December 1, 2015 Bible Study — Those Who Know God Obey God

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:25-26

    Greedy people strive to profit from conflicts and wars, doing everything they can to make them worse so that they can gain from others misfortune. However, those who trust God, and therefore follow His commands, will prosper in the long run.


Psalm 120

    Take your troubles to the Lord. Cry out to Him in prayer and He will answer you. Be honest even when those around you are deceitful and God will rescue you. Search for peace even when those among whom you live seek violence and war.


1 John 2:1-17

    The writer wrote this letter to teach us how to not sin. However, he points out that if we do sin, we have an advocate who will plead our case before God. That advocate is Jesus Christ. It does us no good to have an advocate with God if we do not know God. The writer tells us that everyone who knows God will obey God’s commands (perhaps intermittently, but obey nonetheless). The key command is both new and old. This new and old command is that we love one another. The command to love one another is old because it goes back to Moses and before. On the other hand it is new because Jesus gave us an example of what it means to live following it.
    The writer goes on to write that if we live in God’s light(returning to the theme he introduced in yesterday’s passage) we will not love this world or the things which it offers. The world offers only selfish pleasures, while God offers us the opportunity to help and serve others. Rather than seek after the pleasures of this world in an effort to please ourselves, let us do those things which please God.


Daniel 8

    In today’s passage, Daniel describes another vision. In this vision, he saw the fall of the Persian Empire to Alexander the Great and the divide of Alexander’s Empire into four pieces. It is explained to Daniel that a ruler will rise over one of those pieces who will dominate those around him and commit sacrilege against the Temple and God. That final ruler will be brought down by the power of God. While most of this vision is concerning the things which happened from the fall of the Persian Empire until the rise of the Roman Empire, there is a lesson here for us to note. Rulers will arise who believe they have the power to take on God and His people. They may have success for a short time, but God will always triumph.

November 30, 2015 Bible Study — God Is Light

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:23-24

    In the long run people like those who give them honest criticism to those who flatter them. If you tell me what I am doing wrong/what I do that you do not like, I can change it. If you tell me I am wonderful, it will never occur to me that some of my actions may have results I will not like.


Psalm 119:153-176

    If we truly love God’s word and follow His instructions, He will take our side and argue our case. If we follow God’s commands they will lead us down a path to joy. He will rescue us so that we can praise His name and teach others His commands.


1 John 1

    God is light and therefore sin cannot be hidden in His presence. As a result, the more we are in His presence the more aware we will be of our sinfulness. Claiming to be without sin is evidence that we are completely separated from God. On the other hand, if we are in God’s presence we will have no choice but to confess our sins. In that case, God will forgive our sins and His purity will cleanse us of those sins one by one until we have been cleansed of all wickedness.


Daniel 7

    This passage describes a vision which Daniel had where he saw four beasts. The four beasts represented four kingdoms which would arise on the earth. I have always understood these four kingdoms to be successive kingdoms each one following the previous. However, I realized reading this today that nowhere in this passage does it say that the four kingdoms were not at the same time. I am not sure what the significance of this insight is.
    The most important aspect of this vision is the appearance of “someone like a son of man.” This person is Christ, who is given authority over every race, nation, and people on the earth. He will be given a kingdom which is eternal. All power will be taken from even the most terrifying of earthly governments and they will be made subject to Christ. There is more to this vision than that, but if we remember that ultimately Christ will be ruler over all it does not matter if we get the rest wrong.

November 29, 2015 Bible Study — Be Prepared

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:21-22

    Some people are stingy out of a desire to grow rich. Such people are poor, even if they accumulate great wealth (because they only ever spend their wealth grudgingly).


Psalm 119:129-152

    The psalmist continues to make clear the benefits of following God’s word. He reminds us that God’s word is clear, so that even the simple can understand it (often, the simple find it easier to understand God’s word than those who think they are bright). God’s laws are always right…if you think differently it is you who are mistaken.


2 Peter 3

    Peter tells us that people will mock God’s truth, asking why it is taking so long for Jesus to return. However, there are two things which those scoffers do not understand. First, God’s perception of time is different than ours. Many people try to use Peter’s statement that, “A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day,” to apply to prophesies in the Bible, but when they are doing so they are missing the point. The point is that God does not distinguish between years and days. The point is, no matter how we try to figure it out, the day of Jesus’ return will not be known until it arrives. We need to be prepared for every day to be THAT day.
    The second thing which the scoffers do not understand is that God has delayed Jesus’ return because He is patient. He is delaying THAT day in order to give more people the opportunity to respond to the Gospel message. It is up to us not to waste the time which God has given to us. We need to use this time to preach the Gospel to as many people as we can.


Daniel 6

    Those who were jealous of Daniel got a law passed which targeted his religious practices. A law which Daniel could not obey and remain true to God. Daniel had three choices. He flat out rejected the first, which was to abandon his faith. His second choice was to take his faith underground and only pray in secret. His third choice, and the one he took, was to continue his practice of praying openly. It is worth noting that he neither hid his practices, nor did he flaunt them in front of everyone. His enemies needed to seek out evidence of his “crime”, but he made no effort to hide it.
    I think it is worth examining the second option a little bit. There have been times when people of faith have followed that option. However, in most of those cases, they were people who came to faith AFTER the faith had been made illegal. Daniel, on the other hand, was a prominent person of whom it was well-known that he was a person of faith. If he had hidden his prayer times, others would have taken it to mean that he had set aside his faith. This passage is a call to some of us to stand up in the face of persecution and declare our faith. It is a reminder that when we do so, God is capable of rescuing us from the punishment which the persecutors intend to deliver. More importantly, if we publicly display our faith in the face of threats of persecution we will show others that God matters more to us than anything else.

November 28, 2015 Bible Study — Recognizing False Teachers

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:19-20

    The hard worker will have enough to eat and the person who is trustworthy will be richly rewarded, but those who seek a shortcut to success will end badly.


Psalm 119:113-128

    I will dedicate myself to obeying God. In order to do so I must stay away from those who halfheartedly follow his commands. I will meditate on God’s decrees and instructions. If we do what is right and just we have no need to tremble in fear of our enemies. If we faithfully serve God, He will teach us His decrees and deal with us from His unfailing love. I will love God’s commands more than wealth, or fame. God’s commands are right and every other way is false.


2 Peter 2

    Peter warns us against false teachers and gives us information on how to recognize them. They are greedy and sexually immoral (note how Peter links these two types of sin, just as Paul does). They make up lies in order to get people to give them their money. They brag about themselves…and if you look closely at what they are bragging about there is nothing to it. False teachers use sexual immorality to lure in the unstable, trapping those who were just beginning to escape from a life of sin. They are arrogant and scoff at the supernatural, claiming to have the power to compel demons. They refuse to acknowledge the sin in their own lives while joining in “fellowship” with believers and calling for “unity” (by which they mean not calling attention to their sins, while they call attention to yours). It is worth noting that we should both avoid false teachers and watch out for signs that we are exhibiting some of the characteristics of false teachers.


Daniel 5

    This is the passage from which we get the idiom, “read the writing on the wall.” The main point of this passage is that by the time the writing on the wall appeared it was too late to do anything about the coming doom. The people at the banquet knew their history, but paid no attention to it. They arrogantly thought that they were in control of their own destiny, when their predecessors who had built the empire they controlled had been forced to acknowledge a Power greater than themselves. If we have not learned the lessons of history and turned to God before the writing on the wall appears, it will be too late. Not only will it be too late, but we will not understand the writing on the wall when it appears either.

November 27, 2015 Bible Study — Faith Leads to Knowledge Which Leads to Love

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:17-18

    A guilty conscience will drive people to the grave, there is no benefit in convincing them not to feel the guilt. Those who live a blameless life will escape the consequences of a guilty conscience, but those who revel in perversity will be swallowed by them.


Psalm 119:97-112

    If we think about God’s instructions and follow them to the best of our ability, they will make us wiser than our enemies. God’s commands will give us understanding and show us how all other ways of life are false paths which lead to sorrow. God’s word will provide us light in a dark world so that we can walk without stumbling. Let us keep God’s decrees to the very end of our lives.


2 Peter 1

    Every time I read this passage I am struck by the order in which Peter says that our lives should be built. Perhaps “built” is the wrong word. The base of living as servants of God is faith. Without faith, none of the rest matters, or is even possible. The next step, or layer, is goodness. Once we have faith we need to try to be good as best we understand what that means. As we try to be good, God will reveal more to us, giving us knowledge of what it means to do His will, and to do good. The knowledge God gives us will reveal to us the necessity of self-control. If we make the effort to develop self-control it will teach us to persevere in the face of suffering. As we persevere, we will develop godliness (which is goodness based on God’s standards rather than human standards). Godliness will teach us to act with love towards those who love us (even if they do not always show it). As we master the art of mutual affection in the face of difficulties we will discover the ability, and need, to love everyone, even those who do not return that love.
    Peter reminds us that this is not a once and done process. It is an ongoing process which continues as long as we live with each of these feeding the others. Faith will cause us to desire to be good. Working at being good will teach us more about what God desires. Applying that knowledge will lead to self-control. Self-control will teach us to persevere. Perseverance will lead us to godliness (which is similar to goodness, except that it recognizes that sometimes it is another’s interest for us to do something they will not like). Godliness leads us to have mutual affection for those around us (generally, our fellow believers). Mutual affection matures into love for all. Each step along the way increases our faith, which allows us to build up each of the levels above that. Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that you cannot truly have the level above without the one Peter lists before it. You will not develop true love for everyone if you do not have sufficient knowledge. You will not learn knowledge which will lead to love if you have not worked at being good to the best of your understanding.


Daniel 4

    Nebuchadnezzar had another dream. This dream warned him against hubris, against believing that he was in complete control of his own destiny. This passage is a warning to each and every person today. No matter how great your accomplishments, they can all be stripped away from you in a moment. It is only by acknowledging that it is God who controls our fate that we can avoid being brought low and ending our lives in misery. Those who have great success in this life are the most likely to fall into this trap. Those most likely to make this mistake are those who think they are too smart and too wise to listen to anyone’s advice. The fate laid out in this passage is the fate waiting for those who believe they know more about finances than their financial advisers and more about people than their personnel advisers. Very few who suffer this fate ever repent and acknowledge God as Nebuchadnezzar did.

November 26, 2015 Bible Study — Using The Gifts Which God Has Given Us

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:15-16

    A wicked ruler is a greater danger to the poor than wild animals. The second proverb reminds us that evil rulers do not truly understand how things work. Mistreating and oppressing the poor shows that a ruler lacks wisdom.


Psalm 119:81-96

    Continue to be faithful to following God’s laws even when it seems like you have waited beyond reason. There are many who will threaten and persecute us for obeying God’s commands, but if we remain faithful God will reward us. God’s rules and regulations remain as true today as they were in the past. They do not need to be changed to keep up with the times.


1 Peter 4:7-5:14

    God has given each and every one of us various gifts. Whatever our abilities are, whether physical abilities, mental abilities, social abilities, or some other category of ability, they are a gift from God given to us to allow us to serve our fellow believers. I will strive to always remember this and look for ways to use my gifts to serve others. Let us use the strength and energy which God supplies to us to use His gifts to help and uplift others.
    We will face insults and persecution for following Christ. We should not be surprised, nor should we complain about this. Instead we should be glad that we are deemed worthy of such abuse because it allows us to share in Christ’s suffering, even if in only a minor degree. However, while we should not seek to avoid such suffering. we should also not act in a manner calculated to increase the suffering which we experience. Trials will come our way if we are faithful, we do not need to seek them out. I want to be very careful how I word this because there are two errors which believers have made. Some believers have compromised their faith in order to minimize the suffering which they experience. The problem with attempting this is that it is not truly possible without giving up that which makes the faith of any value. The opposite error are those who make trouble and otherwise act in ways designed to get the authorities and the crowd to persecute them. This is also wrong. We are not called to seek out suffering and doing so brings dishonor to God’s name. If we live faithfully, always seeking to serve God, the suffering which Peter speaks of here will find us to one degree or another.


Daniel 2:24-3:30

    When Daniel went before the king to reveal the meaning of his dream he made it clear that he was not offering the answer from his own skill and knowledge. Daniel was careful to explain to the king that he was only able to provide the king an answer because God gave him that answer. Daniel made it clear that he was not smarter, wiser, or anyway more skilled than the king’s other advisers. This is a challenge we all face. My successes and accomplishments are not because I am better than others, they are a result of God’s choosing to give me certain gifts. Sometimes, as in this story, they will be a matter of divine revelation and/or intervention. Other times, they will be the result of carefully cultivating the gifts which God has given me. And still other times they will be a combination of the two. In all cases, let us give credit where credit is due, which is to God for giving us the gift in the first place.

November 25, 2015 Bible Study — Repay Evil With Good and Insults With Blessings

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:14

    Those who fear to do wrong will be blessed, but those who stubbornly refuse to do what is right will end up with more trouble than they know what to do with.


Psalm 119:65-80

    If we follow God’s commands they will teach us what we need to know and how to make good decisions. If we wish to do good, we must learn from God because He is the only source from which we may learn goodness. If we are willing, He will discipline us until we learn to stay true to His path. God created us, surely He knows what we should do to fulfill our potential. I will do as He says because He knows what will bring me joy.


1 Peter 3:8-4:6

    Rather than repay evil with evil and insult with insult, seek how you can bless those who insult you or do evil to you. This is harder than it seems (as I am sure you are aware), but God will bless us if we do so. If you are always seeking to do good for those around you there are few who will desire to bring you harm. Even if someone does desire to bring you harm because of doing good, God will bless you. Therefore we do not need to fear when others threaten us for doing good.
    When others ask why we do what we do and have the hope let us be prepared to explain our actions. There is no reason to do so in a defensive or accusatory manner. Instead, let us explain our actions in a humble and gentle manner. To bring that home, when I explain why I am faithful to my wife to a philanderer I should be careful not to draw a contrast to his actions. I do not wish to condemn others through my example. I wish to show them the joy they can have by choosing to also follow God’s commands. If we are gentle and respectful in our actions and statements, God’s Spirit will use us to convict others to turn from their sins. If we live as we ought, those who speak against us because of our faith will be ashamed of themselves when they witness the type of lives we live.


Daniel 1:1-2:23

    When Daniel and his friends rejected the food which the Babylonians offered them they did not do so because they knew the diet they preferred would make them healthier and more able to master their studies. They chose to take a stand because they believed that doing so was God’s will for them. On the other hand, they also believed that God would not have commanded such a diet if it was less healthy than the one they were rejecting. We can be confident that obeying God will be in our best interest, just as it was here for Daniel and his friends.

November 24, 2015 Bible Study — Submit To Authority

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:12-13

    Everyone does well and is happy when the godly are successful and things are run according to their ideals. On the other hand, everyone flees and/or hides when the wicked are running the government. This provides us a good way to measure our government. The closer its laws (and the enforcement thereof) resembles God’s ideal, the more prosperous its people will be. The farther from God’s ideal the government is, the more wicked it is, the more dangerous things are for the common people.


Psalm 119:49-64

    The proud will hold us in contempt for following God’s instructions, I will not allow that to cause me to stop. Evil people will try to cause us to sin, but they will fail if we are anchored in God’s word. So, set your anchor by reading His word daily.


1 Peter 2:11-3:7

    This world is not our home, let us live as transients who are merely passing through. However, let us live among our unbelieving neighbors in such a manner that they give honor to God. Let us submit to those who have authority over us, so long as it does not cause us to violate God’s law. God has given us freedom, but that is no excuse to do evil. God has called us to do good, even when it leads to suffering. We should submit to those with authority over us, even when they mistreat and abuse us. However, if we are in a position of authority over others we should treat them as our equals, because they are.


Ezekiel 47-48

    Ezekiel’s description of his vision of the Temple has the type of detail which makes it seem like something that will literally happen. Until He gets to this passage where he describes the river of life which he saw flowing out of the Temple. From here to the end of the book, his descriptions seem to include numbers which carry significance, although I do not understand the significance of those numbers. However, there is an aspect of Ezekiel’s description of the river which does convey meaning to me. There flows out of Jerusalem a river which brings life and healing to all whom it touches. That river springs from Jesus Christ. It provides healing and sustenance to those who accept that He is the new High Priest who has sacrificed Himself for our salvation.

November 23, 2015 Bible Study

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:11

    The rich often think that their wealth indicates that they are wiser than others who are poorer. They are mistaken.


Psalm 119:33-48

    As we do what we understand about God’s directions for us He will reveal more to us, so that we understand His will better with each passing day. On the other hand, when we know what God wants us to do and fail to do it, we will gradually become less able to discern what He desires of us. There are a series of points in this psalm I want to highlight:

  • Make more eager to do God’s will than to acquire money
  • My sinful ways are shameful, only with God’s help will I be able to abandon them
  • It is only by doing as God instructs that we can be free

Oh Lord, guide me in doing Your will and help me to cease each and every one of the sins which plague me.


1 Peter 1:13-2:10

    Peter reminds us to live obedient to God and avoid slipping into living our lives for our own pleasure. Living for ourselves is an empty life with no meaning or purpose. Peter tells us how to live a life with meaning and purpose. Love each other with deeply and with sincerity. Rather than living our lives for our own pleasure, let us seek to bring joy and peace to those around us. We were cleansed of our sins, so let us put them behind us and embrace the new life into which we have been born.
    God wishes to use us as living stones to build His Temple of this new covenant He has made with mankind. If we are going to be part of this Temple, we need to allow God’s Spirit to chisel off of us all of our evil behavior: deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and unkind speech (all sins involve one or more of these to varying degrees).


Ezekiel 45:13-46:24

    I continue to struggle with the meaning of this section of Ezekiel. However, there is one point which I take out of this. Those in positions of authority who gather funds from those over whom they have authority have an obligation to use those funds to further God’s purposes on this earth.

November 22, 2015 Bible Study — Trials Show That Our Faith Is Genuine

For today, One Year Bible Online links here.


Proverbs 28:8-10

    If you refuse to follow God’s instructions, praying will not help you. There is actually more packed into that statement than is obvious. Often times, God’s answer to our prayer is revealed, sometimes even brought about, by our following His instructions.


Psalm 119:17-32

    I will seek God’s favor so that I can serve Him. The more we follow God’s instructions the more clearly we see and understand them. If we obey God despite those who scorn and insult us for doing so, God will force them to respect us. As we follow God’s commands we will discover that they were the wise course of action, even when it appeared otherwise at the time. The biggest challenge to obeying God is our tendency to lie to ourselves. If we are faithful, God will reveal those lies to us and show us how to be true to ourselves and others.


1 Peter 1:1-12

    It is by God’s grace that we have received the faith which leads to His salvation. That salvation is waiting for us in heaven where it cannot be corrupted, nor can it decay. God’s power will protect us by supporting our faith, even in the face of suffering and persecution. The end will be wonderful joy in God’s presence. We will endure various trials and tests in this life that will test and purify our faith, showing that it is genuine. These trials will purify our faith in much the same way that fire purifies gold. They will cause the impurities in our lives to be exposed so that we can allow God to remove them from us. Therefore let us embrace these trials and tests so that God may further purify us.


Ezekiel 44:1-45:12

    I continue to struggle with the meaning for us today of Ezekiel’s detailed description and instructions for the new Temple which will be built after the Exile (is this the Temple described in Nehemiah? Herod’s Temple? Or one yet to come?). However, the instructions for the priests reminds us that those who are called to be spiritual leaders among us must be of the highest character. If you answer the call to be a spiritual leader, or even desire such an office, you must hold yourself to a higher moral standard than that to which you would hold anyone else. This actually makes a good rule for us to follow, even if we do not desire, or feel called to, a position of spiritual leadership. We should hold ourselves to a higher moral standard than the one to which we hold others.