Weekly Bible Study-Is He To Blame?

Weekly Bible Study-Is He To Blame?

Weekly Bible Study

Is He To Blame?

June 13, 2017

“God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is pure” Psalm 18:30

It was here at last; graduation night. Carla and Jeb were best friends and had competed for best grades since high school. They pushed each other relentlessly, demanding more and getting it in the end. Carla graduated with honors carrying a 3.9 GPA. Jeb also graduated with honors and a GPA of 3.85.

“I told you I was smarter,” she laughed as they hugged tightly.

“I held back on that last test because I am a gentleman,” he kidded, spinning her around in a wide circle.

“Humph,” she snorted, “If you were a gentleman, you wouldn’t lie like that.” They both doubled over in laughter.

“Hey, you two, let’s go, Heather is giving a party and you are the guests of honor. Get it? Honor!”

“Yeah we get it. Ok, lets have some fun tonight.”

“Can I drive your new Audi?” Jeb asked Carla.

“Sure you can but after tonight don’t ever ask again. I worked hard for this car and it’s all mine.” She pinched Jeb and winked, tossing him the keys.

The ringing phone brought Cynthia Johnson abruptly out of her sleep. Her heart leaped. She had the horrible foreboding feeling. Something is wrong. “Hello, is this Mrs. Cynthia Johnson?”

“Yes,” she shakily replied, the tears filling her eyes. “What is it. What’s wrong?”

“I am with the State Police and we are at your front door, ma’am, could you come talk with us?”

Cynthia leaped out of bed and slipped into her robe, taking the stairs two at a time. She opened the door. Two state troopers were standing there, a man and a woman. Both looked very serious.

“I am trooper Wilson,” said the woman. “And this is trooper Gentry. Can we come in and talk with you?”

In a moment they were sitting in the living room, the female trooper sitting next to Cynthia.

“Do you have a daughter named Carla?” She asked.

Now she knew. Something has happened. Now the tears began to flow.

“Does she drive a new gray Audi?”

“Oh no. What is it? What’s wrong. Is Carla ok?”

Trooper Wilson held Cynthia’s hands and said, “Mrs. Johnson, I’m afraid your daughter was killed in a car crash out on Hayward Drive, early this morning.”

The flood gates flew open as tears flowed relentlessly and Cynthia sobbed hysterically. “Oh no. Oh no. Oh God, it can’t be. There must be a mistake.” Trooper Wilson understood and pulled Cynthia into her shoulder, holding her firmly, letting her pour out her unspeakable grief. There is no real consolation for such times but a shoulder to cry on helps.

Two Months Later

Cynthia agreed to spend the weekend with her best friend, Claire at the beach. Claire’s family had a small cottage there. It was secluded which allowed for contemplation and prayer if the guests were so inclined. Cynthia was not so inclined. She was angry at God.

“Ok, Cynthia, let it all out. Rant and rave to your heart’s content and then we can talk.”

For the next twenty or so minutes, Cynthia did just that, she ranted and raved at God’s unfairness, the Universe’s horrible Karmic twist of fate and Jeb’s stupid, thoughtless, careless driving. She found a long list of people and things to blame for her daughter’s death. Finally, exhausted and wrung out, Cynthia could find nothing good to say about anyone involved, including the car manufacturer who she had sued for negligence. Her conclusion? Rather than joyful, life is horribly disappointing and no longer worth living.

Pouring more tea, Claire said, “What do you mean by not worth living, Cynthia?”

Looking through tear-filled, swollen eyes, Cynthia reach for her friend’s hand and said, “No, dear friend, I don’t mean I want to take my life. I simply mean I am so, so tired of trying to find peace in this horrible mess. And, if I’m honest, I want an answer from God, if he really exists. People tell me to look to God and I have most every day since this happened. However He has not answered me. How could He have allowed this tragedy? Carla was a good girl and so young. Truthfully I hate God.”

No one spoke now. All they could hear were the gulls occasionally squawking and the perpetual ocean waves breaking on shore. They sat silently for several minutes. Then Claire spoke.

“Cynthia, how can you blame God for this tragedy when you don’t even believe he exists? Even though you can’t face the truth yet, a part of you knows the car crash and horrible outcome are consequences of poor judgment on Jeb’s part, not really God’s fault.

“Considering how devastating the death of Jeb and Carla is, try to imagine how God must have felt when His Son, Jesus was beaten and then killed on the cross.”

Cynthia and Claire talked late into the night, alternating between English tea and rocky road ice cream as they bared their souls and cried profusely.

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Inspired Scripture

Inspired Scripture

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for resetting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God, and fit him fully for all branches of his work.”

~2 Timothy 3:16, 17 ~J.B. Phillips

Treasures

Treasures

 

“Storing up treasure as a good foundation for the future…” 1 Tim. 6:19

The hotel conference room was filled as the anxious crowd anticipated words of financial wisdom from a well-known Christian financial advisor and he did not disappoint. He carefully explained ten of his “secrets” for investing that have proven successful over the test of time. The crowd was beaming as they imagined building their prosperity.

And then he surprised everyone with a story that seemed out of place. He told of a Bible teacher who taught a class of 25 people, all of whom were solid Christians. On this day, he passed out a questionnaire. They were to simply answer a question regarding the verses on the page: Do you think these verses are literal? Do they apply to Christians today? Are we to live by them? The verses were: *Matthew 6:19-34.

At this point he paused and said, “For those of you who may not recall those verses, here they are,” clicking his remote and splashing them across the screen. Again he paused, giving them time to absorb the Scriptures.

“I can see I’ve thrown a bit of cold water on most of you. But think about it with me. First I gave you excellent, proven methods to increase your wealth. Now I am simply reminding you what Jesus said about that wealth and where your treasures should be. Money and the accumulation of it is worthless and usually detrimental to our lives. Giving to those who need help, with the money we’ve earned is Biblical and pleasing to the Lord.”

“In this context, you will see white buckets at each door as you leave. They are there to accept contributions for the aid of widows and orphans. Allow me to give you this reminder as you leave:

“May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in Him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

*Matthew 6:19-34   “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

What is this treasure?

2 Cor. 4:1-7  This is why we don’t get discouraged, given that we received this ministry in the same way that we received God’s mercy. 2 Instead, we reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are on the road to destruction. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God.

5 We don’t preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord, and we describe ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us.

Col. 2:1-3  I want you to know how much I struggle for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who haven’t known me personally. 2 My goal is that their hearts would be encouraged and united together in love so that they might have all the riches of assurance that come with understanding, so that they might have the knowledge of the secret plan of God, namely Christ. 3 All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him.

Can we claim not to love wealth more than our brothers and sisters in Christ when we see them hurting and do not sacrifice what should matter to us less than their need? While many of us pursue status symbols that television suggests are “necessities,” evangelical ministries to the poor claim that forty thousand people die of starvation and malnutrition daily. That means roughly twenty-seven a minute, twenty of whom are children under five years old. ~InterVarsity Press New Testament Comment

Where Is My Passion?

Where Is My Passion?

“Rejoice in the Lord always” Philippians 4:4

            If I had loads of money would my life be better or more satisfying? Am I looking for God’s guidance, wisdom, and direction each day or am I hoping for a miraculous change—a heavenly rescue.

            Do I think I will be more useful to God and others if I strike at rich, win the lottery or write a best seller? As a Bible-believing Christian, how does God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit impact my life as it is? Has Jesus Christ become nothing more than Fire Insurance to me?

            Last weekend brought forth the culmination of the NFL…The Super Bowl. Millions of people spent several hours cheering, yelling, hoping against hope that their favorite team would win. Beginning with the first kickoff, passion exploded across America with people cheering, screaming, shaking fists and raising arms in excitement, hoping for victory. All this for something temporary, something that will fade into obscurity at the last trumpet blast when Jesus Christ comes in glory!

            And what of the believer? Where is our passion? We have a treasure hidden in our hearts, the greatest gift ever given, a gift never to erode or pass away. The gift of forgiveness, redemption and eternal life. So where are our tailgate parties and festive, cheering meetings? As receivers of the greatest gift given at the greatest price, where is our football-like excitement and passion? It seems as though it is hidden. Rather than telling our workmates and neighbors about life eternal and the Salvation of Jesus Christ, we would rather take off our armor, set aside the grace of Jesus Christ and join in Monday morning sports talk.

            “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”  ~Revelation 3:15-16

            1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

 9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~Romans 12:1-21

            Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

A Virgin Gives Birth

A Virgin Gives Birth

“A child is born to us, a son is given to us”  Isaiah 9.6

Amidst the various Christmas decorations we see popping up each year stand a variety of what we call Nativity or Manger scenes representing the birth of Christ. These range in size from tabletop to life size. Some even have what are called, Living Nativity scenes with people dressed in costume representing that singular moment in history.

And what is the impact of seeing these scenes year after year after year? Perhaps we have come to see these reminders as ordinary, routine, a bit of tradition. There is an old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt!” Contempt may be too strong a word for our feelings but routine would surely fit. As we dust off our manger figurines and place them carefully on the table or shelf, are we stirred by the Spirit of God? Do we take pause and bow down to worship our Lord and Savior for the supernatural action taken which leads to the Salvation of all people throughout history?

When Jesus was born, it was a time of Kings and mighty rulers wielding their power for good or evil. Surely God would bring the Messiah from the loins of one such mighty man. He would be born to Royalty, a prince, a handsome, strong child, bred in the manner and customs of the Jewish people. It was not to be.

In keeping with His own creative ideas, Almighty God selected a virgin woman to bear His Son; an unthinkable idea, beyond human understanding. And so it was…beginning with Mary’s impregnation, every step of the way for Jesus, our Lord, was unique. Born in a manger instead of a magnificent palatial bedroom on silken sheets surrounded by servants. An ordinary baby born to ordinary parents, or so it seemed.

No palace with pomp and circumstance for Jesus, verifying his standing as Messiah. God instead chose humble circumstances to represent His love for all of us, dramatically pronouncing the Savior’s birth to innocuous shepherds away from all notice. These men had ringside seats to a spectacular, glorious, radiant angelic announcement of The Savior’s birth which included the armies of heaven praising God. Out in the fields, away from notice, God demonstrates His awesome power, proclaiming the most important birth in the history of our world to a few ordinary shepherds.

Isaiah 7:14  The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Emmanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

Isaiah 9.6-7 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Matthew 1.18-25  This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Luke 2.1-20  At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

This year, as we read and remember what God has set in place through the extraordinary yet humble birth of His only Son, Jesus Christ, let’s take time to imagine how we might have reacted to this astonishing event and then thank our Heavenly Father for paving the way to unmerited forgiveness of sins and eternal life for all who believe.