Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ Category

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”) and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink. But after tasting it, he would not drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat down and kept guard over him there. Above his head they put the charge against him, which read: “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” Then two outlaws were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross!” In the same way even the chief priests — together with the experts in the law and elders — were mocking him: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the king of Israel! If he comes down now from the cross, we will believe in him! He trusts in God — let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!” The robbers who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.

Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land. At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me ?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the rest said, “Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah will come to save him.” Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit.

– Matthew 27:33-50

I have to admit that Good Friday bugs me. What is so darn good about it. Let’s just take a moment and think about this. The greatest prophet, teacher, leader – the very son of God – is dead. He would no longer be around to teach us, lead us and guide us. We would have to be happy with the words and teaching he had given us to this point. It does not seem like it is a good Friday. In fact, we believe that he ascended into the very pit of hell. He suffered horribly. Why does that make such a good day. Okay, so he would rise again in a few days. He would come back to life and his church would greatly expand. That makes Sunday a good day, but not Friday. Friday is really a pretty crappy day, isn’t it.

This is exactly what I used to think, but then Pastor Jason St. Clair preached a sermon on Easter Sunday morning that brought it home. See Good Friday really had nothing to do with Jesus. Sure he died on that day, but it had nothing to do with him. It had to do with a sacrificial system that God had set up hundreds of years before. A substitutionary atonement was necessary for our sins to be covered. That is why animals lost their life at the altar. They were innocent, but they had to die so our sins could be covered. In fact, there was always one goat, the scapegoat, that received the sins of the nation on the Day of Atonement. That goat was not sacrificed like the rest. Instead, it was lead out into the desert and was watched until it died. When the animal was dead the watcher would come back and announce that the sins had been forgiven. See, Jesus is our scapegoat. He is innocent, but he hung on a cross he did not deserve. He was not the sacrifice that covered over our sins. He was the scapegoat that provided permanent forgiveness.

We have a choice. We will have atonement for our sins…

Will you atone for your own sin and therefore receive the ultimate punishment – separation from a Holy God.

Will you accept the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ that was brought on Good Friday and receive the ultimate reward – eternity with a Holy God.

Who will atone for your sin, you of Jesus?

16:1 Then Job replied:

16:2 “I have heard many things like these before.

What miserable comforters2 are you all!

16:3 Will3 there be an end to your4 windy words?5

Or what provokes6 you that you answer?7

16:4 I also could speak8 like you,

if9 you were in my place;

I could pile up10 words against you

and I could shake my head at you.11

16:5 But12 I would strengthen13 you with my words;14

comfort from my lips would bring15 you relief.

– Job 16:1-5

Once again, Job proves that he is a man of wisdom. He takes time out from him own distress to try and educate his “friends.” As it turns out, Jobs friends are telling him that he is being judged because he is such a horrible person. Now, we know we are called to tell the truth in live, but they are not really saying anything of substance. They are not pointing out the areas that Job need to work on. Instead they are telling Job that he must be doing something wrong because God has cursed him. The logic leads something to be desired.

Job supposed friends have another course they should have taken. They should be listening to Job. That is it. They should be a listening ear when Job needed someone to hear him. As you might guess, Job was in a pretty bad place. He had lost all of his material wealth, His whole family was dead except for him wife and she was basically telling him he should be dead (feel the love, huh.) Job did not need a lot of ill informed platitudes. Job needed someone to sit beside him, listen to him, pray for him and help him. God often calls us to be the kind of person who is just going to listen when we see those in need. Maybe there is nothing we (or anyone else) can do about their situation, but we can listen.

Heavenly Father,

I pray that you would give us discernment to know when to speak the truth in love and to know when there is no truth for us to speak. I pray that you would give us the ability to be a listening ear instead of a bellowing mouth when necessary. Thank you Lord for your mercy. Amen.

11:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite spoke up and said:

11:2 “Should not this2 abundance of words be answered,3

or should this4 talkative man5

be vindicated?6

11:3 Will your idle talk7 reduce people to silence,8

and will no one rebuke9 you when you mock?10

11:4 For you have said, ‘My teaching11 is flawless,

and I am pure in your sight.’

11:5 But if only God would speak,12

if only he would open his lips against you,13

11:6 and reveal to you the secrets of wisdom –

for true wisdom has two sides14

so that you would know15

that God has forgiven some of your sins.16
– Job 11:1-6

There is an issue here.  Jobs “friend,” Zophar has this idea that God has forgiven some of Jobs sins and that he therefore actually deserve a much greater amount of punishment than he is receiving.  While we all know that we deserve death for our sins, Zophar is simply off base.  When we are forgiven, we are completely forgiven.  God does not selectively forgive us.  Sure we must be repentant, but when we are repentant we are washed clean.  In truth, we all deserve to die for our sins, but God has cleaned them completely away.  True and complete forgiveness is open to us when we are repentant.  Zophar is not only wrong, he does not understand God.

Heavenly Father,

Thanks you for forgiving us completely.  Thank you for not punishing us as we justly deserve.  Lord, I pray that you help me to see your forgiveness in front of me each and every day.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

Why? – Job 8-10

10:18 “Why then did you bring me out from the womb?

I should have died47

and no eye would have seen me!

10:19 I should have been as though I had never existed;48

I should have been carried

right from the womb to the grave!

10:20 Are not my days few?49

Cease,50 then, and leave51 me alone,52

that I may find a little comfort,53

10:21 before I depart, never to return,54

to the land of darkness

and the deepest shadow,55

10:22 to the land of utter darkness,

like the deepest darkness,

and the deepest shadow and disorder,56

where even the light57 is like darkness.”58
– Job 10:18-22

What a question?  Why?   We all want that question answered.  Why this?  Why that?  Job was asking why because of all of the pain he was experiencing.  The truth is that we will not always be able to answer the Why question.  Sometime we just have to trust that God knows what he is doing.  If you think about it, there is so much that we simply cannot understand.  We don’t understand creation.  We don’t understand God’s love.  We don’t understand forgiveness.  Yet, we know that each of these did happen, is happening and will continue to happen.  We just have to believe that as we come through the painful or trying times times that God is in control.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the trials.  They refine us and help us learn.  Thank you for the pain because it is often through pain that we grow.  Help us to know you and love you.  I love you Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Friends – Job 4-7

6:14 “To the one in despair, kindness46 should come from his friend47

even if48 he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

6:15 My brothers49 have been as treacherous50 as a seasonal stream,51

and as the riverbeds of the intermittent streams52

that flow away.53

6:16 They54 are dark55 because of ice;

snow is piled56 up over them.57

6:17 When they are scorched,58 they dry up,

when it is hot, they vanish59 from their place.

6:18 Caravans60 turn aside from their routes;

they go61 into the wasteland62 and perish.63

6:19 The caravans of Tema64 looked intently65 for these streams;66

the traveling merchants67 of Sheba hoped for them.

6:20 They were distressed,68

because each one had been69 so confident;

they arrived there,70 but were disappointed.

6:21 For now71 you have become like these streams that are no help;72

you see a terror,73 and are afraid. – Job 6:15-21

Job brings up some interesting ideas about friends and friendship.   Here is a man who is known as a righteous follower of God Most High.  He is considered blameless before God, but does he have ungodly ideas about friendship.  Let’s take a look.  Job contends that even if he had turned his back on God (which he had not), that his friends should still be there to show him kindness.  Instead his friends came to lecture him on how horrible of a person he is being.  In this case, I have to agree with Job.  It would be one thing is Job was telling his friends to join him in his supposed iniquity.  Instead, Job is simply saying they should treat him with kindness instead of accusation that are unfounded.  A true friend would begin with kindness and would when appropriate bring the truth in love.  We are called as Christ-followers to be truthful with our friends who have fallen away or fallen short, but we are also called to always do it in love.

Heavenly Father,

You set a high standard for friendship.  You tell us to love someone so much that we will confront them, but at the same time it must be obvious that we still love them.  I thank you for this standard because we all need this type of love during our lives.   Lord, help me be the kind of person who show real love in this way.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

1:12 There was a man3 in the land of Uz4 whose5 name was Job.6 And that man was pure7 and upright,8 one who feared God and turned away from evil.9 1:2 Seven10 sons and three daughters were born to him.11 1:3 His possessions12 included13 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys; in addition he had a very great household.14 Thus he15 was the greatest of all the people in the east.16

1:4 Now his sons used to go17 and hold18 a feast in the house of each one in turn,19 and they would send and invite20 their three21 sisters to eat and to drink with them. 1:5 When22 the days of their feasting were finished,23 Job would send24 for them and sanctify25 them; he would get up early26 in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to27 the number of them all. For Job thought, “Perhaps28 my children29 have sinned and cursed30 God in their hearts.” This was Job’s customary practice.31 Job 1:1-5

Job was a man who followed hard after God.  He was also a man who cared deeply for the relationship his children has with God.  He loved them so much that he made sure all of the appropriate sacrifices were done for his children just in chase the sinned and cursed God in their hearts.  I think about this and wonder what we should be doing for our own children.

Today, we don’t have to offer special sacrifices to eliminate our guilt before God.  Jesus’ death on a cross did all of that for us.  Yet, it is our job to raise our children up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).  This makes me think back to when my father told me about all of the times he would be interceding for each of us children before God in the Moline Gospel Temple prayer room.  That amazes me and humbles me to think that he was doing that for each of us.  Not only do we need to teach or children correctly, but we need to be prayer warriors on their behalf.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the example of Job.  Thank you for having these words put to paper.  There is so much that we can learn from this great man of God.  Help me to take the words to heart so that I may become the man, father and husband that you intend me to be.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

9:1 In the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar), on its thirteenth day, the edict of the king and his law were to be executed. It was on this day that the enemies of the Jews had supposed that they would gain power over them. But contrary to expectations, the Jews gained power over their enemies. 9:2 The Jews assembled themselves in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to strike out against those who were seeking their harm. No one was able to stand before them, for dread of them fell on all the peoples. 9:3 All the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and those who performed the king’s business were assisting the Jews, for the dread of Mordecai had fallen on them. 9:4 Mordecai was of high rank1 in the king’s palace, and word about him was spreading throughout all the provinces. His influence2 continued to become greater and greater.

9:5 The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, bringing death and destruction, and they did as they pleased with their enemies. 9:6 In Susa the citadel the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 9:7 In addition, they also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 9:8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9:9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha, 9:10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not confiscate their property.

9:11 On that same day the number of those killed in Susa the citadel was brought to the king’s attention. 9:12 Then the king said to Queen Esther, “In Susa the citadel the Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman! What then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? What is your request? It shall be given to you. What other petition do you have? It shall be done.” – Esther 9:1-12

Not only does God have a sense of protection, but he will also provide ways out of dire situations.  The Jews were doomed.  The very law of the land allowed for them to be killed on a specific day of the year.  Yet, God had a plan that would not only allow the Jews to live, but it would place one of their own second only to the King and it would allow the Jews to defeat their enemies.  What Haman had intended to do for evil worked our for good.  This does not guarantee us that we will never be harmed as believers (just look at Dufar), but it does show us that God can and does protect his people.  It also leads me to a thought.

God used the powers of this world (the King) to bring protection to his people.  Does this say anything about what we should be doing as a nation and a world to protect the people of Dufar?

Heavenly Father,

We see great suffering surrounding us and we do nothing.  We see people dying every day for no other reason that they choose to believe in you.  Lord, help us to see what you would have us to do.  Help us to be people of action for your Kingdom.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

6:6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor?” Haman thought to himself,7 “Who is it that the king would want to honor more than me?” 6:7 So Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king wishes to honor, 6:8 let them bring royal attire which the king himself has worn and a horse on which the king himself has ridden – one bearing the royal insignia!8 6:9 Then let this clothing and this horse be given to one of the king’s noble officials. Let him9 then clothe the man whom the king wishes to honor, and let him lead him about through the plaza of the city on the horse, calling10 before him, ‘So shall it be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!’”

6:10 The king then said to Haman, “Go quickly! Take the clothing and the horse, just as you have described, and do as you just indicated to Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king’s gate. Don’t neglect11 a single thing of all that you have said.”

6:11 So Haman took the clothing and the horse, and he clothed Mordecai. He led him about on the horse throughout the plaza of the city, calling before him, “So shall it be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!” – Esther 6:6-11

God has a sense of humor and he proves it in Esther.  Now, this really makes sense.  If we are created in God’s image, then it only makes sense that God would have a sense of humor also.   Here we have a man who is bound and determined to have the Jews killed.  But, not only does he want them killed, but he was one particular Jew killed ever more – Mordecai.  Instead of getting to kill Mordecai, Haman is required to lead Mordecai around on a horse shouting how the King wishes to honor him.  All the while Mordecai is dressed in royal garments and riding on a royal steed.  To make matters worse for Haman this is exactly the honor he thought he was creating for himself.  Does this give new meaning to the idea that all things work for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28?

Heavenly Father,

I am so glad that we have a God who looks our for his followers.  I am so grateful that your love protects us from those who would seek to destroy us.  I am truly grateful that you do have a sense of humor.  Lord, help me to serve you each and every day.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

2:10 Now Esther had not disclosed her people or her lineage,22 for Mordecai had instructed her not to do so.23 2:11 And day after day Mordecai used to walk back and forth in front of the court of the harem in order to learn how Esther was doing24 and what might happen to her.

2:12 At the end of the twelve months that were required for the women,25 when the turn of each young woman arrived to go to King Ahasuerus – for in this way they had to fulfill their time of cosmetic treatment: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfume and various ointments used by women – 2:13 the woman would go to the king in the following way: Whatever she asked for would be provided for her to take with her from the harem to the royal palace. 2:14 In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to a separate part26 of the harem, to the authority of Shaashgaz the king’s eunuch who was overseeing the concubines. She would not go back to the king unless the king was pleased with her27 and she was requested by name.

2:15 When it became the turn of Esther daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai (who had raised her as if she were his own daughter28) to go to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who was overseer of the women, had recommended. Yet Esther met with the approval of all who saw her. 2:16 Then Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus at his royal residence in the tenth29 month (that is, the month of Tebeth) in the seventh30 year of his reign. 2:17 And the king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she met with his loving approval31 more than all the other young women.32 So he placed the royal high turban on her head and appointed her queen33 in place of Vashti. 2:18 Then the king prepared a large banquet for all his officials and his servants – it was actually Esther’s banquet. He also set aside a holiday for the provinces, and he provided for offerings at the king’s expense.34

Mordecai Learns of a Plot against the King

2:19 Now when the young women were being gathered again,35 Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate.36 2:20 Esther was still not divulging her lineage or her people,37 just as Mordecai had instructed her.38 Esther continued to do whatever Mordecai said, just as she had done when he was raising her.

2:21 In those days while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan39 and Teresh,40 two of the king’s eunuchs who protected the entrance,41 became angry and plotted to assassinate42 King Ahasuerus. 2:22 When Mordecai learned of the conspiracy,43 he informed Queen Esther,44 and Esther told the king in Mordecai’s behalf.45 2:23 The king then had the matter investigated and, finding it to be so, had the two conspirators46 hanged on a gallows.47 It was then recorded in the daily chronicles in the king’s presence. – Esther 2:10-23

Are we ready to be called upon by God at a moments notice?  Are we willing and able to go when God says go?  Are we willing to leave it all behind to accomplish God’s will?  These are the kind of questions we must ask ourselves when we read the story of Esther.  It sounds like Esther had a good life.  She was well taken care of and loved.  Yet, she was willing to leave it all to put themselves in a place to be used by God.  Now, I am not saying she knew that she was going to be picked to be queen and that she knew she was going to save her people.  I am saying that she was willing to leave it all behind when she knew it was the right thing to do.

Heavenly Father,

You have a calling on each of our lives.  You know what we are suppose to be doing for you and your Kingdom.  Father, I pray that you would help each of us to know that you do have a plan for our lives and that we must be ready to follow.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

13:4 But prior to this time, Eliashib the priest, a relative of Tobiah, had been appointed over the storerooms4 of the temple of our God. 13:5 He made for himself a large storeroom where previously they had been keeping5 the grain offering, the incense, and the vessels, along with the tithes of the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil as commanded for the Levites, the singers, the gate keepers, and the offering for the priests.

13:6 During all this time I was not in Jerusalem,6 for in the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon, I had gone back to the king. After some time7 I had requested leave of the king, 13:7 and I returned to Jerusalem. Then I discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah by supplying him with a storeroom in the courts of the temple of God. 13:8 I was very upset, and I threw all of Tobiah’s household possessions out of the storeroom. 13:9 Then I gave instructions that the storerooms should be purified, and I brought back the equipment8 of the temple of God, along with the grain offering and the incense.

God created his temple for a purpose.  It was to be a place of worship to God.  It was not to be a place of commerce (think of Jesus turning over the money changer table) and it was most definitly not to be a place of storage.  God expected his temple to be used for the proper purpose.

We can learn from this how we should use the building God has given us to steward.  You may have already read my post on No Buildings and know that I don’t think buildings are that important, but the truth is that we have a lot of church buildings and we need to steward them properly.  So what does that mean?

1.  They should be places of safety and outreach.  Use them for ministry the helps.  What about recovery ministries, side door ministries that lead people into Christian community like sports leagues.

2.  We should share our buildings.  If you always worship Sunday morning and a small church is trying to get started, offer them the use of the building Saturday night or at another time on Sunday morning.  If you worship on Saturday night offer them Sunday.

3.  Use them, use them, use them.  Most church buildings get used Sunday, Wednesday and that is about it.  They are large empty monoliths for most of the time.  Find ways to glorify God in them at all times and utilize them.  If you are going to pay the heat, electric and water bill, then use them.

4.  Don’t abuse them.  These buildings are not meant to be warehouses or places of secular commerce.  Remember that everything that is done in these places should glorify God.

Heavenly Father,

You have blessed us with some amazing facilities.  We know (or should know) that buildings are only important in so far as they expand your Kingdom.  Help us to steward what you have given us and move with your Spirit.  I love you Lord.  Amen.