Bible Study


Psalm 1:3 “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

I find that if I stay outside working in the garden long enough, God is surely going to reveal something whether I’m looking and expecting it or not.  Such was the case yesterday after a few hours, yes…hours, of watering (we really must sort out our irrigation system! – and no, that wasn’t the revelation!)

This is how I did it!

This is how I did it!

As I gave each  valuable plant a thorough soaking, careful not to simply wet the surface of the ground and move on, but hosed the earth (using the exact technique displayed in the above photograph 😉 ) s0 the water went down deep to the roots, God showed me that just like the life-giving water to the plants, so is His Word life-giving water to His valuable children.

God’s Word often speaks of “watering”, “planted and watered”, “washing with the Word”, and “quenching thirst”.  Soaking in God’s Word brings life, quenches thirst and cleanses believers; but we must drench ourselves with it.  If we do not thoroughly immerse ourselves in God’s Word but rather just taste a snippet occasionally, it will encourage shallow roots.  And this was God’s point – it must be deep watering.  Shallow roots do not produce an enduring church.

Mark 4:17 “and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time.  Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.”

The image of a tree beside a river is a perfect example of deep watering and a constant supply coming from God’s Word.  The verse preceding Psalm 1:3 explains who will be like this tree; it is the person whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His Law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2  This is not just watering the surface, but a saturation!

Just hearing the Word at church on Sundays, glancing at a daily verse on a calendar, or even reading a daily devotional penned by someone else, is not going to encourage the steadfastness and surety in God’s promises that really seeking in God’s Word provides.  I know that after opening God’s Word with a heart to receive from Him directly, I am refreshed and strengthened in my faith.  It is essential, like the air we breathe, and wonderful!

Be open to God’s Word. Seek His counsel in His pages with a heart open to the Holy Spirit’s teaching.  The roots of your faith will find depth and strength so that you will not be shaken in this dry and thirsty land.

Jeremiah 17:8 “For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

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Philippians 3:18-19 “18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.”

These statements are referring to people who are “walking”, those who know The Lord, and are supposedly following the Way of the Cross; but through their misdirected focus actually war against it.  Let us not be “enemies of the  cross of Christ” but fix our mind on Jesus and eternal matters of the Spirit – not the things of this world.

1 John 2:15 & 17 “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

Matthew 6:24-25 “24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches). 25 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”

There are things we are told by Jesus, not to concern ourselves with, yet often these very things become the main focus of our thoughts and actions. I have been struggling with this myself and as I laid it all before the Lord this morning looking for answers, He showed me great and wonderful things in His Word. Hallelujah! These very same things were what Satan put before Jesus in the wilderness.

I have been reading Love not the World by Watchman Nee, and together with my bible study which has been working through Isaiah, God lead me to a passage from Luke this morning which complimented the thoughts presented in both, and gave me the answers I needed. Luke 14:1-13 takes us through Jesus’ experience in the wilderness being tested by the devil.

From Watchman Nee’s book, a point was made that in the last days, the World will be as it was in the Days of Noah and as Lot went out from Sodom. “They ate, they drank, they married, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded.” see Luke 17:26-30. Scripture tells us not to concern ourselves with eating, with drinking, nor what we shall wear. Romans 14:17 tells us that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Scripture bids us “first seek God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to us” Matthew 6:31-33. This point also resonates throughout the book of Isaiah.

I have been engrossed lately with “What we shall eat”. Being 28 weeks pregnant with baby #5 and a bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding in 3 weeks, I have been concerning myself with trying to eat for the health of my baby but not the size of my backside. Add to this, struggling with cravings and a lack of willpower against all tasty treats that are bad for both! I have been utterly defeated despite my most ardent desire to succeed.

We are also looking to sell the house in which we live and the to-do list which must be completed prior to this becoming a reality is consuming beyond distraction!

Watchman Nee points out regarding Christians, “The undue attention to eating and drinking is far from normal; it is supernatural. For it is not just a question of food and drink that we are meeting here; we are meeting demons.” Heavy stuff! I had never considered this at all, but it makes perfect sense. It was clearly confirmed when I opened my bible this morning, but more on that in a minute.

Watchman Nee also states “the question today is not so much one of sinfulness as one of worldliness. Eating and drinking? Marrying and giving in marriage? Buying and selling? These things are so common and so simple, they are yet being used by Satan to ensnare God’s children into the great net of his world order.” He reminds us that, “There was a time when the Church rejected the world’s ways. Now she not only uses them, she abuses them. Of course we must use the world, but let us not want it, let us not desire it.”

When I read the passage in Luke 4:1-13 I saw the truth of Nee’s statements. Here we see Satan’s plan in action – he tried it out on Jesus first, yet Jesus “overcame”, let us take note!

The first temptation Satan presented was food! He suggests that Jesus should break from Truth and rely on Himself or His power to provide bread to eat. Rarely do I take the concern regarding “What I shall eat, drink or wear” to God but rather I plan and allocate finances (ultimately funds that are not guaranteed) sometimes weeks ahead. Jesus’ mind regarding this is evident in His response, a response taken from the passages of Deuteronomy 8:3. “Man shall not live by bread alone”. We live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of The Lord. Jesus lived His life this way and shows us this in action in John 4:32-34.

Satan then presents Jesus with an offer of worldly power, authority and the glory of man. This is ultimately what the world seeks after. Power, prestige, the never-ending striving for more. I see this within my own family – members who are not saved, strive and strive for what is never enough. It’s futile and easy even for Christians to slip into if we take our eyes off Jesus.

Jesus combats the offer with “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Striving after the world’s goods and glory is worshipping Satan, pure and simple – keeping your eyes fixed on The One True God in worship to Him only is the key to overcoming this trap.

The final temptation is one that was discussed in my bible study group this week. We did not see it as an influence of Satan but definitely as something facing Christians today. As I read the Luke passage, it became clear that the force behind this certainly comes from the pit of hell. In bible study we looked at Isaiah 32:9-11. The passage begins as follows: “9 Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; You complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.” The NIV translates this passage as: “9 You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me; You daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say.”

In Luke 4:9-11 Satan then takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and tells Him to “throw yourself down from here” and have God save Him. As I read, again scales fell from my eyes and I saw the reality of what we had discussed in our group. It’s easy for today’s Christian to become complacent. We have no real “need” for God, being secure in our worldly endeavours fully able to provide for ourselves.  We also harbour an attitude of taking even our salvation for granted. We stand on the pinnacle of the temple, secure in our salvation but we often “tempt the Lord our God” Luke 4:12. When we live lifestyles in contradiction to God’s word, in hypocrisy to the grace offered to us, we “throw ourselves down” in opposition to the Truth of God’s Word.

In complacency we live each day with eyes set on the things of this world, showing little regard to redeeming the time as this age comes to a close. The salvation of unsaved loved ones does not weigh as heavy a burden upon us as it should and these passages have certainly been a wake-up call to me.

As Jesus stood firm against the wiles of the devil, He overcame him and the lures of “the World”.   Seeing who is behind these concerns certainly puts them in their proper perspective! 

As we take on the Mind of Christ and listen to the voice of God in all things, being willing to walk in His Way in obedience to His guidance, we too will overcome Satan’s schemes in the World and detach ourselves from it’s seduction.  We will discover the peace, rest and strength that comes from living by every word which proceeds from the mouth of The Lord.

Psalm 4:4b – 5 “Meditate within your heart on your bead, and be still.  Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.”

This week my bible study group looked at the passage of Isaiah Chapters 30 and 31.  It’s a message of God’s judgement on those who do not put their trust in Him, and throughout the passage you can read of God’s earnest desire for His people to look to Him and find their true security in the face of adversity, which only He can provide.  These chapters echoed the message of last week’s passage, Chapters 28 and 29, which contain a wonderful parable which portrays how God desires us to walk in His guidance. (Isaiah 28:23-29)

Trusting in God in the face of adversity, or any situation in which we find ourselves uncertain about future outcomes, or that cause us fear or anxiety, can be difficult.   Clearly we see from scripture that God’s people have always struggled with complete reliance on God in spite of His continued proof of ability to come through seemingly insurmountable odds.  While I didn’t identify with the people in the Isaiah passage who wanted to ignore God’s truth and would rather have their ears tickled, I could identify with them in the sense of  their “planning”.

“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit.”  Isaiah 30:1

I’ll admit it; I’m a planner.   And further to that, I confess that at times, God has been my “back-up plan”.  But God’s word is clear on how He wants His people to live – in complete reliance on Him, seeking His counsel, and listening and obeying Him as He leads.  God’s plans rarely, if ever, resemble man’s plans or the seemingly logical ways of the world and so-called experts.  We are called to reject these ways, which ultimately are the “Ways of the World” and walk in God’s Way.

“Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh and not Spirit.” Isaiah 31:3a (Israel was looking to Egypt for protection from the Assyrians rather than seeking God).  This passage highlights the futility of looking to earthly means and reasoning rather than God who is sovereign above all things.

“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Isaiah 31:21

God has told them previously in Isaiah 30:15, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quiet confidence shall be your strength.” 

My morning reading reiterated the truth presented over the last couple of weeks; given that this message is being resounded, I guess I need to have it solidified in my life…being presented with situations in which we must trust in God is not an overly pleasant thought, it’s not something one would look forward to, but certainly one that is unavoidable and will ultimately be for our own good in the end.  Just a “reminder to self” here for when one is in the thick of it!

The Bible tells us to wait on the Lord for His wisdom, in quietness and with an obedient heart, and to trust in Him.

Psalm 4:4-5 “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.  Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.” The outcome of this – Psalm 4:8 “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Proverbs 4:21-26 “My son, let them not depart from your eyes – keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck.  Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble.  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.  Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.”

The reaction of God’s people in the face of trouble in the Isaiah passage was to flee.  But God’s word tells us we are to trust.

Taking time to seek God, in quietness, in waiting on the Lord, being in His Word and with an open heart and an obedient spirit, we can rest and have confidence in Him.  He is our proven hope. not just in the face of adversity but in our everyday lives; in our everyday tasks (like in the parable of Isaiah 28) He gives us wisdom and guidance to live in this world but not be “of the world”.

When we fully embrace these truths and walk in them, those around us will look and know that we walk with God.

 

 

 

See the Light

Revelation

1 John 2:6 “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

How are we to walk? What are we to do each and everyday? As He did in the world.

When we spend time with God, waiting before Him, meditating on His word and listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in His presence, we know Him, His heart, His love, and His character.  We will “see” Him and know Him.  We cannot do “the will of the Father” nor “be about the Father’s business” if we do not seek Him first.

1 John 2:17 “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

Jesus walked “doing the will of God”.

John 5:19 “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”

1 John 4:17 “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

THOUGHT FOR TODAY – 1 John 4:8b “God is love.”  BE love in the world.

 

 

 

I have been rejoicing in the Lord this morning…He has given me a wonderful gift (to be revealed in time). This gift allowed me to present myself before the Lord with a heart overflowing with greatfulness and yet knowing that I would need his strength and mercy more than ever because of it.  So, on one hand, I was overjoyed but on the other, fully aware of my need for His sustenance.  Confused yet? 😉 Sorry, but just wanted to set the scene a little.

I commenced today’s prayer time with the allocated prayer topic (from the 31 days of prayer and fasting program I’ve been following) which was “A call to pray for and eradicate POLYGAMY spirits in the church.”  As this is a program from PNG I understand that having more than one wife is relatively common practice over there.  In Australia, however, divorce is the outward evidence of this spirit at work.   This topic is one which is close to my heart as I have seen the restorative work of the Holy Spirit in my own marriage, who is willing and able to transform our lives as we hand our life over to Him.

This post is not actually meant to be focused on the topic of marriage per se but rather our hearts before God and the sin problem which is what ultimately leads those into this destructive situation.  One of the points to pray was that the sin/spirit of fornication, adultery, lust, uncleanness, covetousness will not creap into the church and destroy Christian marriages.

Here in lies the problem.  Sin.  Fornication, adultery, lust, uncleanness, covetness can affect every area of our lives, not just our marriages.  The next point to pray, was that the Word and Spirit of God will rule and the desire of the flesh will be crucified.  This is the only answer for deliverance and salvation.  We must continually allow The Word and the Spirit to rule and crucify the desires of the flesh as the flesh is nailed to the cross.

One of the verses pertaining to this topic this morning was Matthew 19:3-9.  In verse 8 we again see problem which leads to this situation.

“Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”

My prayer this morning, for those that are His, is that our hearts would not be hard so that we would look for permission to sin, but that our hearts would be soft and we would walk in submission to Him.

What an awesome time I have spent with the Lord this morning!  I am overwhelmed by His goodness and His willingness to draw near to us as we draw near to Him.

I have been working through a comprehensive 31 day Prayer and Fasting program supplied by a church with which we are affiliated.  They complete this program as a church every year.

As I began the program late, (I didn’t start on the 10th of January like everyone else in the PNG church), I have been covering two topics a day to catch up.  This morning’s topic was:

Repentance from Pride

“Pride is the root of ALL SINS”

1.  Fear God and hate evil.

2.  Hate pride and arrogance.

3.  Evil behavior, perverse speech.

4.  Salvation of those who allow pride to rule.

Scriptures – Proverbs 13:10; Proverbs 8:13; Isaiah 2:11; Isaiah 12:2; Jeremiah 49:16; Psalm 29:5; Zephaniah 2:3; James 4:10.

As I read James 4:6-10 one of the headings inserted in my bible was “Humility cures worldliness.”  Everything in the world feeds pride and “self”.  Life here is “all about us.”  Humbling yourself before God and drawing near to Him is the only way to loose the bonds of worldliness and walk free from the temptations/lures of the world.

Zephaniah 2:3 states “Seek the Lord all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice.  Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.”

We are to SEEK humility – it is not something that we can produce ourselves; our nature is “self-seeking” thus, only through spending time with the righteous Lord, and beholding his glory, may we be humbled before Him.

I am also reading through “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis, and last night, I read a sentiment he wrote which should be the desire of all believers:

“When will I fully gather myself in You, so that above all sense and measure, in a way not known to everyone, I will, because of my love for You, not be aware of myself at all but You alone.”

Desiring this state, where He is our all in all, is the only way to prevent the rise of self and to be free from desiring anything this world offers.  Kempis also said “Use temporal things, but desire eternal things.”

My two youngest children were awake early this morning, and quietly lay beside me on my bed as I repented, meditated on these things and prayed.  After about three quarters of an hour, I was finishing up when the elder of the two (my son, who will be 5 next month) said, “I was going to get you to read Isaiah 53.”

This was truly a blessing from God.  I opened my son’s bible and read the entire chapter aloud.  Jesus is our perfect example of humility and as I read Isaiah 53, we see the picture of Jesus humility and suffering for our sakes.  Here we see humility in action!  This brought me to tears as I thought of my own shortcomings and pridefulness…it brought me to a place of deeper repentance.  I thank God that our hearts are exposed through His Word, and as we seek Him, He does speak to us.

I turned on a CD as I made breakfast for us all and one of the songs sang the following words:

You lived, You died,

You said in three days You would rise,

You did, You’re alive.

 

You rose, You reign,

You said you’re coming back again,

I know that you will,

All the earth will sing your praises.

Praise God that what He says, He will do!  My son’s bible has little extra thoughts to consider throughout it.  Regarding Isaiah 53, it noted that Isaiah wrote this prophecy 700 years before Jesus was even born. (This impressed my 4 year old immensely!) It also said that prophecies like this one prove that the Bible really is the Word of God.

Jesus life also proves that we can trust Him to do what He says.  He IS coming back again…and my heart races in anticipation! “Come Lord Jesus, Come!”

 

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