Just men reading, memorizing and studying the bible together!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Matthew 1–4
Old Testament Only: Proverbs 31
New Testament Only: Galatians 2
(Current Plan is Chronological)

The Wall

Nehemiah 1-4

Wall - Brick - WailingIt is really something to read of how the Israelites had to build the wall with one hand while holding swords and shields with another so they would be prepared to defend themselves against those that wanted to stop them. I found myself thinking that not much had changed since then till now. One particular verse that stood out was Nehemiah 2:19.

Nehemiah 2:19-20 ESV

‘[19] But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” [20] Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”’

The people groups represented by the three guys mentioned in verse 19 are the same people groups still warring with Israel. They continue to plan war against Israel and become frantic whenever Israel makes advances in reclaiming the Promised Land – Jerusalem in particular. I think, however, that verse 20 gets to the truth of the matter. God has made Israel prosper once again and He will continue to do so. The Arab has no claim on the land no matter what he says to the contrary.

It seems to me that the Arab will continue to bang his head against this wall until the day Christ returns. It won’t matter then if you are Arab or Jew. All that will matter is whether or not Jesus is your Lord and Savior. Let us pray that we Christians will continue to share the Gospel with them until that day.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Malachi 1–4
Old Testament Only: Proverbs 29–30
New Testament Only: Galatians 1
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Just Get On Base

Malachi 1-4, Psalm 50

BatterOften we go before the Lord in prayer asking what He would have us do. We dream of doing “great things for God”. We seek the opportunity to serve and yet feel that God is silent as to what He would have us do. We are mistaken. God’s Word teaches pretty clearly what He expects of His children, His servants. Sometimes our problem is we are looking for service opportunities in the wrong place. I remember when I joined the ministry team at my church, Pastor Jim Cross told me, and has reminded me numerous times, that our first ministry is in our homes. How can we hope to be used of God in big things when we are not faithful in the “little things”? Now I don’t mean to suggest that our responsibilities in our home are little things. I simply mean that we far too often view them as little things; perhaps too little.

Now I am deliberately hinting at a proverb by Jesus that ultimately teaches us that if we are faithful in little things we will be given bigger things to do. For a man of God to be used by God for greater things, he must first show himself faithful in his responsibilities in his own home. Look at the following passage from today’s reading.

Malachi 2:13-15 ESV

“[13] And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. [14] But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. [15] Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.”

Have you been faithless to your wife? I think most might think the Scripture is referring to adultery, and perhaps it is, but I see in that admonition a bigger picture. Your wife is supposed to be your companion. I see faithlessness here as not living up to your responsibilities as a husband and the head of your household. I’m married. I know that sometimes I’m guilty of not living up to my responsibilities and sometimes I’m wrongly accused of not living up to my responsibilities. My responsibility is not to do whatever my wife wants, but I am responsible to treat her as my companion and to seek her welfare before my own. I can be wrong sometimes; so can my wife. It isn’t about doing what your spouse wants, but rather doing what is right and should be done.

As far as it is within your power, you should live in peace and companionship with your spouse, and as I’ve mentioned, you should put the welfare of your spouse, and your children, above your own. If you are putting your own welfare, your own desires, above the welfare of your spouse and children you are being faithless. How can you raise godly children, which the verses above tell us God is seeking, if you are not behaving as a godly man? It is easy to look past our most basic responsibilities, asking God to show us His greater plans for us. We can’t get to second base, third base, or home plate until after we get to first base. Stop swinging for the fences and hit the ball, hit a single, get on first. If you will be faithful in the little things He will give you greater things. Just get on base!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Zechariah 8–14
Old Testament Only: Proverbs 27–28
New Testament Only: 2 Corinthians12:11–13:14
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Celebrate Deliverance Every Day

Esther 6-10

Attitude toward God and othersI have been fortunate to know and befriend a number of Jews in my life. I know from these relationships that Jews to this very day celebrate the festival of Purim; and with good reason. The Jewish people have always been targeted by the rest of the world for destruction. That hatred for God’s Chosen People continues to this day, and I believe the hatred is founded upon the fact that they are God’s Chosen People. Those that are blessed by God are hated by those who are not.

Now we know that God’s Chosen People are those who belong to Him. We Christians are the Chosen People. I want to make it clear that I am not saying Christians have replaced the Jewish people as the Chosen People. As I read Scripture I see a physical Chosen People and a spiritual Chosen People. There is a double meaning to God’s promise to bless the descendants of Abraham. The obvious meaning is promised blessing for Abraham’s physical children. The less obvious aspect of the promise is to the spiritual children of Abraham which comes to all of man-kind through Abraham’s physical descendant Jesus.

Now I know several of you don’t agree with me on this. A good number of Christians believe that the Jews lost the blessing because they rejected Jesus as Messiah. The argument has merit, but I would remind you that the first Christians were Jews. Many Christians today are physical descendants of Abraham; we call them Messianic Jews. My point, however, is not to re-argue the issue of who the Chosen People are today. My point is that those who belong to God will be hated by a world that does not belong to God, and that hatred is at times extremely violent; even to this day.

Today Jews and Christians are horribly persecuted. Historically the Jews are the most persecuted religious group of all time. Today Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. Before we all get depressed, however, I have a second point. In the midst of all the persecution the people of Judah experienced in Babylon, God delivered them from their enemies and blessed them. God wants us to know that while we will experience persecution and difficulty while we sojourn here in this lost world, He goes with us through it all and will ultimately deliver us from our enemies. Lest you think that means that any time trouble comes God will deliver you, remember that the Israelites suffered a great deal of trouble prior to deliverance. Most of this trouble was earned because of their turning their backs on God.

There is a reason God allows trouble to come upon His people and it can be hard to understand at the time. The promise of deliverance for Christians today is this strange combination of something that is yet to happen and yet has already happened. On the cross Jesus said “it is finished”; He had won the battle over Satan and death. We know absolutely that we are victorious in Christ even as we face persecution today. We simply have to wait for that deliverance for a short while longer. The Apostle Paul wrote of his joy in face of persecution. You and I and all Christians can rejoice, not only on the day of Purim, but every day, and even in the face of persecution because we know we have already been delivered.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

No Reading Today

by | September 28, 2014 | In Daily Reading No Comments

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Zechariah 1–7
Old Testament Only: Proverbs 24:23–26:28
New Testament Only: 2 Corinthians 11:16–12:10
(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: Haggai 1–2
Old Testament Only: Proverbs 22:17–24:22
New Testament Only: 2 Corinthians 11:1–15
(Current Plan is Chronological)

For Such A Time As This

Esther 1-5

Sharing the GospelI love the book of Esther. There is really no other book quite like it in the Bible. It is a morality tale on many levels with many lessons. Perhaps the most famous quote from this book comes in the following verses.

Esther 4:13-14 ESV

“[13] Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, ‘Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. [14] For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’”

For such a time as this. Esther had truly been blessed by God. Yes she was an orphan who lost her parents when she was young, she had, however, an elder cousin, Mordecai, who took her in and raised her as his own. She rose from her lowly place as a poor orphan to become the queen of all Persia and Media. The opening verse of today’s reading tells us that King Ahasuerus ruled over territory that stretched from India to Ethiopia. That’s more territory than even the Romans had. Esther truly had come up in the world. She really had it good. She had riches and servants and really anything her heart desired. I can understand how a person wouldn’t want to risk losing such worldly blessings.

Unfortunately, a plot was in the works to kill all Jews living in the realm. Esther, at her cousin’s instruction, had told no one that she was a Jew. As she learned of this evil plot she must have had at least a fleeting thought that maybe she could dodge this bullet if she kept her mouth shut. Her cousin must have guessed the temptation and so he sent that message I quoted above. Mordecai told her not to fool herself; if they came for all the Jews she should not assume she would not be brought down in the purge. More importantly, however, he reminded her that God provides blessings not for the greedy, selfish use of those to whom He grants them but rather for the fulfillment of His purpose and for His glory. He asked her how she could deny that God might very well have placed her where she was so that she could step forward and be used by God to His purpose at this very moment in time.

I see in Esther a similar challenge for us American Christians. Compared to most of the people in the world, most Americans are very wealthy. Many of us have pretty good jobs and a pretty high standard of living – at least compared to the rest of the world. Still, In this day and age, when jobs are a little hard to come by, one surely would not want to risk losing a job. None of us has been raised to the level of earthly royalty. We don’t have the kind of influence or wealth that Esther had, but how do we know that God didn’t place us in our jobs, our neighborhoods, and even our churches so that we would be there for such a time as this?

I have a great job; the best job I’ve ever had. I sure would hate to lose it. Could fear of losing my job prevent me from sharing the Gospel with a co-worker should the opportunity arise? Could fear of offending my neighbors and becoming a social outcast prevent me from sharing the Gospel in my neighborhood? Brothers, we find ourselves in a specific place in time and geography and relationships and as Children of the Living God we are placed here for such a time as this. We are placed here so as to be used by God to His purpose and for His glory. We look at Esther and we say, “Wow God really had her at the right place at the right time”, but how do we miss the fact that He has done the same with you and me?

You are a child of the Living God. He could have taken you to Heaven to be with Him for eternity the moment you submitted your life to Christ; but He didn’t. He placed you here for such a time as this. Will you like Esther step forward and accept your role, or will you hide away hoping to keep the worldly blessings you have for just a little while longer?

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Habakkuk 1–3, Zephaniah 1–3
Old Testament Only: Proverbs 20:1–22:16
New Testament Only: 2 Corinthians 10
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Relationship

Zechariah 8-14

He will try to measure up, or down, to Dad.

He will try to measure up, or down, to Dad.

Our reading today opens with God speaking of His great passion for Zion which is another name for Jerusalem. As I read those opening verses a question came to my mind. Why is Jerusalem so important to God? Why is God so passionate about Jerusalem? Why does so much End-time prophecy revolve around Jerusalem? As I write this I’m reminded that Jesus wept over Jerusalem. What is so important about Jerusalem? I realize this is not the main focus of today’s reading, but it is something that I think is important.

Is it because Jerusalem was where Abraham willing brought his son for sacrifice? Considering the fact that it was common for people in that day to sacrifice their children to man-made gods, Molech in particular, Abraham’s act doesn’t seem all that special. What was special about that episode was the fact that God stopped Abraham and provided the sacrifice Himself. Jesus wasn’t born in Jerusalem, although He did die there. Is that what makes it so special? The death of His Son? Maybe.

I searched the internet a little bit to see what I could find on the subject. I typed into Google, “why is Jerusalem so important to God”. All of the results that came up really only told me why people think it is important to various religious groups. One of the results said that Jerusalem was important because God chose to reside there, and reveal Himself there, and will return there. That tells me that Jerusalem is important to God but not why.

I started to think about God and what seems to be important to Him. Relationships seem to be important to Him. He made humankind for the purpose of relationship. In the Garden of Eden, before the fall, we see God’s intention for His creation operating in the perfection He designed. There were no diseases or natural disasters. There was peace between all living creatures. There was no meat eating which meant there was no bloodshed. The crucial thing here though was that God would walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening in that garden. Relationship. God created us for relationship with Him. I can’t help but feel that God’s passion for Jerusalem is really a passion for His people.

God could have chosen any people group through whom to reveal Himself throughout History. He chose Abraham and his descendants. He had to choose someone right? He had to choose a place where He would reveal Himself and He chose Canaan in general and Jerusalem specifically. He had to choose some place right? Now I can make arguments for why He chose Abraham and Jerusalem and they would be good arguments, but I think that to focus on one of those as the reason for God’s passion for Jerusalem is too narrow. Do you think God is passionate about geography? Did Abraham do something to earn God’s passion? That’s a trick question. None of us can earn our way into God’s grace, and God’s grace is necessary for one to come into His presence. If we can’t earn our way into His presence how can we earn His passion?

Brothers, I believe God is passionate about Jerusalem because it is a symbolic picture of a return to the relationship we had with Him in the Garden of Eden. God is passionate about His children. He is passionate about that day when we will once again live in right relationship with Him as He originally intended. Jerusalem is a place. It is important for all the reasons mentioned earlier, but it is important to God because it represents eternal right relationship with His children. So let me ask you. How is your relationship with Him? Are you in right relationship with Him? Is there any sin in your life that needs to be confessed and released? God is passionate about your relationship with Him. Are you passionate about that relationship?

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!