Tag Archives: the Bible

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.

Ezekiel 11-15; Cardboard Houses

Jesus used the terms, “whitewashed wall,” and “whitewashed tombs” in reference to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. (Matthew 23) Here in Ezekiel 13 God uses the same terminology when prophesying against the false prophets in Israel during Ezekiel’s time. In this portion of Scripture God says in essence, you can paint a cardboard wall, but it won’t hold up in a storm no matter how good you make it look.

Sometimes you run into people who are adamant about their beliefs. They might believe God is merely a concept invented in the minds of needy people. They might believe you have to do X number of good deeds in order to escape hell. They might believe with all their hearts that good people go to a better place no matter what name they pray to. They might even believe all life is a delusion, or that whatever the Higher Power is out there, it certainly isn’t involved in the lives of individuals. 

If you press, even the most dogmatic of these lost souls, about where they base their beliefs, you’ll find them living in cardboard houses. Base my belief on science? On what is observable? On what makes sense to me? On the word of someone who claims to have had a message from God?

You might hear the argument that the Bible is flawed, that it’s no different than the Koran, or the Watchtower, or some other religious writing. Is it? Is the Bible just another collection of religious penmanship?

When I was getting my counseling degree, we studied a technique of the 5 Why’s. When presented with a problem, you ask “Why…” Then you use the answer to that question to ask the second “Why…” And so on until you get to the root of whatever is going on. 

I believe if we press deep enough into a person’s belief system, not just the “what” but the “why,” it will reveal if that belief system is based on Truth or opinion, on fact or myth. I have no problem going five whys deep into my belief because the bottom line is, I believe what I believe because God said it.

The God of the Bible tells us how the world began, it shows God is who He says He is with example after example of supernatural occurrences, many of which can be verified by extra-Biblical sources. God inspired many men over thousands of years, to write down a cohesive book that consistently reveals God the same yesterday, today, and forever. “I AM” is the name which this God calls Himself in the Old Testament, and that by which Jesus identified Himself in the New. The Bible clearly says that there is One God, one way to God, one Truth, so therefore cancels out any other religion as remotely true.

My belief isn’t based on opinion. It’s not based on someone’s imagination or reasoning. My belief is based on the Words of the Creator, the inventor of life, the eternal God who loves me.

If anyone’s belief is based on anything other than the entire book we know as the Bible, they can dress it up in intellect, in emotion, in religion, or even apathy, but it is still only whitewash on a cardboard wall. One day, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, that God is who He has said all along He is, and that believing anything else is believing a lie. (From Philippians 2:10) And only those whose belief is grounded in Scripture will be able to withstand the judgment that follows.

I would challenge you to go “5 Whys” into your own belief system. Do you know the Scriptures that are the foundation for what you believe? Are you basing your beliefs on conjecture or downright lies or on Truth? Are you living on the solid rock of God’s Word, or are you hiding in a whitewashed cardboard house?

Psalm 118-122; A Treasure

Have you spent enough time in God’s Word to get it? When you read a passage that refers to another passage, do you recognize it? Like, did 118:25-28 remind you of anything?

I will say I look forward to reading God’s Word every day. Being retired, I have the luxury of opening the Bible any time of the day or night. It’s already 10:30 in the morning and I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee, pouring over Scripture and praying. What a privilege.

Over the years I have highlighted some verses in Psalm 119 that spoke to me. You probably know this psalm is about God’s Word to us. The psalmist loves Scripture with a passion. Verse after verse talks about this amazing gift we have in God’s written Word. I’d like to share some of the verses that I’ve highlighted at various times in my life:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (vs 11)

Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. (vs 24)

My comfort in my suffering is this; Your promise preserves my life. (vs 50)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (vs 105)

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. (vs 114)

This book is a treasure. In it is everything we need to know, every answer to every question. It’s a love letter straight from the heart of God.

Take time to read it today… and tomorrow. Love it. Use it. You won’t want to miss precious verses like these:

I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (121:1-2)

 

 

Psalms 12-16; Using A Plumb Bob

When my dad first got a CB radio for his pickup, he had to come up with a “handle,” something that would identify him to other CB radio users without using his name. Dad was a plumber. His name was Bob. And he adopted the handle “Plumb Bob.”

Do you know what a plumb bob is? It’s a weight, usually with a pointed end, tied to a string. When you hold the string end and drop the weight, it will form a perfectly straight vertical line. No matter how many times you drop the weight, it will always create that perfectly straight line. Perfectly straight. Every time.

I thought about that today as I read these psalms. David speaks of “flattering tongues,” manipulation, outright lies passed off as truth. He talks about people who say God doesn’t exist, others who are evil and lure God’s people away to destroy them.

We live in a society where we are told truth is fluid, that it is personal, relative, subjective. And those who will tell you that often also say if you don’t agree with them, then you are a fool, or intolerant, or a hater.

How do you even know what is true any more? Or is there truth at all?

Let me get one thing straight. Truth is NOT fluid. Truth is NOT subjective. Truth cannot, by definition, be one thing for you and another for me. Opinion can be. But opinion and truth are not synonymous. Do not mistake that fact.

12:6 says, “And the words of the Lord are flawless…

And there’s your plumb bob. Whatever you hear, whoever you hear it from, no matter with how much authority it’s said, check it out with the Truth of God’s Holy Word, the Bible.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

And that’s the Truth.

 

Nehemiah 7-9; It’s Not Just History

God inspired the writers of Scripture fairly often to recall the events surrounding Israel’s exodus from Egypt, their forty year wilderness experience, and their occupation of the Promised Land. This time Nehemiah is praying as he takes us through those historical years.

Last week I watched the video of a lecture David Arthur gave on these chapters, and a lightbulb went on in my brain. I will never look at passages such as these the same ever again. Because  David Arthur did not spend time talking about the history of Jews. He referred to it as the history of God.

Of course!

God doesn’t want us focusing on the people, the nation of Israel. Lots of people write history books. God wants us to SEE HIM in the events and lives of the people He chose for that purpose. We think God chose Israel because somehow He loved them more, wants to bless them more. The reality is He chose the Jews to be an example to the world of who God is, and what He can do for those who obey Him. He chose that people group to reveal Himself, first through the Jewish people, and ultimately through Jesus. (Read Exodus and notice how often God tells us He does things so that the nations will know He is God)

So what does God tell us about Himself through the words of Nehemiah’s prayer? Here’s a quick list:

He alone is the Lord. He is the creator. He is faithful. He is righteous. He is compassionate. He has power over nature. He is present. He is holy. He forgives. He leads His people. He provides. He blesses. He is the victor. He must be obeyed. He is patient. He punishes sin. He is gracious, great, mighty, awesome, keeps His promises, answers prayer. He is just. His loving kindness is real.

I believe with all my heart that this is what God wants us to take away from the way He worked through one people group. The Bible is not about the physical nation of Jews. It’s about God.

It’s all about God.

Do you know Him? There is no better time than this season when we celebrate the birth of His Son Jesus. Read God’s Word and allow Him to reveal Himself to you. That is exactly what He longs to do.

Judges 17-18; What You Believe

What do you believe about God? On what or whom do you base your theology? Is it church doctrine? Are your beliefs based on the writings of a Bible scholar you like? A dynamic speaker, or your own pastor? Is what you believe about God based on your own thoughts and desires?

We read about Micah, his mom, and some Danite thugs, and they all seem to call on the God of their Fathers. But their religion cannot be described as one based on the Word of God.

The key to this account is the fact there was no king in Israel at the time. Everyone did as they felt was best for themselves. (18:1) So it was not unheard of that someone like Micah might fashion a religion to his own liking, one that appears to acknowledge God, yet in reality denies Him.

I am burdened for those here in 2017 who have fallen for the same deception as Micah did; religions that acknowledge God, or a higher power, or a supreme being, yet place idols around their homes and in their hearts. I am burdened for people who use God’s Holy Word as a suggestion rather than the complete and utter Truth.

Dear one, I would encourage us to put away the commentaries, the self-help books, the opinions of men and women for a while. Turn off the TV and radio, quit reading blogs, (including mine) and open up the Bible. Read it. Pray about it. Meditate on it. Open your heart and mind to the Holy Spirit. Let God speak to us through His Word, as He longs to do.

I’m not saying we should never read study guides and enrich our beliefs with the opinions of others. I hope you’ll come back to reading my blog after you’ve spent time in the Word.

But I am convinced we shouldn’t be reading those things until we are first and foremost firmly grounded in the Bible. If our theology isn’t based on the Truth of Scripture, with no add-ons or take-aways, then we have acted as though there is no King, and have fashioned a religion to our liking.

And that, my friend, is not a religion, or a belief system God will honor.

 

Leviticus 23; Jewish Feasts and Jesus (Part 2)

I shared earlier that I have been looking at the feasts God instructed the Israelites to observe, and seeing Jesus. It’s been a study that has blessed my heart and made me realize how intentional God is. Like my last post, this is not an extensive study on the subject. But I’d like to share what God has laid on my heart, beginning with the fourth feast.

4. The Feast of Weeks (Rejoice). This feast is also known as Pentecost because it was to be observed seven weeks after the feast of First Fruits. That feast was held after the first barley harvest, and not only reminded them how blessed they were by God, it pointed to the risen Savior. Now, seven weeks later, the Jews were instructed to observe a feast to celebrate a second harvest, this time of wheat. Bread was made with new grain and yeast (yeast rises), then two of the loaves were waved before God. Some have suggested that the two loaves represent the Jewish nation AND the Gentile world after Jesus was raised from the dead. I like it! Because Jesus died once and for all, and that means me! Anyway, Jewish men would come to Jerusalem from all over the known world to celebrate. But it is also recorded that the Feast of Weeks was a time to celebrate the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. In a sense, it was celebrating the beginning of the Jewish nation. What I find so exciting is that the time frame between The Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament, is the same time frame that occurred between Calvary and Pentecost, ushering in the beginning of the Church. Coincidence? I think not!

5. The Feast of Trumpets (Resolve). Trumpets were used to call people to worship. This feast was held to celebrate the Jewish New Year. It was announced by the blowing of a trumpet, a time to reflect on past sins and to decide to make changes in the coming year. A new beginning, so to speak. And isn’t that what we receive when we accept Jesus as our Savior? Old things pass away. All things become new. This feast is also said to look ahead to the second coming of Christ. At the sound of the trumpet, in the twinkling of an eye, Jesus will descend from the heavens to gather up His children. Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

6) The Day of Atonement (Repent). This feast was held the day after the Feast of Trumpets. This was a very solemn day for the Jews. They fasted and repented of sin. This was the day the High Priest dared to enter the Holy of Holies, the day the scapegoat would take on all the sins of the people and remove them from their midst. You don’t have to look very hard to see Jesus here. Jesus became our scapegoat when He took our sins to the cross. He died so we can be forgiven. Then, He ripped open the Holy of Holies and granted us access to the Father.

7) The Feast of Tabernacles (Revival). This was the feast where people took time to reflect on all God had done, how He provided. There was a water ceremony to thank Him for nourishing the ground the past year, and praying for rain for the next growing season. Jesus told us, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” He told the woman at the well that whoever drank the water He gives will never thirst again. This feast was a time of rest and refreshing, to get strength to get out there and do the work God had for them to do. The same can be said when we allow Jesus to fill us, then we get out there to share the Gospel.

I know that my overview of the feasts doesn’t make a dent. But as I studied these from various sources, I was reminded that the Bible, all of creation, life itself is about Jesus. God does not want us to miss Him. You can find Him everywhere, including on every page of this precious book we call the Bible.