Notes from my Bible Study for February 9, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 39, Genesis 36, 2 Chronicles 13, Acts 6:8‐7:60

Psalm 39 – Our lives are truly a mist. We are here for a little while, and then are gone. The psalmist reflects that truth in Psalm 39. This is another prayer of confession. He has sinned, and recognizes that his only hope in this life is the Lord.

I found verses 1-3 to be insightful. Not wanting to speak poorly about the Lord, David guarded his tongue in the presence of the wicked. Perhaps he was being goaded on by wicked people about the situation where he found himself. Perhaps it was something else, but he did not want to sin with his tongue.

In the end, he ends up speaking, worship and prayer to the Lord.

Genesis 36 – Isaac told his son Esau that he would be the father of a great nation. While Jacob was given the birthright and the blessing, Esau was blessed. This chapter details the line of Esau. His family would include many chiefs and kings. A note in my study Bible says that these kings probably ruled different cities. Even though they are listed in succession, they many probably ruled dynasties at the same time.

2 Chronicles 13 – The beginning of the reign of Abijah is chronicled in this chapter. Like his father, Rehoboam, Abijah was not wholly true to the Lord. He allowed for idolatrous worship. But, this chapter is clear to point out that the priests who were in the temple at Jerusalem were faithful to God. The chapter is a good reminder that we must be faithful to the Lord even when our leaders are not. The priests represented the remnant that was faithful to God in those days.

Acts 6:8‐7:60 – The story of the first Christian martyr, Stephen is an interesting one.

Stephen was being used greatly by God, as demonstrated in Acts 6:8. I believe that all of hell took notice at how God was using Stephen, and that Satan wanted to scare the believers by taking Stephen’s life. Seized and arrested, Stephen does not go quietly. Instead, he preaches one of the most insightful sermons ever. He paints a panoramic picture of the history of the nation of Israel’s relationship with Jehovah, ending with charges that the people had grown stiff-necked and crucified the Messiah.

When Stephen is stoned to death, he echoes the words of Christ from the cross; showing that he loved those who persecuted him.

Stephen’s death did not dissuade the growth of the church. Satan’s plan to persecute the church may have resulted in great difficulty for the believers, but it had the opposite effect when it came to church growth. The church flourished.

If you look around the world today, the church flourishes in areas where persecution exists. Our American church has been shrinking both in size and impact. Maybe some of that is because it is too easy to be a “Christian” in America today. I wonder how many of us would continue to stand for Christ if the heat were turned up.

The Bible tells us in multiple places that we will face persecution if we walk with Christ. May we pass the test and stand up for Him no matter the situation!

Notes from my Bible Study for February 8, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 38, Genesis 35, 2 Chronicles 12, Acts 4:32‐6:7

Psalm 38 – Have you ever sinned and felt the impact of the sin so heavily in your heart that you cried out to God in your anguish? That is what was happening in Psalm 38. David had sinned in a significant way, and he was feeling the consequences of that sin. This is a psalm of confession. David asks God to forgive him. He acknowledges the terrible state that he is in, and recognizes that God alone is his hope.

When we sin, we need to confess it to God and recognize that our hope is in the Lord.

Genesis 35 – In this important chapter, we see the relationship between God and Jacob strengthened. Jacob commands his family to put away their false gods and worship only Jehovah. In verse three Jacob comes to recognize that it is God who had answered him in his day of distress and been with him wherever he had gone.

Isn’t that the way so many of us work? God has been there all along, but we have to learn the hard way. I’m glad we have a God who pursues us even when we run the other way.

The chapter ends with the death of Rachel and Isaac.

2 Chronicles 12 – The up and down relationship that Rehoboam had with the Lord is demonstrated again in this chapter. As the chapter begins, Rehoboam abandons the law of God and so does Israel. It is amazing the power that a leader has over people’s actions. The children of Israel should not have abandoned God, just because their king did. But, they did. And, God’s wrath came upon Israel.

The beautiful temple that Solomon built was looted, and all of the treasures stolen. The shields of gold were replaced with shields of bronze.

Isn’t that how it can be when we turn our backs on God? We substitute the best for a cheap imitation, and it can’t compare. No one compares with our God. There is no other who offers redemption, grace, and the power to transform lives such as Christ.

Acts 4:32-6:7 – These were exciting days for the early church. The believers understood what it meant to live in community with each other. I love the way that they sought to meet each other’s needs. Can you imagine what a church that didn’t have a needy person among them might look like? This church cared about making sure that no one went without.

The story of Ananias and Sapphira shows how serious God was that the early church understand the holiness of God, and the importance of His bride. The deceit of these two came because they wanted to look good to others around them, even if it meant doing so in a dishonest way.

I love the passion with which the apostles preached the Gospel, even after an arrest. Nothing was going to stop them from sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

I’ve never been arrested for sharing my faith, and yet I don’t do it nearly enough. We, who have been given the freedom of living in the United States, should look for every opportunity possible to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have the greatest message ever. The early church was known for what they were for, not what they were against. Let’s start being known for Jesus again! Let’s share the whole truth about who Christ Jesus is! He is the hope for this world.