Category Archives: Bible Study

Learned something new

I have been a Christian since 1987 and I have through the Bible numerous times.  I am always amazed that I see things that I have not seen in previous readings.

Our Men’s Bible Study is doing a character study on David this cycle.

As I was preparing this week for Chapter 1, I was reading 1 Samuel 8 to get the context of what was taking place prior to Saul being chosen king.  I did not realize that Samuel’s sons did not walk in the path that he did.  1 Samuel 8:3 says “But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.”

This is powerful because most people look at Samuel and remember his young life being brought up among the disgrace of Eli’s sons and Eli’s inattention to his own sons wickedness. As a parent I can only imagine the disappointment that Samuel must have felt that his own sons turned away from what was right. It is also a great reminder that just because a child grows up in the right environment (going to church, Christian school,etc) there is no guarantee that they will follow the Lord.  A great reminder to pray for your children and to be an active parent in your children lives.

Thankful that the Bible is a living book and full of truths that we can apply to our lives even in the 21st century!

Picture credit:  amazon.com

Matthew 1:21 – A Familiar Text with Great Truths

I have been a Christian for over 25 years and have read through the Bible multiple times.  I was reading different Christmas texts before the holiday just meditating on them when I came to Matthew 1:21.  I have read this verse multiple times and even memorized it in school and college.  As I was reading these various texts I was thinking about them pastorally (even though I am not currently serving as a pastor) and wondering what I would do if I was tasked with preaching during the Christmas season.

As I came to Matthew 1:21, this text really grabbed me and I have been thinking about it for several days and the profound truths that are contained in this short verse that might be very familiar to many people.  Forgive me in advance if this is not homiletically correct or logical, sometimes it helps me to write/type things out to get them from my brain into written form to be read and meditated upon for future study.  I may not have covered every facet of the text, but rather I am expressing what I have been meditating upon these last several days.

Matthew 1:21 (NKJV)

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.

And she will bring forth a Son” – this refers to the fundamental truth of the virgin birth.  A truth that some have a lot of trouble accepting and believing, while others believing this truth by faith.  This is a foundational truth to the Christian faith.

and you shall call His name Jesus” – Jesus,  the name that was appointed by God.  Joseph and Mary did not have a choice in this matter.  This is a divine name and a name of power (See Acts 4:12; Acts 5:31; Luke 2:21; Philippians 2:9-11).

for He will save His people from their sins” –  For indicates the beginning of the purpose clause.  The divine purpose for which God the Son came to the earth in the form of human flesh. Jesus Christ did not come to bring political reform to the Roman Empire, although some wished that He had.  He came to bring life, abundant life  See John 1 and John 10.   “He will save” – the life-giving act of the sacrifice of the Son of God for the sins of the world (See John 3:16; 1 Cor 15:2; Acts 4:12).  “From their sins” – it is a universal fact that man is a sinner and this stems from the fact that Adam sinned and that sin has passed down to all generations (See Romans 3:10, 23; 5:8; 6:23) with only one exception – Jesus Christ who was born of a virgin, was born with no sin.  Mankind is hopelessly depraved and lost in sin without Christ.  If you have children, you will definitely see and experience the doctrine of total depravity !  The Gospel is the solution to the problem and ever-present fact of sin.  No one else or nothing else can save me from my sins except the substitutionary atoning death of Christ and His bodily resurrection!

Christ came for a single purpose that was expressed in many different ways.  He came to save His people from their sins.

Have you ever put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ?  Jesus said in Mark 1:15 “Repent and believe the Gospel”  Has there ever been a time where you have done that?  For me, I was converted in 1987 at the age of 17. Share your testimony of salvation in the comments.

 

The 10 Day Challenge

Our pastor has issued a 10 day challenge:

For us to meditate on John 3:16 for ten days on a different aspect or theme from that great and timeless text.

The themes are as follows:

God

Love

World

Gave

Son

Whosoever

Believe

Perish

Have

Everlasting life

Will you join me on this 10 day challenge of meditation on God’s Word? If so, let me know in the comments.

A dilemma for those who preach

Here is a situation that I face often and never really a good solution for it.

Sometimes I have been called upon to fill a pulpit for a pastor who is on vacation or an emergency requires him to be gone.  The biggest challenge that I face (and others who find themselves in similar situations) is how to know what to preach to a church where you have never been and you do not know much about the church or the community.  Sometimes there would be enough time to write a sermon, other times, the notice was last-minute.

What I have usually done was either preach a sermon that I had recently written, or preach something that I knew fairly well.   I have never had the opportunity to preach a series because most of my preaching engagements are usually single invitations for one service or two, never an extended period of time (like a Bible Conference, etc.)

It has always bothered me to some extent because I always seemed to struggle not knowing what God would have me preach to a particular group of people.  Pastors who preach week in and week out and if they use expository preaching do not have this problem because they are usually working through a book of the Bible and they go from pericope to pericope within the book itself.

In the last several months I have had the opportunity to preach in several churches.   I believe that the Lord has blessed the ministry of the Word in those contexts.  I have two more opportunities in the next few weeks.

I have prayed about this and have decided to attempt something in my next few preaching engagements.  Instead of agonizing over what to preach, I am going to work through a book of the Bible (in this case the book of 1 Peter) and preach through the book verse by verse in my different engagements (unless I find myself preaching on a special Sunday, or if the Pastor is currently going through the book, or if I am ever asked to preach on a specific topic or from a specific passage ((never happens to me)).   If I am ever invited to candidate somewhere, I will re-think this approach.

I think that this will alleviate the pressure that I face with each occasion trying to discern what to preach.  I look forward to working through the book of 1 Peter and who knows how long it will take me.  I will report back if this method is a success or a colossal mistake on my part.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome…

Another writing project for me

I enjoy the opportunity that I have not only to write here, but now I am contributing some content to another site, Devotional Christian.  You can read my first post here.

I will be contributing weekly, not exactly sure of the rotation schedule, so this is a good excuse to read this site daily!

Thanks to Tony Kummer for the opportunity to expand my writing and to learn more in the process!

Having a consistent devotional life

I am probably the last person who should be commenting or writing on this subject, but I am doing so because it is an area where a lot of people struggle to maintain some degree of consistency.  

I did not grow up in a Christian home and was saved two months before my eighteen birthday back in February of 1987.  I heard a lot about “getting alone with God”, “having a quiet time with God”, “meeting God daily in the Word”.  But what I did not hear a lot of was exactly how to do it and maintain some form of consistency.  

I am not ashamed to admit that this has been a big struggle for me since I became a Christian over 20 years ago.  What I will share with you are some of the things that I have read and heard from others that have made a lasting impact in my life to allow me to enjoy a rich devotional life and time with God.  Some will say, “You are a Bible college and seminary graduate, you should have it all together.”  Big assumption there because 1) People are afraid to talk about their struggles because they are fearful that it will make them look weak instead of strong.  2) Not everyone is at the same level spiritually.  

I have always had a reverence and appreciation for the Word of God.  I enjoy reading it, teaching it and preaching it.  The biggest problem that I had was thinking that I could get by with minimal time in the Word and prayer and I allowed other things to crowd it out of my life.   I am thankful that God has not given up on me and has been patient with me through this growth process that we commonly term “progressive sanctification”.

Last year, I was privledged to visit the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.  The purpose for my visit was two-fold:  1) To attend a Personal Spiritual Disciplines Conference that was being conducted by Dr Donald S. Whitney  2) To look at the campus of Southern Seminary and see what the possibilities were for future studies (PhD or DMin) once I finished my MDiv work.  While at the conference, I learned about praying through Scripture (you can read about my observations on this here)  This literally changed the way that I prayed! Instead of wasting time listening to unedifying talk-radio in the mornings on the way to work (I have a15 min drive each way to and from work) I have decided to spend that time praying.  It has turned out to be some of the best time that I spend each day.  There are those who may question the practice of praying while driving, but I have 15 mins to commune with God in the morning and in the evening.  In the morning, I use this time for praise and important requests in our family life.  I also have two 15 mins breaks during the day – one right before lunch and one mid-afternoon.  I walk around the block at work (the long way – which is about a mile) and I use that time to re-read the passage of Scripture that I read earlier in the morning and then I use the remainder of the time to reflect on the reading and to pray for the needs of others.  On the afternoon walk, I use that to pray and reflect whatever comes to mind or pray through the Psalms of the day.

I struggled for many years with consistent daily Bible study for two reasons:  1) I thought that if I could not give at least 30 mins or more to Bible study each day, then why bother.  2) I did not want to start something and then not be able to finish it because of my time constraints for work.  I cannot say exactly when things changed for me, but they have within the last month or so.  I lived with a lot of guilt because I missed or was woefully inconsistent in Bible reading.  I have found that right now with the circumstances that I am in (finishing seminary and working 40-50 hrs a week at a secular job) that breaking my morning up into 15 minute segments works best for me.  I would like to do more but rather than get upset at my limitations, I figured it would be best for me to do the best that I can for now until God changes my circumstances.  I know of one pastor who starts his day at 3:00 am and spends several hours in study and prayer.  There is nothing wrong with this, but it would not work for me, maybe when I am pastoring I could do this, but as long as I have to “punch the clock”, it would not work.  This may seem overly simple, but it is working for me and I share it here so that it might help you.  I awake at 6:00 am and make my way to our living room and sit in my chair and read a chapter of the Bible from 6:00 until 6:15.  If I finish earlier than 6:15, I will read a portion of what I just read in a commentary for the passage or re-read the passage to have one thought to meditate on or think about for the day.  Right now, I am reading the Book of Acts and I have sitting to my right two commentaries:  Expositor’s Bible Commentary on Acts by Longencker and the NICNT volume on Acts by F.F. Bruce.  Once 6:15 hits, then I move to my exercise time until 6:30 and then finish getting ready for work.  

I am being intentionally transparent because I feel that accountability and real fellowship is missing in a lot of our ministries these days.  I struggled for many years and beat myself up with guilt but finally realized that the solution to my problem was to make adjustments that would give me some time rather than no time at all.   We are all busy and seem to be in a great big hurry to go nowhere. 

What are my observations from these adjustments in my schedule.  I have noticed if I miss a day either reading the Word or exercising, that I feel like something is really missing from my day.  Both components make up an important part of starting my day off right.  If you have any questions that you would like to ask, please do so.  I know what it feels like to struggle and not really have someone to talk to you without feeling like you are being judged.  You want to talk with someone, but you are fearful what they might think or say.  Honestly, I have thought about writing this for a couple of weeks, but had to overcome my own fears of being judged.  Now I look at it as an opportunity to be transparent and possibly help others who may go through the same struggle very silently.

I highly recommend any of Dr. Whitney’s books on the Spiritual Disciplines.  You can find them here

God used those books along with the conference last April to change my life.  For that I am grateful to the Lord and to the ministry of Dr. Whitney.

Something a little different

Tonight at our midweek service, instead of a bible study or sermon, our pastor did a reading on the life of William Tyndale.  I enjoyed hearing about Tyndale and the sacrifices that he made in order to get the Scriptures translated into the English language.  As I sit here and type this, I look at my bookshelf and I have seven copies of the Bible on my bookshelf closest to me.  One of the Bibles was my mother’s Bible which was given to me after her death, one is a hardback copy of the 1611 edition of the KJV, one is a Thompson Chain reference Bible, one is an Oxford wide margin that is falling apart, another Bible belonged to my great aunt, another is a Bearing Precious Seed wide-margin that is falling apart.   These Bibles have been “retired” from daily use because of the bindings or pages are loose.

I think about men like Tyndale and John Huss who were burned at the stake for their beliefs and wonder if the day is coming where we may be faced with similar decisions regarding our faith…

Mark 1:35

Tonight was our midweek Bible study.  I always look forward to our services, both Sunday and Wednesday.

How many times have we read a verse or done translation work in a verse and missed the impact at that time, only to see it later?

That is how I felt tonight after listening to one of our assistant pastors speak on this verse.  I have read through the book of Mark several times over the last 20 + years of being a Christian and did some translation work in Mark when I was in undergraduate Greek several years ago.

These thoughts are what I came away with from tonight’s study, some are questions, others are observations.

Mark 1:35 (NKJV) Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight.  He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

1.  If Jesus needed to get alone early in the day for prayer – How much more do we need to engage in this practice/discipline?

2. The rigors of spiritual ministry take a toll both spiritually and physically.

3. Prayer closet – not a literal closet, but a place to focus and pray to God.

4. Luke 5:16 – a term of habit/self-imposed discipline.

5. Luke 6:12 – Extended time of prayer before a major decision or undertaking – Praying all night

I apologize that these thoughts are not alliterated or homiletical, but I wanted to share them with others, because they really gripped my heart and convicted me regarding this area of my life.  It seems that I have time for many other things in the beginning of the day and often times neglect prayer.

I hope between this message and next weeks Spiritual Disciplines Conference that I will be able to make a marked improvement in my practice of the Spiritual Disciplines.

It’s Here

It is like Christmas in February! After many years of patiently waiting for the right opportunity, I have been able to purchase the Logos Bible Software Scholar’s Library Silver Edition

This is an unbelievable tool that hopefully will save me a lot of time in lesson and sermon preparation.  I have to learn how to use this powerful tool first.

I will post on it later because I am getting ready to leave for the evening.