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Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Thought Problem

Have a challenge for you.
A Thought Problem

Look at these passages:
How would you summarize the message of those passages?  I will share mine tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bringing our Loved ones and Friends to the Lord

You may remember that the last book in our Bible is Revelation.  You may be put off by its imagery and apocalyptic discourse.  At a significant level, I am.
Bringing our Loved ones and Friends to the Lord
In one of the studies that the Lord allowed me to lead, I was asked several times to cover Revelation.  Each time I was able to deflect the request to another book.  However, at one point I finally gave in.

Typically I do not use commentaries in my study.  Why?  For the most part the commentaries do not address the questions that I bring to them.  I have found that if I invest the time in prayerful observation, that John 16:13 continually is validated as true.

But for this study, Revelation, I acquired multiple commentaries.  Most of them did not help, two did.  But again it was the prayerful observation that yielded most in the study.

With that in mind look at Revelation 9:20 – 21 (here @ Bible Gateway).

I have been in many conversations over the years that went somewhat along the lines of, “If only God would punish __________, people would repent and follow Him…”

However, these verses seems to throw buckets of cold water on that notion.  It seems that punishment for sin, no matter how dire, will not bring men to repentance.  If anything they seem to dig in their heels and fight harder for the right to continue in sin.

Rather, it is the draw and conviction by the Holy Spirit alone that will bring men to dependence on Him.  To accept the lavishly gracious offer of a life free from the reality of the punishment that our sin demands.  To accept life from Him rather from the death that we have purchased with our rebellion.

So, if you are concerned about one of your family or friend’s standing with Jesus.  Rather than continually push them or guilt them toward Christ, pray.  Pray that the Spirit will draw them to the Lord.  This combination is most clearly shared by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:24 – 25 (here @ Bible Gateway).  We share in kindness knowing it is the Lord that grants their decision to change their mind about Him, to repent.

It is not in our control.  That is a real challenge for most of us.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Preface to Distraction – Summary

For the past five days we have been looking at 2 Chronicles 15:2 – 7 (here @ Bible Gateway).  The series was called “Preface to Distraction” because I had earlier written about Asa focusing on the end of his life.  To summarize his life, in 2 Chronicles 15 (here @ Bible Gateway) Asa does really well.  In 2 Chronicle 16, not so much (here @ Bible Gateway).
Preface to Distraction – Summary

What is the difference?

In 15 (here @ Bible Gateway) Asa listens to the prophet Azariah, he sought the Lord.  In 16 (here @ Bible Gateway) he chose not to seek the Lord, but rather sought an alliance with Damascus; and he chose not to listen to the prophet Hanani, rather when Hanani confronted Asa, Asa threw him in the clink.

There are a number of lessons here.  Asa listened to Azaiah at the beginning of his reign.  He was relatively new to the job.  He was not too proud to take the advice.  When the problem reoccurred in the 36th year of his reign, he had much more experience.  Rather than seeking the Lord, he figured he could solve this one on his own.

It looks like he became comfortable, over confident, and complacent in his extensive experience.  Thus, he did not need to seek the Lord or listen to the counsel of a man of God.

Scares me.

It is a common tale.  One starts well and finishes poorly.  Why?  Confidence in one’s own wisdom and distancing oneself from godly counsel.  That seems to be a recipe for disaster, or in Asa’s case really bad feet.

What can we learn from Asa?  How can we avoid the downward trajectory of his life?  The first part, seeking the Lord, is really easier for us than it was for Asa.  We have the full text of the Bible, probably on our phones, he had scrolls but those scrolls seemed to get misplaced often.  He was supposed to make his own hand written copy of the first five books, Deuteronomy 17:18 – 20, but there is no indication that he did this.  We have an embarrassing amount of Bibles and Biblical resources there are over 3,000 in my Bible program.  For us it is as simple as a disciplined quiet time.  If you do not know how to do that, let me know, I’ll help.

There are few if, in fact any, prophets wandering around today.  I can say that I have never met or heard one.  So how do we avoid Asa’s second problem, not paying attention to men sent into his life by God?  That again may be simpler than it would seem.  If we look at the New Testament, one of the recurring themes is men encouraging other men.  So it would seem that we all need others around us who are committed to having those men in our lives.  Men who are struggling to walk with God in this life as we are.  Men who are in the Word of God.  Men who will encourage us from their life and their time in the Word.

It would seem to me that not to follow those two suggestions, to do what Asa did at the first of his reign, would insure that we will end up like him at the end of his reign.

I am not interested in that program.