life goes through something like this. But let us remember the message of Job, that God will answer our cries in His time. And let us remember Paul’s expression of faith and keep our focus on the unseen glory of God. God will use our suffering to bring glory to His name and will reward us for our faithfulness according to His plan.


Proverbs 22:13

     The lazy person will take any excuse to avoid working.

August 30, 2013 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 34-36:33

     Elihu challenges Job for claiming to be innocent and for saying that it is a waste of time trying to please God. He tells us that God does not sin and cannot do wrong. Elihu tells us that God watches how people live, there is no way to hide anything from Him. It is God who determines when we will come before Him for judgment. When the poor and needy cry out, God hears them, but if he chooses to remain quiet, who are we to criticize Him? God is a god of justice, but He will not tailor His justice to our standards. It is up to us to meet His standards. Elihu tells Job that he was in the wrong for failing to show respect to God and for speaking angrily against Him.
     Elihu tells us that Job asked what was in it for him to behave righteously. However, Elihu points out that God gains nothing when we live righteously and loses nothing when we sin. Whether we live righteously or sinfully has no impact on God. There is nothing that we can give God that He does not already have. Nevertheless, when we cry out to God, He hears and will bring justice in His time. God makes an effort to get our attention and to show us when we do wrong. If we listen and turn from our sins, God will reward us. The godless are full of resentment towards God and refuse to cry out to Him when they are in trouble.
     Elihu condemns Job for being obsessed with whether or not God will judge the wicked. He tells Job, and us, that we should not concern ourselves with that. Instead, we should seek to do right and avoid being seduced into doing evil. God is greater than we can understand. Rather than blame Him for not doing things as we think He should, we are to praise His mighty works and sing of His glory.


2 Corinthians 4:1-12

     Paul tells the Corinthians that since God, in His mercy, has given Paul this ministry to this new covenant, he does not and will not lose heart, no matter what difficulties he may face. Paul further says that he has renounced using any sort of trickery to spread the Gospel. The Gospel is only veiled to those who refuse to believe and have allowed Satan to blind them to glorious light of the Good News. Paul emphasized that the message he preached was not about himself, rather he preached that Christ was Lord. The God who said, “Let there be light,” and thus caused the entire universe to explode into being, has made the light of the Gospel shine in our hearts so that we can see the glory of God as displayed on the face of Christ.
     Yet despite all of this, we are fragile like clay jars. It is not our power that allows us to witness to others about the greatness of God. Anything we accomplish is from the all-surpassing power of God. We carry in our bodies the death of Jesus so that His life can be revealed through us.


     From time to time a group of Christians will attempt to come up with a program that will attract people to their events without people realizing that the event is being sponsored by Christians. I think that part of Paul’s message here is that this is a mistake. We should be upfront about who we are and the message we are preaching. We are not going to bring anyone to the Lord by our own cleverness, or power. It is only through the action of the Holy Spirit that individuals come to Christ.


Psalm 44:1-8

     It is not by the might of our arms, or the brilliance of our strategies, that we will gain victory that lasts. It is only through the might of God as we serve His will that we will be victorious as we face this life’s struggles and as we strive to bring others to know Him.


Proverbs 22:10-12

     If you have a group that is beset by strife, get rid of those who mock others and the strife will go with them. God watches over those who act openly and above board, but frustrates the plans of those who lie and cheat.


August 29, 2013 Bible Study — Why Am I Discouraged?

     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 31-33:33

     Job once more declares his innocence. A look at the sins which he tells us he has never committed remind me of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. He starts by saying that he has never looked with lust at a young woman. He continues by saying that he has not lied nor deceived anyone. Notice here that it is not enough to tell the truth, you must not tell it in such a manner so as to deceive your listener. Job continues by declaring that he was never unfair to his servants, nor did he ever refuse to help the poor. This passage is a great one to read if we want to know how we are called by God to behave.
     When Job had finished, Elihu speaks up. We do not know when Elihu arrived, but he is the only one of Job’s friends who is not called upon by God to apologize to Job. Elihu begins by telling Job’s other friends that he waited for them to speak because he was younger than they and he recognized that with age comes wisdom. However, they have failed to refute Job’s arguments and Elihu thinks they have used faulty logic. Elihu begins by saying that Job has declared that he is without sin and that God is persecuting him unjustly. He tells Job that he is wrong to accuse God of not speaking to those who seek Him. Elihu declares that God speaks to people over and over, but people fail to recognize His voice.


     Today’s passage is fabulous, both in Job’s statement laying out how someone who truly following God will behave. It gives places righteous behavior in a positive light rather than a negative light. Righteousness is not about not doing certain things. Rather it is about doing things that are righteous, treating people right, helping the poor and oppressed, etc..
     Then Elihu speaks and challenges Job’s claims that God does not answer his cries. Elihu begins by telling us that the young should give their elders respect and wait to hear their wisdom, but that that does not mean that only those who are older have wisdom to share. Elihu then tells us that if we do not hear God’s voice, it is because we have refused to recognize when God speaks to us. I can not count the number of times I have cried out to God, “Please tell me what to do!” only to finally realize that He had been giving me an answer and I was not listening.


2 Corinthians 3:1-18

     Paul realizes that what he has been saying in the last section could be taken as bragging and denies that he is doing so. He points out that he needs no letter of recommendation. The only letter of recommendation he is interested in is the lives lived by the Corinthian Christians. Then Paul makes a great assertion of faith:

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

We can have great confidence in what we do, as long as we remember that any competence we have to address the problems in front of us comes from God. This is a reminder that just because we can confidently undertake the tasks which God has set before us, it does not mean that we are better than others.
     Paul continues by saying that the competence he has been given is as a minister of God’s new covenant, a covenant, not of laws, but of the Spirit. The old covenant of laws etched into stone brought death, yet it came with such glory that the people could not look directly on Moses face because it shone so brightly with God’s glory. How much more brightly, Paul asks, will the new covenant which brings life glow in God’s glory? We do not need to be either like Moses, who put a veil over his face to protect the people from seeing the glory of God, or like the people who could not stand to look directly on God’s face. Something like the veil which Moses wore over his face comes over everybody’s heart when the words of Scripture are read, UNLESS it is removed by faith in Christ. When someone today reads Moses’ writings there is a veil over their heart. But if someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away and they can fully understand the message in God’s Word. Those of us who have turned to the Lord can thus reflect God’s glory for everyone to see.


     Do people see God’s glory when they look at me? I’m afraid the answer, all to often, is “No”. I will continue to strive to better allow the Spirit to shine through me and I will pray that the Spirit shine through me despite my attempts to dim that light to avoid embarrassment.


Psalm 43:1-5

     When I am discouraged, I need to ask myself why. There is no reason to be sad and discouraged when we put our hope in God. Which tells me that when I am sad and discouraged it is because I am relying on myself rather than God.


Proverbs 22:8-9

     Those who spread injustice will reap calamity. Injustice inevitably results in disaster which will come back to those who committed the injustice. Those who are generous are blessed by their very generosity (although not ONLY by their generosity).


August 28, 2013 Bible Study — The Fear of the Lord Is True Wisdom

     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 28-30:31

     Job speaks of how humans have learned to find precious stones and valuable metals by digging mines into the earth. These are treasures that no wild animal would have any idea were there, yet mankind knows to delve into the earth to retrieve them. Despite this skill at finding valuable things, mankind has trouble finding wisdom. Wisdom cannot be bought for any amount of money, yet is more valuable than all other wealth combined. The only place to find wisdom is from God. The fear of the Lord is true wisdom, and those with understanding will shun evil.
     Job recounts how respected he was before tragedy befell him. He tells how he used his wealth to help those less fortunate and advised those planning life changes. Then tragedy struck and now he is mocked by those whose fathers were not worthy to watch his flocks in previous times. Now, in his time of trouble, he receives no aid, despite the fact that when times were good for him he aided those in need.


2 Corinthians 2:12-17

     Paul tells the Corinthians that when he was in Troas the Lord opened an opportunity for him. However, he did not have peace of mind because he had not yet heard back from Titus with word of how the Corinthian Church received Paul’s first letter. As a result, Paul traveled from Troas to Macedonia in an attempt to track down Titus.
     Paul then thanks God for taking him captive and leading him in a victory procession. The image Paul is using here is of the parades which Roman Emperors had where they led the captives from their victorious military campaigns through the streets of Rome. Paul then changes to yet another metaphor, that of the incense used by priests to worship various gods. He tells the Corinthians that God has been using him to spread the knowledge of God the way that the smell of incense penetrates all of the area around where it is burned. This scent is perceived by everybody, but not everybody perceives it in the same way. To those who are being saved the smell of that which Paul preaches is a wonderful scent to be greatly desired, but to those who reject God’s salvation the smell is that of death and destruction.


     This is a very short passage here today, but it highlights something we need to keep in mind. The very things about the Gospel that we, as Christians, find sweet and joyful are a source of discomfort and opprobrium to those who reject the Gospel. People who we as Christians find pleasant to be around will be viewed by non-Christians people to be despised and avoided in the same way that the smell of rotting meat is despised and avoided.


Psalm 42:1-11

     The psalmist is experiencing a time of depression, but he tells us the answer to breaking out of depression. It is to seek after God the way that a deer seeks out water. When times are difficult and our enemies ask us, “Where is your God now?” we need to still put our hopes in God. He will not disappoint us. Even when we are discouraged we should seek after God, doing His will to the best of our ability. The psalmist is feeling discouraged, but nevertheless he acknowledges:

But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.

This is the way in which we can overcome depression when it comes upon us. Praising God and seeking to follow His commands will lead us out from our depression and into the joy of the Lord.


Proverbs 22:7

     Borrowing money results in a loss of liberty. The more in debt one is, the less freedom of action one has.


August 27, 2013 Bible Study — Forgive the Repentant Sinner

     I have been reading through Job for the last few days. I find it challenging. Both because of Job’s negativity and because sometimes his friends say things that seem so right, yet I know that at the end of the book God tells them to repent and ask Job’s forgiveness. Job and his friends seem to repeat themselves. On this read through it seems like the book is longer than it needs to be, yet I know from other passages in the Bible that on different occasions different parts will speak to me.
     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 23-27:23

     Job responds to Eliphaz by saying that he wished that he knew where to find God and His court. He has looked for Him in all directions, but has not found Him. However, despite his inability to find God, Job tells us that God knows where he is going. He may be unable to find God, but God has found him. Job claims that in all of this he has kept to God’s path and followed God’s commands. Job then asks why God does not punish the wicked. Why do they get away with the various evils which he lists? Yet despite asking that question, he concludes this speech by noting that the wicked will be consumed by death just as snow disappears in the heat.
     Bildad replies and asks Job who can possibly be innocent before God? Job responds once more by sarcastically praising the wisdom of his friends. He then goes on to speak of God’s great power. Job vows that despite the suffering he has experienced at the hand of God, he will not speak evil. As long as God continues to give him breath he will not speak lies. He acknowledges that the wicked will suffer the penalty for their acts in due time.


2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11

     Paul tells the Corinthians (and us) that he has not written anything which they cannot read and understand, even if they have only managed to understand in part what he was writing. He hopes, and believes, that they will come to understand what he had written fully as they thought about it more. He wants them to be as willing to boast about knowing him on the day of Christ’s return as he intends to boast of knowing them.
     Paul goes on to say that he had planned on visiting them on his way to Macedonia and on his way back from Macedonia. However, he changed his plans because he had heard news about what was going on in the Corinthian Church that made him so angry he feared being overly harsh. In addition, he wanted to give them a chance to address the issue themselves. He did not want to cause grief and hurt feelings among those in the Church who were not part of the problem. So, in order to make sure that they understood the gravity of the situation, without causing unnecessary hurt feelings, he wrote them a letter about the issue and chose to bypass them on his way to Macedonia.
     He goes on to say that the man who was responsible for the problem had caused more hurt within the Church at Corinth than he had caused Paul. The majority of the Church in Corinth opposed his actions and only needed the support of Paul’s letter to take the appropriate action. That action was sufficient punishment for the man’s sins. Now that the man has repented it is time for Church to welcome him back in and comfort him so that he will not be overcome by grief over his sin. The Church needs to reaffirm that they love the man and welcome him back into their fellowship. Paul had written as he did to see if they would be faithful and discipline the man in love. Now that the man has repented, if the Church will forgive the man for his sins, Paul will do so. And when Paul does so, he will be extending God’s forgiveness to the man as well. In fact, Paul has already forgiven the man in the name of Christ.


     This passage appears to refer back to the man mentioned in 1 Corinthians who was sleeping for his father’s wife. Combining these two passages seems to me to give us an example of the early Church disciplining someone according to Jesus teachings in Matthew 18:15-19. In that passage Jesus gives instructions for dealing with a fellow believer who sins, Paul follows that up by showing that once the person has accepted the rebuke by the Church they should be accepted back. In addition, Paul shows that when Jesus spoke of binding and loosing in that passage, He was referring (among other things) to the forgiveness of sin.
     Paul makes another important point. It is important that when someone repents of their sins and changes their ways that we accept that change in love. We need to do this so that the sinner is not tempted beyond they can bear to return to their sins.


Psalm 41:1-13

     Those who are kind to the poor and have regard for the weak will experience joy. God will protect them and raise them up when they face trouble of any sort. Even when their closest friends, those they trusted implicitly turn against them, God will stand by them. God will nurse those who aid the poor and look after those weaker than themselves back to health when they are ill.


Proverbs 22:5-6

     The path trod by the wicked is full of snares and pitfalls, those who value their life will stay far from the wicked and the dangers that they court. If you teach your children to follow the path of righteousness when they are young, they will not turn from it when they are older.

August 26, 2013 Bible Study — F.R.O.G., Fully Rely On God

     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

     Zophar responds to Job once more and makes the claim that the success of the wicked and the godless is only temporary. Job replies that such is not always the case. He says that sometimes the wicked grow old and powerful. All too often, no one will dare to criticize them openly, or pay them back for the evil they have done. It is then Eliphaz’s turn to respond to Job again. Eliphaz then lists the sins which he thinks Job must be guilty of since he is suffering as he is. It is worth noting that Eliphaz does not have any evidence other than Job’s suffering for Job’s sin, but he is convinced of it nonetheless.


     Zophar here goes to far. He is convinced that Job is guilty of all sorts of terrible sins, not because he has seen Job commit any such sin, or heard someone accuse him of them, but because Job has suffered great misfortune. We should not make the same mistake of assuming that someone has done wrong in the absence of evidence. The George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case is a classic example of this. Many people concluded that since he ended up shooting an unarmed seventeen year old, George Zimmerman must have done something wrong. As a Christian, I would never want to be in the position where I might even be tempted to take someone else’s life, let alone actually do so, but our society says there are circumstances where such action is justified. There is no evidence that George Zimmerman was not in such a circumstance, and some evidence that he was. There are gaps in the evidence in which things could have happened that make what George Zimmerman did wrong, but we do not have evidence that those things happened. My point is that we should not conclude that George Zimmerman did wrong according to our society’s standards just because we do not like the results of what happened that night.
     I am using this as an example. We have a tendency to do similar things in our every day lives. We look at the outcome of an event we know nothing about and conclude that one party did wrong without knowing the facts. In most cases we may be correct that one of the parties did wrong, but we do not have any way to know which one that was. We should not place the blame for what went wrong on either one without evidence that they were in the wrong (and that the other party was not equally in the wrong).


2 Corinthians 1:1-11

     Paul begins his second letter to the Corinthians by speaking of the troubles he had in the province of Asia. He tells them that things were so bad that he expected to die. But as a result, he stopped relying on his own ability and came to rely fully on God. God was faithful and rescued them from their troubles. Paul tells us that when we face troubles, God will comfort us. Indeed part of the reason we face trouble is so that we can offer the comfort God gave us to others who face trouble. If continue to rely on God, God will continue to rescue us from the troubles we face. He points out that God can and will rescue us from death, because God raises from the dead and if we rely fully on Him, He will raise us from the dead/


Psalm 40:11-17

     This psalm fits well with the passage from 2 Corinthians. The psalmist tells us that troubles surround him and he cannot see his way out. From that position he calls on the Lord to rescue him. He is confident that God will do so and is prepared. even in the midst of his troubles, to declare, “The Lord is great!”


Proverbs 22:2-4

     The writer tells us that if we are wealthy we should not think ourselves better than the poor, and that if we are poor we should not think ourselves less than the wealthy, because we are all of us God’s creation, made for His purpose.
     The prudent prepare for danger and go forward. They do not fear to act because bad things might happen. They merely prepare the best they can and go on. The foolish never look ahead and suffer the consequences.
     The path to genuine wealth and honor is humility and fear of the Lord.


August 25, 2013 Bible Study — I Know That My Redeemer Lives

     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 16-19:29

     This passage begins with Job’s response to Eliphaz. Job says that his friends are lousy comforters. Instead of attempting to encourage Job and take away his grief, they are accusing him of being a sinner. Job calls out once more for a mediator between himself and God. He continues by declaring his innocence and asking God to defend it for him, since no one else will. He goes on to say that he has lost all hope and desires death.
     Bildad speaks up again and tells Job to stop speaking nonsense. He tells Job that the wicked suffer from various troubles and diseases. The implication being that since the wicked suffer and Job is suffering, Job must have done something wicked. Job responds that his friends think they are better than he and use his suffering as evidence that he is a sinner. Job declares that God has wronged him. He tells them that everyone has abandoned him. He asks them to have mercy on him since God has struck him. He challenges his friends for saying that all of his suffering is his own fault. In the middle of this tale of depression and woe is a statement of great faith.

I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!

I have never quite understood how this fit into the rest of Job’s statements of depression and lack of hope. Here is a statement that we can hold onto when times are bad and we see no way out. Every time I read this passage it calls to mind the great hymn that was based upon it.


1 Corinthians 16:1-24

     Paul begins his conclusion by giving them advice about the money they wanted to collect in order to aid the Christians in Jerusalem. Paul recommends that they put aside a portion of the money they earn each week rather than waiting until he got there to try and gather it up all at once. He tells them that when he gets to Corinth he will write letters of recommendation for those they have chosen to take the money to Jerusalem. If at that time, it seems like a good idea for him to go to Jerusalem, they can all travel together.
     Paul then informs them of the rest of his travel plans. He tells them that he will be staying in Ephesus for a while because there is an open door for him to do great work, despite opposition. He intends to travel from Ephesus to Macedonia and then on to Corinth, where he hopes to stay for an extended period of time. In the meantime, Timothy will be visiting them and they should do their best to protect him from any dangers. He tells them that he had urged Apollos to visit them, but he had other plans. However, Apollos had promised Paul that he would try to get to Corinth at some future date.
     In verses 13 and 14 Paul gives them instructions that we would all do well to take as a mantra of what we will strive to do:

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.

  • “Be on guard.”–There are those who are striving to mislead us and get us to believe things that are contrary to the Gospel.
  • “Stand firm in the faith.”–From time to time, our faith will be shaken, but if we stand firm we will see our faith rewarded.
  • “Be courageous.”–We will be threatened for our faith, but we can rest assured that God will guard us from all dangers.
  • “Be strong.”–Sometimes the path will be hard and we will have to struggle, but God will give us strength when we ask for it.
  • “Do everything with love.”–We cannot go wrong if we make love the motivator of all of our actions.



Psalm 40:1-10

     What a great psalm, with a message that I needed today. It starts by talking about waiting patiently for God. He will hear our cries and lift us out of the mud and the mire. He will give us a new hymn of praise to Him to sing. God has given me songs of praise before by what He has done for me. Yet, if I wait patiently for Him, He will give me new reasons to praise Him in the future. If I put my faith in Him others will see what He has done in my life and praise Him.


Oh Lord, let me act in such a manner that others will put their trust in you because of it.

     God does not desire our goods or our offerings. He wants us to do His will in all aspects of our lives. The psalm ends with what is for me a challenge:
I have told all your people about your justice.
I have not been afraid to speak out,
as you, O Lord, well know.
I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart;
I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.
I have told everyone in the great assembly
of your unfailing love and faithfulness.


Oh Lord, place your Spirit upon me so that I can make the above statement my own. Take away my fear of speaking out. Let all of those I meet know of your good news and justice through my words and my deeds. Let no one doubt that I rely on You every moment of my life. I am weak, Lord, and I can only do these things through the motivation of your Spirit.


Proverbs 22:1

     I would rather people know that I am a faithful follower of Christ than be wealthy, even as wealthy as Bill Gates.

August 24, 2013 Bible Study — Death Is Swallowed Up In Victory

     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 12-15:35

     Job responds to Zophar by sarcastically saying that when his visiting friends die, wisdom will die with them. However, Job tells them that he knew everything they had said, they are no better than he. Job claims that he, a just and blameless man, is facing trouble while the wicked live in safety. He tells his friends to look around, it is clear that his trouble comes from the hand of God.
     Job continues by saying that while those who have age and experience possess some wisdom, true wisdom and power belong to God. Everyone is subject to God’s plans and actions. No one is able to escape the fate that God has chosen for them. From that statement, Job moves on to asking for the opportunity to make his case before God directly. He asks God to show him what he has done wrong.
     Eliphaz responds to Job a second time. He accuses Job of lacking proper fear and respect for God. He asks Job if any mortal can be pure or just in God’s sight? Eliphaz then says that the wicked suffers torment continuously. He goes on to describe the kinds of trouble that he says finds the wicked. The implication of what he is saying is that, since Job is suffering these torments, he must be a wicked man.



1 Corinthians 15:29-58

     Paul continues his arguments for believing in the resurrection of the dead with an interesting question,

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?(NIV)

Further he asks why would he and those ministering with him risk their lives on a regular basis if there was no resurrection from the dead. Finally, Paul argues that if there is no resurrection of the dead than we should drink and party for tomorrow we die. Paul responds to this by saying that we should not be fooled by those who say such things. We are to think carefully and stop sinning. Some of those who make such arguments do not know God at all.


     Paul’s question about being baptized for the dead is an interesting one. I would really like to know what was going on with that. However, it suggests that the early Church put more emphasis on the importance of baptism than we do today. This makes me think that the early Church believed that baptism was required for salvation. So much so that they were baptized for those who had died without the chance to be baptized in life (there are other possible interpretations that I will not go into today).
     There is another point in this discussion that I think is worth thinking about as well. Paul quotes here a Greek poet who says “Bad company corrupts good character.” In this context Paul seems to be saying two things. First, that some people hold to certain beliefs that are contrary to the Gospel because those beliefs justify to them continuing to practice one sin or another (in my experience this is usually some sort of sexual sin, but greed runs a close second). Second. that we should not associate with such people because in time, even if we do not initially share their beliefs, we are likely to be corrupted by their heresy.

     Paul then continues his discussion of the resurrection of the dead by discussing what kind of bodies we will have after we are resurrected. He emphasizes that we will have bodies. However, they will be different from our current bodies in ways which we cannot even begin to comprehend. They will be at least as different from our current bodies as the sun is from the moon. Our current bodies are subject to sinful impulses. Our heavenly bodies will have no such weaknesses. Paul tells us that not all of us will die, but all believers will be transformed from earthly bodies to heavenly bodies.

     This passage is one which gives me as a Christian great hope in the face of death. God has promised that our mortal bodies will be transformed into bodies that will not know corruption, that will not be subject to the aches and pains we all begin to feel as we age. More than that, I can have confidence that those I love who know the Lord who have died are experiencing something wonderful beyond description.
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?

What a wonderful thought that the day is coming when I will understand this in full, when death will be a thing of the past and I will no longer need to say goodbye, if even only for a short while, to those I love. But even now, I know that those I love who know the Lord will only be parted from me for a short while. Which is even greater incentive for me to preach the Gospel to my friends. If they do not accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, then death will part us forever.

     There is one final thing that Paul says in today’s passage. He instructs us to work enthusiastically for the Lord, because nothing we do for the Lord is ever useless. In other words, if we dedicate ourselves to some task for the purpose of serving God, even if we fail to accomplish the goal to which we set ourselves something of value will result. It reminds me of the story of the Sunday School teacher who taught Sunday School in a small congregation that never got very big all of her life. One of her children she taught went on to preach somewhere else. That child, now a grown man, led someone to commit their life to Christ. That latter someone became a major evangelist who called hundreds of thousands to the Lord. The Sunday School teacher never saw much fruit from her labor, but because of her labor many were saved.(When I first heard this story the evangelist was named, but I no longer remember who it was).


Psalm 39:1-13

     The psalmist tells us that he vowed to himself not to sin in what he said. In order to keep this vow, he kept silent around the ungodly. But when he kept his silent as they did what was wrong, his heart burned within him. Until the words burst forth to call upon God. He was reminded, and reminded those around him, that his days were limited and his life would be short. His only hope is in the Lord, without God life is short and meaningless. If we do not turn to God and allow Him to rescue us, our life will be nothing but suffering and misery. It will be empty and meaningless.


     I know what I wrote above to be true. I experienced how empty life is without God and am grateful that He has granted me the gift of His grace. I read this psalm and thought of the many friends I have who believe that there is no God. I weep for them, because I was there and the depression I felt was unbearable. I am not positive that the meaning I read into this psalm is what the psalmist meant, but it is the one that came to me.


Proverbs 21:30-31

     No matter how wise we are, no matter how carefully we plan, if what we are attempting is not what the Lord wills, it will fail. In addition, no matter what we try, God’s plans will come to fruition resulting just as He intended. We may make all the preparations that we wish, but when battle is joined, victory will belong to those chosen by God.

August 23, 2013 Bible Study — Christ Has Indeed Been Raised From the Dead

     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 8-11:20

     Bildad is the next of Job’s friends to reply to him. Bildad starts by saying that Job’s children must have sinned and thus deserved to die. He then goes on to state some truths about this life. He says that those who forget God are like marsh grass without water, they quickly wither. In addition, he tells Job that the hopes of the godless soon evaporate. They cling to things which will not last for security, but those things will not hold. Finally, he tells Job that God will not reject a person of integrity.
     Job responds that he accepts what Bildad has said is true, but how does that help him? Job complains that he has no way to make his case before God. Job says that God is so much greater than any human that we cannot help but be in terror of God when we come into His presence. He wishes for a mediator between God and man, so that we would not need to speak before God in our own strength. The message of the Gospel is that there is such a mediator, Jesus Christ. Job then accuses God of creating him in order to find him guilty of some sin. Job begins to complain against God.
     It is now Zophar’s turn to answer Job. Zophar begins by telling Job that God is surely punishing him less than he deserves. Zophar tells Job that he must surely be guilty of some great sin to be suffering as he is. He then goes on to make a good point. God is so much greater than we are that it is impossible for us to ever fully comprehend why God is doing the things that He does. Our finite minds do not have the capacity to understand the reasons that motivate an infinite God. There comes a point where we must take it on faith that what God does is good.

Eating wine berries after work
Eating wine berries after work

1 Corinthians 15:1-28

     Paul now moves on to his next topic. He starts the topic by reminding them what he taught them as the Gospel from the beginning. That Gospel was that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead. Included in that was a list of people who had seen Him after He had had risen. At the end of that list was Paul himself,. Paul stated that he was not worthy of such an honor because of the way he had persecuted the Church. Despite the fact that he was unworthy, he preached the same message as the other apostles and that was the message which the Corinthian Church had believed.
     Paul now asks, since a basic element of the Gospel itself is that Jesus rose from the dead, how can some be teaching that there is no resurrection from the dead? If there is no resurrection from the dead, than Christ Himself could not have risen. If Christ has not risen from the dead, then those who have been preaching the Gospel are liars. If they are liars then nothing they have preached is of any value. If Christ was not raised, then the faith which the Corinthian Church had was useless. If our hope in Christ is only for this life, then those who rely on it are to be pitied more than any others.


     Every now and again I come upon someone who that if it was proved to them that Jesus never rose from the dead, it would not effect their faith. They always phrase it in such a manner as to imply that their faith is strong enough to withstand even such a challenge. However, if you probe a bit, carefully so as to not reveal that you completely agree with Paul, what you discover is that they do not really believe in anything miraculous, let alone resurrection from the dead.
     The point Paul makes here is that if Christ did not rise from the dead, then those who originally preached the Gospel were either liars, frauds, and con-men, or they were delusional. In either case, there is no way that the message they preached was of any value, since the heart of their message was that Jesus had risen from the dead. Everything else hung on that one fact. That was not the whole of the Gospel, but without it, none of the rest fits together.

Baked ziti
Baked ziti

Psalm 38:1-22

     The psalmist admits that he is suffering because of the wrong he has done. He calls out to God for redemption. God knows what he desires. His enemies are attempting to use his failings to undo all of the good he has done, but he will not give in to their desires. He has confessed his sin before God and regrets doing wrong. He will wait for the Lord to answer his cries and follow the instructions he receives from the Lord.

Pepper plant in bloom
Pepper plant in bloom

Proverbs 21:28-29

     A false witness will soon be found out, but those who listen to the truth a relay it to others will always be able to gain a hearing. The wicked attempt to make things up as they go along, but the virtuous are careful to plan to do what is right.