May 1, 2014 Bible Study — Come And See!

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:15-16

    The simple believe what they are told, but the wise investigate its truth before acting upon it. It is foolish to react angrily to rumour without confirming its truth. It is important to confirm the facts of a case before deciding what one believes about it and taking action.


Psalm 102:1-28

    I try to avoid applying the Bible to modern politics because I believe God calls us to dedicate our allegiance to the Kingdom of God, not to earthly nations. However, today as I read this psalm I was struck that it was a plea for God come to the defense of Jerusalem. As I read it, I feel led to pray that God come to the defense of the land of Israel. I pray that He send His Holy Spirit upon the people living there and call them to follow Him faithfully. I further pray that He demonstrate His power upon this earth by coming to the defense of that land so that the peoples of this world will go to Jerusalem to worship Him. Let all of this happen so as to bring glory to the name of God.


John 1:29-51

    When John the Baptist pointed out Jesus to two of his disciples as the Lamb of God, they went to Jesus and asked where He was staying. Jesus replied, “Come and see.” Later, Philip went to Nathaniel and told him about Jesus. Nathaniel was skeptical. Philip did not attempt to convince him, he just said, “Come and see.” Following Jesus is not an intellectual exercise. It is something that you need to experience to understand. When we attempt to reach others for Christ, let us remember this. Rather than try to convince their intellect, hoping their heart will follow, let us invite them to experience what it means to follow Christ. Let us call out to those around us, “Come and see.” Do not take my word for what it is like to follow Jesus, come and see for yourself.


Judges 13-14:20

    I was struck by the similarity between the instructions given to Samson’s mother when she was told that she would give birth and the advice given today to pregnant women (especially those who have had trouble carrying a child to term). She was told to avoid alcohol and watch her diet carefully (avoid foods forbidden under Jewish law).
    Something that strikes me every time I read this passage is that Samson never learned use good judgement in his relationships with women. I fault Samson’s parents for this, for not directing his interests towards women who would be good for him. I will use an example of someone I know. When he got out of high school, he got involved with people who were a bad influence on him (the bad influence went both ways in his case). When his father realized what types of women he was getting involved with, he found a way to direct his interest elsewhere. The father did not do it by telling him he needed to stay away from his friends. Rather his father convinced him to pursue an interest in a different area, where he would just so happen to meet women more likely to be a good influence on him. The funny thing is that while she influenced him to turn away from moving in a bad direction, he did the same for her.
    The passage tells us that God used Samson’s poor judgement when it came to women, but how much better would things have been if Samson’s father had turned his interest towards a woman who would have been good for him? God will use our flaws for his glory, but that does not mean he could not use us even better if we avoided those mistakes.

April 30, 2014 Bible Study — How To Live a Godly Life

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:13-14

    This proverb reminds us to remember that just because someone is laughing and appears to be enjoying themselves, it does not mean that their grief is gone. It takes time to work through grief, there are no shortcuts. Continue to offer support to those who have experienced grief, even if they seem to be handling it well.
    Those who fail to be faithful will receive their just reward, as will those who are good. Choose your actions accordingly.


Psalm 101:1-8

    I love this psalm because it both lifts me up with joy when I read it and it gives great advice for living a godly life.

  • Live a blameless life–something I can only do if God helps me
  • Live a life of integrity–even when in the privacy of my own home
  • Refuse to look at anything vile or vulgar
  • Have nothing to do with those who deal crookedly, who do not keep faith
  • Reject perverse ideas and stay away from all evil
  • Refuse to tolerate those who slander others
  • Spend time with faithful people, hire only those who are above reproach
  • Do not hire those who deceive or spend time with liars

Yes, I will sing of God’s love and justice as I beg Him to help me live according to this list.


John 1:1-28

    The comparison John makes here to God as a source of light reminds me of the comparison of good and evil to light and dark. Neither dark nor evil are things in and of themselves. They are the absence of something else. Dark is the absence of light and evil is the absence of good. As I think about it in this context, I like the alternate translation of verse five, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it.” As the author goes further with this metaphor, I love how he points out that John was not the source of light. Rather John pointed people towards the light. In the same way, we need to point people towards the source of light. Let us reflect the light of God in our lives so that others will wish to experience it first hand. Whatever about me is good is but a poor reflection of the goodness which is God. Let us polish, and clean, our mirrors so that they become ever better reflections of God’s goodness. But let us not be afraid to risk getting dirty, if that is what it takes to reflect God’s light into nooks and crannies.


Judges 11-12:15

    Jepthah’s half-brothers drove him out, apparently with the approval of the community leaders. Yet when trouble arose and they needed his skills, those same community leaders begged him to come back and rescue them. Despite what they had done to him, Jepthah returned and led the people in defeating their attacker. This story does not tell us about a great man of God who led God’s people to victory. Rather it tells us about a flawed man who was used by God to protect a people who were themselves flawed. Let us recognize that God will make use of us despite our flaws.

April 29, 2014 Bible Study — It Wasn’t Supposed To Happen This Way!

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:11-12

    Even though the wicked have established a permanent residence while the righteous are still living in transient housing (house vs tent), The righteous will flourish and remain while the wicked will be forced to move on. The second part of this proverb is an important warning, a path may seem like the right way to go, but lead to death. We must choose our paths carefully.


Psalm 100:1-5

    This psalm fills me with joy this morning. I am the Lord’s. I belong to Him and am glad to reside in His everlasting love.


Luke 24:13-53

    Luke tells us about the two disciples walking to Emmaus because it gives us an insight into the thinking of all of the disciples on the first Easter. They had been sure that Jesus was the Messiah, but then things did not go the way they expected. He was arrested and crucified. That wasn’t the way it was supposed to work. He was supposed to emerge victorious over the Romans. They did not know what to think about the report from the women that Jesus had risen from the dead, after all, they were women. How often are we guilty of the same thing? We get a glimpse of God’s working and think we understand where He is going, then when it doesn’t work out that way, we think our initial insight must have been wrong. We rarely consider that maybe the insight was right, it was just our understanding of where things went from there that was wrong.


Judges 9:22-10:18

    The people of Shechem realized their mistake in supporting someone just because he sounded good and rebelled against Abimelech. Abimelech heard of their rebellion and brought his army to Shechem, where he destroyed the city and killed the people. Apparently by then the rebellion had spread, so Abimelech took his army to the next town and attacked it. However, just as he appeared to have won the battle, he was struck down and died. The story of Abimelech reminds us of the importance of choosing our leaders with care. It also warns those of us who aspire to positions of leadership that we will pay a price for misusing the authority we are given.

April 28, 2014 Bible Study — Is the Resurrection Nonsense?

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:9-10

    There are two ways to deal with our feelings of guilt. Fools dismiss guilt as being silly. The wise and godly acknowledge their guilt and do what they can to make amends. Only you can know the depths of your hurt, but you are also the only one who can experience the heights of your joy. No one can ever fully know what someone else feels.


Psalm 99:1-9

    Let us exalt the Lord our God and bow before Him. Let us remember how our forefathers in faith cried out to God when they were in trouble and He answered them. He will do the same for us. He is a forgiving God, but He will discipline us for our sins. He will discipline us in order to teach us how to live according to our best interests.


Luke 23:44-24:12

    When the women heard the message delivered to them at the tomb, they remembered what Jesus had said about dying and rising again on the third day. So they rushed back to tell the rest of the disciples what they had seen and heard. But the men did not believe them because it sounded to them like nonsense. Peter, at least, went to check out their story. When we hear stories about how God is working that sound incredible, do we check it out for ourselves? Or do we dismiss it as nonsense?


Judges 8:18-9:21

    Gideon had many sons by many wives and made no provision for who would lead the people of Israel after his death (whether one of his sons, or someone else). As a result one of his sons, Abimelech, turned to his mother’s relatives, who were prominent in the city of Shechem, to gain power. They gave him money which he used to hire some “rough customers” to follow him. He led his band of troublemakers to his father’s house to kill his brothers. One of his brothers escaped and cursed both Abimelech and the people of Shechem who had supported his power grab. The people of Shechem backed Abimelech because they thought he would serve their interests. They gave no thought as to whether he would be a good ruler. They supported him despite the fact that he started his rule with an evil act.

April 27, 2014 Bible Study — Father Forgive Them

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:7-8

    Stay away from those who have an opinion on everything and knowledge of nothing. Carefully consider what the results of your actions will be. Do not be foolish and trick yourself into thinking that because you want to do something that it will produce the results you desire.


Psalm 97-98:9

    God is supreme in all of the earth. As I seek to love Him more, I need to seek out those places in my life where I harbor a love for evil and sin. The more I come to love God, the more I will hate evil in all its forms. Let us take joy in worshiping the Lord and sing songs, both new and old, to Him. As I read Psalm 98 it causes me to break forth in joy and wish that I had musical talent (or even ability). I want to sing out with whatever words come to me. I will sing and shout and praise the Lord.


Luke 23:13-43

    Jesus prayer as He hung on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing,” is one of the most powerful, and convicting, passages in Scripture. As Jesus hung on the cross in agony, He did not rage against those who had put Him there. Instead, He begged the Father to forgive them. If Jesus, as He experienced the agony of the cross, could forgive those who had put Him there, how can we fail to forgive those who have done us wrong?


Judges 7-8:17

    When Gideon gathered his forces to drive the Midianites out of the land of Israel, God told him that he had too many men. God told Gideon that if was victorious with too large of an army, he, and the people, would take credit for the victory rather than giving credit to God. Gideon culled his army down twice until only 300 men remained. This is a lesson we need to remember. When we are seeking to do the Lord’s work, more is not necessarily better. It is important that those who witness our success in carrying out God’s will know that it was not through our might that we succeeded. Let us make sure that everyone knows that our success was only possible because God fought on our side.

April 26, 2014 Bible Study — I Am Sending You!

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:5-6

    Truly honest witnesses do not shape their testimony in order to deceive their listeners. On the other hand, once you realize that someone has distorted the truth in order to mislead you, you should expect that everything they say is similarly deceptively worded. Those who mock the beliefs of others may seek for wisdom, but they will not be able to find it. We see this around us all the time in people who mock Christianity as “superstitious nonsense” who then, in their search for meaning, fall prey to things that are truly superstitious nonsense.


Psalm 95-96:13

    Let us praise God today, let us sing to Him with thanksgiving. Let us kneel, surrendering completely to God’s authority, and worship Him. He will watch over us and care for us, if only we listen to His voice and follow His instructions. Let us not harden our hearts and determine to follow our own will rather than God’s. He desires what is best for us and if we follow His instructions they will bring us joy. I will listen to His voice today (and every day)!
    Sing a song to the Lord and rejoice! Let us call on all of the earth to honour God, because that is the path to prosperity and happiness for all. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. If people would only do as He commands, misery and misfortune would be no more.


Luke 22:54-23:12

    Whenever I read of Peter’s denial of Christ, I sympathize with him and it gives me renewed hope for myself. I know there have been times when I have denied Christ because of social pressure just as Peter did here. It gives me great hope to realize that Peter was forgiven for his denial. However, the passage also reminds me that Peter suffered great grief from his denial. It gives me great grief that I have at times denied my faith in Christ to avoid ridicule. I will continue to ask God’s Spirit to move within me to keep me from doing it again.


Judges 6:1-40

    I have read the story of Gideon many times. When the angel came to Gideon and told him that God was with him, Gideon asked why all the bad things had happened to God’s people. The angel’s answer to Gideon is one for all of us who see injustice and people suffering in this world. The angel told Gideon, “I am sending you!” If you want to know why there is wrong and suffering in this world, it is because you (and I) have not done what God has called us to do. Rather than ask God why there is suffering in this world, let us ask God what He wants us to do about it.
    Gideon’s reply is all too often ours, “I am too insignificant to help.” But God has an answer for that as well. God tells us, “I will be with you.” Gideon asked for a sign that this message was indeed from God. Let us not be afraid to ask God to confirm what He is telling us. He will do so, but once He has confirmed the message, let us act on it.

April 25, 2014 Bible Study

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:3-4

    I like the NIV translation better here. Lashing out at others because your pride has been hurt is foolish. The wise choose their words carefully; using them to build a defense of their actions rather than to attack those who have offended their pride. If your first priority is keeping everything neat and orderly, you will never accomplish anything productive.


Psalm 94:1-23

    The psalmist asks how long it will be until God brings justice to the wicked and the proud. Then he reminds the wicked who oppress the weak and powerless that God is indeed watching and keeping track of their deeds. God will exact justice from those who kill widows, orphans, and foreigners for their own benefit. Those who do evil may think that God can not, or will not, call them to account for their evil, but they are mistaken. It may seem that His judgement falls more frequently on those who only do minor wrongs. However, that is not His judgement, rather it is discipline to offer the chance to return to Him. Let us learn from God’s discipline and listen closely to His instructions. Then we will receive relief from troubled times and not fall subject to His coming judgement. God will turn the sins of those who do evil against them, but He will be a fortress protecting those who accept His discipline. Oh Lord, let me always respond to your discipline!


Luke 22:35-53

    Jesus reminds His disciples that when He sent them out to preach the Good News, they took nothing with them except the clothes on their backs and they wanted for nothing. Now He tells them to gather all the supplies for a trip that they can and to sell their cloak to get a sword if they don’t have one. Then when they tell Him that they have two swords among them, He tells them that that is sufficient. It seems to me that the message Jesus was conveying here is that there are times when we should go out on faith, fully relying on God to provide for our needs and there are other times when we should plan for trouble and gather what supplies we will need to get through the hard times ahead. It seems that His instruction about buying swords was to emphasize the importance of preparing for all eventualities, rather than an instruction to take up arms to do violence.


Judges 4-5:31

    When Deborah was judge over the people of Israel, they were oppressed because they had not kept God’s commands. However, God had Deborah call Barak, the war leader of the tribe of Naphtali, to raise warriors. Barak accepted her commission, but insisted that he would only go out to battle if she accompanied him. Because Barak did not trust Deborah’s prophecy enough to act on it without her at his side, the glory for the final victory went to someone else. Barak was the battle commander, but it was Deborah who told him when it was the time and place to attack. And it was Jael, the wife of a Kenite, who killed the general of the opposing forces. It was Jael who ended the war, because if Sisera had escaped he would have been able to raise another army and return to raid the Israelites. Barak and his warriors would have needed to disband so that they could return to their land to raise their crops.

April 24, 2014 Bible Study — The Greatest Is the One Who Serves

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:1-2

    If you fear God, it will cause you to follow a straight path of righteousness. If you despise God, you will follow a crooked, devious path as a result.


Psalm 92-93:5

    Yes, it is good to give thanks and praise to God morning, noon, and night. There is a certain joy and fulfillment that comes from singing God’s praises, even with a singing voice as limited as mine. God has made me glad with all that He has done. He has done great things for me, but even greater things to bring justice to evildoers. The wicked may seem to flourish, but they will utterly destroyed. The godly will flourish because God’s goodness is forever.


Luke 22:14-34

    Once again in this passage Jesus’ disciples began to argue among themselves which one of them would be the greatest. Jesus pointed out to them that the kings of this world lord it over their people, ordering them about for the benefit of the king. And that men who call themselves Benefactor order others to serve themselves. Yet that is not how God measures greatness. If I want to be considered great in God’s eyes, I need to put aside my desires and serve the needs and desires of others. A truly great leader will strive to meet the needs and desires of those whom they wish to lead.


Judges 2:10-3:31

    After Joshua’s death, those who had known his leadership died off. Once that generation had died off, the people began worshiping the gods of the people around them. As a result God stopped protecting them from raiders and other enemies. However, God still loved His people. So, He raised up judges to lead them and guide them back to Him. The people would follow such judges while those judges lived. While the judge lived the people would prosper as they followed God’s commands. But when each judge died, the people quickly returned to their sins. This is the story of human history. God raises up men to call His people to Him. They answer His call and follow God’s leading. This leads to prosperity for those who obey God, but once prosperity has come, people lose sight of God and worship things other than God.

April 23, 2014 Bible Study — Be Always On The Watch

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 13:24-25

    This proverb is based on an important point about love. If I truly love someone, I want what is best for them, even if that results in them not liking, let alone loving, me. I am not a parent, yet I have observed the truth of this proverb time and again. Parents who truly love their children make the effort and take the time to lovingly discipline them. Those parents who are more concerned with having their children loving them than in what is best for the child carry out lax discipline. In both cases, the children know the truth. Children whose parents discipline them consistently based on what the parent believe is best for the child know to the deepest part of their being that their parents love them. Children whose parents are lax, or inconsistent, disciplinarians do not truly believe that their parents love them.


Psalm 90-91:16

    The psalmist reminds us that what to us is a long time is but a moment to God. God will fulfill His promises, but the passage of time is not the same to Him as it is to us. The psalmist follows that up by reminding us that we do not have much time to serve God. Let us do what we can to serve God while we still have strength and time.
    I will join the psalmist in saying about God:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

I know that He will rescue and protect me. He will answer when I call. You too may have such confidence if you love Him and trust in His name. I will seek to serve the Lord in all of my actions.


Luke 21:29-22:13

    Jesus reminds us not to let ourselves become distracted by carousing and drunkenness, nor by the worries of this life. Let us keep alert for how we can serve God and pray that He give the strength to stand before Christ. Let us always be on the watch for Christ’s return so that He will find us faithfully serving Him when He arrives.


Judges 1-2:9

    After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel conquered more of the land. However, they failed to completely drive the people who were already living there out of the land. From the account written here, this was partially a lack of ability and partially a lack of will. For example, the tribe of Judah attacked and defeated Jerusalem, killing everyone there. However, when the tribe of Benjamin too possession of Jerusalem, they allowed the Jebusites to live there with them. I always struggle with the lesson presented here and at other places in the Old Testament. The Israelites often fell into sin because they failed to keep themselves separate from the peoples around them.
    On the one hand, it is important to keep ourselves separate from those who do not worship and serve God. On the other hand, we cannot bring the Gospel message to the lost if we do not interact with them. As we live our lives we must balance our need to spend time with those who will strengthen our dedication to serving God with reaching out to those who do not yet have a relationship with Him.

April 22, 2014 Bible Study — Who Can Escape The Power of the Grave?

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 13:20-23

    If you want to become wiser, spend your time with those who are already wise. If you spend your time with those who are foolish, not only will you begin to act foolishly, you will end up in trouble, even if you do not do anything foolish yourself (other than spend your time with fools). The earth produces sufficient food for all people to have enough to eat. It is injustice that leads to the poor going hungry.


Psalm 89:38-52

    The NIV version of verse 48 is appropriate a few days after Easter.

Who can live and not see death,
or who can escape the power of the grave?

The answer to the latter half of that question is Jesus, and those who trust in Him. God’s enemies mocked(still mock) His Anointed One and denied (and many still deny) that He could escape the power of the grave. Yet Easter morning is testimony to the fact that He did escape that power.


Luke 21:1-28

    Luke’s version of the widow’s offering gives me an insight into what Jesus was teaching here that I have never noticed before. The widow gave only a very small amount of money, but to God it was worth more than the vast amounts given by others. Her offering’s value was because she trusted God enough to give even that which she needed to live on. She trusted God to provide for her needs. While those more wealthy gave large amounts of money out of that which was in excess of their needs, still retaining wealth in excess of what they needed to live. This is an important lesson for us, we should give until we feel it. The proper amount to give is complicated and I think God is leading me to flesh out my thoughts on this subject.
    Jesus tells the disciples about the coming destruction of Jerusalem. As we read His account of the events that led up to the destruction of Jerusalem (something which was still in the future as He spoke), we should recognize that He is describing what happens during the lead up to every great calamity. Surely, what He says is very similar to the world leading up to WWI and WWII. Jesus warns us that as the world is turning towards such things those who follow Him will be persecuted. They will be arrested, tortured and put on trial. If we are faithful to Christ, we will be persecuted. It may be in minor ways, or it may be to the point where we give our lives for our faith, but if we are faithful we will be persecuted by those who refuse to believe. Whatever persecution we face, let us face it with joy because it will provide us with an opportunity to present the Good News of Christ to those who have not yet listened (they may have heard, but did they listen?).


Joshua 24:1-33

    In this passage is one of the great calls to dedicate ourselves to God. It contains elements of a sermon that every pastor should preach regularly. I am not sure how often, but over half of the congregation should remember the last time he preached it. This is a message for those who claim to be the servants of God.
    First Joshua points out all of the good things which God had done for the people of Israel. Then he declares that they should fear God and serve Him with all of their being. Let us destroy all of those things which we are tempted to worship in place of God, those things which lead us to act in ways other than those which God commands. If we are not willing to make that commitment than we need to decide what gods we are going to worship instead of God. That is the only choice we have. Either we worship God wholeheartedly and single-mindedly, or we acknowledge that we would rather worship something else. Today is the time to decide.
    There are times when we need to decide as a group, but even then we can follow Joshua’s lead. He told the people of Israel that they needed to decide. But no matter what they decided, His decision was made. He, and His family, would follow the Lord. I ask that you say his statement with me today:

As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.