Notes from my Bible Study for April 8, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 98, Leviticus 4:1-5:13, Isaiah 2, 1 Corinthians 16

Psalm 98 – 1a – Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! – There are several times in the Psalms that you see the instruction to sing to the Lord a new song. I like that God wants us to create new songs for Him. In other words, He doesn’t want our spiritual lives to stagnate. We ought to be trying our best to learn new things about God every day. That isn’t going to happen if we don’t spend time praying, reading, and living in fellowship with other believers.

Have you ever heard a travelling speaker use the same stories over and over when they come to preach? Maybe it’s because I was a youth pastor for so many years, but I remember hearing guys speak and wondering if God had done anything in their lives in the past 20 years! I heard the same stories year in and year out. When we are intimately connected to God, we grow, and growth brings about a new song. Let your life be a living symphony for Him.

There is another thing that I love about this Psalm. It’s the many different ways to worship. From instruments to nature singing, the psalmist shows that creation sings God’s glory. So should we!

Leviticus 4:1-5:13 – We’ve already read about a number of the offerings that the Children of Israel were instructed to give to God. Now we come upon the laws for sin offerings. It’s interesting to note the classifications of people. God clearly had laws for all of his people. There are implicit instructions given for how an offering to atone for sin should look. This chapter is an important reminder for New Testament believers that sin has consequences. God has called us to live holy lives.

Isaiah 2 – 5 – O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord – Isaiah was right in the middle of prophesying God’s message to the nation when he called the nation to immediate repentance. Can you relate to Isaiah? I can. Whether it’s my own stubbornness or the stubbornness of someone else, far too many of us have experienced the pull away from God. Don’t go! Stay faithful. Instead, replace the desire to run away with the desire to walk in the light of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 16 – The apostle Paul ends his first letter to the Corinthian believers with instructions on how to collect offerings for the saints gathered across the ancient near east world. He also tells them that he hopes to see them on his future travels. Paul’s letter closes with personal greetings. I love that the Bible includes these greetings. We get a glimpse into Paul, the man. We get an even deeper understanding of the church, their bond to Paul, and how they grow spiritually.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 7, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 97, Leviticus 3, Isaiah 1, 1 Corinthians 15

Psalm 97 – 6The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.7All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods! – Psalm 97 is a song of rejoicing in the power and majesty of our God. The psalmist uses images of creation to demonstrate the power of God. I love how he mocks the powerless idols that people worship in place of the Creator God. Do you want to worship the Creator of coastlands and clouds or darkness and fire of lightning and the earth of mountains of the universe, or do you want to worship items made by man? How sad that many of us are freaking out because the god of money had died. Like those who worshipped idols in the past, we have made our own gods that we depend upon and worship. Those gods are false. They will never be God. May we recognize the power and majesty of God, this day and forevermore.

Leviticus 3 – Leviticus 3 gives us the guidelines and procedures for the peace offering. This was an offering that was given as a reminder and symbol of the covenant relationship that God had with His chosen people. The person making the offering was to offer an animal without blemish before the Lord (vs. 1 and vs.6).I think one of the reasons God asked for an animal without blemish was because He is without blemish. God’s relationship with the people was perfect on His part. We need to remember that God is holy. There is no sin in him. We should strive to live holy lives too. We will never be sinless this side of heaven, but we can strive to live holy lives.

Isaiah 1 – 4Ah, sinful nation,a people laden with iniquity,offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord,they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.- Isaiah begins his book with a vision that he received from the Lord. Here he proclaims the guilt of the people of Israel. This chosen people had forsaken their God. And, God would punish them for their straying from His precepts. I’m especially struck by the words “they are utterly estranged.” Have you ever been in an estranged relationship with someone? It’s no fun. Now, imagine being the chosen people of God and suddenly finding yourself estranged from Him. Your sins have brought punishment. How sad to be estranged from God!

7Your country lies desolate;your cities are burned with fire;in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. 8And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. 9If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. – This is a picture of a nation that had disobeyed God coming under extreme judgment. What a sad picture. A country desolate. Cities burned with fire. There are a lot of parallels to the prophecies about the end times. But, God has saved a remnant of people who are faithful to Him.

I’m so glad that Isaiah’s first chapter doesn’t end after the first nine verses. There is hope. Isaiah gives us God’s prescription for the nation in verses 16-19 16Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;cease to do evil,17learn to do good; seek justice,correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. 18“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

It’s beautiful to read about the grace of God, isn’t it? Though our sins are as scarlet they shall be as white as snow! I love that picture. There is something beautiful about being pure. When is the last time you felt spiritually pure? Has it been awhile? Confess your sin. Ask for God’s forgiveness. He promises us that if we confess our sins that He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). He will do it for nations when God’s people repent. May we, who are children of God lead the way when it comes to confession. And, may our passions be to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless and plead the widow’s case.

1 Corinthians 15 – 33Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” – Somebody once said that the greatest difference between you today and five years from now are the people you meet, the places you go and the books you read. When I was a youth pastor, I used that quote a lot. It’s sad how many lives are changed forever because of the company that they keep. Who we hang out with matters. Be careful about the friends that you choose. They will rub off on you. At the same time, don’t abandon your mission field.There is a fine line between loving people into the Kingdom and being drug down. Be careful, but don’t forget to be a missionary every day too.