Bible Study

Nov 2017
Change Your Story

Alfred, an acclaimed chemist, happened to meet another chemist who discovered nitroglycerin. It was unstable, but Alfred was sure there would be a way to make it useful. There were many experiments and many casualties, but finally, he produced a paste that could be molded into sticks which he called dynamite. Needless to say, he became a very wealthy man.

He soon found out what others thought of his invention when, in 1888, his brother Ludvig died. Through some journalistic error, Alfred’s obituary was widely printed instead of Ludvig’s. He was scorned for profiting from the deaths of others. One French newspaper’s epitaph stated, “The merchant of death is dead…he became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.”

Alfred was stunned by what he read and determined to change his story. One year before he died in 1896, Alfred signed his last will and testament, which set aside the majority of his vast estate to establish the five prizes designed to recognize world-wide accomplishments including one awarded for the pursuit of peace. Alfred Nobel changed his story and the Nobel Prize is his enduring legacy.

You are a creature of destruction. Everything about you is unstable and unless something changed you will destroy many lives. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways” (Romans 3:10, 13, 15-16). In order to change your story, you must be “pricked in your heart,” repent, and “call on the name of the Lord,” then you will be saved (Acts 2:37-38, 21).

Once you “gladly receive” these words, you have a different story. You are given a gift from God, the Holy Spirit, who provides among many things, power. With this power, you are now the messenger of peace. Before you only knew destruction, but in Christ, you now proclaim peace to those who need a Savior. Since the special day in Acts 2, millions have become witnesses for Christ throughout the world. You must carry the torch of hope, love, and life until the whole world knows Christ, the Savior of the World.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Nov 2017
What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

You have probably heard some variation of the saying, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” The point is your ignorance relieves you of the responsibility to writhe in worry. If you don’t know about it, then you don’t worry about it.

As Christ hung on the cross bruised, beaten, and bloodied, he experienced the greatest pain. A pain we don’t know fully. It was a pain greater than the pain of the cat of nine tails furrowing his back with each shredding snap. It was a pain worse than the thorns, inches long, piercing into his brow and his beard ripped from his face. It was a pain more horrid than the feeling of rejection by those he called friends. As the sky turned black, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46)?

We cannot fully comprehend the depth of His sorrow. It is a pain we only feel vicariously through Christ’s suffering. Because Christ is my Savior, He endured the anguish of estrangement I will never completely experience. However, the world mocks such terror. What they don’t know can hurt them. If you do not know Christ as your Savior, then truly what you don’t know can hurt you. Your ignorance of the “flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God” may relieve you of the responsibility to writhe in worry now, but the reality later will melt your heart like wax (2 Thessalonians 1:8; Psalm 22:14). You can’t imagine a different ending to your story. What you don’t know—what you refuse to acknowledge now—will become your terror!

The good news is Who you know can help you!

Jesus endured the cross on your behalf. With His sacrifice, He paved the path to the throne of grace that you “may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Now through the blood of Christ, you are not estranged from the presence of God. When the voice of our Savior echoed through the darkness and he sighed His last breath beneath the crushing weight of our sin, “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matthew 27:51)! You have been granted “all access” to God. Who you know saved you from what you never have to know fully because you can “call upon the name of the Lord” and be saved from your sin! “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25).

Because of Christ, scripture can say, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw night to you.” All you must do is invite the precious blood of Jesus to “cleanse your hands…and purify your heart” (James 4:8). Who you know can save you from what you don’t know…yet.

Nov 2017
May Your Will Rest in Peace

Have you ever overcommitted? Have you ever made a promise you couldn’t keep? Did Christ overcommit himself when he said, “Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7)?

Over course we would not agree Jesus overcommitted himself, but it is a promise which seems like it would be a great gig. Ask what you will and God will do it for you, right?

One person said, “There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God.” When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane He said, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). The act of burying one’s will in the will of God is a committal service resigning your earthly will to the Lord. The problem is we really like our will. We allow our will to limp and gasp through life. Almost like a couple decades old computer, our will is overtasked with the daily demands. We refuse to lay it to rest, though because it is too special. Our will has been our prize for so many years. It’s been a part of our life as our daily companion. We can’t bear to let it go.

God invites you to release your will and He promises to resurrect it into something glorious—His will. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Although this is a defensible truth about heaven, Paul quoted this in the middle of a passage about God wanting to reveal grand and glorious truths to us. This is not a promised delayed until heaven. This is a promise available now. To know the will of God, we must bury your will. As long as our inferior, self-imagined will survives, we can’t live his incredible will for us.

How do you bury your will? Psalms gives us the answer where we are told, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:3-4). It’s actually the same qualifiers Jesus gives to His disciples: “Keep my commandments” and “abide in me.” We must trust God knows best. The carte blanch promise is only available to those who delight in God’s will. Jesus said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

You have a choice: make it on your own with your finite wisdom, power, and vision; or, bury your will in God’s will, delight in His plan, and live with a limitless supply of wisdom, power, and purpose. The dirge is playing. May your will rest in peace in the perfect will of God.

Oct 2017
Suit Up for Service

How many followers of Christ traipse around in the Emporer’s new clothes? Thinking they are exquisitely clad with their ornaments of royalty, they flit about naked. The warning to the church of Laodicea is a startling reminder, “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me…white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear” (Revelation 3:17-18).

The saints clothing is an interesting study. There are two main articles we must put on. The robe of righteousness can only be put on once we have shed the old man of self-righteousness (Isaiah 61:10; cp. Ephesians 4:24; Philippians 3:9). However, the focus at this moment is in John 13. Jesus was faced with the epic climax of his ministry on earth for he “knew that his hour was come that he should depart” (John 13:1). When we face moments of crisis, we shrink back into our shell and fold in on ourselves. Jesus “riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself” (John 13:4).

A soldier buckles his gear in place for battle. A carpenter straps his belt around him for work. Jesus adorns the towel of humility as a badge of honor as he washes his disciples’ feet. The first article of clothing for the saint is the robe of righteousness, but the second is the towel of humility. To be clothed in humility (1 Peter 5:5), we must follow our Savior’s example.

Notice, he rose up. The believer who comments, “I don’t know how God wants me to serve or what I should do,” often is the believer who sits in the pew. Rise up! Push away from the table. If you are not serving your Savior, then you are a disgrace to his example. Too many sit at meat although Christ is “among you as he that serveth.” Jesus posed the question to his disciples, “For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat” (Luke 22:27)? Let this truth prick your conscience. If the Lord rose up from the table and served, all the while I remain at the table, I have positioned myself as greater than He. The reluctance to serve is the presumption of superiority!

It’s time to rise up and lay aside the garments of our perceived self-importance and wrap the towel of humility about our waist. Serve your friends. Serve your enemy and you will “heap coals of fire upon his head” (Romans 12:20). Serve your Savior. A follower of Christ must truly follow his example and take the towel of service. Only then are you “clothed in humility” (1 Peter 5:5).

Oct 2017
The Dangers of Daydreaming

Imprisoned within the cinderblock walls of the school building, you look longingly out the window. You daydream about the things you could be doing. Suddenly, you recognize your name. The room had grown silent which only amplified the teacher’s repeated call for your attention. You don’t know the answer because you were only present in the body and not in the mind. The warmth of embarrassment reddens your face as your teacher says, “Eyes, up here!”

The embarrassment you may have experienced in school could not even compare to the disciples’ chagrin. When they snapped out of their slumber, an army from the chief priests swarmed around Jesus. The scene is fraught with chaos as the disoriented disciples respond with the sword but mostly by hiding. The echoes of their bold promise to never deny their Master haunted the disciples. They missed the opportunity to prepare for this moment.

How missed opportunities plague us because we fail to watch for such a short while! We aren’t in the Garden of Gethsemane with our Lord, but we are supposed to be in the fields working while it is daytime. Just like Little Boy Blue, we are asleep under a haystack. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). What is the solution to slumber?

Stop daydreaming and walk. “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). “Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” (1 John 1:7). The first solution is to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes you soar in life, sometimes you run, but most of the time life is a walk in which you must not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Stop daydreaming and work. Work while it is daytime (John 9:4). Jesus’ focus in his ministry was the Father’s will while it was the opportunity to accomplish his purpose. We are called to redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16). The night will come when no man can work. “Let us, who are of the day, be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them…But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief…Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6)

An indication of your slumber is your procrastination to serve. The disciples planned to rest now and labor later, but the missed opportunity now caused despair later. Protect yourself from the disappointment of missed opportunities. Walk. Work. Watch. You will not suffer loss.

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