Just men reading, memorizing and studying the bible together!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Nehemiah 4:1–7:4
Chronological Order: 1 Chronicles 23-25
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 14:1–15:24
New Testament Only: John 6:22–59

Daily Verse: Psalm 59:17   Psalm 59. 17

Bible Study

The Incubator

Passage: Genesis 46:31-34

Let’s finish up Genesis 46 shall we? There are just a couple of things I want to point out here. First we need to look at the number of people who went into Egypt as part of Israel’s clan. Then we need to look at where Joseph arranged for them to live.

Genesis 46:26-27 ESV

[26] All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own descendants, not including Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all. [27] And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two. All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.

Including Jacob and his family, the total number of the clan at this time was 70 people. This is the beginning of the four hundred year period of which God told Abraham back in Genesis 15.

Genesis 15:12-16 ESV

[12] As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. [13] Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. [14] But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. [15] As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. [16] And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

I have always found this bit of Scripture fascinating. The iniquity of the Amorites, or Canaanites, was not yet complete. As I’ve said many times before, God gives people the fullness of time to return to Him or to be irretrievably lost. God knew the Amorites would eventually become irretrievably lost, just as had Sodom and Gomorrah. Still, knowing how it would end, God didn’t rush the clock. He let the fullness of their time play out. Of course there were only 70 Chosen People at this point. They were in no position to take the Promised Land from the Amorites as part of God’s judgment upon them. After four hundred years, this small group would grow to an estimated 2.5 to 3.5 million people. This number is based on the Bible telling us that there were 600,000 men who left Egypt. Obviously there had to be women and children as well. This was as force large enough to take the Promised Land.

God had a plan and the plan required that the descendants of these 70 people have a sheltered place where they could safely grow to a significant number and prepare for the next phase of God’s plan. This brings me to my second point concerning Genesis 46.

Genesis 46:31-34 ESV

[31] Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. [32] And the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock, and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.’ [33] When Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ [34] you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”

Now usually, when people meet a head of state, they want to make a good impression. Pharaoh was a person who could have a positive impact on their future and Joseph told them to tell the king they are something the king viewed as an abomination. The land of Goshen is a nice area to raise livestock. It is also a bit out of the way. God, through Joseph, caused things to work in such a way as to isolate His Chosen People so they could develop as a cohesive unit of significant size. They were pulled away from the worldly influences that could cause them to be diluted and dispersed through intermarriage and migration.

Egypt became an incubator that grew 70 people into a couple million people; people who had a special relationship with God. Brother, sometimes we don’t understand what God is doing in our life. There are times when we feel like we are just marking time; that we have been forgotten by God. I think it is a mistake to jump to such a conclusion. God’s plans take time. His plan for you is mapped out over your entire life time. In whatever situation you find yourself God is growing you into the man He intends you to be. Where ever you find yourself, on the mountaintop or in the dark valley below, be assured that God is with you and orchestrating things to achieve His incredible purpose for you and for all of Creation.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Nehemiah 1–3
Chronological Order: Psalms 108-110
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 12–13
New Testament Only: John 6:1–21

Daily Verse: Isaiah 54:17   Isaiah 54. 17

Bible Study

Memorial Day

Brothers, just prior to sitting down to write this Memorial Day post I watched the movie “American Sniper”. The movie is a Hollywood take on the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history with 255 kills during four tours in Iraq, 160 of those kills are confirmed by the Department of Defense. Towards the end of the film Bradley Cooper, playing Chief Petty Officer Kyle, is seen talking with a V. A. psychologist. The following exchange is what I feel was the main message of the film.

Navy Doctor: Would you be surprised if I told you that Navy has credited you with… over 160 kills?

Chris Kyle: [Hums]

Navy Doctor: Do you ever think that… you might have seen things or… done some things over there that you wish you hadn’t?

Chris Kyle: Oh, that’s not me. No.

Navy Doctor: What’s not you?

Chris Kyle: I was just protecting my guys, they were trying to kill… our soldiers and I… I’m willing to meet my Creator and answer for every shot that I took.

Chris Kyle: The thing that… haunts me are all the guys that I couldn’t save.

Many in our society today have a great deal of difficulty identifying right and wrong. They don’t seem to know the difference between good and evil. It was rather refreshing to hear of a man who knew the difference and stood confidently on the side of right. It is true that our politicians often make bad decisions that send our men and women in uniform into harm’s way, but those brave people go not for the politicians but for our country. As a group they tend to love God and America. They serve our country and are often asked to make impossible decisions concerning life and death. Some give, as Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg address, the last full measure of devotion.

There is much for which America can be taken to task. In my view the most pernicious and negative influence America dumps upon the world is its toxic, godless, culture. As I consider the filth that pours out of our entertainment industry I understand why many in the world hate us. I can say all of that and yet I can still say that America is the best country in the history of the world, mistakes and all. To me, one of the last vestiges of a once godly country can be found beating in the hearts of our service men and women.

In some ways Chris Kyle was unique; a cut above. In other ways he was representative of the men and women who stand against the darkness protecting the light that remains within America. I want to provide you one more quote; this one from his book “American Sniper”.

“I am a strong Christian. Not a perfect one—not close. But I strongly believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. When I die, God is going to hold me accountable for everything I’ve done on earth. He may hold me back until last and run everybody else through the line, because it will take so long to go over all my sins. “Mr. Kyle, let’s go into the backroom. . . .” Honestly, I don’t know what will really happen on Judgment Day. But what I lean toward is that you know all of your sins, and God knows them all, and shame comes over you at the reality that He knows. I believe the fact that I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior will be my salvation. But in that backroom or whatever it is when God confronts me with my sins, I do not believe any of the kills I had during the war will be among them. Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.”
? Chris Kyle, American Sniper

Today let us remember men and women like Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle. They were not perfect. They just did what had to be done. May God bless and keep the men and women of our armed services, living and dead, and may He bless their families and those they left behind. They have been, and continue to be, a light in a dark world. We remember and honor their sacrifice.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Ezra 7–10
Chronological Order: 1 Chronicles 21-22, 2 Samuel 24, Psalms 30
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 11
New Testament Only: John 5:30–47

Daily Verse: Psalm 23:1   Psalm 23. 1

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: Ezra 3–6
Chronological Order: Psalms 95, Psalms 97-99
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 9–10
New Testament Only: John 5:18–29

Daily Verse: Psalm 23:2   Psalm 23. 2

Bible Study

Join God On The Journey

Passage: Genesis 46:1-4

I don’t know if you’ve noticed as we’ve sauntered through the book of Genesis but whenever God’s Chosen People left the Promised Land without God’s blessing things went wrong, and when they left with God’s assurance things went well. Here in Genesis 46 the clan of Israel went down together to Egypt. Along the way God came to Israel in “visions of the night” and assured him that going to Egypt was part of His plan.

Genesis 46:1-4 ESV

[1] So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. [2] And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” [3] Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. [4] I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”

Please notice that while Israel had made the decision to go to Egypt, he did stop and inquire of God at Beersheba before leaving the Promised Land. Often times decisions seem like no-brainers. They sometimes make too much sense not to make. And yet we must always take a moment to inquire of the Lord. What makes sense to men may actually be a foolish act when it comes to God’s purpose. The Bible tells us that God answers our prayers, and by that I mean gives us what we ask for, when, and this is the crucial caveat, we pray for what God wants. When we want what God wants we will get it. The one thing we do not want to do is to leave God’s presence.

God is constant and consistent. He does not change. He does not waffle. He is doing today what He was doing from the moment of the fall. He is in the process of restoring a remnant of His creation to Himself. If you feel you are separated from God it is because you left Him, not the other way around. Now the Scripture above quotes God as saying He will go down to Egypt with Israel. I have often in this blog mentioned the fact that God didn’t promise His children an easy journey but rather that He would go with His children through that journey. Now this may sound contradictory to my previous point; “is God always moving down His path or is He moving along with me and my path?” The answer to that question is yes. God goes with His children down the path He has chosen for them. You go off on your own to do your own thing your own way in your own time, you will find yourself alone.

This is an important point. You want to go where God leads you because that is when He goes with you down that sometimes difficult, lonely road of life. The thing about traveling with God is that with Him we are capable of joy even in the midst of the darkest, hardest stretches of our journey. When we go where God leads we can go in confidence knowing that He goes with us. We can enjoy the journey because we know it leads to eternity in God’s amazing presence. Find the path God has for you and join Him on the journey. You will be glad you did.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Ezra 1–2
Chronological Order: 2 Samuel 22-23, Psalms 57
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 8
New Testament Only: John 4:46–5:17

Daily Verse: Deuteronomy 31:6     Deuteronomy 31. 6

Bible Study

The Juggernaut Of God’s Will

Passage: Genesis 45:4-8

In Genesis 45 we see the ultimate payoff for all of Joseph’s suffering. What his brothers meant for evil God used for His glory. Hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, were saved through the suffering of Joseph. If Joseph had not been sent into slavery in Egypt, if he had not been falsely accused of attempted rape and wrongly imprisoned, if he had not been forgotten by those he helped until the moment of Pharaoh’s dreams, a great multitude would have died from starvation during the seven year famine.

God did not force Joseph’s brothers to do wrong; they did wrong because of the evil in their hearts. God did not force Potiphar’s wife to attempt adultery with Joseph or to wrongly accuse Joseph, nor did He force Potiphar to wrongly imprison Joseph. The evil in their hearts was the cause of their wrongdoing. God just knew what they would do and when they would do it. He simply set things in motion by giving Joseph a couple of dreams about the future. Remember way back when we learned of Joseph sharing his dreams of his family bowing down to him? What was their response? They became so angry they couldn’t even speak a peaceful word to him. In fact the next thing we are told after the revelation of his second dream, is that the brothers saw him coming to them in Dothan and plotted his murder (Genesis 37).

It is truly hard for us to understand how we have the free will to choose our own actions and yet God uses those same actions to achieve His purposes. You would think that God would have to orchestrate every single thought and action to make things turn out the way He intends. Friend the ways of God surely are as mysterious to us as the ways of man are mysterious to an animal. Many things we do are just simply beyond the capacity of an animal to understand. We may bristle at the thought, but it is the same for us with God. The Bible tells us that God will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). It doesn’t say His purposes will make sense to us or that He will explain things to our satisfaction.

This is where faith comes in. Faith is not a throwing up of the hands saying “I can’t figure it out so I’ll just believe because I want to believe”. No, faith, as I’ve written here several times before, is based on experience. When a man experiences the working of the Holy Spirit within him driving him to truth, to repentance, confession, and forgiveness, when he experiences the presence and provision of God, he learns that God is real and that God loves him. As that man progresses forward in his journey of spiritual maturity he experiences over and over again God’s presence and provision. When that man reads the Bible and learns the historical record of God’s regular interaction with His creation, and how He relentlessly works to restore His creation to Himself, he knows he can have faith in God’s goodness, His love, His provision, and His faithfulness. Such a man does not need to know every why and how. He is content to be God’s faithful child growing up in His loving grace.

We don’t know a fraction of the hows and whys of God’s actions and purpose but we don’t need to know. It isn’t like we get a vote or even deserve one. We know that what others intend for evil God uses for good for His children. That is good enough for us as it was good enough for Joseph. When Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers he told them not to be distressed or angry with themselves for God allowed it all to happen for a greater purpose.

Genesis 45:4-8 ESV

[4] So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. [5] And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. [6] For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. [7] And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. [8] So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Yes, I know Joseph said that God sent him into slavery. You may feel this undermines my entire argument about free will. I respectfully submit that you would be wrong about that. Joseph is just attempting to ease his brothers’ burden by explaining that God used their evil deed to save them all. If you will recall back to Genesis 37, when his brothers plotted Joseph’s murder, there was no indication whatsoever that God was somehow manipulating their minds to cause them to do and say what they did. The bad news is our behavior. The good news is what God can do with it. Joseph couldn’t have given that little speech of absolution without the evidence he discovered of his brothers’ remorse and change of character as I mentioned over the previous two days.

That last bit of Scripture above really encapsulates a powerful truth. God will triumph over evil. No matter what anyone does, including Satan, God will work all things together to achieve His purpose. You can be run over by that truth or saved by that truth. The choice is yours. Will you submit your life to the authority of Jesus Christ? Will you repent, confess, and be saved? Will you dedicate your life to the fulfillment of God’s will rather than your own? Do not get crushed under the wheels of the juggernaut of God’s will. Get on board and enjoy the ride, even the bumpy parts, knowing the certainty of the ultimate destination.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: 2 Chronicles 34–36
Chronological Order: Psalms 5, Psalms 38, Psalms 41-42
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 6–7
New Testament Only: John 4:21–45

Daily Verse: Psalm 32:5   Psalm 32. 5

Bible Study

Be Transformed

Passage: Genesis 43:8-9

In yesterday’s post I attempted to make the case that Joseph concocted a plot to force a reunion of his family. For the family to be truly reunited the brothers who had sold their brother into slavery would have to go through the process of repentance and confession leading to forgiveness. They needed the forgiveness of their brother, their father, and each other. To get to that place they needed a radical transformation. We see at the end of Genesis 42 and the beginning of 43 that change is underway.

Genesis 42:36-38 ESV

[36] And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” [37] Then Reuben said to his father, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” [38] But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”

Notice Jacob’s choice of words as he speaks of his fear of losing Benjamin. He said that his brother, Joseph, is dead and he, Benjamin, is the only one left. If I was one of his other ten sons I would have been thinking to myself “what are we chopped liver”? This is a clear indication of how blatant was Jacob’s favoritism for the children of his wife Rachel. Jacob never did overcome this inappropriately disproportionate fondness for Joseph and Benjamin. The proof of their father’s preference for those two was constantly rubbed in the faces of the other ten sons.

But notice also what Reuben was willing to do for the sake of the entire family. Remember, all of the brothers and their families would starve if they didn’t get food from Egypt during this extremely long famine. The only way any of them would get food and survive is if Jacob relented and allowed Benjamin to make the trip to Egypt. Reuben offered the lives of his own sons as surety for the life of his father’s favorite Benjamin. This is an act of selflessness offered up on behalf of the entire family. Now this may not seem like a big change since Reuben had tried to save Joseph from his brothers to begin with but notice what we read further on in Genesis 43.

Genesis 43:8-9 ESV

[8] And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. [9] I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.

Here we see yet another son stand up for the family and accept responsibility for Benjamin’s safe return. These men have truly come to regret the wrongdoing of their past. We really do start to see that these men are changed. Lest you think that Judah’s words were empty, let me tell you that in Genesis 44 Judah put his money where his mouth was. He offered himself up in exchange for Benjamin who was framed for the theft of Joseph’s divination cup. Where once the brothers let jealousy and self-centeredness lead them to horrible sin, now they were willing to offer up their children and themselves for the sake of those they had reason to hate. Jacob had treated them as second-class citizens and heaped all the love and affection that should have been shared among them all on Benjamin alone. These men were transformed.

Is this not a picture of what God does in the life of His children? Does He not take a self-centered, sinful Lost person and cause a transformation whereby they cease to live for themselves and start to live for others? Yes! Yes He does! If you are a Christian this is exactly what He has done in you. Jesus said that if anyone wished to follow Him they had to deny themselves and take up their cross daily to do so. Is that transformation taking place in you? It should be. Is it going slow? What will it take for you to realize that you are called to a higher purpose than serving yourself? I hope it doesn’t take the kind of tragedy Jacob’s family had to suffer. Brother, be transformed. Live for Christ. Live like Christ. Die to self and live to serve!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!