Posted in Bible Study

mountains

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I lift my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;

The Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;

He will keep your life.

The Lord will keep

Your going out and your coming in

From this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121

Posted in Bible Study

Blame, Pain, and Redemption

Matthew 27:15-20 NLT

15 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. 16 This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas.[a] 17 As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

19 Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”

20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death.

In the story of Barrabas and Jesus on trial, fingers could be pointed several directions as to why Jesus, an innocent man, was sent to the cross while a murderer is set free.

1. Pilate: He could have ignored the custom of releasing a criminal according to crowd choice and made his own choice. He knew the leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy (v. 18). To top it off, his wife told Pilate of a dream she ad and pleaded to release Jesus. Still Pilate washed his hands clean and released Barrabas. No matter how many times Pilate washed his hands, the spots of guilt would remain (until he took his sins to God, which I hope he did).

2. The elders: They convinced the crowd to ask for Jesus (v. 20). These men should have noble and pursuing God’s justice and mercy instead of convincing the crowd to follow their corrupted lead.

3. The crowd: Yes, the elders put bugs in their ears, but the crowds were still sentient beings. It isn’t fair to say the crowd had to follow the elder’s advice. The members of this crowd still share some of the blame for the course of events on this day.

Blame could be placed on any of these people, but placing blame does not change the fact that an innocent man was placed on the cross. All of these people will answer for their faults when they reach heaven. Thankfully for us, God takes the sins of humans and makes a beautiful story. Through the faults of all of these people, God’s plan of salvation moved one step farther. An innocent man was killed and a sinful man was set free. Read that last sentence again and think about your own salvation. From a young age we were all guilty of sin, yet we are still offered the choice to be set free. An innocent man, Jesus, was killed so that you, a sin-filled human, could be set free.

If you’ve already accepted this gift from God, take a few moments now to thank God. Thank him for orchestrating these events. Thank him for giving up his son so that we could all have a relationship with him. Thank God for his gift too wonderful for words. (2 Corinthians 9:15). And then try to put it into words.

If you’re just now seeing yourself as filled with sin, take a moment to think how you will never be able to stand before God as you are. Know right now that Jesus also died for you so that you could be set free from sin. You will be able to stand before God when you die and he’ll welcome you in with a hug. Currently without the grace of God through Jesus’ sacrifice, you will spend life on Earth searching and life after death in Hell. If, though, you choose to accept Christ’s actions and his place as God’s son; and you choose to follow his will, you will have a relationship with God and spend eternity in heaven.

Let me tell you, this choice is the right one. It gives you hope and purpose, and it’s entirely free! Feel free to contact me if you want to know more about this choice. I’d love to talk to you.

Posted in Bible Study

A Time Of Waiting

I know I’ve made several posts about waiting but I think that’s the lesson God keeps trying to teach me. Waiting is difficult that’s for sure.
There was a man in the Bible that sure knew what it meant to wait. Well there are several now that I think on it, but the one that I’m thinking of right now is Noah. I know I’ve read the flood story numerous times and heard it told many more but God always finds something new to reveal.
Noah waited.
A long time.
Noah waited on God while he built the ark. Waiting doesn’t always mean twiddling your thumbs. Noah had a task but he didn’t know how long God would take to send the rain. By the way, Noah probably looked pretty silly to his friends who had forgotten God-waiting for something that had never happened before.
Next, Noah waited on the boat. He was on the boat for over a year, waiting. To top it off, Noah was 600 years old. Jeez! Think about the aches and pains he must have had at that age. Still he waited.
If Noah could wait on that boat for over a year with stinky animals and whiny children just so God could accomplish his plan, I think waiting on God for the short amount of time he makes me wait shouldn’t be so hard. Noah gives waiting a bit more perspective and the hope that God will fulfill his promises.

Posted in Bible Study

Patience and praise in Habakkuk

Like Habakkuk I often look at the pain and violence in this world and wonder why God allows it to happen. It seems that God would intervene. I ask how long I must experience pain and how long I must watch friends experience pain.

God’s reply to Habakkuk was “look around. For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” And God was faithful to this promise. He protected these people. This makes me wonder what sort of wonderful plan God has for today. I know he does.

It’s a matter of patience though. God told Habakkuk to wait. “This vision is for a future time. It describes the end and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in the coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” (Habakkuk 2:3). God has promised many good things in the Bible, but they will happen in his time. We must wait patiently.

Read Habakkuk 3:17-19. It is beautiful. That is true faith. It took him the entire book to come to that understanding but that’s the point to reach. God desires praise even when there seems to be no reason to praise.

Posted in Bible Study

Making Plans

A week or so ago I made a post about the phrase “pushing on a pull door.” For me, pushing on a pull door is when I try to make plans that involve more than just me. It also usually means that I am making plans without God.

It’s cool how God constantly reveals things to me when I just search for answers.

Today while I was reading my Bible I came across a couple of verses in Proverbs about making plans:

“We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3)

Making plans without God is futile and they often fail. Right now I know that some things might possibly happen in my future or they might not, and my tendency is to plan in my head how I think the situation should turn out. This often in the past has led to disappointment though when something does not turn out according to my plan. These verses tell me that we should make let God make the plans. Our actions should reflect our faith in God. If our actions reflect the fact that God has it all under control and that He has it planned for good, then our plans will succeed. If our plans reflect that we trust God with whatever comes out of a situation, then we will be truly happy.

Posted in Bible Study

Lessons from Hannah

Last night as I started reading 1 Samuel, I found myself really relating to Hannah. It’s always amazing how I can re-read a passage of scripture and relate it to a part of my life like I’ve never related it before. That’s God.

Hannah suffered emotional pain during that first chapter. She was not given the desires of her heart and to top it off Penninah was cruel to her and reminded her of her lacking. Sometimes I just do not understand why I don’t have something that I really want and that seems to be in line with God’s will. The thing is that God has a perfect plan and I can’t understand it. I’m glad though for times when he’s either made me wait or not given me something I want because usually in the aftermath I can see a bit of why it worked that way.

Hannah’s first response was to cry. That happens. “Each time Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.” (1:7).

Then she turned to God. That’s a good response. Hannah was encouraged by God and by Eli, who blessed her desire and her prayer.

She received what she wanted. Now that doesn’t always happen but God has it all under control.

Another cool part of this story is that Elkanah supported Hannah’s promise to God when she chose to give Samuel back to the Lord. That’s how a husband should be.

It seems risky on Hannah’s part to make a deal with God, but she was wholeheartedly willing to be faithful to that promise. That’s what is important. Don’t make promises, especially to God, that you can’t keep.

Finally, her faith is demonstrated in her prayer in chapter 2. She reminds herself and the readers that “all the earth is the Lord’s and he has set the world in order.” (2:8b). To me that says “God has it all under control.”

So next time you’re feeling down and ignored by God, remember how Hannah reacted. Be faithful to believe that God has a perfect plan.

Posted in Bible Study, Life

The Triangular Battle

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I often feel like I am in constant battle.  The Bible talks about a war going on in each of us, and I definitely feel it sometimes. Excuse my lack of art skills and look at the figure I drew to represent the battle.  I feel like I am trapped in a triangle where the three forces vying for my attention are my sinful nature, what others want from me, and what God wants from me.  I want God to win out, but sometimes the other two take control.  It’s not about finding a balance between the three of these; it’s more about making who I am and what others want from me less important than what God wants.

An example of giving in to who I am is when I allow myself to be jealous of other people.  In my mind I get jealous of what others have, how easy other people’s lives seem, and the attention that others receive.  I stop focusing on how God has blessed my life and focus on what I am lacking.  There is a verse in Ecclesiastes that addresses this.  Ecclesiastes 6:9 says “Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless; it is like chasing the wind.” Yep.  When I am enjoying God’s blessings and thanking him, there is no jealousy.

An example of giving in to what others want from me is when I allow other people to influence my decisions.  Sometimes I am too hard of a worker and I don’t know when to say no.  This leads to long hours working on group projects and often this leads to stress, frustration, and a lack of God time.  I usually feel miserable.  It would be so much better if I would just say no sometimes and let others share the load.  I can’t do it all, but I feel that others expect me to so I sure do try sometimes.  The truth of the matter is that I can’t do any of it without God.

When I rely on God and listen to what he wants in my life, I am happier.  I feel more satisfied knowing that I am following his great plan.  I know that his plan is better than anything I could plan.  It takes patience, but I am finding that if I am constantly looking for ways that God is working in my life I see them more.  Sometimes I can’t say how God is working in my life, because I am not looking.  It takes a constant awareness and lots of prayer but God does show me bits of the plan.  I’ve just got to be patient and searching for him.