April 1, 2015 Bible Study — Who Matters To Us?

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 12:10

    The righteous look out for the needs of animals, not because they are commanded to do so, merely because it is a side effect of doing God’s will. On the other hand, even when they try to be kind to animals the wicked are cruel.


Psalm 73:1-28

    I read this psalm and it reminds me of when I have looked at people who I thought had the perfect life and I envied them. How come they had everything they wanted in life when I was struggling? This psalm so perfectly reflects what I learned. The wicked always seemed to have everything they could possibly want. I remained faithful, but I began to doubt.
    Then God showed me how things were not the perfect picture which those people painted: the great music or movie star who had everything money could buy committed suicide. Why? Then the stories came out about their struggles with substance abuse and/or with people they loved who did not love them back. Or the man with the great job, the beautiful wife, the talented kids, the beautiful house…he’s getting a divorce. It turns out that he and his wife have been fighting for years and perhaps those talented kids have turned to drugs or some other form of rebellion. His whole life is coming tumbling down around his ears.
    I am not saying that there are not people with great lives, but it is not the wicked who have great lives. I really do have the great life. I know others who have things I wish I had, but I made my choices. I chose the things I wanted more, and God gave them to me. Because I have remained faithful to Him, my wife and I have a wonderful marriage. My beautiful wife is not looking elsewhere for satisfaction in her life. We work together to serve God and find the things which make life worth living…which is redundant right there. Serving God is the thing which makes life worth living.
    Well, that is not where I was going when I started writing about this psalm, but it is where I went and it works for me. I hope it works for you.


Luke 9:28-50

    There is one thing in every one of the accounts of the healing of the demon possessed boy that I do not understand. It is when Jesus says the following, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” What does He mean by that? Who is He addressing? Is He addressing the boy’s father? Is He addressing His disciples? Is He addressing the crown? I do not know. I struggle with it because it looks like a statement which should tell me something important about following Jesus, but I don’t know what that something is.
    Fortunately, there is something Jesus says in this passage which I do understand. “Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” There are different ways to look at this, but they all come out around the same place. There are two different takes I want to look at. The first is that if we want to be among the greatest in the sight of God, we cannot puff ourselves up and seek recognition from others. If we spend our time trying to show others how special we are, we are failing.
    The second take is that the people we view as being the greatest, almost certainly aren’t. It is the people we view as lowly and unimportant whom God tells us are the ones who really matter to Him. They should be the ones who matter to us as well.


Deuteronomy 18-20:20

    This passage begins by talking about the share of the Levites and how they get a share of the offerings which people make to the Lord. There is a lesson there on how we should treat those called by God and the Church into ministry. I want to give some thought to that lesson and touch on it more later.
    Next Moses warns them against sacrificing their children. Every time I read passages in the Old Testament condemning sacrificing children I cannot help but think about our society’s attitude towards abortion. Our society tells women to sacrifice their children for the sake of “convenience”. He goes on from there to condemn all sorts of “magic”. There is no better way to sum it up than to quote the passage:

And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.

Those who do these things are detestable to God. He drove the people in the land out to make room for the Israelites because they did those things. God will do the same to our people if we do these things. And I know many people who do some or all of those.
    I was going to stop there, but then I saw the command to not convict anyone on the basis of just one witness. The emphasis in this passage is on making sure that justice is served, but there is a lesson there for us in our personal lives. We should not judge a situation on the bases of hearsay. We should be careful to carefully establish the facts before we reach a conclusion about a situation.

March 31, 2015 Bible Study — Whoever Loses Their Life Will Save It

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 12:8-9

    Like so many of the proverbs, both parts of this proverb are basic common sense. Yet many people come up with excuses as to why they are an exception to one or both of them. While it may work out for them in the short-term, before too long this truth bears out. A group of people may find the thoughts and actions of someone with a warped mind entertaining or beneficial at first, but before very long they start to grate on everyone’s nerves. On the other hand, a group of people may initially find a sensible person boring and “no fun” to be around, but before long they realize that they need people like that to make things happen.


Psalm 72:1-20

    Paul tells us to pray for kings and those in authority. This psalm is a great example of what we should pray when we do so. The first, and most important, part is that we pray that God give His love of justice and righteousness to our government officials. Further, we ask God to help them judge the people under their authority with justice and righteousness. I will ask that God help those government officials to defend the poor and the children of the needy.
    The rest of the requests in this psalm follow from these things. If the government authorities judge with righteousness and justice their power will expand. They and the people under their authority will prosper.


Luke 9:7-27

    The first part of this passage reminds me of something I have commented on a few times so far this year. The fact that John the Baptist and Jesus were perceived by the people of the day as preaching the same message, to the point where many people thought they were the same person.
    When Jesus told the crowd that they must take up their cross daily, He was not talking about having to deal with the minor troubles of life such as dealing with difficult people.He was talking about willingly facing a horrible torturous death. The crowd listening to Him would have known exactly to what He was referring. Further, the fact that He was referring to crucifixion is made clear by what He says next. Are we willing to sacrifice our lives in order to serve Jesus? We, here in the United States, have not been asked to make that choice. That may change soon. Probably not our lives, but we may soon struggle to make our livelihoods. Recently, there have been cases where Christians have lost not only their livelihoods but their life savings for standing up for their faith. I believe that this will become more common in the near future. Of course this is minor suffering compared to Christians in some parts of the world. Will we here be as faithful in the face of this minor suffering as others have been in the face of more severe suffering?
    A character in a book I like said, “Remember, it does you no good to gain your heart’s desire, if you have to give up your heart to get it.” That is another way of saying what Jesus is saying here. Nothing you can gain is worth giving up your very self. In the same way, no suffering is so bad that it is worth giving yourself up to avoid it. There is so much more I want to write about this, but if you want to understand where I am going read the “Martyrs Mirror: The Story of Seventeen Centuries of Christian Martyrdom From the Time of Christ to A.D. 1660”.


Deuteronomy 16-17:20

    There are several points here which are worth noting. First, the Israelites are told to never put someone to death on the testimony of but one witness. They were to always make sure that there were at least two or three witnesses. This is an important point that applies to many cases. We should never reach a negative conclusion about someone until we have heard from multiple, independent sources. We should recognize that sometimes people misunderstand what is happening around them.
    Another point worth noting is the instructions for future kings of Israel. These instructions can easily be extended to others besides kings. Someone who runs a company should not accumulate wealth far beyond what the workers who make the company profitable are able to acquire. It is not my place to tell someone in that situation what that means. I am merely telling someone reading this who is a CEO that they should look at what they make vs what the common worker makes. If, in their judgment, they are making enough to be well above his common workers, he is making too much and/or they too little. I want to repeat, it is not the place of outsiders to tell them how much they can make, or how much their employees should make. It is up to each person to use their judgment, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to determine where that line is.

March 30, 2015 Bible Study — Are We Desperate For Jesus’ Healing?

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 12:5-7

    You can tell if the person giving you advice is godly by considering the outcomes they advise you to strive for. If they are recommending that you follow a just and fair course of action, they are godly. If the person advises that you do things which are not just and fair, it is likely that following their advice will serve their interests, but not necessarily yours.


Psalm 71:1-24

    I read this psalm and parts of it resonate strongly with me and others, not so much. The psalm starts out with the psalmist crying out for God to rescue him. While I have been in such circumstances in the past, that is not where I am today. Then there is verse 7:

My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection.

I am not so sure that my life has been an example to many, but God has been my strength and protection. Which is why I can never stop praising God for what He has done for me. A little later the psalmist says that he keeps hoping for God’s help. I do the same, but I do not just hope for that help, I am receiving it. God has blessed me and helped me in so many ways. Therefore I praise Him more and more.
    Then comes verse 17, which I connect with so well:
O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood,
and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.

Here I connect most thoroughly with the first part. God has indeed taught me from my earliest childhood. My parents gave me wonderful examples of what it means to follow God. I am so very grateful to them for that. However, I do not tell others about the wonderful things God does nearly enough. I pray that His Spirit will move me to do so more. Finally there is verse 20, to which I can barely relate:
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but you will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.

I have most definitely NOT experienced much hardship, but I am confident that God will lift me up from the depths if I descend into them and He will comfort me when sorrow comes upon me. The Lord has been good to me and I owe Him so much praise.


Luke 8:40-9:6

    One problem with reading through the Bible the way I am is passages like today’s where it has not been very long since I read, and wrote on, the similar passages in Matthew and in Mark. As a result, it is sometimes hard to see a lesson which is not the one I just wrote about a few weeks ago. It is not that I mind writing more or less the same thing. My problem is that I want to see what the Spirit is telling me as I read the passage and not just think, “Oh, the story of Jairus’ daughter. Here is the lesson that teaches.” The whole point of reading the Bible every day is for the Spirit to reveal lessons from Scripture that I need to apply in my life.
    That being said, Jairus and the woman in the crowd had something in common. They were both desperate. Jairus’ desperation was urgent and threatening to destroy him. His little girl, his princess, was sick and about to die. He had striven all of her life to protect her. Now, he was powerless in the face of death. There was only one thing he could. He went to Jesus and begged Him to heal his little girl. He went to Jesus, and joy of joys, he had hope once more. Jesus was coming. Then on the way they were interrupted by a woman as desperate as he (we will get back to her in a minute). When they resumed their progress a messenger arrived and told him his precious daughter had died. There was no reason to disturb Jesus any longer. Complete deflation, it was over. But Jesus’ said to him, “Don’t be afraid. She will be healed.” And she was, despite the fact that the neighbors laughed at Jesus when He got there. The little girl was healed and restored to her father.
    Now back to the woman in the crowd. She too was desperate, but her desperation was the soul-crushing desperation of someone who has been struggling with something for years. She has tried this and she has tried that. None of it has helped in the least. Her problem remains. She has one last hope, perhaps if she can get close enough to Jesus to touch the fringe of His clothing, then she could be healed and have a normal live. She got there, touched Him, and was healed. Best of all, no one needed to know of her desperate attempt. Except that Jesus knew and called her out in the crowd. But then all He did was tell her that her faith had made her well and sent her on her way. She must have wanted to dance a jog.
    I know people as desperate as these two. The problem is that they do not know Jesus well enough to have the kind of faith in Him described in this story. I am praying that the Holy Spirit gives me direction so that they become introduced to Him.


Deuteronomy 13-15:23

    Moses warned the Israelites against those who would try to lead them to follow other gods. He points out the different ways in which people would attempt it. He points out that there will be people who perform miraculous signs (or, at least, what appear to be miraculous signs) and people who make predictions about the future which come true who will attempt to use these abilities to convince others to leave off following God. There will be those who offer the thrill of the secret, or being part of a “special” group, to entice us to leave off from following God. In all of these cases, we are encouraged to examine what they are teaching to see if it is indeed something other than the word of God. But if we conclude that it is, we should have nothing to do with them.

March 29, 2015 Bible Study — Why Are You Interfering With Me?

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 12:4

    In a way there are two sides to this. On the one hand, it is up to a woman whether or not she will be a wife of noble character. Women, it is up to you to to make the effort to develop noble character. No one else can do it for you.
    On the other hand, men, your wife is likely to live up to (or down to) your expectations. If you treat her as if you believe her to be a disgrace, she will likely be a disgrace. If you treat her as if you consider her to be a woman of noble character, she will likely be a woman of noble character.
    Women and men, it is up to you how you want to live your life. Women, you can be a woman of noble character if your husband (or the men/people in your life) believe you are a disgrace. It is harder, but you can do it. Men, if you believe, and act accordingly (that is the important part), that your wife (and the other women in your life) are women of noble character, they will likely live up to your expectations.


Psalm 70:1-5

    I love the sentiment of this psalm. I cannot think what to write about it except to say I desire to reflect the humility the psalmist expresses when he says:

But as for me, I am poor and needy


Luke 8:22-39

    Once again we have a story of a demon possessed man who approaches Jesus and asks Him, “Why are You interfering with me?” Jesus had not approached the man. It was the man who approached Jesus. Jesus did not interfere with the demon possessed man until the man came to Him. This is an important lesson, when the man got in Jesus’ face and demanded to be left alone, Jesus did not back down. Rather He recognized that this act was a cry for help.
    There is another piece to this story. The people of the region were familiar with this man. They had tried on several occasions to bind him under guard to keep him from harming himself and others. At least, I assume that was why they had done it. Whatever their reasons, it had failed. The man had broken free and run wild. Yet now, they saw him fully clothed, cleaned up, and completely sane.
    Their response, fear. Rather than see the transformation of this man as a sign of hope and seek for similar changes for themselves, they asked Jesus to leave. Jesus did as they asked. When the man who had been freed from demons asked to go with Him, Jesus told Him to stay. Proving that you do not always have to leave your home town to do missions work.


Deuteronomy 11-12:32

    Moses told the Israelites to commit themselves wholeheartedly to God’s word. The instructions he gave them that day apply to us today. We should talk about God’s word(s) when we are at home and when we are on the road, when we get up in the morning and when we go to bed at night. The words of God should be in our thoughts all day, every day. They should guide our actions in everything we do. And we should talk about them with those we spend time with.
    God promises that if we, as a people, obey His commands the environment around us will be pleasant and healthy around us. We are not instructed to be environmentalists, but if our actions are destroying the environment around us we are not being faithful to God. We are called to be good stewards of the resources with which God has blessed us. If our actions are consistent with the commands God has given us then the land around us will be blessed and thrive. We will turn deserts into prosperous land and that in a way that will continue from generation to generation.

March 28, 2015 Bible Study — How Do We Know Where the Gospel Will Thrive?

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 12:2-3

    This proverb contains a truth which those who conduct foreign policy all too often fail to heed. Those who perform wicked deeds will never create stability. Stability is a byproduct of the godly people in a society. The roots referred to in this proverb provide stability not just for the godly but for the community around them, just as the roots of a tree growing on a hill reduce the chance of a mudslide by providing stability to the soil around them.


Psalm 69:19-36

    The psalmist continues to describe his depression. Despite his desperate depression he continues to call on God and to praise Him. As I read this psalm there was one phrase which makes me want to cry:

If only one person would show some pity;
if only one would turn and comfort me.

Every time I read this I vow that I will be that one. I know that I fail, but nevertheless, God calls us to be that one. The one who makes the difference, who shows the person suffering depression that they are not alone and that God loves them.
    Oh God, whoever it is who is crying out as the psalmist does her, if they are someone I know, make me be the one who turns and comforts them…or better yet, let me be just one of Your many servants who turns and comforts them.


Luke 8:4-21

    I will repeat what I have said elsewhere where I have blogged about the parable of the sower. Every time I read this passage, I fear that I am the soil with the thorns. I know I am not the hard soil, because I have responded to God’s message. I know I am not the rocky soil because I do not wilt in the face of opposition. On the other hand, I have trouble seeing myself as producing a crop that is a hundred times what was planted.
    That being said, I have been starting to get a different view of this parable recently. I noticed that the farmer spread the seed on all of the soil. Why would he waste seed on soil where it would not thrive? You could say, “Well, he did not know where it would thrive?” There is some truth to that, but surely he could tell where the soil was too packed down to thrive? The answer to that is that something might happen to change things. Perhaps the soil of the path would get broken up and the seed could settle in before the birds got to it. Perhaps the rocks would get dug out of the rocky soil, allowing the seeds to thrive (I know from a farming perspective that is silly, but bear with me). Perhaps someone would come and pull out the thistles and other weeds so that they could not strangle the good crop. The point is, we don’t know where the Gospel message will thrive so we should spread it to everyone we meet.


Deuteronomy 9-10:22

    The Israelites went against God’s will again and again, yet God gave them new chances. After Moses gives an account of all of the times they had rebelled, he tells them what God requires of them now: “He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.” This is what He requires of us today.

  • Fear the Lord
  • The best example I can think of what this means is something I witnessed happen between a friend and his dog. He had raised the dog from a puppy. He loved that dog and treated it well, but he demanded that it obey him. One day, just as it became an adult dog, he gently smacked its nose away from a bit of food it was going for. It snapped at him and bit him. He went from stern to angry. The dog ran under the table and hid. That dog feared its master the way we should fear God.

  • Live in a way that pleases Him
  • Live with integrity and honour

  • Love Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul
  • Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, love your enemies, bless those that curse you, etc.

March 27, 2015 Bible Study — How Much Have We Been Forgiven?

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 12:1

    This proverb is so true. Only the truly stupid hate to be corrected and the only person who is truly stupid is unwilling to accept discipline when they are wrong.


Psalm 69:1-18

    This psalm expresses the faith of one suffering deep depression. Everything, and everyone, seems to be conspiring against him (and perhaps it is). Yet, no matter how bad he thinks things are, no matter how bad things actually are, he continues to have faith in God. He continues to cry out to God for rescue, believing that God will rescue him. The psalmist does this even though he is ridiculed for his faith. He acknowledges that he has foolishly sinned and prays that God does not allow his foolishness to cause others who trust in God to be shamed.
    All in all, this psalm is a great expression of faith. I pray that my faith will be as strong should I ever find myself in similar circumstances.


Luke 7:36-8:3

    Wow, I actually have three points to make on this passage. First, the more we perceive ourselves to have been a sinner, the more thankful we are to God for His forgiveness. Second, we should all strive to show our thankfulness as enthusiastically as this woman. Third, none of us should have the attitude of the Pharisee in this story. None of us should think of someone else as a greater sinner than ourselves, that we are somehow better than that other person.
    I was going to go into more detail on this, but I think that pretty much covers it. I will finish with this question: Do we realize how much we have been forgiven? Do we express to God the love He deserves for the forgiveness we have received?


Deuteronomy 7-8:20

    Moses tells the Israelites that when they enter into the Promised Land they must not make any treaties with the people living there. He tells them to completely consecrate those people to God. The word used here is typically translated as “destroy”, and typically the term means destroying something in order to give it to God. As I read this, I am reminded that when the Israelites left Egypt they were accompanied by a large number of non-Israelites. Those non-Israelites became part of the people of God. The Israelites were not to adopt any of the customs of the people whose land they were entering. But if those people were to dedicate themselves wholly to the service of God, well that was different. Understand, I do not think that was how those who heard Moses speak understood him. I do however think that was how God intended them to hear it.
    The second part of the passage contains both a promise and a warning. The promise is that if the Israelites live in fear of the Lord and follow His commands they will prosper. This promise was not just for the Israelites. It was for all people. So was His warning. The passage warned the Israelites to remember that their wealth came from worshiping and serving God. If they were to begin to think that the wealth they acquired was a result of their merit and specialness they might stop being faithful to God and start worshiping other gods. Just as the nations which the Israelites were displacing were being destroyed because they refused to obey God, so too would the Israelites be destroyed if they refused to worship God…so, too will we be destroyed.

March 26, 2015 Bible Study — Should We Be Looking For Someone Else?

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 11:29-31

    The middle proverb is the one which speaks to me today. I especially like the translators notes that come with the New Living Translation. There they tell us that an alternate translation for the phrase, ” a wise person wins friends” is “those who win souls are wise.” When I put that together with the first phrase of the verse, “The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life,” it really says a lot about how God wishes us to live. One could read this as “The seeds of good deeds bring life to those who practice them.” That would not be wrong. But in the context I think the seeds become a tree of life which wins souls. It is nice for my good deeds to become a tree of life for me, but God is calling us to use our good deeds to plant a tree of life for others, and thereby to win souls for Him.


Psalm 68:19-35

    I am not quite sure what to say about this psalm. Certainly I will praise God as it instructs and tell everyone about His power. Those who choose to be God’s enemies will face destruction. Those who serve Him and praise Him will rejoice.


Luke 7:11-35

    When John the Baptist’s disciples asked Jesus if He was the Messiah, or if they should be looking for someone else, Jesus told them to tell John what they had seen and heard. And what did they see? The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. This is the model of what the Church should look like. If we are not seeing the same things in the Church today, we need to ask God why. Perhaps the reason we do not see these things is because we are looking for someone else. Perhaps we are not truly worshiping the Jesus described in the Gospels.
    The example of Jesus and John show us that there is not one right way to serve God. John was an ascetic, Jesus was most definitely not (as a matter of fact, here He tells us that He was accused of being a hedonist). While this was not the point Jesus was making here, it shows that God calls different people to different lifestyles (although not in the way in which this world uses that term to describe sexual behavior).


Deuteronomy 5-6:25

    One of the things I have heard taught many different times about making sermons, speeches, and writing is that you should have three points. As a result, I am bothered by the fact that so often when I am working on these Bible studies that I find myself wanting to make two points. Nevertheless, there were two points which struck me about this passage.
    In this passage Moses said that God did not make a covenant with their ancestors, rather He made it with those who were alive and listening to him. That is how the covenant which God sealed by Jesus’ death on the cross is. It is not a covenant made with our ancestors. It is a covenant which God has made with each and every one of us. God will speak with each and every one of us face to face. The key here is that God has made a personal commitment to each and every one of us. This is not a covenant made with a “people”. It is a covenant made with individuals, a covenant which turns those individuals into a people.
    The second point is that it is not enough to obey God’s commands grudgingly…it is not even worthwhile to obey His commands if we do so grudgingly. No we are called to obey His commands with enthusiasm. We are called to commit ourselves with all of our being to obeying and worshiping God. I will love God with all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my strength. Anything less is a waste of time.

March 25, 2015 Bible Study — The Worst Sins Are the Ones I Commit

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 11:28

    Those who trust their wealth to get them through all of their troubles will fall like leaves from a tree in autumn. The righteous, on the other hand will thrive like new growth in spring time.


Psalm 68:1-18

    Earlier psalms told us that everyone will stand before God, sooner or later. This psalm tells us that there are two things we may experience when we come into God’s presence. Those who are God’s enemies will melt like wax. They will be blown away like smoke. But the godly will rejoice when they come into God’s presence. They will sing songs of praise to His name. I know which I would choose to be.


Luke 6:39-7:10

    A few verse earlier Jesus said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you.” In today’s passage He gives a more detailed take on what He means. When Jesus told us not to judge others, He was not telling us that we cannot tell right behavior from wrong. He was telling us that our job was to identify the wrong behavior in our own life…and change it.
    When Jesus tells me “Do not judge others,” He is not telling me that I should their behaviors are right. He is telling me that I should worry more about the sins I commit than the sins someone else commits. As we read on in this passage Jesus tells us how to judge our behavior. We are to judge our behavior by the results, not by our intentions (or more likely, what we tell ourselves our intentions are). The thing to remember is that when Jesus addressed the woman caught in adultery, He did not say, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and do as you like.” He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.
    We are not called to confront others about their sin. We are called to bring God’s healing to sinners, starting with ourselves. An important part of bringing that healing to others is acknowledging that we need it just as much as they do.


Deuteronomy 4:1-49

    As Moses gets to the end of his summary of the Israelites travel through the wilderness, he tells them to obey the laws and commands which God is giving them. The command was not, “Make sure the other guy obeys these commands.” The command was “You obey these commands.”

March 24, 2015 Bible Study — The Golden Rule

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 11:27

    If you search for good, you will find it and people will like you. If you search for evil, you will find that as well, or to be more precise, evil will find you. The former is pleasant, the latter, not so much.


Psalm 67:1-7

    If I ever need to give a toast at some event, I hope I remember the first verse of this psalm:

May God be merciful and bless us.
May his face smile with favor on us.

It also works as a great closing prayer for a small group or Bible study group. In fact, the entire psalm would make a great invocation for a meeting which focuses on evangelism or mission work.


Luke 6:12-38

    This passage contains what we refer to as the “Golden Rule”. I have heard many takes on this rule:

  • “Them as have the gold make the rules.”
  • That is nowhere close to what Jesus taught.

  • “Do to others before they do to you.”
  • This sounds closer, but isn’t really.

  • “Do to others what they do to you.”

This is the philosophy most people live by and one which Jesus tells us is not very praise worthy.
    Unlike those, Jesus teaches us “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” He tells us to love our enemies. If we love those who love us, well, even the most evil people in history loved those who loved them. If we do good to those who do good to us, even Mafia bosses do that. We are to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who hurt us. All in all, this is a tough command to follow. We are not just to do good things for the poor and powerless (feed the hungry, clothe the naked). We are to do what good we can for the rich and powerful. We are to show love to those who mistreat and oppress us.


Deuteronomy 2-3:29

    Moses continued his speech recounting the travels of the Israelites from the time they turned away from the Promised Land until that moment in time. He described how God had forbidden them to make war on, or cause trouble for, the Edomites, the descendants of Abraham through Esau. Nor were they allowed to make war on the Moabites and the Ammonites, descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. However, the Amorites, who were not related to Abraham at all, not only refused the Israelites permission to pass through their land, the mobilized their armies and attacked them. In response the Israelites completed destroyed two Amorite kingdoms.
    Having conquered a foothold on the east side of the Jordan, the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordan and take control of the land there. Moses delegated control over the Israelite fighting force to Joshua and made it clear that Joshua would lead the attack into the Promised Land. God had forbidden Moses to enter into that land, despite Moses’ desperate pleading for the opportunity to cross over and see the land. However, God did send Moses up onto a high mountain and gave him a view over the land He was giving to the Israelites. In some ways, this was a foreshadowing of how the various Old Testament prophets would look forward to the coming of Jesus, the Messiah.

March 23, 2015 Bible Study — Come and See What God Has Done!

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 11:24-26

    Today’s proverb reminds me of a small skit I am doing with some friends in the near future. It is called “Pantalone’s Worry Box.” It is about a miser who loses all of his money because he spends it in various efforts to avoid losing it. In many ways that is what this proverb is about, although not completely. Those who are generous, who spend their wealth (whether money or goods) in order to help others will prosper in all they do. This does not mean that they will gain great material wealth (although it might). It means that they will gain that which is truly valuable, the love of others and of God.
    On the other hand, misers will lose everything of true value (and likely their wealth as well).


Psalm 66:1-20

    This psalm contains an invitation we should be eager to accept…and to extend to others. We are invited/encouraged/commanded to joyously praise God. If we are not already eager to do this, the psalmist extends us another invitation, “Come and see what our God has done.” If you have done the latter, you will do the former. Those who have seen the marvelous things which God has done cannot help but praise Him loudly and joyously. If you are not enthusiastically praising God, I invite you too to come and see what He has done, is doing, will do!


Luke 5:29-6:11

    Today’s passage contains four stories with three separate themes: one about bringing God’s good news to sinners, one about accepting change, two about the fact that God’s law never forbids doing good. Yet, in a way, they all have one theme. Really, they are all about not thinking we are better than others. In every one of these cases those challenging Jesus were saying, “Look how much better than those others we are. We don’t associate with sinners. We fast regularly. We don’t do anything which could be mistaken for work on the Sabbath. We are better than everyone else.” Jesus answer is “All have turned away. No one does good.”
    There is more to this than I can find the words to express today. It is not that there are not some people who are better than others. It is just that if you think you are one of them, you are wrong. I have known, and know, a few people who are better than most people…and every single one of them would have denied it with every fiber of their being. Not only that, they would have thought you were crazy for even imagining that they were better than someone else. Not everyone who thinks they are the scum of the earth and the lowliest of the low is a good person, but no one who does not know that they are the lowliest of the low and the greatest of sinners is a good person.


Numbers 36:1-13

    This passage reminds us that one thing we do to address a social problem opens up the possibility of another social problem, that something we do to correct an injustice in one area might lead to an injustice in another. We need to pay attention to unintended consequences of our actions.


Deuteronomy 1:1-46

    Deuteronomy means (basically) “second law”. The laws which God had given out to Moses and the Israelites were presented at various points throughout Leviticus and Numbers. Deuteronomy is written, in part, to bring all of these laws together and show how they fit together. The book starts with a speech which Moses gave the Israelites as they camped on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Moses’ speech is a recap of their travel from Mt Sinai to where they were when he gave the speech.
    Moses explains how the Israelites rebelled against God when they failed to trust God and enter the Promised Land and then rebelled again and strove to enter the land when God told them the punishment for their rebellion. These events are a reminder to us that if we hesitate when God calls us to a task the window of opportunity may close. If we hesitated to answer God’s call, the moment may pass and now He has other plans for us.