Category Archives: Bible study

Thomas the Brave

Jesus began his teaching and healing ministry in Judea but because of opposition from the Jewish leaders he moved to Galilee to continue his work. But he still had ties to Judea and he was asked to return there.

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” (John 11:1-3)

Bethany was near Jerusalem, the headquarters of those who wanted to kill Jesus. When he announced his intention to go there, his disciples objected.

Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” (John 11:7,8)

One of them responded differently.

Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16)

All of the disciples believed Jesus would be killed if he returned to Judea. All except Thomas urged him not to go. Thomas was prepared to go with him and die with him. He showed a degree of courage that the others lacked.

Thomas continued to express courage. After Pentecost he went to India preaching the gospel and was martyred there. He has always been honored for his bravery.

Actually that last statement isn’t true. It should be, but something happened that overshadowed his courage. After his resurrection Jesus appeared to the disciples.

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:24,25)

Because he doubted what he was told he in commonly known as “doubting Thomas”. Even those who never read the Bible are familiar with this phrase. Most people know him as a doubter; very few are aware of his bravery.

Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. (Ecclesiastes 10:1)

The popular attitude toward Thomas is an illustration of the truth of this statement. We tend to focus on the one time he doubted and overlook his lifetime of courage. This will not always be the case. When God finally judges all of us Thomas will be honored as Thomas the Brave rather than being dismissed as doubting Thomas.

A soft answer or a harsh word

People are often angry at us. Sometime they have a good reason; sometimes they don’t. It is important that we respond to the anger in the right way.

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

We can respond with a soft answer or with a harsh word. The Bible tells of two men who responded in each of these ways.

The first was Gideon. God empowered him to drive out the Midianites who had invaded Israel. After he had done this the men of Ephraim, another tribe, were angry with him.

Then the men of Ephraim said to him, “What is this that you have done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against Midian?” And they accused him fiercely. 

And he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the grape harvest of Abiezer? God has given into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I been able to do in comparison with you?” 

Then their anger against him subsided when he said this. (Judges 8:1-3)

Gideon gave a soft answer and pointeed out that they had helped by capturing two of the Midianite leaders. This dissipated their anger at him.

Jephthah faced a similar situation but responded in a completely different way. He defeated the Ammonites who were trying to invade Israel. The Ephraimites were angry with him just as they had been with Gideon.

The men of Ephraim were called to arms, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the Ammonites and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house over you with fire.” (Judges 12:1)

(I wonder why the Ephraimites waited for someone to invite them to join in the fight. It seems to me that they could have simply gathered their forces and taken action against the enemy. I sometimes feel they were more interested in quarreling with their fellow Israelites than defending Israel from its enemies.)

Jephthah didn’t respond the way Gideon did.

And Jephthah said to them, “I and my people had a great dispute with the Ammonites, and when I called you, you did not save me from their hand. And when I saw that you would not save me, I took my life in my hand and crossed over against the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?” 

Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim. And the men of Gilead struck Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and Manasseh.” 

And the Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. And when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me go over,” the men of Gilead said to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” When he said, “No,” they said to him, “Then say Shibboleth,” and he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him and slaughtered him at the fords of the Jordan.

At that time 42,000 of the Ephraimites fell. (Judges 12:2-5)

Jephthah’s response led to a civil way in which 42,000 Ephraimites were killed. Earlier he had defeated the Ammonites but we are not told how many of them were killed. It is possible that he killed more Israelites than Ammonites.

When others are angry at us it is natural for us to respond with anger. Christians have the Holy Spirit in us. Our response should be supernatural, not natural.

Answers for Seekers

Bucket lists

A lot of people have what they call a bucket list, a list of things they want to accomplish during their lives. If you are a Christian you don’t need to make a bucket list; God has already made one for you.

The Bible tells us that we are saved by God’s grace and not by anything we do.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

We are not saved by our works but we are saved to do the work that God has assigned us.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

In other words, God has prepared for each of us a bucket list of things that he wants us to accomplish during our life.

There have been many times when I have failed to do the work that God has given to me, and I am certain that that is true of others. We need to ask ourselves whether our failure prevents God from accomplishing the work he meant to do through us. The answer to that question is found in the book of Esther. God allowed Esther to become queen of Persia. When an official named Haman plotted to destroy the Jews Esther’s cousin Mordecai told Esther she needed to go to the king and ask for his help. When she expressed fear about doing this, here was what Mordecai said to her.

Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:13,14)

If we fail to do what God wants us to do, that work will be done by someone else, but we will suffer for our failure to obey. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes what that suffering will consist of.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it.

Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 

If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

Our salvation is the result of God’s grace and not the result of anything we do. If we are not faithful in service we won’t lose our salvation, but we will lose the reward we could have gotten.

Deathbed salvation

Mr. and Mrs. Brown were faithful members of their church and the taught their sons, Harry and Tom, to be faithful too. When the sons grew up Harry rejected his parents’ teaching and stopped attending church. Tom continued to be active in church.

The time came when Harry was about to die. He realized that he was not ready and finally repented of his sins and put his faith in Jesus Christ. His life had been wasted because he had lived for his own pleasure but in the end he was saved.

Tom also reached the end of his life. Looking back he realized that he had tried to live a Christian life but in fact he was not a Christian because he had not repented and believed in Christ. Near the end of his life he finally took this step. His life had been wasted because he had trusted in his church and his service to it rather than in Christ but in the end he was saved.

When we think of deathbed salvation we generally think of someone like Harry rather then Tom. The Bible gives us an example of such salvation. One of the criminals who was crucified with Christ repented and was told that he would be in Paradise that very day. We often forget that all people, regardless of how good a life the live, fall short of God’s standards and need to be saved.

There was a time when I was on the way to ending up as Tom did. I had gone to Sunday school as long as I can remember. When I was 14 years old I got baptized and became a member of my church. I was active in the church and at one time seriously considered becoming a preacher. The only thing wrong was that the church was liberal in its theology and on one there had ever told me how to be saved.

God didn’t wait until I was on my deathbed to save me. About two years after I joined the church I began listening to a radio program called Back to the Bible and through it a learned the true way of salvation.

Someone who lives a life contrary to the Bible doesn’t need to wonder whether he is saved or not. If he thinks about the subject at all he will know he isn’t. But it is possible for someone to live a life that is outwardly righteous and not really be saved. The Bible warns us in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.” Satan uses many tricks to keep people from being saved; one is to convince us we are already saved. Examine yourselves to make sure you are not falling for this trick.

Answers for Seekers

The end or the beginning?

The last two chapters of the Bible describe the creation of a new heaven and a new earth which will be the home of all whose sins have been forgiven through their faith in Jesus Christ. There will be no more sin or temptation to sin. All that is evil will have been removed.

Some people think of this time as being like retirement. We have finished our work and now we are able to begin living a life of leisure. Nothing can be further from the truth. This is not the end of our service to God but its true beginning.

When God created Adam and Eve he had great plans for their future. We don’t know what those plans were because they ate the fruit that God had forbidden and so brought sin and death into the world. All that has happened since then is God’s efforts to remove these two invaders and restore the creation to what he intended it to be. Once that has been accomplished he will begin to carry out the real purpose for which he created us.

The Last Battle, the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia, ends with the destruction of Narnia and with the followers of Aslan being taken to a new and perfect Narnia.

And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can truly say that they lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page. Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the one before.

This is an accurate description of what awaits Christians at the end of this age.

If you have not had your sins forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ this is not your future. After death you will be judged for your sins and be sentenced to eternity in the lake of fire. But if you are willing to turn from your sins and believe in Christ you can share in this future. The link below will take you to a site that explains in more detail how you can do this and answers many of the questions you may have on this subject.

Molech

The Israelites were often tempted to worship the gods of the Canaanites and the surrounding nations.  One of those gods was called Molech or Moloch.  He required that his worshipers sacrifice their children to him.  Here is what Wikipedia says about him. Read the rest of this entry

Will Christians be at the great white throne judgment?

There will be a final judgment just before God creates the new heaven and the new earth.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life.

And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.

This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.  (Revelation 20:11-15)

Read the rest of this entry

Did Jesus know the world is round?

It is a popular belief that in the past everyone thought the world is flat.  I have heard it said that Christopher Columbus proved the world was round when he discovered America.  The peasants might have thought the world was flat but the educated people knew it’s true shape.  They didn’t think Columbus would sail off the edge of the world.  They thought it was impossible to reach Asia by sailing west because the distance was too great.  If the American continents didn’t exist they would have been right. Read the rest of this entry

The golden calf and the Trinity

While Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving God’s commands the Israelites feared that he was gone for good so they took action to ensure that they had someone to lead them.

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

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The breath of life

Everyone knows that human life begins at conception.  A new person comes into existence, created in Gods image, with his unique DNA, with a God given plan for his life.  The new human isn’t yet able to survive on his own so he must spend the first nine months of existence in his mother’s womb. Read the rest of this entry

Through the Narrow: Should Christians Talk to Satan? By Tami Dykes

Tulips & Honey

Christians have been lied to about the devil and Hell.

We have been told over and over that Hell is Satan’s dwelling place. He lives there and just comes around to bother us sometimes or sends his demons to mess with us. It has been suggested that the devil spends time with those that are in Hell tormenting them and allowing demons to torment them as well.

The link below is from the movie “War Room”, and we see where the wife (played by Priscilla Shirer) decides she’s had enough of the devil and goes after him. She becomes mad enough about the devil messing things up in her life that she gives the devil a firm scolding and yells at him for a good while.

She starts out with her explaining to him, “I don’t know where you are, devil, but I know you can hear me.” Well, the…

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Does Charles Darwin approve of “Answers in Genesis”?

Answers in Genesis is an organization founded and led by Ken Ham that is dedicated to proving that the Bible’s account of creation recorded in Genesis is true and can be supported scientifically.  It has aroused a great deal of controversy.  It is strongly supported by many Bible believers.  It is disliked by unbelievers who accept the popular idea that life evolved over millions of years and even by some Christians who also accept this belief.  (For a long time I was in this group.  I was a Christian but I also believed that the theory of evolution had been scientifically proven.  If I had known of Answers in Genesis I would probably have believed that what it was teaching was false.  In the last few years I have come to realized that in fact there is no evidence supporting evolution.) Read the rest of this entry

Mount Zion, in the far north

Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
the city of the great King.
Within her citadels God
has made himself known as a fortress.  (Psalm 48:1-3)

Read the rest of this entry

Cleansing the temple

Jews were required to sacrifice animals at the temple.  Sometimes they didn’t have the required animal and had to buy one.  Dealers made a living by selling them the animals they needed.

Eventually these dealers began doing business inside the temple.  They didn’t operate in the temple building but in courts outside of it, which were considered part of the temple.  When Jesus began his public ministry he visited the temple and found this going one. Read the rest of this entry

Did Jesus claim to be God?

Many who deny the deity of Jesus say that he never claimed to be God.  It is true that there is no record of Jesus ever saying the words, “I am God,” but many of the things he said were in face assertions of his deity. Read the rest of this entry

Was Jonah a false prophet?

The Bible warns against false prophets.

The prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, “How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?”—when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.  (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

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Lot and Sodom

When two angels visited Sodom in preparation for its destruction they met Lot.

The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.”

They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.”

But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.  (Genesis 19:1-3)

The fact that Lot was sitting in the gate tells us something of his status in the city.  The gate was where important business was carried out and the important men in the city were frequently found there. Read the rest of this entry

Reincarnation

It seems incredible to me that anyone could profess to be a Christian and yet believe in reincarnation.  However such people do exist.  Here is a post I read in a Christian forum by one who claimed he was a Christian.

Was John the Baptist really Elijah? If so, does that mean reincarnation is a biblically backed position? What do you make of these passages—

Matthew 17:11-13
11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

Reincarnation of Elijah

Read the rest of this entry

Criticizing God’s servants

Here is something I read on Facebook.

Criticizing God’s servants

by Mission Cry

If you are a preacher and you are talking about others and their style of preaching you might need to refresh your knowledge of the Bible and or do not covet what another has. If you are in a church where the pastor is always talking about other pastors by name you need use the following to for accountability and if they continue leave and never look back, find a new home to worship in. Read the rest of this entry

Forsaken

God has never promised that his children will be wealthy in this life but he has promised that we will have everything we need.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

Because he has promised never to forsake us we don’t need to be concerned about how much money we have.  He will give us what we need when we need it.  If we don’t have something we would like to have it means we don’t need it so we can be content with what we have, no matter how little that is. Read the rest of this entry

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