Category: Pauline epistles–BibleTrekToday

Sunday rest and reflection: wise living!

Dear Friends,   Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ, the only wise God!  What a day to be alive and learning to know and love God!  The signs are everywhere of the last days and God’s Word tells us to live wisely and make the most of our time as we see the Day of Christ approaching. (Ephesians 5:15-16)  Those who are righteous will become more righteous and live by the Spirit, following Christ more closely.  Those who are wicked will become more wicked, following their own flesh and the evil spirits of this world more closely.  (Revelation 22:10-11)

As we read Proverbs, we are exposed to wisdom for successful daily living.  The proverbs were wise sayings and nuggets of God’s truth that would help to discern the right path.  These truths were particularly helpful to youth and children who were beginning their walk through life.  Parents were to teach their children wise living.  They taught by impressing truth on the hearts of the young during daily meals, Sabbath day church gatherings, work, and sharing at bedtime around the fire.

According to God’s Word, wise living always centered on loving God and obeying His commandments.  This wisdom has it’s beginning in a deep respect for God as Creator and giver of life!  The term used in Scripture is the ‘fear of the Lord’.  Parents teach the ‘fear of the Lord’ by their attitude towards God and God’s house.  Regular church attendance and worship is a good indication of a desire to live wisely.  Daily study of the Word of God and prayer are spiritual disciplines that indicate a desire to know God’s will in order to submit to it and obey it.  Wise living honors God’s Word as the rule of faith and practice.  We treat it with respect and believe it is truth–all of it!  When we cut out parts of the Bible because it doesn’t line up with what ‘science’ teaches or with what we want to believe, then we have lost our fear of the Lord and our ability to know truth.  This is a dangerous place to be!

In the last days, men will refuse a love of the truth, believe a lie, and end up in damnation.  (2nd Thessalonians 2:9-12)  When we have no fear of God or His Word, a delusion of deception blinds us even further.  We lose our ability to discern right from wrong.  We end up delighting in wickedness and going to our destruction.    Now is the time to press on to know the Lord and live wisely in obedience and faith.  Jesus is coming soon!  (Revelation 22:20)

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Hearing or listening?

Scripture reading for July 3th: Proverbs 1-4

I have personally read Proverbs dozens of times over the last forty years.  For many years I read the entire book of Proverbs each month as a daily discipline.  Even though I have read or heard Proverbs many times, I am still impressed at how they speak to us about our daily lives.  Wisdom is a bubbling brook!

Hearing and listening can be two different things.  Almost everyone can hear what is being said but listening in order to learn and apply truth is a different process requiring humility and a teachable spirit.  As we begin the book of Proverbs, take a moment to check your hearing and listening abilities.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you new insights about successful living and decision making.

Solomon was David’s son through his wife Bathsheba.  Solomon was visited by God and given an opportunity to ask for anything he desired.  He asked for wisdom to rule God’s people.  God was pleased and the proverbs are some of the written record of the wisdom God blessed Solomon with.  Solomon wanted to pass that wisdom on to his sons (and us).  The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.  (Proverbs 1:7)  There are those who either don’t want wisdom and Solomon gives them names like ‘simple’, ‘fool’, and ‘mocker’. (Proverbs 1:7, 22)  Thankfully, those names are not descriptive of any of us!

Wisdom’s blessings include knowledge and discretion to the young as well as guidance.  (Proverbs 1:4-5)  It brings safety to those who listen and they have rest and no fear of harm.  (Proverbs 1:33)  A person who listens to wisdom understands the fear of the Lord and finds knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5) You will be kept safe from wicked men who are on crooked paths leading to destruction.  (Proverbs 2:12-15)   You will also avoid the adulterous woman and her path that leads to death. (Proverbs 2:16-19)  Listening and keeping wisdom brings long life and prosperity.  (Proverbs 3:2)  Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her and they will be richly blessed!  (Proverbs 3:18)

Wisdom is to be prized above any other treasure.  (Proverbs 3:13-15)  We must lay hold of wisdom by taking hold of the words given by the Father.  (Proverbs 4:1-5)  We must hold onto instructions of wisdom and guard them.  Wisdom is our life and health to our whole body!  (Proverbs 4:22)  Wisdom is to reside in our heart! (Proverbs 4:23)  Wisdom sounds a lot like Jesus Christ, in Whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! (Colossians 2:2-3)

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The matchless Word of God

Scripture reading for June 26: Psalm 119

My favorite person to study is God!  In order to know Him, I must study His matchless Word!  Jesus was the Word made flesh who lived among us.  (John 1:14)  His Word is truth just as He is the Truth! (John 17:17)   His Word is eternal just as He is eternal, without beginning or ending! (Psalm 119:89) (Matthew 24:35)  His Word contains all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge just as in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! (Colossians 2:2-3) His Word is Spirit and Life, bringing God’s Spirit and Life into my inner man and bringing Light to my eyes. (Psalm 119:105) (John 6:63)  His Word keeps me from sin and purifies my life, because the Word is righteous and true!  (Psalm 119:11) (John 17:17)

In all but two verses, this psalm uses one of six different terms that refer to God’s Word. The first term is the “law” of the Lord. (Psalm 119:1)  Laws are unchanging truths written down declaring God’s will.  Laws are used to judge and to decree acceptable and unacceptable behavior.  They are written down to be learned and obeyed!  The next word is “statutes” (Psalm 119:2)  A statute gives us instruction.  They are like laws, but with more wisdom and instruction.  “Precepts” is another term used by the psalmist, and is a statement of truth that is binding and permanent.  God’s precepts are made for obedience!  (Psalm 119:4)  A “decree” is a statement of revealed truth about any given subject.  God’s decrees are truth to be obeyed! (Psalm 119:5)  “Commands” are forceful statements used to declare a direction or act that is imperative.  Commands possess authority to command action!  (Psalm 119:9, 11) “Promise” is something that is decreed to happen or be fulfilled by the Giver of the promise: God Who is totally trustworthy.

These terms help us to understand the beautiful holiness of God and His matchless Word.  In the final chapter of Scripture, an angel tells the Apostle John that his Words are trustworthy and true! (Revelation 22:6)  He is further warned against adding to or taking away from the Word given to him!  Anyone who tries to change God’s Word is in danger of losing their share in the tree of Life and the Holy City!  (Revelation 22:18-19)  What attribute of God’s Word fascinates you the most and why?

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“New songs” of worship!

Scripture reading for June 20: Psalm 90-97

Psalms 95-97 are focused on the glory of  God and on worship!  I enjoy these psalms because of their joy and rejoicing in God, Himself.  They call mankind and nature into the chorus of worship that belongs to God Who is worthy of all praise! 

Praise can take many forms. Singing for joy and shouting out loud our thanksgiving is mentioned in Psalm 95:1. We have so much to be thankful for and God is the source of all blessings! (Psalm 95:2)  God’s people are urged to bow down in worship and kneel before their maker.  (Psalm 95:6) Our posture, as well as our voices, instruments, and songs, indicates humility and honor. 

Psalm 96 opens with an exhortation to sing a ‘new song’ to the Lord.  It might be a song of praise and thanksgiving, or a song of proclamation concerning His salvation and mighty works.  His people are to declare His glory among the nations of the earth.  All other nations and peoples have gods that are idols, but Israel alone knew the One true God Who was worthy of praise! (Psalm 96:8)  God was so arrayed in glory and majesty that a new song would come to those who contemplated His beauty and strength! 

The Holy Spirit’s infilling often brings a new level of worship to the believer.  From the Spirit comes a new song bringing praise to the King! (Ephesians 5:18-20)  At times in different corporate worship settings, I have experienced the Spirit bringing  forth a ‘new song’ from the congregation that took us into the heavenly realm and put us in harmony with those worshiping around the throne!  This is a special and blessed experience!

In Psalms 96 and 97, all of creation joins in the worship chorus!  The heavens rejoice and the earth is glad, the sea resounds and all the creatures in it at the glory of the Lord.  The fields are jubilant and the trees sing in harmony as the Lord comes.  The clouds surround Him.  Fire goes before Him and lightning lights up the world!  Mountains melt like wax in His presence and the earth sees Him and trembles!  All the peoples see His Glory and His people rejoice and are glad.  Those worshiping idols are put to shame!  For God comes to judge the earth and the peoples in righteousness and truth!

Take time today to offer heartfelt worship to the Lord!  He is truly worthy of our praise!  Do a self-evaluation of your readinesss to see Him as Savior and Judge!

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Blessed–to be a blessing!

Scripture reading for June 15: Psalms 67-72

God delights in blessing his people!  The Aaronic blessing begins Psalm 67 as a prayer.  God blessing means that He lavishes His best gifts and presence on those He loves and calls to be His children.  His face is shining or beaming with a smile of love and joy as He beholds His own people.  This smile means abundant provisions of food and water.  It means health to our bodies and protection from enemies.  It means love and fruitfulness in our relationships and homes and a sense of knowing God and walking in His will.  The Hebrew word “selah” follows this first verse and is a term meaning to pause and ponder the thought that has been presented.

Why does God love to bless His people?  Surely it is because he loves and delights in His people.  But this psalm stated another reason for the blessing.  God wants to use a blessed people to share the knowledge of His ways on the earth among all peoples.  (Psalm 67:2)  God desires the worship of all who are made in His image and likeness!  He is their Guide, Ruler and Judge!  We are blessed to be a blessing!  Nothing really belongs to us.  We must keep the blessing moving and not hoard it to ourselves and our own use!

The result of being a blessing is that the earth will yield its harvest.  The harvest ultimately is souls that will come to know and worship the Lord through the witness of God’s people.  God wants all the ends of the earth to fear Him! (Psalm 67:6-7)  We set up a cycle of blessing when we give to the Lord of our blessings so that others may hear and learn!  As we give, we become like God Who is the ultimate Giver of everything.  As we give, God is praised and worshiped and He moves upon the lost and draws them to salvation.  As we give, we are blessed by God again with more abundance so that we can give even more to make Him known.  The cycle goes on and multiplies blessings to the peoples of the earth!

“Now He Who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” 2nd Corinthians 9:10-11

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The star-breathing God!

Scripture reading for June 8: Psalms 31-35

Psalm 33:6,8 “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. . . .Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!

The Psalms reveal a lot about the character, power and majesty of the God we worship.  God is the subject and object of these writings quite often, and Psalm 33 is especially rich in revelation!  It is one of my personal favorites!  It begins with music–singing, shouting, and instruments played skillfully!  It is fitting to begin with praise and worship when we contemplate the majesty of God!

God is first commended for His Word.  God can be depended on to do what He has said.  He made the heavens by His own Word.  When He spoke, the psalmist states, God breathed out the starry host!  When we think of the vast universe with it’s countless stars, galaxies, and star clusters, stretching out for billions of light-years, we can only worship in awe and holy fear!  He speaks and out of nothing, stars and galaxies appear!  His Word holds the universe together and is the agent that brings faith to those who will hear Him!  (Romans 10:17)  (Colossians 1:17)

God is in total control of the earth and all it’s peoples!  He knows how to stop nations and people from interfering with His plans.  His plans and purposes are established firmly forever!  The nation that serves the Lord will be blessed because that is His plan!  God is watching over mankind and knows everything that is happening.  He knows the hearts of all men and is looking for those whose hearts are sold out to Him.  He will show Himself strong for them! (Psalm 33:18-19)  He will save them and preserve them!

As we contemplate the truths of this psalm, we gain an understanding of the magnitude of the God we worship!  Faith begins to grow that He is truly in control!  No purpose of God can be stopped!  He knows how to stop nations that are going against Him.  He knows how to bless people who are sold out to Him! 

We wait in hope for the Lord’ He is our help and our shield.  In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.  May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22

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Perfect in knowledge?

Scripture reading for May 30: Job 35-37

“I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker.  Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you. Job 36:3-4

Have you ever been around a person who thinks he knows everything?  For every question, they have an answer and even give information you did not ask for.  Elihu boasted of his great understanding and had some good information, but was really not much different from Job’s other three friends.  He talked down to Job and subtly accused Job of not knowing God while he claimed to know God perfectly. 

Elihu stated that God commands sinners to repent and if they listened, they would spend the rest of their days in prosperity.  (Job 36:11)  This argument had already been hashed around by Job and his friends. Job had reminded them that sometimes the wicked prosper and nothing seems to touch them while on earth.  (Job 21:7-14)  We must not judge others by their physical state, or prosperity or lack of it. Only God knows the heart.  

Elihu stated that our sin had no effect on God.  (Job 35:6)  But sin provokes His anger and brings His wrath because all sin is against God first.  Although Job lived before the law was written, Job and Elihu understood God’s basic commands through relationship and conscience. God never changes and His character was the same then as He is now!

Elihu also warned Job not to turn to evil and accused him of preferring evil to affliction.  (Job 36:21)  When we think that we are perfect in knowledge, we can easily become judgmental and critical of others.  Knowledge puffs us up, but love builds us up!  (1st Corinthians 8:1b)  Elihu’s last words told of God coming in majesty and splendor, but beyond our reach!  How ironic that God Himself next spoke to Job!

I am reminded of my own need to be more quiet and listen longer before I speak. (James 1:19-20)  No one is perfect in knowledge and understanding but the Lord!  (Proverbs 3:5-7) Examine your own heart today and confess any presumption or judgmental attitudes towards others who are suffering. Take time to listen to God and those who are needing His comfort. More love and less words speak loudly!

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I know my Redeemer lives!

Scripture reading for May 23: Job 18-19

The attack on Job’s character by his friends continues with Bildad the Shuhite in Job 18.  Bildad harshly accused Job of being wicked, evil and not knowing God.  (Job 18:21)  He told Job of the destruction that awaited him if he didn’t come to his senses and deal with his problem of sin.  These statements are very presumptive and go against all that Job has tried to tell him. They certainly did not give Job any comfort and brought further suffering his way.  (Job 19:2-3)

Job was being attacked and it forced him to evaluate his beliefs.  He went to God for answers, but even God seemed to be against him.  (Job 19:8)  He was opposed by his own friends and his wife.  He looked at his own body, which was skin and bones and knew that he might not be long for this earth.  He asked for pity from his friends and began to state his true feelings!  (Job 19:21-22)

Job wished that his words would be recorded!  He stated a belief that his Redeemer was alive–that he would see Him one day, even if he died.  This foundational belief in resurrection brings hope to us.  It is what Christ gives each one of His followers!  We know that we will suffer and eventually die while in this life, but that isn’t the end!  We have a permanent dwelling place with the Lord to look forward to!  (2nd Corinthians 5:1-2)  To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!  (2nd Corinthians 5:8)  There is the “Blessed Hope” as well, the soon appearing of Jesus Christ for His people!  (Titus 2:13)  There will be a sudden appearing of Jesus to take His people who are ready to be with Him!  (1st Thessalonians 4:13-18)  With Job we can say “For I know that my Redeemer lives. . .Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25, 27)

Do you live with the assurance that your Redeemer is alive and watching over you? Do you have the assurance of eternal life? How does Job’s statement of faith match with your personal testimony?

“And this is the testimony:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son as life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1st John 5:11-13

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I need a Mediator!

Scripture reading for May 20: Job 8-10

When you talk with unbelievers, one of the main accusations against the idea of a supreme being is the injustice that is in the world.  How can a loving God allow such suffering of innocent people?  If God is all powerful, why does He allow evil to happen to good people?  If He is indeed just, does this mean that all suffering people are suffering because God is punishing them?  For many, these questions keep them from knowing God and embracing Him by faith!

The next friend of Job to speak was Bildad the Shuhite.  He told Job that his words were like a blustering wind!   He told Job that because his children sinned, God merely gave them over to the penalty of their sin!  (Job 8:2-4)  He was sure that God gave people what they deserved and he pointed Job to past generations and what they had experienced.  (Job 8:8-9)  He did encourage Job to plead with God for mercy and told him that God could restore him if he were really pure and upright. (Job 8:5-6)

Job answered his friend with a question: ” How can any mortal man be righteous before God?”  (Job 9:2)  He was aware of the great gap between him and God,  and he felt the need for a mediator, one who could arbitrate for him with this great God.  (Job 9:32-35)  Job spoke plainly to God about his need to understand what he had done wrong.  (Job 10:2)  He was not sure of his guilt.  Out of his pain, he wished he would have died before birth and asks for a reprieve before he does die!  (Job 10:20)

Suffering encourages us to ask the hard questions about our own life.  Job truly wanted to know if he was guilty of sin and if so, what was that sin?  Job grappled with his mortality and God’s great power and knowledge.  He tried to understand the justice of God in a situation that felt unfair.  His own friend Bildad had tried to help him see an aspect of God’s justice, but it was not feeling right in Job’s spirit.   We know that God said that Job was blameless but Job did not feel like it in his trial! (Job 1:8)

Job 9:33 “There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.”

Another thing to take note of is God’s answer to Job’s prayer for a mediator.  We now have a mediator Who is seated at God’s right hand on our behalf!  Jesus Christ is the One Mediator between God and man!  He is a man like us and understands our suffering and weakness and is able to help us when we suffer and are tempted!  (1st Timothy 2:5-6)

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Satan, the accuser!

Scripture reading for May 17: Job 1-3

The Bible teaches us that the unseen world is eternal and the world that is visible is only temporary. (2 Corinthians 4:18)  God dwells in the realm of the eternal and made this visible creation, including us.  Because of Satan’s rebellion and man’s disobedience, sin and death now dominate the visible creation.   God, in His love, seeks to redeem us from the world of sin and death. The Bible is the story of God’s gracious plan of redemption being implemented throughout history in the lives of people who by faith knew God.  As we come to the book of Job we have a revelation of God at work behind the scenes in the invisible world revealing Himself to Job. We also find Satan, cast down to earth, accusing Job before God.

Job is one of the oldest books in Scripture. It begins with Satan having access to God.   We find Satan accusing Job of serving God because of selfish motives. (Job 1:9-11)  Satan also accused God of showing favoritism to Job, protecting and blessing him.  He made the accusation that if God removed His protection and the blessings, Job would curse God to His face!  God knew Job and agreed to allow Satan to test Job to show his faith was genuine. God placed boundaries on what Satan could do to Job personally and released Satan to his temptations.  As a result, Job suddenly and catastrophically lost everything he owned as well as his ten children in a violent storm.  (Job 1:19) Job’s response was to humble himself and to worship God. (Job 1:20-21)

As Job’s story continues, Satan and God continue their discussion.  God commends Job for keeping his integrity during the temptation.  Satan responds with another accusation and lie.  He contends that if God will allow him to take Job’s health, Job will then curse God.  (Job 2:4-6)  God again sets a limit and releases Satan to inflict Job physically and emotionally.  During this trial, Job’s own wife suggests that he curse God and die.  Job rebukes his wife and sits in silent suffering.  He finally curses the day of his birth but does not curse God.  (Job 3:1-4)

What insight do you receive from this story of Job, Satan, and God? What response would you have towards God if you suddenly lost your possessions and children? What about your health being taken? 

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