Just men reading, memorizing and studying the bible together!

September 1, 2015

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Ezekiel 8–11
Chronological Order: Ezekiel 16-17
Old Testament Only: Psalms 91–95
New Testament Only: 1 Corinthians 3

Daily Verse: Proverbs 8:17

 Proverbs 8. 17

 

 

Bible Study

Resurrection Unto Life

Passage: John 11:17-27

In verse 17 of John 11 we read that when Jesus arrived in Bethany Lazarus had already been dead for four days. This means that even if Jesus had not waited for an additional two days before departing to see His friend Lazarus, He still would have arrived after his death. It may seem cruel to us that Jesus delayed in His departure but the fact is that an earlier departure would have changed nothing. The obvious question then is why did He delay at all?

Jesus told His disciples that He delayed His trip so that He could display His power and increase the belief of His disciples. What I take from this is that the four day period ensured that there was no doubt that Lazarus was well and truly dead. Maybe after two days one could theorize that he had simply been in a coma. I’ve heard it said that a person cannot survive past three days without water. Four days in the tomb would be pretty convincing evidence that Lazarus was indeed dead.

John 11:17-27 ESV
[17] Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. [18] Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, [19] and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. [20] So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. [21] Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. [22] But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” [23] Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” [24] Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” [25] Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, [26] and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” [27] She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Again, the reason for the delay was to increase the belief and understanding of His followers. In Jesus’ day there was a great debate about a resurrection of the dead at the end of the age. The Sadducees in particular did not believe in a resurrection of the dead which is why they tried to trip Jesus up with a ridiculous question about a woman who married seven brothers, one after the other upon their death, and then asked Him to whom she would be married in Heaven upon resurrection. As usual Jesus easily swatted their test out of the park demonstrating their complete lack of understanding of Scripture.

The followers of Jesus believed He was the Messiah. They believed there would be a resurrection of the dead. They even believed that God would do whatever Jesus asked of Him. They did not yet believe that He had power over life and death; that He was the gateway to the resurrection of life. I feel I must clarify myself at this point. Existence continues for everyone after a physical death. The only question is where that continuing existence will take place. There are only two places; in God’s presence and out of God’s presence. In God’s presence is called Heaven and out of God’s presence is called Hell. In God’s presence is existence in eternal life and out of God’s presence is existence in eternal death.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Perhaps it might be better phrased as Jesus is the resurrection unto life. So many people attempt to live their lives independent of Jesus. They chase after a dark empty void. They will never be satisfied or content. I’m afraid even Christians can be distracted enough to pursue life with only an occasional reference to Christ. True life is found only in Him, not this world.

While there will one day be a physical death for all of us, only those who are firmly in Christ will avoid spiritual death. Those who belong to Christ will never die spiritually. I don’t know what it will be like to exist in an eternal death but it does not sound pleasant in the least. Life, true life, eternal life, can only be found in Christ. Does how you live your life reflect this truth? Are you living true life or a living death?

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

August 31, 2015

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Ezekiel 4–7
Chronological Order: Ezekiel 13-15
Old Testament Only: Psalms 89–90
New Testament Only: 1 Corinthians 2:6–16

Daily Verse: Isaiah 43:18

Isaiah 43. 18

 

 

Bible Study

Becoming The Man You Are In Christ

Passage: John 11:11-16

Today we continue with our look at the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Saturday we saw that Jesus delayed in going to Lazarus for two days. In today’s passage we see that Jesus knew full well what He was doing.

John 11:11-16 ESV
[11] After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” [12] The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” [13] Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. [14] Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, [15] and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” [16] So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus had fallen asleep and that they would go to Judea to wake him. The disciples were fearful of Jesus going back to the area of Judea to see Lazarus because that was the heart of the opposition against Him. The religious leaders in the area were dead set on killing Him and everyone knew it. His disciples, taking His words literally as they so often did, said that if Lazarus had fallen asleep he wouldn’t need any help waking up. Again, they just did not want Him to go back there. Of course they didn’t want to go back there either. They were convinced that the powers that be would seek their death as well.

Jesus clarified the issue by saying in essence “you don’t get it – Lazarus has died and we must go to him.” In verse 16 we see Thomas say that they all should go with Jesus so they can all die with Him. Well, this is a noble sentiment and it shows that they were all afraid for their lives. They were certain that if they went near Jerusalem they would be captured and killed. This explains why they all ran when Jesus was arrested; they were convinced that their lives were in danger as well.

Verse 15, however, is the key to understanding why this entire event was allowed to happen. Jesus allowed Lazarus to die so that He could bring His disciples and demonstrate to them, once again, the fact that He was indeed One with God. You might think that after three years these guys would get it but as I mentioned earlier, they all ran when Jesus was arrested because they didn’t get it. They were depressed when Jesus died upon the cross because they still hadn’t gotten it. It was only when they were absolutely convinced that He was dead did He reveal Himself to them and they finally got it.

This may not seem significant you but to me it is of extreme importance. You see I am a Christian but I am not always the man I should be. I allow myself to get distracted from my only purpose for being on this earth – sharing the Gospel. I occasionally have unkind thoughts. Sometimes my language slips a little. Sometimes I get upset with others and respond in less than godly ways. You see when I look at the man I’m supposed to be in Christ I can see how very far short I fall of that standard. I’m am very much a work in progress.

We struggle with being a work in progress because we know that as Christians we have been reborn; that the old creature is gone and a new creature lives in its place. We are new in Christ so why do we continue to stumble. I’ve addressed that question before in this blog but I want to focus on something else that brings me a great deal of comfort. These disciples, these men who spent three years with Jesus hearing His teaching and witnessing His miracles, they still struggled from time to time with being the faithful, on fire men they were supposed to be. Jesus didn’t give up on them. He continued to draw them closer to who they were in Him. He gave them one example after another of who He was and who they were supposed to be.

In the death, and later the resurrection, of Lazarus we see Jesus teaching these men once again to have faith in Him, to truly comprehend who He is. He continued to prepare these men to be His witnesses when He was gone. They started out believing Jesus was the Messiah but it took several years of intense training, and some rather tragic events, for them to finally come to a place where they were truly ready to lay down their lives for Him.

It takes time to grow into the man God created you to be. You are saved, you are being saved, you will be saved. God has begun a work in you and He will see it through to completion. You are a new creature the instant you submit your life to Christ, but you will grow into a fuller understanding of who you are in Christ over time as He reveals that truth to you. So brother, rejoice! God will continue to reveal Himself and His plan for your life. You will become the man He created you to be. Don’t give up. When you fall, get up, dust yourself off, ask for forgiveness, and follow where He leads.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Day Of Rest

by | August 30, 2015 | In Daily Reading No Comments

August 30, 2015

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Ezekiel 1–3
Chronological Order: Ezekiel 9-12
Old Testament Only: Psalms 85–88
New Testament Only: 1 Corinthians 1:18–2:5

Daily Verse: Isaiah 54:11

Isaiah 54. 11

 

 

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!

August 29, 2015

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Lamentations 1–5
Chronological Order: Ezekiel 5-8
Old Testament Only: Psalms 82–84
New Testament Only: 1 Corinthians 1:1–17

Daily Verse: Psalm 27:1-2

Psalm 27. 1-2

 

 

Bible Study

The Sure-Footed Life

Passage: John 11:7-10

As we saw yesterday, Jesus had been summoned to the side of His ill friend Lazarus in Bethany, a town near Jerusalem. We learned that Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary but that He lingered for two more days before deciding to proceed. After these two days had passed Jesus said the following:

John 11:7-10 ESV
[7] Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” [8] The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” [9] Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. [10] But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

Jesus didn’t say “Let’s go to Lazarus” or “Let’s go to Bethany”, He said “Let us go to Judea again”. Why is this significant? Judea was home of Jesus’ greatest and most powerful enemies. Jerusalem is in Judea. These folks wanted to get their hands on Him so they could kill Him. By saying let’s go to Judea Jesus is deliberately being provocative. He is looking to get a rise out of His disciples for the purpose of teaching an important truth. Any ideas on what that truth might be? It’s right there in Jesus talking about time.

Jesus’ ministry is coming to an end. Throughout the book of John the author makes statements like “His time had not yet come” or “a time is coming” or “the time has come”. Jesus had a given time for His earthly ministry and that time was coming to an end. When Jesus says “are there not twelve hours in the day” He is reminding us that there are periods of time when one can work and periods when one cannot work. When there is daylight there is time to work. Eventually, however, the day is done. Jesus, as He so often does, uses an analogy to address a physical truth and a spiritual truth.

Each of us has only so much time. Before we were born God knew the number of our days. Those days will not be cut short nor will they be lengthened. Our time is our time. The question for us is what we intend to do with that time.

I heard a college football coach once challenge a bunch of young men who were considering joining his football program. He asked them if they intended to spend their time or invest their time. He went on to explain that spending ones time was using it up on things that offered no redeeming value. Playing video games, watching TV, partying and the like brought no good to a person’s life. To be honest I think what he was really saying is that they were wasting their time. He further explained that investing one’s time was a matter of doing things that added value to one’s life and to the lives of others. This was a use of time that brought dividends.

This is the question Jesus is putting before us with this analogy. Like Him, we have a time when we can do the work given us to do. We can never do wrong when we are doing the work God gave us to do in the time He gave us to do it. When we do so we do not stumble for we work by the light of this world. There is double meaning there. Obviously, back in the day of no artificial light, work got done in the daylight. To attempt to do work after the Sun went down was to court a real stumble, a disaster. That is the physical meaning of this text. The spiritual meaning is found in the phrase “light of this world”. Do you know what the light of the world is? Jesus is the Light of the World. When you work in Him, you do not stumble because He lights your way. Anyone who walks or works in darkness will stumble badly – physically and spiritually.

Brother, your days are numbered. Are you investing them or wasting them? Are you walking in the Light of the World pursuing the will of your Heavenly Father or are you walking in darkness pursuing your own self-centered desires? I urge you not to stumble. Walk in the light of Jesus Christ and live the sure-footed life Christ died to give you.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

August 28, 2015

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Jeremiah 52
Chronological Order: Ezekiel 1-4
Old Testament Only: Psalms 79–81
New Testament Only: Romans 16

Daily Verse: Matthew 5:11

Matthew 5. 11

 

 

Bible Study

Christ Shines Through The Trials

Passage: John 11:1-7

John 11 tells us the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. We need to remember that we are now in the final months of Jesus’ earthly ministry and His life. He is headed to the cross and this raising of Lazarus from the dead is a foreshadowing of what we will see three days after His own death.

John 11:1-7 ESV
[1] Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. [2] It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. [3] So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” [4] But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” [5] Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. [6] So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. [7] Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

Obviously Mary, Martha, and Lazarus knew Jesus well – we are told that Jesus loved them. In verse 2 John tells us that this is the same Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet, something he tells us about in greater detail in the next chapter. Hearing that this beloved man was ill, Jesus did not depart to be with His friend for an additional two days. This may seem strange but Jesus actually explained what was going on in the first place. When told that Lazarus was ill, He said that the illness would not lead to death but rather the illness came to be so that the Son of God would be glorified through it. It was only after the death of Lazarus that Jesus went to see His friends.

So often we want God to do things our way and in our timing. Our ways and timing are often wrong and sometimes self-centered. Our ways are not the best ways; God’s ways are the best ways. Because we cannot see the big picture we often find ourselves angry with God. “God, if only you did this that or the other, things would have worked out well.” I find this rather amusing. Let me ask you something, is it better to continue to live in the fallen world of so much misery and pain, or is it better to live for eternity in God’s presence in never ending joy and peace? The answer is kind of obvious isn’t it? So why do we complain when God finally takes one of His children home to a much better life? You see our priorities are a little messed up. When thinking logically we understand that life in this world is not a thing to be desired and yet when emotional things take place we forget all of that.

“Oh if Jesus had only gone to Lazarus as soon as He heard about his illness Lazarus wouldn’t have died.” That is a true statement but was that really the best outcome? God can use all thing for good for those who love Him. In fact, the only reason for us followers of Jesus to remain upon this earth after our conversion is to be used by Him to His glory – to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If the power of God can be revealed in our lives by how we deal with the trials and tribulations of this life then I say bring on those trials and tribulations. Oh my. I better be careful about what I ask for huh? I don’t really desire hard times, but I do know that when they come I can be used by God in them and through them to bring others to Him.

That is the point of this story and something we will look at further as we progress through these verses. Brother, get this firmly fixed in your mind. You do not continue here on this earth in order to live the most comfortable, healthy, lengthy, trouble free life you can. All of that is worldly nonsense that simply distracts us from our greater purpose. Our trials serve a purpose. Let Christ shine through the trials.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

August 27, 2015

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Jeremiah 50–51
Chronological Order: Lamentations 3:37-5:22
Old Testament Only: Psalms 77–78
New Testament Only: Romans 15:14–33

Daily Verse: Nehemiah 9:20

Nehemiah 9. 20

 

 

Bible Study

A Time And Place Of Blessing

Passage: John 10:40-42

Today we come to the last few verses of John 10. These verses may seem like throw away lines; a little bit of housekeeping to transition between important segments of the narrative. I think we can miss a lot when we make such an assumption. Jesus had gone to Jerusalem in October for the Feast of Tabernacles. In December He was there for the Feast of Dedication. Was He there for the full two months or did He go somewhere else in between? John tells us that he had to choose what to share in His Gospel because all the Jesus did would fill many volumes. He couldn’t share everything so everything he did share was for a specific purpose – bringing others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That said, I don’t think we can assume that the gap between the two feasts meant that Jesus did nothing during that time. It simply means that He continued doing what He had been doing – preaching to the Lost of Jerusalem – at least that is my take on the issue.

The salient point is that Jesus was preaching in Jerusalem and that He faced growing persecution as some believed in Him and others rejected Him. In chapter 8 people took up stones to kill Him. Here in chapter 10 they did so twice. Jesus had done all He could for the people of Jerusalem. He had to make a strategic withdrawal from Jerusalem because the time was not yet at hand for His death.

John 10:40-42 ESV
[40] He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. [41] And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” [42] And many believed in him there.

His time in Jerusalem must have been difficult. He was fighting the good fight. Many believed in Him, but the hatred of others who rejected Him grew to a point where He could no longer remain and live. Have you ever gone through a rough patch in life? Have you ever felt like everything and everybody was against you? I think it would have been easy for Jesus to have felt that way at this particular time.

Notice please where Jesus went when He was forced to leave Jerusalem. He went to a place of previous blessing; a place where John the Baptist had baptized Him, where His Father announced that He was His Son in whom He was well pleased. This was a place where John the Baptist testified about Jesus and where He called His first disciples. It also was not far from the place where Jesus triumphed over Satan and his attempts to tempt Him. Jerusalem was a bustling city, the place He to which He went, Bethabara, was a quiet place where people could board a ferry to cross the Jordan River.

I think there are lessons here for us today. There will be times of testing and times of recuperation. There will be times of opposition and trouble. Have you ever wondered what you should do when you are feeling like the world is against you? I think the lesson Jesus provides here is that we should return to a place of previous blessing. I don’t necessarily mean physically, though why not? I mean primarily that we should find ourselves a quiet place where we can remind ourselves of God’s protection and provision; where we can revisit the moments in our lives when God bestowed upon us His blessings..

I’ve heard some Christians recommend that we keep a little journal of the times in our lives when God had blessed us so that when we are feeling down and forgotten we can quickly and easily be reminded that we are blessed children of the Living God who will not forget or forsake us.

Another point I want to make, however, is that Jesus did not shy away from the confrontation that was to be expected in response to the Gospel message. He shared the Gospel knowing full well that some would be saved and that others would seek to kill Him. He didn’t run and hide in His special place of blessing. He simply returned there for a season of regeneration. Notice, however, that even in His time of regeneration He continued to share the Gospel. The verses above tell us that many believed in Him there.

You see, for a Christian, the times of trouble and the times of regeneration are both times of blessing. God continues to achieve His purpose in us through every season of our life. It is at all times a blessing to be used by God to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We need to take our eyes off of ourselves and our troubles and keep them firmly planted on Jesus Christ. We need to fight the good fight, and, when a time of strategic withdrawal is required, we need to return to a time, and possibly a place, where we can be reminded that God has claimed us as His child.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!