Sunday, August 14, 2016

Asking the right questions.

In studying the Bible we sometimes have the tendency to focus solely on individual verses.
We need to keep in mind that we should also be alert to the bigger picture of a book of the Bible and the whole Bible itself.
Understanding the bigger picture helps us to understand the individual verse(s) better.
Similarly, understanding individual verses better helps us to understand the bigger picture more clearly. Books on interpreting the Bible call this idea the "hermeneutical circle."

In looking at the following verses, what can questions can we ask and meditate on with the individual verse(s) and big picture in mind?

2 Peter 3:18 (ESV)
18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
       To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

What does spiritual growth look like? 
                Growing in God's grace in how we react to the world around us.
                Growing in knowledge of God's Word.
                Growing in a desire to please (glorify) God

How does this verse relate to the overall theme of Peter's 2nd letter?
Overall  3:1 to stir up a sincere mind
                1:10 make diligent your call
                1:15  make every effort
                3:14  make every effort
Do what we can do to grow in our relationship with the Lord defined by God's Word.
How does 2 Peter fit within the NT and OT?

What questions could you ask concerning the following verse?

1 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)
7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.
  Rather train yourself for godliness;
8        for while bodily training is of some value,
          godliness is of value in every way,
          as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

>>What are my hindrances in training to be godly?

(think about who, what, when, where, how, why questions)

“A Portrait of Integrity” : Job

“A Portrait of Integrity”
Job 1:1, 9-12,18, 20-22
Aug 7th 2016

Live with Integrity regardless of what we don’t see and what we do see....

I. God honors those who consistently fear Him and turn from evil. (1-5)

1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 
 Verse 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 
3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 
4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 
5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” 
Thus Job did continually. 

II.  What we don’t see -- 
A.    The Spiritual Realm (6-8)
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 
7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 
8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 

The Bible describes some of the work of the evil one...
Revelation 12:10 (ESV)
10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 

II.  What we don’t see -- 
B. The dialogue before the Lord God — Satan Attacks Job’s character (9-11)
9 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 
10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 
11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 

II.  What we don’t see -- 
C.  The Lord gave permission to Satan’s influence (12)
12 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. 

The Bible describes how God has put a hedge around us.
1 John 4:4 (ESV)
4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 

The Lord gives us a promise
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. 
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,
 but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 

There are limits to what the Lord will allow each of us to go through.

III. What we do see:
A. The Loss of his family and possessions.  (13-19)
13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 
14 and there came a messenger to Job and said,
 “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 
15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 
16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, [clap two]
“The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”  
17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said,
“The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”  
18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said,  
“Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 
19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 


III. What we do see:
B. The response of faith: Good Theology which leads to proper perspective & worship (20-22)

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 
21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I 
return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. 

He didn’t pretend like it didn’t happen. He went into mourning.
But because of his God- Perspective. He worshiped God.
Everything we have, we will eventually loose. Except our relationship with God.
If we live long enough, we will outlive our loved ones.
We will all eventually loose our health - we are all dying.
We will loose all of our finances - either before we die or after.

Character and integrity means more when you willing to pay a price to keep it.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thoughts on behavior and feelings

Sometimes we get focused on solely on behavior.
On one hand, that is understandable because behavior is observable and measurable.
On the other hand, the motivation and feelings behind the behavior are vital but difficult to quantify and make tangible.
In one sense feelings are not right or wrong, they just exist. Our behavior is what counts.
But you can't separate them in living your life.  You can't feel without it affecting your behavior and what you do will affect your feelings.
In one sense commitment to a relationship is vital for its success.

In another sense, for a relationship to work the commitment must be mutual.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

“Good Lessons from Bad Examples” Acts 5:1-11; I Cor 10:6; July 24th , 2016

“Good Lessons from Bad Examples”
Acts 5:1-11; I Cor 10:6; July 24th , 2016

We all grew up with a mix of good examples and bad examples.
>My dad was a good example of being financially responsible.
>My dad was a bad example in communication skills.

We also see good examples and bad examples around us.
>I have a friend in Spokane who is an example of a very good father.
>Our current political season has lots of bad examples of candidates demonizing each other.

We can learn from good examples (like Barnabas last week) and we can learn from bad examples (like Ananias and Sapphira).

The first lesson.
I. Evaluate motivation: In their desire for acclaim they misrepresented their generosity (11-2)
1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Evaluating motivation can be a tricky activity.
>On one hand, we should do the right things for the right reasons.
“Do all things for the glory of God.”
>On the other hand, if I waited to clearly have the right motivation for everything, I don’t think I would ever do anything.

We need to ask ourselves
Is what I am saying true or doing true to God’s standards?
Is it loving? Will it help anyone? Will this reflect the character of Jesus?

II. Be Honest:  why did you lie to God and misrepresent your gift? (3-4)

3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?
4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own?
And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal?
Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart?
You have not lied to man but to God.”

A warning passage in I Corinthians
1 Corinthians 11:27-32 (ESV)

There is a clear parallel is verses 3 & 4.
lying to the Holy Spirit is exactly the same as lying to God.
This verse is a clear declaration of the Deity of the Holy Spirit.

III. Don’t Presume: Judgment is sometimes sooner than people expect (5-6)
5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last.
And great fear came upon all who heard of it.
 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

God judged Ananias directly. His time was up.

Years later, the Apostle Peter wrote.....
1 Peter 4:17 (ESV) 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

IV. Don’t miss opportunities to come clean   (7)

7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.

V. Remember God’s holiness:  why did you test the Spirit of the Lord by misrepresenting your gift? (8-9)

8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.”
9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?
Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”

How close can I get to the line to something I should not do without a consequence? How much can I  get away with? Those are questions reflecting of a bad attitude.

We are clearly warned.....
Deuteronomy 6:16 (ESV) 16 “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

VI. The Lord’s clear judgment leads the church to fear God (10-11)

10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last.
When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

God’s judgment was as clear on Sapphira as it was on her husband Ananias. Sometimes when believers cross the line, God judges them.

Most of the time God disciplines His Children, Hebrews 12:7-11
The greater purpose of God’s kingdom and the church’s holiness were at stake so God judged this couple.

If God positively answers our prayers for revival, one of the clear signs of that will be a much greater sense of the greatness and holiness of God.

We are to never take God for granted..

To the early believers, as they tried to figure out what this act of judgment on this couple meant
I would think they asked a version of this.....

Was the Lord Making a point or Setting a Pattern?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Outline for Acts 4:13-22

“Opportunity Came Knocking”
Acts 4:13-22
July 3rd, 2016

The implications of the public miraculous sign from God

I. To the established religious leaders of the time [13-18]
A. Amazed at the boldness and clear testimony of Peter and John who had been discipled by Jesus (13)
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and  perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished.  And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 

B. In a  Quandary on account of the presence of the cured man who was lame.(14)
14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had 
nothing to say in opposition. 

C. Deliberation and warning to Peter and John (15-17)
15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council,  they conferred with one another, 
16   saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 
17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people,  let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 

D. Command to Peter and John not to speak or teach about Jesus (18)
18 So they called them and  charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 

II. To the witnesses of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus ......

A. They challenged the religious leaders to acknowledge the authority of God (19)
19  But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God,  you must judge, 

B. They rejected a ban on their speaking (4:20)
 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 

III. To the established religious leaders continued hardhearted response [21-22]

A. They threatened and then released Peter and John (21a)

21a And when they had further threatened them, they let them go,

B. They were intimated by the crowds who were praising God (21b)
21b  finding no way to punish them, because of the people,  for all were praising God for what had happened.
C. They could not deny the reality of the miracle (22)
22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thoughts of my mother’s life and death.

My mother was born during the depths of the Depression. She died Easter morning, 2016.

She met dad on a blind date in November of 1956 and they were married in March of 1957. Two people found comfort in one another’s arms for the next ten years. My sister was born in the late 50's and I was born in the early 60's.  Mom and dad’s relationship deteriorated over their last ten years together which culminated in divorce in 1978.  Mom then moved in with grandma and took care of her until she passed in 1997.  My sister moved in with mom to help take care of grandma in the early 90's.

In the late 1960's when dad was in Vietnam mom gave me and my sister a Children’s Bible.  The words were in small print and the hard to read King James English. However, On one inside flap in big print was printed the well known 23rd Psalm.

This psalm is an expression of trust in God’s goodness,  His grace, and His strength through all the turmoil of a person’s life.

Psalm 23:1-6 (KJV)
1. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

I enjoyed the following application I read of this passage.
Remember the phrase: “the Lord is my shepherd.” Those five words pack in a lot of truth
>"The--because, we're talking about one of a kind."
> "Lord." The king himself.
>For the next finger remember that God himself is right here.
> my, a personal commitment and relationship.
>For the last finger: shepherd, the one who owns, who died, who cares and loves: Jesus.

In the time that Mom had,  she and my sister lived comfortably together for many years until she fell a few months ago. My sister has done a very good job of looking out for mom over the years and has especially shined over the last few difficult months.

Mom’s dementia increased rapidly after her fall and she stopped recognizing my sister at times and didn’t even remember her favorite dog when she was brought by.

Mom’s time was always the present. She did not dwell on the past much or focus on the future.
More than anyone else I’ve known, she truly lived in the moment. In her present she loved her pets, movies, and television, especially “Dancing with the Stars.”  For years when I called she would frequently ask, Charlie, did you watch “Dancing with the Stars” last night? I never said yes, but she always asked. She lived in the moment of what was important to her.

Mom has four grandchildren. I am grateful that she lived long enough to see them all grow up.

In a similar context to which we are all now experiencing the death of a beloved mother and friend,  Jesus spoke these words to those present then to us here now:
John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

When we believe in the Lord Jesus we can face life and ultimately death with certainty because Jesus rose from the dead.

The next verse states....
26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

Jesus always applies the truth He teaches. “Do you believe this?” It is an invitation to trust him as always. It is the same as the most famous verse in the Bible.

John 3:16 (NKJV) 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

As always, God' Word calls us to respond to His truth.

Friday, May 20, 2016


One of the verses that I have been mediating on for a long time is 2 Corinthians 1:20 (ESV)

20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 

The immediate question is, how are the promises of God yes in Christ?

My reasonably confident answer is that we need to read and interpret all of the promises of God (OT and NT) in how they relate to the life, ministry, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Some are promises are obvious:
Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Some are less obvious:
Genesis 3:15 (ESV)  15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

We always need to be fully Christ-centered in how read and study the Bible.
We need to be purposefully Christ-centered as we view and live our lives.

So the questions in life become different:

Instead of ‘what do I want?’ we need to ask what does the Lord want?

Instead of ‘what pleases me?’ we need to ask what pleases the Lord in this circumstance.