September 1, 2015 Bible Study — We Are God’s Ambassadors

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:14

    The immoral say things which are tempting, but what they offer is a trap leading to trouble. Those who fall into such traps have already acted in ways which anger God.


Psalm 45

    This psalm could easily be advice to young couples (with most of the actual advice being addressed to the young man). The advice for the young man could also be seen as advice to those who desire to exercise government authority. In either case, seek to perform awe-inspiring deeds, but not just any such deeds. No, those deeds should defend truth, humility, and justice. If you are a young man seeking a wife, doing such deeds will attract the type of women who make a good wife. If you are someone who seeks to exercise government authority, such deeds will demonstrate that you are worthy of being granted such power. In either case, you will be blessed by God.


2 Corinthians 5:11-21

    I try to take the same attitude as Paul reveals here. Whether people see me as crazy or sane makes no difference to me (at least, I try to feel that way). If I can bring glory to God by appearing insane, then go ahead and think me crazy. On the other hand, if I can benefit others by appearing rational, I will do by best to appear rational. Either way, I want to be controlled by Christ’s love.
    Paul tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ. This is a position of great responsibility. Our actions reflect on God’s character. If we act disreputably, people will think poorly of God. On the other hand, when we live up to our role, people realize that treating us poorly is like treating God poorly. Let us live up to the responsibility God has entrusted us with. Our job is to show people how God is reconciling them, and us, to Himself.


Job 40-42

    When God answered him, Job realized that his challenges to God were wrong. He realized that his understanding was too limited to judge God. God did not rebuke Job for asking questions. God rebuked Job because he thought he had a right to understand God’s actions and to demand an explanation. When Job stood before God, he reacted with humility. Let us remember to live our entire lives with that humility.

August 31, 2015 Bible Study — I Believed, Therefore I Have Spoken

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:13

    Those who are lazy exaggerate the dangers of any particular course of action which might increase their workload. If you find yourself making up reasons not to work, you are probably lazy in the way the proverb writer uses the term.


Psalm 44:9-26

    Today’s psalm reminds us that there are times when the faithful will suffer for following God. Persecution and suffering are not always a result of unfaithfulness. There are times when God allows His people to be persecuted in order to advance His purposes. When such times come, let us rejoice that God has found us worthy of such suffering. However, we can still call on God to rescue us from such suffering.


2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10

    Paul makes an important point to start this passage. IF we believe something we will speak about that belief. If we believe the Gospel, we will tell others about it. Do you tell others about what you believe? Or are you afraid of them rejecting you because of your belief? We should fear God’s rejection more than we fear the rejection of our fellow humans.
    Paul goes on to talk about the nature of our being after death. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. We are not spirit beings who have bodies, nor are we bodies which have spirits. Our physical bodies are not inherently evil. We are not looking forward to a day when we will be pure spirit. Our desire to leave our current bodies, with their many pains and weaknesses, is not a desire to become a pure spirit. Rather it is a desire to be transformed into the heavenly bodies which God has promised us.


Job 37-39

    Elihu finishes up his rebuke of Job by pointing out how little we understand about how God’s creation works. Elihu goes onto point out that even if we understood how things like the weather work, we would still be far from being able to control it. Finally, he points out that we cannot even look directly at the Sun. How much less are we able to look directly at God?
    Then God replies to Job. God’s monologue reminds me of what Ken Ham says regarding those who proclaim that Genesis does not accurately describe the creation of this Universe, “How do you know? Were you there? Did you see it happen?” God’s response to Job is essentially that and a little more. How can we hope to understand and judge God’s actions when there is so many things we do not know or understand about this world? There is too much in this world that we do not know or understand that we cannot begin to comprehend the reasons and justifications for everything we experience. Our limited, finite minds are unable to fully grasp the complexities involved in the decisions which God makes.

August 30. 2015 Bible Study — Letting God’s Light Shine Through Us

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:10-12

    It is those who mock others who generate the insults and quarrels in a group. Get rid of them and the hostilities within the group will vanish.


Psalm 44:1-8

    It is not by strength of arms that a nation arises, rather it is by the will of God. We will not gain victory through our own efforts. Success only comes about through the hand of God. If God does not give us victory over our enemies, we will go down to defeat. I will trust in God, not in my own ability.


2 Corinthians 4:1-12

    Paul makes an important point here. It is counterproductive to attempt to spread the Gospel with deceptive methods, or to distort the message so as to avoid unpleasant truths (or to distort it for any other reason). If some people are going to misunderstand, or fail to get a clear understanding of, the Gospel let it be because they allowed the spirits of this age, the mavens of “modern” culture, to blind them to the truth. Paul teaches us to make it clear that the Gospel is not about how wonderful we are. Rather it is about how wonderful God is. The truth of the matter, which we must constantly strive to communicate, is that we are flawed and broken vessels conveying the light and truth of God. The Gospel message is not about how much better we are than others, it is about how God can use even someone as flawed as myself. The power and joy of the Gospel comes not from us, but from God.


Job 34-36

    I struggle with Elihu’s monologue because while he was not rebuked by God he echoes some of the things said by Job’s other friends (at least, as I read it), who were. However, there are several points which Elihu makes which I do not struggle with:

  • God does not sin. He can do no wrong.
  • God loves justice and hates injustice.
  • God sees everything we do. Nothing can hide our acts, wicked or good, from God.
  • God hears the cries of the needy.
  • Our sins do not affect God. Our good deeds do not benefit Him.
  • That does not mean that He does not care.
  • God will bring justice, if we are patient and wait for His time.
  • God is greater than we can understand.

There is more in this passage of which it is worth taking note, but you can read it for yourself. I do not need to copy it all out here.

August 29, 2015 Bible Study — Our Competence Comes From God

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:8-9

    The proverb writer tells us that those who plant injustice will harvest disaster. Looking at the world around me, I realized that the writer does not just mean those who deliver injustice to others. He also means those who use the perception of injustice to raise themselves to power.
    The more interesting proverb to me is the second one. He tells us that those who are generous are blessed, but not because of something they receive. No, they are blessed because they feed the poor. The blessing is the act. We do not help the poor because God will reward us. Helping the poor is the reward for helping the poor.


Psalm 43

    In some ways I hate to bring this up because I have never suffered depression. I know it is simple to say this and hard to do, but in verse 5 the psalmist tells us the place to start to defeat depression:

Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

The first step to overcoming depression is putting your hope in God and praising Him. I know that when I begin to feel sad and worried by the issues of life, if I turn to God in prayer and begin singing praises to Him, the clouds soon lift.


2 Corinthians 3

    Paul makes a point in today’s passage. As Christians we should be confident in serving God. Our confidence does not come from faith in our own ability. On the contrary, we need to recognize that we are not, in ourselves, competent to do God’s will, let alone excel at it. Rather, our confidence comes from our faith in God. God will provide us with the ability to do His will. When we are doing what God desires we will find that He gives us skills and abilities we never had before.
    As we allow God to provide us with the abilities to do His will, as we contemplate God’s glory by listening to His Spirit, God transforms us, bit by bit, into His likeness. The goal of all of our actions is to become more like Christ, which is to become more like God. We study Jesus in order to become more like Him.


Job 31-33

    We can learn a lot by looking at the list of things Job of which Job proclaims he is not guilty. They are things which he declares are worthy of judgment. First on that list are the twin sins of lies and deceit. This is followed by lust and sexual sins. I could go with his list because it is instructive. There are both sins of commission and sins of omission on that list. It is worth studying how our lives match up to this list. We may never have actively oppressed the poor, but have we helped them? We may not have profited from the misfortune of widows and orphans, but have we done all that we can to aid them?
    A fourth friend of Job, Elihu, speaks up now. He is younger than the rest, yet he is the only man who speaks in the book of Job who is not rebuked by God. Elihu tells us that Job is wrong to claim that God does not respond to people’s complaints. God speaks time and again, but people do not listen. When we do not hear God, it is not because God is not speaking. It is because we do not like what He is saying. If we listen to what God is telling us and turn to Him, He will give us joy, even in the midst of what others would see as suffering.

August 28, 2015 Bible Study–Let Us Be a Fragrance Before God

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:7

    If you borrow money, you end up enslaved to the lender. Stay out of debt so that you serve only the Lord. If you find yourself in debt, pay it off as fast as you can so that you can free yourself to serve only the Lord.


Psalm 42

    Do I, do you, long for God in the manner in which deer long for water? Deer desire water in such a way that predators often wait by watering holes for them to come get water. Of course that is because the deer must have water in order to survive. Do we need God in order to survive? Do we understand that we do?
    The psalmist gives us a reference which leads to another question for us to ask ourselves. His heart was breaking as he remembered a time when he gathered with God’s worshipers, singing for joy and giving thanks to God. Do we remember such times? If such times are in our past, but nor our present, why not? If you live in the U.S., there are almost certainly such gatherings going on near you. Join them and gain joy. Finally, the psalmist reminds us that we do not need to be sad and discouraged. Let us put our hope and faith in God. If we do so and praise His name, we will find our joy restored.


2 Corinthians 2:12-17

    Reading this, I think about Paul’s metaphor of our lives being a fragrance rising up to God. When you smell pleasant odors you, generally, do not initially know where they come from. In the same way, others will not be exactly sure why they like, or dislike, us (more on that in a moment). They will just sense something about us. Paul tells us that, if we are serving God, those who are believers will find that pleasant (even if they are not quite sure what it is at the moment). However, those who are refusing to accept Christ will find that service unpleasant, similar to the smell of something dead. This is an important point to remember. We should strive to befriend the unbelievers in our lives, but despite our best efforts, if we are faithful many of them will find us unpleasant to be around.


Job 28-30

    Job spends some time discussing how ingenious and industrious mankind is at finding metals and gems which we value. Yet, he tells us that no one knows where to find wisdom. He tells us that only God knows where to find wisdom. Job then tells us how we too can find wisdom. Wisdom is found in fear of the Lord and forsaking evil demonstrates understanding.

August 27, 2015 Bible Study — Necessary To Forgive Those Who Repent

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:5-6

    The actions of the wicked expose them to dangers and obstacles. If you desire a long life you will avoid them and their plans. Show your children the right way to live when they are young and they will live their entire lives that way.


Psalm 41

    I really needed to read both the NLT and the NIV translations of this psalm in order to get a fully formed idea of what it meant to me today. Those who are kind to the poor and help the weak will be blessed by God. God will protect them and people will see them as the justly blessed. Even if we have sinned against God, He will forgive us and bless us when we turn to Him and help the poor and weak.


2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11

    Paul starts out today’s passage by stressing that there is no need, and no benefit, to read between the lines of what he writes. He did not write his letters intending to convey a hidden message, nor did he intend to write something that went over their heads. He was confident that they could, and would, understand what he wrote.
    Paul then addresses the issue of what to do about the man about whom he had written in the previous letter. In the first letter Paul had told the Corinthian believers that they should cast the man out of their company for his sins. In this passage, he tells them that now that the man has repented of his sins, the Church should forgive him and welcome him back. This is an important second part to Church discipline. We need to be ready and eager to forgive and welcome back those who have repented of their sins. In the previous letter the key problem was the failure to recognize that their was anything wrong with sinful behavior. Here the key is the willingness to admit that his actions were wrong and seeking forgiveness.


Job 23-27

    I always struggle when I get to this point in Job because the arguments from both sides have run their course. Job’s friends insist that he must be guilty of some heinous sin. Job insists that he is not. In today’s passage, Job agrees with his friends that God will judge the wicked, even if it sometimes seems as if they suffer no harm. Job points out that everyone dies, but the wicked have no hope, no comfort, when their fate befalls them. The righteous, on the other hand, can take comfort from God, even in their suffering.

August 26, 2015 Bible Study — Thanking God For Our Suffering

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:2-4

    No matter how different we are from each other we all have at least one thing in common. We owe our existence to God. Since God has made us all, I cannot consider myself better than someone else, nor can I consider them to be better than me.


Psalm 40:11-17

    This psalm is a great prayer for times of trouble. Those who search for God will indeed be filled with joy. If we remember that, when it comes to God, we are indeed poor and needy. We desperately need His love and care.


2 Corinthians 1:1-11

    Paul expresses an attitude towards suffering that we should strive to make our own. First, he is grateful for his suffering because God comforted him while he was going through it, teaching him how to comfort others as they suffer. Let us patiently endure the suffering we experience, so that we can be an example to others. God will offer us comfort as we go through these things. Additionally, Paul was grateful for his suffering because it taught him not to rely on himself, but rather to fully rely on God. Let us work to fully rely on God, recognizing how our troubles force us to give up our pretensions at being able to control our lives. Let us learn to be thankful to God for our suffering.


Job 20-22

    Zophar told Job that the wicked always suffer in this life, or if they do not, their children will. This is certainly something we would like to believe, but it is not always true. Job points this out, that we do not always see the wicked suffer. Often times, as far as we can tell, the wicked are rewarded for their wickedness. The wicked are even sometimes honored in death.
    All of which leads Eliphaz to offer a list of sins which he is sure that Job has committed one or more of. Job’s friends refuse to consider the possibility that his suffering might serve some purpose other than punishing him.

August 25, 2015 Bible Study — I Know That My Redeemer Lives, And He Will Stand Upon the Earth at Last.

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 22:1

    You will be better off if people think well of you than if you have great riches. Choose a life of integrity where people know that you stand by your word rather than a life of wealth and power. You will have more happiness and contentment as a result of the former than from the latter.


Psalm 40:1-10

    God does not desire our sacrifices or our offerings. He desires that we do His will. We have nothing with which we can buy His favor, because all that we have was given to us by Him in the first place. It is only by following His law that we can find true joy. If we seek to do His will and to serve Him, we will find His instructions written on our hearts.


1 Corinthians 16

    Paul here gives good advice about setting aside some of our money in order to help others. We should not plan on waiting until some future time to gather up money in order to do God’s work. Rather each time we receive payment for our work, we should put some aside for God, whether that is donating it to the Church or setting up a special account. If we leave the money in our general account we will soon find that we have spent it on other things.


Job 16-19

    The passage continues to point out that it is neither helpful, nor right, to judge someone as guilty of heinous crimes solely because they are suffering. The fact that someone is suffering is NOT evidence that they have done wrong. Despite Job asking for a stronger argument, Bildad still repeats the accusation based on nothing more than Job’s suffering. Let us not make the same mistake. Let us remember not to judge someone as wicked simply because they are suffering.
    Job continues to express his deep despair, condemned by his closest friends for sins he has not committed. Then he makes one of the most beautiful statements of faith, one that brings tears to my eyes:

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!

There is a wonderful hymn based on this passage that I think I want sung at my funeral. This verse is one we should always keep in mind when we consider those believers who have died. There is a resurrection and they will see God in their bodies, even though they have died.

August 24, 2015 Bible Study

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 21:30-31

    No matter how smart, wise, and knowledgeable you are, if you make plans which run counter to God’s plans they will fail. No matter how well prepared you are, you will only succeed if God ordains it to be so.


Psalm 39

    We often sin by what we say, especially what we say when in the presence of those who do not love the Lord. However, the answer is not keeping quiet, it is not failing to respond to the provocations of the wicked. No, the answer is to acknowledge our sin and turn to the Lord. The way to avoid sinning by what we say is to ask God to guide our words and acknowledge that we will not live long enough to have all of the answers (or even most of them). Let us remember that we are but travelers passing through this life. It is not our home.


1 Corinthians 15:29-58

    Paul continues his argument in favor of the idea that there will be a resurrection of the dead. Actually, Paul’s argument is more than that; he is arguing that there is more to life than just the material world, that our existence does not end with our death. If our existence ends with our death, than there is no reason why we should not do whatever brings us pleasure. The belief that our existence ends with our death is what led to the Columbine shootings and many other mass murders.
    One of the arguments made against the resurrection of the dead is the nature of our bodies. The argument is a many faceted one, including such things as, “But what about people whose bodies are destroyed (either through cremation, or being eaten by wild animals, or some other means)?” Paul’s answer is simple. The natural body we wear in this life is not the same as the body we will wear in eternity. Our bodies will be transformed by God into something suitable for eternity. It is beyond our ability to comprehend what those bodies will be like, but we can begin to understand what it will be like by looking at the way a seed is transformed into a new plant.


Job 12-15

    Job reacts to his friends arguments by pointing out that they are no better than he, which highlights an important thing to remember when we seek to comfort those who are suffering. We are not offering comfort when we speak and/or act as if we are somehow better than those we are attempting to comfort. It is important that we remember that sometimes only God can provide answers as to why someone is suffering, sometimes only God can offer comfort to those who are in pain. If we do not have specific examples of how a person has sinned, we should not accuse them of being a sinner. If they have sinned in secret, God will know and convict them.

August 23, 2015 Bible Study — The Material Is Not All That There Is

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 21:28-29

    Once you have a reputation for lying no one will listen to what you say, no matter what evidence you provide. On the other hand, those with a reputation for telling the truth will be listened to carefully, no matter how unlikely the story they tell. The wicked think they can fake their way through everything. The virtuous make a plan before taking action.


Psalm 38

    The beginning of this psalm represents how we should feel after we have sinned. The ending of this psalm should be how we face those who oppose us. We should act so that they do not have reason to hate us, knowing they will do so anyway. It is for God to answer their attacks. We do not need to strike them down for their evil. Let us turn to God, remembering that if we repent from our sins, He will defend us from the attacks of those who hate us.


1 Corinthians 15:1-28

    There are two aspects to this passage. First, Paul makes the argument as to why it is not ridiculous to believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead. Paul tells us that our risen Lord was seen by a large number of people, including himself. It is an argument for why it is rational to believe the New Testament account of Jesus. I will not go into a lot of detail on that today, a much better job is done elsewhere (“The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel being one of my favorites). However, one of the arguments I want to address. I am often asked why there are no accounts of Jesus’ life from non-believers. My answer to that is this; if you witnessed what Jesus did and recognized the significance of His actions, how could you remain a non-believer? Or, looking at it from the other side, if you were a non-believer, why would you think His actions were of any significance?
    Paul goes on to argue against those who say that there is no resurrection of the dead, that the Gospel message is about this life and nothing more. Paul points out that if there is no resurrection of the dead, than Christ did not rise from the dead. If Christ did not rise from the dead, than all of Paul’s teachings (and the teachings of the rest of the Church) were based on lies. Which would mean that the Gospel itself is based on a lie and thus a lie. Either Christ rose from the dead, and those who follow Him will be raised from the dead, or the entirety of Christian teaching is worthless. Either there is more to this world than the material, or nothing has any meaning whatsoever.


Job 8-11

    Reading the book of Job is always a struggle. Job’s friends say some things which resonate with us as true. Yet, in the end God tells them they were wrong. In today’s passage both Bildad and Zophar assume that Job must have sinned because he is suffering. They assume that because he is suffering, he must be guilty. While it is true that if we are suffering we should examine our lives to see if we have done anything to cause that suffering, it is also true that we should not assume that because someone is suffering they must have done something to bring that suffering about.
    Job’s speech in this passage is an important one to take note of. Job tells us that while God carefully formed us for a purpose, this life is hard, even if we do the right things. There is punishment for doing wrong, but the reward for doing right is more work. When we look at this life from the perspective of this world, with the idea that the material is all that there is, it is depressing. What is the point?