January 1, 2015 Bible Study — Happy New Year

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. This is the first day of a New Year. Let us dedicate ourselves to serving God each and every day in everything we do. I will ask His Holy Spirit to make me more faithful in service to God this year than I was last year.


Proverbs 1:1-6

    As we start a new year, it is worth considering how reading the Book of Proverbs can help us live better lives. The Book of Proverbs was written in order to teach people wisdom and discipline. It even answers the question: why do we need wisdom and discipline?
    The answer to that question is: so that we may do what is right, and just, and fair. So, join me in this new year in finding guidance for our lives by exploring the sayings recorded in this book. May God grant us understanding so that we may receive guidance for living our lives.


Psalm 1:1-6

    Speaking of receiving guidance, this psalm gives us some good guidance about living our lives. If you want true joy in your life, this psalm gives you a couple of things not to do and a couple of things to do. Things not to do:

  1. Follow the advice of the wicked
  2. Hang out with sinners
  3. Join in with those who mock others

It is not enough to know what not to do, we must also know what to do:

  1. Delight in the law of the Lord
  2. Meditate on that law day and night
  3. That sounds fairly simple. Why do I have so much trouble doing it?


    Matthew 1-2:12

        When Joseph discovered that his arranged bride was pregnant, he did not become vindictive and demand she be publicly shamed. Instead, he planned to quietly step aside, perhaps to allow her the opportunity to marry the father of her child. However, God sent a messenger to Joseph in a dream. Joseph listened to the messenger and married Mary. There is a lesson there for us. Joseph did not seek to assuage the hurt he must have felt by shaming Mary. As a result he was receptive to hear God’s guidance when it was given to him. Joseph suffered a lot for Jesus to come into this world and apparently did not live to see Jesus begin his ministry.
        The other part of this story is the wise men. Actually what I notice here is that when someone asked Herod where the Messiah (because that is the only “king” that he would have expected to be heralded by a star) was to be born, he knew just who to ask. And when he asked them, they knew the answer off of top of their head. Yet out of all of the political and religious leaders not a single one of them chose to go and see this long awaited Messiah. They knew the answers, but when it came time to do something, they did nothing.


    Genesis 1-2:25

        It is appropriate to study the creation story on the first day of the year. This story tells us the power of the Word of God. Time and again we are told, “Then God said…” and what He said came to pass. Not only did it come to pass as God said, but it was good.
        To cap it all off, God created mankind. God placed man in the Garden, where He decided that man needed a companion. First God showed all of the animals to the man and the man named them. However, none of the animals were found to be suitable companions for the man. When I was growing up, I was under the impression that God brought each of the animals to the man in order to see if they might do. But now when I read it I realize that God brought all of the animals to the man to show him that none of them would do. God already knew that none of the animals was a suitable companion for the man. Having shown the man that none of the other animals would do, God created woman. After having seen all of the animals, the man knew that the woman was meant for him. He realized it at once that she was to be his wife. I wish I could say that the same was true for me. It took God a lot longer to convince me that the woman He had brought into my life to be my wife was the right one, but I am glad He finally convinced me (her persistence had more than a little to do with that as well)

December 31, 2014 Bible Study — Let Us Praise The Lord Loudly

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. It is the last day of the year. A day when many reflect on what they have done over the last year and what they would like to do differently in the year to come. There is some value to this practice, but I think we should strive to do such evaluations of our lives with greater frequency than just once a year.


Proverbs 31:25-31

    The writer continues to speak about the characteristics of a wife of noble character. He reminds us that someone who is charming may be deceptive and beauty will not last. However, a woman who fears and obeys God has value that lasts her entire life.


Psalm 150:1-6

    How appropriate this psalm is for New Year’s Eve. It calls on us to praise the Lord by making a lot of noise. Let’s look at this list of noisemakers:ram’s horn, lyre, harp, tambourines, strings, flutes, and cymbals. This psalm sounds like directions for a great New Year’s Eve celebration.


Revelation 22:1-21

    The book of Revelation ends with a comment that is a good reminder for the last day of the year. The time prophesied in this book is near. God is calling us to come. Do you hear Him? More importantly, will you respond to His call? And having responded to that call, will you join me in echoing it to those who have not yet heard? All who are thirsty are invited to come and drink freely of the water of life. I invite you to come and drink.


Malachi 3-4:6

    God is sending His messenger to refine us like silver or gold. He will purify us by His Spirit. In order to purify silver and gold it is melted down with fire. In a similar manner God purifies us by putting us through hardship. When we face hardship, let us not shrink back. Rather let us embrace the hardship which God brings into our lives, because it is an opportunity for us to be purified of sins which hinder our service to God.
    The Holy Spirit is going to testify against those who sin. Malachi gives a list of those whom the Spirit will testify against, but they all have this in common: they do not fear the Lord. All of sins result from that same mistake. If we truly fear the Lord we will allow His Spirit to enter our lives and keep us from sin.

December 30, 2014 Bible Study — No More Death Or Sorrow Or Crying Or Pain

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. We are approaching the end of the year and the beginning of a new one. Let us seek to serve God in all that we do in the New Year.


Proverbs 31:10-24

    A wife of noble character is worth more than any amount of money or precious gems. I wish I had taken this proverb to heart when I was single. It would have made my dating life much simpler. Fortunately, God was gracious to me and gave me such a wife anyway. I will tell all the young men of my acquaintance to seek after a woman as described in this passage.
    Young women, I encourage you to model yourself after the woman described in this passage and avoid men who are not looking for these things in a wife.


Psalm 149:1-9

    Yet another psalm which reminds us to praise God with all the strength that we have. This psalm reminds us of the importance of praising God in the presence of those who faithfully serve Him. There are times in everyone’s life when they need a reminder that God does great and wonderful things. Let us be the person who provides that spark to our fellow believers.
    There is more to this psalm. It reminds us to praise God with enthusiasm, with dancing, and tambourine, and harp. There are times when we need to get excited about praising God. We yell and scream when we go to sporting events, or concerts, even sometimes to movies. Let us show the same enthusiasm as we worship God.


Revelation 21:1-27

    The description from John’s vision which we read today goes so well with today’s psalm. The universe as we know it, the universe which has been corrupted by mankind’s sin and rebellion will be completely wiped away. God will create a new heaven and new earth. God will live among His people. He will wipe away every tear that we have ever experienced. Yes, we have that to look forward to, the day when there will be no more death, or sorrow, or crying, or pain. No one will suffer ever again. This is why the psalmist calls us to so exuberantly praise God.
    There will be no need for a temple in the City of God because God Himself will be there and we will worship directly in His presence. There will be no need for sun or moon, or any other source of light because God will radiate all of the light we will need to see clearly. There will be no evil in that place because evil is the absence of good, just as darkness is the absence of light. As I read this, I am filled with joy. The psalm leads right into this reminding us of the joy that comes from worshiping God and being in His presence.


Malachi 1-2:17

    As I read this passage it reminded me of the other side of the joy of praising God, the pain when He rejects our worship. Why would God reject our worship? This passage tells us clearly, because we substitute inferior goods for what we promised to give. Instead of giving of our time when we are fresh and enthusiastic, we put in time when we are tired and worn down. Instead of offering new clothes, or other goods to those in need, we give the clothes we have worn out, or won’t wear because they aren’t stylish.
    However, these are only minor compared to an even more serious infraction. Are we faithful to our spouse? Our society has many ills, all of which generate from this one source.

“For I hate divorce!”[h] says the Lord, the God of Israel.

Can it be any more clear than that?
    There is one more thing for which God condemns us. When we say that those who do evil are good in God’s sight and that He is pleased with them. Then we turn around and wonder where the God of Justice is. If we want to please God, and have Him accept our worship, let us be faithful to our spouse and refuse to call good the actions of those who do evil.

December 29, 2014 Bible Study

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. We are approaching the end of the year and the beginning of a new one. Let us seek to serve God in all that we do in the New Year.


Proverbs 31:8-9

    The writer calls on us to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. If we want our society to prosper we must speak up for the poor and the helpless. We must seek to ensure that they receive justice. Any society which does not ensure that those who cannot speak for themselves receive justice will find itself in decline.


Psalm 148:1-14

    This psalm calls on everyone and everything to praise God. Not for any particular reason except that God is our creator. Reading this psalm brings to mind one of my favorite songs. I know that song as Hymn 606 because it was number 606 in the Mennonite Hymnal I grew up with. I would encourage anyone who is unfamiliar with this hymn to search for “Mennonite Hymn number 606” on Youtube and watch a few different videos of it. Being part of a group singing that song in four part harmony, even if not very well, can lift your spirit in much the manner intended by this psalm.


Revelation 20:1-15

    Next in John’s vision Satan is bound for a thousand years. During that thousand years Satan is unable to deceive the people of the world. During that thousand years those who had died for resisting the beast were raised from the dead and ruled over the earth. When the thousand years comes to an end Satan will be released. He will immediately proceed to deceive the people of the world once more. He will gather the nations to make war on God’s people but the vast army will be struck down by fire.
    This battle will be followed by the coming of God’s judgement on the living and the dead. Everyone will be judged according to what they have done. Anyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire, which is the second death. What strikes me as I read this is that a casual reading seems to indicate that some will avoid the lake of fire because they lived exemplary lives. However, only those whose name is written in the Book of Life will avoid the lake of fire. It is not spelled out here, but elsewhere in the New Testament it is made clear that we do not earn our way into the Book of Life by our good behavior. Rather, we exhibit good behavior because our name is written in the Book of Life.


Zechariah 14:1-21

    Zechariah’s prophecy here resembles part of John’s vision in the book of Revelation, but it is not quite the same. If this prophecy is referring to the same events as the similar prophecy in Revelation there are enough differences that it is clear there is a different lesson here for us. In this vision we learn that Israel’s enemies will strike Jerusalem and defeat its armies taking many captive. Yet as soon as that has happened God will enter the battle on Israel’s behalf. His first act will be to provide them with a miraculous path to flee the destruction.
    God will come and rule over the world and no one will worship any other gods. A plague will come upon those who refuse to worship God and nations which do not worship Him will experience famine. As I read this passage it reminds me to redouble my prayers for my friends who do not yet know the Lord. Zechariah tells us that the day will come when everyone will realize who God truly is and worship His name. The suffering experienced by those few who refuse to worship Him will be obvious to all.

December 28, 2014 Bible Study

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. We are approaching the end of the year and the beginning of a new one. Let us seek to serve God in all that we do in the New Year.


Proverbs 31:1-7

    The writer warns against wasting one’s strength on women. It is worth noting the use of the plural here. If one spends one strength and money on multiple women one is wasting it and it will lead to their ruin (the same can be said of women dealing with men as well). He then goes on to warn against allowing alcohol to impair our judgement. Those who are in circumstances where nothing they can do can make things better, or worse, are encouraged to drink in order to forget their pain, but it is worth noting that the writer is suggesting it only for those for whom things can get no worse.


Psalm 147:1-20

    There is joy in singing praises to God and it is fitting to do so. The psalmist gives us many reasons why we should do so, but the first is the one that I will highlight today:

He heals the brokenhearted
and bandages their wounds.

Let us remember this about God and strive to be the tools He uses to accomplish this task.


Revelation 19:1-21

    In John’s vision he heard great rejoicing in Heaven after the fall of “Babylon”. The rejoicing was because of the pain and suffering which “Babylon” had inflicted on the poor and destitute throughout the world. Over the last few days I realized something I had never noticed before, John points out that immorality (sexual and otherwise) leads to the oppression of the poor. All too often, Christians (and others) are accused of focusing too much on sexual immorality and not enough on injustice and greed. There is unfortunately some truth to that accusation. However, all too many people who focus on injustice and greed overlook the ways in which sexual immorality plays a role in creating social injustice.


Zechariah 12-13:9

    Zechariah prophesies that a day will come when the nations around Israel will attack Jerusalem. They will gather a great force to attack, but the only result will be loss for those who joined in the attack. I do not know if this prophecy refers to what has been going on in the Middle East over the last 60 years, but there is a similarity between what Zechariah says here and what has been going on. I think that what Zechariah is talking about is something else, but the similarities make me wonder.
    Zechariah tells us that a fountain will be opened to cleanse people of all of their sins and impurity. As the waters from that fountain wash over the land all idolatry will cease and people will reject all forms of idol worship. I believe that Jesus is the source of the fountain to which Zechariah refers. As evidence for that I will point out all of the times in history when faith in Jesus spread through a land causing idol worship to be washed away as in an overwhelming flood.

December 27, 2014 Bible Study

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. We are approaching the end of the year and the beginning of a new one.


Proverbs 30:33

    When you churn cream you get butter. When you punch someone in the nose, it bleeds. When you intentionally make someone angry, they will fight back. Or to put it another way, when you do things that make someone angry, you should expect them to resist the course of action you would like the group to follow.


Psalm 146:1-10

    I will praise God with all that I am. I will not put my trust in humans because they will only be on this earth for a short while. God made heaven, earth, and the seas, and everything in them. He keeps all of His promises for all of time and beyond. He will give justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. God will reign forever and I will praise Him.


Revelation 18:1-24

    Today’s passage describes the fall of “Babylon”. The city described was wealthy and powerful. Its people indulged themselves in every luxury and immorality imaginable. The rulers of every nation who indulged in her luxuries and sins will be terrified by her fall. The merchants who sold luxuries to the people of this great city will be terrified as well. God’s people are warned not to take part in her sins, to come away from her or they will be punished with her.
    Whenever I read this passage, it frightens me. The only nation on earth today which fits the description of “Babylon” given here is the United States. What is meant when we are warned to “Come away from her”? Are we supposed to relocate? Or is it enough to resist the sins of the society around us? Is it possible to live in this country and avoid taking part in any of the sines of our society?


Zechariah 10-11:17

    This passage condemns leaders who use their position of authority selfishly rather than to care for those put under their authority. However, it also condemns the people for following such leaders. When we follow evil shepherds rather than the Good Shepherd, we will suffer as a result. God will punish leaders who abuse their positions of power, but that does not mean that we can follow such leaders and not suffer as well.

December 26, 2014 Bible Study — The Great Prostitute

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Day yesterday. God bless us every one.


Proverbs 30:32

    If you have exalted yourself, blown your own horn, or otherwise promoted how wonderful you are to others, you have been foolish and should be ashamed of yourself. If you have planned evil, you should be even more ashamed of yourself.


Psalm 145:1-21

    Each generation will tell the next of God’s wonderful power. I will meditate on the works which God has done and proclaim His deeds. If you are a faithful follower of God you will speak of the glory of His kingdom and give examples of His power. Let us tell others how God has worked in our lives and exalt Him before all we meet.


Revelation 17:1-18

    After the seven plagues, one of the seven angels took John to show him another vision. He saw a woman dressed in purple and scarlet, the colors of royalty and wealth, sitting on a scarlet beast. The beast had seven heads and ten horns. I am sure that John believed the woman to be the Roman Empire, and he may have been correct (at least partially). The passage tells us that the seven heads are seven kings, five of whom have already fallen from power, a sixth who is currently ruling, and a seventh who has yet to rise to power. Then we are told that the beast is an eighth king. We are told that the ten horns are ten kings who have not yet risen to power.
    The angel in the vision tells John that the beast was alive, is not now, yet will come up out of the Abyss. Those who do not serve God, whose names are not written in the Book of Life, will be amazed when the beast reappears. The beast and the ten horns will hate the woman. They will combine their power first in order to attack God and those who serve Him. They will be defeated, but before that happens they will destroy the woman. The woman is the city who rules over all the kings of the world.
    As I read this passage, parts of it seem to fit into something I can understand, then I read on, or refer back, and it all slips away. However, there are a few points which always remain. First, secular power is always transient. Those peoples and nations who have power today will lose that power before long. The second is that secular powers will, sooner or later, end up defying God and persecuting those who faithfully serve Him.


Zechariah 9:1-17

    Zechariah prophesies that Israel’s neighbors who are also her enemies will be destroyed. Further he prophesies that the remaining Philistines will join the Jews in worshiping God, becoming a clan of Israel. God promises to protect Israel from being overrun ever again. Does this prophecy apply today? Or is it for some time yet to come?
    Zechariah then gives a prophecy concerning the coming of Israel’s king, a prophecy which I see as clearly a prophecy of the Messiah. Zechariah speaks of Israel’s king riding into Jerusalem victorious, but humble. Zechariah tells us that when the Messiah comes, it will not be with great military power. In fact, the Messiah will destroy all military equipment and bring peace to the world. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, at the height of the crowd’s Messianic fervor for Him, it was this passage which He chose to embody. By doing this, Jesus was telling us that He was already victorious and would not be using military force to bring about His Kingdom.

December 25, 2014 Bible Study — Merry Christmas

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. Today is Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!


Proverbs 30:29-31

    Just because someone struts about and acts as if he is powerful does not mean that he is someone to be admired. However, those who do so should be treated with caution since they can be dangerous.


Psalm 144:1-15

    If we trust in God, He will train us to fight the battles He wishes us to fight. Let us remember to take refuge in God and only fight the battles He directs us to fight. Let us trust Him to fight any other battle which may come our way. We are such little things in this large Universe, yet God sent His Son to save us. I will praise God for all that He has done for me.


Revelation 16:1-21

    In John’s vision the seven angels pour out the plagues upon the earth one by one and things go from bad to worse. But, instead of repenting of their sins and turning to God the people cursed God and blamed Him for their suffering. As things got worse the leaders of the people of the world joined forces to make war on God. As I read this passage it reminds me of many people today. When things go wrong, they blame God (even while claiming that they do not believe that He exists). Rather than change the behaviors which led to their problems, they blame those who point out that God warned them of those consequences. In their minds, it is God who is evil for telling them that if they continue to sin bad things will happen, things they will not like.
    Today as we celebrate Christ’s birth let us remember that God offered His Son to suffer those consequences with us and show us that if we are willing to turn from our sin, good can come out of our suffering.


Zechariah 8:1-23

    Zechariah receives another message as a follow up to the one he gave in response to those asking if they should continue to fast and mourn in remembrance of the destruction of the Temple. Zechariah’s new message is that the fasts and mourning they had been practicing should now turn to celebrations. God was determined to bless Jerusalem. This blessing is going to happen. However, in order to experience this blessing the Jewish people need to do some things. When the people of any nation act similarly, they will receive similar blessings.
    Here is the key for any nation to experience God’s blessing. The people of that nation must speak the truth. Their courts must render true and sound judgments. They must not scheme against each other, no more seeking to gain advantage by cheating/misleading others. They must stop thinking it demonstrates cleverness to swear that a lie is the truth. I will state that I believe that a nation whose people follow these instructions will find themselves on the path to economic prosperity. Running counter to these instructions leads to an economic collapse.

December 24, 2014 Bible Study — Do Not Oppress, Do Not Scheme

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. Today is Christmas Eve. Let us remember what it is truly about, the birth of Jesus Christ. Let us strive to not be caught up in the commercialism which is what this season is about for many in our society today.


Proverbs 30:24-28

    The writer gives us four examples of things that are small and weak, yet can make a large impact on their surroundings by wisely using what strengths they have. Let us learn to follow their example.


Psalm 143:1-12

    When things look bad, let us turn to the Lord for rescue. I will put my trust in the Lord at all times.


Revelation 15:1-8

    John describes how in his vision he saw seven angels holding the final seven plagues. As he saw the seven angels he saw those who had been victorious over the beast (as in, they had refused to worship it). They were standing before God singing His praises. They sang God’s praises with joy despite the suffering they experienced, or maybe because of it. The passage tells us that the time will come when God will tolerate the sins of mankind no more and punish all of those who will not turn from those sins one final time.


Zechariah 6-7:14

    Zechariah sees a vision of four chariots, each chariot pulled by horses of a different color. We are told that the four chariots are the four spirits who stand before the Lord and who are going out to do His work. It is interesting to me that we are only told where three of the four chariots are going. I was curious as to the meaning of the different colors of the horses, but found little commentary on it that did not try to connect these to the four horsemen in Revelation. I do not think we miss the true meaning of this vision when we attempt to tie it to Revelation. However, I found one which pointed out the four colors indicate that each of these chariots/spirits is a different category of mission.
    Later in this passage, some of the people asked Zechariah if they should continue to maintain their tradition of mourning the destruction of the Temple (since the Temple had since bee rebuilt). Zechariah tells them that when they fasted and mourned, and when they celebrate, they are not doing so for God. Rather they have made these periods of mourning and religious celebration about themselves. We do not need to keep particular fasts, or feasts, on particular Holy Days in order to please God. No matter what we celebrate, or mourn, no matter what rituals and traditions we keep, what pleases God is that we do not oppress those without the power to resist (widows, orphans, foreigners, the poor, etc) and that we do not scheme about how to take advantage of each other. If we treat others with justice and respect, God will be pleased with us.

December 23, 2014 Bible Study — “Not By Might Nor By Power, But By My Spirit,’ Says the Lord

For today, One Year Bible Online links here. Christmas is coming soon. Let us remember what it is truly about, the birth of Jesus Christ. Let us strive to not be caught up in the commercialism which is what this season is about for many in our society today.


Proverbs 30:21-23

    The writer describes four situations that usually turn out badly, although the first and last are variations on the same thing. When those who have not received any training for it are suddenly thrust into positions of authority, they usually make things worse than they were, no matter how bad things were to begin with.


Psalm 142:1-7

    When your troubles seem to be more than you can handle and you do not know to whom you should turn, turn to God. He will give you direction and give you the help which you need. An important thing to remember is that you will need to follow the guidance which God gives you if you want to receive the help He is offering.


Revelation 14:1-20

    John describes three angels who he saw flying over the earth. The first he saw proclaiming the Gospel throughout the entire earth. The second declared that Babylon, the city that had spread immorality throughout the earth, had fallen. The third declared that any who worshiped the beast and received its mark will suffer the torment of God’s judgment. The word translated as “angel” means more generally “messenger”, although in this context it carries the additional connotation of being a divine messenger. I believe that the first angel represents the Church spreading the Gospel throughout the world. The second angel is the message that every world power will fall when it begins to encourage the people of the world to indulge in immorality (although, I am open to the possibility that the “Babylon” in this verse represents a specific world power, but we will not know which one until the end). Finally, the third angel is a warning against joining in the world’s worship of the created rather than the Creator.


Zechariah 4-5:11

    Today’s passage starts with a vision which is later referenced by John in the book of Revelation. However, before Zechariah gets to that, he gives a message that is very important. We will not accomplish God’s will by our great strength, military prowess, or political power. The only way in which we will accomplish God’s will is through His Spirit. However, if we rely on God’s Spirit to do His work, nothing will be able to stand in our way. Every obstacle will be leveled in our path. Let us not lose heart just because we are only able to start addressing a big problem is a small way.
    Then Zechariah refers to the two olive trees that stand before the Lord. He is told that they are the two anointed ones who stand in the court of God. In the book of Revelation, John expands upon this. It is interesting to see how the themes throughout the Bible tie together.
    The passage ends with a vision of two flying women carrying a basket containing all of the sins (the actual Hebrew word translates as “appearance”) of the people of the land. It is revealed that this “appearance” is Wickedness. This wickedness is carried off to “Babylon”. where they build a temple for it and worship it. (I suspect that this passage is in the back of John’s mind when he wrote about the second angel in today’s passage from Revelation). I think that this is a warning for us that the people of this world worship all sorts of sin and that we should be careful not to get dragged into their idolatry.