Bible Study

Jan 2017
Learning to Count

Which is heavier: a pound of lead or a pound of feathers?

Technically neither is heavier. They are both a pound, but we naturally attribute density to lead and lightness to feathers so lead seems heavier. When you consider one compliment versus one complaint, which is greater? They both total one. Considering they both come from valuable sources, our tendency is to ascribe more weight to the one complaint. All of a sudden, one complaint drowns one or one hundred compliments.

Crisis, Chaos, and Complaints always loom larger. They are the huge shadowy figures that cause us to duck our heads under the covers of safety. If we flick the light on, however, we will see the shadow is not the true form. The shadow was from a small figure in our life that appeared to be monstrous.

When the psalmist exclaims, “I will show forth all thy marvelous works,” he is instructing us in a lesson of counting. You see, we often forget how to count. Job knew how to count. “Shall we receive good from the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?” What Job experienced was traumatic. Let’s not trivialize it, but his response to his wife was a lesson of counting. In effect, Job was expressing, “If we ‘shew forth’ or number all of the Lord’s blessings to us, does none of it count once tragedy strikes? Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Nothing Job had was of his own power. He came into the world naked! Anything he enjoys in this life is simply the marvelous works of God. Job didn’t let the handful of crises reduce his balance in the bank of blessing to zero. There wasn’t a run on the bank in Job’s life.

In all this Job did not sin with his lips. What is the key? “They that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” Job, more than most, had the grounds to feel forsaken. Forsaken is a zero balance in the bank of blessing. Because Job knew how to count his blessings, his initial response was to bless the name of the Lord. Which is greater: one blessing or one blow? When you count all the marvelous works of the Lord, you will realize God has not forsaken you.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as he have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

Jan 2017
The Way of Usefulness

God’s ways are not our ways. In these early chapters of Genesis, two men are given similar compliments regarding their relationship with God. It is said they both walked with God. It is understood they both found grace as well, yet the way God works with one person is seldom the same as the next person. They say an adult makes more than ten thousand decisions a day! Imagine the possibilities if you were to alter only one hundred of those decisions. Now imagine, God, although not bound by any finite limitations, makes that many decisions and more for your life every day. However, it grows exponentially because your actions impact the lives of others which may inhibit or liberate their decision process. It is impossible for us to grasp the mechanics involved with God holding the world together!

Therefore, you have Enoch who walked with God and Noah who also walked with God. The grace they found from the God of heaven was as unique as their fingerprints.

The grace of God took Enoch; the grace of God left Noah.

The grace of God translated Enoch; the grace of God enabled Noah.

Enoch escaped by God’s grace; Noah endured by God’s grace.

It wasn’t that one was necessarily better than the other. They were both accepted by God. It was only that they were more useful to God in different ways. While the family reunions always had the hushed mystery when Uncle Enoch came up in conversation, Noah’s message of warning by word and deed was accomplishing the same thing. They both, in their unique way, directed the world’s attention to the God, sovereign and supreme over all men.

Those who compare themselves among themselves are not wise. Your responsibility is to walk with God close enough to clearly hear His call on your life. It is His wisdom which chooses how you would best serve Him. God’s grace makes you useful.

Jan 2017
The Multitude of Thy Mercy
The path was well-worn. It was so familiar he could walk it all the while looking up into the majestic display of God’s presence. Enoch knew the presence of God. Enoch’s voice must have been tuned to the same harmonies of devotion as the psalmist. As he walked with God, he must have done so in the morning with prayers directed up to God. He was looking up to the Lord so much that God took him.
However, the foolish have no audience with God and the workers of iniquity do not receive blessings but only wrath from God. The Lord abhors the bloody man. “What has thou done?” God asked Cain, a man whose hands still dripped with the blood. The access to divine instruction and guidance Cain once knew was now inflamed with righteous vengeance on behalf of Abel.
I wonder if the psalmist had men like Enoch and Cain in mind as he wrote this psalm? In Psalm 5:7, his will is to enter God’s space, but he didn’t presume he was fit to enter on his own merit. No, he would enter God’s house because of the multitude of His mercies. This is where Cain erred and Enoch succeeded. When God confronted Cain, his countenance changed. Cain was displeased. Why? He deserved better. He deserved the presence of God on his own terms. Cain’s heart was disclosed by his sacrifice. Many times we are examining the sacrifice one brings as if there’s some mystical method to the madness of approaching God. It is not the sacrifice you should investigate. It’s the heart you should interrogate. The only way anyone can enjoy the presence of God is by walking the same path of humility Enoch and David trod. When asked why they should be allowed audience with the God of heaven, the humble serf cries out, “Only according to the multitude of thy mercies.” To walk with God, forget not the path of humility.

Jan 2017
Stand in Awe of God
The fear of the Lord. I am consistently amazed how Scripture builds upon itself. After all God’s creative acts, you’d think a man would find it easy to be in such awe of God that he’d obey without any hesitation. All it took was a serpent armed with some questions. All we needed was a piece of fruit, something out of reach according to God’s instruction. The man was quick to trade all he knew for all he didn’t know—ignorance for wisdom, fear for security, choice for comfort. The fear of the Lord becomes more instructive, doesn’t it?
For centuries man has traded the known for the unknown.
The unknown of his own way at the expense of promised blessing.
The unknown of his choices at the expense of security in righteousness.
The unknown of uncertain fear at the expenses of designed comfort.
God has his own questions for man, “How long will ye love vanity?” (Psalm 4:2). That is the question man must resolve to answer! The psalm is coated in wisdom. The Lord reserves blessing to those who do not choose the vanity of fruit over the value of fear. Stand in awe of God, and what’s the result? Sin not! This has been the way for man since God created time and Adam.
Stand in awe of God before you choose that fruit of the unknown. Stand in awe of God and you will prevent enormous failure. The greatest contrast in Scripture is stated in Psalm 4. When you fear the Lord genuinely, do you know the result?
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep” (Psalm 4:8)
Proper awe produces security. True fear translates into peace. The fear of the Lord must be the key for every person to find the Edenic peace and provision they truly are seeking.