Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Month: September 2017 (Page 1 of 7)

God’s Treasure

October 1 – Today’s Readings – 1Thessalonians 1-3 and Psalms 91

Chapter 2:19-20 of 1Thessalonians reads; “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”

This perspective on “the true riches of the Kingdom” is the subject I would like us to focus on for a moment. We invest our time in many endeavors, always hoping to see the fruit of our labors – the outcome of time well spent. Paul makes it very clear in this passage that PEOPLE are the essence of God’s “economy”. It is the time spent or invested in people that will reap rewards of godliness, strong character, individuals being added to God’s family – all things that last forever – all things you can take to heaven with you.

Broken relationships therefore, are a problem in a Christian’s life. Friends who become separated because of offence or doctrinal dispute suffer a great deal because something spiritual is lost. Our relationships – when we follow Jesus – are spiritual relationships. We invest our lives in people every day – and every day we invest a part of ourselves in those we “connect” with.

Paul said in Ephesians 4:2-3, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

There is such a Biblical premium placed on good relationships that I once heard a preacher describe the top indicator of the Kingdom of God is “right relationships”.

What is your joy and crown? It is Godly relationships – evangelistic relationships – compassionate relationships. Read the following verses and see if you can pick up the heart of the great Apostle Paul –

1Thessalonians 2:7 “But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.”

1Thessalonians 2:8 “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”

1Thessalonians 2:11 “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children”

1Thessalonians 2:17 “But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.”

Questions:

1. Tell of a time when you saw spiritual distress in someone because of a broken relationship due to personal offence.
2. Describe a situation where restorative healing came to a broken relationship.
3. What further lessons can we take from this topic?

Silence And Order

September 30 – Today’s Readings – Habakkuk 1-3 and Psalms 90

This is a truly amazing book – it has such a mixture of Old Testament judgment and New Testament hope and revelation – all wrapped up together.

Lets start with a verse that used to be written and posted at the doors of many Churches (it still hangs at the door of some of the quietest Churches in town) – Chapter 2:20; “But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” Without question, certain churches have used this verse in order to keep “silence and order” in the house of God. What they failed to do was read was the rest of the Bible, which indicates a great deal of noise whenever worship is in progress. I love the thought that sociologist Tony Campolo shared a few years ago – “Church is a Party”. This is a much better image of what happens when a bunch of people who are exited about Jesus, come together in one place. Read the following passages again and “find” the New Testament in them:

Chapter 2:14 “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

Chapter 13:2 “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day in our time make them known;”

Chapter 3:17-19 “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”

Once again I stand amazed at these “old school” boys who got it so right. I love the idea that God would give such New Testament revelation to anyone in the “olden days”. Here’s what Paul taught in 1Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Habakkuk got it right!

How does all of this affect you? Well, for starters, we are all not naturally noisy and expressive people. When some folks walk into a room, you can be guaranteed that the general “volume” in that place will rise significantly. Others are far more subdued – some are even accused of being boring! Regardless of our personality however we can all come to the place of worship or prayer, ready to open our lips and sing. We can all be Scriptural and “make a joyful noise”. Jesus addressed the whole issue quite poetically when He said if the people didn’t do it, the rocks and stones would “cry out”. [Luke 19:4]

Questions:

1. Is there ever a place for “silence” in our devotional lives? Elaborate.
2. Is there ever a time when “expressive” or “loud” worship need to be reigned in? Explain.
3. What do you think about exuberant worship?

A Good Spanking

September 29 – Today’s Readings – Nahum 1-3 and Psalms 89

I must deviate from my usual format today and go to the Psalms 89:32-33 were we read, “I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging, but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.”

This thought is worth repeating because “flogging” is one of the ways God speaks to his people. Proverbs 27:6 says, “wounds from a friend can be trusted.” This is a terribly confusing statement if you do not connect with the thought process. When a friend stands in your way and you run headlong into him, you will be “wounded” – you may end up with a black eye or a bruised arm or leg. The “collision” with your good friend has caused all this – Why? Because your friend cares enough about you to stand in your way and tell you not to do the foolish thing you are about to do.

Hebrews 12:5-10 reads, “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.”

Years ago, I got into the habit of “examining myself” spiritually whenever I was in trouble or when something was going wrong in my life. The reason for this was that I wanted to know whether my problems were a the result of the Lord’s “rod” or if they stemmed from other sources such as an obstacle of the enemy – my own foolish decisions – or perhaps just “life” happening to me. I concluded that if the Lord was trying to get my attention, and I hadn’t been listening as I should to the voice of the Spirit, then he could use the “flogging” of difficult circumstance to get my attention. I truly can’t think of a time when I saw the difficult circumstance as “from the Lord”, but the truth remains – God does use this kind of thing to correct His children. What loving father does not correct his kids? Remember this – it will be immediately clear to you if God is directly involved because as soon as you examine yourself, the Holy Spirit will confirm God’s correction. Do not be like the confused Christians who say we should praise God “for all things”. This is not the case. The correct wording is; “in all things” we should praise God. Let this be your meditation today – Our Father uses loving discipline to mold us into the image of His Son.

Questions:

1. Describe a time when God used “discipline” to correct you.
2. How does God normally correct you?
3. Does God ever use “the rod of correction” to change a nation? – how about a church?

“He Has Shown You O Man, What Is Good”

September 28 – Today’s Readings – Micah 6-7 and Psalms 88

There are several passages here that bear mentioning.

In Chapter 6:8 of Micah, God tells Israel that there is far greater “worship” in doing the will of God than in Old Testament style offerings – “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Here we have an Old Testament version of the book of James. James spends the lion’s share of his New Testament book exhorting on the theme of being “doers of the Word” – not just people who hear and profess faith.

Micah 7:8 also holds an Old Testament surprise. In the days of Micah there were few confessions of faith like this one – “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.”

Here also we find New Testament understanding – that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) This is the completely victorious confession of the born-again child of God. Unless you know Jesus, you simply don’t have this kind of assurance. Micah was way ahead of his time – he was seeing the future!

Micah 7:19 is another statement that is shocking for an Old Testament author to make – “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

All our iniquities were indeed hurled into the sea at the cross. Before the cross, the only instruments of cleansing were all the constant sin offerings. The Lord Jesus dealt with the kingdom of sin once and for all. We come to Him, lay our burdens down and live our lives in Him and through Him – the authority of sin is drowned forever in the sea of God’s forgetfulness! What unusual insight God gave Micah. He saw the future and must have marveled at the words God gave him to speak.

This brings me to the main point of all this. – It is vital that New Testament believers read and understand the Old Testament. New Testament truth was birthed in the Old Testament. Jesus was an Old Testament man – so were all the other writers of the New Testament. The early Church believers based their lifestyles on nothing but Old Testament Scripture, the teachings and the life of Christ and the encouragement of the Apostles. As the Holy Spirit filled the hearts of the Apostles with clear insight and revelation from the Old Testament, the New Testament was born. Even the book of Revelations is primarily a collection of visions and prophecies taken from the Old Testament. Before we go about “censoring” huge sections of the Old Testament, we should be reminded that – “All Scripture [including the Old Testament] is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” [2Timothy 3:16]

Questions:

1. Give some other common examples of New Testament truth found in the Old Testament.
2. Why do you suppose that some modern day Christians never even open the Old Testament – let alone read it faithfully?

All Nations Coming To The Lord

September 27 – Today’s Readings – Micah 4-5 and Psalms 87

Micah is a fascinating book because it is quite futuristic in parts. Chapter 4 begins in this way;

4:1-2 “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”

This sounds like a great season of ingathering to me – all nations “streaming” to the Lord and being led by the Lord. We have heard of great in-gatherings of people all over the world but the promise is that “nations” will be swept up in a great move of God. Let it happen quickly Lord!

The second prophecy, at the beginning of Chapter 5, concerns the coming of Jesus and is directly quoted in the Gospels – Micah 5:2 reads, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Here is a man – Micah – who “sees” something in the spirit but can only visualize in shadows and types. I’m sure that when he penned these words he knew they were given by special revelation – something big – but he could not have imagined the full impact of his prophecy. He had just told the world that Jesus (God made flesh) would be born in Bethlehem and that He was the “ancient of days”. This is what makes the prophets so fascinating. They were given detailed visions of things that would come to pass – but they knew very little about these things. The prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the life of Christ and other futuristic events are one of the great “proofs” that the Bible is the Holy Word of God.

Then again, why should this be a great surprise – “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Questions:

1. Give another example of an Old Testament Prophet who said things about Jesus that he could never have known.
2. If God has a great harvest planned for His Church in the last days, what should we, as individuals, be doing about it?

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