Category Archives: Bible study

Ezekiel 16-20; God’s Got This

The elders went to Ezekiel because they wanted some answers from God. God’s response? “I will not be inquired of by you.” (20:3b)

Some people can get frustrated with God because they aren’t receiving the answers to their questions. “When I get to heaven, the first thing I’m going to do is ask God…” Some may hold God at arm’s length, or stop going to church because they have questions and aren’t getting them answered.

If that describes you, hear God ask, “Who do you think you are?”

When the elders came to Ezekiel to ask their questions, instead of getting answers, God proceeded to list their sins. And there were a lot of sins to list.

This is what I feel God is saying to me through His Word today: He doesn’t owe us anything. Not health or wealth or happiness or even answers to questions. We forfeited our right to equality with God the first time we disobeyed Mommy.

God didn’t even owe us His written Word. But He gave it to us anyway. In these pages are the answers to every question God thinks is important for us to know the answers to. The rest is none of our business.

I guess first of all, if you aren’t getting the answers you think you need to know, my question to you is: Are you reading and studying the Bible? If you aren’t getting answers, don’t complain if you aren’t reading the text book.

Secondly, if you aren’t getting answers – trust God anyway. The One who died for you, forgives you, never leaves or forsakes you, and promises you an eternity with Him, can replace your questions with Himself. When that happens, the unanswered questions don’t seem all that critical.

Rest assured, God’s got this whether you understand it or not.

Jeremiah 26-29; God’s Got Plans

There are a lot of verses in the Bible that seem to indicate God wants His children to be healthy and wealthy, or at least receive the things they ask Him for. 29:11 is one of them.

So is John 14:14, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

And Matthew 21:22, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

There are dozens more. You probably can come up with some off the top of your head, too. God promises to bless His people, to answer our prayers. And I believe Him.

But I look at the Bible as a whole and see many, many examples of God’s children not receiving what they ask for. Believers who are sick, tortured, poor. Paul said he prayed three times about something and God never granted him what he wanted.

So which is it? Is God true to His word, or not?

More than we ask or think!

We are short-sighted if we limit God’s promises to the material. Yes, God answers our prayers for physical healing, or financial relief. Sometimes He gives us the desires of our hearts. But not always.

If we limit God to answering only our material needs, we miss out on the greater thing. How does God prosper His children?

I am with you always… (Matthew 28:20)

Peace I give you… (John 14:27)

If you confess your sins… I will forgive… (I John 1:9)

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Remain in me and I will remain in you… (John 15:4)

I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am… John 14:3)

There are more. God promises His presence, His strength, His joy, His righteousness, His help in our time of need. Someone told me once that I can believe all that because I’m not hurting, I’m not hungry, I’m not homeless, I’m not being persecuted. But I know there are hurting, hungry, homeless, and persecuted people who know the truth of these promises even better than I because of their circumstances.

The interesting thing to me about this is that, the closer I get to God, the more time I spend with Him in His Word and in prayer, the more I find His desires become mine. I think less about my physical comfort, and more about reaching the lost, or more about the needs of my neighbors. My prayers become more about others than about myself.

My friend, Toni, lived much of her life in great pain. She had a disease called HS from the time she was a child, and doctors were unable to do much to help her. But she never lost her joy in the Lord. She never lost her servant’s heart even on those days it was hard to move.

There is a youth convention in Atlanta held on New Years day each year, and Toni felt led to volunteer on New Years Day last year, 2017. She had such a burning desire, but common sense told her it was too much for her, as her pain had increased to an almost unbearable level. She talked to her husband. They prayed. And they went.

My friend was a greeter at that conference for hundreds of teenagers. Her job was to hold the door, and welcome the kids as they went into the worship services. She said she “fist-pumped” dozens and dozens of young people that day. In fact, she came home with bruised knuckles. But, she said, “I felt called to be a door holder.”

Four months later, she was diagnosed with colon cancer that had already spread. Her pain, that she thought was from her HS, was in fact from the cancer that was destroying her organs. But I will tell you, even with this devastating news, Toni believed in the plans God had for her, plans to prosper (her) and not to harm (her), plans to give (her) hope and a future.

God has plans. His plans include showering you with the forgiveness Jesus’ blood bought for you. He wants to fill you, build you up, be your joy and confidence. He wants to draw near to you, to walk with you, and finally, to bring you home to be with Him forever.

That’s where my friend lives today. She’s finally home.

Our road might be hard. Or we might enjoy the physical comforts of this world. But with Paul, let’s “learn to be content whatever the circumstances… whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need…” (Philippians 4:12-13)

And let’s trust God to bless us with Himself, to give us what we need when we need it and not a moment before. Let’s give Him our hearts, and let Him work out the rest as we obey Him.

Let’s trust God’s plans.

Jeremiah 21-25; It’s That Serious

God has quite a lot to say to shepherds in these chapters of Jeremiah, doesn’t He? But before you think you’ve dodged a bullet because you aren’t a pastor or teacher in your church, remember God commanded all of us to “Go,” to share the Gospel with our world. What Jeremiah writes to the shepherds of God’s flock, applies to all of us who are called by Jesus’ name: Christian.

We have a message from God to tell. And God takes it very seriously that our message be truly His. The only place you will find His message is in the pages of the Bible. Not the Bible plus anything. Not someone’s opinion of what the Bible says, not a new revelation. God has given us all the Truth we need to know right here in these precious pages.

We need to know what it says. Because not only does God place a great deal of responsibility on the tellers of His Truth, He places responsibility on listeners as well. Yes, false prophets, preachers, and teachers will pay dearly for their lies. But those who follow them will not get a free pass, either. The Bible is clear. You either believe God or you don’t. Believing anything other than what God has given us is a death sentence.

It’s that serious.

Dear one, we have got to be in God’s Word every day. We’ve got to be memorizing it, thinking about it, testing everything we hear according to what is in there. We’ve got to recognize a lie and reject it, not go along with it because it sounds good, and everybody else is following it.

Satan can be pretty subtle. His lies often sound Biblical. His lies can sound like love, and tolerance, and compassion, and praise, and success, and happiness, and health. His lies often are accompanied by a Scripture or two.

But they are still lies. And if you go along with those lies you will be held accountable. If you spread those lies God will show no mercy.

I’m honored that you read my post today. But if this is the extent of your “devotions,” I’d rather you didn’t. Instead, pick up your Bible. Put all the other books and blogs away. Turn off your TV or radio preachers. And get in God’s Word. YOU get in God’s Word.

Because you are going to be held accountable for what is in there. It is that serious.

 

Isaiah 44-49; A Matter of Life and Death

I don’t know what you think about God, or religion. I don’t know your world view, or your level of spirituality. But I challenge you to read these chapters with an open mind. Hear what God says about Himself. Pay attention to the proof He gives that what He says is true. It is a matter of life and death.

You’ll hear God repeat the statement that “I am God. There is no one like me.” You’ll hear Him point to evidence of His reality in creation, the proof in nature. He’ll ask you to use common sense. And He will tell the future of the Israelites in such detail that, if you study their history, you’ll find it will happen just like God said it did, down to the pagan king named Cyrus who is said to have a nose like an eagle’s beak.

But I don’t want you to stop there. Once you realize God is exactly who He says He is, I want you to go to the New Testament and hear what the One and Only God says about Jesus. Read the Gospels and hear what the angel said to Mary about the birth of her Son, to Joseph about his future step son.

Hear what the One and Only God said to anyone within earshot when Jesus was baptized. “This is my Son…” He’ll say it again in Matthew 17. Then hear God’s Son Jesus say in no uncertain terms that He is the Messiah. (John 4:25-26)

Then I challenge you to turn to John 14:6, and understand it means exactly what it says.

I don’t know what you think about God, or religion. But I know that unless you believe God is who He says He is, and that His Son Jesus in the only way to know Him, you are wrong.

Do you know Him? Have you received what Jesus died to give you, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life? Like I said, it’s a matter of life and death.

I’m praying for you.

Isaiah 31-35; Isaiah and Jesus

Jesus is everywhere in these chapters. The Gospel, the Church are depicted in glorious reality. I am reminded that the people to whom these words were initially written were looking forward to the Messiah. And God, through Isaiah, draws a parallel between their lives as Jews B.C. with Jesus and His Kingdom A.D. It’s so beautiful!

Matthew Henry calls the brick and mortar city of Zion, “a type and picture of God in the world.” (Commentary in One Volume; 1961; Zondervan Publishing House; page 877) Jerusalem, he says, is the tabernacle which will not be taken down. God is the protector of Himself, of His Presence in the world, and of we who are the temple of God today: “for in every age Christ will have a seed to serve Him,” from verse 33:20. (Commentary in One Volume; page 876)

Think about what we know of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Think about the amount of blood that was shed by the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, and the fact that Jesus died once and for all. He caused blind people to see, deaf people to hear, tongues were loosed, the dead were raised. The people who were privileged to meet Jesus in the flesh, saw “the glory of the Lord.”

Then think about what we know about the beginning of the Church. People saw “the glory of the Lord” when the Holy Spirit was poured out from on high on Jews and Gentiles alike. Tongues of fire, a mighty wind, blind people saw (both physically and spiritually), deaf people heard (physically and spiritually)…

Think about what we know about the Gospel. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 4:6) Jesus also said:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Isaiah spoke about the same thing in chapter 35.

I hope you’ll read these chapters and let God speak to you about Himself, about Jesus, about the Church, and the Gospel. It’s all in there. And it is amazingly accurate considering it was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, thousands of years before we were born.

Be encouraged. We worship the same God who promised Isaiah that He would protect His children. Be strengthened in your determination to stand faithful to the Truth. The battle is the Lord’s. With Him there is no shadow of turning.

God’s Word is alive! Don’t you just love spending time in it?

 

Isaiah 28-30; Obstinate

Obstinate: Stubbornly adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, argument, or persuasion. (Mirriam-Webster)

Someone close to me began accepting the so-called “progressive” view of religion. When I tried to engage in conversation about spiritual truth I was told, in effect, that they would not talk to me about that because, “You are not going to  change my mind.” (those words haunt me yet today)

God, through Isaiah, says:

Woe to the obstinate children… to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin. (30:1)

As I read Isaiah I pray that God will speak to me about my own walk with him here in 2018. When Isaiah speaks about enemies, I am reminded Satan is mine. When Isaiah says, “Woe to…” I want to be sure that if he’s putting a finger on sin in my life, I’m quick to repent.

Today I’m asking myself if there are things I’m stubbornly holding on to that God is asking me to change. Are there things He wants to teach me, ways in which He wants to grow me, but I’m being obstinate while holding on to what I’ve always done or thought?

In verse 10, when talking about children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction, Isaiah says:

They say to seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right!” Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions.”

Now I know this is a problem in our society, rampant in many churches, and it would be easy to shake my head and lament over the state of things in our world. But God isn’t interested in talking to me about the world. God’s not asking me to change the world. He’s demanding to change me.

So I ask myself, when I open His Word, am I sincere about being taught? When I go to church do I want to be uplifted or broken? Do I want to hear the truth, or am I looking to hear only pleasant things? Because often the truth hurts. Growth hurts. Conviction is never pleasant.

Now there is one thing I will adamantly adhere to: that is the Truth of Scripture. The Bible is like no other book. It is God breathed, and therefore 100% trustworthy. It’s not my opinion. The Bible proves itself over and over.

Last night in Prayer Meeting, the pastor shared that recently he was sharing the Gospel with someone who wanted to know what the pastor thought about abortion and homosexuality. The pastor was quick to tell this person, “My opinions are only opinions. Let’s look at what the Bible says.”

Can you say the same? Or are you obstinately holding on to your opinions as some kind of truth, with the attitude, “You’re not going to change my mind.”

I’m not just talking about conversations with loved ones. I’m talking about your quiet time, every time you open the precious pages of God’s Word. Are you teachable? Are you pliable? Moldable?

Or obstinate?

Isaiah 5-7; My Vineyard

Did you read these chapters and see what God has to say to you today about your walk with Him? I did. When I read chapters 5-7 I realized I am the vineyard Isaiah is talking about. As a Jesus follower, God established me on rich, fertile ground. He did all the work to clear that land when Jesus died on the cross.

What He offers me is pure, perfect, and prepared in advance for me to produce good fruit. (Ephesians 2:10) He gifted me with abilities to serve Him. He built a hedge of protection around me to guard my heart. He is the watchman who protects me from Satan’s arrows. He gave me everything I need to live a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3)

Then God turns over the vineyard to me, and waits for me to start producing good fruit. After all, He did all the hard work to get it ready for me so that I can go and make disciples, so that I can be a light to the world, so that I can share the Good News of Jesus with lost souls. The potential is endless!

But it didn’t take long for me to feel the sting of conviction today. Verse 2b: but it (me) yielded only bad fruit.

Then God asks, What more could I have done? The answer sadly is, Nothing.

Verses 4-7 are sobering when you consider yourself as the vineyard who isn’t producing fruit. God won’t stay where He’s not wanted.

I hope you read the “Woe to’s” in chapter 5 and let God speak to you about choices you make, attitudes you have, whether you tolerate sin in yourself and ignore it in others, whether or not you think you have all the answers apart from God.

When Isaiah came face to face with Jesus he cried, “Woe to me! I am ruined for I am a man of unclean lips…”

Now I don’t know what kinds of problems Isaiah had with what came out of his mouth, but this is what spoke to me this morning. Look at 8:6-7. When Isaiah confessed his sin of speech, God sent an angel to touch Isaiah’s lips! God met Isaiah at the point of his need. Isaiah confessed a sin. God forgave that sin.

Another thing I see is, that cleansing hurt. Most of the time, it takes a broken heart to repent, turning from sin is not always easy. Sometimes it really does hurt to admit you’ve sinned, to humble yourself, to accept grace. And sometimes separating yourself from that sin means giving up some things and people you really like. Ouch.

I think God wants us to know that as we read His Word, asking Him to speak to us about our walk with Him, He’ll point out sin. He’ll reveal things to us about our hearts’ condition before Him. He’ll talk to us about our vineyard.

Don’t forget this: If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness! (I John 1:9)

Every. Time.

So, read God Word and allow Him to put a finger on the problem. Confess. Repent. Allow Him to cleanse you. Then go back to the vineyard and get to work. Turn that precious property into something beautiful, and useful in God’s kingdom.

Isn’t God’s Word amazingly personal and relevant? I love it!