September 01, 2014 Bible Study — Live For Him Who Died For Us

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:14

    An immoral, adulterous woman (or man) will say things which inevitably lead those who listen to them into a dangerous trap. Those who have already made God angry will fall into that trap.


Psalm 45:1-17

    I never noticed before what a good psalm this is for a wedding.

  • Advice to the groom: Love justice and hate evil
  • Advice to the bride: Forget your people and family in order to cling to your husband
  • Too much can be easily made of both pieces of advice, but this psalm represents a good starting point for giving a couple getting married good advice.


    2 Corinthians 5:11-21

        If we truly understand what it means to fear the Lord we will work to convince others to do the same. In order to accomplish this we must be sincere before God, who can see all of our motives and actions. We may hide some of our motives and actions from people, but we cannot hide them from God. If all of our motives are forthright and open those who hear our testimony and preaching will know that we are sincere. They may think that we are crazy, but I am willing to be crazy if that is what it takes to bring glory to God. On the other hand, there are times when we must show that our beliefs coincide with reality and logic (I need to write a blog on the importance of that for Christian faith some time).
        Whether we are acting in ways that seem crazy, or showing how doing God’s will is the only way to be truly sane, Christ’s love should be what is controlling our lives. Christ died for everyone, so let us die to ourselves and live for Him. Rather than seeking that which will give us pleasure, I will do that which brings glory and pleasure to Christ. God has reconciled us to Him. Having done so, He has given us the task of bringing His message of reconciliation to others. God has made us His ambassadors. As His ambassadors we are His personal representatives. In this role, our actions reflect directly on God, let us act accordingly. We are here to call on others to be reconciled with God. It is our responsibility to act towards others as God Himself would act.
        I like looking at the way both the NIV and the NLT translate verse 20. The NIV says that we “implore” others to be reconciled with God while the NLT says that we “plead” with others to come back to God. Both of these translations give the sense that there is little, or nothing, we are not willing to sacrifice if only the one we are speaking with will be reconciled to God. What am I unwilling to sacrifice, to give up permanently, in order for another person to come to Christ? How can I learn to be willing to surrender that to God as well?


    Job 40-42:17

        When Job finally gets what he asked for, a chance to speak with God face-to-face, he recognizes that he was in the wrong. Job realizes that when he questioned God, he was demonstrating his ignorance and foolishness rather than posing legitimate questions for God. This is the reaction that every person has when they finally find themselves before God. When in the presence of God we all realize that when we questioned what God has done it was because we did not know enough to understand, that we are incapable of truly understanding. Job recognized his sin and fully repented his arrogance.
        Having humbled Job, God turns to his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. He tells them that their words were even further from the truth than what Job had said. God instructs them to ask Job to pray for them. Noticeably absent from the list of those corrected by God is Elihu. The conclusion of the Book of Job is why it is important to read through the Bible multiple times. We can easily lose track of which things said by which person in the Book of Job (and elsewhere) represents things we should follow and which things represent misunderstandings about God.

August 31, 2014 Bible Study — Looking Beyond Our Pain and Suffering

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. As I read today’s passages, I sensed a theme and a thread running through them. But as I wrote my thoughts about them, that thread eluded me. I pray that the Spirit work through the words I did write in order to convey the message He has for those who read this.


Proverbs 22:13

    There are people who constantly imagine dangers which preclude them doing actual work. Accomplishing anything involves a certain amount of risk, but those who wish to avoid any effort always imagine the risk to be greater than it is.


Psalm 44:9-26

    The psalmist reminds us that sometimes hard times come upon those who are faithful to the Lord. There are times when we will face trials and difficulties because of our faithfulness to God. However, God will not forget us and will deliver us when His plans are complete.


2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10

    We may face troubles because of our faith and because we preach the Gospel to others. However, let us never allow such troubles to silence us. As a matter of fact, Paul tells us that if we truly have faith, we will feel compelled to tell others about the Gospel despite any troubles which might ensue. As more people hear the Gospel message, some of them will recognize God’s grace to deliver them from their sins (which cause them misery). The result of this will be an outpouring of thanksgiving bringing glory to God.
    In the meantime, let us not focus on the difficulties and troubles which we experience in this life, rather, let us focus on the glory which will follow. In the grand scheme of things, the troubles we face today are small things that will last only a short time. They will soon be gone. We cannot truly see the glory to which God is bringing us, but it will last for all eternity. Currently, we live in bodies which are breaking down and falling apart. As we get older, we acquire pains and are less able to accomplish physical tasks. Our current bodies are like tents, great for a temporary shelter, but not a permanent place to live. When these bodies will no longer serve and we die, God will give us bodies that are like houses, a place to live permanently. It is not that we seek the death of our current bodies, rather we should crave the new, eternal bodies which God will grant us. While the death of our earthly bodies will bring an end to our suffering and pain, let us not seek death. While we are yet in these bodies we can serve God and do good so that others may come to know and worship Him. Let us not fear death because when it arrives for our bodies, we will then be at home with the Lord.


Job 37-39:30

    Elihu goes into the conclusion of his monologue by stating that thinking about God’s power causes him to tremble with fear. Further, our imagination is not capable of conceiving the extent of God’s power. What we can see of His power is but a small sample of its grandeur. We do not have the ability to even make a coherent argument before God, let alone make a case defending our actions before His judgement. We cannot even look directly at the sun on a clear day, how can we hope to present ourselves before God?
    Finally, God Himself answers Job’s complaints. God asks a list of questions which demonstrate how our limited knowledge and wisdom leave us unable to understand all that God does. We cannot hope to comprehend all of the things which God does because we do not have sufficient knowledge. There are things which go into the actions God chooses to take that are not only beyond our knowledge, but beyond our ability to know.

August 30, 2014 Bible Study — Treasure In Jars of Clay

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:10-12

    The way to avoid discord is to get rid of those who mock others. A wise leader seeks out those who surround themselves with honest people and speak graciously. Those who acquire knowledge before reaching a conclusion or making a plan will find that God guides their path, but those who act treacherously will find their plans constantly thwarted.


Psalm 44:1-8

    We have heard what God did in the past. He granted victory to those who faithfully served Him. It was not their might, skill, or knowledge which led them to victory. It was God who destroyed their enemies, causing them to make mistakes and miscalculate at key junctures. In the same way, we will not be victorious because of our abilities. I know that my skills will not get me through. I will rely on God to bring about success. I know that if I do His will, I cannot fail.


2 Corinthians 4:1-12

    As we preach the Gospel, let us not use tricks or deception. Let us plainly state what it is we have to say. If anything about the Gospel is misunderstood, let it be because those listening took it out of context or chose to misinterpret our words, not because we attempted to slip something past those listening without them noticing. There is no need for us to keep parts of the Gospel a secret from those who do not choose to accept it. As I read this, I think of those groups and organizations which keep some of their teachings secrets for only those initiated into the group to know. That is not the way in which the followers of Jesus are to act.
    The followers of Jesus speak the Gospel message as a lamp in the darkness, visible to all who look. We speak the message from God as frail, imperfect people. The success of the Gospel message is not because of the strength and power of those who preach it. Any power which we have comes from God Himself, not from our feeble selves.


Job 34-36:33

    Job’s other three friends argued that Job was being punished because he was a sinner. Elihu takes a different tack. He does not attempt to identify Job as a sinner. Rather he argues that God is wise and just. Elihu condemns Job, and anyone else who does the same, for claiming that God is causing him to suffer unjustly. Elihu was angry because Job had said that it was a waste of time to try to please God. Instead, we should confess to God our sins, if we know them, and promise to turn from them. If we do not know what we have done that is wrong, let us beg God to show us so that we can turn from those sins as well. God watches how people live, nothing is hidden from Him. God knows what evil people commit and hears the cries of the needy. He will bring justice on those who do wrong. Who are we to judge when God does not deliver the judgement we think others deserve?
    Elihu points out that, no matter what Job had done before, he sinned by speaking angry words about God and failing to respect the Almighty. The question is not “What is in it for me?” The question is, “What is the right thing to do?” I do not strive to do the right thing because I will be rewarded for doing so. I strive to do the right thing because it is the right thing…or at least, that is how I believe that I should act. We cannot tell God how to act and have no right to tell Him that He has done wrong. We cannot possibly understand the reasons God does what He does. So, let us praise Him for His mighty acts, recognizing that He will do what is right, even when we do not understand.

August 29, 2014 Bible Study — Our Competence Comes From God

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:8-9

    When people begin promoting injustice, they are setting the stage for a calamity which will rebound upon them. The rage which they promote as a weapon against their opponents will break just as they need it most.
    In contrast, those who share their goods with those in need will be honoured. These two proverbs show two different ways in which people can seek to work with the poor. On one hand, we have those who encourage the poor to rage against those who have more and can be perceived as holding the poor back. Those who do this are not fighting injustice, they are promoting it. On the other hand, we have those who strive to aid the poor, giving of their time and resources to help the poor find their way out of poverty. The former will find that the rage they have generated as a tool or a weapon will break in their hands, leaving them defenseless against the attacks they have called upon themselves. The latter will be honoured.


Psalm 43:1-5

    When everything and everyone seems to turn against you, seek out God. Follow the light of His word and depend on His loving care. Praise Him and the salvation that comes from Him. Then He will lead you to His holy place where you can take joy in Him once more. All may conspire against you, but if you follow God’s light their conspiracy will fail. Praise God, even when you feel depressed and He will bring you back to joy.


2 Corinthians 3:1-18

    If we are truly following Christ we do not need to tell others of our faithfulness. We do not need to write letters that describe how wonderful we are. Those that matter will know how God works through us and will pass that on to those who need to know. We can be confident in the same way in which Paul was confident. His confidence was not in his own ability. Rather, he was confident that God would accomplish His goals through him. Let us not trust in our own abilities, nor think that our success shows how wonderful we are. Let us instead trust in God and let our successes be evidence to those around us of how wonderful God is.
    Just as Paul was, we too have been made ministers of a new covenant, a new way to approach God. The old way was one based on following the letter of the Law. The new way is based on following the Spirit, which gave the Law in the first place. The Law arrived shiny and bright, but those attempting to follow it to the letter found they needed to cover it over. This resulted in the Talmudic tradition of putting a “fence around the Law.” They needed to come up with ever more convoluted regulations in order to avoid breaking the Law as things changed and the direct application of the letter of the Law became less obvious in the new circumstances. We, however, have the Spirit directing us. We do not seek to follow the letter of the Law, rather we seek to allow God’s Spirit to direct us to do His will. We do not need a “fence around the Law” because we are not seeking to follow the letter of the Law, rather we seek to follow the Spirit, who gave us that Law in the first place.


Job 31-33:33

    Job finishes his final monologue with a list which sounds much like Jesus’ teachings, especially the parable of the sheep and the goats. Job lists off a list of sins which he has not committed. The majority of Job’s list is about treating others well and with respect. The only other sins he really mentions are greed, which he identifies as idolatry, and sexual immorality. This part of Job’s monologue is a good guide for us to live by.
    When Job is finished the youngest of his friends speaks. Elihu was angry because Job had justified himself rather than God, while the other three had failed to refute Job, yet they condemned him. Elihu had waited to allow his elders to speak first. However, wisdom comes from God, so those who are older are not always wiser than youth. Elihu answers Job’s complaints that God does not speak. God does indeed speak, sometimes in one way, other times in another. God uses many ways to speak to us. If we do not hear God speak, it is because we refuse to listen. God seeks to deliver His message to us so that we will turn from sin to the light and avoid the destruction which sin brings.

August 28, 2014 Bible Study — The Smell of the Gospel

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:7

    Those who borrow become enslaved to those they borrow from. Let us strive to stay out of debt so that we are not controlled by anyone or anything other than God.


Psalm 42:1-11

    Let us seek out God the way in which a deer, and other animals, will seek water. If we wander from God we will become depressed and downcast. Our enemies will have success against us. However, if we turn back to God and seek Him once more, if we put our trust in Him, He will rescue us and restore our joy. Others may question God’s existence, but if we praise Him, He will make Himself known to us.


2 Corinthians 2:12-17

    The Gospel message is like an incense or a perfume wafting up to God. Those who have already accepted the Gospel will find it a tantalizing scent making them want to get closer. Those who are still living a sinful life will find it like the smell of rotting flesh, to them it will smell like death. Some of those lost in sin will realize that in truth the terrible odour is not the Gospel message. Rather the Gospel message is like the breath of fresh air that allows you to smell once more the odours to which you have become desensitized.
    The same is true of us if we live our lives faithful to that message. Those who have already been saved will be tantalized by our thoughts and comments, even before they know that we follow the Lord. Those who are immersed in sin will sense condemnation for their sins in our acts, even when we are completely unaware of their sins. Some will seek us out to learn how to escape from their sins, others will be convinced that we are self-righteous hypocrites. Let us speak God’s words with sincerity, allowing His Spirit to work through us. Thus bringing salvation to the former and proving the latter wrong.


Job 28-30:31

    Wisdom is more valuable than any material thing we can possess, yet where can we find wisdom? We can dig gold, silver, copper and iron out of the earth. Animals can find all sorts of food, birds have great eyesight and can see small things far away, yet you will not find wisdom by tracking them to their goals. Look where you will and you will not find the place that is the source of wisdom. God is the only source of wisdom. Fear of the Lord is wisdom itself. If you want to possess wisdom and understanding fear the Lord and turn from sin.

August 27, 2014 Bible Study — Forgive the Repentant Sinner

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:5-6

    Sin will lead us down a path with many painful obstacles and traps. If we value our lives we will avoid sin so as to avoid that path and those obstacles and traps.


Psalm 41:1-13

    God will protect and preserve those who care for the weak and the poor. When times of trouble come upon them, God will rescue them. If we have the integrity to admit our sins, both to ourselves and to God, He will heal us and protect us from our enemies. We will know that God is pleased with us by the fact that our enemies do not triumph over us. Let us praise God all the time in all we do.


2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11

    Paul had planned on visiting the Church in Corinth. However, he heard about the situation he wrote about in 1 Corinthians 5 and decided not to visit, instead he wrote them a letter. His decision here can be a lesson for us. Paul decided to write rather than visit. He knew that if he went to Corinth at that time, people would react defensively to what he had to say. By writing, he could choose his words with more care and people would need to think about what he had said before they could respond. If Paul had said what he had to say in person, he may not have worded it as carefully, and people would have responded out of how it made them feel before they had time to think about the merits of what he said. Let us remember the importance of thinking about our words before we speak them, or commit them to writing.
    Paul then addresses the issue he had written about. Once the sinner had repented of his sin, the Church should embrace him once more and welcome him back among them. We should lovingly discipline those who sin in the congregation, then forgive them and welcome them with open arms when they repent of their sins.


Job 23-27:23

    Job complains that he cannot find God to present himself before Him in order to make his case. Yet Job reminds us that if we listen to the words of God and store them in our minds, we will be able to stand before Him to face His judgement. Let us hold God’s words as more valuable than even food. Job wishes there were scheduled days of judgement when the wicked who oppress the weak and the powerless would face judgement for their actions. However, he recognizes that even so, God will bring judgement against them.
    Bildad responds to Job’s claims to innocence before God by asking rhetorically who can be truly right and good when confronted by the goodness of God. Bildad makes a good point here, however Job’s answer is one we should remember. How is pointing out their sinfulness comforting to someone who is suffering? There are times for pointing out someone’s sin to them, but that time is not when they are suffering (unless they are continuing to commit sins which are compounding their suffering). What is gained by pointing out to the man suffering and dying from AIDS that his previous actions led to his condition? Is it not better to seek to offer him what comfort we can?

August 26, 2014 Bible Study — God Will Comfort Us In Our Troubles

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:2-4

    No matter if we are rich or poor, God is our Creator. None of us can claim to have made ourselves, we are what God made us to be. If we are rich, let us use our riches to help those who are not. If we are poor, let us remember that the rich are no less God’s creatures than we.
    It is not cowardice, but wisdom, to take steps to mitigate risks. Only fools ignore the dangers and continue without altering their path. They will suffer the consequences.
    Those who fear the Lord are humble because they recognize that God is the source of all that is good.


Psalm 40:11-17

    Without God’s help our sins will overwhelm us. We need God’s grace and power to turn aside from our sins. However, those who seek God will rejoice and be glad as His power allows them to overcome sin and live righteously. If we yield to God’s power, those who wish to see us fail will be shamed.


2 Corinthians 1:1-11

    We will experience troubles and difficulties as we seek to follow God’s will. If we suffer for following Christ, suffering some of the same pain which He experienced, we will also experience the comfort and joy which He experienced. The troubles we experience, and the comfort God provides us from those troubles, allow us to comfort others who experience troubles. There will be times when the difficulties we face are greater than we can bear. When that happens we must turn our lives and troubles over to God, becoming fully dependent on Him. God will deliver us from troubles which are beyond our ability to cope, showing us that the tasks He sets before us can only be accomplished through His power, not by our own human strength.


Job 20-22:30

    Job’s friends became so caught up in convincing him that his suffering was a result of his sins that they forgot that the purpose of their visit was to bring him comfort. This is all too often a human failing. We become more interested in winning the argument than accomplishing the purpose that led us to make our original point. Let us keep our eye on the prize and remember that God will offer comfort in times of trouble to anyone who turns to Him. Let us do likewise.

August 25, 2014 Bible Study — Do Everything In Love

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:1

    It is better to be considered an honourable person, to be thought of as someone who does the right thing, than it is to be fabulously wealthy. You cannot buy a good reputation, but a good reputation will assist you in earning what you need to survive.


Psalm 40:1-10

    If we wait patiently for God, He will answer our cries and rescue us from our troubles. He will lift us up and give us joy. If we turn to Him, and only Him, we can trust that He will uphold us and keep us safe. He does not desire offerings and sacrifices. His only desire is that we present ourselves to Him to do His will.
    Here I am, Lord. Ready to do Your will.


1 Corinthians 16:1-24

    Paul instructs us to put aside money for charitable giving on a regular basis. Rather than attempt to come up with large sums when a cause comes up, we should gather our money on a regular basis. Paul says weekly, but I would say that you should base it on when you get paid. If you get paid bi-weekly or monthly, set aside a certain amount out of each paycheck for the Lord’s work. Currently most congregations follow his suggestion of gathering the funds each Sunday and distributing them as occasion arises. This passage is a good reminder for me that I need to get better and giving back to God.
    In the middle of Paul’s conclusion to this letter he says something that sums up much of what he said in the letter. “Do everything in love.” No matter what we do, let love guide our actions. If we confront someone about sin in their life, let it be because of our love for them, not because we think it shows how much better than they we are.


Job 16-19:29

    When attempting to offer comfort to those who are suffering, sometimes it is best to just sit with them and say nothing. Job’s friends insisted that his suffering must be a result of some unconfessed sin, but they could not name what that sin was. The lesson of the book of Job is that we should not assume that someone’s suffering is punishment for their sins.
    Despite the great despair with which Job speaks throughout this book, he makes a great statement of faith. One which will bring much comfort to those suffering if they truly believe it.

I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.(NIV)

This is the basis for a great hymn which has brought comfort to many generations, “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth”.
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.

August 24, 2014 Bible Study — Victory Over Death

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 21:30-31

    No matter how well you know the situation, how wisely planned your actions, no matter how well-crafted and chosen your words, your plans will fail if they are counter to the will of God. We need to prepare for the battles we will face, but recognize that, no matter how well prepared, victory will only come if we are fighting on God’s side.


Psalm 39:1-13

    When we strive to avoid sinning by what we say, remaining silent is not an option. Let us speak only that which is good and cry out to God for His forgiveness and guidance. Our lives are short, we have but a little time to do God’s will, let us not waste it.


1 Corinthians 15:29-58

    Paul continues his arguments for believing in the resurrection of the dead. He points out that if we do not believe in the resurrection than we may as well live by the philosophy of “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” If this life is all that there is, we may as well seek all the pleasure we can find and put no effort into anything else.
    Paul then addresses another argument about the resurrection. When we are raised from the dead, our bodies will be different than the bodies we have on this earth. Our current bodies break down and decay, they are subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. However, the bodies we will have after the resurrection will be imperishable, no longer subject to breakdown and decay. It is when this transformation happens that Christ’s victory over death will be fully realized. We will see a place where death and decay no longer hold sway over life.


Job 12-15:35

    Job responds to the lectures he receives from his friends by reminding them that he knows what they know, that he is every bit their equal. He has seen what they have seen and understands what they have understood. He asks his friends to hear the arguments he would like to lay before God. Job tells them not to meet his arguments with lies and warns them that God will call them to account if they do.
    I always struggle with the middle portion of the book of Job. I know there are important things to be learned here, but it is hard to be sure what, since at the end of the book God confronts most of the characters in the book for what they said. However, today I noticed something important. Job warns his friends against lying in order to make the case against him. We should be careful not to ever attempt to make the case for God and the Gospel with things that are not true.
    When we come to offer comfort to those who are suffering, let us always be honest and truthful. We should not attempt to make them feel better by telling them things that are not true, nor should we attempt to convince them to accept the Gospel as a sure fire relief for their physical suffering. Further, we should not have the attitude that we are better than they or wiser than they. We are all equal before God. It is more important that we allow those who are suffering to express their pain and anguish than it is to offer them answers to their troubles.

August 23, 2014 Bible Study –Without Resurrection, the Gospel Is Tragedy

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 21:28-29

    These two parables are more closely linked than they at first appear. Those who rely on the word of the wicked will believe and testify to things which are not true, but those who listen carefully will be able to distinguish between the bravado of the wicked and the confidence of the righteous. The wicked will put up a false front while the righteous will think carefully before assessing a problem.


Psalm 38:1-22

    The psalmist recognizes that he is suffering because he sinned against God, but has turned back to God and begged His forgiveness. The wicked will seize upon our every misstep and attempt to use it against us in order to discredit whatever good we have done. If we confess our sins and turn to God, He will come to our rescue and aid us in accomplishing His will.


1 Corinthians 15:1-28

    In this passage Paul gives us the core of the Gospel message, without which everything else is worthless. Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day. If there is no resurrection from the dead than the Gospel message is null and void. If no one rises from the dead, than Jesus did not rise from the dead. If those who preached the Gospel from the beginning were lying about the resurrection, than they are liars, not teachers of a great moral philosophy. Moreover, while the message being taught by Paul and the Christian Church today has value to us in this life, if this life is all there is, it is a terrible tragedy to accept suffering in order to be faithful to the message.
    However, Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. As a result, all of those who worship and follow Him will be raised from the dead when He returns. When the time is fulfilled and everything has been made subject to Christ, He will make entropy (which is, in a way, another word for death) no more.


Job 8-11:20

    The book of Job is a great example of the importance of reading the Bible through regularly. Job’s friends say some things which have the ring of truth. Job’s friends repeatedly tell him that if only he would confess his sins and get right with God, all would be well. Certainly, it is good advice to tell someone to confess their sins and get right with God. However, Job repeatedly asks them to point out what sins he had committed. Job goes further and tells us that it is not possible for anyone to be truly righteous before God. Job asks the question that we all ask at some point, to one degree or another, wouldn’t we be better off if we were never born if we are going to suffer this much? This part of Job is the perfect counterpoint to the point which Paul was making about resurrection in today’s passage. Life is truly not worth living if this life is all that there is.