Sunday, January 31, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 31, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 30, Genesis 27:41‐28:9, 2 Chronicles 4, Luke 20:45‐21:38

Psalm 30 –
What is the most down you’ve ever been? If you are a human being, and I am assuming if you are reading this blog you are :), then you have had periods of time that you are discouraged, upset, or downright depressed.

Life includes a series of good days and bad days. When we are stuck in the bad days, we can find ourselves wondering if the good ones will ever come again. Psalm 30 includes timeless truth for those who struggle with depression. Our God is a God who loves to turn mourning into dancing. He is a God that can take the worst days and turn them into the best.

Two verses I want to highlight here.

Verse five says, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Verse eleven says, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,”

That is the power of Christ in us. When we struggle, it’s important to ask, “Why?” Is our struggle our doing, God’s doing, or someone or something else’s doing? If it’s our doing, then confess it. God is a God of grace. Our weeping may last for a night, but rejoicing will come in the morning.

If it is God’s doing, remember that God is sovereign and good. His plans for us remain good. They are greater than our plans are for ourselves. Trust.

If the pain is coming from someone or something else, remember that God is greater than any force, person, or situation that can come into our lives. He will take care of us. One day, our mourning will turn into dancing.

Genesis 27:41-28:9 – The drama in the life of the family of Isaac and Rebekah continues in this section. Isaac is close to death when Esau determines in his heart that he will kill his brother upon Isaac’s death. Rebekah hears of Esau’s plan and sends Jacob to live with his uncle Laban. She tells Isaac how displeased she is at the Hittite women that Esau had married. She commands Jacob to marry a woman from Laban’s homeland.

When Esau gets wind of this, he realizes that his choice of wives must have displeased his father. So, he added a third wife. This time he marries the daughter of Ishmael, the son of Abraham. Therefore, he marries his cousin.

2 Chronicles 4 – This chapter speaks of all of the temple furnishings that Solomon and Huram-Abi made for the temple. So many items needed to be constructed for temple worship. I’m constantly stuck at the detail that went into the temple and the worship of Jehovah. There were such incredible preparations that went into worshipping God. I wonder if we have lost something in our 21st century worship of God. Have we lost some of the wonder and awe with which the people approached the LORD.

Luke 20:45-21:38 – There are three distinct events that are recorded in this section of Scripture. The first is a teaching that Jesus gave regarding the religious leaders of that day. He warned those listening to him to be careful about those that they were holding up as being godly men. Many of these religious leaders were just making a show of their love for God. They worshipped God publicly, but they had hearts that were far from God. They were living their lives for the praise of men, not the honor of God.

As a religious leader (a pastor), I am constantly questioning my motives. Why do I pray the way I do, speak the way I do, act the way I do? Am I doing my “job” for God’s glory or mine? Any time I get in the way, I am ineffective. We need to be a people that live for His renown.

The second event was the offering that a widow gave at the temple. She was poor and gave the modern equivalent of a few cents. There were others who gave much larger gifts. Their gifts were presented in front of men, with great pomp and circumstance. These people, according to Jesus had received their reward in full. The widow’s gift was greater than that of those who made great show of their gifts. She gave out of a heart of love and true sacrifice. The others gave to make a show. We need to examine our motives in giving to Christ.

Finally, Jesus gave his listeners signs of the end of the age in this passage. It’s one of the most famous passages in all of Scripture dedicated to what the world will look like when Christ returns. I remember listening to a pastor recently who said, “The world has never looked more like the world that Jesus said He would return to than the world we live in today.”

As you read this passage, what are some things that stick out to you about the days that Christ will return? Why is it important for us to study biblical prophecy? How can the study of biblical prophecy help us grow in our faith? What are some of the dangers in studying biblical prophecy?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 30, 2010

Today's Reading: Psalm 29, Genesis 27:1‐40, 2 Chronicles 3, Luke 19:47‐20:44

Psalm 29 -
This has to be the favorite psalm of Christian meteorologists. David wants us to catch a glimpse of just how glorious our God is. He is the God who sits enthroned above all others. He is the God who controls the weather. He is the God whose power is displayed throughout the world. I love the way that David describes God's voice breaking the strongest cedar trees of Lebanon. I love how he talks about God's voice being over the waters, thundering over many waters. Our God is powerful and majestic. We need to ascribe to the Lord, the glory due His name, as David so aptly put it in verse 2.

Genesis 27:1-40 - The sibling rivalry between Jacob and Esau reach new lows in this chapter as Jacob steals the blessing that so belonged to Esau.

When the birthright was taken from Esau, it was because of Esau's own stupidity and desire for food. The blessing was taken out of pure deceit on the part of Jacob and Rebekah.

God had a plan to work through Jacob, despite Jacob's wickedness. Isaac had quite a blessing for Esau, but the blessing would be Jacob's.

This chapter reminds me that God's ways are not our ways.

2 Chronicles 3 - What is recorded as such simple words at the beginning of 2 Chronicles 3, "Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. . ." was probably the most exciting moment in the life of Solomon up to that moment in time.

Men love projects. We love to give ourselves over to a great task. There would be no greater task in Solomon's kingdom than the task of building the temple of the LORD. When we have big tasks before us, may we never forget the greatest responsibilities that God has given us.

We will read later of the tragedy of Solomon's family. Had Solomon expended an equal amount of energy in reaching out to his children, his life would have been even better.

Luke 19:47-20:44 - I am always moved when I read the parable of the wicked tenants. Here, the owner of the vineyard sent his servants to the vineyard they were mistreated. Then he sent his son, and his son was killed.

Jesus asked the crowd what they thought the owner would do to those tenants. Then he said, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone."

Jesus would be put to death by many in that very crowd. We need to recognize our culpability in the death of Christ. Our sin put Christ on the cross. But, His grace offers forgiveness and life everlasting.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 29, 2010

Today's Reading: Psalm 28, Genesis 26, 2 Chronicles 2, Luke 19:28‐46

Psalm 28 -
I'm struck as I read this Psalm at just how much David counted God as the strength of his life. David was the mightiest king in all of the world, but he counted God as his strength. He didn't take pride in his military genius. He took pride in his God. David knew that nothing that he accomplished was possible without the strength of God. David relied upon God's strength and knew that he was nothing without it.

Genesis 26 - Genesis 26 is a good chapter to point out that the sins of the father so often visit the next generation. Such was the case with Isaac, who like his father Abraham lied about his relationship with his wife when he went to dwell in a foreign land. Like his father, Isaac feared that the men of the city would kill him so that they could have his beautiful wife. And, like God had done with her mother-in-law, God protected Rebekah.

We who are fathers should remember the story of Abraham and Isaac when we are tempted to sin. Our children learn best by observation, and if they observe sin in us it teaches them sin isn't serious.

2 Chronicles 2 - Solomon knew how to manage projects and people. He was the ultimate project manager, getting 153,600 people involved in the tasks of building the temple and quarrying in the hill country. He also knew how to work with other rulers. Hiram, the King of Tyre had a special place in his heart for the family of David.

I love what Solomon said in verse 5, "The house I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods."

Yesterday I spent some time in the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis. This beautiful Catholic church is marvelously ornate. But, it would not even come close to comparing with Solomon's temple. I'm blown away at how many times people shy away from giving to the house of the Lord. We should seek to make His house beautiful, for he is great, greater than all Gods!

Luke 19:28-46 -
The triumphal entry marked the beginning of the passion week for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It's amazing to think that this crowd of people who were so enamored with Christ on Sunday could turn so quickly against him.

It's also interesting to see how quickly Jesus moved from the adoration of the crowd to the rebuking of the people gathered at the temple who had turned the house of God into a "den of robbers."

I'm glad that Jesus wept over Jerusalem after the triumphal entry. It gives us a glimpse into the tender heart of God. He loved those who rejected Him.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Sermon Series Begins Sunday

Our new sermon series, Ultimate Love begins this Sunday. This series is based on one of the most beloved passages in all of Scripture, 1 Corinthians 13.

Services are held at Woodbury Community Church, 2975 Pioneer Drive, Woodbury, MN at 9:00 and 10:30 AM. For more information you can visit our website at, or call our church office at (651) 739-1427.

January 31 - How To Make God Look Really Bad
February 7 - Ten Qualities of True Love
February 14 - How To Make Love Last

Notes from my Bible Study for January 28, 2010

Today's Reading: Psalm 27, Genesis 25:19-34, 2 Chronicles 1, Luke 18:31-19:27

Psalm 27 -
Psalm 27:1 says, "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid."

What an awesome truth! I don't know how many times in my life that I have come back to the power and simplicity of this verse. It is God from whom my salvation comes. He is my light. I don't have to be afraid, when God is the foundation upon Whom my life is built.

David goes on to list the many enemies and things that God has protected him from. I could go on and on to.

I wonder what would happen if you were to take out a sheet of paper and begin to list down the many ways that God has protected you over the years. There would be so many items that you would leave off of that list, because the simple truth is, God protects us in ways that we never see.

Is God your light and salvation? If He is your Savior, the answer is, "Yes!" Thank Him anew for what He has done in you.

Genesis 25:19-34 - This passage tells the fascinating story of the birth of Jacob and Esau and the foolish choice that Esau made to sell his birthright to his brother.

If ever there was a family where sibling rivalry was present, it was this one. Isaac's two sons were pit against each other by their parents. Isaac favored Esau and Rebekah favored Jacob. Oh how much damage can be done in a home where one child is favored over another!

Like God did with their Grandfather, Abraham, God promised that a great nation would come from Jacob and a great nation would come from Esau.

2 Chronicles 1 - The book of 2 Chronicles opens with the newly crowned king, Solomon, worshipping the LORD, and the LORD doing for Solomon what He has done for no other human being. God gave Solomon the opportunity to ask for whatever he would from God, and God promised that He would grant the request. Solomon did something remarkable. He asked for wisdom!

What would you ask for? I'm not sure that I would have been wise enough to ask for wisdom. Solomon's request pleased God, and God promised Solomon that he would not only be given wisdom but riches like no king before or after had or would experience.

The New Testament book of James tells us that we too can ask for wisdom. In James 1:5we read, "5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

We may not have a "ask for whatever you want and I'll give it to you" guarantee, like Solomon was given. But, we do have a "ask for wisdom and I'll give it" guarantee. Why don't we ask more often? May we be a wise people, because our wisdom comes from God.

Luke 18:31-19:27 - I love how Jesus did ministry. He broke all of the rules of organized religion by hanging out with people who desperately needed redemption. In Luke 19, Jesus encounters a chief tax collector who was curious to see what this Jesus fellow was all about. We know, according to the text that Zacchaeus was vertically challenged. He was also quite the swindler. When Jesus saw Zacchaeus, up in a tree, He told him to come down. He was going to dine in the home of Zacchaeus that very day. Another thing I love about Jesus was that He wasn't afraid to invite himself over to the home of someone else for dinner:O)

When Jesus made the decision to dine with Zacchaeus, He opened himself up to criticism from the religious elite. They couldn't understand how Christ could justify dining with such a well known sinner. Jesus could care less what the religious leaders thought of Him. He was here for people like Zacchaeus. He was here to cleanse people like Zacchaeus for sin. Zacchaeus was so touched by Jesus' presence that He vowed to repay his debts fourfold and to give half of his goods to the poor. Jesus responded by saying that salvation had come to that home today.

From the time He was born, Jesus was about restoring broken people into fellowship with God. I'm so glad for that! Aren't you?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 27, 2010

Today's Reading: Psalm 26, Genesis 25:1‐18, 1 Chronicles 29:22b‐30, Luke 18:1‐30

Psalm 26 -
David time and time again in the Psalms talks about the danger that comes when we hang out with those who are wicked. Who we spend time with impacts us. A wise man once said the biggest difference between you five years from now and today are the books you read, the places you go and the people you meet.

Make sure you are investing time in relationships with other believers. Those should be the most life-giving relationships we have.

Genesis 25:1-18 - How interesting to see Abraham's sons, Isaac and Ishmael coming together at the death of their father. I had forgotten that Abraham took another wife after Sarah and had many more sons.

1 Chronicles 29:22b-30 - Solomon becomes king and David dies. God's blessing is with Solomon as he becomes king. The peaceful transition from David's rule to Solomon's also ushers in an even greater time of prosperity for the nation of Israel.

Luke 18:1-30 - Why is it that we compare ourselves to other people so much, and so little to God? We like to say things like, "I'm not as bad as so-and-so!" or "Thank God I'm not a _______."

Jesus warned people against this in Luke 18. Other people aren't the standard to which Christ is calling us to live. He is. And when we compare ourselves to Him, we all fall short. And, that's the point. We all need a Savior.

Romans 3 tells us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Comparing ourselves to other people leads to the sort of Pharisaical attitudes that were exhibited by the religious leaders in Jesus' day, and unfortunately by too many of us who call ourselves Christians. Let's let God be the judge, and thank Him for giving any of us grace.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 26, 2010

Today's Reading: Psalm 25, Genesis 24, 1 Chrronicles 29:1‐22a, Luke 17:11‐37

Psalm 25 -
I’m struck by the simplicity of the words in verse 14, “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.”

There are many things that I think about when I think about my relationship with the LORD. “Friend” isn’t normally the first thing that comes to mind. Who am I that the LORD would seek to be friends with me? And yet there are several in Scripture who are called friends of God. God loves friendship with His children.

So, what does a friend of God do?

Like real friends he communicates with God. He spends time with him. He stands up for Him. He looks for ways to bless Him, and so much more.

So, how is that friendship going? Is God a friend? Are you His friend? If not, God’s waiting with open arms. Take the step and become a friend of God.

Genesis 24 – Abraham was a good father to Isaac. He did not want Isaac to take a wife from the Canaanites, and instructed his servant to find a wife for Isaac amongst Abraham’s relatives. I love the way that the servant sought to not only honor his master, but to seek God’s direction as he sought out a wife for Isaac. God directed and found a beautiful and faithful woman to be Isaac’s wife. I love that God brought comfort to Isaac after his mother’s death in his bride, Rebekah.

1 Chronicles 29:1-22a – King David was nearing the end of his life. His ultimate triumph wasn’t in victories won in battle, but in preparing the people to build the temple under the leadership of his son Solomon. You can’t read 1 Chronicles 29 without marveling at the exuberant generosity of King David. The king was so excited about the ability to give good gifts to the Lord that the people caught the passion too. It’s so cool to see how excited the people are about building the temple in this chapter.

I loved the words of David in verse 1b, “The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for human beings but for the LORD God.” What a testament to what is truly important! May we desire to give like this! How quick we are to build mansions to self, but not think about blessing God.

Luke 17:11-37 – We serve a God who is omniscient. He knows everything that will happen. As such, he knew that when he healed the lepers, only one would come back to thank Him. Did that stop Christ from healing? No! He didn’t heal for thanks. He healed because it was the right thing to do. Did you notice who came back to thank Christ? It was the Samaritan leper.

Lepers were the scourge of ancient society. Lepers were relegated to living outside of the town. With no known cure, leprosy was easily spread and it killed. Jesus loved to heal lepers. He healed some by touching them. It would have been the first time in years that they had felt another human being touch them. He could have just healed with his words, like he seemed to do here, but for some, it was His touch. If lepers were society’s scourge, then Samaritan lepers were several steps lower, as far as a righteous Jew was concerned. The Samaritans were enemies of the Jews. These races hated each other. And yet Jesus healed a Samaritan. It would have been a valuable lesson for His followers. Jesus loved Samaritans. Jesus loved lepers. And, Jesus loves you.

Leprosy has largely disappeared from the medical world today, but Christ’s love still reaches out to those who are society’s outcasts. So should our love be!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 25, 2010

Today's Reading: Psalm 24, Genesis 23, 1 Chronicles 28, Luke 16:1-17:10

Psalm 24 -
When I read the qualifications of the person who may stand in the holy place of the LORD in Psalm 24:4, I think, this is the type of man I want to be. I want to be a person who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up my soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.

I'm particularly struck by being a person who does not lift up my soul to what is false. There are so many lies all around us. If there is a continual spiritual battle around us, and I believe there is, and if our adversary is the father of lies, then we should expect that we are regularly hearing lies. As such, it becomes easy to lift our souls to what is false. It might be a false philosophy, or self-importance, or a craving for the things that are clearly against God.

Lord, help me to be someone who is continually seeking Your truth. Help me to be a man who runs after the things of Christ, not the things of this world. Help me to recognize that I can be a person with a pure heart through the power of your Holy Spirit.

Genesis 23 - I did not add any notes to this section of my Bible.

1 Chronicles 28 - There is something beautiful about the charge that a father gives to his son, when it is a charge that glorifies God.

That is the type of charge that David gave to Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28. We have already read in 1 Chronicles that David and Solomon had many conversations, but we have not been made privy to what was said in those conversations.In this chapter we get to read what David said to his son, and it is awesome.

David calls Solomon to worship God with a whole heart and a willing mind. Those are words coming from a man who was called a man after God's own heart. David wanted his son to know the joy of wholehearted servanthood to God. I find the words "willing mind" interesting. He didn't tell Solomon to have an intellectual mind or a discerning mind. He told him to have a willing mind. Our minds need to be willing to let God be God. He then challenges Solomon to seek God, and reminds him that if Solomon seeks God, God will be found. This is a promise repeated in so many places in the Bible. He also warns him not to forsake God, because if he does, Solomon is told that he will be cast off forever.

How awesome would it be if every Dad had that kind of talk with his sons? May we teach the next generation to seek after God's heart!

Luke 16:1-17:10 - Wow! There is so much here. It's tough to know where to start. Let me just say I am struck by the fact that God continually reminds us that He is God and only He is God. We cannot serve both God and money.

As a pastor, I'm struck by how many times I struggle with this. I know that God is the answer to my toughest problems, but somehow think that if I had more money my problems would somehow go away. That could not be further from the truth. I need God, not money, and until I come to grips with that, money will compete for the place that God deserves to be in my life.

Interesting that the religious leaders in Jesus' day were lovers of money. I wonder how far we have come.

Jesus didn't mince words when it came to divorce and remarriage. He is a God who truly does hate divorce. We need to view marriage as precious and not be so quick to throw marriage away when stress comes.

How severe God treats those who cause others to sin! I don't want to be the source of other's sin. No wonder Jesus, in the Lord's prayer, prayed "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." May we not be the one leading others into temptation!

I want faith that is larger than a mustard seed! Imagine what could happen with that kind of faith.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 24, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 23, Genesis 22, 1 Chronicles 27, Luke 15

Psalm 23 –
One of my favorite parts of being a pastor the privilege that I am given to enter people’s lives at some of their most tender and precious moments. I love when I get to be in a hospital room with a new mother and her child. I love being there to celebrate moments like high school graduations, weddings, and special anniversaries. And, at times I am in the room when a person says “Good bye,” to this life and walks into the arms of Jesus.

I remember one of those times a few years back. I was called at midnight to join a family who was gathered around the hospital bedside of Geva Lou, the matriarch of the family. Her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren were gathered at her side, as was her sister and brother-in-law. It was a shocking day for them. Just earlier in the day, this dear woman was getting her hair styled at her favorite salon. Now, she lay dying in a hospital bed. She had been unaware of the fact that her organs had been shutting down for the past couple of weeks. When she experienced abdominal pain and went to the ER, she had no idea that she would be in surgery minutes later, only to be closed back up with the dire realization that nothing could be done. She would die within hours.

I joined the family in those dying moments. They asked if I would read Scripture, so I opened my Bible to Psalm 23. As I read this precious Psalm, Geva Lou’s breathing grew more faint. I came to Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
As I finished reading that verse, Geva Lou’s sister said, “Go. Dwell in the house of the LORD forever. I will see you on the other side. I love you.”

And with that, Geva Lou died. She went from suffering in a bed into the arms of Jesus.

Psalm 23 has been a psalm of comfort to so many generations of people. David truly wrote words that were inspired by God. What is your favorite part of the 23rd Psalm?

Genesis 22 – I have a confession to make. For years I hated Genesis 22. I didn’t like what the passage said about God. I didn’t like to think about the trauma that God’s request caused Abraham. And, I sure didn’t like what it would have done to Isaac. But, I’ve grown. And, today I see Genesis 22 in an entirely different light. It is a beautiful picture not only of God’s love but of the growth of a man and his faith.

If you’ve been taking The Challenge you may have noticed that Abraham’s faith frustrates me sometimes. He is seen as a giant in the faith, and yet he blows it over and over again. He lacks faith in God’s ability to protect him, two different times calling Sarah his sister instead of his wife to save his own skin. He impregnates his wife’s servant when he ceases to trust that God will follow through on his covenant with him. And, there are a host of other situations.

But, in Genesis 22 an entirely different Abraham emerges. This is a man who is convinced that if God can grant him a child at 100 years old, that God can protect that child even if it is from God’s hand that God might be protecting the child.

When God asks Abraham to shed his own son’s blood, it isn’t because God wants Isaac dead, it’s because he wants to see just how far Abraham would obey Him. Abraham has now passed the point where I would ever go. I couldn’t do what God asked Abraham to do. My faith would be so weak. But, Abraham follows God, even so far as to put Isaac on the altar. Then God says, “Stop,” and provides Abraham with a sacrificial lamb.

Abraham had grown in his faith. There was hope for this sinful man. And, there is hope for you and me. But, our hope is in Jesus. While God allowed Abraham’s son to live, He did not spare His own Son, Jesus Christ. Christ came into the world and became our salvation. Through His death, we can be healed. Through His resurrection power we can be forgiven. Our God is THE AWESOME GOD.

1 Chronicles 27 –
The preparation for the transfer of the monarchy continues as David numbers the army and appoints officers for the tribes and overseers of the king’s business. I’m impressed at the order of the divisions, each with 24,000 men. I’m also impressed by David’s new obedience when it comes to the census. He refused to number all men 20 and under, because God had promised his descendents would be as numerous as the stars. David knew that he could count in God’s promise. This was a step of growth in David’s relationship with the Lord.

Luke 15 –
The parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son are perhaps the most famous of all of Jesus’ parables. He tells them together in Luke 15 to show the incredible joy that He has when a sinner repents from the error of his or her ways.

Jesus lived his life with a purpose. He came to earth to set the captives free. Jesus had joy then and still has joy when the lost are found. He gave us all a Great Commission to go into all the world and make disciples. Scripture tells us that the angels in heaven rejoice when one sinner comes to faith in Jesus Christ.

The parable of the lost son, or the Prodigal Son is almost always referred to by these names, but a better title might be, the parable of the faithful father. It’s not tough to become a prodigal. The strength in this parable is in the Father’s love for his child. The Father is representative of God. May your rejoice in your Father’s love today!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 23, 2010

Today's Reading: Psalm 22, Genesis 21:22‐34, 1 Chronicles 26, Luke 14

Psalm 22 -
Psalm 22 is an important psalm because it not only records the lament and pain of David, it foreshadows the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. There is so much from Psalm 22 that is repeated in the Gospel accounts of Jesus' crucifixion. Matthew 27, in particular, relies upon Psalm 22, with Jesus using the words from verse 1 while on the cross, and seeing the parallels of the actions of the crowd like mockery, casting lots, etc.

Psalm 22 ends with hope, and Christ provided that hope when he rose from the grave.

So, this is a somewhat prophetic psalm that also describes how David was feeling at the time it was written.

Genesis 21:22-34 - God had certainly blessed Abraham, and others were noticing. I found it interesting that Abimelech said, "God is with you in all that you do."

I wonder how grateful we are when the hand of God is clearly upon us. So many of us have been so blessed, but for whatever reason, we don't recognize it. May we be a people who recognize the blessings of God on our lives and thank Him for it.

1 Chronicles 26 - David continues to prepare for the transfer of power from his monarchy to his son's monarchy by organizing the people.

Luke 14 - What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Jesus uses the occasion of Luke 14 to talk about how those who are followers of Him must live.

Disciples are to be people of humility. We are to be people who care for the poor and the oppressed. But, more than anything, we are to be a people with a love for God that supersedes everything else in our lives.

There are those who read Jesus' words about hating fathers, mothers, wives, sisters, brothers, children and even our own lives, and get disgusted. Jesus isn't talking about literally hating them. That would contradict every message that Christ had already given about loving others more than we love ourselves, about showing love to others, etc.

So, what is Jesus talking about? He wants us to be a people who love him so much that any other relationship we have would pale in comparison. It means that we obey Christ above anyone else. When our priorities conflict between obeying Christ and following others that we choose to obey Christ.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 22, 2010

Today's Reading: Psalm 21, Genesis 21:1‐21, 1 Chronicles 25, Luke 13:10‐35

Psalm 21 -
11 Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.

Some of the greatest athletes in the world have the ability to turn a game around when it looks like all of the momentum has turned against them. Even the greatest athlete can't win every game. God isn't an athlete, and He isn't playing a game, but He is in a battle and sometimes it looks like the devil is winning. But, God cannot lose to Satan.

David knew this. In Psalm 21:11 he wrote about the futility in taking sides against the Lord. God always wins in the end.

Isn't it good to know that no matter what type of evil is directed against the Lord, He will ultimately prevail? We can depend upon Him for God wins in the end!

Genesis 21:1-21 - The birth of Isaac and the casting out of Hagar and Ishmael are recorded in this chapter. I was struck at the fact that God heard the prayer of Ishmael. He promised Hagar that he would become a great nation too. He had mercy and provided water for the young mother and her son.

1 Chronicles 25 - I think organizing the musicians had to be one of David's favorite jobs as he prepared to turn the kingdom over to Solomon. David was not only a warrior king, he was a tender hearted musician who loved to worship the Lord. I picture David singing praises to God with the musicians as he organized them into a worship leading throng.

Luke 13:10-35 - Jesus shook up the religious system in the world He entered. He saw past the legalism of the Jewish system and spoke to what the spirit of the law was about.

When a woman who had been disabled by an evil spirit for eighteen years came into the synagogue on the Sabbath, Jesus healed her. The ruler of the synagogue made a stink because Jesus healed on the Sabbath. He basically said, "She could have come six other days this week for healing. We don't heal on the Sabbath."

Jesus responded with power and authority, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

That's my Jesus! I love Him so much.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 21, 2010

Passages Read: Psalm 20, Genesis 20, 1 Chronicles 23‐24, Luke 12:49‐13:9

Psalm 20 -
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God

One of the first retreats that I ever went on as a youth pastor was a national youth conference in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The man who had been hired to lead worship for the week was a quirky guy who loved to turn obscure Bible verses into songs. He then added his own sound effects and noises to the music he created.

Psalm 20:7 was one of the verses that he turned into song. And you know what? I'll never forget the song. I can't tell you how many hundreds of times the words to Psalm 20:7 have been replayed in my mind because of quirky dude's music. And, the words have been such a comfort.

I need to trust in God to provide for my needs. So, do you. The Lord is the source of every blessing in our life. When we are blessed, praise the Lord. When we go through trials, turn to the Lord. He is the ultimate source of strength.

Genesis 20 - Abraham sure was a slow learner. Once again he calls Sarah his sister, leading another king to take her into his household as a wife. God again intervenes and saves both Sarah's dignity and preserves his vow with Abraham. I get mad at Abraham when I read this passage, and I get reminded of how easy it is for any of us to stumble, if we are trusting in ourselves instead of God.

1 Chronicles 23-24 - It's interesting to see the detail that David went into to assure that his son, Solomon, would start strong as king. David was a man of preparation. The inclusion of so many names brings credibility to the history of these chapters.

Luke 12:49-13:9 - There have been many books published about the hard sayings of Jesus. These are sayings that are tough for us to swallow. We love to hear about the compassion and grace of Christ, but few of us get as excited about the wrath of God.

Jesus speaks hard truth in Luke 12:49-13:9. He talks about the fact that if we do not repent and turn to Him, we will face eternal punnisment. There are consequences to sin, and Jesus has no problem letting His hearers be aware of the fact they need a Savior.

How do these passages make you feel as you read them? Do they broaden your understanding of the historical Jesus?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 20, 2010

Passages Read: Psalm 19, Genesis 19, 1 Chronicles 21:18‐22:19, Luke 12:13‐48

Psalm 19 -
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

When I was a new youth pastor, serving a church outside of Washington D.C., I had the privilege of meeting a man named Cooper. Cooper had been a pastor for a number of years, and was now working in corporate America. On occasion, Cooper would preach a message at our church. I loved when this man spoke. He had a tender heart for God and a real passion for the Word.

One of the things I'll never forget about Cooper was the way that he prayed before each message. He always ended his prayer with David's words from Psalm 19:14: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Would that we would all pray such things before we spoke! It might just change the way that God worked through us.

Genesis 19 - Sodom and Gomorrah . . . have there ever been such wicked cities. There are several things that struck me as I read this chapter:

* Angels visited earth with such regularity in the book of Genesis. It's so fascinating to see how Lot responded to his visitors.
* The men of Sodom were so vile.
* Lot wasn't a very good father.
* Lot's daughters must have despised their father for what he said to the men of Sodom.
* God deals with sin in His time. If the sinner hasn't repented, the end result is God's justice; and God hates sin.
* Lot's relationship with his sons-in-law was such that they couldn't distinguish when he was telling the truth from telling a joke.
* Lot made an awful decision when he chose to dwell in the land of Sodom.
* Why did Lot's wife look back?
* Lot went from a city to a cave, and from pride to fear.
* It was so important for a family's name to be carried on from generation to generation.
* The Moabites were descendants of Lot. Ruth was a Moabite woman. She would trace her line back to Lot. No wonder the Jewish people despised the Moabites. This would have been considered a vile thing to God's people.

1 Chronicles 21:18‐22:19 - What a fascinating piece of Scripture. A few thoughts.

I love David's words in verse 24, "No, but I will buy them for full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing." David wanted God to give extravagantly to God.

I never put it together that the site of the temple was the site of the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

I love how even though David could not build the temple, he prepared the way for the temple. He provided Solomon with such a wonderful start to build the temple.

David, nearing the end of his life, has restored his relationship with the Lord.

Luke 12:13‐48 - I love the way that Jesus taught. There was such power in His words. He minces no words when it comes to anxiety. Christ knew what things cause human beings anxiety. We worry about our lives - what we will eat, what we will wear, how much money we will make. Christ told us not to spend our days worrying about these things.

Then, he adds in verse 34 that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. I don't know about you, but too often my treasure has been . . . well, treasure. I want more stuff. I want more money. I want more vacations. I want more, more, more. And, God wants me to want more of Him. My treasure needs to be God, not the thigns of this world. How are you doing on that area? How can we help each other truly treasure the Lord?

The teaching on anxiety is bookended by the parable of the rich fool and the Christ's teaching on being ready for Christ's second coming. I don't think this is a mistake. Christ was a masterful teacher.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 19, 2010

Passages Read: Psalm 18, Genesis 18:16‐33, 1 Chronicles 21:1‐17, Luke 11:37‐12:12

Psalm 18 -
It was a triumph like David had never experienced. God had been faithful in the past, but deliverance from the hand of Saul was something that David wasn't sure would come. His psalm of praise to the Lord for the protection that God granted him is a beautiful psalm. I love the way that David sings to the Lord. His whole heart rejoices and paints a beautiful picture of who God is. I love the words that David uses in this psalm to describe God . . . strength, rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, horn of salvation, stronghold, etc.

Genesis 18:16-33 - We see another picture of God's wrath in Genesis 18:16-33. The city of Sodom was a wicked city. God's plan was to destroy the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot lived in Sodom, and Abraham loved his nephew. He interceded with God for the city of Sodom, praying that God would spare the city if fifty righteous people lived there. Then he prayed for God to stay his destruction if forty lived there. He kept praying until he came to the number ten.

Each time, God said he would spare the city. There were not ten righteous people in the city.

What an indictment on a town. May we live as righteous men and women. And, may we remember that our God is a holy God.

1 Chronicles 21:1-17 - It's interesting to see God's wrath burn against one who He called a man after his own heart. God was displeased with David because David gave in to Satan's leading for David to take a census. The census wasn't something God demanded. It appealed more to the ego of David than the plan of God. As such, David is punished, and all of Israel with him. It is a reminder to those of us in leadership that our sins have an impact on others. God's compassion is shown in verse 15 when he stopped the angel of the Lord from destroying the city of Jerusalem. What an interesting and thought provoking story.

Luke 11:37-12:12 - Jesus has harsh words for the Pharisees in this chapter. The Pharisees were men who honored God with their mouths, but whose hearts were far from God. Jesus saw right through their hypocrisy. It makes me wonder what Jesus might say to those in the church today. The "Woes" that Jesus pronounced on the Pharisees are hard words to read. I don't want to be a person who says all the right stuff about God but doesn't apply it or live it. How about you? How can we be people who are true disciples? What does a true disciple of Jesus look like?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 18, 2010

Passages Read: Psalm 17, Genesis 18:1‐15, 1 Chronicles 18‐20, Luke 11:1‐36

Psalm 17 -
When I was a boy I got lost in a big department store. I was scared to death. I remember running up and down the aisles, searching for my Dad with a look of sheer terror in my eyes. The store security guard must have noticed my fear, because he sought me out and asked what was going on.

I cried, "I can't find my Dad."

The security guard had heard it hundreds of times before, maybe even from another child already that day.

"What's your name, son?"


"Let's call for your Dad over the store intercom."

Little did I know it, but my Dad was desperately searching for me too. When the speakers in the store announced that there was a little lost boy looking for his Daddy, my Dad greeted me at store security.

He wrapped his arms around me and told me how worried he was. Then he kissed me.

We walked out of that store, arm in arm. Under the shadow of my Dad's strong arm, I felt safe.

David felt that way in the arms of God. In Psalm 17:8 we read, "Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,"

What a beautiful verse! What a vivid reminder of the Father's love for us. May you find yourself hidden under the shadow of God's wings!

Genesis 18:1-15 - What a fascinating passage. Can you imagine what it would have been like to be Abraham? You are 99 years old, have been promised a child by God, you have doubted God, and now God shows up at your home to deliver the message that you will have a child to your wife.

There are three visitors that come. Verse three uses the Hebrew word adonay to suggest that one of the men is a divine manifestation. Imagine having God come to your home for dinner!

Abraham tells Sarah to prepare a meal, and the men eat. When God says that Sarah will bear a child in twelve months (news that Abraham laughed at in Genesis 17:17), she laughs.

God wonders aloud at why, and then reiterates that she will have a son in 12 months. Her monthly cycle had ended long ago, but God shows that nothing is impossible with Him.

1 Chronicles 18-20 - These chapters tell story after story of David's victories over his enemies. It is clear that the hand of God was upon David and his army.

I found it interesting that the chronicler did not include any mention of David's sin with Bathsheba in 1 Chronicles 20. The parallel passage in 2 Samuel 11 goes into great detail about David's moral failure.

David's sin with Bathsheba began with a compromise. He was a warrior king. It was his duty to go with his men into battle. God extended the borders of Israel to unprecedented lengths when David walked with God. Little did David know how greatly his decision to stay behind in Jerusalem while his men went into battle would impact his monarchy in a negative way. It was truly a turning point.

With that in mind, what strikes you about the victories of David in 1 Chronicles 18-20?

Luke 11:1-36 - Where to start? There is so much to comment on in this passage. I'll try to be brief on each.

I'm blessed as I read the Lord's Prayer. I love that Jesus taught this at the request of his disciples. They wanted to know how to pray, and Jesus taught them. He expands on his teaching in verses 5-13 where he talks about a father giving good gifts to his children, and a friend helping another friend. He tells us that God is willing to lavish so much more on His children, and He does it with a pure heart.

I want the kinds of gifts God gives out. Sometimes His gifts are painful. Sometimes they are not what I ask for. But, they are always for my best and His glory.

Interesting to read the Luke account of Jesus and Beelzebul. I preached on the Matthew version of this yesterday. In Matthew the term Beelzebub is used, in Luke it is Beelzebul. (For those from WCC that may be confused because I said Beelzebul is found in only two passages in the Bible).

Jesus begins to teach a "harder" message for his hearers in the passage. I think it is a turning point in how the people viewed Christ. He talks about what true blessedness and true discipleship is all about.

It's interesting to read what Jesus said about the sign of Jonah, and then to read about His passion for us to shine our lights in the world around us. I want to shine my light brighter.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 17, 2010

Passages Read: Psalm 16, Genesis 17, 1 Chronicles 17, Luke 10:25‐42

Psalm 16 -
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.

I'm preaching a message in church today on following false gods. It's part of my series through the life of Elijah. We are nearing the end of our Elijah series. Ahaziah, the son of Ahab is now king. He seeks after the false god Baal-Zabub and God literally takes his life for his sin.

God hates when we pursue false gods. David was correct to write that the sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply.

Sometimes we Americans run after gods like money, fame, prestige, family, work, pleasure, etc. While they may not look like little idols, they are. And, pursuing any of those things above God will bring us sorrow.

Genesis 17 - Genesis 17 records God's covenant with Abraham. He had already promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, but now Abraham was 99 years old. God begins the chapter by asking Abraham to walk before him and be blameless that he might make a covenant between he and Abraham and bless him greatly.

Abraham had disobeyed God. God was asking him to walk with Him. Abraham fell on his face before God. God changed his name from Abram to Abraham and told him that he would have a child with Sarah his wife. Abraham's response? He laughed at God. Amazing that after vowing to walk with God, Abraham now laughs.

Nevertheless, God chooses to do what God will do. He promises Abraham that Sarah (whose name had been changed from Sarai) would become pregnant. They were to name their child Isaac.

God then instructs Abraham to seal the covenant by becoming circumcised. Every male in his household was to be circumcised as well.

Abraham would see God do mighty things through him, even though his life had fallen so short time and time again. This should give all of us hope that God can work through us, despite our shortcomings and lack of faith.

1 Chronicles 17 - 1 Chronicles 17 tells the beautiful story of God's covenant with David. The Lord makes a promise to David that one of his sons will build the house of the Lord. He says in verses 12-14 that 12 He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, 14 but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.’”

The chronicler does not include everything that is recorded in 2 Samuel 7:14. God's covenant to David will be fulfilled in Messiah. Solomon would build a temple, but the Kingdom is an eternal Kingdom that will be established through Jesus Christ.

What a beautiful foreshadowing of the Father's love for the Son is shown in this passage!

Luke 10:25-42 - For years when I read the parable of the Good Samaritan, I assumed that Jesus was trying to teach us that we were supposed to be like the Good Samaritan, reaching out to those in need, unlike the fake religious leaders who passed the wounded man by. Then I read some fantastic sermons on this passage.

The idea of the parable of the Good Samaritan is that we are the man who has been left half dead. God is the Good Samaritan. We are helpless to do anything about our sinful state unless Jesus comes to rescue us. Jesus has called us to be like Him. To be a Christian literally means to be a "little Christ."

Jesus asked the lawyer who asked the initial question in Luke 10, "Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" The man answered that it was the one who showed mercy. Jesus then told him to go and do likewise.

There are surely some people in your life who need to be rescued by Jesus. Will you go find them and bring them to the Savior?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 16, 2010

Passages Read: Psalm 15, Genesis 16, 1 Chronicles 16:4‐43,Luke 9:51‐10:24

Psalm 15 -
Read the list of qualifications for who can dwell on the holy hill of the Lord, and you might get discouraged. How many of us can say that we live our lives like that which is described 100 % of the time? Probably none of us. The Psalm is a description of the ideal worshiper of the Lord. Those who sang this psalm would try to live up to these standards. We should strive to live this way as well.

Genesis 16 - How long would it take Abram and Sarai to trust the Lord. God said that Abram would be the father of a great nation, but it had been ten years since the promise was made. Sarai had become impatient. She doubted God. She may have even wondered if Abram had heard God correctly. Either way, she devises her own scheme to have children by having her servant sleep with Abram. What a disappointing way for Sarai and Abram to act. The pregnancy happens, and Ishmael is born to Hagar. Abram not only became the father of the Jewish people, but of the adversaries of the Jewish people. We need to get out of the way so that God can work.

1 Chronicles 16:4-43 - I am blown away today as I think about David's heart of worship. He loved to worship the Lord. Every time I read one of the psalms that he wrote, I am impressed. This was a man who lived to worship. It doesn't mean that everything he did was worship. David failed often. But, he also understood worship and by watching and reading about David's life, we get a sense of what drove him.

I think 1 Chronicles 16:4-43 could be a worship leaders delight. You see David, but you also see Aseph and his brothers. Many of the psalms were written by Aseph. What a combination of worshippers.

David's song of thanks is beautiful. Each stanza seems to include words that have withstood the test of time. Many of our modern worship songs have their roots in these ancient words.

Luke 9:51-10:24 - I love Jesus' model of ministry. He sent out the twelve, equipped to do ministry, in Luke 9. Now, at the beginning of Luke 10, He send out the seventy-two. The mandate is the same. These seventy-two, who had followed Jesus closely, were ready to be used by God in the work of ministry.

Like the twelve, when the seventy-two come back, they are excited about what God did through them. They tell Jesus all about demons being subject to the name of Jesus. Jesus exhorts them to not rejoice in their ability to cast out demons in Jesus name as much as in the fact that their names are written down in heaven.

It is a miracle that God would choose to redeem any of us, let alone use us in His service. May we rejoice when God chooses to use us. May we also rejoice continually over the fact that, if we are believers, God has saved us. That is the ultimate thing to rejoice in.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 15, 2010

Passages Read: Psalm 14, Genesis 15, 1 Chronicles 15:1‐16:3, Luke 9:1‐50

Psalm 14 -
"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" is a theme that is seen in many places in Scripture. The idea that God is watching and that there is no one who seeks God, no one who does good, not even one should shake us to the core.

David is speaking of the godless in this passage, but he could just as easily be speaking about the propensity to sin that many of us find ourselves in. We may not say, "There is not God," but sometimes we act as if God's existence should have no impact on our daily lives. When we do such things, we are fools.

May we be a people who live our very lives as an act of worship to Almighty God! May we recognize that how we live matters. What we do says to others what we believe about God. Our actions speak louder than words.

Genesis 15 - We read about God's covenant with Abram in Genesis 15. This isn't the first time that God told Abram that he would be the father of a great nation, but it was the most important time. The first time had been years earlier, and Abram still had no child. God reassures Abram that He will keep His promises.

Verse six is an important verse. We'll see it talked about again in the book of Romans. "And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness."

Abram's faith was extraordinary, but it is the same type of faith that God wants to see from us. God asked Abram to believe in something that he couldn't see. He asked Abram to trust His word. And, Abram did. And that act of faith was seen as righteousness in the eyes of God. May God see you as righteous when he looks upon you!

1 Chronicles 15:1-16:3 - What a difference in how the Children of Israel approach the Ark of the Covenant here. The mishandling of the Ark had led to death a couple chapters ago. Now, David makes sure that the Ark is handled by Levites in the way that God had prescribed through Moses.

There is a great celebration that comes with bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. David leads the celebration with dancing, and his wife despises him for it. He was willing to become "undignified" so that God might be glorified.

Luke 9:1-50 - What an amazing passage of Scripture! Luke 9:1-50 begins with the sending out of the twelve apostles. They were ready to go. Whether they knew it or not, God intended to work through them to do miraculous things.

Jesus would later say that they would do even "greater things" than He had done while on earth.

They come back from their first ministry trip excited! They have seen God work. And, they also come back worn out. It's not uncommon, when serving the Lord, to feel fatigue. Serving God is spiritual battle. It can be intense. It's people work. People can say mean things, or do mean things. Jesus even told his disciples that might happen.

So, even though they come back excited, they are ready for rest. But, when they come back they encounter a crowd of 5,000 men, and many more women and children, who have come to hear Jesus teach and see the disciples. That's right, news had spread about what God was doing through the disciples.

I write all of this to point out something that Jesus said in Luke 9:13. After telling Jesus to send the crowd away, for evening was coming, the disciples were tired, and they were in a desolate place with no food, Jesus said, "You give them something to eat."

The feeding of the 5,000 is one of the most famous stories in the Bible. Have you ever heard a pastor speak about Jesus' first solution to the problem? He said, "You give them something to eat."

The disciples had just been the instruments of God, casting out demons and curing diseases. Jesus knew, if they would let God do it, that the disciples could feed the crowd. The disciples immediately responded to Jesus by showing Him why they couldn't feed the crowd. Jesus then preformed the miracle.

I wonder how many miracles we miss out on because we don't trust the Lord. He wants to do something great, and we miss it. I'm praying that I won't miss my "You give them something to eat" moment.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 14, 2010

Passages Read: Psalm 13, Genesis 14, 1 Chronicles 14, Luke 8:22‐56

Psalm 13 -
Years ago, DC Talk recorded a song entitled, The Hard Way. It was a song that dealt with the stubbornness of some of us when it came to what God wanted to teach us. Aren't you glad that God loves even stubborn people?

In Psalm 13:5 David writes, "But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation."

No matter what we do, no matter what our past, no matter what we will do in the future; God's love for us remains steadfast.

As a pastor, I talk to so many hurting people. Not a week goes by where I am not in conversations with people who feel like their entire world is crashing. The good news is, God knows. He knows right where you are. He knows where you have been. He knows right where you will be. And, His love for you remains steadfast.

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone in our lives loved us with that type of love? Without God, that type of love is impossible. The best friendships, the best marriages, the best parent/child relationships, the best jobs are all impacted by love that doesn't remain steadfast.

If God has called us to be like Him, and if His love is steadfast, then by His power, we too can show this kind of love.

So, let's stop learning the hard way. Let's stop running in every direction but the direction that will lead to fulfillment. Run to God's open arms. Let your hear rejoice in His salvation. And, show that type of love to others.

Genesis 14 - This is an interesting chapter as Abram shows himself to be dependent upon God and God alone for his provisions. I have always been fascinated by Melchizedek, King of Salem. Some scholars believe that Salem is short for Jerusalem, and that Melchizedek was actually an early high priest/king of Jerusalem. He shows himself to be righteous as he blesses Abram.

Abram rejects the King of Sodom's suggestion that Abram take the goods from the peoples that were just defeated in battle; showing that God alone is where his provision comes from.

1 Chronicles 14 - We learn a lot about why David was so blessed by God as a leader in 1 Chronicles 14. Before entering into battle with the dreaded Philistines, David sought God. Verse ten tells us that "David inquired of God, 'Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?' And the Lord said to him, 'Go up, and I will give them into your hand.'"

This was one of the most important battles of his early monarchy. And, David refused to go to battle with the enemy before first doing battle on his knees before God.

God did give him the victory of the Philistines. But, the Philistines were a mighty adversary. So, the Philistines now go on another raid against Israel. David again goes to God to inquire if he should go to battle. God again answers that he should.

Verses 16-17 show us the results of David's obedience to God.

16 And David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army from Gibeon to Gezer. 17 And the fame of David went out into all lands, and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations.

Luke 8:22-56 - The power of Jesus is so evident in Luke 8:22-56. In verses 22-25 we read an account of Jesus calming a storm. In a boat, with His disciples, Jesus is sound asleep. A enormous storm comes. On this boat are some veteran fishermen. Even they are afraid at this storm. So, they awaken Jesus. (Interesting how the humanity of Jesus is shown here. Jesus got tired. So tired, that he could sleep through a ferocious storm.)

Jesus responds by rebuking the wind and the raging waves. The Bible simply states that they ceased and there was a calm. Jesus then looks at the disciples and says, "Where is your faith?"

I love the response of the disciples, "Who is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?"

Later on in the chapter Jesus heals a man from demons and the crowd is blown away. Then he heals a woman and Jairus' daughter. There can be no doubt that Jesus is the Christ.

So, where is your faith today? Is it in yourself, in others, or in God? Place it in Jesus today.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 13, 2010

Passages Read: Psalm 12, Genesis 13:2‐18, 1 Chronicles 13, Luke 8:4‐21

Psalm 12 -
12 The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

What a description of God's words! There is nothing false in them. His words are absolutely true. They are absolutely pure. There is no impurity in them. They are strong words, in other words they can be counted on. Aren't you glad you can count on the word of God? Every word of it!

Genesis 13:2-18 - Can you imagine what Abram must have been thinking as God spoke to him in Genesis 13:14-17? God made a promise to Abram that was unlike any he had made with any other man before. He told Abram that he would have offspring as numerous as dust. Dust can't be counted, and neither would Abram's future offspring. That is quite a thing to promise to an old man that is too old to bear children. He also promised Abram all of the land around him as far as the eye could see. Wow! He was already very rich in livestock, silver and gold. Now, he would be rich in family. Remember, Abram didn't have any children at this point. What a promise!

God has fulfilled that promise. Abram's offspring are too numerous to count. The generations that have followed are the Children of Israel.

1 Chronicles 13 - It had been a long time since the Ark of the Covenant had been treated with the respect that it deserved. The Ark has always been a mysterious thing. Containing the stone tablets of God's covenant with His children, the ark was to be treated with dignity. It had been largely ignored during Saul's reign, placed in the small town of Kiriath-Jearim. Now the ark is being transported to Jerusalem. Along the way, the Israelites decide to carry the ark on a cart. This went against God's regulations that the ark be carried on a pole by Levites. Somewhere along the way the oxen who were pulling the cart with the ark stumbled. Uzzah put out his hand to stop the ark from falling, and he was struck dead.

There are many who wonder why God would do such a thing. God was communicating to the people just how serious He was about respecting Him. How the people treated the ark was symbolic about how they treated God. They had ignored God's regulations, and God was setting the standard.

We have no idea what happened to the ark. But, we do learn a valuable lesson from this encounter. How we treat God matters. God cares. He may not strike us dead for our lack of reverence, but nonetheless, He takes note of how casually we use His name, break His commands, or go our own way. May we recognize the awesome holiness of God!

Luke 8:4-21 - Jesus loved to teach by telling stories. In Luke 8:4-21 he tells us two parables, the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Lamp.

The Parable of the Sower talks about several different types of soil that a sower sows his seed on. He throws some seed along the path, and that seed is trampled underfoot. Some seed falls on the rock and quickly withers away because of a lack of moisture. Some falls among thorns and when it grows it is choked out by the roots. Some of the seed falls on good soil and grows and yields a hundredfold.

Many pastor's have preached messages on this passage and said, "What kind of soil are you?"

But, I wonder if the point is less about the soil and more about the sowing. Maybe the point of the parable is that we would become sowers, recognizing that not every seed we throw will bear fruit, but we need to thrown the seed. Remember, the seed is the Word of God. Let's keep working to get His Word heard, but not just heard, let's live incarnationally and let it be seen!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 12, 2010

Passages Read Today: Psalm 11, Genesis 12‐13:1, 1 Chronicles 12,
Luke 7:36‐8:3

Psalm 11 -
4 The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

Verse four is the turning point in a short psalm about God's protection for the righteous. David is writing as one whose enemies are on the prowl. His enemies have their arrows aimed and ready. In verse three he asks what the righteous can do.

And then, in his anxiety he recognizes God's protection. God is aware. God is on the throne. His eyes are watching over us continually. David could have confidence in life because he could have confidence in his God. He ends with a reminder that the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. It's a promise to those who are followers of God. Some day we shall see Him face to face. Until then, we must trust in His righteous character.

Genesis 12-13:1 - What a picture is painted for us of God's ability to work despite flawed men in Genesis 12! God chose Abram. He decided that He would make a great nation out of a flawed man. And, he told Abram to go to a land that God would show him.

Abram, by faith, obeys God. But then his faith disappears. For whatever reason, Abram does not feel that God can protect him in the land of Egypt; the land of the mighty Pharaoh. So, Abram does a most selfish thing. In order to protect himself, he tells his wife to lie and say that she is his sister. Abram's wife, Sarai, was a beautiful woman. Pharaoh would certainly want to take her as his wife.

Can you imagine doing such a thing to your wife? Instead of trusting God to take care of him, Abram would devise a scheme for his own protection. How often do we do a similar thing. It's probably not asking our spouse to lie, but we come up with our own plans for our lives instead of trusting God.

In the end, God works despite our stupidity. He did, despite Abram's stupidity. Pharaoh's family suffers great plagues because of Sarai and Pharaoh gives her back to Abram. Abram's wife and marriage suffered because he didn't just trust God. May we learn to trust before it's too late!

1 Chronicles 12 - “We are yours, O David, and with you, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, and peace to your helpers! For your God helps you.”

Imagine what it was like for David to hear such words from these mighty warriors. Do you have a friend who is "with you all the way?" We all need people like this in our lives. We need friends who will walk alongside of us no matter what comes our way. It's important to pursue friendship.

Luke 7:36-8:3 - Jesus came into this world for sinners. There are few places in Scripture where this is as apparent as Luke 7:36-8:3. The guest of a Pharisee, Jesus seems almost out of place at his table. Jesus is righteous. The Pharisee is self-righteous. Jesus is concerned with matters of the heart. The Pharisee is concerned with matters of the head. Jesus is concerned for all people. The Pharisee is concerned about the "right people." When a sinful woman comes in to anoint Jesus' body with oil, the Pharisee saw only the sin in the woman. Christ saw her faith. Christ saw her potential. Christ saw her as the woman that He created her to be.

I'm glad that Christ came for sinners like me. And, I'm glad he came with the power to forgive. One more thing He saw that the Pharisee didn't -- He saw her forgiven. He saw her redeemed. And, Jesus forgave her. For the first time, we see Jesus say that He has the power to forgive. This was blasphemy to the Pharisee, and jubilee to the woman. Has He forgiven you? He can. 1 John 1:9 tells us that when we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all iniquity. Praise God!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 11, 2010

Passages Read Today: Psalm 10, Genesis 11, 1 Chronicles 11, Luke 7:1‐35

Psalm 10 -
Two times in Psalm 10, the psalmist uses the word "fatherless." In both instances, he speaks about the truth that God is a helper to the fatherless and that God brings justice to the fatherless.

Aren't you glad we have a God that is concerned with those who need Him most? I'm blessed to still have my father with me. He is the man in this world that I admire the most. So many of my friends who have lost their Dads talk about the intense emotional loss that comes with that. My Christian friends have also talked about after the loss of their Dad, God has become even closer. Maybe it is because they are drawing nearer to God, maybe it's because God is drawing nearer to them, or maybe it is a combination of the two. Either way, I'm glad we have a God that has compassion for those who need Him most.

Genesis 11 - Two monumental events in the history of the world take place in Genesis 11. The first is the incident at the Tower of Babel where God confuses the language of the people. They go from speaking one common language, and living in close proximity to one another to speaking many languages and being dispersed throughout the entire earth.

The second great event is the birth of Abraham, called Abram, in this chapter. Abraham would become the father of a great nation. Things don't look promising for that happening in this chapter as it is announced that Sarai (Sarah), Abraham's wife is barren.

It's tragic that so many "Christians" are now saying that Genesis 1-11 never happened. There is a Christian college in my area that has a teacher in the Bible department that says that Genesis 1-11 are allegory. What a tragedy! The power of the Bible is diminished when we sacrifice the truth of Scripture for convenient conjecture.

1 Chronicles 11 - What an interesting chapter! I don't recall reading the account of how David took the city of Jerusalem. This is why it is called the City of David. It is clear from 1 Chronicles 11 that David's victories were not the sole result of his brilliant military mind, but because the hand of the Lord was on him (see verse 9).

How awesome and encouraged the young king must have been to have 30 mighty men who were faithful to him and stood alongside of him. The description of the bravery and loyalty of these men in this chapter are awesome. It's sad, knowing David's future history, that Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba's husband is mentioned here. He would have done anything for David, but in the end, David has him killed because of his affair.

Luke 7:1-35 - John the Baptist sat in a prison cell. He was there because he had spoken against King Herod's sin. He had seen much in his life. God had allowed him to grow up in a godly home. His parents always doted on him. They called him their "miracle child." And, to be fair, he was! Everything about John's life spelled miracle. His birth was announced by an angel. He was born to a couple well past childbearing years. He was filled by the Holy Spirit from the womb. And, despite his strange diet and appearance, and his less than ideal ministry setting, God used him to impact hundreds, perhaps thousands of people.

Crowds used to come to see John in droves. Now all that saw him were a few prison guards, some disciples who occasionally visited him, and his fellow prisoners. Jail gave him lots of time to think. Was Jesus really who John thought that He was? It had been so clear. At the baptism of Jesus, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit were present. Jesus had been so tender and yet powerful with his words. But that didn't change John's location. "Why?" John must have thought. "Why has God put me here?"

Even spiritual giants can have doubts from time to time. John the Baptist was no exception. In Luke 7:20, two of John's disciples are sent to ask Jesus if He really is the one who is to come (the Messiah). Why did John ask this? Because he needed reassurance.

Jesus gave John reassurance. Just before the disciples of John found Jesus, he had done something spectacular. He had healed a centurion's servant and raised a widow's son from the dead.

Jesus knew John would have doubts. He knew John's friends would come to find Him in that town. And, He healed and raised the dead not just as a blessing to those families impacted by the healing and resurrection, but as a blessing to John as he sat in that prison cell.

Sometimes God encourages us by allowing us to see what He is doing in the lives of others. Has he done that for you? If so, thank Him for it, and rejoice while others rejoice.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 10, 2010

Passages Read Today: Psalm 9, Genesis 9:20-10:32; 1 Chronicles 10; Luke 6:17-49

Psalm 9 -
Psalm 9 is a psalm of praise to God for his wonderful deeds.

The verses that struck me most were the verses that spoke about God's righteous judgment and His justice (4, 7-8). We spoke in church today about the wrath of God. Only God has the right to judge man's heart, and He is the ultimate righteous Judge.

God's faithfulness is spoken of in verses 9-10. I love the truth of verse 10, "And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you."

I love that God wants us to seek after Him. He desires to be pursued by us. And, when we do, He promises that He will not forsake us.

Genesis 9:20-10:32 It's hard to believe that Noah, the patriarch of the one righteous family on earth, succumbed to drunkenness so soon after the worldwide flood. It didn't take long for the effects of sin to show their ugly head after the flood. Noah sins, his son Ham sins by dishonoring his father in Noah's drunkenness, but hope arises too. For, Shem and Japheth do the honorable thing. Like their father Noah, who acted honorably when the rest of the earth rebelled against God, Shem and Japheth choose the high road. They honor their father by refusing to look upon his nakedness in his drunken state. God was at work in the lives of these young men.

Noah was a godly man, but he wasn't a perfect man. Aren't you glad that God isn't looking for perfect people? He is looking for men and women who are willing to seek after Him; men and women who are willing to be changed by Him.

1 Chronicles 10 - Saul was Israel's first king. He didn't reach that position because of birth. He became king, because God chose him to be king. And, he began as a fine king.

But, as the year's went by, Saul became power hungry and broke his faith in the Lord. He even consulted a medium, seeking guidance. 1 Chronicles 10 is the sad story of Saul's death, and not only Saul's death but the death of his armor bearer and his three sons.

This morning in church we talked about God's judgement. We like to talk about God's grace and love, but His judgement is a topic we tend to ignore. Scripture doesn't sugarcoat the wrath of God. It's seen in many places in the Old Testament and New, including in the chroniclers theological explanation of Saul's death in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14. Reread these words now: "13 So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. 14 He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse."

Luke 6:17-49 - "19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all." - What a picture of our great God's power! I would have loved to be an eyewitness of this account; to see with my own eyes the people swarming, not just to see Jesus, but to touch Him. This is one of the few occasions where Jesus healed everyone. Often times, Jesus chose to heal some, and not heal others. There must have been great celebration that day!

I love the Beatitudes. There is so much rich truth in our Savior's words. He takes the world's system and turns it on its head. The poor are given the kingdom. The hungry will be satisfied. Those who weep will laugh. Those who are hated on account of Christ can rejoice for their great reward in heaven. How often, when we find ourselves in poverty, hunger, hated or persecuted do we rejoice? Not often. And, yet, if it's on account of Him, we can take joy in our future position.

It's interesting how Jesus turns it around again in verses 24-26, speaking woes upon those who live for this life only.

He contiues His "turn the world upside down" teaching when he calls us to love our enemies, not judge, and bear fruit.

None of what Jesus calls us to do is possible without building our spiritual house on the solid rock of Christ.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 9, 2010

Passages Read Today: Psalm 8, Genesis 8:20‐9:19, 1 Chronicles 9, Luke 5:1‐6:16

Psalm 8 -
It's amazing how many of our modern worship songs have come out of this Psalm. What is it about these words that resonate with us so much. We love a God who is majestic, whose name is renowned. We love the fact that God is so big and even though we are so insignificant in comparison, God is crazy about us.

I love the wording of the psalmist in verse 3. "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers. . ."

The heavens are the work of God's fingers! How many times do we use phrases like "the works of your fingers?" Not often. Works of your hands. Sure. Works of your labors. Sure. But, works of your fingers. I think of the works of fingers being works of art. Our fingers do fine detail work. They create. And, that's what God did in creation.

When a Jewish writer wanted to emphasize something, he might bookend it. That is, he would use the same phrase at the beginning and the end of his writing. That is what David did in Psalm 8. How majestic is our God's name in all the earth!

Genesis 8:20-9:19 - God had acted swiftly and justly. His judgment was final. There had never been a death toll like it. There would never be again. We read the covenant that God made with Noah and his family in Genesis 9:9. It is the first covenant ever recorded in the Bible. God's grace is good. He would move forward with His redemptive plan with this family. You and I are here because of this covenant, and are heirs to the covenant.

1 Chronicles 9 - It's interesting that Saul's geneaology is repeated in this chapter. It was also recorded in 1 Chronicles 8:29-38.

Luke 5:1-6:16 - Luke 5:1-6:16 records the calling of the first disciples. Our precious Lord chose ordinary men to follow Him as His disciples. And, their response to follow often times came because of that they had seen Him do. I find it interesting that Jesus came to save sinners, but Simon Peter, after seeing the miracle of the fish said, "Depart from me, I am a sinful man, O Lord." Jesus didn't want to depart from Peter, He wanted to save him. He came here because we needed Him. He came for sinful men and women.

These chapters really help us understand that it was because of to redeem sinful men that Jesus came to earth. Simon was right to ask Jesus to depart from his presence, because he felt guilty about his life. Jesus redeems Simon, and also offers this redemption to us.

I love after the calling of Matthew, the tax collector, that the Pharisees and Scribes accuse Jesus of hanging out with sinners. Jesus responds beautifully by explaining the the righteous don't need a doctor, the sick do. He came for sinners.

Luke, the doctor, is quick to point out the miraculous healings that took place in this chapter. These healings were needed because of the effects of the fall of man. Sin brought death, and Christ brings life. Embrace His gift of life today!

Friday, January 08, 2010

A Poem By My Grandpa from 1978

My Dad sent me this poem that my Grandpa Art wrote about his four Schulenburg grandsons back in 1978.


Our thoughts drift backward to you boys,
Of course, you know we miss you.
Your grandma counts each passing day
‘Till she can hug and kiss you.

Your grandpa pictures you each day,
Stretched on the floor a‐rolling,
With Rebel joining in the fun
That’s your when you go strolling.

Mark figures out minute details
He’s bound to be a banker.
He even knows, on fishing trips
Just where to drop the anchor.

Ran’s in a class beyond compare
When he picks up his trumpet,
Or dribbles through in basketball,
He knows just where to drop it.

Bri with his inner charm, so sweet,
Makes all our hearts beat faster.
In fact, we hope in God’s great plan,
Some day he’ll be a pastor.

Kev may be last, but never least,
His smile is sweet as honey.
He out performs a circus clown,
And every day is sunny.

So boys, you know just what we think,
You bring us both such pleasure.
There’s nothing we would trade you for,
You’re such a priceless treasure.

Grandpa Arthur T. Elfstrom
June, 1978

Notes from my Bible Study for January 8, 2010

Passages Read Today: Psalm 7, Genesis 8:1‐19, 1 Chronicles 8, Luke 4:14‐44

Psalm 7 -
What does it mean to take refuge in the Lord? David paints a beautiful picture of the safety that comes from following God in Psalm 7. I love verses one and two.

"O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver."

These verses bring to mind a youtube video that took the Internet by storm a few years back. A group of tourists were on an African safari when they came upon a pitiful scene. A pack of wildebeests were trying to cross a pond at Kruger Animal Park in South Africa when a juvenile wildebeest escaped from the herd. A pride of lions was lurking in the nearby grass, waiting for an opportunity to attack. The video shows the attack and what happened next. Watch it. The ending is incredible. And, it's a beautiful picture of the safety that comes when we take refuge. God is our ultimate refuge, the only One who will never fail us?

How has God been your Refuge?

Genesis 8:1-19 - 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him. 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.

What a scene! Noah and his family had obeyed God, they had endured the years of mocking before the flood, they had endured the flood and the long days at sea, and now they were about to begin a new life.

It must have been so strange. As they stepped off of the ark, the world would have looked different. The devastating effects of the flood changed the landscape, the scenery, and if a canopy of water had surrounded the earth, as many creationists believe, the sun and sky probably looked different.

God was faithful. He remembered Noah and all the beasts and livestock that were with him in the ark. He always has been and always will be faithful.

1 Chronicles 8 - I added no notes to my Bible here, but found it interesting that both Saul and Jonathan had sons whose names included Baal. My study Bible note said that these names were changed in 2 Samuel 2, because of the negative connotations that came with the pagan god Baal. These sons were not named after Baal.

Luke 4:14-44 - The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

I love this passage dealing with the beginning of Jesus' ministry. He speaks to the crowd gathered at Nazareth's synagogue the words of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit of God had anointed Jesus to proclaim good news to the poor, help proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and liberty for those who are oppressed. Jesus proclaimed the year of the Lord's favor.

I find it interesting to note that some of the first to testify as to who Jesus was, were the demons. It's one more evidence of the fact that we are in a very real spiritual battle, and Jesus is feared by the devil.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 7, 2010

Passages Read Today: Psalm 6, Genesis 7, 1 Chronicles 7, Luke 3:23:-4:13

Psalm 6 -
One of the things that I love about David, is that he was a man's man. He conquered nations. He was a warrior king. He defeated a giant and some ferocious animals. He was brave. And yet, he was tender.
David played the harp. He sang. He worshipped with passion. And, he sinned with passion. Everything he did, David did with passion. Even weeping.

This man's man wasn't afraid to admit that he wept. In Psalm 6:6-7, David gives one of the most vivid descriptions of despair that I have ever read. He writes, "I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes."

Doesn't quite sound like a conquering king, does it? Even those who hold great positions of power, struggle with emotional pain from time to time. David was no exception. But, David knew too, where his source of strength and healing was. It was God.

He ends this psalm with the truth that God had heard his plea and accepted his prayer. God would have his back. May we remember in our dark nights of the soul that God is watching over us. He loves us. He knows how tough life can be. And, he stands ready to heal us, if we'll serve Him fully.

Genesis 7 - Genesis 7 ends with these words, "Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days."

It got me thinking . . .

"Noah, it's time."

"Lord, is that you?"

"Yes, Noah. Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. . ."

"It's time. It's really time," Noah thought to himself as he hastily rushed the animals onto the ark.

It was so surreal. Animals were coming to him, and this huge vessel that he and his sons had built. The jeers and taunts of godless friends and neighbors had taken their toll over the years. There had been more than one discussion with his wife and sons over just how God expected them to endure under such hostility. They had felt like fools on more than one occasion. But now, even as they saw the miracle of the animals coming, all Noah felt was sadness.

Why had the people turned their backs upon God? Why was it that only Noah and his family could hear the voice of God? The distractions of the world had so drowned out the voice of God in the lives of the people.

Those distractions would soon be gone. The lust of the flesh would soon be replaced with rotting of flesh. God's judgment was sure to come. God always kept His promises. Noah felt sad.

God said that he would send rain, whatever that was, for forty days and forty nights and every living thing that he had made would be blotted out from the face of the earth.

Noah had never seen God so angry. He had walked with God for all 600 years of his life. He had seen such a change in the people during those years. A people who just a couple hundred years back had served and followed God had forgotten about Him.

"Forgotten, Dad? Forgotten, or ignored?" It was the voice of Shem. Shem, one of Noah's triplets had always had a special place in Noah's heart. He asked good questions. He, like Noah, loved the Lord.

"I suppose, ignored would be the better word, son? The evidence of God is all around, isn't it? How can you see the sunrise and forget the Creator? How can you see these magnificent beasts, and ignore the Lord?"

Just an hour before, Shem had been talking with his brothers about the dinosaurs that entered the ark so peacefully. These were indeed fascinating times. Shem wondered about the effects of this impending judgment on the big meat eaters like the dinosaurs. How would they survive? And, if they did, how would the other animals survive. It was so complicated. And so. . . sad. So, sad.

When the last of the animals boarded the ark it happened. Rain came. "So this is what rain is," thought Noah. It was drops of water at first, but within moments it became violent. The best way to describe it is that the fountains of the great deep burst fourth and the windows of heaven were opened.

The screams were awful. There were a few who knocked on the ark begging for mercy. But, God had shut the door. The people had their chance long ago. And the people chose pleasure, temporary pleasure, over God.

There wasn't just weeping on the outside of the ark, there was weeping in the ark too. Weeping for everyone, EVERYONE, else on planet earth. Weeping that God had chosen this family to survive while all else perished. Weeping that life would be so lonely. And, there was hope. Hope that God would do something new. Hope that this line of people would stay faithful to God. Hope that never again would the earth choose to reject God like this.

Only Noah was left, and those who were with him on the ark. And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.

1 Chronicles 7 - I did not add any notes to my Bible here.

Luke 3:23-4:13When I read about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, I reminded of how easily I fall for Satan's traps, and how much power we have in Christ to resist the devil. Jesus didn't fall for any of Satan's schemes. Not once! Never, ever! And, that, to me, brings great joy.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Notes from my Bible Study for January 6, 2010

Passages Read Today: Psalm 5, Genesis 6, 1 Chronicles 6, Luke 3:1-22

Psalm 5 -
When you read verses like Psalm 5:4-6 you get a picture of just how much God hates evil. I love how verse four says "evil may not dwell with you." And, at the same time it can be terrifying. We are all evil. We have all abandoned the things of God for our own desires. That is why His grace is so beautiful. When He sees Christians, God does not see our sin, but His grace.

Genesis 6 - Genesis 6 is a sad chapter. It teaches us much about the holiness of God. Our wickedness grieves God. It always has and always will. But, there are those in every generation who find favor in the eyes of God. I've heard it said that God has a remnant who are faithful to Him in every generation. It's tragic, that in the days of Noah, that remnant consisted only of His family. It's interesting to note here too that the progression of man's sin was so grave that, according to verse 5, "every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

Does it ever feel to you like this world is becoming a place like that? My heart broke this morning as I drove into work, listening to Minneapolis talk radio, and heard nothing but wickedness coming from my radio. The hosts were joking about how uptight Christians were about things that God clearly calls sin. May we, like Noah, be people who find favor in the eyes of the Lord.

I'm preaching through the life of Elijah at WCC right now. One of the marks of Elijah has been his continued obedience to God, no matter what it was that God asked him to do.

Noah was like this. The chapter ends with this verse: "Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him." May we do likewise!

1 Chronicles 6 - There is a lot of space devoted to the descendants of Levi. This is because, their job, as the priestly line, was so important. These were the men who went to God on behalf of the people. I read a note in my ESV Study Bible today that said that this genealogy was given such prominence in the listing of genealogies because of the importance of the priestly role. The chronicler placed the line of Levi in the center of the genealogical lists to show that the role of the priests was central to Jewish life. It was a role as important as that of the king.

It was interesting to read about the men who David put in charge of the service of song in 1 Chronicles 6:31-33. How awesome to picture years of ministering in the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and then picture the day that they moved into Solomon's temple. What a day that must have been!

The importance of the offerings was also shown in verse 49. Again, this is the chronicler's way of showing just how important the role of the priest was.

Verse 3 struck me too. What a family! "The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses and Miriam." There aren't many women included in genealogies, but Miriam is included. Here role in the exodus is crucial. You don't hear a lot about Amram in Scripture, but you do hear about his wife, who courageously defied Pharaoh and rescued her son.

Luke 3:1-22 -Jesus had high regard for John the Baptist. In Matthew 11:11, Jesus says, "11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

You can see why in verses like John 3:10-14. John's message of repentence was simple enough, "Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise." Tax collectors were told to "collect no more money than you are authorized to do." Soliders were told to "not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be content with your wages."

John showed people how to live like people of God. He called people to act like God's chosen people.

When Jesus comes to be baptized in verses 21-22 you see a significant thing happen. Jesus wasn't coming for forgiveness of sins. He came as an example and to identify with humanity's sin, which he would take upon Himself on the cross. We should follow his example in baptism.

His baptism is also one of the few occasions in Scripture where you see all three members of the Trinity shown in one place. The Father speaks, the Holy Spirit decends like a dove, and Christ is baptized.