Category Archives: Bible study

A soft answer or a harsh word

A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:1

There will be times when others are angry at us.  We can’t avoid this but we can choose how we respond to their anger.  We can either give a soft answer, which will turn their wrath away, or we can respond with a harsh word, which will increase their anger.  Two of the judges of Israel, Gideon and Jephthah, encountered the wrath of others in nearly identical circumstances but responded differently.

Gideon was a farmer.  When he first appears in the Biblical account he is beating out wheat in a winepress to keep it hidden from the Midianite invaders of the land.  The angel of the LORD  appeared to him and told him he had been chosen to destroy the Midianites.  He reluctantly accepted the assignment and after a successful war against the Midianites he encountered opposition from one of the other tribes of Israel, Ephraim. Read the rest of this entry

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On earth as it is in Heaven

Matthew 6:9-13 contains the prayer known as the Lord’s Prayer.  It contains the phrase “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  Is this part of the prayer being answered today?  It appears to me that most of the earth is rebelling against God’s will rather than following it.

The Bible tells us that God created the world and everything in it in six days and we should acknowledge him as our Creator.  Humans have come up with the belief that the earth developed by natural processes over billions of years and that life arose by a process of evolution.  This belief is such an integral part of our culture that even many Bible believers accept it and interpret the Bible in a way that accommodates the belief that the earth is old.  I once believed in an old earth and reconciled this belief with the Bible by believing in the gap theory. Read the rest of this entry

YOLO

YOLO stands for You Only Live Once.  It is the philosophy that the life we are now living is the only we will ever have so we should make the best use of it by doing those things which bring us the greatest amount of pleasure now.  Like any other philosophy it needs to be tested by comparing it with what the Bible teaches.

If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”  (1 Corinthians 15:32)

It is correct in one point.  If the life we live now is all there is then the wisest course of action would be to get as much enjoyment as we can.  But is this life really all we have?

It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.  (Hebrews 9:27)

We do indeed only live once, but our existence doesn’t end when our body dies.  Here is a description of the final judgment. Read the rest of this entry

The ark of the covenant

Exodus 25:10-22 describes the construction of the ark of the covenant.  The Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness, during which time the ark was carried from place to place.  After they entered the promised land the tabernacle was set up at Shiloh and the ark remained there for many years.  King David eventually brought it to Jerusalem.  When King Solomon built the temple the ark was placed in it.

Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim.  (2 Chronicles 5:7)

The king and the people probably thought the ark had found a permanent resting place and the days of its being carried from place to place were over.  That turned out not to be the case.  Here is an incident that took place during the reign of King Josiah. Read the rest of this entry

Praying for prisoners

Christians are commanded to promote the welfare of everyone, including those who are in prison.

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.  (Hebrews 13:3)

Some think this command merely says we are to be concerned about prisoners in general and need to pray for them and enable them to hear the gospel.  There are many Christian organizations dedicated to reaching prisoners with the gospel.  Perhaps the best known of these is  Prison Fellowship.  This is certainly a legitimate application of this verse, but I don’t think it is what the author of Hebrews had in mind.  When the New Testament was being written Christians often faced severe persecution and many were in prison because of their faith.  This statement is a reminder not to forget them. Read the rest of this entry

Golden calves

Exodus 32 describes the creation of the first golden calf mentioned in the Bible.  Moses had gone up Mt. Sinai to get God’s commands for the people.  When he was gone longer than expected the people asked Aaron to make a god to lead them.  They had just come out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt where there were images of all the Egyptian gods.  The idea of following a god they couldn’t see was foreign to them.  While Moses was with them they could follow him but in his absence they needed a visible representation of God.

He received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.  (Exodus 32:4,5)

When Aaron proclaimed a feast in honor of the calf he proclaimed it in the name of the LORD, the true God.  In making the calf the people weren’t breaking the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.”  They were breaking the second, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” Read the rest of this entry

God’s promises delayed

The Israelites were slaves in Egypt.  They prayed for freedom and God heard their prayers.  He appeared to Moses and appointed him to deliver the people.

Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”  (Exodus 13:7-10)

If you are familiar with the Bible you know what happened next.  Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go and God sent a series of plagues.  The last plague, the death of the firstborn, convinced Pharaoh to release them.

Pharaoh then changed his mind and led his army to bring the Isrealites back into slavery.  He thought he had them trapped by the Red Sea but God miraculously opened up a way in the sea for them to escape.  When the Egyptians tried to follow them, God allowed the water to return and drown them. Read the rest of this entry

But we’ve always done it that way!

Have you ever tried to persuade a church or other organization to change some long established practice?  Often people who oppose the change will say something like, “We’ve always done it that way.”  They believe that because something has worked well in the past they should continue to do it and not change anything.  Are they right?  Is the fact that something worked well in the past a reason we should keep on doing it and not change it?  There was an incident in the life of David that I believe answers that question. Read the rest of this entry

Samson’s eyes

The life of Samson is recorded in Judges 13-16 .  God revealed to Samson’s parents that they would have a son.  They were not to cut his hair and he would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines.  He would begin the job but King David would be the one who completed it.  Samson is famous for his strength but his parents were never told anything about this.  The discovery of how strong he was likely came as a surprise both to him and to his parents.

Here is the first incident recorded after he became an adult.

Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.”

But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?”

But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”  (Joshua 14:1-3)

Read the rest of this entry

Christians and government

Christians disagree about how involved we should be in government.  Some believe we should not be involved at all and not even vote in elections.  Others think we should use the government as a way to promote Christianity.  Most Christians adopt a position somewhere between these two extremes.  We need to look at what the Bible says about this subject.

We are commanded to pray for our government leaders.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  (1 Timothy 2:1,2)

The command is found in the Old Testament as well as the New.

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.  (Jeremiah 29:7)

This was what Jeremiah told the exiles in Babylon to do.  Since Christians are citizens of Heaven we are in the same position as those exiles; we are exiled from our native land and living in a foreign country.  This is true even if we are living in the country in which we were born. Read the rest of this entry

The Gibeonites

God commanded Joshua to lead the Israelites into the promised land and take possession of it.  He began by destroying Jericho and Ai.  Most of the other kings banded together to resist, but one group took a different approach.

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.”  (Joshua 9:3-6)

The Israelites believed the Gibeonites and made a covenant without asking God for guidance.  Afterward they learned the Gibeonites lived nearby. Read the rest of this entry

The other TULIP

If you are familiar with Calvinism you probably know of the acronym TULIP which stands for the five points that Calvinists believe in.

Total depravity

Unconditional election

Limited atonement

Irresistible grace

Perseverance of the saints

There is another TULIP acronym which isn’t as well known.

T — Total Humility

U — Unconditional Kindness

L — Limited Criticism

I — Irresistible Graciousness

P — Perseverance in Patience

I learned about the second TULIP from this article: The Doctrines of Graciousness   I recommend this for every Calvinist reading this post.  Anyone believing the first five points also needs the second five.  And if you are a Christian who isn’t a Calvinist you need the second TULIP even if you don’t believe the first.

I learned of the article from a link in this blog post:  Your theological crisis was preordained…

Between death and resurrection

Adam’s sin brought death to the whole human race.  There are a few exceptions to this.  Enoch and Elijah never experienced death and all believers who are alive when the rapture takes place will never die, but for most who have ever lived life ends with death.

Everyone who has died or who will die in the future will be resurrected.

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voiceand come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.  (John 5:28-29)

But what will it be like between death and resurrection?  Most Christians believe the dead will continue to exist in a state of consciousness but some believe they are be in a state of soul sleep and not aware of anything that is going on. Read the rest of this entry

The naked man

Shortly before his arrest Jesus spent time by himself in prayer.

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”  (Mark 14:32-42)

This incident was also recorded by Matthew and Luke. Read the rest of this entry

Righteous people

God told Abraham that he was going to judge Sodom for its sins.  Lot, Abraham’s nephew, lived in Sodom and this fact prompted Abraham to intercede for the city.

Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 

And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

. . . . .

Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.”

He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”  (Genesis 18:23-26,32)

Read the rest of this entry

Job’s rewards

Most of you are familiar with the story of Job.  He was a man who feared God and he was very wealthy.

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. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters.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.  (Job 1:1-3)

Satan claimed that Job served God not out of sincerity but because God had made him wealthy.  God allowed Satan to test Job by taking away his wealth.  Job lost his wealth, his children, and his health.  His wife urged him to curse God and die.    He was also afflicted with three “friends” who claimed that Job had brought his misfortunes on himself by sinning.

Job insisted he was innocent and wanted God to explain the reason for his suffering, but his faith in God never wavered.  In the end God did appear to him but rather than explaining the reason for what had happened he asked Job a series of questions that revealed his superiority to Job.  As a result Job came to know God better than he had before. Read the rest of this entry

Praying for prisoners

King Herod began to persecute the church.

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.  (Acts 12:1-5)

The church prayed for Peter and their prayers were answered.

Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.  (Acts 12:6,7)

When a believer is imprisoned because of his faith we should pray for him.  The church prayed for Peter and he was freed in response to their prayers.  But should we just pray that the imprisoned believer be released?  Paul might have held a different opinion. Read the rest of this entry

The synagogue and the Areopagus

God chose Paul to carry the gospel to the gentiles.  Wherever Paul went he preached to the gentiles but he also preached to his own people, the Jews.  Acts contains two detailed accounts of his preaching the gospel, once to the Jews and once to the gentiles.

During his first missionary journey Paul and Barnabas came to Antioch in Pisidia and attended the synagogue on the Sabbath.  They were invited to speak to the congregation and Paul gave this message. Read the rest of this entry

God’s hatred

A lot is said about God’s love.  It is the topic of the most well-known verse in the Bible.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  (John 3:16)

But how often have you heard anyone say anything about God’s hatred?  Some people believe that God never hates anyone or anything because they believe all hatred is wrong and God never sins.  Here is what the Bible says about that.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven . . . a time to love, and a time to hate.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1,8)

When we hate our hatred is usually sinful because we seldom know when hatred is called for.  (Our love can also be sinful.  We love something that God has told us we shouldn’t love or we love one thing more than another when we should love the second thing more.)  God always knows when it is the proper time to love or hate. Read the rest of this entry

Samuel and Eli

There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.  (1 Samuel 1:1,2)

Hannah desperately wanted a son and promised God that if he gave her a son she would give him back to God to serve him.

And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”  (1 Samuel 1:11)

God answered her prayer.  God gave her a son and she named him Samuel.  When he was old enough she brought him to the house of God and gave him to Eli the priest.

And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young.Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli.  (1 Samuel 1:24,25)

Read the rest of this entry

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