Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ category

Tamar

June 19, 2016

The story of Joseph begins in Genesis 37 and goes to chapter 50. But there’s an odd, yet significant interruption in the narrative in chapter 38. It’s the story of Judah’s family.

Christ was born through the generations of Judah. However, there was a big bump as described in Genesis 38. I suggest you read it so you’ll fully grasp what I’m saying below.

Judah had three sons, but two were slain by the Lord for their unrighteousness. Judah’s third son had been promised to Tamar, his daughter-in-law from her marriage to the first son. The idea was to keep the lineage going.

Tamar pretended to be a prostitute and tricked Judah into having sex with her. She conceived and gave birth to twins.

One wonders why Judah would have sex with a prostitute in the first place. His wife had died, but that was still not a good excuse.

The first time I read thhis chapter I was amazed that something like this is in the Bible, God’s holy word. Aren’t these supposed to be stories about God’s holy people? It turns out they weren’t always so righteous after all.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 the stories from the Old Testament serve as examples for us. That’s true of negative examples, too. We can learn a lot about what not to do.

I love God’s word for not pulling punches. It lays out people’s faults for us to see, no matter how bad they are. And the Scriptures offer hope and redemption.

We get a breath of fresh air when Joseph’s story resumes in Genesis 39 because we see the account of a truly righteous man.

But when we look at Genesis 38, we can’t help but see God’s grace. How he made good out of a messed up situation is astonishing. If Tamar hadn’t done what she did, the lineage through which Christ was supposed to come would have been broken.

Part of Matthew 1:3 says, And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom…

How many times has God taken something awful from our lives, or the lives of those around us, and made something good out of it? He does all things for His glory, and we are so blessed that He is gracious.

Does that mean we can sin and God will clean up after us? Note what Paul says in selected verses from Romans 6.

1.What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2.God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?…
6.Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Let’s seek to do that which pleases Him, while at the same time realizing His grace makes things right in the end.

Note: I had an opportunity at church to give a Bible study on this. Read more and hear the message here.

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Clean

May 15, 2016

I encourage you to spend a few minutes with Moments for You for the second quarter of 2016. The theme is “clean,” and all of the articles deal with such things as being cleansed by God and how we must live clean and holy lives.

You might also enjoy Clean Before My Lord, by Honeytree.

Isaiah 9:6

November 22, 2015

Isaiah 9:6–
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.

There’s no way I can publish this post without leading my readers to think I’m rushing Christmas. It’s not quite Thanksgiving Day yet as I write.

But rushing Christmas is far from my mind. I don’t celebrate Christmas, for reasons I won’t get into here.

Why we wait until the Christmas season to talk about Isaiah 9:6 is beyond me. The truth of it is so significant and astounding.

This verse has only partially been fulfilled. Christ was indeed born, but He is yet to come to establish His kingdom on the earth. The latter part of the verse will be fulfilled then.

The reason I share this post now is to let you know that “Moments for You” for the fourth quarter of 2015 is available online, and I invite you to read it here. The theme is Isaiah 9:6,.

Read each article. You’ll be blessed, and you’ll have all the more reason to worship our great and wonderful Lord.

Will We or Won’t We?

October 18, 2015

As the economy grows worse and tensions heat in the Middle East, interest in prophetic events increases. Will we or won’t we go through the Tribulation?

I believe the Scriptures teach that Christians will not go through it. For many years this has been the subject of many debates in print, online, and elsewhere.

Allow me to draw your attention to an article entitled The Church and the Tribulation.

Resurrection and reunion in the Rapture

September 20, 2015

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18–
13. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16.For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17.Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18.Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

I listened to a famous radio preacher speak on the Rapture, or being caught up, from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He did a good job of it, but I take issue with him on one matter. It’s his handling of verse 14. His view is commonly held, so mentioning his name would serve no purpose.

He muddled through his explanation of this verse, but his commentary was contradictory and unclear. I wondered how many of his listeners were like me and found themselves unsatisfied.

You may be asking whether I think I can give a better explanation than a world famous, seminary-trained preacher. The answer is yes, or I wouldn’t write this. All I ask is that you follow me to the end of this piece and draw whatever conclusion God leads you to.

The concept expressed by the preacher is a familiar one. We’ve all heard it. It says that the dead in Christ are now in heaven, but somehow need to be brought back from there at the Rapture to be reunited with their bodies in resurrection.

But, I must ask, if dead believers are in heaven in some glorified form, as most believe, why bother with the retrieval of decayed bodies?

This brings up the question of what death really means. Allow a brief digression, which some may find upsetting; but I need to lay ground work for what follows.

Death is the cessation of life. For the believer, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and we will be resurrected to eternal life. That eternal life can’t begin at death, or death isn’t really death.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul’s focus is on resurrection. No mention is made of the dead being in some kind of soulish, intermediate state.

Back to 1 Thessalonians 4:14. In the King James Bible the verse says, For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

When we look at the first part of that sentence, the focus is on resurrection. The thought is that, if Christ was resurrected, shouldn’t we expect the dead to be resurrected, too? Indeed, those who have died as believers will be resurrected at the great catching away. They’re not gone forever.

Paul reassures his readers in these latter verses of 1 Thessalonians 4that, at the Rapture, we who are alive will be reunited with those believers who have died before us.

But let’s hone in a bit more on 1 Thessalonians 4:14. I believe resurrection, not reunion of the body with the soul, is how we must see this verse.

I owe a debt of grattitude to my late friend Gerald Franz for helping to clarify the meaning of this verse. He wrote a piece called Who Does the Bringing? In it he quoted from the New International Version of the Bible, which helps shed light here. It says…

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

In the Rapture Jesus will come in the clouds as promised in Acts 1:9-11. It is He who resurrects the dead in Christ first and takes them with Him. Immediately following is the catching up of those of us who are believers and still alive at the time of the event.

In other words, Christ doesn’t bring believers from heaven to be reunited with their dead bodies in resurrection, only to take them back up. He endows the dead bodies of believers with life, and brings them to heaven.

Those who will ascend to heaven are the resurrected dead in Christ as well as those of us believers who are alive at the time of the event. We will all meet Him in the clouds.

But where does God fit into the picture? After all, He’s the one who’s mentioned in the KJV translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:14. It is He who empowers Christ and brings all of us together–along with Jesus–to be with Him in heaven.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at what Jesus told Martha in John 11:25-26, which says…

25.Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26.And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Let’s not overlook the obvious. We have to be dead to be resurrected. Once resurrected, we shall never die because we’ll have eternal life.

And it’s all because Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Those of us who die as believers–we’re in Christ–can put our full confidence in Him for raising us from the dead.

John 14:2-3 makes sense when seen in this light. It says…

2.In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

If we’re already in heaven when we die, why does He have to come back for us?

Because we’re not in heaven immediately after death. Neither are we in hell or some other place of limbo. But that’s another matter I won’t get into here.

At the Rapture, the dead in Christ will be raised from the dead as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 points out. It’s just that simple.

Of course, the good news for those of us who are alive at the time of the Rapture, or catching away, means we won’t have to be concerned with being resurrected.

As Paul exhorts in 1 Thessalonians 4:18, we should comfort one another with these wonderful truths.

God Married to the Backslider?

September 6, 2015

A friend asked me a while back about the idea she’d heard about God being married to the backslider. What did it mean? Does it apply to today?

Here’s what I told her. It’s not a thorough study, but it gets the main point across.

Jeremiah 3:14 makes a reference to God being married to the backslider. Below I’ve copied verses 6-15 so you can see the context it fits in. Then I’ll add a couple of comments.

Jeremiah 3:6-15–
6. The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
7. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
8. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
9. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
10. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.
11. And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
12. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.
13. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.
14. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
15. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

The passage goes on from there to prophecy about the future time when God will regather all of Israel in a time when there will be peace. Obviously, that’s not something that’s happening now. At any rate, verse 14 speaks about the nation of Israel, both northern and southern parts, as does the whole chapter. They had practiced idolatry and were not following the Lord.

The book of Hosea sets forth a picture of this idea because Hosea married a harlot who went astray, and he bought her back. It, too, is all about Israel.

There’s nothing like this stated in the New Testament, so I’m persuaded that this doesn’t apply to the church today. Christians today are not spiritual Israel.

What’s Up With Baptism for the Dead?

March 8, 2015

A friend who grew up in a foster home was subjected to Mormonism during her youth. Thankfully, she broke away from that; but she’s still perplexed by certain things she was taught. For example, the other day she asked what I thought the Scriptures taught about baptism for the dead, which is a part of Mormon practices.

I remembered seeing a verse somewhere about this, and I thought I recalled it was in one of Paul’s epistles. So I did a little research. Since I had to put my thoughts into writing in an e-mail to my friend about this, I thought I’d share what I discovered with you as well, for whatever it’s worth.

1 Corinthians 15:29 in the KJv says, Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

This is an odd verse. But before I did any research, my first thought was that a person has to be alive to be baptized. Only a living person can accept Christ and afterward give evidence of that through the symbolic act of baptism. While that’s true, I saw two other views on this topic which go beyond that.

One view says Paul was referring to a pagan group who practiced baptism for the dead near Corinth. He was discouraging the Corinthians from doing this. If Paul did indeed have a pagan group in mind, then apparently even they believed in some kind of resurrection, as shown by the fact that they practiced baptism for the dead. That was further proof for Paul’s case that there is indeed resurrection, since even pagans expected it.

The other view made the observation that, since the theme and emphasis of that whole chapter of the Bible is resurrection, then verse 29 has resurrection in mind, too, and it shouldn’t be taken out of context. Obviously, one has to be dead to be resurrected. Baptism symbolizes burial and resurrection. If there’s no resurrection, then what’s the point of the symbol of baptism?

All in all,Paul makes the reference in verse 29 to add to his case for the reality of resurrection. It’s weird and sad that cults latch on to a verse in the Bible and run with it to come up with some bizarre practice.