Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ Category


Under Gods Command (Falling in Love with Jesus)

Matthew Chapter 1:18-24    

18This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

     20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dreams and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, t because he will save his people from their sins.”

     22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” w (which means “God with us”).

     24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Jewish marriage involved three basic steps. First, the two families agreed to the union. Second, a public announcement was made. At this point, the couple was “pledged.” This was similar to engagement today except that their relationship could be broken only through death or divorce (even though sexual relations were not yet permitted). Third, the couple was married and began living together. Because Mary and Joseph were engaged, Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness carried a severe social stigma. According to Jewish civil law, Joseph had a right to divorce her, and the Jewish authorities could have had her stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).

1:18 Why is the Virgin Birth important to the Christian faith? Jesus Christ, God’s Son, had to be free from the sinful nature passed on to all other human beings by Adam. Because Jesus was born of a woman, he was a human being; but as the Son of God, Jesus was born without any trace of human sin. Jesus is both fully human and fully divine.

Because Jesus lived as a man, we know that he fully understands our experiences and struggles (Hebrews 4:15-16). Because he is God, he has the power and authority to deliver us from sin (Colossians 2:13-15). We can tell Jesus all our thoughts, feelings, and needs. He has been where we are now, and he has the ability to help.

Joseph was faced with a difficult choice after discovering that Mary was pregnant. Perhaps Joseph thought he had only two options: divorce Mary quietly or have her stoned. But God provided a third option—marry her (1:20-23). In view of the circumstances, this had not occurred to Joseph. But God often shows us that there are more options available than we think. Although Joseph seemed to be doing the right thing by breaking the engagement, only God’s guidance helped him make the best decision. But that did not make it an easy decision. Consenting to marry Mary surely cast doubt on his own innocence regarding the pregnancy, as well as leaving them both with a social stigma they would carry for the rest of their lives. Yet Joseph chose to obey the angel’s command (1:24). When our decisions affect the lives of others, we must always seek God’s wisdom and then be willing to follow through no matter how difficult it may be.

The conception and birth of Jesus Christ are supernatural events beyond human logic or reasoning. Because of this, God sent angels to help certain people understand the significance of what was happening (see 2:13, 19; Luke 1:11, 26; 2:9).

Angels are spiritual beings created by God who help carry out his work on earth. They bring God’s messages to people (Luke 1:26), protect God’s people (Daniel 6:22), offer encouragement (Genesis 16:7-16), give guidance (Exodus 14:19), carry out punishment (2 Samuel 24:16), patrol the earth (Zechariah 1:9-14), and fight the forces of evil (2 Kings 6:16-18; Revelation 20:1-2). There are both good and bad angels (Revelation 12:7), but because bad angels are allied with the devil, or Satan, they have considerably less power and authority than good angels. Eventually the main role of angels will be to offer continuous praise to God (Revelation 7:11-12).

The angel declared to Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would be a son. This reveals an important truth about Jesus—he is both God and human. The infinite, unlimited God took on the limitations of humanity so he could live and die for the salvation of all who would believe in him.

Jesus means “the LORD saves.” Jesus came to earth to save us because we can’t save ourselves from sin and its consequences. No matter how good we are, we can’t eliminate the sinful nature present in all of us. Only Jesus can do that. Jesus didn’t come to help people save themselves; he came to be their Savior from the power and penalty of sin. Thank Christ for his death on the cross for your sin, and then ask him to take control of your life. Your new life begins at that moment.

Jesus would fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, for he would be “Immanuel” (“God with us”; see Isaiah 7:14). Jesus was God in the flesh; thus, God was literally among us, “with us.” Through the Holy Spirit, Christ is present today in the life of every believer. Perhaps not even Isaiah understood how far-reaching the meaning of Immanuel would be. 1:24 Joseph changed his plans quickly after learning that Mary had not been unfaithful to him (1:19). He obeyed God and proceeded with the marriage plans. Although others may have disapproved of his decision, Joseph went ahead with what he knew was right

Lets Bring it Home: Sometimes we avoid doing what is right because of what others might think. Like Joseph, we must choose to obey God rather than seek the approval of others.


Under Gods Command

War with the Philistines

The Philistines Capture the Ark

1 Samuel 4:1-11 1And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.

    Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. 2The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. 3When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the LORD bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”

     4So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

     5When the ark of the LORD’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”

    When they learned that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp, 7the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. 8We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”

     10So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

The Philistines, descendants of Noah’s son Ham, settled along the southeastern Mediterranean coast between Egypt and Gaza. They were originally one of the “Sea Peoples” who had migrated to the Middle East in ships from Greece and Crete. By Samuel’s time, these warlike people were well established in five of Gaza’s cities in southwest Canaan and were constantly pressing inland against the Israelites. Throughout this time, the Philistines were Israel’s major enemy.

The ark of the covenant contained the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. The ark was supposed to be kept in the Most Holy Place, a sacred part of the tabernacle that only the high priest could enter once a year. Hophni and Phinehas desecrated the room by unlawfully entering it and removing the ark.

The Israelites rightly recognized the great holiness of the ark, but they thought that the ark itself—the wood and metal box—was their source of power. They began to use it as a good luck charm, expecting it to protect them from their enemies. A symbol of God does not guarantee his presence and power. Their attitude toward the ark came perilously close to idol worship. When the ark was captured by their enemies, they thought that Israel’s glory was gone (4:19-22) and that God had deserted them (7:1-2). God uses his power according to his own wisdom and will. He responds to the faith of those who seek him. 4:4 The “ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim” conveys that God’s presence rested on the ark of the covenant between the two golden cherubim (or angels) attached to its lid. The people believed that the ark would bring victory when Hophni and Phinehas carried it into battle. 4:5-8 The Philistines were afraid because they remembered stories about God’s intervention for Israel when they left Egypt. But Israel had turned away from God and was clinging to only a form of godliness, a symbol of former victories.

This event fulfills the prophecy in 2:34 stating that Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, would die “on the same day.”

Lets Bring it Home:  People (and churches) often try to live on the memories of God’s blessings. The Israelites wrongly assumed that because God had given them victory in the past, he would do it again, even though they had strayed far from him. Today, as in Bible times, spiritual victories come through a continually renewed relationship with God. Don’t live off the past. Keep your relationship with God new and fresh.S


Under Gods Command

2nd Samuel 5:13-25

David Conquers Jerusalem

        13After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him. 14These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.

    17When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold. 18Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 19so David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?”

    The LORD answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.”

    20So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, “As waters break out, the LORD has broken out against my enemies before me.” So that place was called Baal Perazim. 21The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.

    22Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 23so David inquired of the LORD, and he answered, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. 24As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” 25So David did as the LORD commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeona to Gezer.

Although David sincerely sought after God, he had weaknesses like any other person. One of those weaknesses was his desire for many wives. Sadly, the children born to these wives caused David and the kingdom much grief. David also set an unhealthy pattern for his son Solomon.

The “stronghold” is the mountain stronghold in the Desert of Judah that David used when defending himself against Saul (see 23:14 and 1 Chronicles 12:8).

The Philistine oppression of Israel had begun in the days of Samson (Judges 13–16). The Philistines were still Israel’s most powerful enemy although David was once considered a friend and ally (1 Samuel 27; 29). Because they occupied much of Israel’s northern territory, they apparently did not bother David while he was king of Judah to the south. But when they learned that David was planning to unite all Israel, they tried to stop him.

How could David get such a clear message from God? He may have prayed and been urged to action by the Holy Spirit. He may have asked God through a prophet. Most likely, however, he went to the high priest, who consulted God through the Urim and Thummim, which God had told the Israelites to use for just such a purpose.

David fought his battles the way God instructed him. In each instance he

(1) asked if he should fight or not,

(2) followed instructions carefully, and

(3) gave God the glory.

 

We can err in our “battles” by ignoring these steps and instead:

(1) do what we want without considering God’s will,

(2) do things our way and ignore advice in the Bible or from other wise people, and (3) take the glory ourselves or give it to someone else without acknowledging the help we received from God.

All these responses are sinful.

5:25 After David became king, his first order of business was to subdue his enemies—a task the nation had failed to complete when they first entered the land (Judges 2:1-4). David knew this had to be done in order to

(1) protect the nation,

(2) unify the kingdom, and

(3) prepare for building the temple (which would unify religion under God and help abolish idolatrous influences).

The one thing that I truly admire about David is the fact that he prays to the LORD before making a military attack. In this case, when he prays to the LORD, the LORD tells David that He will give these Philistines to him. David will go against them and David will win. 

Lets Bring it Home: When we go into issues, spiritual battles or any other kind of adverse situations, do you go to God first, or do you wait until your plan fails, then seek God.  

We need to slow our roll and seek God first, even something that seems so small, because it’s always those small things that turn out to be the biggest problems.

 


Under Gods Command (Book of Leviticus)

Discharges Causing Uncleanness

    16:32-33These are the regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission of semen, 33for a woman in her monthly period, for a man or a woman with a discharge, and for a man who has sexual relations with a woman who is ceremonially unclean.

 15:32-33 God is concerned about health. He upholds the dignity of the person, the dignity of the body, and the dignity of the sexual experience. His commands call the people to avoid unhealthy practices and promote healthy ones with practical instructions. Washing was a God-directed means to maintain physical health; acts of purification or cleansing were God-directed means to preserve spiritual dignity. Millennia before the rise of the AIDS epidemic, God’s directions already preserved people from known and unknown dangers. This shows God’s high regard for sex and sexuality.

Lets Bring it Home: In our day, sex has been degraded by shocking media exposure. It has become public domain, not private celebration. We are called to have a high regard for sex, both in good health and in purity. Our deepest form of gratitude to God for the gift of sex is expressed in how we use the gift.


Under Gods Command 

Proverbs 28:3 A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.

Poverty does not make men charitable, noble, or virtuous. Solomon observed poor men being cruel and stingy to other poor men, which he considered a perverse practice. And he saw also poor men given authority or riches becoming merciless tyrants in abusing their power over former peers. This is vanity and insanity. He, who ought to remember his former state and show tender kindness, grinds the poor instead for his arrogant greed.

There is no virtue in poverty. In fact, poverty generally indicates a base mind, foolish heart, and/or lazy body. All other things being equal, the reason one man is poorer than his neighbor is due to a foolish life. Apart from the overriding blessing or judgment of God, diligence and wisdom bring success, and slothfulness and folly bring poverty (Pr 10:4; 11:24; 12:24; 22:29). To believe otherwise is to make failure the reward of wisdom!

The purpose and profit of rain is to nourish the earth for growing food. And it does this wonderfully, when it falls gently and steadily. But when rain comes in a violent storm, it can easily wash away topsoil and the seeds contained in it by a flood of water. It can also flatten and soak growing plants and ruin them for food. In both cases, the very thing that ought to be for the profit of a field and its owner becomes a cruel and destructive force.

A poor man, whether still in poverty or given some authority or success, ought to have pity on his poor brethren. He should remember his previous condition. But it is a fact that poor men can be very critical of other poor men, which Solomon had observed in his study of human existence. If you exalt or honor a foolish poor man, you will likely create a monster that will trample on those that he should pity and protect (Pr 30:21-22).

Is your memory good? Or do you despise those that are what you were? Father, do you pity children by remembering your folly at their age? Businessman, do you recall difficult days in your career enough to comfort those having them now? Supervisor, are you compassionate to employees, having been one last year? Student, can you pity a younger sibling as he struggles with what confused you a few years ago? Grandparent, do you remember past difficulties and help your children or grandchildren facing them now?

Christian, you were the poorest of the poor. Depraved, destitute, and damned! You were a criminal destined for hell. But Jesus Christ gave His life to redeem you from sin and death and make you a child of God with an eternal inheritance. Glory! Can you remember your vile history and the great forgiveness you were freely given and forgive those who sin against you (Matt 18:21-35)? Or are you like a sweeping rain leaving no food?

The Lord Jesus Christ went from the poverty of a lowly carpenter’s son to the Prince of the kings of the earth (Rev 1:5). Does He remember and pity you in your weak condition and hard trials? Indeed! (Ps 103:13-14; Heb 2:17-18; 4:14-16.) David wrote of Him, “He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain” (II Sam 23:4).


Under Gods Command (Book of Leviticus)

Leviticus 7:28-30 

28The LORD said to Moses, 29“Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who brings a fellowship offering to the LORD is to bring part of it as their sacrifice to the LORD. 30With their own hands they are to present the food offering to the LORD; they are to bring the fat, together with the breast, and wave the breast before the LORD as a wave offering. 

God told the people of Israel to bring their fellowship offerings personally, with their own hands. They were to take time and effort to express thanks to God. You are the best person to express your thankfulness to God and to others.

Lets Bring it Home: Do you leave it to others to express thanks to someone who has been helpful? Do you rely on the one leading in prayer to thank God for you? Take time to communicate your personal gratitude both to God and to others who have helped and blessed you.


Under Gods Command

Proverbs 24:13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.

Sweets can be rejuvenating and delightful. Solomon used honey for his comparison. It is good for reviving a hungry man (I Sam 14:27). Honey also tastes sweet for pleasure in eating it (Ps 19:10). Honey illustrates two blessings of wisdom – it revives the soul and provides much pleasure. Wisdom also rewards with certain success (Pr 24:14).

The proverb before you is the first half of a metaphorical comparison with wisdom. Here is the second half: “So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off” (Pr 24:14). Gaining wisdom is energizing and delightful, and then it leads to rewarding prosperity.

Honey was a common food in Israel during Solomon’s reign (Lev 20:24; Is 7:15; Matt 3:4). Eaten in right amounts, it was invigorating and very pleasant. Too much of it could make you sick, but that is not considered here (Pr 25:16,27). Its properties to rejuvenate and delight the soul are what he used to illustrate and exalt the value of wisdom.

Have you experienced the sweet exhilaration and pleasure of honey? Or much rather, do you know the reviving delight of wisdom? Once you have tasted honey, other sweeteners or substitutes are easily detected. Once you learn God’s wisdom, even the world’s best ideas are bland or bitter to your heart and mind, for they are far inferior by comparison.

David used a similar comparison. The creation, especially the sun, reveals God’s glory, so that men are without excuse for ignoring Him (Ps 19:1-6; Rom 1:18-21). But far better than what nature shows is the wisdom of the Bible (Ps 19:7-9), which is more valuable than gold and sweeter than honey (Ps 19:10). Like the wisdom lesson here, the scriptures also save men from trouble by their warnings, and they bring great reward (Ps 19:11).

If you know honey rejuvenates and delights, would you want cabbage when famished and desiring a lift? Once you taste the good word of God, why would you consider anything the world has to offer? This latter contrast is far worse, for the world and its wisdom are opposed to God, and He is fully committed to destroying both (I Cor 1:19-21; 3:18-20).

Do you pursue and approach the preaching of God’s word with the desire and joy a famished man would show toward honey? Or do you despise prophesying as the Bible warns (I Thess 5:20)? Do you resent sound doctrinal preaching like modern so-called Christians (II Tim 4:3-4)? Confess your foolishness and humble yourself before the great God, thank Him for His inspired word and its wisdom, and find yourself a Bible preacher.