May 1, 2015 Bible Study

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:15-16

    It is foolish to believe everything you hear. The prudent think ahead and plan their steps. The wise cautiously evaluate the situation so as to avoid danger, the foolish are sure of their ability to handle any danger which arises and rush in without thought or plan.


Psalm 102:1-28

    This psalm is a reminder both of how short our lives are and how merciful God is. The psalmist reminds us to record the great and wonderful things God has done so that those not yet born will praise God when they read of His mercy and power.


John 1:29-51

    When I have read this passage, I have always assumed that the two disciples of John the Baptist who heard John call Him the lamb of God and followed Him were Andrew and Philip. When a year or two ago a few people told me that tradition says that the other disciple of John the Baptist was John the brother of James, I was surprised. I realized that my assumption that it was Philip was not the clear reading of the passage I had always thought it was. The writer of this Gospel always refers to John the brother of James cryptically and that is certainly consistent with this passage.
    The problem I have with the second of John’s disciples not being Philip (the first is clearly identified as Andrew) is that the next day when Philip talks to Nathaniel he clearly knows quite a bit about Jesus’ teaching. Enough to be convinced that Jesus is the Messiah. At this point in the account there are only three people (four, if you count John the Baptist) who know enough about Jesus to consider Him the Messiah: the two disciples of John and Peter. I will admit that I have always been biased towards this interpretation because I share Philip’s name.


Judges 13-14:20

    I find it interesting to compare and contrast Samson and Samuel. Both were the sons of women who had been unable to bear children. Both were dedicated to God’s service from birth. Both served God in their own way their whole lives. However, Samuel lived a long life and provided Israel with good leadership to take his place (even though Saul was still in power, Samuel had annointed David). Samson, on the other hand, died a prisoner of the Philistines.
    What was the difference? Samson chose poorly when it came to women. Throughout his life he chose to pursue women whose first loyalty was neither to God nor to him. I am convinced that we would do well to point to Samson as a negative role model when it comes to finding the right woman. Rather than seek a wife from among those who worshiped God, Samson asked his father to get him a woman from among the Philistines, who did not worship God. It is worth noting that Samson’s father had clearly spoiled him and continued to do so in this situation. The woman Samson had chosen nagged him to get him to give her information which would disadvantage him in favor of her countrymen. It is worth noting that Samson never learned from the mistake he made here.

April 30, 2015 Bible Study

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:13-14

    Laughter may cover grief for a time, but it will not make it go away. Sooner or later, you will need to face your grief and deal with it.


Psalm 101:1-8

    This psalm does such a great job describing how God calls us to live.

  1. Live a life of integrity, not just in public but even in the privacy of our own home
  2. Refuse to look at anything vile or vulgar, let alone offer it approval
  3. Hate the actions of those who abandon their faith, have no part in such actions
  4. Reject perverse ideas, have nothing to do with what is evil
  5. Do not tolerate those who slander others, reject conceit and pride
  6. And the most important

  7. Seek out faithful people to associate with
  8. DSCN8061

    John 1:1-28

        Where John used “the Word”, I think we might today use “the Ideal”, although that does not quite have the right connotation. The Greek word John used had connotations of logic and rationality. To a degree it implied objective truth. Our society has a problem with the thought that there is objective truth. What people forget is that so did the society in which John wrote.
        Related to John’s use of “the Word” is his imagery of light. Evil is not a thing any more than dark is a thing. Both are defined by what they are not. The point John is making here is that just as introducing a small amount of light into a dark room completely transforms the darkness, so too does introducing a small amount of good transforms our evil world.


    Judges 11-12:15

        The story of Jephthah represents an interesting contrast to the story of Abimelech. Both men ruled part of Israel for a time and the story of both men surrounded themselves with scoundrels. However, this is where their stories diverge. Abimelech surrounded himself with scoundrels in order to seize power by killing his half brothers. Jephthah attracted a band of scoundrels after his half brothers drove him out of his father’s lands. Jephthah did not seek power, rather the leaders sent for him to command their forces when an enemy began attacking them. These two stories tell us that we need to look deeper than the surface to know who would make a good leader.

April 29, 2015 Bible Study — The Road to Emmaus

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:11-12

    It is interesting how the proverb writer contrasts the “house of the wicked” with the “tent of the godly”. The wicked may attempt to build permanent dwelling places, but what they build will not last. The godly are satisfied with temporary dwellings, yet their temporary homes will have a longer lasting impact than anything permanent put in place by the wicked.


Psalm 100:1-5

    This psalm is wonderful. It is short, so it doesn’t take long to read. Verse three stands out to me today:

Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Although the joy expressed by the entire psalm resonates in my mind this morning.


Luke 24:13-53

    The story of the two men walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus should resonate with all of us. They had seen God’s work, and they did not understand. They had enough of the facts to reach the correct conclusion, but they could not accept that some of their basic assumptions about the world were wrong. They knew Jesus was a great teacher who performed mighty miracles. They had believed He was the Messiah, but the chief priests had had Him crucified. Now He was dead. They did not know what to make of the claims that Jesus was alive. It was not until Jesus explained it all too them yet again that they began to understand. And even then it was only when Jesus broke bread and gave it to them that they recognized Him.
    We are often like this. God shows us something through what happens in the world around us, but we just cannot get our minds around the idea that the world does not work the way we thought it did. Until the Holy Spirit shows us that we already knew that the world did not work that way. Some people learn to know Jesus on the “Road to Emmaus”, others require the “Road to Damascus.”


Judges 9:22-10:18

    The story of Abimelech, his rise to power, and his relationship with the city of Shechem shows us what happens when people choose a leader for bad reasons. The people of Shechem supported Abimelech because they thought he would bring benefit to them at the expense of the rest of the Israelites. They gave him the support he needed to kill his brothers. They discovered that someone who would kill his own brothers to attain power would not treat anyone else any better.

April 28, 2015 Bible Study — Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead?

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:9-10

    We all know someone like those described in this psalm, people who laugh at the idea that they should feel guilty for what they have done wrong. They go through life rejecting responsibility for the pain they have caused others. However, those we should truly admire (and whom most of us do) acknowledge when they have caused others pain and seek to make up for it. Let us strive to be like the latter.


Psalm 99:1-9

    God is king over all of the earth, despite what various rulers and government officials may think. Ultimately, it is God who is sovereign. Those who acknowledge this will experience joy. Those who refuse to acknowledge it will experience judgment. God has established fairness and justice throughout the earth. I will praise and exalt Him for it.


Luke 23:44-24:12

    The Roman officer who oversaw Jesus’ crucifixion was so impressed by His behavior that he worshiped God as a result. Do we demonstrate behavior during difficult times that will lead witnesses to recognize that we are servants of God and to praise God?
    The account here of the women being the first to discover Jesus’ resurrection is one of the strongest arguments against it being made up story. Women at the time were considered unreliable witnesses. Not only were the women the first to discover Jesus’ resurrection, the men were unwilling to believe them. If this was a made up story, it would have been one of the prominent disciples who discovered the empty tomb. It would have been Peter, Andrew, James, or John, or some combination of them who came to the empty tomb.
    I just noticed something in this story that never occurred to me before. Many people talk about the parallels between the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection and various mythological accounts about how winter and spring came to be, mythological accounts which discuss the cycle of life. The thing is that the Gospels make no such connection. The Gospels do not connect Jesus’ death and resurrection to the seasons the way those myths, from which the story supposedly derives. However, there is one mythological idea to which I think this account alludes. There are several mythological stories of people going into the Land of the Dead to find someone they loved. The angels in this account allude to this when they ask the women why they are looking for Jesus among the dead. There is an important lesson here for us. We do not have to enter the Land of the Dead to be reunited with our loved ones who serve God.


Judges 8:18-9:21

    After Gideon’s victory the people of Israel asked him to become their king and start a dynasty. Gideon declined, telling the people that it is God who should rule over them. However, despite refusing to become their king, he did gather gold from them to create an ephod which would serve as a focus for the people of Israel. I am quite convinced that by doing this Gideon set the stage for his son Abimelech killing most of the rest of his sons as recounted at the end of this passage.

April 27, 2015 Bible Study

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:7-8

    If you spend all of your time with fools, you will not learn anything useful. Think about the consequences of your actions carefully. Otherwise you are fooling yourself into thinking you are a good person because you “mean well”.


Psalm 97-98:9

    The first psalm tells of God’s great power, how His mere presence causes destruction to those who oppose Him and the things which might impede His will. Those who worship something, anything, other than God will be disgraced because that which they worship will be forced to submit to God. God is supreme over all the earth and far more powerful, and worthy of worship, than any other god, or anything we might worship.
    The first psalm ends by reminding us that those who worship and serve God will rejoice and be filled with joy. This is the perfect transition into the second psalm, which calls on everyone and everything to praise God. Yes, I will do as this psalm recommends. I will sing and shout to God in praise. I will use whatever tools are at my disposal to express my praise and worship to Him.


Luke 23:13-43

    The two criminals crucified alongside Jesus show us two types of sinners in this world. The first is the one who mocks God, and those who strive to serve Him, right up to the end, even as they suffer the consequences of their sin. The other recognize that their suffering is the natural consequence of the life they lived and something they deserved. The latter also recognize that those who have striven to serve God do not deserve such suffering and attempt to protect them, even to the very end, from being mocked by others. This passage shows us that there is hope for the latter right up to the very end. As long as one yet lives one has the opportunity to accept God’s forgiveness and serve Him, even if only in a small way.


Judges 7-8:17

    When Gideon raised his army to fight against the Midianites, God told him that he had too many men. God insisted that Gideon reduce his forces so that everyone would know the victory came from God. This contains an important lesson for us. God does not call us to tasks which are easy, tasks which we can accomplish through our own strength and ability. He calls us to tasks which demonstrate His power and will in this world. He calls us to tasks which we can only accomplish through the power of God. If your thought when you fell called to a task is, “I’ve got this,” you are either badly overestimating your abilities, or you have misjudged the task to which God has called you. The appropriate response when confronted by a task to which God has called you is to cry out to God for help because the task is beyond your ability, while doing the best that you can.

April 26, 2015 Bible Study — If Only You Would Listen To God’s Voice Today!

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:5-6

    This proverb points out an important point. Those who are honest are always honest. They do not even try to use the truth to deceive or mislead. On the other hand those who do not see a problem with using the truth to deceive will lie about anything and everything. Just look at our society, less than a generation ago we began to accept that politicians would say things that were technically true, but which they knew would cause listeners to believe something that was not true. Today, we accept that politicians tell outright lies.
    The proverb writer(s) spend a lot of time warning us against mockery. Here he points out that one cannot find wisdom by mocking others, not even those who deserve to be mocked. If we want to find wisdom we must seek understanding. We must seek to understand those we disagree with rather than mock them. Understanding does not mean accepting, nor does it mean agreeing. Often times it means realizing that what we are arguing about is not really what we disagree about.


Psalm 95-96:13

    I would not have put these two psalms together, yet I am glad that One Year Bible Online did. Both of these psalms tell us to sing to the Lord, to praise Him, and to worship Him. In our worship services we spend a lot of time focusing on using singing to praise the Lord, and that is a good thing. However, we often miss something said in the first of these psalms which should influence how we understand worship: “If only you would listen to His voice today!” If we truly believe what we say when we sing praises to God, and if we truly worship Him, we will listen to what He says.
    Think about what it is like when a single person meets someone they are attracted to in more than just a sexual way. In that situation, they want to listen to what the other person has to say. They ask questions about what the other person has done, is going to do, wants to do. They want to help that person accomplish their goals in life.
    Contrast that with those who are not really into the other person and see them as only a way to gain pleasure. In the latter case the person dominates the conversation, seeks to tell the other person what they have done, what they are going to do, and what they want to do (sometimes this conversation is about doing for the person to whom they are talking). They do not spend any time finding out if that is what the other wants them to do. A significant part of the conversation may even be them telling the other how much they love them. The key thing is that they spend no time listening to the other person.
    How often is our worship more like the latter than the former? When we seek to worship God, let us remember that true worship involves listening to the object of our worship.


Luke 22:54-23:12

    In Matthew 10:33 Jesus says that He will deny before the Father everyone who denies Him before men. Yet, here we have Peter very emphatically denying Christ, not just once, but three times. This was certainly the type of circumstance that Jesus was referring to when He said that. The fact that Peter did this here and went on to be used by God to spread the Gospel gives all of us hope, because there are few among us, if any, who have not at one time or another done something similar to what Peter did here. I know that there have been times where I have failed to stand up and acknowledge my faith in Christ. There have even been times when I have denied that faith to avoid ridicule. The story of Peter’s actions here tells me that God will forgive me my weakness.


Judges 6:1-40

    There are a lot of lessons to be learned about serving God in this passage. However, the one I want to emphasize today is one which I rarely hear talked about. When God’s messenger told Gideon that God was with him, Gideon replied, “Then why has all this bad stuff happened? Where are the miracles? And why has God allowed the Midianites to oppress us?”
    God’s messenger responded by telling Gideon, “If things are so bad, do something about it!”
    Gideon responds by saying, essentially, “What can one man do? I can’t make a difference, not even with the help of those who will listen to me.”
    And here is the lesson, God’s messenger tells Gideon that He will be with him and give him the ability to succeed. There is a lot more to be said about this passage, but the message is clear: Don’t just complain about how bad things are, do something about it. If you believe that things are bad take what action you can.
    It is worth noting that Gideon did not start out by going to battle against the Midianites, the people he had initially complained about oppressing the people. No, Gideon started by tearing down the idols worshiped by his clan. He called on the people to return to faith in God. Whatever the problems we are called to battle, the first step is to call on the people of God to repent of their sins.

April 25, 2015 Bible Study

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:3-4

    Those that talk smack will find that it comes around to bite them. The wise tell others of their weaknesses and admit others are better than themselves.
    It is easy to keep things clean and organized if you never do anything, but you need to get things dirty and messed up if you want to get produce anything of value.


Psalm 94:1-23

    The wicked think that God will not take notice of their evil actions, but they are mistaken. God will rescue those who call on His name. God will protect us from the wicked. Unjust leaders claim that God is on their side while they issue decrees which encourage injustice, but such decrees will not protect the wicked from God’s judgment.


Luke 22:35-53

    Jesus reminds the disciples of when he sent them out to preach the Good News. That time He had told them not to take any money, a traveler’s bag, nor spare clothes. Today, he tells them to make sure they have a sword. This has always bothered me. However, today I noticed that Jesus links His recommendation to buy a sword with the fulfillment of the prophecy that He would be counted among the rebels. When Jesus told His disciples to buy a sword, He was speaking rhetorically. That is why when they told Him they had two swords He said that was enough.
    When the men came to arrest Jesus, His disciples asked if they should fight. One of them even drew his sword and attacked one of the men. But Jesus told them to stop. He even healed the man who had been struck. This supports the idea that He was speaking rhetorically when He told them to buy swords.


Judges 4-5:31

    When Deborah was a prophet who judged Israel, God told her to call Barak, a warlord in Napthali, to lead an uprising against those oppressing Israel at the time. Barak was afraid to go to war against Israel’s enemies unless Deborah went with him. Deborah told him that she would go with him, but that as a result he would get no honor for his victory. There is a lesson here for us. We will receive more honor for accepting a commission if we take the commission than if we ask the one giving it to look over our shoulder.

April 24, 2015 Bible Study — It Is Good To Give Thanks To the Lord

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 14:1-2

    This proverb says some basic things that are obvious, but reading between the lines tells us some things that are not so obvious. The first part tells us that the wise spend their time being constructive while the foolish are destructive. Thinking about it closer reveals that the writer is telling us that if we are not building, we are destroying. Let us make the effort to build our homes, our lives, our friends and acquaintances. Otherwise, we will be tearing those things down.
    The second part tells us that those who fear the Lord are upright and straight forward, while those who despise the Lord are devious and perverted. Ultimately, if you meet someone who is straightforward in their dealings with others, they fear the Lord (even if they do not know it). On the other hand, those who are devious and conniving despise the Lord, no matter what they say on the issue.


Psalm 92-93:5

    This psalm starts off with a statement that is so very true. It is indeed good to give thanks to the Lord. I have discovered that just giving Him thanks brings me joy. If you are feeling depressed, think of something, anything, for which you can be thankful. If you are alive there is something for which you can be thankful. Then, think of something else. Before very long you will find yourself feeling more positive. Proclaim God’s love in the morning and His faithfulness at night. By doing this you will not only hold depression at bay, but find joy coming into your life.
    The psalm, and the following one, go on to tell us part of why this is true. The first and primary reason is that if we truly look at what God has done, it will thrill us (it certainly thrills me every time I think about it). The psalmist goes on to remind us that God’s enemies will all be scattered and perish, while those who are godly will thrive. There is no evil in God and His reign lasts from before time began until after time is over. I will praise Him every day.


Luke 22:14-34

    It is interesting how quickly the disciples went from discussing who would betray Jesus to arguing about which of them was the greatest. This despite Jesus telling them repeatedly that the first shall be last. And once again Jesus responds by telling them that if they want to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven they should take the lowest rank, that those who want to be leaders need to serve others. Jesus came as one who serves, if we want to attain greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven we should do likewise. This lesson is one of the most important ones taught by Jesus. The thing about this is that the lesson is not that we should serve others in order to be the greatest. Rather the lesson is that we should seek how we can help others develop their greatness.


Judges 2:10-3:31

    The passage begins with a summary of the rest of the book from here out. After the generation which initially entered the land following Joshua died out, their children abandoned God and began to follow the practices of the people of the land. They adopted the evil practices of the people they dwelt among. As a result troubles came upon them. When faced with troubles they cried out to God, who then raised up a judge to lead them back to Him (and rescue them from their enemies). When the judge died, the people once more began following the practices of their neighbors.

April 23, 2015 Bible Study — The Kingdom Of God Is Near

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 13:24-25

    I am not a parent, but I have observed the truth of this proverb time and again. Parents who love their children discipline their children. I have seen many parents with different discipline styles. The key factor in those parents who did a good job raising their children was that they were consistent in their application of discipline. They did not discipline out of anger. They did not fail to discipline because it wasn’t worth their time. They made it clear through their actions that they imposed the rules they had because they believed those rules were best for their children.


Psalm 90-91:16

    Today’s reading contains 2 psalms. The first one reminds us that our life is short. We have but a few years to do God’s will. It reminds us to pray that God remind us of how short life is so that we will use our time wisely.
    The second psalm reminds us that if we turn to God for safety we will not need to fear anything, neither terrors in the night, or attacks by day. When we trust and obey God, He will protect us from all harm. God promises to rescue those who love Him and protect those who trust Him.


Luke 21:29-22:13

    At the end of yesterday’s passage Jesus described a time of great destruction and trials that was to come. His prophecy was primarily concerned with the coming destruction of Jerusalem (which happened in A.D. 70). However, His conclusion to that prophecy which begins today’s passage shows us that there is more to this prophecy than just that. He tells us that when we see the signs He spoke of, we will know that the Kingdom of God is near. So, when we see the nations in turmoil and people terrified by what is coming upon the earth, we should rejoice because it means that God’s Kingdom is near.
    Even more importantly, as we see these things going on we must not allow the day of the Lord’s return catch us unaware. There are several ways in which that might happen. We might allow the worries of this life weigh down our hearts, or our hearts may become dulled by drunkenness and carousing. Rather than allowing that to happen let us keep our hearts and minds sharp in service to God. Otherwise we may get caught unawares when that day arrives. Above all let us pray for the strength to escape the coming difficulties.


Judges 1-2:9

    Joshua failed as a leader in one key respect. He did not train up a leader to take his place when he died. It was the resulting lack of leadership which allowed the people of Israel to move in among the pagans living in the Promised Land rather than waiting until they were driven out to move in. Since they were living among the pagans, they adopted some of their practices and worshiped their gods. Rather than insisting that those who wanted to live among them worship God, they began to live among those who worshiped other gods. This is an important reminder that if we begin to water down God’s commands before long we will be following the commands of other gods.

April 22, 2015 Bible Study — Choose Today Whom You Will Serve

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 13:20-23

    Who you associate with matters. If you spend all of your time around foolish people, you will do foolish things. When you do foolish things you will end up with trouble and problems. Even if, by a stroke of fortune, you avoid doing foolish things you will experience the trouble created by the foolish actions of those you are spending time with. If you find yourself plagued by trouble, as soon as one problem is resolved another problem crops up, it is time to examine your behavior. That is the type of circumstance fools and sinners find themselves in.
    As an alternate, spend your time with the wise and you will find yourself becoming wiser. Your companions will offer you advice on how to avoid trouble and solve problems. The wise choose the righteous path and then, instead of being pursued by trouble, unexpected blessings keep turning up in their lives.


Psalm 89:38-52

    Despite feeling like God has turned His back on him and abandoned him the psalmist praises God and calls on others to do likewise. I praise God not just because He has done great things for me, but because He is deserving of praise.


Luke 21:1-28

    As I read Jesus’ comments about the widow’s mites I was reminded of an article I read recently. During the last economic downturn extending into the current economic hard times, charities have discovered that donations from big money donors have fallen off, while those from those of lesser means have not only remained steady but increased. This fact serves as a reminder of the lesson Jesus was teaching here. God is not impressed by how much of our surplus we give to His work. He is impressed by how much we are willing to sacrifice in order to help those less fortunate than ourselves. When deciding if we are giving enough to God’s work the question we need to ask ourselves is if our giving means we have to forgo buying something we want?


Joshua 24:1-33

    Joshua presented the Israelites with a decision which each and everyone of us must make. It is a decision which must be made by every generation. Actually, it is a decision which we must make every day. We must choose who it is we are going to serve. Are we going to serve God? Or someone/something else? We have many people and things we can choose to serve. Joshua presented it here as a life decision, and it is. But it is also a decision we must make anew each day.
    When Joshua told the people of Israel to choose whom they would serve, it was not a dispassionate question. He did not say, “Well, you need to choose a set of gods to follow. I think you should follow God, but its up to you.” No, he described all the things God had done for the Israelites, both those to whom he was speaking and their ancestors. Then he told them to serve God and God alone. Then he uttered the phrase that must have stirred the blood of the people listening, “Choose today whom you will serve…But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord!” When he uttered that line, I imagine that it was met with a loud shout from the people affirming that they too would serve the Lord. We need to confront the people we meet with their need to make a choice and we need to make sure they understand the seriousness of the choice they are about to make. But that doesn’t mean that we should not make it clear to them which choice we think they should make. We should use every bit of our ability to convince them to make the right choice.