Notes from my Bible Study for February 27, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 58, Exodus 1:22‐2:22, 2 Chronicles 31, Acts 27:1‐28:15

Psalm 58 – Psalm 58 is a good reminder to the people about just who it is that judges the earth. When it seems like the evil continually prosper, the righteous can take comfort in the fact that God is the ultimate judge of the earth. He will deal with those who live wicked lives.

Exodus 1:22-2:22 – Enter Moses, one of history’s most interesting figures. Moses was born to just the right family. To see how God protected Moses’ life, from his very birth, is a beautiful picture of the grace and the sovereignty of God. How beautiful that Moses’ own mother was able to help raise him, even though the command was to kill all Hebrew babies. God had important plans for this child.

2 Chronicles 31 – Hezekiah’s good decisions continue in 2 Chronicles 31. Now, he organized the priests, making sure that the priests fulfilled the duties for which they were set apart.

A beautiful summary of Hezekiah’s reign is given at the end of chapter 31: 20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. 21 And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered

Acts 27:1-28:15 – Paul dreamed of going to Rome. It probably wasn’t his dream to go as a prisoner, but Paul looked on the bright side. God had work for Paul to do in Rome. But, along the way, God would first allow Paul to experience a shipwreck. Paul’s faith before the wreck encouraged the sailors. His faith after the wreck helped transform an island. And, then after three months on an unplanned island trip, Paul finally sailed for Rome. How good it would be for Paul to be able to encourage the Christians at Rome; even if he had to do it as a prisoner! Paul always looked for opportunities to tell people about Christ.

Notes from my Bible Study for February 26, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 57, Exodus 1:1‐21, 2 Chronicles 30, Acts 25‐26

Psalm 57 – Two times in this Psalm, David writes, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!”

David wanted people to recognize the glory of God, and to worship Him alone. This was one of the Psalms that was written when David hid in a cave as he fled from Saul. Even in the difficulty of his situation, David was thinking about praising God!

Exodus 1:1-21 – God’s chosen people have been an oppressed people throughout history. Upon the death of Joseph, and his generation, a new king came to rule over Egypt. Joseph had long since been forgotten, and the new Pharaoh feared the Israelites. He wanted the male children to be killed, because he feared how numerous the Israelites were growing in the land of Egypt. The Egyptian midwives did an honorable thing and saved the lives of the boys that Pharaoh wanted dead. But, tough times were ahead for the Israelites.

2 Chronicles 30 – – 2 Chronicles 30 is a great example of the difference that one man can make in a nation. Hezekiah loved the Lord. The people had forgotten how to love God, keep His commandments, and celebrate His festivals. Even the priests had abandoned their responsibilities.

Hezekiah called a nation to repentance and righteousness. There was initial shame felt by the people when the Passover was ready to be celebrated. This was replaced by joy when the people received the pardon and forgiveness of God.

We should be a people that seek to live righteous lives. We ought to run to the things of God and run from the world. We need God more than we think we need God. When the Israelites experienced more of Him, they wanted even more. This was shown by the extension of Passover to another week.

Acts 25-26 – Paul was hated by a certain group of people in Jerusalem. They were willing to do or say anything in order to get Paul in trouble. They wanted him dead, and had conspired to make it happen.

Acts 25-26 shows the futility of their plans, and the sovereignty of God. Paul, the prisoner, had an opportunity to share his faith with two of the region’s most powerful men, Festus, and King Agrippa. He was also able to share with all of Festus and Agrippa’s advisers.

I love the way that Paul tried his best to persuade King Agrippa to become a follower of Jesus. In the end, Agrippa turned Paul down, but it was only because Agrippa wanted to continue to live in his sinful lifestyle, not because Paul hadn’t persuaded him that Jesus was the Messiah.

We can give some people the most compelling evidence in the world that Jesus is Messiah, but they might still turn us down when we encourage them to trust Jesus with their life. It’s called the willful roadblock, and is the roadblock that people who don’t want to give up their lifestyle deal with. It was well known, at the time, that King Agrippa was in an incestuous relationship with his wife’s sister, and didn’t want to give that up. Paul didn’t see Agrippa beyond the point of God’s redemption.

Notes from my Bible Study for February 25, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 56, Genesis 50:15-26, 2 Chronicles 29, Acts 23:12‐24:27

Psalm 56 – David’s perspective on what man can do and what God can do is a good one. He wrote Psalm 56 when the Philistines seized him in Gath. Things didn’t look good for David. But, he trusted in the Lord.

He wrote the following in verses 10-11, “10 In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, 11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

If God is for us, who can be against us? That is the passion with which David wrote, and what he truly believed in his heart. His faith was firmly in God’s camp.

Genesis 50:15-26 – The perspective that Joseph gained over his years of trusting God was priceless. This is a man, whose brothers had sold him into slavery, and who responded in nothing but love.

Joseph’s eternal perspective is shown in Genesis 50:20, “20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

I’m grateful for the strong faith of Joseph, and the forgiveness and faith that he showed as he lived his life.

2 Chronicles 29 – How refreshing it must have been to the people of Judah to experience a righteous king after so many kings who chased after false gods. 2 Chronicles 29 is the first chapter in which the reign of Hezekiah is described. The Chronicler pays more attention to Hezekiah’s reign than any other king. He was a godly king who re-instituted worship at the temple. He honored the priesthood, and honored the worship of Jehovah.

Acts 23:12-24:27 – Once again we see Paul using whatever opportunity that God brings his way to honor the Lord. When a plot to kill Paul is discovered, he is brought before Felix to be tried. When before Felix, Paul spoke passionately from his heart about the things of God. He would not go down without others hearing about Jesus. What an awesome example!

Notes from my Bible Study for February 24, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 55, Genesis 50:1‐14, 2 Chronicles 28, Acts 21:17 ‐23:11

Psalm 55 – Have you ever been betrayed by a best friend or family member? David’s psalm of lament in Psalm 55 talks about such incredible pain. Many of David’s lamenting psalms deal with God rescuing him from his enemies. This is the first instance I recall reading of David lamenting the betrayal of an old friend.

His solution remains trusting in God. He takes the pain that he is feeling and leaves it in God’s lap. That is a good place to go when we are hurt by human beings. God will never betray us. He may allow us to experience pain, but when He does, it is for our good and growth.

Genesis 50:1-14 – I have been with many families as they have walked through the death of a loved one. Joseph honored his father, Jacob, upon Jacob’s death. He followed through on the promise that he made to his father, to have him buried in the land of Canaan.

Joseph did a good thing. He honored his father’s wishes. He asked Pharaoh for permission to leave and go back to Canaan to bury his father, and his request was granted. Joseph was a man of his word. Over and over again we see that when Joseph spoke, when he made a promise, he could be trusted. Godly leaders are men and women who keep their word.

2 Chronicles 28 – Much has been written about the wickedness of King Ahab in Israel. A reading of 2 Chronicles 28 makes me feel that King Ahaz may have been Judah’s most wicked king. His worship of Baal and his worship of the gods of Judah’s enemies are a clear picture of a king whoring after other gods. He led Judah to such a terrible place that God allowed Judah’s enemies to kill 120,000 men in one day, and take another 200,000 women and children captives.

May we not chase after the gods of this world. I don’t want to be accused of idolatry. I wonder what things I have placed ahead of God in my life.

Acts 21:17-23:11 – Paul must have had some suspicion that his trip to Jerusalem could be perilous for him. He was received warmly by James, the leader of the Jerusalem church and the half-brother of Jesus. The Jerusalem church was thrilled to hear what God was doing amongst the Gentiles.

After seven days in Jerusalem, false charges were brought up against Paul. The charges indicated that Paul was telling everyone, everywhere bad things about the people of Jerusalem, the law, and the temple. Truth be told, Paul was arrested because he was telling everyone, everywhere about Jesus, the Messiah.

It’s interesting to see how Paul responds to his plight. He uses it as a platform to proclaim Jesus to even more people,many of whom he would have no access to if it weren’t for the arrest.

Paul saw every opportunity to share Christ, whether in chains or free, as a blessing from Christ. May we have the same resolve to share Christ with others!

Notes from my Bible Study for February 23, 2010

Psalm 54, Genesis 49, 2 Chronicles 27, Acts 20:17‐21:16

Psalm 54 – I can’t imagine the pressure that David must have felt as he hid in fear of death by the hand of King Saul. Psalm 54 was a psalm that was written during this period of time in David’s life. Despite the fear, David knew that his help came from the LORD. He faithfully depended upon God to carry him when the days were darkest. In our darkest of days, when God is all we have, we must recognize that God is all we need.

Genesis 49 – In this historic chapter, Jacob blesses his sons and then dies. It is in this chapter that the future of the twelve tribes of Israel are foretold. Pay particular attention to what is said about the tribe of Judah, for this is the tribe that Messiah will come from.

2 Chronicles 27 – Jotham reigned over Jerusalem for sixteen years, and 2 Chronicles 27 records that he became mighty because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God. Once again we see how God works on behalf of His people when they remain faithful to him.

Acts 20:17‐21:16 – I love the way in which Paul speaks to the Ephesian elders in this passage. He tells them the hard truth that the church needs to hear. He also warns them of the difficulties that lay ahead for them as a church. Paul was a true shepherd to the flock. He told them the truth in love, and protected them from false teachers that might come their way. He is a great example of how those in spiritual leadership should serve those under our care.

Notes from my Bible Study for February 22, 2010

Psalm 53, Genesis 47:27‐48:22, 2 Chronicles 26, Acts 19:23‐20:16

Psalm 53 – God is constantly scanning the world to see if there are any who understand and seek after God. David uses this psalm to underscore the fact that there is no one like our God. There is no one who does good. It is the fool who says in his heart that there is no God. May we not be foolish. Seek after God with all your heart!’

Genesis 47:27-48:22 – Jacob was old. At 147 years old, his days on this earth would soon be over. This passage records the tender conversation that took place between Jacob and his favorite son, Joseph. It also records the blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh. As had been the case with Jacob and Esau, Ephraim is blessed as the firstborn even though Manasseh was the older child. This was not a mistake. Jacob knew what he was doing. God would indeed bless the Ephraimites.

2 Chronicles 26 – The old adage, “Pride goes before the fall,” is evident in the story of Uzziah. His early reign was marked with great achievement. But, Uzziah became pride. He began to think that the rules didn’t apply to him. So, he did what was not allowed in the temple of God. He burned incense. This was a job that was reserved for the priest, not the king. When confronted, in his arrogance, Uzziah insisted that he be allowed to burn incense. He then acquired leprosy, and lived with it the rest of his life. He would eventually die, isolated, because of his pride.

Acts 19:23‐20:16 – Once again the Apostle Paul faced opposition to his ministry. It’s something that those who serve the Lord should expect. In this case, the opposition that Paul felt caused him to leave Ephesus. I believe this is because God had plans for Paul that were to happen elsewhere.

When Paul left Ephesus he encouraged believers in other regions, even raising one man from the dead. That would have never happened if Paul had still been in Ephesus.

Notes from my Bible Study for February 21, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 52, Genesis 47:13‐26, 2 Chronicles 25, Acts 18:23‐19:22

Psalm 52 – As you read through the Psalms, the theme of trust runs through and through. Psalm 52 is one of those psalms that reflects David’s trust of the Lord. David is once again being pursued by evil men, but instead of spending his time in worry and fear, David turns the table on his enemy.

In essence David is saying, “Listen, Bub! I’m not the one who needs to be afraid. You are coming against the Lord’s anointed, and the Lord. Keep messing with God, and you will be the one who pays the price.”

God doesn’t promise us that Christians won’t face difficult times. He doesn’t even guarantee victory over our enemies. David felt assured that God would work on his behalf. If God chose not to, it would be okay, because David would have no regrets for how he was living his life.

Bottom line is this: live for God, not for men. Fear God, not men. Follow Him, no matter where He leads, and you will have no regret.

Genesis 47:13-26 – Joseph was a shrewd negotiator, and a wise leader. While the people of Egypt and Canaan may have grown to regret their decision to give themselves and their land as servants to Pharaoh, their decision saved their lives.

Joseph did not take all of the land. He took 20% and left 80% for the people. This allowed the ruling class to have enough food to provide for the nation in the event of the famine. The people worked hard, and their lives were spared.

2 Chronicles 25 – If there is a key verse in 2 Chronicles 25, it has to be verse two, “And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.”

The verse was speaking of Amaziah, the king of Judah. This king was 25 years old when he became king, and reigned in Jerusalem for 29 years. His worship of god was halfhearted, for he also worshipped false gods in the form of idols.

At first, Amaziah’s devotion to God was not complete, because he refused to destroy the idols of his predecessors. It wasn’t like he actually worshipped idols. But, given enough time, halfhearted worship becomes false worship.

Eventually, Amaziah worshiped idols captured from an enemy army, and then he hardened his heart, refusing to listen to godly counsel from a prophet. This led to Amaziah’s downfall. The king felt the sting of God’s judgment in the form of his death. May we not be hardhearted people.

Acts 18:23-19:22 – Apollos was a man who loved the Lord, and spoke boldly of Christ in Ephesus. It was clear to the church leaders that Apollos had the hand of God upon him as he spoke. But, he didn’t understand everything about God. He had a basic misunderstanding about what baptism was all about.

Priscilla and Aquila did something beautiful for Apollos. They took him aside and “explained the way of God more accurately” to him. What a beautiful picture of the growth of a servant of God. He didn’t allow his pride to get in the way of his learning. He took their words and became a better communicator. Apollos is an example of a person who didn’t have it all together, but someone who was used in a mighty way by God.

We shouldn’t be afraid of allowing God to shape us through other people. We also shouldn’t think we have to have it all together for God to use us. He used Apollos and He can use you!

Notes from my Bible Study for February 20, 2010

Psalm 51, Genesis 46:1‐47:12, 2 Chronicles 24, Acts 18:1‐22

Psalm 51 – It had been eighteen long months of struggling for King David. The wayward king, the man after God’s own heart, the great writer, the warrior, had let his relationship with God go. He had sinned with Bathsheba. He had arranged for Uriah’s death. And, King David was miserable.

It was the Prophet Nathan, whom God sent to confront the king. God was no longer content to let David live in his misery. He had plans for David. And, David was ready to repent.

Psalm 51 is David’s song of repentance. I love verses 10-12: 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and o renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

David knew that part of repenting was making room for God to create a right spirit within him. He also pleaded with God to not take away the Holy Spirit from him. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon very few people, for very specific purposes, for a certain amount of time. David knew that the Holy Spirit had been with his predecessor, Saul. Saul’s continual sin resulted in the Spirit being taken from him. David prayed that God would have mercy on him.

He also prayed for God to restore the joy of his salvation. Some of you may need to pray the same thing. You may be struggling in your relationship with Jesus today. If so, ask Him to do His restoring work. He loves to work in you!

Genesis 46:1-47:12 – It was moving day for the family of Jacob. God told Jacob to go to Egypt and join his son Joseph. The reunion of Joesph and Jacob must have been so amazing. Jacob was thrilled to see his son.

God took care of Jacob and his family. And, Jacob, the descendant of Abraham, has an audience before the mighty Pharaoh. He uses this time to bless Pharaoh. God would one day bless all people’s of the earth through the Abrahamic line.

2 Chronicles 24 – Imagine what it would be like to come to the throne at seven years old. Joash was such a king. And, for many years, Joash was a godly king.

Why? Because he had a godly mentor. Jehoiada, the priest, was as godly a man as had lived in Israel. He helped shape Joash’s early reign. But, when Jehoiada died, Joash was influenced by ungodly advisers, and turned from God.

The people we hang out with make a huge difference in our lives. Joash’s life is a prime example of this. His life was influenced for good when he was surrounded by godly counsel and for terrible wickedness when surrounded by the wrong men.

Acts 18:1-22 – Paul loved the people of Corinth. He spent 1 1/2 years with them, planting a church among a people who lived in a wicked town. In order to support himself, Paul worked a second job. He was a tentmaker, and was allowed to practice his craft with Aquila and his wife Priscilla.

Aquila and Priscilla were vital partners in Paul’s ministry. He could not have stayed amongst the people of Corinth without the help of these two. I’m so grateful for the Aquila and Priscilla people in my life that make it possible for me to share the truth of the Gospel.

Notes from my Bible Study for February 19, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 50, Genesis 45, 2 Chronicles 23, Acts 17:16‐34

Psalm 50 – This psalm paints a powerful picture of our God. I love the imagery from beginning to end of our God, Who has every right to summon all the peoples of the earth to witness His power. Verse after verse speaks of God’s power and His absolute God nature. Take some time to reflect upon our Mighty God today.

Genesis 45 – For the past few days we have been reading about Joseph’s progression in trusting God. He went from favored son to slave to prisoner to ruler. God had good plans for Joseph when He allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery. God has good plans for us too. He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. The rewards may take time to show up, but they will come. I love the tenderness with which Joseph treats his brothers. He is careful to let them know that it wasn’t them that sent him into slavery, but God, so that good would be accomplished.

One final note. I was struck by Joseph’s words “He has made me a father to Pharaoh.” I wonder who God might put in your way that you might be a father or mother to.

2 Chronicles 23 – Jehoiada was a godly priest who had taken care of Joash, the rightful heir to the throne for several years. I love that when the time came for Jehoiada to make his move, he did it. He didn’t hesitate. With the Lord’s power, he orchestrated a coup to put the rightful heir to the throne where he belonged. Upon taking the throne, Joash allowed Jehoiada to cleanse the land of the false god Baal. God was pleased by the purification of the children of Israel.

Acts 17:16-34 – When the Apostle Paul arrived in Athens, he was saddened by the great number of idols and false gods that were worshipped. Some may have seen the city of Athens as a lost cause. Paul saw opportunity. When Paul saw an idol to “an unknown god,” Paul told the people of Athens about the one true God. He was ready to speak when given the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. We too need to be ready to share the Good News of Jesus Christ at every opportunity we have. The Gospel is the best news that the world will ever hear. Paul studied the culture around him to be able to present the Gospel in a culturally acceptable way. We should always study culture so that we might find inroads to sharing the Gospel.

Notes from my Bible Study for February 18, 2010

Psalm 49, Genesis 44, 2 Chronicles 22, Acts 15:36‐17:15

Psalm 49 – Psalm 49 reads more like a Proverb, for it is full of practical wisdom. Often times those who live righteous lives can get distracted by the world around them. It’s easy to ask questions like, “Why do those who completely ignore God seem to get ahead in life.” The writers remind us that every one of us will eventually die. To live a life that ignores God is not only ignorant, it is also eternally devastating.

The psalm ends with these words: 20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

God, give us understanding. Help us to be a people who know and understand You, and live for Your glory and renown.

Genesis 44 – The drama in Joseph’s story intensifies in this chapter as he tests his brothers to see if they have truly changed. After Benjamin is falsely accused of stealing, Judah speaks up for all of the brothers, and offers to take the place of Benjamin as Joseph’s slave.

There would be One who would come from the line of Judah many generations later, who would give His life as a ransom for you and for me. Jesus Christ came into the world from the family line of Judah.

2 Chronicles 22 – Sad days continue for the divided kingdom of Judah and Israel. Judah’s kings had been mostly righteous, and Israel’s kings had all been wicked. The marriage of Ahab’s daughter to Jehoram, had brought Baal worship to Judah. Now both Judah and Israel were following false gods. After Jehoram’s death, Ahaziah became king, but he only lasted a year; following in the ways of his father, and even allying with the king of Israel to make war. That foolish decision would cost him his life.

God preserves His covenant to David by sparing the life of Joash, hiding him for six years as Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and wife of Jehoram ruled in her son’s place. How sad that Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter was now the ruler of Judah!

Acts 15:36-17:15 – The passage begins with the dispute between Paul and Barnabas that God used to grow His church. Paul and Barnabas both had a heart for discipleship. They wanted to strengthen the believers that they had visited on their first missionary journey. Barnabas, the encourager who saw the good in others when other people could not (including Paul, after his conversion) wanted to bring John Mark along. Paul wanted nothing to do with it because John Mark had abandoned them on the first missionary journey. So, they divided and went their separate ways.

Silas joined Paul and Mark joined Barnabas, and they all made disciples.

Paul would meet Timothy, early in this journey. Timothy would become like a son to him. By the end of his life, Paul would want both Timothy and John by his side. He would eventually reconcile.

Sometimes our disputes with others are a way for God to work so that He can accomplish even greater works in our lives. It’s okay to disagree with others. It’s okay choose to part ways. But, it’s never okay to stop loving and stop hoping in someone else.

I’m blown away as I see the fruit of Paul and Silas’ ministry. These men praised God in all circumstances. When in jail, they sang praises and trusted God. They saw jail as an opportunity to share Christ with their captors. When God provided for escape, they shared Christ.

One last thought from these passages. The Berean church was made up of some extraordinary followers of Jesus. Acts 17:11 tells us that they studied the Scriptures to make sure that what Paul and Silas told them was true: “11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

All of us should do the same thing. We need to be in the Word, studying it to make sure that what we hear from pastors and teachers is true.