Notes from my Bible Study for April 19, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 109, Leviticus 15, Isaiah 19-20, Galatians 1:1-10

Psalm 109 – 4 In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer

This is a psalm of David. He is praying that God will bring him relief from those who would seek to oppress him. I appreciate David’s words in verse four. He is seeking to show love to people, and David is treated with accusations. Ever been there? I have. It’s a painful place to be. So, what’s David’s response? He gives himself to prayer. Not complaining. Not whining to anyone who will listen. Not badmouthing his accusers. He simply goes to God in prayer. What a great model for us.

Leviticus 15 – This chapter dealt with the Old Testament laws concerning discharge from the human body, and when a man or a woman was considered unclean. As I read sections of Scripture like this one I am reminded that God created human beings and that our bodies are not anything to be ashamed of. The notes from the ESV Literary Study Bible for this passage say, “Again we need to abandon all squeamishness about the physical body and its discharges. A byproduct of these regulations is that we are given to understand that God created people as biological creatures and that we need to come to terms with our physical bodies.” Well put.

Isaiah 19-20 – God’s judgment against the Egypt during the time of Isaiah is written of in Isaiah 19-20. These chapters of Isaiah deal with God’s judgment of much of the ancient near east world. What we see in these chapters is a picture of God’s wrath against nations that have turned their back upon Him and become an enemy to His chosen people. We love to talk about the grace of God, but we don’t like to think of God’s wrath. If you are a recipient of God’s grace today, thank Him, and tell others of His infinite mercy to those who will humble themselves and trust Him as Savior and Lord.

Galatians 1:1-10 – 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Wow! Do you get the idea that Paul was passionate about the Gospel? He cared so deeply about the truth. Yesterday in church, we talked about truth, and the importance of getting the truth right. As a pastor I am often times awed that God would allow me to communicate the timeless truths of His Word. I want to be so careful that the words that I share are true, and not just my opinion. Why? Because the Gospel; the Good News of Jesus Christ, is the most important thing on earth to communicate. I never want to preach a Gospel that is contrary to what God has taught us in His Word. If you are in a church that doesn’t teach the Gospel, leave. Find a church that does. It’s important that we don’t waste our time in places that get the Gospel wrong, or ignore it altogether.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 18, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 108, Leviticus 14:33‐57, Isaiah 17‐18, 2 Corinthians 12:14‐13:14

Psalm 108 – 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Psalm 108 is a psalm of David, and as he does in many places, David emphasizes the glory of God. God’s glory is displayed throughout the earth. It is displayed above the heavens. But, there was something in David’s writing that inferred that he wanted to glorify God everywhere that he went as well. I love people like King David. Those who truly glorify God with their life are inspiring and encouraging people.

Leviticus 14:33‐57 – This passage deals with the laws for cleaning houses where cases of leprous disease have been. I did not add anything to the notes of my Bible in this section.

Isaiah 17‐18 – 1b Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins.

What awful words! Think about being a resident of Damascus and hearing this oracle delivered to you. The city of Damascus had so enraged God that destruction was their ultimate end.

10 For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge; therefore, though you plant pleasant plants and sow the vine-branch of a stranger,11 though you make them grow on the day that you plant them, and make them blossom in the morning that you sow, yet the harvest will flee away in a day of grief and incurable pain.

It’s too easy to forget the good things that God has done for us. What is it about human beings that makes us want to be so self-reliant, and to take credit for the things that God deserves credit for?

Isaiah 18 is an oracle concerning Cush. I added no notes to my Bible in this section.

2 Corinthians 12:14‐13:14 – 20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

Paul’s pastor’s heart is shown in this passage. His concern for the Corinthian believers and the Corinthian church is so evident in these words. He is sickened by some of the things that he hears are going on in the church.

5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Paul warns those who are living lives that don’t glorify God that they should examine themselves to see if they are truly Christians. Paul’s advice is good for all of us. It’s important to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. When our lives look no different than the world around us, when we run to the same things that the world runs to, and when we don’t run to God, then we need to ask the tough questions.

12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

When I was in high school, this was my life’s verse! Okay, just kidding. But, the Eastern European church still practices this. I’ll never forget my first time speaking in Russia and being kissed by all of the believers in the church. While it seemed strange to me as a western Christian, it was really a beautiful picture of the love that the Russian believers had for one another.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 16, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 106, Leviticus 13, Isaiah 13‐14, 2 Cor 10:1‐12

Psalm 106 – 6 Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.

I appreciate the fact that the writer of Psalm 106 confesses the sin of his people, not just the sins of the ancestors of his people. Psalm 106 is a historical look at the grievous sins of the Children of Israel. Throughout the history of the great nation, there had been sin. Over and over again the Israelites turned from the God of Israel to pagan gods. And, over and over again God forgave them. When we have sinned, we need to confess it. We need to own up to the fact that we have sinned. And, we need to turn from that sin and to God. Don’t blame others for the sin in your life. Humanity has been doing that from the beginning (see Adam blaming Eve for his sin in Genesis 3) and it’s not very original.

20 They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.

In the long litany of sins that the psalmist writes regarding the Israelites relationship to God, this one stuck out to me. It seems crazy to me that a group of people would exchange the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass. How stupid can you be? And yet, so many of us do the same thing today. We trade the glory of God for our own pleasures that cannot now, or ever, compare to God’s glory. Don’t be like the Children of Israel! Worship God, and God only. Nothing else is worth it.

Leviticus 13 – This chapter concerns itself with the laws about leprosy. Leprosy was a terrible and all too common disease in the ancient near east world. It’s sad to read how difficult life was for those who struggled with the disease.

Isaiah 13-14 – 11 I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.

The proud Babylonian people had ignored God. They tried to make a mockery of the Jewish religion. But, God warns Babylon that judgment is coming.

In Is. 14:12-20 there is a major parallel shown between the fall of the King of Babylon and the fall from heaven of Lucifer. It’s fascinating reading, and some of the most important teaching on Satan in all of the Bible.

2 Corinthians 10:1-12 – 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

There is something so beautiful about Paul’s defense of his ministry in this section of Scripture. I love that Paul and his partners in ministry were taking every thought captive, so that they might obey Christ. This is never easy but always worth it.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 15, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 105, Leviticus 12, Isaiah 11‐12, 2 Corinthians 8‐9

Psalm 105 – 1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;make known his deeds among the peoples!

What has God done for you? Tough question? Well that all depends upon your perspective. If you think it’s tough because you can’t think of what He’s done, you are probably not looking hard enough. In reality, it’s a tough question because to say what God has done for us would take us forever to answer. God has blessed us in more ways than we can imagine. And, He wants us to make His deeds known among our friends, family, strangers, everyone! God wants us to tell others about Him. When prayer is answered we should rejoice — and tell others about it! When we are blessed with health or material things or family or friends, we should rejoice — and tell others about it! God is worth making known among the peoples. This entire Psalm is a song dedicated to the faithfulness of God. Included are some of Israel’s greatest triumphs, which came directly because of the intervention of God.

4 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Here lies some of the greatest wisdom in the Bible. There is nothing better than seeking the presence of the Lord. Why is it that we run from His presence so often? Want real lasting joy? Seek Him! Want peace? Seek Him! Want love? Seek Him! May we be seekers of God! There is a common Christmas slogan that says, “Wise men still seek Him.” It’s true. Seek Him!

Leviticus 12 – Leviticus 12 is part of the Levitical law concerning cleanness and uncleanness. This chapter dealt with the purification of a woman after childbirth.

Isaiah 11-12 – These two chapters from Isaiah are two of the most beautiful prophecies of Messiah in all of Scripture. Chapter eleven describes what the Messiah will be like, and the blessing that He will bring. Chapter twelve describes the joy that the people will respond with after Messiah comes. We, who know that Jesus is the Messiah, have been blessed to see the difference that Jesus makes in our lives, our families, our community and our world.

2 Corinthians 8-9 – 18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel.

There is a bit of mystery about who this famous preacher is that is mentioned in 2 Cor. 8:18. I love this verse for several reasons. Number one, it affirms that even in the early church, there was need for gifted communicators to travel from church to church, city to city, to tell others about Christ. I think of this preacher as being an early Billy Graham or D.L. Moody type evangelist. Second, I like it that even though he was famous at the time, we have no idea who he is today. There will come a day when people may forget who Graham and Moody were, but they will not forget Jesus. What was important was not that this man was famous and gifted preacher, but that Jesus was Who he preached. May those of us who have the privilege of teaching, never get in the way of the message. Jesus is worth making known to the world, not us.

I also like it because the man could not have accomplished what he did apart from Titus. We know the name of the servant but not the preacher. How cool is that? Praise God for the Titus like people that support pastors, missionaries and evangelists so that the Gospel may be spread around. We know that the church at Corinth was involved in the supporting Paul and probably this man too. Their financial support made the spread of the Gospel possible.

7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Paul was asking the Corinthian church to give an offering for the church in Jerusalem. There was a huge need in the Jerusalem church, and Paul knew that the gift from Corinth would be a blessing and an encouragement to those in Jerusalem. I love how Paul asked for money and the attitude with which he wanted the people of Corinth to give. Giving is a privilege to those who are followers of Christ. Our gifts to God should be a part of our worship to Him. We should lovingly give back to God a portion of what He has blessed us with. Paul gives a very tender argument for this. I love that he ends his chapter with these words in verse 15. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! In other words, the gift that the Corinthians can give is a reflection of the inexpressible gift that God has given to us.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 14, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 104, Leviticus 11, Isaiah 9:8‐10:34, 2 Corinthians 6:11‐7:16

Psalm 104 – 33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

It’s one thing to say the words of Psalm 104:33, it’s another thing to live those words. Wouldn’t it be great if you could be the type of person that lived out the words of Psalm 104:33? I’d love to be someone who would sing praises to God no matter the situation that I found myself in. Unfortunately too many times I let the discouragements of a day or a week get in the way of my praise to God. It’s easy to be a person who lets circumstances determine my attitude. But, that is as far from being a Spirit filled believer as I can be. If I allow the Spirit to control my life, my life’s circumstances are not what get to dictate my attitude. It’s instead my life’s aim — to please God. So, here’s to trying afresh to sing praise to God no matter the circumstances.

Leviticus 11 – 44a For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.

I love this verse! Tucked towards the end of the Levitical law concerning clean and unclean animals is God’s admonition to us to be holy because He is holy. God has called us to be a set apart people, a peculiar people, aliens and strangers in this world. Throughout the pages of Scripture, from Old Testament to New Testament is seen the heartbeat of God for His people. We can be holy if we will allow God’s Spirit to rule our lives.

Isaiah 9:8-10:34 – 33 Behold, the Lord God of hosts will lop the boughs with terrifying power; the great in height will be hewn down, and the lofty will be brought low. 34 He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an axe, and Lebanon will fall by the Majestic One.

In this part of Isaiah’s prophecy he shares the word of the Lord concerning the arrogant nations. There is judgement coming to those nations who don’t fear God. While it may look like they are prospering now, God warns of the impending punishment. The Assyrian army was cut down, and God did bring this punishment to a proud and arrogant nation that had mocked Him and His people.

Isaiah’s prophecy was meant for specific nations, but all nations who do not fear the Lord will eventually face His judgment. God deserves to be honored in the land. That happens when the people of God take a stand for Him. When the church honors God, it has an impact on all aspects of society.

2 Corinthians 6:11-7:16 – 14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

God is passionate that the closest relationships that Christians should have are with other Christians. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have non-Christian friends that are close, but our closest friendship should be with like-minded believers. Why? Because, we become like those we spend time with. If Christ is the most important part of our lives, we should be able to share Him with others. We ought to be in close relationships with people who are going to encourage us in our faith. We should be business partners with people who share our values, whose sense of right and wrong comes from God, not from their gut. Our life partners, our spouses, those we date, etc. should be Christians who share our values.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 13, 2010

Psalm 103, Leviticus 10, Isaiah 9:1‐7, 2 Corinthians 5:11‐6:10

Psalm 103 – 1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

David begins this psalm with words that reflect what the rest of the psalm will look like. David clearly wants to speak about the wonderful God that he loves in Psalm 103. This psalm is a psalm of blessing to God. When David speaks of blessing the Lord with all that is within him, I believe that he means it. He wanted his life to be a life that praised God.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

David had experienced this type of love from God. God had been merciful to David on multiple occasions. This verse doesn’t give us liberty to live however we want, because God does get angry with sin. There are consequences that come from our sin. David had felt those too.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

I believe that this is one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture concerning the love of our Lord. The description of God’s love here is one of a vast and a deep love. It is a tender love. It is a forgiving love.

15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. 17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

David puts the length of a man’s day in proper perspective. Our days are like the grass, that flourishes for awhile and then is gone. It is vital that we live our days to honor God. We should seek to know Him and make Him known to the next generation.

Leviticus 10 – This is a sad chapter because it records for us what happened when Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu decided not to follow God’s regulations regarding offerings to the Lord. They offered a strange fire before God and God literally consumed them with fire from heaven. From the very beginning of the priesthood God wanted to show that His regulations were to be taken seriously. These men were to be holy men, set apart by God for His service. Aaron must have been stunned, for this was on the very day that His sacrifice was accepted. This is after the people had been blown away by God accepting the sacrifice with fire from heaven. What a difference a few hours would make for Aaron. Later in the day his next two sons also fail to follow God’s regulations and they receive a tongue lashing from Moses. May we be serious in our worship of God!

Isaiah 9:1-7 – 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Isaiah gave his people the wonderful message that there was hope coming. And, hope would come in the form of the Messiah. I love Isaiah’s names for Messiah in verses 6-7. Handel was so moved by Isaiah’s words that he penned one of the most beautiful pieces of music in history. What is your favorite title given for Messiah in these verses?

2 Corinthians 5:11-6:10 –

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

So why do you live? Is it for your glory or His? Throughout today’s readings we have been exposed to the fact that our lives are to be about Him. He wants us to be involved in the ministry of reconciliation. We are to help bring those who know nothing of God to the foot of the cross. What a privilege!

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Ambassadors from the United States are appointed to serve as liasons from our country to foreign countries. These men and women have an important job. It is crucial that they act in the best interest of the United States, but also that they represent us well. We too should act in the best interest of God and make Him look good wherever we go.

2b – Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

I will often times refer to this verse when I am sharing the Gospel with others. Last Easter I watched the late Easter service from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. I loved listening to their pastor, Mark Driscoll, as he challenged people to convert to Christianity. He said, “Some of you are like . . . What? Are you trying to convert me? Yes! I am trying to convert you! There is nothing better than being a Christian . . .” He was right. There is nothing better. This world pales in comparison. Today is the day. Now is the day of salvation. Have you committed your life to Christ? If you’d like more information on how to do that e-mail me at bschulenburg@wccmn.org, or call 1-800-NEED-HIM.

Notes from my Bible Study for April 12, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 102, Leviticus 9, Isaiah 7‐8, 2 Corinthians 4:1‐5:10

Psalm 102 – 3 For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.11 My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.23 He has broken my strength in midcourse;he has shortened my days.26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.

Psalm 102 is a prayer from a person that is afflicted. The man is upset at God. He feels like God has hidden his face from him. And then, he comes to grips with the eternality of God and the fact that each of our lives are but a blip on the screen of eternity. What is your life about? Is it about His story or yours. A few year’s back I read Louie Giglio’s book I Am Not, but I know I AM. It’s a great book that puts our place on the world’s stage in its proper perspective. Let’s find a way to make less of us and more of Jesus. Remember, our days are but a mist. Only what is done for Christ will last.

Leviticus 9 – 22 Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. 24 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

The title of this chapter in my Bible says in a very understated way, The Lord Accepts Aaron’s Offering. Aaron and his sons had just been ordained as the priests of Israel. And now, Aaron was bringing the first sin offering before the Lord on behalf of the people. To say that the Lord accepted the offering is an understatement! Aaron followed the procedures that God had set forth earlier in the book of Leviticus. And when he and Moses went into the tent of meeting, God showed up. He sent fire from Heaven and literally consumed the offering with fire. God showed up! And, God forgave. God’s acceptance of the sin offering was the Old Testament symbol that He had forgiven the sins of the people. What a picture. As God consumed the offering, it existed no more. The offering was gone, and God remembered their sins no more! God had forgiven. And, He wants to do the same for you. 1 John 1:9 tells us that when we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He will forgive you, if you’ll ask. Let today be the day of fresh start for you and God!

Isaiah 7-8 – 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 6-12 speaks of God’s plans for the future of His people. He has a remnant that will be faithful to Him no matter what. In Isaiah 7:14 we read about the coming of Messiah. God promises that Immanuel will come and that He will be born of a virgin. This is not just a young woman, it means a literal virgin. The ESV Study Bible has some terrific notes on this prophetic passage. It would be worth your time to read them.

2 Corinthians 4:1‐5:10 – Paul longs for heaven as he writes in this passage. He writes about the troubles that this world brings, but then says that they are nothing compared to what lies ahead of us in heaven. He reminds the Corinthian believers of how important it is to walk by faith and not by sight.