Notes from my Bible Study for April 29, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 119:89-176, Leviticus 26, Isaiah 35, Ephesians 4:17-32

Psalm 119:89-176 – 93 I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to learn to meditate upon Scripture. Part of the rationale was that I had never been dedicated enough to spend time each day in God’s Word. So, I figured if I meditate on one verse of Scripture a day from Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, I would spend at least 176 days in a row in the Word.

Those 176 days changed my life. I grew like I had never grown before in my Christian life. As I read these words today, I was drawn to verse 93. As I remember God’s precepts, I remember how He has used His Word to change me. The Word of God has literally given me life. I am grateful for God and the way that He continually works in our lives if we will allow Him to.

Leviticus 26 – When I was in grade school I learned about “If/Then” statements. If I do _________ then _________. The sentences usually talked about the consequences of behavior. That is what God does with the people of Israel in Leviticus 26. The entire book has been leading up to this chapter. The law has been laid out. Now the people find out the consequences (good and bad) of following God’s precepts. When we go God’s way, things go better for us. He desires the best for His children. I wonder why we don’t desire the best for us.

Isaiah 35 – Isaiah 35 is a prophecy that speaks to a day when God’s blessing will be poured out upon His children. Many believe that this is a prophecy concerning the millennial reign of Christ, or possibly eternity in heaven. Either way the future is bright for those who follow Christ.

Ephesians 4:17-32 – 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

The Lord did not make an error when He allowed verse 32 to end this wonderful teaching on how to live the Christian life. Paul has been talking about the old life and the new life. The new life is characterized by loving others more than we love ourselves, which can be a tough thing to do. It is an impossible thing to do without extending kindness and forgiveness. Because of Christ’s forgiveness we can show forgiveness to others.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 27, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 117, Leviticus 23, Isaiah 29:1‐30:17, Ephesians 2

Psalm 117 – 1 Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! – This short psalm is a beautiful example from the Old Testament of God’s plan to open salvation up to all who would trust in Him. My study Bible says that Paul quoted this verse in Romans 15:11 to help argue his point that Jewish and Gentile Christians should welcome one another and worship together. I’m grateful for these encouraging words.

Leviticus 23 – This is a beautiful chapter in that it outlines the feasts that the Jewish people were to observe. These feasts are still observed across the Jewish world. I love that the weekly Sabbath was the first of those feasts that God gave instruction about. It is important to Him that we keep His Sabbath Day holy.

Isaiah 29:1‐30:17 – 13 And the Lord said:“Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me,and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, 14therefore, behold,I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” 15Ah,you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” 16You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

These are powerful words of warning to those who honor God with their lips but have hearts that are far from Him. Jesus used these very words to describe a group of Pharisees and Scribes in the New Testament (see Matthew 15:8-9). May He not have to say the same of us!

Ephesians 2 – 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Paul begins this section of his letter to the Ephesians by reminding them of their life before Christ, which he describes as being dead in trespasses and sin. And then, in such stunningly beautiful words Paul writes about the riches of God’s grace. God’s grace is a gift. We can’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. And that is what is so wonderful about it.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 26, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 116, Leviticus 22:17‐33, Isaiah 28, Ephesians 1

Psalm 116 – 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

It is beautiful to think about what the homecoming of a Christian is like. The psalmist tells us that the moments are precious to the Lord. He looks forward to our eternal arrival. But, He also wants us to live a life that glorifies Him here until our time has come. What are you most looking forward to about your eternal home?

Leviticus 22:17‐33 – The second half of Leviticus 22 deals with offerings that are acceptable to God. He wanted the best, not animals that were lame or had defect. That tells us something about our God. He desires us to sacrifice, not just throw in a token gift every once in awhile.

Isaiah 28 – 5 In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people, 6 and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.

As Isaiah declares the Lord’s judgment on Ephraim and Jerusalem he offers hope to those who are faithful to God. I’m encouraged when I think about the fact that God always has a remnant of people who are faithful to Him, no matter how dark the days can become. I’m also encouraged at the fact that the people still recognize the majesty and glory, the beauty and the power of Christ in these dark days.

29 This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.

How awesome that even given the difficult task of sharing these prophecies that Isaiah can rejoice in the wonderful counsel and excellent wisdom of God. Even though the religious elite may have scoffed at Isaiah, he wasn’t deterred. Why should he be? He knew that if God was for him, who could stand against him.

Ephesians 1 – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

How beautiful that even before the foundation of the world, God, knowing that we would need to be redeemed, had a plan, in Christ, to redeem us. His desire is that all would come to salvation, but only those who come through Christ can be redeemed.

Ephesians 1:16-23 – I love the depth of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church. I can’t help but wonder what the Lord might do if we prayed for each other in this way.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 25, 2010

Psalm 115, Leviticus 21:1‐22:16, Isaiah 26‐27, Galatians 6

Psalm 115 – 1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! – Chris Tomlin has written a beautiful song that uses Psalm 115:1 as part of the chorus. It’s called Not To Us. It’s important that as Christians we live our lives in a way that makes God look good. We need to be people of our word. We need to be people who show love and kindness. We need to show God’s grace to the world around us.

Leviticus 22:1-22:16 – In this passage, Moses shares the law that God has set up for the priests and their families. It’s interesting that the priests had additional laws that they and their families were to follow. God wanted the spiritual leaders of His people to live lives that were above reproach.

Isaiah 26-27 – 3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Perfect peace. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? It’s what God offers to those of us who are willing to keep our mind stayed on Christ. Isaiah goes on to show us in verse four that this peace is possible because the Lord is trustworthy at all times. He is our everlasting rock. Who are you trusting in? What are you trusting in? Is it God, money, popularity, fame, family, health? Anything other than God leads to distress, not peace. Trust in Him and experience perfect peace.

Galatians 6 – 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Paul ends his letter to the Galatian believers with the admonition to keep doing the right things. We reap what we sow. In an agrarian culture, this would have spoken volumes. Farmers know that when you plant corn, you get corn, not green beans. If we live righteous lives, we will reap righteousness. If we pursue sin, we will reap destruction. Choose wisely.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 23, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 113, Leviticus 19, Isaiah 24, Galatians 4

Psalm 113 – 3 From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised.

Have you ever sung the modern day worship song based upon this song? It’s one of my favorites. The simplicity of the words and the cry of the psalmist are humbling. God deserves our praise all day long. He is worthy of our praise.

Leviticus 19 2 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

Leviticus 19 reminds me more of a chapter out of Proverbs than it does the Levitical law. The chapter is full of wise admonitions for the Children of Israel. It begins by telling the people to be holly, because God is holy,. This is not the first time that we have read this. God desires His people to be a generation that is set apart unto Him. We live lives that look different than the rest of the world, and He gives us the power to live pure lives.

9 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

What a beautiful principle. God wanted His children to take care of the poor and oppressed. It was important to Him that we not hoard everything we produce, but that some be left for those who were poor and destitute. This principle is seen lived out in the book of Ruth, when Boaz leaves out food for Ruth and Naomi.

18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

God makes it clear from the beginning that love is what He desires to see in us whether it is in our relationship with Him or others. This includes not holding a grudge against someone, even if you have the “right” to do so. Forgiveness is one of the legs that love stands on.

31 Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.

I believe that Christians have become far to lax in our day in age when it comes to evil and the occult. There is no question that seeking out the advice of psychics, palm reader, etc. is forbidden in Scripture. This would also apply to exposing ourselves to things like witchcraft, paganism, etc.

32 You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

Do you have some elderly people that God has brought into your life? If so, thank the Lord. They are a gift to you. We need to honor those who are older than us. We need to honor their wisdom and experience. We need to seek them out. And, we need to help them when they have a need, sometimes before they even ask.

Isaiah 24 – Isaiah 24 speaks about the judgement that shall come upon the entire earth when God pours out his wrath. I did not add any notes to this section of my Bible.

Galatians 4 –

3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

These are some of the most beautiful verses in Scripture referring to the deep theological truth that God has adopted those of us who are followers of Christ as his daughters and sons. He has set us free from bondage to slavery and given us all of the rights and position of his children. We are princesses and princes in the kingdom of Heaven.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 22, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 112, Leviticus 18, Isaiah 23, Galatians 3

Psalm 112 – 7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

Psalm 112 is a psalm about the righteous. Verse seven particularly ministers to me. There are many times that I fear bad news. In my natural self, bad news about any number of things can set me back. I’m challenged as I read this verse. The psalmist is talking about not fearing bad news about a battle, because ultimately God will prevail. But, I believe that the principle is transferable to other areas of our life as well. It comes down to trust. Do we trust that God is control or not? If God is in control then even bad news should not shake our faith. We need to look at it as an opportunity to grow in our walk with God and to strengthen our faith.

Leviticus 18 – 29 For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.”

Leviticus 18 records the laws concerning unlawful sexual relations. “But, everybody else is doing it,” may have been the cry of the Israelites. God wanted his people to be different than the rest of the world. A society’s lax attitude towards sexual sin is one of the markers that the society is in danger. The spread of sexually transmitted diseases, broken families, broken hearts, and more can be traced to sexual immorality.

Isaiah 23 – Isaiah’s oracle concerning Tyre and Sidon is interesting. This seaport region was a powerful city. Important to the trade routes of many countries, it was a wealthy city and a popular and sinful destination. The lack of the fear of the Lord would lead to their being punished but the chapter ends with the hope that at the end of 70 years, God would once again bless this city. He would make their goods holy. He would supply food, materials, etc. for His children through this punished region.

Galatians 3 – 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

I read this verse, coming out of the Easter holiday just a few weeks back with a deep appreciation for what Christ did for me at Calvary. He became a curse so that I might be redeemed. It reminds me of the popular line from the song Amazing Love, which says, “I”m forgiven because He was forsaken. I’m accepted He was condemned. I’m alive and well and His Spirit lives within me, because you died and rose for me.”

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

What a beautiful picture of the ground being level at the foot of the cross. The cross changed everything. How beautiful that the grace of God now extended to Jews and Gentiles.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 21, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 111, Leviticus 17, Isaiah 22, Galatians 2

Psalm 1113 Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.

What a beautiful and fitting description of the work of the Lord. Have you ever partnered with God in His work? It’s an amazing and awe-inspiring process. I had a chance recently to see God just perform miraculous works in the life of a person that I know. It was so great to see their despair turn to hope, and their hope turn into reality. Keep your eyes out for where God is at work, and join him. His work is the best!

7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 8 they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.

Do you ever just need to see the proof of something before you will believe it? I do. And, sometimes I need to be reminded of a truth that I know by seeing it on paper, in a life, or on a screen, right in front of me. These verses are like that. I need reminders many times about the faithful and just work of the Lord. I need to be reminded that He is trustworthy. I need to be reminded that even though following Him can sometimes hurt, it is always worth it. If God says that He will do something, He will. Take confidence in Him today!

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

I was fortunate enough to spend my elementary years as a student at the Wheaton Christian Grammar School. It was a good place for me and my brothers. Our school’s key verse was this one. It’s an appropriate verse for a Christian school, and an appropriate verse for any Christian. True wisdom begins and has its end in God. If we have no fear of God, we are ignorant and we are seeing the world through warped lenses. That is not to say that a quality education cannot happen in a secular institution. The best education should happen in our homes and in our churches. May we remember that if we are not seeking God, we are not wise. Pity the person who tries to live their life with minimal interference from God.

Leviticus 17 – This chapter deals with the laws regarding the place of the sacrifice and laws against eating blood. I did not add any notes to my Bible in this chapter.

Isaiah 22 – This chapter deals with the oracle against Jerusalem. I did not add any notes to my Bible in this chapter. But, I was stuck by the judgement that God pronounced on His holy city. It was sad to see God have to punish the city He loved so much.

Galatians 2 – 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Aren’t you glad that we aren’t made right before Christ because of our good works? It is God who justifies, through Jesus Christ. Forgiveness, new life, hope, joy, peace, true love cannot be found apart from Jesus. He is our hope and our salvation.

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It is always a tough verse to read, because we see in it the demands that are placed on the follower of Jesus Christ. To be a follower of Jesus requires that it is He who lives in us, and not ourselves. We die to our desires to live for His desires. And, that is the work of the Holy Spirit within us.