Bible Study

Jan 2018
Trash Or Treasure

My wife has an eye for treasure. For two years we lived in an area where people left things on the street for garbage which were nicer than what you might find at the second-hand store! She could spot was was a treasure in the midst of everything else on the street which was trash. What at a passing glance would have been missed, she found saw value and had me bring home.

Job feels like trash at this point. He says, “My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; My skin is broken, and become loathsome” (Job 7:5). His friends are the only ones paying any attention to him, and right now he wishes they would take their “encouragement” elsewhere. Job does ask some very interesting questions, and, in the end, you will see the transformation from trash to treasure.

He pleads his insignificance: “Am I a sea, or a whale, That thou settest a watch over me” (Job 7:12)? This is a very insightful question. How do we compare? We are more reckless than the sea and less responsive than the whale. As unpredictable as the sea might be, it can be tamed by the Master’s bidding. The command, “Peace, be still,” silences the fury and stops the raging power of the sea (Mark 4:39)! The whale comes when beckoned. The Lord can prepare a great fish to swallow his messenger and three days later vomit him upon dry land (Jonah 1). Such a behemoth is as docile as a child’s pet in the Creator’s hand.

The will and whim of man is the wild frontier. The heart of man requires the firm hand of the Lord to cultivate it’s potential, to untangle the vines of defiance. In pure frustration, Job asks, “What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? And that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him” (Job 7:17)? In effect, Job is asking, “Why won’t you leave me alone?” The answer is God sees a treasure, not trash. If the value is measured by capacity, the sea is more valuable than a man. If the value is measured by capability, the whale is more valuable than you or me.

However, God measures value by companionship. He desires a relationship with the crown of His creation which for a little while has been made a little lower than the angels. He has set his heart upon man with such devotion, He moved heaven and earth to pursue him. He visits him with the daily and divine measure of mercy that He might preserve him forever (Job 7:18; Lamentations 3:22-23). The only thing standing between God’s desire is your determination. God has pardoned your transgressions and taken away your iniquities (Job 7:21)! Jesus faced the rejection Job felt here. Jesus was crushed by the weight of your sin so you may find the pleasure of His companionship for all eternity.

God sees you as a treasure.

Jan 2018
Justice For All

After many years as a peace officer, I became very disillusioned with the justice system. I was tired of watching criminals get away with literal murder. I was shocked to see drug dealers back on the street a day after their arrest and murderers walking the street while out on bail. They would yell out profanities and taunt as I patrolled them. I thought that some Texas justice might solve the problem, but then I would be no better than them.

Our justice system, with its many faults, is still the best in the world. In its current state, it is not what our founding fathers intended. After all, it was founded upon the principles of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17). I was raised to respect the law and be a decent citizen. These mockers of justice broke my heart, as they whittled away at the sanctity of our society. I felt as if I were fighting a losing battle. As if I was draining Lake Erie with a thimble.

Then came the day I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and started reading the Bible. I soon discovered a man with similar feelings of frustration, His name was King David. Through reading the Bible, my hope was restored. I learned that God was the Supreme Justice and nobody can escape His justice. They could mock and taunt all they want. “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” (Ps 2:1). 

Take a look at the readings today (Ps. 9, 10, and 11) where David is expressing his feelings of injustice. However, he correctly funnels it toward the only One who can rightly justify or judge. It is important to realize that God will cure all of the world’s injustices in His time. I do not understand God’s time, but we have no right to question the Creator (Is. 40:28).

Sooner or later we all realize that justice on earth is not always fair. But we must constantly remember, and rely on Him – the Supreme, Righteous Judge. We are all guilty before God (Rom. 3:10) and our final verdict will be one of two according to Rom. 6:23, either death or life (guilty/not guilty). His justice will be fair. Because of Christ’s sacrificial death, as a believer, I will get what I do not deserve-eternal life with God. The scoffers (those who have not accepted Christ’s forgiveness) will get what they deserve – eternal life in a Devil’s Hell.

With this said, we cannot plead the scoffer’s case to God. We each have to come to Him on our own. But we should all the more present the evidence (the Gospel) to them in hopes of changing their eternal address. So fret not with worldly injustices. Hear ye, hear ye, this court is now in session with the Honorable Judge Jesus presiding. There will be justice for all!

Jan 2018
Fear of Missing Out

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” — Edmund Burke

This has been a convicting quotation for a couple centuries, yet the nemesis of apathy has existed for all time. Joshua valiantly led the Israelites into the Promised Land. He soundly crushed the enemies and silenced the opposition. The remaining nations were fragmented and disoriented. After some time, the children of Israel gathered and Joshua asked them, “How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you” (Joshua 18:3)? Fast forward about fifteen hundred years, and the writer of Hebrews tells believers, “Give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:2). The words slack and slip convey the same problem.

Man tends to let things of value float on by because the price tag of struggle is too much. Thomas Eddison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” What is the cause for such a dangerous disposition?

First, we grow comfortable. The longer we tolerate sin and wretchedness around us, the duller our conscience becomes to it. What used to shock us and horrify us, now barely earns the rebuke of a glance. The psalmist lamented his dwelling when he mentions, “Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace” (Psalm 120:5-6). What he describes is the tension which exists between those fully aware of their identity in the Lord and the folly of the world. Those around him may be his neighbor, but they are miles apart in their life’s pursuit. How do you remedy such a plight? You must encounter the presence of the Lord. Isaiah was comfortable, but in the presence of the Lord he said, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). The light of God’s righteousness illuminates the wretchedness of our situation and we are again aware of our living conditions.

Not only do we grow comfortable, but sadly many believers have been caudled. Worship, which is more than singing praises or attending church, but is a life actively lived for God’s glory—worship was something we have been lead to do so much so we cannot seem to lead ourselves in it. Evangelism is something we do when we are with someone who is a strong influence in our life. We fail to notice moral compromises unless someone is with us. So many believers never take the steps necessary to mature and direct others to worship the Lord. They rode the coattails of their parents or elders, but fail to make the faith their own.

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat…Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.” (Hebrews 5:12; 6:1)

We are not given the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), but we are told to fear in Hebrews 4:1. “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us…you should seem to come short of it.” The Fear of Missing Out on the full experience of God’s promises should spur us forward.

How long are ye slack to own what God has given you?

Jan 2018
What's In A Name?

My wife worked for a correspondence school program and she handled the file for two kids whose names were Oranjello and Lemonjello. The parents must have confused the baby name book with their most recent grocery store shopping list!

When is the last time you met someone named Benedict? Not very likely you have although the name Benedict has a lovely meaning, “Blessed.” For a couple centuries, that name has been soiled by the reputation of one of America’s most infamous traitors, Benedict Arnold. His personality has modified the appreciation of a name; it has influenced the name. Names are important, but for God, His name is revelatory. Where the actions of a Benedict influence a name, with God it is the opposite. His name describes how He acts. We cannot understand God without His name.

God is a spirit; He does not have a body or form. You can recognize someone by their face and mannerisms. You can see children or grandchildren and recognize the traits they possess from their parents. You can also recognize one another through the quality of one’s voice. We have these visual and audible retainers through which we hang our understanding of people. God does not have form though. So on what do we hang our understanding of God? The only thing we can—His names.

Abram is in the Ur of Chaldees without any apparent concept of God, yet he is visited by God, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee” (Genesis 12:1). In order to fully appreciate God’s identity, we must strip away any of the world’s influence. The world has their own concept of God. They have descriptions and even epic myths about God. However, none of those will lead to a life of faith. Those fables actually destroy the fabric of faith in God because they are woven with the frailty of human weakness.

However, when we decide to honor and worship God on His terms, according to His revealed identity, then we will benefit. “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). Later in Abram’s life, he fights to rescue Lot and ends up reclaiming massive riches. The king of Sodom says to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself” (Genesis 14:21), but Abram would not do this. A few verses earlier, Abram was reminded by Melchizedek of God’s name, “The Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:19). Abram recognized he didn’t need anything from the world which was a valuable lesson considering his escapade in Egypt during a famine a couple chapters earlier. He clings to the name of God and pledges His allegiance to depend upon Him alone.

Someone has said, “Our concern is more about going to heaven than loving the King.” Is this true in your life? If this is the case, then it’s no wonder people feel they can live however they choose because their ticket is punched for heaven. But if we are living because of our love for the King, this changes our motivation and improves our behavior.

Jan 2018
God Is at Work

It’s very easy as we go through this human existence called “life” to sometimes get our eyes focused on the here and now instead of seeing the big picture of what God is doing in our lives. Our reading today in Romans 8 should cause us to realize and appreciate what God is up to.

I want to look specifically at verses 29-30 which states:

“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified. 

In these verses, we see the “big picture” of what God has done and is doing in and through His children. We can’t help but notice a list of five action words; verbs that no doubt volumes could be written about but we’ll just briefly touch on what each of these mean.

  • “Foreknew” — In God’s infinite knowledge He knew who would be saved and become a child of God.
  • “Predestined” — God predetermined a course of action for those who would be saved; that is, that they would be conformed to the image of His Son.
  • “Called” — This word indicates the call and wooing of God in our lives for salvation.
  • “Justified” — Once we have responded to this call, God declares us justified and gives us the privilege of having a right standing with Him.
  • “Glorified” — Because we have been justified, we have the opportunity to share in His glory.

What a powerful list of words indicating what God is doing behind the scenes in our lives. We are not here by accident nor did God create the world and let fate take over from there. Instead, He is actively involved in the affairs of men, and particularly those of His children. Knowing and appreciating the truth of these two verses allows u to claim the familiar promise in verse 28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose”.

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