Bible Study

Aug 2018
Join the Choir

Upon reading the Bible this morning, I came upon verse 12 of Psalm 96, “Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.” I was reminded of a song we used to sing in Bible Camp. It is entitled, “When the Trees of the Wood Will Clap Their Hands.” As we sung this kid’s favorite, all would clap their hands at that part and sing out loudly. Being one of the adults there, I would wonder about trees clapping their hands-literally. Surely, I saw trees on the “Yellow Brick Road” engage humans in speech; however, this is not a fictional movie! But I did my share of wondering in awe.

So, do trees clap, the sea roar, do floods clap and hills rejoice (Ps. 98:8)? My answer is simply-yes. An inquisitive person would ask if I have ever seen or heard trees clap. I have heard mighty rushing winds that sounded like voices (another language only the Creator knows?). I have seen endless wheat fields sway back and forth, in the wind, as if dancing in the presence of the Almighty. Who could forget the majesty of the Tetons? Many a morning the alpenglow was glorious, as sunrise approached, giving the viewer a quick peak at God’s palette. There was no detectable sound, yet I knew there was praise taking place and it caused me to praise God too. What about the Grand Canyon? Nowadays folk gather there to discuss what millions of years have done to create it. Hogwash. Time was not the sculptor of this wonder, but a Holy God who either spoke it into existence or used a finger to etch it so. “I stand amazed in the presence…”

So, the verdict? Some say these verses are metaphorical, but not I. If God’s Word says these things, why couldn’t they be literal? Why do humans think they have to rationalize everything? “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rm. 11:33). Everything was created to praise God in one way or another, but humans have a choice; that sadly, not all exercise. From the early morning robin, to a rock on the ground (Lu. 19:40), to a hoot owl at night, to the clapping tree and even the stars (Job 38:7) these are all part of God’s choir. We have but a powerful lesson to learn from these things. We possess the wherewithal and knowledge yet we balk. Theologian Karl Barth summed this up beautifully when he wrote, “When man accepts…Jesus Christ…he is only like a late-comer slipping shamefacedly into creation’s choir in heaven and earth, which has never ceased its praise.”

Aug 2018
The Story Continues

The book of Chronicles begins and you probably wonder when the names will stop. Imagine looking through a photo album, but not of your family. It is your neighbor’s or your friend’s album. Maybe you recognize a few faces because you grew up together, but that is the extent of your familiarity. In Chronicles, you are looking through someone else’s photo album. Each name contains a story. There are stories of celebration and distress, of wickedness and righteousness, of renown and obscurity.
Keep in mind the author’s intent. He was not writing a cure for insomnia. A few decades earlier, the Jews returned to Jerusalem after spending a few decades in exile. The promises of God were fulfilled. He did bring them back to Israel, which meant His other promises were also possible. The promise of a perfectly just ruler in Jerusalem from the line of David who would reign with unrivaled righteousness. All the nations of the earth would flood into Jerusalem to worship Him. The Messiah would sit on the throne. This chronicler is simply stimulating the hope of Israel.
By replaying all the known history via a catalog of names, the reader is to quickly refresh his memory of God’s work in times past. The accounts of King David and his sons build the anticipation. The King is coming! In the Hebrew Bible, Chronicles is the last book. Can you appreciate the Jews excitement as you turn the last page of Chronicles and live out the incredible arrival of the Messiah in the Gospel accounts? The memories are fresh, the promise reviewed, the nation waits with bated breath as the forerunner announces the Messiah’s arrival. Can you also grasp their devastation as their Prince of Peace was not sitting on a throne, but hanging on a cross? The story continues. Just as the chronicler wrote, the future is bright because the promises of God are still alive and well. Get ready to herald the King’s entrance!
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:12-13).

Aug 2018
Getting in Line
As a teacher begins a new school year, some of the most important lessons of the year come during the first week. No, for the most part, it does not have much to do with the “three R’s” of education. However, these vital points of instruction actually make or break the classes educational quality. What are these most important points of education? They teach the young ones how to walk in line. At first glance, you probably doubt the importance of these points of procedure, but do not be fooled. They surprisingly establish the environment for learning. Training the children’s basic deportment in the classroom and in transition around the school essentially conditions the atmosphere to eliminate all distractions and maximize the teaching potential. 
The Israelites are about to learn how to walk in a line, literally! They are going to learn how to sit at their desk…well, more like how to live in the camp, but the concept is the same. They have sat at the base of Mt. Sinai and learned how to worship God, now they will grow in their discipline as a nation while they learn to walk with God. They are a kindergartner of a nation, so God is going to show them how to walk and live. He will “whip them into shape” in order to eliminate all distractions and maximize their learning potential.
As you read through all the numbers and organization, consider your own life. Are there some distractions you could eliminate? Are there some extraneous activities that clutter your life so you can’t hear God clearly? Are you a little haphazard in the way you walk with God? Maybe you’re that kid who is lost in their own world and left behind in the lunch room? Or maybe you are the mischevious child always looking for a way to dash to the playground? Paul echoes the lesson of Numbers: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Is your life characterized by “order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ” (Colossians 2:5)? The Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land. They will engage the enemy and live in maturity! Their success or failure pivots on their awareness of God’s presence and protection. Their survival depends on their appreciation of God’s provision and patience.
All of this is learned in the wilderness. Get in line. Answer “here” to the roll call. Class is about to start!

Aug 2018
Pillar and Ground of the Truth

“Well I used to go to church, but then one of the deacons offended me 4 years ago and I haven’t been back since.   I mean, I read my Bible a couple times a week and watch my favorite preacher online every Sunday so I’m doing fine.  As a matter of fact, I really don’t miss church too much at all.”   How many times have you heard someone say something along those lines?   Someone who used to go to church but now feels that church attendance is not that big of a deal.  After all, we can read our Bible ourselves and now pull up thousands of good preachers online so is being a part of a local church that big of a deal?

In our reading today, we get a good glimpse of how important the church really is.  1 Timothy 3:15 says, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” Did you catch that?  Paul calls the church the “pillar and ground of the church”.  You could rephrase that to say that the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth.  God has chosen the New Testament church as the entity to hold up and carry on the truth expressed in His Word. As important as our personal walk with the Lord is, God did not design us to be “Lone Rangers” out and about of our own volition doing the Lord’s work.  But instead He has chosen for us to be a part of and operate through a solid, Bible-believing church.   All through the NT we see God operating through various churches as His Word was spread by the apostles and early church leaders.  Evangelism, mission work and even the meeting of physical needs were all done through the church. So may we not yield to the temptation of thinking that attending church is not that big of a deal and that our involvement in one is optional.  But may we instead take our rightful role in the “pillar and ground of the truth.”


Aug 2018
Take the Highway
What is 46,876 miles long, estimated at $425 billion, and took about 35 years to complete?
It was created to improve the transportation times of military troops to and from airports, other terminals, and military bases.
It was deemed critical to the defense of the United States.
Hint: Dwight D. Eisenhower is known for championing this after seeing how it worked in Germany.
It is the Interstate Highway System. You know, those things that are crowded with traffic because of too many people and accidents. Yeah, those things were designed to facilitate moving soldiers, not necessarily vacationers across the country.
Highways are very helpful. They have helped me cross the country five times from coast to coast!
You know “highway” is in the Bible, right?
“The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: He that keepeth his way preserveth his soul” (Proverbs 16:17).
There are a lot of parallels to this, but let’s look at one. I went to college in Florida. The number one question I get is, “Did you see any hurricanes?” Yes, I did and one of them was Ivan the Terrible. Not too much later there was Katrina which was a record setter. When those hurricanes come and evacuation is mandatory, those highways are vital. They cause all traffic to run one way on both sides of the road to get all the people out of danger.
Proverbs says that the upright has a highway which gets them out of danger too. It’s great to know that we have a way of escape but think about this.
Does the highway magically appear when the hurricane comes or was it built years before and has been prepared for the day of danger? Uh huh. It definitely was prepared years before.
If you want to have victory over sin, if you want to find the escape from that moment of temptation, it’s not a magical moment. It’s a plan that has been thought out and prepared in advance.
Start building some highways today.