Notes from my Bible Study for January 31, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 30, Genesis 27:41‐28:9, 2 Chronicles 4, Luke 20:45‐21:38

Psalm 30 – What is the most down you’ve ever been? If you are a human being, and I am assuming if you are reading this blog you are :), then you have had periods of time that you are discouraged, upset, or downright depressed.

Life includes a series of good days and bad days. When we are stuck in the bad days, we can find ourselves wondering if the good ones will ever come again. Psalm 30 includes timeless truth for those who struggle with depression. Our God is a God who loves to turn mourning into dancing. He is a God that can take the worst days and turn them into the best.

Two verses I want to highlight here.

Verse five says, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Verse eleven says, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,”

That is the power of Christ in us. When we struggle, it’s important to ask, “Why?” Is our struggle our doing, God’s doing, or someone or something else’s doing? If it’s our doing, then confess it. God is a God of grace. Our weeping may last for a night, but rejoicing will come in the morning.

If it is God’s doing, remember that God is sovereign and good. His plans for us remain good. They are greater than our plans are for ourselves. Trust.

If the pain is coming from someone or something else, remember that God is greater than any force, person, or situation that can come into our lives. He will take care of us. One day, our mourning will turn into dancing.

Genesis 27:41-28:9 – The drama in the life of the family of Isaac and Rebekah continues in this section. Isaac is close to death when Esau determines in his heart that he will kill his brother upon Isaac’s death. Rebekah hears of Esau’s plan and sends Jacob to live with his uncle Laban. She tells Isaac how displeased she is at the Hittite women that Esau had married. She commands Jacob to marry a woman from Laban’s homeland.

When Esau gets wind of this, he realizes that his choice of wives must have displeased his father. So, he added a third wife. This time he marries the daughter of Ishmael, the son of Abraham. Therefore, he marries his cousin.

2 Chronicles 4 – This chapter speaks of all of the temple furnishings that Solomon and Huram-Abi made for the temple. So many items needed to be constructed for temple worship. I’m constantly stuck at the detail that went into the temple and the worship of Jehovah. There were such incredible preparations that went into worshipping God. I wonder if we have lost something in our 21st century worship of God. Have we lost some of the wonder and awe with which the people approached the LORD.

Luke 20:45-21:38 – There are three distinct events that are recorded in this section of Scripture. The first is a teaching that Jesus gave regarding the religious leaders of that day. He warned those listening to him to be careful about those that they were holding up as being godly men. Many of these religious leaders were just making a show of their love for God. They worshipped God publicly, but they had hearts that were far from God. They were living their lives for the praise of men, not the honor of God.

As a religious leader (a pastor), I am constantly questioning my motives. Why do I pray the way I do, speak the way I do, act the way I do? Am I doing my “job” for God’s glory or mine? Any time I get in the way, I am ineffective. We need to be a people that live for His renown.

The second event was the offering that a widow gave at the temple. She was poor and gave the modern equivalent of a few cents. There were others who gave much larger gifts. Their gifts were presented in front of men, with great pomp and circumstance. These people, according to Jesus had received their reward in full. The widow’s gift was greater than that of those who made great show of their gifts. She gave out of a heart of love and true sacrifice. The others gave to make a show. We need to examine our motives in giving to Christ.

Finally, Jesus gave his listeners signs of the end of the age in this passage. It’s one of the most famous passages in all of Scripture dedicated to what the world will look like when Christ returns. I remember listening to a pastor recently who said, “The world has never looked more like the world that Jesus said He would return to than the world we live in today.”

As you read this passage, what are some things that stick out to you about the days that Christ will return? Why is it important for us to study biblical prophecy? How can the study of biblical prophecy help us grow in our faith? What are some of the dangers in studying biblical prophecy?

Notes from my Bible Study for January 30, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 29, Genesis 27:1‐40, 2 Chronicles 3, Luke 19:47‐20:44

Psalm 29 – This has to be the favorite psalm of Christian meteorologists. David wants us to catch a glimpse of just how glorious our God is. He is the God who sits enthroned above all others. He is the God who controls the weather. He is the God whose power is displayed throughout the world. I love the way that David describes God’s voice breaking the strongest cedar trees of Lebanon. I love how he talks about God’s voice being over the waters, thundering over many waters. Our God is powerful and majestic. We need to ascribe to the Lord, the glory due His name, as David so aptly put it in verse 2.

Genesis 27:1-40 – The sibling rivalry between Jacob and Esau reach new lows in this chapter as Jacob steals the blessing that so belonged to Esau.

When the birthright was taken from Esau, it was because of Esau’s own stupidity and desire for food. The blessing was taken out of pure deceit on the part of Jacob and Rebekah.

God had a plan to work through Jacob, despite Jacob’s wickedness. Isaac had quite a blessing for Esau, but the blessing would be Jacob’s.

This chapter reminds me that God’s ways are not our ways.

2 Chronicles 3 – What is recorded as such simple words at the beginning of 2 Chronicles 3, “Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. . .” was probably the most exciting moment in the life of Solomon up to that moment in time.

Men love projects. We love to give ourselves over to a great task. There would be no greater task in Solomon’s kingdom than the task of building the temple of the LORD. When we have big tasks before us, may we never forget the greatest responsibilities that God has given us.

We will read later of the tragedy of Solomon’s family. Had Solomon expended an equal amount of energy in reaching out to his children, his life would have been even better.

Luke 19:47-20:44 – I am always moved when I read the parable of the wicked tenants. Here, the owner of the vineyard sent his servants to the vineyard they were mistreated. Then he sent his son, and his son was killed.

Jesus asked the crowd what they thought the owner would do to those tenants. Then he said, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

Jesus would be put to death by many in that very crowd. We need to recognize our culpability in the death of Christ. Our sin put Christ on the cross. But, His grace offers forgiveness and life everlasting.

Notes from my Bible Study for January 29, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 28, Genesis 26, 2 Chronicles 2, Luke 19:28‐46

Psalm 28 – I’m struck as I read this Psalm at just how much David counted God as the strength of his life. David was the mightiest king in all of the world, but he counted God as his strength. He didn’t take pride in his military genius. He took pride in his God. David knew that nothing that he accomplished was possible without the strength of God. David relied upon God’s strength and knew that he was nothing without it.

Genesis 26 – Genesis 26 is a good chapter to point out that the sins of the father so often visit the next generation. Such was the case with Isaac, who like his father Abraham lied about his relationship with his wife when he went to dwell in a foreign land. Like his father, Isaac feared that the men of the city would kill him so that they could have his beautiful wife. And, like God had done with her mother-in-law, God protected Rebekah.

We who are fathers should remember the story of Abraham and Isaac when we are tempted to sin. Our children learn best by observation, and if they observe sin in us it teaches them sin isn’t serious.

2 Chronicles 2 – Solomon knew how to manage projects and people. He was the ultimate project manager, getting 153,600 people involved in the tasks of building the temple and quarrying in the hill country. He also knew how to work with other rulers. Hiram, the King of Tyre had a special place in his heart for the family of David.

I love what Solomon said in verse 5, “The house I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods.”

Yesterday I spent some time in the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis. This beautiful Catholic church is marvelously ornate. But, it would not even come close to comparing with Solomon’s temple. I’m blown away at how many times people shy away from giving to the house of the Lord. We should seek to make His house beautiful, for he is great, greater than all Gods!

Luke 19:28-46 –
The triumphal entry marked the beginning of the passion week for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s amazing to think that this crowd of people who were so enamored with Christ on Sunday could turn so quickly against him.

It’s also interesting to see how quickly Jesus moved from the adoration of the crowd to the rebuking of the people gathered at the temple who had turned the house of God into a “den of robbers.”

I’m glad that Jesus wept over Jerusalem after the triumphal entry. It gives us a glimpse into the tender heart of God. He loved those who rejected Him.

New Sermon Series Begins Sunday

Our new sermon series, Ultimate Love begins this Sunday. This series is based on one of the most beloved passages in all of Scripture, 1 Corinthians 13.

Services are held at Woodbury Community Church, 2975 Pioneer Drive, Woodbury, MN at 9:00 and 10:30 AM. For more information you can visit our website at, or call our church office at (651) 739-1427.

January 31 – How To Make God Look Really Bad
February 7 – Ten Qualities of True Love
February 14 – How To Make Love Last

Notes from my Bible Study for January 28, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 27, Genesis 25:19-34, 2 Chronicles 1, Luke 18:31-19:27

Psalm 27 – Psalm 27:1 says, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.”

What an awesome truth! I don’t know how many times in my life that I have come back to the power and simplicity of this verse. It is God from whom my salvation comes. He is my light. I don’t have to be afraid, when God is the foundation upon Whom my life is built.

David goes on to list the many enemies and things that God has protected him from. I could go on and on to.

I wonder what would happen if you were to take out a sheet of paper and begin to list down the many ways that God has protected you over the years. There would be so many items that you would leave off of that list, because the simple truth is, God protects us in ways that we never see.

Is God your light and salvation? If He is your Savior, the answer is, “Yes!” Thank Him anew for what He has done in you.

Genesis 25:19-34 – This passage tells the fascinating story of the birth of Jacob and Esau and the foolish choice that Esau made to sell his birthright to his brother.

If ever there was a family where sibling rivalry was present, it was this one. Isaac’s two sons were pit against each other by their parents. Isaac favored Esau and Rebekah favored Jacob. Oh how much damage can be done in a home where one child is favored over another!

Like God did with their Grandfather, Abraham, God promised that a great nation would come from Jacob and a great nation would come from Esau.

2 Chronicles 1 – The book of 2 Chronicles opens with the newly crowned king, Solomon, worshipping the LORD, and the LORD doing for Solomon what He has done for no other human being. God gave Solomon the opportunity to ask for whatever he would from God, and God promised that He would grant the request. Solomon did something remarkable. He asked for wisdom!

What would you ask for? I’m not sure that I would have been wise enough to ask for wisdom. Solomon’s request pleased God, and God promised Solomon that he would not only be given wisdom but riches like no king before or after had or would experience.

The New Testament book of James tells us that we too can ask for wisdom. In James 1:5we read, “5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

We may not have a “ask for whatever you want and I’ll give it to you” guarantee, like Solomon was given. But, we do have a “ask for wisdom and I’ll give it” guarantee. Why don’t we ask more often? May we be a wise people, because our wisdom comes from God.

Luke 18:31-19:27 – I love how Jesus did ministry. He broke all of the rules of organized religion by hanging out with people who desperately needed redemption. In Luke 19, Jesus encounters a chief tax collector who was curious to see what this Jesus fellow was all about. We know, according to the text that Zacchaeus was vertically challenged. He was also quite the swindler. When Jesus saw Zacchaeus, up in a tree, He told him to come down. He was going to dine in the home of Zacchaeus that very day. Another thing I love about Jesus was that He wasn’t afraid to invite himself over to the home of someone else for dinner:O)

When Jesus made the decision to dine with Zacchaeus, He opened himself up to criticism from the religious elite. They couldn’t understand how Christ could justify dining with such a well known sinner. Jesus could care less what the religious leaders thought of Him. He was here for people like Zacchaeus. He was here to cleanse people like Zacchaeus for sin. Zacchaeus was so touched by Jesus’ presence that He vowed to repay his debts fourfold and to give half of his goods to the poor. Jesus responded by saying that salvation had come to that home today.

From the time He was born, Jesus was about restoring broken people into fellowship with God. I’m so glad for that! Aren’t you?

Notes from my Bible Study for January 27, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 26, Genesis 25:1‐18, 1 Chronicles 29:22b‐30, Luke 18:1‐30

Psalm 26 – David time and time again in the Psalms talks about the danger that comes when we hang out with those who are wicked. Who we spend time with impacts us. A wise man once said the biggest difference between you five years from now and today are the books you read, the places you go and the people you meet.

Make sure you are investing time in relationships with other believers. Those should be the most life-giving relationships we have.

Genesis 25:1-18 – How interesting to see Abraham’s sons, Isaac and Ishmael coming together at the death of their father. I had forgotten that Abraham took another wife after Sarah and had many more sons.

1 Chronicles 29:22b-30 – Solomon becomes king and David dies. God’s blessing is with Solomon as he becomes king. The peaceful transition from David’s rule to Solomon’s also ushers in an even greater time of prosperity for the nation of Israel.

Luke 18:1-30 – Why is it that we compare ourselves to other people so much, and so little to God? We like to say things like, “I’m not as bad as so-and-so!” or “Thank God I’m not a _______.”

Jesus warned people against this in Luke 18. Other people aren’t the standard to which Christ is calling us to live. He is. And when we compare ourselves to Him, we all fall short. And, that’s the point. We all need a Savior.

Romans 3 tells us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Comparing ourselves to other people leads to the sort of Pharisaical attitudes that were exhibited by the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, and unfortunately by too many of us who call ourselves Christians. Let’s let God be the judge, and thank Him for giving any of us grace.

Notes from my Bible Study for January 26, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 25, Genesis 24, 1 Chrronicles 29:1‐22a, Luke 17:11‐37

Psalm 25 – I’m struck by the simplicity of the words in verse 14, “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.”

There are many things that I think about when I think about my relationship with the LORD. “Friend” isn’t normally the first thing that comes to mind. Who am I that the LORD would seek to be friends with me? And yet there are several in Scripture who are called friends of God. God loves friendship with His children.

So, what does a friend of God do?

Like real friends he communicates with God. He spends time with him. He stands up for Him. He looks for ways to bless Him, and so much more.

So, how is that friendship going? Is God a friend? Are you His friend? If not, God’s waiting with open arms. Take the step and become a friend of God.

Genesis 24 – Abraham was a good father to Isaac. He did not want Isaac to take a wife from the Canaanites, and instructed his servant to find a wife for Isaac amongst Abraham’s relatives. I love the way that the servant sought to not only honor his master, but to seek God’s direction as he sought out a wife for Isaac. God directed and found a beautiful and faithful woman to be Isaac’s wife. I love that God brought comfort to Isaac after his mother’s death in his bride, Rebekah.

1 Chronicles 29:1-22a – King David was nearing the end of his life. His ultimate triumph wasn’t in victories won in battle, but in preparing the people to build the temple under the leadership of his son Solomon. You can’t read 1 Chronicles 29 without marveling at the exuberant generosity of King David. The king was so excited about the ability to give good gifts to the Lord that the people caught the passion too. It’s so cool to see how excited the people are about building the temple in this chapter.

I loved the words of David in verse 1b, “The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for human beings but for the LORD God.” What a testament to what is truly important! May we desire to give like this! How quick we are to build mansions to self, but not think about blessing God.

Luke 17:11-37 – We serve a God who is omniscient. He knows everything that will happen. As such, he knew that when he healed the lepers, only one would come back to thank Him. Did that stop Christ from healing? No! He didn’t heal for thanks. He healed because it was the right thing to do. Did you notice who came back to thank Christ? It was the Samaritan leper.

Lepers were the scourge of ancient society. Lepers were relegated to living outside of the town. With no known cure, leprosy was easily spread and it killed. Jesus loved to heal lepers. He healed some by touching them. It would have been the first time in years that they had felt another human being touch them. He could have just healed with his words, like he seemed to do here, but for some, it was His touch. If lepers were society’s scourge, then Samaritan lepers were several steps lower, as far as a righteous Jew was concerned. The Samaritans were enemies of the Jews. These races hated each other. And yet Jesus healed a Samaritan. It would have been a valuable lesson for His followers. Jesus loved Samaritans. Jesus loved lepers. And, Jesus loves you.

Leprosy has largely disappeared from the medical world today, but Christ’s love still reaches out to those who are society’s outcasts. So should our love be!