Bible Studies 13 (New Bible Study added on 8-27-17 see "Bible Studies 14")
Something to Think About (added 12-11-16)
The Ohio state legislature has passed a bill (referred to as the “Heartbeat” Bill) which is now sitting on the Governor’s desk. If signed, (or if Kasich does not veto it within 10 days), this bill becomes law and will make abortion illegal in all circumstances once the heartbeat of the baby can be detected (usually around six weeks).
An interesting passage in the Bible from Luke 1 describes Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth when they were both pregnant. Elizabeth was carrying John the Baptist and Mary was carrying Jesus. In verses 41-44 it says when Mary spoke, the baby Elizabeth was carrying jumped in her womb because he recognized the voice of the mother of Jesus.
I really like this verse for a few reasons. One is that it shows that even while in the womb babies are conscious. Another reason is it shows us that the first person to recognize Jesus was another baby in his mother’s womb. I just think that is cool. :)
During this season, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I cannot help but think how tragic and heartbreaking it is that so many Christians have been duped into believing (supporting) it is a right to abort a baby. One of the greatest lies Satan ever convinced humanity of is that we can live our lives as we choose. When we choose to believe certain parts of the Bible, or we decide we know better than God how to live our lives, we succumb to Satan’s lies. We put ourselves above God. We make ourselves our own God.
Over 3,000 babies are aborted every single day in the US. Over 125,000 a day worldwide. Babies are aborted for every imaginable reason, and for no reason at all except it is inconvenient. We are told by Planned Parenthood, the President, politicians, all manner of healthcare professionals, and every pro-abortion (oops, it’s called “pro-choice” now) activist that it is a woman’s right to choose. It is her reproductive health and everyone else needs to stay out of her womb.
But yet no one consults with the Creator for His direction on abortion. How can anyone who denies that a baby is a person, a living human being at conception, call themselves a Christian? Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and a member of the Trinity. The Bible is the inspired (God-breathed) Word of God and it is complete, perfect, infallible, and current and it recounts the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
There are many passages in the Bible describing God’s purpose for a person who has not been born yet, or who is still in the womb. King David said in Psalm 139:13-14, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” King David knew that God made him to be who he became. At the moment of conception there is life. God has plans for each of us. And in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 it says “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” The Sixth Commandment is “You shalt not kill.” It is not our decision to make whether to keep or abort a child. Every child was created by God. That child, every child, has a purpose and we cannot decide IF it should live to fulfill God’s plans for it. God made every child regardless of the circumstances surrounding its’ conception. I know some babies are not born, but pass before birth. And some are born into abject poverty, disease, sickness, degradation, slavery, etc. Even with all of that, each child has a right to life. We may never know how that life will affect those around them or those who come after them. I could cite dozens of people who were told to abort their child and then their child became cherished, loved, and nurtured: people who became famous and infamous. Psalm 127:3 says “Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.”
My point is this: regardless of how a child is conceived, or the circumstances it may be facing, that child has a God-given right to life. We should honor our Father’s desires for that life. King Solomon said in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” God would NEVER tell you to abort your child.
Why are you here? (Added 2-2-17)
Do you think it was an accident that you were born where you were, to the parents you were, and in this time, right now? Does your life have purpose? Are you here for a reason, or did you just happen?
I hear people saying all the time that it must’ve been wonderful to live in … or I sure do wish I could’ve lived during that time or this event … or they long to have lived in another era, another time. But I have always said I do not wish I could have lived at any other time. There is no other time in history I would have rather lived in, or through. Why? Because this is the exact time that God designed me for. I am exactly when I am supposed to be. And I also think it’s pretty cool to see so much Biblical prophecy being played out before our eyes – right here! Right now!
See, I don’t believe in “accidents” or “it just happened” where people are concerned. What I mean is, I don’t believe any of us are here merely by coincidence. I was praying the other day and it occurred to me - funny how the Holy Spirit helps things “occur” to you :-) - that God knew me before time began. He knew me and had me all planned out long before my Mom and Dad were even born. How humbling is that? :-)
I know that I was born (planned, picked, designed) especially for this exact time and place. I know God formed me in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-14, “For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are your works, And that my soul knows very well.”)
Here are just a few verses that show God has perfect love, perfect wisdom, perfect plans, perfect foreknowledge of each of us:
- Colossians 1:16 - For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
- Revelation 4:11 - You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.
- Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
- Romans 12:2 - And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
- Proverbs 16:9 - A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
- Psalms 37:23 - The steps of a [good] man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
- Isaiah 58:11 - And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
- Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
How could God have plans for you (us) if He didn’t create you for a reason? What are His plans for me? What are His plans for you?
Some big questions here, but they can all be found in the Word of God and by listening to Him when He speaks to you. He tells us that when we pray, we are to pray for His will on earth as it is in heaven. The Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13) tells us to pray for the Will of God. If we want His will to be done, it goes deeper than that. For His will to be done we must submit our will to His. Remember, He formed you and has plans for you. Not one of us is put on this earth by accident. God knows each of us and has a plan for each of us.
Ultimately God made man because it pleased Him to do so. We were created by Him for Him. We honor Him and serve Him. So, what do we do? How do we serve God? We worship Him. We praise Him. And we create disciples for Him (Matthew 28:19). Do we have to go out into the world and go to foreign lands to share the Gospel? Some do get called to go to the outer reaches of the world. But most of us are called to reach out to the world around us. There is plenty of lost souls right where we are. So we do what Jesus told us in Mark 12:30-32 when he was asked what the greatest Commandment was. He said “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” If we love God with our whole being we will be obedient to Him. We will listen to the Holy Spirit when He tells us to speak, to share the Good News. Do we have to beat people up with the Bible? No. But we can pray each morning for God to help us speak life into someone this day. We can ask Him to lead us to someone who needs love and to hear about Jesus. We can ask Him for strength, boldness, and courage.
Last year Patty and I were able to go see a movie titled “The Insanity of God” which is about Persecuted Christians around the world. In this true story, a missionary and his wife who served in some really rough parts of the world for 30 years sharing the Gospel interviewed over 600 Christians in countries where persecution is intense and they asked each one: “Is Jesus worth it?” Is Jesus worth the hatred, the scorn, the loss of their wife or husband, their children, their livelihood, their life? Is Jesus worth all of that? And do you know what each one of them said? These Christian men and women who live in the worst places in the world? The places you and I hear about on TV which shows relentless persecution? Do you know what each one said? They all said Jesus is Worth it! Jesus is worth everything!
We love where we are. We walk in righteousness and abide in Jesus. We allow others to see the love of Jesus in us, and through us. We share His love with those around us. YES, we must be bold and courageous and speak up and speak out to make sure we share the Good News. We must love our fellow man so much that we are willing to be persecuted and ridiculed. We must love like Jesus loved. Why? Why must we open ourselves up to abuse and hate? Because Jesus is worth it!
Revelation 20:11-15 very plainly describes the Judgment Day and what is going to occur. “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
No one plans to have their lives cut short by tragedy. BUT it happens. Do you have family members, loved ones, coworkers who don’t know you’re a Follower of Christ? Are some of those people headed to hell? And if you or your loved ones and friends pass away and are not saved it is TOO LATE to ask what your eternity, what their eternity, is going to be. Are you and your loved ones and those around you ready for eternity?
Why did God form you? Are you fulfilling God’s plans for your life? Are you walking in God’s will for your life?
Why are you here?
Separated from God’s Love (added 2-8-17)
Paul told us in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from the love of God (“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”).
However, I am going to go deeper into that passage and dissect it just a little. I was thinking about this passage and it occurred to me that what Paul says here is right. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. But then I began to think about sin. And I realized we can separate ourselves from God’s love. Now before you get all upset hear me out. :-)
God’s love is perfect. God is love (1 John 4:8). And in John 3:16 we see that God loves us so much He gave His son Jesus in our place to die for our sins. So, I know there is nothing man, circumstances, Satan, spirits, etc. can do to us to keep us from God’s love. However, when we succumb to temptation and allow that to lead us into sin then that is different. Nothing can separate us from God’s love except our spirit and our heart (with some very dumb input from our minds) and how we react when we sin.
I know that when I sin I feel terrible. I feel like I let God down and that I don’t deserve His love or forgiveness, and I certainly don’t deserve to be in His presence. I feel like a failure and a fraud. I feel dirty and I’m disgusted with myself. So, I tend to kind of stay away from Him (I know that’s not really possible, but in my mind I put up a barrier – but really the barrier is the sin). I don’t immediately pray and ask for forgiveness for my sin (even though I know that is what I should do). So, I tend to slip away from Him for a time until I start to listen to the Holy Spirit reminding me God is there. I am forgiven. I am loved. Unfortunately this is a cycle I go through too often.
Now some of you would argue that because of grace my sins are forgiven. And I have to agree and say yes to that. However, there is more to it than that. Yes our sins are forgiven, but we are instructed to turn away from sin (to repent) of our sins. We are not allowed to just do anything we want and not worry about the consequences. That is not grace and forgiveness. That is a false lie being perpetrated in too many churches today and that is the path to destruction! That is called “Hyper Grace” and it is a false teaching! That is lawlessness and an unwillingness to submit to God’s authority. Through God’s grace we are forgiven and we are to become a new creation in Christ. We are supposed to strive to live like Jesus lived: sinless. Not always possible, but He is our example.
Paul NEVER said that once he turned to Jesus and began to follow Him, he did not sin. And he never said he could sin and it was ok. In fact he said just the opposite in Romans 6:1-6 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Paul said he was the “Chiefest of Sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). But in a couple of verses preceding that Paul said “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief (12-13). You see, once you accept Jesus as your savior, you know your past is forgiven, but you also know you are to be a new person in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). So, we cannot wallow in our sin, but we must immediately turn to Him in contrite submission and ask forgiveness. And we MUST strive to resist temptation and live holy lives (1 Corinthians 10:13).
So, this Bible study is as much for me as for anyone else. I know God loves me. And I know I love Him. I want to abide in His presence and not allow anything (me) to separate me from His love. Amen and Amen.
The Gift of Tongues (added 2-27-17)
I read an article by the Babylon Bee posted on Facebook about speaking in tongues (Their tagline is “Your Trusted Source for Christian News Satire”. They seem to tear down and not edify – exactly what is their purpose and how are they serving Believers?). In the article the author makes fun of believers who speak in tongues and makes quite a few disparaging remarks concerning those who speak in tongues. I know most Believers do not believe in the gift of tongues. I need to share a couple of things with you.
- Everyone accepts that tongues were used by the early church (kind of hard to deny - see Acts 2, 10, 14).
- “The Gifts of the Spirit are special abilities provided by the Holy Spirit to Christians for the purpose of building up the body of Christ. The list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 includes wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Similar lists appear in Ephesians 4:7-13 and Romans 12:3-8. The gifts of the Spirit are simply God enabling believers to do what He has called us to do. 2 Peter 1:3 says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." The gifts of the Holy Spirit are part of the "everything we need" to fulfill His purposes for our lives.” (This paragraph taken from the website All About God – Gifts of the Spirit)
- Most believe the gift of tongues (if not all of the Gifts of the Spirit) is no longer needed, nor used by the Church. Some believe they are obsolete and the Holy Spirit does not operate through those gifts any longer.• I grew up in various Pentecostal churches and quite a few members in every church spoke in tongues.
- Quite a few members of my family (my Brother Ted, my aunt, my cousins, my grandmother) speak in tongues. I did not until a few years after I retired from the Air Force. Like in the “story” I always wanted that gift, but was not blessed with it until later in life.
- I went to a Pentecostal church in Wichita Falls, TX when I was in the Air Force. I loved that church. Like perhaps most Pentecostals, they believed and taught that speaking in tongues was confirmation that you were saved (they believed you are not saved unless you speak in tongues). At that time I did not speak in tongues and I knew I was saved. So, I was not affected by their theology. However, my sons were both very young and I was not going to let them believe they weren’t saved just because they did not speak in tongues. So, as much as I loved that church and the members I stopped going there.
- The Apostle Paul addresses speaking in tongues extensively in 1 Corinthians 12-14. There are two different operations of the gift of tongues:
- One is as a prayer language. That is where the Holy Spirit in us speaks directly to God in a language called a “heavenly language.” This is the kind of tongues I speak in. When I speak in tongues the Holy Spirit is praying directly to God. Romans 8:26 tells us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” I personally believe when praying in your prayer language it is a private matter between you and God. It is not to be done in public. When I am praying in the Spirit I am uplifted and energized. I am blessed when praying in my prayer language.
- The second use of tongues is to deliver a message to someone or to an assembly. I have witnessed this done properly on multiple occasions. Paul addresses the proper way this is done in Corinthians.
- Nowhere in the Bible does it say any of the Gifts of the Spirit were abolished, or made obsolete. In fact, in Mark 16:17-18 Jesus tells the Apostles “These signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.” Nowhere in this passage does it say “Only you guys will use these gifts.” Or “These gifts will be curtailed after a certain time.” Or …
Who are we to limit the Spirit of God? Are we greater than our Holy God? Are we wiser than He is? Why would anyone want to try to deny a gift from God or a blessing from the Holy Spirit? ALL of these gifts are being used by Believers today, around the world.
I know the Gift of Tongues may be confusing and something most either do not understand or perhaps do not want to understand. For most that did not grow up Pentecostal or Evangelical (I know not all evangelical churches speak in tongues) it may seem scary or theatrical. However, I can speak (pardon the pun J) from a lifetime of experience when I say it is a beautiful gift from the Holy Spirit when used properly and in accordance with God’s Word. And like the other Gifts of the Spirit, it should be sought, welcomed, and lovingly accepted.
So, what’s my point? (added 4-22-17)
(Before I really get into this study, I MUST make sure everyone who reads this does not take my words wrong or out of context. This study is not about the person who loves God and is a Follower of Jesus who is struggling with a particular sin, or who is trying to overcome something in their lives.)
God has been working on me allot lately! He has been relentless through the Holy Spirit in pointing out my sins to me and making me feel the conviction of those sins. He has been directing me towards holiness. However, it is not all God or the Holy Spirit. I must play an active role in this process too. The Bible tells us that when we acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and ask Him into our hearts we become a “new person, and a “new creature.” Paul tells us “old things have passed away; all things become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We should have a yearning, a desire, a want to change. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and have an incessant need to become Christ-like in word, deed, thought: in complete obedience to God. The Holy Spirit will help you, guide you, goad you to change, but you must have a desire to change. For some that change happens drastically, immediately. Their whole life, mindset, and being changes instantly. For most of us though it is a process: a gradual progression from our old selves towards the person God created us to be.
BUT when a person repents of (to turn away from) their sins and asks Jesus into their hearts there MUST be change. Ephesians 4:17-5:33 explains how that change should affect every aspect of our lives, our minds, ours hearts, our very beings. We should desire to live holy, righteous, Christ-like lives free from sin. The grace of God through Salvation does not condone us to live in sin, but instead frees us from the bondage of sin. We must change or there is no salvation.
So, what do I mean by that last statement?
Let me give you an example. Maybe you went to a church one day and you listened to the message and you felt convicted of your sins. You went forward and you prayed the sinner’s prayer.
But since then your life has not really changed. You still live like you did before, only now you call yourself a Christian. I wonder, are you REALLY Saved and going to heaven?
Some denominations believe you can lose your salvation. I do not believe that. However, I absolutely believe that a person can “think” they are saved when in reality they are not. When in reality they are headed straight to hell.
Here’s how it goes. Take the person in the example above. They went through the motions to accept God and then they continued on with their lives. Maybe they even attend church every Sunday and even do work for God. But deep down God is not directing their lives. They do not truly change. Yes, maybe outwardly they talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk, but it’s all a show.
In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus said “Therefore by their fruits you will know them. ‘Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Once you turn your life over to Jesus you begin to live FOR Jesus. You submit your life TO Him. You live to please Him and do His will, not your own. God knows a person’s heart and sincerity. He knows if a person truly is repentant and changed or if they are just “going through the motions.” This leads me to my next point.
I want to address something that I’ve been struggling with for a long time. Something that has been nagging at me and really had me wondering. I have been trying to figure out if a person living in sin will go to heaven if they profess to be a Christian and said the sinner’s prayer.
Today we have mainstream denominations and big churches accepting openly practicing homosexuals and making them not only members, but also Pastors! And churches today are condoning other forms of sin by their members and claiming God’s grace covers them. But does that mean God accepts it? Paul says in Romans 1:28-32 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
Paul also tells us in Hebrews 12:3-4 “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Jesus died on the cross shedding His blood to redeem us of our sins. We have not had to shed our blood to be free from those sins. God does not condone, nor accept sin in any form, on any level. Nowhere in the Bible does it say any sin is accepted or condoned. Sin is sin in God’s Word. Just because Man has declared a sin is accepted by God (or they look away and secretly accept a sin) does not make that true. Man cannot change God’s Word. Society is not the final authority - God is!
What it does say in His Word is that those who live in sin will go to hell and be separated from Him for all eternity. And it does say that in order to find life you must accept Jesus and turn away from your sin.
So, what’s my point? My point is this: If you are a person who loves God and is a Follower of Jesus, you will want to change. You will want to serve Him. You will want to live a righteous life and overcome all temptation and sin. Will you always be successful? Nope. Not in this present body. But you will try and try and try again. You will lean on Jesus and on God’s Word and on the Holy Spirit.
But if you’re just going through the motions and your life, mind, spirit, very being never changed after you ”accepted Jesus” then maybe you’re not truly saved. Maybe you need to reevaluate your salvation and go to God and make things right.
In 1 John 3:6-8 we read “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus conquered Satan to deliver us FROM sin, not so we can live IN sin.