Just men reading, memorizing and studying the bible together!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: 1 Samuel 18–20
Chronological Order: Joshua 22–24
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 31:9–32:52
New Testament Only: Luke 4:38–5:11

Daily Verse: Psalm 81:6-7  Psalm 81. 6-7

Bible Study

Be Like Abraham

Passage: Genesis 24:1-4

Brothers, I’m working into the wee hours of the night tonight and I’ve only got about 15 minutes to get my post up before the system automatically looks for the post to email out to subscribers. I have to be brief. You know that is hard for me.

Let’s start chapter 24 by reading the first four verses. Sarah has passed away and Abraham, now 137 years old, is finally determined to find 37 year old Isaac a wife. Abraham, being too old to journey back to Ur, to the land of his people, sends his most trusted servant with a most serious oath and charge.

Genesis 24:1-4 ESV

[1] Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. [2] And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, [3] that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, [4] but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”

Why was Abraham so adamant that his son not marry a Canaanite? Why did it have to be someone from Ur? You know, when God finally brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, He told them not to inter-marry with the Canaanites. In fact, the reason God gave Abraham for the 400 year wait between the promise of the land and the fulfillment of the promise is that the Canaanites were being given there fullness of time just as the people of Sodom had been given theirs. These people were far from God and closing in on the point of no return. In time they would be destroyed as a people. If Isaac had married into this family, if he brought that influence into his home, he too would have been brought low.

That which belongs to God should not be dragged down into the gutter. The descendants of Abraham were to be separated unto the Lord. They were to be holy, not common. A mixture of the pure and the impure makes impurity. What lesson does this hold for you and me today? You were saved by grace. You were washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ. You were made holy and you are to be holy. While it is true that we are to be in the world, and it is important that we are, we are not to be of the world. Do you live like the pure or like the impure? Do you bring into your home that which defiles it or that which lifts it up? Even a little impurity makes you and your home impure.

Brother, be extremely careful what you bring into your home. Have no truck with the carnal, the vulgar, the common, or the unholy. Be careful what you watch on TV, what you look at on-line, what you read in magazines and books. Be careful what movies you watch and what music you listen to. The world celebrates the unholy. Don’t drag it into your life or the lives of your loved ones. You are the spiritual leader of your home. Be like Abraham.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: 1 Samuel 16–17
Chronological Order: Joshua 19:17–21:45
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 29:1–31:8
New Testament Only: Luke 4:16–37

Daily Verse: Psalm 31:5  Psalm 31. 5

Bible Study

Share The Heavenly Hope

Passage: Genesis 23

Chapter 23 of Genesis tells us of the death and burial of Sarah. She was 127 years old when she died. She gave birth to Isaac when she was 90 so this means that Isaac was 37 at this time, and unmarried. Isaac was so very precious to Sarah. She was ashamed for so many long years to have been childless. In her day and age a childless woman was an embarrassment. I wonder if Isaac did not get married before his mother’s death because Sarah had waited so long for him that she just couldn’t stomach the idea that the heart of her middle aged baby would be given to another. All of that is speculation on my part but I do wonder. Keep in mind by the way that Abraham was a decade older than Sarah so he would have been about 137 years old. Even at his advanced age he went on after Sarah to remarry multiple wives and father multiple children.

Abraham wanted to bury his wife of many years in the Promised Land; a land in which he as yet held no possession. I will share with you what J. Vernon McGee had to say about this episode.

“The cave of Machpelah was the place Abraham chose, but he wanted to buy it; he wanted nothing given to him. In other words, until God gives him that land, he will buy what he needs and wants. So now he actually buys a burying place.

Again I ask the question: Why didn’t Abraham take Sarah somewhere else to bury her? He buried her here because it is the promised land and the hope of the future is here. As you go through the Bible, you will find that there are two great hopes and two great purposes which God has. He has an earthly purpose, and He has a heavenly purpose. He has an earthly purpose; that is, this earth on which you and I live is going into eternity. It is going to be traded in on a new model. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. But there will be an earth, and it will be inhabited throughout eternity. This is the promise that God gave to Abraham and to those after him. God is not going to put this earth on which you and I live in the garbage can after He gets through with the program which He is carrying out today; nor is it going to be disposed of in a wrecking yard for old and battered cars. God is not going to get rid of it. He intends to trade it in on a new model. The new earth will go into eternity, and there will be people to inhabit it. This was the hope of Abraham. Abraham wanted to be buried in that land so that, when the resurrection came, he and Sarah would be raised in that land. He never knew how many were coming after him, but there are going to be literally millions raised from the dead. This is their hope. It is an earthly hope, and it will be realized.

In the Upper Room, our Lord said this to His disciples who were schooled in the Old Testament and who had the Old Testament hope: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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. 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” (John 14:1–3). He is speaking of the New Jerusalem which He is preparing today and which is the place to which the church will go. The New Jerusalem will be the eternal abode of the church. This teaching was brand-new to the disciples, and I am afraid that it is brand-new to a great many Christians. God never told Abraham that He would take him away from this earth to heaven. Rather, He kept telling him, “I am going to give you this land.” Abraham believed God, and that was the reason that he wanted Sarah buried in that land. It became the place for him to bury his dead. He intended to be buried there, and he is buried there.

The exact location of Abraham’s burying place is at Hebron, about twenty miles south of Jerusalem. When we made a trip there, we visited the Moslem mosque which is built over that spot. Frankly, on our entire trip through that land, I never felt uncomfortable or even a little afraid, except at Hebron. We had been warned to be very careful in Hebron, that there was a great deal of antagonism toward tourists and, actually, toward everyone who did not belong there. Of course, they allowed us to visit the mosque because it meant tourist dollars. After we went in, we looked through a little hole in the floor and down into the cave where Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah are all supposed to be buried. (Rachel is buried at Beth-lehem.) These folk are all buried in Israel because of their hope of being raised from the dead in that land. It is an earthly hope. Our hope as New Testament believers is a heavenly hope. I trust that that is clear to you so that you can understand why this burial was so important to Abraham at this particular time.”

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

Our hope is indeed a heavenly hope. The loss of loved ones will hurt. It will hurt even more if they are not saved. Dwell not on the dead but on the living. You can change nothing behind you but you can change everything before you. The Lost are in desperate need of the Gospel. Use the time you have, and the time they have, to the fullest. Share the heavenly hope.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: 1 Samuel 13–15
Chronological Order: Joshua 16:1–19:16
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 28
New Testament Only: Luke 4:1–15

Daily Verse: Leviticus 20:26  Leviticus 20. 26

Bible Study

Marry In The Family Of God

Passage: Genesis 22:20-24

Abraham’s father, Terah, fathered three sons; Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran died in Ur before Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot off toward Canaan. They didn’t make it to Cannan. They stopped in a spot along the way and they named it after Haran. It was only after Terah died there at Haran that God told Abram to continue on his journey to Canaan. In the meantime, Nahor married and had children of his own. This little bit of family history relayed to us in Genesis 11:27-32 may have seemed extraneous at the time we read it, as would the verses at the end of chapter 22, but it actually is important to the ongoing story of the messianic line.

Genesis 22:20-24 ESV

[20] Now after these things it was told to Abraham, “Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor: [21] Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, [22] Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” [23] (Bethuel fathered Rebekah.) These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. [24] Moreover, his concubine, whose name was Reumah, bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

After the story of God providing the sacrifice in place of Abraham’s son Isaac, this little bit of Scripture seems like a non-sequitur. In fact, neither this bit of Scripture, nor the bit in Genesis 11, has much meaning until we get to chapter 24. You see, Isaac’s wife will be the daughter of Bethuel who is mentioned in Genesis 22:23, but we won’t read the story of how all of this comes about until chapter 24.

I’m not going to jump ahead to chapter 24; I simply want to point out that genealogy is important to God. Who we marry matters. Abraham will send his servant to his brother’s family to find a wife for his son. Terah, Abraham’s father was descended from Noah’s son Shem. This is the line that will bear the Messiah. This was the line that remained faithful to God which is why the Messiah would come through that line. God has always maintained a remnant of those who would belong to Him. Terah’s trip to Canaan, and God’s subsequent bequeathing of Canaan to Abraham, were all part of the prophecy declared in Genesis 9:25-27. Canaan would be the servant of Shem.

Now that Abraham lived in Canaan there was no suitable bride for Isaac. As the story of Sodom exemplified, the people of Canaan were far from God and destined for destruction. Abraham did not want his son to stray from God; he did not want for his son a woman who would lead him away. Abraham knew that his relations back in Ur were descendants of Shem and that they had a relationship with God. This is the kind of woman he wanted for his son. Abraham was attempting to ensure that his son would be equally yoked in marriage to a woman who would know and worship the One True God.

In a couple of weeks I will be standing in for Pastor Jim Cross for Sunday morning worship. To keep us on track with his preaching plan, I will be preaching on Christians being unequally yoked. I’m afraid today we don’t think much about Christians marrying non-Christians. That is an unfortunate mistake with dire consequences. We think love conquers all. God’s love does conqueror all, but what many in our modern society mistake for love today conquers nothing.

I was sitting in my car today listening to a sermon preached by J. Vernon McGee. Interestingly enough he touched upon this very issue. He told of a Christian woman coming to him to discuss a possible marriage with a non-Christian. Dr. McGee told her that doing so was un-biblical. He advised her strongly to walk away from the relationship. A few years later she was back complaining about her godless husband and the misery of her marriage. She whined “why is God letting this happen to me”? She concluded that her husband was just her cross to bear. In essence Dr. McGee told her that her marriage was not a cross, undeserved torcher, but the consequences of her disregard for God’s Word. He told her not to whine to God about her trouble but to ask for His forgiveness for her disobedience.

We bring so much trouble and misery into our lives because we think we know better than God. We think “oh these are just outdated rules that don’t apply in a modern society”. Why do we think that? What evidence is there for that ridiculous idea? It certainly isn’t a biblical idea. We ignore God’s guidance at our own peril. Abraham will show a great deal of spiritual wisdom when he sends his servant to find a wife for his son from his people. We will see that Isaac’s and Rebekah’s marriage was not perfect. There will be plenty of difficulty and family dysfunction along the way. In fact there will be very ungodly behavior.

Jacob will one day have to run for his life because of his deceitful behavior toward his father and brother. It is during his escape, this low point in his life, that he will first draw near to God. He learned of God, however, from his parents. While his parents weren’t perfect, they introduced him to the One True God; they prepared him to grow in his relationship with God.

I worry sometimes that my daughter is not growing as much or as quickly in her relationship with God as I would like. I have to remind myself that my job is to introduce her to God and to prepare her to grow with Him; the rest is up to her and God – including the timing. I am currently attempting to subtly help her come to realize that when looking for a mate she needs to conduct her search in the family of God. I hope you will encourage your children to do the same. While marrying a Christian won’t guarantee a trouble free marriage, it will certainly avoid much worse.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: 1 Samuel 9–12
Chronological Order: Joshua 14–15
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 26–27
New Testament Only: Luke 3

Daily Verse: Judges 6:13-14  Judges 6. 13-14

Day of Rest

Saturdays are a day of rest for me in my blog writing. I write the blog a day ahead so this means it is a day of rest from my commentary for you on Sundays. Enjoy your day of worship!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: 1 Samuel 4–8
Chronological Order: Joshua 11–13
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 23–25
New Testament Only: Luke 2:41–52

Daily Verse: Psalm 62:8  Psalm 62. 8

Bible Study

His Voice

Passage: Genesis 22

I want to use today’s post to recap something I shared with you yesterday, but before I do let me cover a little housekeeping. Last Saturday I asked you guys for feedback on how things were going this year. I knew at the time that you are all very busy and that I wouldn’t get a lot of responses, but three of you did find the time to write a response. One brother liked how things were going this year, another kind of missed the commentary being tied to a specific reading plan, and the third was fine either way. So much for trying to find a consensus! I truly appreciate you guys taking the time to comment and truly appreciate your thoughts. I believe we will continue down the path we’ve started. I do want to point out a couple of things, however, that I think will help anyone who does desire a reading plan.

It is more important to read God’s Word than my words. At the top of each post are Scripture references for four different reading plans. If you don’t feel you are getting enough daily Scripture I implore you to follow one of these plans. Now I realize that doesn’t address the issue of having commentary to go along with your reading which is really what one brother preferred. While I can’t solve that specific problem with what we are doing this year, I would like to recommend that, barring following one of the reading plans, an approach might be to read, and re-read, the chapter upon which I’m commenting. Going over Scripture with a fine tooth comb is part of what we are trying to do with this year’s approach. By going over the same Scripture you have a chance to think on it more deeply and perhaps discover something new. If that is a bit more reading that you care for, I do try to comment upon a small bit of Scripture every day and I do list that reference at the top of each post. You can just click on that link to read that bit of Scripture. Of course I usually include that Scripture in the post so you can go either way with that. (Today is an exception to the rule.)

I realize I can’t provide exactly what everyone wants and I appreciate those of you who are following along even though it might not be your preferred approach. Of course I appreciate all of you and any feedback you choose to provide. Like you, I am a work in progress and need the help, guidance, and encouragement of my brothers in Christ. Thank you for being a part of Brothers of the Book.

Now, I would like to touch upon “hearing God’s voice” for a moment. Yesterday I wrote on this topic but my focus was wide. I’d like to be more concise about the issue because it is so important for all of us. There are a lot of voices coming at us every day; family, friends, co-workers, store clerks, radio, television, internet, magazines, and books (I’m sure I’ve missed some voices). We also have our own thoughts and then there is the issue of voices emanating from the spiritual realm. Satan is known as the Great Deceiver. On a spiritual level he will often whisper to us to indulge our carnal desires. We have a natural desire to do wrong. Satan encourages us to go with that desire. And then there is God Himself who speaks softly and calls us to do right.

Life in modern America is full of noise and distraction. We are awash with banging drums and clanging cymbals. Everyone shouts to be heard. Underneath it all is God softly calling to His children to obey. God is easily drowned out by all this noise. Worse, we often mistake our own thoughts, or the thoughts of others, as God’s voice. How is a man supposed to know which is God’s voice and which is not? That is not as difficult a question as one might initially suppose.

Do you know your dad’s voice? Do you know your mom’s voice? Do you know the voice of your children, co-workers, and friends? Usually, if any of these people call us on the phone, we recognize them immediately. As part of phone etiquette we always tell people who is calling, but when it comes to people with whom we are close, an introduction would not be necessary; we would hear their voice and know immediately who they are. The closer we are to the person, the more readily we recognize their voice. When I haven’t spoken to someone in a while I can forget what they sound like and it takes a little while before I’m back to full and quick recognition. Familiarity is what helps me recognize a voice.

To get to a place where you recognize God’s voice you must spend a good deal of time with Him on a regular and on-going basis. Going to church is essential to growing in our faith but for many that is the extent of our relationship with God. We go to church, we sing of our love for Him, we sing our praise to Him, and then we hear the preacher read God’s Word and share a truth from the text. If we attend Sunday School then we may discuss God’s Word with our brothers and sisters in Christ. This corporal time in God’s Word is important, but how close would you grow to your spouse if the only time you spent time with her was in a gathering of friends?

To truly learn to know God’s voice you must spend time every day listening to God. We do this by reading God’s Word and then praying with an open heart, seeking His will. We are told in the Bible that we can, and should, come to God with our concerns, but if we hope to learn to hear His voice our prayer must also include a time of listening. The best way to accomplish this is to find a quiet place every day where you can be alone with God. Begin by praying to Him that He would reveal His will to you as you read His Holy Word. Read His Word and then pray once more. As you quietly sit, in an attitude of prayer, contemplate what you’ve read and then just listen. Be quiet before God. At first you won’t hear anything. You are simply beginning to train yourself to ask the right questions and then to listen for the answers. One day, if you truly desire to hear God’s voice, and faithfully pursue Him, you will hear Him.

Jesus said His sheep know His voice. They know His voice because they have spent time with Him. Brother, spend time with Him. Get to know Him. Stop talking and start listening. His voice will be heard.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: 1 Samuel 1–3
Chronological Order: Joshua 8–10
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 20–22
New Testament Only: Luke 2:22–40

Daily Verse: Psalm 34:4  Psalm 34. 4

Bible Study

Don’t Delay – Obey!

Passage: Genesis 22:15-18

(NOTE: Guys, I apologize. I’m afraid I got on a role today. The post that follows is almost 1,500 words. Read God’s words and skip mine if you are pressed for time.)

Can you tell when God is speaking to you? Do you know the difference between His voice and your desires? Do you know the difference between His voice and that of the Deceiver? Jesus said that His sheep know His voice (John 10:27). He meant that His followers, those who have submitted to His Lordship over their lives and accepted His incredible gift of salvation through His sacrifice upon the cross, would be able to tell the difference. This is, I believe, because we Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit. As I’ve said many times before, having the indwelling Holy Spirit doesn’t mean we can’t do wrong, it means that when we do wrong it will bother the tar out of us. God’s Holy Spirit writhes within us when we do that which is contrary to holiness.

I am providing this long preamble to my remarks because I want to write about obedience to God. To obey Him, however, we must be able to hear Him, and to hear Him we must be able to distinguish His voice from the many others that are screaming in our ears. God speaks with a soft, certain voice. He never speaks contrary to His will as expressed in His Holy Word. This episode of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his child brought to mind a horrible story I remember from many years ago. A woman had drowned her several children in a bath tub. When asked why she did it, she claimed that God had told her to do it. She heard voices telling her to kill her children.

There was no question this woman was mentally incompetent. She was suffering from post-partum depression. The signs of her mental deterioration were there, but they were missed by those who could have done something about it. It was a horrible tragedy. The news seems to be very good at finding people who do crazy, hateful, horrible things allegedly because God told them to.

I tell you God does not tell people to do crazy, hateful, horrible things. If you have even a passing knowledge of the Bible, however, you will no doubt throw at me evidence that this is not so. You will point out God instructing the Israelites to wipe out every man, woman, and child in Canaan. You will point out the death of every first born child and animal in Egypt under Pharaoh’s reign. The list goes on and on, but Abraham being told to kill his child would probably top that list. To us these may seem like extremely horrible things. It is God’s world and He has every right to command what He does. Because we can’t see the whole picture we may not understand that what He commands is not horrible but righteous. We are simply judging from an ill-informed, narrow, and biased perspective.

If I told you a story about a man who was drugged and when he woke up he found that his leg was missing, I’m sure you would see that as a horrible act. Who could do such a thing? Of course if I gave you some more details you might not feel that way. If I told you the man was in a hospital and that he had gangrene and if the doctor hadn’t amputated that leg he would have died, you probably would think that the thing done to him was good. We like to go around saying “judge not lest you be judged” and then we go around judging God. We don’t have all of the facts and I for one am not foolish enough to stand in judgment of Him. He is the Judge; not me or you.

That said, what is the difference between what God told Abraham to do and what that poor demented woman thought God told her to do? Well, that woman was not in her right mind. The voices she heard were her own. It is possible that Satan had a hand in that as well. Whatever the case, the voice was not God’s. How do I know? What she did was not consistent with God’s will. Where else in the Bible does God command parents to kill their children? Nowhere. The whole point of this story is that God does not want children sacrificed to Him. God did not intend Abraham to kill his child and as the chapter 22 reveals, God stopped Abraham from doing so. That Scripture also makes it clear that Abraham knew that somehow God would provide the sacrifice (Genesis 22:8). Elsewhere in the Old Testament, God makes it clear that child sacrifice is an abomination; an exceedingly great sin.

The real point here is that Abraham was in his right mind and that he already had a relationship with God. He knew God’s voice well enough to know he was indeed hearing from God. Abraham was spiritually mature enough to hear what God had said and to obey, trusting completely in Him. With all of his faults, and all of his stumbles, Abraham had at least one very impressive quality; he never delayed in obeying God.

When God told Abraham to circumcise himself and his household, the Bible tells us he did so “on that very day” (Genesis 17:23). I have to tell you, I would need some time to work myself up to such a thing. When God told Abraham to do as Sarah said and send Hagar and Ishmael away, “early the next morning” he did so (Genesis 21:14). God told Abraham to sacrifice his son and “early the next morning” Abraham started out to just that (Genesis 22:3). Abraham can be faulted for much, but delay in obeying God isn’t one of them. Psalm 119:60 could easily have been quoting Abraham.

Psalm 119:60 ESV

I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.

So why is it so important to obey God without delay. The late, great preacher Adrian Rogers once said, “Delayed obedience is disobedience”. Disobedience leads to disaster. We disobey God left and right, bringing all kinds of disaster into our lives, and when that disaster hits we whine, complain, and berate God for letting it happen. Disaster in life comes from living in a fallen world and is usually ushered into our lives by our own bad decisions. Hey, we can live a pretty upright life and still have awful things happen to us; again that comes from living in a fallen world, but we can certainly make things worse by disobeying God.

The flip side of that coin is God’s blessing. The Bible teaches us that God will use all thing, including the bad things that happen to us, for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Jesus said, if you love me you will obey me (John 14:15). Loving God means obeying God, and obeying God leads to blessings, even blessing from disaster. Here is what God had to say about Abraham’s obedience.

Genesis 22:15-18 ESV

[15] And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven [16] and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, [17] I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, [18] and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Blessing comes from obeying God. It starts with submitting your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and accepting Him as your Savior. It continues as you read His Holy Word and pray with a desire to know and do His will. It grows as you attend church and then get active in building the kingdom of God. It finds maturity in seeing everything that happens to you as an opportunity to glorify God. Blessing finds its fulfillment when we finally shuffle off this mortal coil and face our Maker covered in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Every step is part of the blessing. Be blessed by God. Get to know His voice and then obey Him immediately.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!