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Showing posts from August, 2018

“Have We Played The Harlot?”

BIBLE READING: Ezekiel 16-17 DISCUSSION The seventh commandment read “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20.14).The punishment for violating this command was very severe. "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10).Anyone who has suffered through unfaithfulness in their marriage can attest to the pain that is inflicted when they have been cheated on.God knows that they consider this a very severe sin that carries with it a host of damaging consequences.That may be why He uses the example of an unfaithful bride in Ezekiel 16, to get their attention.When Israel would go after these idols, they were committing adultery on Him.If we were to look at it from God’s point of view, it is hard to see how they would be willing to turn away from Him after all the good that He has done for them.It is because of their harlotry that God is punishing them, yet God still maintains that He will k…

“Separated Yet Not Left…”

BIBLE READING: Ezekiel 13-15 DISCUSSION Over and over in the Bible we are taught the idea that God will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31.8; Joshua 1.5; Hebrews 13.5).Yet we also read in Isaiah 59.1-2, that our “iniquities have made a separation between you and your God”.On the one hand we are taught that God will never leave us, and on the other we are taught that it is possible to be separated from Him.As a Christian, how are we to rationalize these two possible conflicting concepts?In reality, they are not conflicting at all. In fact, they flow together quite nicely; especially when we see what Ezekiel has to say about the subject.In Ezekiel 14, God is appealing to the House of Israel to “… Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity befor…

“A NEW HEART”

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BIBLE READING: Ezekiel 9-12 DISCUSSION                 In Psalm 51, David is lamenting over his affair with Bathsheba and all of the events that followed.  In this song/prayer, he asked God to “Create in him a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51.10).  Who among us has not felt the heavy burden of guilt?  Guilt can be such a powerful emotion because it can be positive in the sense of bringing us to conviction and forgiveness, but it can also be negative in the sense of weighing us down and preventing us from growth.  If guilt is not an emotion that we’ve experienced, it is either because of ignorance or rebellion. In either case, it usually results in us having a heart of stone, but even when our heart is hard and dull of feeling guilt, God still has the power to change us.  In Ezekiel 11, the prophet talks about what God can do to a heart of stone.  “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their…

“ABOMINATIONS IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD”

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BIBLE READING: Ezekiel 5-8 DISCUSSION
                In Ezekiel 8, the Lord gives the prophet some insight as to what has been going on inside the House of the Lord.  In this vision he leads Ezekiel through a hole in the wall and allows him to see what the people are doing.  Inside he sees all sorts of abominations of creeping things, beasts and idols inside the LORD’s House.  The vision that he sees continues to grow worse. In Ezekiel 8.13 the Lord said, “You will see still greater abominations that they commit.”  As we all gather together to worship each Sunday and Wednesday, it would be terrible for us to see idols in place of the pulpit or the Lord’s Table.  We would have a rather difficult time trying to understand why someone would do such a thing.  Yet, I wonder what sort of abominations the Lord would find within our hearts?  Would he see the abomination of lust, greed, selfishness, and other forms of idolatry within our lives?  That is the only House that God is concerned with…

“YOU JUST NEVER KNOW…”

BIBLE READING: Ezekiel 1-4 DISCUSSION                 We just never know what kind of opportunities God is going to place in our path.  Ezekiel was a priest who was at the right age to begin his work as priest.  This was something that he had been looking forward too, as well as, been trained to do.  However, things were not the way he once thought they would be.  Now, there was no Temple for him to work in, there was no altar for him to offer any sacrifices.  In fact, he is not even in the land that he had called home for the most part of his life. He is now in the land of Babylon as an exile in their captivity.  While there he still sought to do his Godly duty of prayer along with many of the other exiles.  They had chosen the canal at the Chebar River as the place that they would all gather for prayer.   It was there that God intervened and gave Ezekiel his new assignment.   He would no longer be a priest like he had planned to do all his life; he would now be God’s spokesman for the…

Sunday

Bible Reading: Lamentations 3. 37-66, 4, 5.1-22

Lamentations

BIBLE READING: Lamentations 1, 2, 3.1-36 DISCUSSION Why study Lamentations? The realities of sin, suffering, and evil persist in our world prompting many (especially young millennials) to question their faith. These same realities exist still today—post resurrection of Jesus. As Paul laments in Rom 7-8, the sinfulness of man and the suffering of all creation leave him and it groaning for a time of redemption.
Richard Oster calls Lamentations, “the best commentary on Romans 8.” Lamentations confronts these questions and God’s role in them while providing a voice of heartfelt emotion but steadfast hope in the God who chastens. Lamentations deals with the reality of our world emotionally, and leaves it to marinate on the heart of the reader.The poems give voice to deep pains and questions for a 6th century BC audience, but still gives voice to many in pain today. But the poems are given to God in the form of lamenting prayer, petition for him to act differently in the future.
-Chapter one pe…

“Enduring Forever”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 51-52 DISCUSSION I received a call a few weeks ago that a major part of my life was now gone.The Larimore home at Mars Hill Bible School has been an icon of love and sacrifice as far back as I can remember, and now was destroyed by fire.The house was home to TB Larimore, the founder of Mars Hill Bible School.He was also a huge factor as to why the church is so strong in north Alabama.As I read the recounting of the fall of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, I could not get those images of the Larimore home in flames out of my mind.It must have been excruciating for the devout Jews to watch as their temple erupted in flames.With each passing moment another memory, another treasure, and a small piece of their soul just disappeared before their eyes. Those similar feelings went through my mind as I watched our beloved school landmark go up in smoke.So much of the school’s history was represented in that house, just as so much of the Jew’s his…

“God’s Plan”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 49-50 DISCUSSION As strange as it might have seemed, the LORD has used a pagan nation to teach the children of Israel what happened when they turn aside to idols.However, don’t think that God is going to allow Babylon off the hook for their own sins.In Jeremiah 50, God begins the pronouncement of judgment on Babylon as well. He wants to ensure that they know “…Babylon has become a horror to the nations…” (Jeremiah 50.23) and “I am against you” (Jeremiah 50.31).Even though God is using them to teach a lesson to His people, He wants to make sure that they cannot escape judgment either.This all fits into God’s plan.In Jeremiah 50.45 He says, “Therefore hear the plan that the LORD has made against Babylon, and the purposes He has formed against the Chaldeans”.God has plans for all of us, whether we serve Him or not.That brings about good news and bad news.The good news is that if we are not walking in His ways, He gives us ample opportunity to turn back and follow in…

“We Must All Face The Judgment”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 46-48 DISCUSSION As Jeremiah begins to close out his book, God is using him to pronounce judgment upon all the nations that have practiced wickedness.The words of Jeremiah that were specifically assigned for the Egyptians were “the swift cannot flee away, nor the warrior escape” (Jeremiah 46.6). As I read these, I can’t help but be reminded of the judgment that this world will have when Christ returns.In the New Testament concerning judgment day, we see it will come as a “thief in the night” (Matthew 24.43; I Thessalonians 5.2; Revelation 16.15).We also see it will be an exercise of “vengeance” and retribution (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12).It will be a day in which no soul will be able to escape (2 Corinthians 5.10).If there is anything that is certain concerning our Lord, He will not allow the wicked to go unpunished.Therefore, we should use every resource at our disposal to make sure we are following the path that Christ would have us to take, to ensure that we do n…

“Hate is a Strong Word”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 41-45 DISCUSSION As a child I can remember being scolded by my parents and grandparents that I should not say the word “hate”.“You should not “hate” anyone or anything because that is just not nice to say”, they would tell me.Well I’m not one to rebuke my parents, but even God is said to “hate” some things (Proverbs 6.16-23).Now I completely understand where my parents and grandparents were coming from because I have said the exact words to my children.It is true that I should never say I hate someone because it doesn’t matter what they did; they were still created in the image of God and have something good to offer.Nor should I say I hate certain things because I am blessed beyond compare with physical blessings, and even though I may not like someone, I am still better off than 90% of the world.But should I not be like God and hate the same things that He does? For instance, in Jeremiah 44 God is declaring judgment on all of those who had committed idolatry by…

Habakkuk

BIBLE READING: Habakkuk 1-3 DISCUSSION The short book of Habakkuk is a recording of Habakkuk’s complaints to God and God’s response. Habakkuk is looking around at the evil people of the world (specifically Assyria and Babylon) and seeing them rise to power. He notes that the law has become paralyzed and the wicked outweigh the righteous (1.4). God’s response reminds us “his ways are not our ways” when he says, “I am doing work that you would not even believe if I told you” (1.5). Habakkuk had a little bit of a “Jonah” mentality but what we have to understand is that God held his people to his standard – a higher standard. They were his special people and if they wanted to be blessed, then they themselves needed to become righteous. As Jesus says, “…to whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12.48).God reminds Habakkuk and us that no matter what is going on around us that the “righteous will live by faith” (2.3). Habakkuk closes his book with a prayer noting God’s might as he has ult…

Sunday

Bible Reading: 2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36

“Too Late For HIM…Not Us”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 38-40; Psalm 74,79 Warning after warning, after warning; and he still did not listen!As I continue to read through the book of Jeremiah, I keep asking myself “Why…why did Zedekiah not listen to the words of God through the mouth of Jeremiah?”God gave him ample time to humble himself with the assurance that if he did, he and his family would survive, yet because of arrogance and unbelief he did not listen.As we read in Jeremiah 39, it is too late for him to change.King Nebuchadnezzar slaughters the son of Zedekiah right in front of his eyes, and then he gouges out Zedekiah eyes so that the last thing he sees is the death of his sons.How horrible, how painful, how miserable it must have been for him to have to endure.Not to mention the painful thoughts of regret he must have had the last days of his life of knowing all of this could have been avoided if he had just heeded the message of Jeremiah.This is only a small parallel to the pain many will have after the da…

“The Word Remains…”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 35-37 Have you ever read a passage of Scripture that you wish wasn’t there?Maybe it was something that when you read it, you were so upset about it being there that you wish you could just rip out that page so you would never have to read it again.We have all heard of people who have torn out pages of their Bible, thinking if it wasn’t in their Bible they would not be held accountable for the words on those pages.Doesn’t that sound facetious?Yet that is exactly what the King did to the words that God gave to Jeremiah to write on a scroll.Jeremiah dictates Gods message to Baruch because he is not allowed to go the House of the LORD.Then he tells Baruch to go to the men of Judah and read the scroll in the hearing of all the people in hopes that they will humble themselves and turn back to God.When the king seizes the scroll and reads it for himself, he doesn’t like what he reads. He begins to tear the scroll into pieces and toss it into the fire to destroy it.Jere…

“The Steadfast Love of God”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 32-34 Even though the nation has been wicked and left the ways of the LORD and are facing the punishment of a seventy-year captivity, God continues to love them.When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and were punished, God still loved them.When the children of Israel decided to not trust Him when they were afraid to go into Canaan and God punished them to wander in the wilderness for forty years, He never stopped loving.When David had the affair with Bathsheba and then had Uriah killed and their son died, God never stopped loving him.Even though we fail Him every day by our sin and shame, He will never stop loving us.His love for us is unconditional; that means there is no condition by which He will stop loving us.As Jeremiah continues to prophecy concerning the nations punishment, the LORD places a side note to assure them of His love.“Give thanks to the LORD of host, for the LORD is good, for His steadfast love endures forever” (Jeremiah 33.11).Althoug…

“A New Covenant”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 30-31 The LORD declares to Jeremiah not only the things that are shortly to come to pass with the nation of Israel and Judah, but He also points him into the blessings of the future with a new covenant.This new covenant will not be like the old one that God gave to His people as they came out of Egypt, because they have already broken that covenant.This one will not be written on tablets of stone but will be written on their hearts.This covenant will also be different in that it will not be just for the Jews, but this will be for everyone.By this time, all the nations of the earth will know who God is and that He is the forgiver of iniquities.You can imagine, the look of happiness and joy that must have been on the face of Jeremiah as he hears about this new covenant.Sadly, Jeremiah would never be able to physically see that day; but we have!Today, we are no longer serving under the Old Covenant of the Law but are now under the New Covenant of grace and mercy th…

“His Yoke is Easy…”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 26-29 In Jeremiah 27, the LORD has Jeremiah use an object lesson for the nation of Judah and their neighbors.He has Jeremiah build a yoke and place it upon his neck as he prophesies.The lesson is this: any nation who does not accept the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, the LORD will punish.Yet, if they do accept the yoke, then he will bless them while they are under Babylonian rule.As I read this story and understood the lesson, I could not help but remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 11.28-30. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." -Matthew 11:28-30 A yoke is a symbol of submission and being under the control of the person who oversees the yoke. Although the yoke that Jeremiah is referring to is one that would be difficult to carry, it was still better …

“Good Fig or Bad Fig”

BIBLE READING:  Jeremiah 23-25 In Jeremiah 24, God sends a vision to the prophet of two baskets of figs that were placed before the Temple.  One basket was full of good figs, yet the other basket was full of bad figs that could not be eaten.  The meaning of the vision was directed towards those exiled from Judah that would be sent to Babylon.  The good figs are compared to those that go away into exile; these are the ones that accept their punishment for the LORD and do what they are told.  The bad figs were compared to Zedekiah and his officials, as well as all of those who tried to remain in Jerusalem or hide out in Egypt.  These are the ones that are not accepting the punishment of the LORD and did not regard His Word.  We have a very similar comparison that we use today, yet we compare it to a different fruit… apples.  The good apples are the ones that are seeking to follow the will of the LORD, while the bad apples are those that refuse or ignore His will.  We also all know that o…

Sunday

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 18-22

“Speak Up!”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 14-17 Throughout his ministry, Jeremiah had to endure intense persecution because of his stand for God’s word to him (15:15).Jeremiah knew that his life was in danger and yet he chose to serve God. He never wavered from telling his people of their wrongs with little fear for his own life. Jeremiah loved his people and Jerusalem. Today, we have similar opportunities in America, our country that we love. We have all of God’s word, in the Bible, and we know what He expects of us. As you see our people in America doing things that are against God’s word, what do you do?Does it make you sad as it did Jeremiah, when he saw his people worshiping other gods? Do you stand up against the evil that is entering into our society? Does the fear of persecution sway you into being silent? The heavenly rewards of speaking up far outweigh the earthly gain of remaining silent.What do you think God expects us to do? Prayer Requests:___________________________________________________…

“Modern Idolatry”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 10-13 Jeremiah lived in a world of cultures based on idolatry (10: 3-10). His own nation, Judah, was given over to idols during the reign of Manasseh and Amon, probably the period when Jeremiah was a boy. In fact, Jeremiah says that Judah had as many gods as it did cities (2:28). Also, each society around Judah worshipped many false gods. Looking back on these religions from today’s perspective, we have a tendency to look at an idol as merely an object crafted of stone, wood or metal that worshipper’s bowed down to in hopes of receiving good fortune. But that is not really what an idol is. An idol is anything that we value more than we value pleasing God; it may control you, and it’s probably something you can’t let go of. It takes priority over all things. What are some idols we have today?Certainly work and possessions would qualify for many people, considering the addictive way they are pursued. We each know where our weaknesses are. We are the only ones who ca…

“Is Your Direction Right?”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 7-9 Having faith is not a onetime event in one’s life, and it is not a state of moral perfection that only a few can attain. Faith is a dynamic lifelong journey that each of us as Christians are on. At any given time we are either moving toward God or away from Him. The people in Jeremiah’s day were under God’s judgment because they turned away from Him – they went backward not forward. (7:24). Rather than cultivate a growing relationship with God based on sustained faithfulness, they went their own direction following their evil hearts direction. (7:23-24).Let’s not let that be true of us. The only way to make progress on our journey of faith is to keep moving toward God, following His word. We will fail sometimes but we must get up and turn back toward God and not away from Him. Paul described this in his own personal experience; forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to the things ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize for the upw…

“Would You Be One?”

BIBLE READING: Jeremiah 4-6 The prophets frequently compared the city of Jerusalem to the city of Sodom. God destroyed Sodom for its wickedness. God would have spared the city if Abraham could have found 10 righteous people. They weren’t there. How many would have saved Jerusalem from a similar judgment? only one (Jer. 5:1). Jeremiah searched in poor neighborhoods, in the area of the leaders, but he found no one righteous and following Gods way. People of Jerusalem had turned completely away from God. Sin had crept into their lives to a point where they weren’t even ashamed of their sinful ways; nothing embarrassed them (Jeremiah 6:15). Paul used similar words in Eph. 4: 17-19 when talking to the Christians in Ephesus who had fallen away. Their hearts where hardened and they didn’t even recognize evil. Does one just wake up one morning and find themselves this deep in sin? Maybe we start out with “G” rated movies and progress to “X” (we fool ourselves about how this form of entertainmen…