Just men reading, memorizing and studying the bible together!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Proverbs 29–31
Old Testament Only: Job 7–8
New Testament Only: Acts 18:18–19:10
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Start Bearing Fruit

Isaiah 27-30

Grapes on the vine - purpleWe’re back in the book of Isaiah today and the prophet continues to tell us of coming judgment and of Christ’s ultimate return. As I read today’s passage my mind was captured by the following verse.

Isaiah 27:6 ESV

“In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit.”

The Bible teaches that God’s people will be both Gentile and Jew; that our genetics won’t make us God’s children but rather spiritual adoption into the family of God. This will only come about through submission to Christ and acceptance of His sacrifice. In days to come Jacob will be all God’s children; those adopted into His family through His Son. In the days to come God’s children will take root and fill the whole world with spiritual fruit.

This idea of God’s children bearing fruit is taught to us as well by Jesus Himself through His earthly ministry. He taught parables pointing us to fruit bearing. One such parable is known as the Parable of the Sower and it ends with the following verse.

Matthew 13:23 ESV

“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

This idea of being fruitful was so important that Jesus spoke of it with His disciples just hours before He went to the cross.

John 15:1-5 ESV

[1] “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. [2] Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. [3] Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. [4] Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. [5] I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Some people think the Old Testament and New Testament are two different books. They are wrong. They are two parts of the same book; telling the same story. In today’s reading in the Old Testament we see that those who are children of the Living God will bear fruit. In the New Testament we hear Jesus provide the Amen. If you belong to Christ you will bear spiritual fruit. Christ planted a seed within you and you must see to the care and feeding of that seed. Fruitfulness is part of who you are in Christ so let the growing accelerate! Start bearing fruit!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Proverbs 25–28
Old Testament Only: Job 4–6
New Testament Only: Acts 18:1–17
(Current Plan is Chronological)

A Good House Cleaning

2 Kings 18:1-8, 2 Chronicles 29-31, Psalm 48

Cleaning SuppliesBoy there is nothing like a good house cleaning. We go along month after month just living our lives and we seem not to notice how dust and dirt and clutter over take our home. Now some folks are really good about keeping up with this stuff. I know folks who regularly wash the base boards in their house! I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned the baseboards in my house unless I am painting the room. These folks seem to have a quarterly schedule where they go beyond the basics of housekeeping and tidying up and they go into deep cleaning mode. They wash and scrub and clean and de-clutter the house from top to bottom, inside and out. Now I’m not that good at keeping up with such stuff but I have done a good house cleaning from time to time and it really is refreshing. Things look better, they smell better and I just feel better in general.

In our passage today we read of revival in Judah. The very first thing the new king Hezekiah did was see to the cleaning of the temple. The Bible tells us that he did this in the first month of his first year. It is telling us that the things of God were his primary concern.

2 Chronicles 29:3-5 ESV

“[3] In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them. [4] He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east [5] and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the LORD, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place.”

You see life had come along and slowly pealed the Israelites away from proper worship of God. There were a lot of negative consequences for such neglect but it took a new king to come in and get folks headed in the right direct. The first step in renewal was to clean out the filth. Brothers, I’m afraid we can be guilty of such spiritual neglect ourselves. We get into a rut of going to church and going home. Life goes by and we don’t seem to notice the slippage of our spiritual growth. We slowly stagnate spiritually and we are almost oblivious to the fact. Even if we are aware of the fact, we often don’t know what to do about it.

Jesus knew that we would face such challenges. In fact, as Jesus sat down to the last supper with His disciples He paused to wash their feet. He was teaching His followers that they were to encourage each other to cleans themselves of sin. Now Peter famously refused at first to be washed by his Master as it seemed things ought to be the other way around. Once Jesus explained that if He didn’t wash Peter then Peter could have no part in Jesus, Peter said that Jesus should then wash him from head to foot. Peter really wanted to be untied with Christ. Jesus said that there was no need to wash Peter from head to foot since he was already clean. This was a reference to the fact that Peter had already submitted his life to Christ. But, because Peter walked through a sinful world he would get a little filth on his spiritual feet from time to time and it needed to be removed. Jesus put it this way. He said “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.”

You and I as brothers in Christ, people who have accepted Christ and submitted our lives to His authority, have been cleansed of our sin, but we live in a filthy world. This world splashes filth upon us as we walk through it and we need to clean the mess up. Here is what Jesus said to His disciples after washing their feet.

John 13:12-17 ESV

“[12] When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? [13] You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. [14] If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. [16] Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. [17] If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

We walk through a filthy world. We do not lose our salvation, but we still need to take time on a regular basis to cleans our spiritual feet as it were. We need to do a good house cleaning on a regular basis. This will help us to maintain a healthy, happy spiritual life. Once we’ve done this house cleaning for ourselves, we need to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same. In fact we are to offer to help them do so. This, friends, is the beginning of spiritual revival.

So brothers, let’s get to it. Let’s start cleaning out the filth that has accumulated in our lives. Let’s refresh our relationship with Christ. Let us rededicate ourselves to living in right relationship with Him. Nothing but good will come from such effort.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Proverbs 23–24
Old Testament Only: Job 1–3
New Testament Only: Acts 17:10–34
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Choose Well

Isaiah 23-26

Thinking Man - FaceWhy is the world so full of hate and hurt? Why is it so full of evil? Why does God allow so much misery and pain? In the Garden of Eden there was only one rule; we must not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The tree wasn’t the issue. Any knowledge that might come from the tree was not the issue. God’s intention was for us to live in right relationship with Him for eternity. To that end there was another tree there in the middle of the garden; it was the Tree of Life. Mankind, from the beginning, could have chosen eternal life in right relationship with God. Instead we chose the other tree. Why did God put that tree in the Garden and why did we choose that tree over the Tree of Life?

What kind of relationship can you have with a robot? If a person has no choice in what they say and do how can there be any real relationship?  If one is forced to love another is it really love? Is there truly love between you and your cell phone? It only does what you ask it to but it doesn’t free will to choose to do so. No to have a real relationship, to have true love, a person must have free will. God gave us each free will. We are free to choose right relationship with Him or separation from Him. And that choice was made possible by the existence of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

If God had given man no chance to disobey, man would have been no better than a robot. For one to choose, one must have a choice. From the beginning man has started out choosing to be his own god and rejecting right relationship with God. Man has chosen the Tree of Knowledge and rejected the Tree of Life. We chose poorly, and the misery and pain, the evil that we find in the world is not of God’s making but of man’s. All of this came to my mind as I read the following passage from today’s reading.

Isaiah 24:5-6 ESV

“[5] The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. [6] Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left.”

The cesspool in which we live is of our own making. The earth lies defiled under our influence as our own gods. The curse that devours this earth lays squarely on our own shoulders, not God’s. We have cursed ourselves and the result is the pain and suffering that surrounds us. God, however, has a plan to save us from ourselves. From the beginning He has engineered a path that leads to right relationship with Him. The book of Isaiah tells us of this coming salvation.

Isaiah 25:8 ESV

“He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.”

Do you realize that everyone has an eternity? The issue isn’t whether or not you will live for eternity but rather where you will live for eternity. Death is separation from God for all of eternity. Life is right relationship with God for all of eternity. For those who will accept His sacrifice on the cross, Christ will swallow up death forever. His return will be cause for joy. Pain and suffering, for those who belong to Him, will be banished forever. There will be no more tears for those who belong to Him. For those who don’t belong to Christ, the opposite will be true.

So, here you are. You have a choice to make. Will you live in right relationship with God, or will you suffer for eternity as your own god? The choice is yours. Choose well.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Proverbs 20–22
Old Testament Only: Esther 8–10
New Testament Only: Acts 16:25–17:9
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Egyptian Christians

Isaiah 18-22

egyptian-christian-crucified

A Christian crucified in Egypt.

I found the prophecy concerning Egypt in today’s Scripture rather interesting. Some of what is foretold has already occurred and some is yet to occur. What I found interesting is that while a certain amount of condemnation is foretold for Egypt, there is also a description of blessing for Egypt as well. In a day of terror yet to come Egypt will be full of fear of what God has in store for them. And yet, there will still be some in the land who worship the One True God.

Isaiah 19:18-22 ESV

“[18] In that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the LORD of hosts. One of these will be called the City of Destruction. [19] In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. [20] It will be a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry to the LORD because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. [21] And the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the LORD and perform them. [22] And the LORD will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the LORD, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.”

The nation of Egypt has been around for a very long time even though there were periods in its history where it was no more than a collection of city-states. Research I have read contends that early on Egypt was a monotheistic society worshipping Jehovah alone but over time degenerated into a multi-theistic society. Today it is primarily a Muslim nation. Interestingly enough Mohammad took the Arab pantheon of gods and molded them into one god he called Allah.

I’ve written about this before but if you look at almost any Muslim nation’s flag you will see a crescent moon and a star. You see there was a meteor that came crashing to earth a long time ago. That meteor was picked up and worshipped as one of many gods. This meteor, called the Black Stone or Al Hajar Al Aswad, was taken my Mohammad as the embodiment of this unified god, and it resides today in an outside corner of the Kaaba, a building in Saudi Arabia dating back to the time of Abraham. It is to this building that the Muslim pilgrims come on the Haj. They walk around this building counter-clockwise seven times. If at all possible they are to kiss this stone on every circuit around the building. If this is impossible due to the crowds they point towards it with their right hand.

As a Christian points to the cross, a Muslim points to the meteor. Now why is this significant? Saturday we read the following concerning Lucifer.

Isaiah 14:12 ESV

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!”

Lucifer is sometimes referred to as “Day Star” in Scripture. In fact, some translations of the Bible don’t use “Day Star” but rather “Lucifer” in this verse. Lucifer is described as having fallen from Heaven like a bright shining star. Allah, as embodied by this meteor, is not another name for Jehovah. Allah is another name for Lucifer, the fallen Day Star. Muslims are being horribly misled and the consequences are eternal. Egypt is still in the grips of idol worship. Still there is good news. Do you know that there are Christians living in Egypt? Over the past couple of years they have had a very hard time of it. Some Christians there, during the upheaval of their government, were tortured and even crucified.

Still, a Christian community remains and I can’t help but feel that they form the basis of what has been foretold in today’s passage from Isaiah. There will be five cities that worship the One True God. Some Dead Sea Scroll and other manuscripts have a different name for the “City of Destruction” mentioned as one of the five cities in chapter 19 verse 18. They name it the “City of the Sun”. I know that seems like a non sequitur but Jesus is the Son of God and, like the Sun in our solar system, the brightest spiritual star there is.

I don’t know exactly how God plans to utilize the Christians in Egypt, or Israel for that matter, but I know from this and other Scripture that He does plan to use them. I think we Christians who are safe and sound in countries where persecution against Christians isn’t so severe should be doing all we can to help our brothers and sisters in Christ who are “holding down the fort” as we wait for the fulfillment of time and prophecy. They need our help until such time as the Lord sends the Savior to deliver them. Let us never forget our spiritual kin-folk under siege in Muslim lands. They need our prayers, they need our financial support, they need us to pressure our governments to speak out about their oppression. Let’s do all we can.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Proverbs 17–19
Old Testament Only: Esther 4–7
New Testament Only: Acts 16:1–24
(Current Plan is Chronological)

No Reading Today

Sleeping ManOur current chronological reading plan has no reading for Sundays. Take this day to reflect on what God has said to you through His Holy Word this past week.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Proverbs 15–16
Old Testament Only: Esther 1–3
New Testament Only: Acts 15:22–41
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Will You Will To Do God’s Will?

Isaiah 13-17

Praying Man in FieldThere is much prophecy in today’s reading about nations surrounding, or involved with, Israel. Some of the prophecy has taken place; some is yet to take place. Some of this prophecy even concerns the End of Days. At the heart of all of this prophecy is the basic conflict facing humanity from the beginning of time. That battle is between the One True God and those who want to be god themselves. The first being to desire such a replacement of God was Satan, and he is referred to today in our reading. I enjoyed J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on a couple of verses from today’s reading so I will share that with you here.

The Origin of Satan and Evil

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! [Isa. 14:12].

“Lucifer” is none other than Satan. Lucifer, according to Ezekiel 28, is the highest creature that God ever created. But he was a Judas Iscariot—he turned on God. He set his will over God’s will. In Luke 10:18 the Lord Jesus says, “… I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” In 1 John 3:8 we are told, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” Then in Revelation 12:7–9 we are told, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” This is a picture of this creature Lucifer at the very beginning.

What was the sin of this creature created higher than any other? Well, what is sin in its final analysis? I’m not speaking philosophically, but theologically—what is sin?

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High [Isa. 14:13–14].

These are the five “I wills” of Lucifer. He was setting his will over against the will of God. This is sin in embryo. This is the evolution of evil. There is no evolution of man, but there is an evolution of sin. It began by a creature setting his will against the will of God. As a free moral agent, the creature must be allowed to do this. It is nonsense to talk about a creature who has a free moral will, who can do anything he wants to, but is restricted in his movements in a certain area. Lucifer had a free will.

This is man’s original sin: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). Murder is sin, not just because God says it is, but because it is contrary to the will and character of God. Anything that is contrary to the character and will of God is sin, regardless of what it is. I think that some people can even displease God by going to church.

Imagine little bitty puffed-up creature man, who says to God, “I won’t do what You want me to do. I am going to do it my way.” That is exactly what man is saying today. Well, friend, you are not going to do things your way, because God’s will is going to prevail in the final analysis. Therefore, the prayer of all God’s people should be, “… Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). Anything contrary to His will is sin, regardless of what it is.

The sin of Satan was overweening pride. He did not go out and get drunk, and he didn’t steal anything. He went against God’s will. He was created as an angel of light; he was the “son of the morning,” a perfect being. He was given a free moral will—he could choose what he wanted. But he was lifted up—so lifted up by pride that he set his will against the will of God. It wasn’t the purpose of Satan to be different from God; he wanted to be like God. In other words, he wanted to be God. He put his will above the will of God, and any creature who does that puts himself in the place of God.

There are many men like Lucifer today. They put their wills above the will of God and take His place. That is what sin is all about in the human family. There are only two ways: God’s way and man’s way. That is what the Lord Jesus Christ meant when He said, “… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). My friend, you live in God’s universe today. You breathe His air and enjoy His sunshine. He never sends you a bill for either one or for the life He furnishes. You are His creature. You owe Him a great deal. You are to obey Him.

In his natural state, man is unable to obey God; that is why we have to come to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ as lost sinners. Then we are given a new nature. That is what it means to be born again.

McGee, J. V. (1997). Thru the Bible commentary (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Dr. McGee mentions the “5 I Wills of Lucifer”. We each have a choice. We can choose to do our own will or we can choose to do God’s will. Will you will to do God’s Will?

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!