Category Archives: Bible Studies

Mountains.

The Climb – Miley Cyrus

Click the link above and listen to this song as you read this.

We tried a new church just after Thanksgiving last year. I’m finding it necessary to have one a little closer to home for several reasons. I was more than a little nervous. I’ve tried new churches before and always get nervous but that’s gotten worse since I have 2 little people who depend on me for everything. Who God gave me and who I feel this enormous responsibility to make sure they are taught about Jesus and who He is and everything He’s done for us. One of the biggest steps in doing this is finding the right church. One that will not only teach my kids in a way I agree with (by teaching them the Word) but in a way that shows them just how real God’s word is AND one that I can worship in and be 100% who I’m supposed to be in Christ.

That’s pretty demanding if you think about it. So often we hear, “you don’t have to make everyone happy as long as you’re happy” and there are times when that applies but this isn’t one of them. It is absolutely imperative that all three of us are getting what we need on the level we need it – especially from church. And no, I’m not talking about the actual physical building we call a church. I’m talking about the Church, as in the people who make up the church. When we go to a church expecting things to be what we need we’re setting some pretty high expectations for those who are leading worship, teaching the kids, running the book store and coffee shop, and preaching/teaching. That list goes on and on.

With that in mind, I walked into this new church with VERY high expectations. And I was completely blown away. My kids loved their classes (although E-Man does say he has to sit still too long sometimes but I think he’s enticed by the pool and foosball tables!). Worship was amazing. And then there was the sermon.

How often do you hear a grown man quoting Miley Cyrus? Honestly, that rarely happens and if it does it’s a single dad who’s trying to impress someone in regards to the time he spends with his daughter. Okay, that’s a bit cynical but you get my point. That’s something that just doesn’t happen. Well, the speaker that Sunday started his sermon, not with words, by playing a clip from Miley Cyrus’ song The Climb (see above link). And then he started talking about mountains.

Now, unfortunately, I don’t have my notes in front of me so I don’t have the scripture references he used but I will tell you what I got out of his sermon.

There’s a verse in the Bible (Matthew 17:20 Amplified Version – italics & bold mine – courtesy of YouVersion)

20 He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

So often the second portion of that verse is taken a bit too literal. Out of context even. We are taught that as Christians we have the ability to move mountains. True. Very true. We’ve also become complacent that just because the mountain hasn’t moved means that we’re meant to be here, going through this trial or tribulation for a time. Just like Jesus spent 40 days being tempted in the desert. And when that time is finished God will removed the mountain before us. But what we fail to see is that not every mountain is meant to be moved. Some are meant to be climbed.

Take a look at the following list (compiled in part using Max Lucado’s book Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear — Chapter 14):

* Noah’s ark lands: Mountains of Ararat

* Isaac as a sacrifice: Mount Moriah

* Moses and the burning bush: Mount Sinai

* Elijah ascending into Heaven: Mount Horeb

* Christ Crucified: Calvary

* Christ’s Transfiguration: Mount Hermon

Some of the most important and life changing events in the Bible happened  on the tops of mountains. Think about that. If the people we grew up knowing from the Bible had to face their mountains and climb them in order to see the goodness God had for them at critical times in their lives, why would we try to remove the mountains in our lives? Why wouldn’t we want to race up those mountains as fast as possible in order to see what God has in store for us?

I admit that I am one who has previously stated something akin to, “God will remove this mountain when it’s time”. Trust me when I tell you I’m not saying that anymore. Yes, I do believe that some mountains are to be removed and cast into the sea but the keyword there is some. Not all.

So many times I have said, “I can’t”. No more. I know that life as we know it is only going to get worse. Let me rephrase that. The world as we know it is only going to get worse – go read Revelation, Daniel, and Isaiah. Why on Earth should we, whose home is in Heaven, succumb to the things of this world? Why can’t I climb the mountains and receive all that God has for me and my family?!

Did you get that? Climb the mountains in your life. Rely on God to be with you and trust him to lead you through paths of righteousness. In the 23rd Psalm, the Bible says; (Amplified – italics mine)

4 Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.

 

We have to make it through the valleys in order to climb the mountains but when we do so with God there is no fear. God guides us. God protects us. God comforts us.

What are you waiting for?

 

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No Go. No Lo.

Okay God. Here I am. Send … someone else.

You know, if we’re honest with ourselves we’ve all said this or something similar to it at some point in our lives. Why are we so ready to send others into places we won’t go ourselves?

Pamela Rosewell‘s book Safer than a Known Way was written about her years as assistant and caretaker to Corrie ten Boom. The book is a fascinating depiction of one person’s determination to follow God in everything even when there was a “known” path.

In the book Pamela tells a story of a missionary who came to her church to tell them about life on the mission field. He started his talk with the words, “No go. No lo.”

(Referencing Matthew 28:19-20)

19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

We know these verses as “The Great Commission” but have you ever really paid attention to what’s said in this passage?

Did you notice that the verses say, “AND LO”? “And”. Not “or” or “maybe” but “AND”. “Go, and lo”. Very simply stated, if you go and do what God tells you to do (make disciples of ALL nations) He WILL be with you. It’s a promise. And God’s promises are, “Yes and Amen!”.

The phrase at the end, “even unto the end of the world” says that even though these words and phrases and promises were made thousands of years ago, they are still true. How do I know that? It says, “even unto the end of the world” and we have yet to see the end of the world! It’s that simple!

We get scared. Honestly. It’s frightening for some to think of giving themselves solely to God, to be used as He says and not necessarily doing what’s comfortable. We like to sit back in our EZ boy recliners or our spacious corner offices with magnificent views of the city and contribute financially and then later say, “oh look what I did”. But, all we’ve done is allow someone else to be sent rather than being the one to go.

I challenge you to change your mantra from, “Send someone else” to “Send me” and see what happens when you truly take hold of God’s word and wholeheartedly follow Him.


Matthew 7:24-29

Sand vs. Rock

24  “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock.

25  The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock.

26  Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

27  The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!”

28  Whent Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed by his teaching,

29  because he taught them like one who had authority, not like their experts in the law.

This passage of scripture reminds me of a song I sang as a child.

Don’t build your house on the sandy land. Don’t build it too near the shore. Well, it might look twice as nice but you’ll have to build it twice. So, you’ll have to build your house once more. You better build your house upon the Rock. Make a good foundation on a solid spot. Cause the storms may come and go but the peace of God you will know.

I don’t know a lot of the specifics that go into building a safe and sturdy structure but I do know that sand is not the best foundation. Sand moves. It can sink in. It can wash away. None of those sound like anything I’d want my house built on.

In the same mindset, I don’t want  to go through life thinking everything is okay only to find out that my foundation for life is sand and not rock. I know 100% that God is my everything. He is my foundation for life.

Also, take into consideration, you can’t just assume what you’ve been told, or what you’ve grown up believing, is truth. You have to to dig and get the truth for yourself. Being told smething only plants the seed of either truth or falsehood. It’s up to us to do our own research. It’s up to us to stand firm in what we believe. But, how do we know what we believe without being firm in the knowledge of Jesus and what is written in the Bible? You have to know it; way down deep know it.

I want to be like the wise man who built his house on the rock. Where the storms may come full force at any time but I will still have the peace of God because I know my house is built on The Rock.

What kind of foundation do you have?


James 4:7-10

This is a study I did quite a while ago but is still pertinent. I’ll post some recent thoughts soon but as I’m trying to get back into blogging everyday, or nearly everyday, again I felt the need to rely on some of my previous posts from other blogs I’ve had. Oh, and the pink words are my own personal thoughts. 🙂

James 4:7-10

7. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

8. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

9. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and you joy to gloom.

10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

  1. Submit
  2. Resist
  3. Draw near to
  4. Cleanse
  5. Purify
  6. Lament
  7. Mourn
  8. Weep
  9. Humble

This sounds almost like the steps to a recipe … a recipe for humility maybe… but what do all those words really mean? I’m going to need a few more research type books for this one I think

!.) SUBMIT: to yield to governance or authority; to subject to a condition, treatment, or operations; to present or propose to another for review, consideration, or decision; to deliver formally; to put forward as an opinion or contention; yield oneself to the authority or will of another; surrender; to permit oneself to be subjected to something; to defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another; yield

Question: How do we submit ourselves to God?

Answer: By saying. “Okay God, here I am I trust You and want you to do Your will in me. I want Your desires and wants for me to become the desires and wants that I want for myself.” There is such a thing as being forced into submission bit our God wants us to want Him in our lives. He won’t go there unless we willing allow Him to take control of things.

2.) RESIST: to take a stand; to exert force in opposition; to exert oneself so as to counteract or defeat; to withstand the force or effect of; to oppose

I really like all of these definitions for resist. Initially, the first 2 stood out the most but they are all really good, especially the one about defeat.

Question: How do we resist the devil?

Answer: We take a stand and exert force in opposition against the obstacles he puts in our paths. Force means ‘strength or energy exerted or brought to bear; active power; to make someone or something yield’. That could be anything from flat out, literally saying. “NO!” to the devil (yes, audibly even) to reminding ourselves that we are children of God by quoting scripture, singing praises, praying. Say to yourself, “I am a child of God and no weapon formed against me will prosper”. Remind yourself of previous incidents where God has overcome. If you still have problems resisting the devil, remind him of his future.

3.) DRAW NEAR TO: to cause to move continuously toward or after a force applied in advance; to cause to go in a certain direction; to give a portrayal of’ to come or go steadily or gradually; to change shape by pulling or stretching; to create a likeness or a picture in out lines

These definitions are interesting to me because to draw near to God means to get closer to Him, to be completely inundated in His presence.

Most people who hear the word draw, with no other words attached, automatically associate it with the art world. Such as draw a picture, as some of the above definitions suggest. This is what is interesting to me because in drawing close to God, I picture Him as a person I would gravitate to. For me it’s easier to get closer to someone I can literally attach a picture to. Not

necessarily anyone specific but someone who embodies all the qualities a person should have in order to attract me to them in such a way. Things like compassion and trust along with the feelings I get when I see a sunrise or sunset or witness the miracle of a baby’s birth. Or the quiet silence that shows up when I figure out yet again that everything is going to be okay. I can’t sit here and paint a picture of a person with a face and nose and eyes and all that, but what I just said is enough for me to picture my God, the One I’m drawing near to.

Question: How do we draw near to God?

Answer: Psalm 79:28 says,

    But it is good to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God that I may declare Your works.

This verse makes me think that drawing near to God is putting myself wholeheartedly into His capable hands and trusting Him with my entire life ~ body, heart, soul, mind, spirit ~ submitting to Him. I should also show Him that I trust Him completely by praising Him and declaring His works to the nations. Beyond that, drawing near to God and placing myself wholly in His care means listening to Him and surrendering my will; replacing my will with His will for me. Let him shine through me. To gain the closeness with Him that I may have with people who are my closest friends. To sit at His feet and just sit and listen to what He has to say. And be quiet and enjoy being completely immersed in His presence.

4.) CLEANSE: to purify; clean; to rid of impurities by or as if by washing

That is pretty straight and to the point. James 4:8 says, ‘cleanse your hands, you sinners’. I’m struggling with this one some because I was always taught that God meets us where we are, that we don’t have to clean ourselves up in order to be presentable to Him. So, I’m going to look this one up in Naves Topical Bible and get some clarification ….

CLEANSE: see ablution

ABLUTION: of the hands, as a token of innocence

Deuteronomy 21:6, Psalm 26:6, Matthew 27: 24

So far I’m getting that we wash our hands to prove we are innocent … maybe to show we are no longer the person we used to be. Let me go see what all those verses say ….

    Deuteronomy 21:6 is where there is an unsolved murder and the elders in the town are washing their hands to show they are innocent of the man’s blood.
    Psalm 26:6 talks about washing your hands in innocence. This one is intriguing because the very next verse, Psalm 26:7, says, ‘proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all your wondrous works’ which is part of drawing near to God.

Maybe you have to show you are now innocent by washing your hands and only after you show you are innocent can you truthfully proclaim the works of God and offer up thanksgiving to Him.

    Matthew 27:24 is when Pilot washes his hands and says, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just Person’ at the time of Jesus’ capture and trial.

Still though, I get the act of washing your hands as an outward act of the cleansing of your heart … wait, what about the act of cleansing your spirit, a Spiritual Cleansing?

My Thompson Chain Ref. bible that I got @ Rhema shows a reference to spiritual cleansing in 1John 3:3.

1John 3:3

    And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

{The hope mentioned in this verse is the hope that goes with being children of God ~ the world does not know us but He does.}

My Strong’s Concordance say the word cleanse used in James 4:8 is the Hebrew word “challaq” (khal-lawk) meaning smooth. So then the verse reads ‘smooth your hands, you sinners’.

So, back to Webster’s … Grr!

SMOOTH: having a continuous even surface; causing no resistance to sliding; free from difficulties or impediments; even and uninterrupted in flow or flight; serene equable; to free from obstruction or difficulty

Question: Again, what does it mean when the Bible says, ‘cleanse your hands, you sinners’?

Answer: We basically get a clean slate. We truly get to start over. When God says “forgive and forget”, this is what He means. What seems to be coming back to me, is to literally wipe yourself clean of the sins your hands have committed.

Example:

    • If a thief decides to submit himself to God, then, in order to cleanse his hands as meant in James 4:8, he needs to stop stealing. Literally stop using his hands for committing sins and being using his hands for good. Use them as though they are brand new hands (new and smooth) that are not to get dirty with sin.

5.) PURIFY: to make pure; to clear from material defilement or imperfection; to free from guilt or moral or ceremonial blemish; to free from undesirable elements; to grow or become pure or clean

Purify mimics cleanse in that it is a form of cleansing but goes deeper. Purify is sort of like a deep cleaning for your heart and mind. I think this is because in cleansing your hands you stop the actual physical act of sin but you still have the desire to sin and the thoughts to put action to those desires. Those desires and thoughts are very hard to get rid of as they run way down deep into your being. This is why I consider purify a ‘deep cleansing’ of your heart (desires) and mind (thoughts). Even though you have stopped the action of the sin, you still have that little devil on your shoulder telling you, “one more time won’t hurt anything” and other little lies like that. Purify, in this verse, is tricky though because it says, ‘purify your heart’ and then calls us ‘double-minded’.

So, back to Webster’s for double-minded ….

DOUBLE-MINDED: not actually in my Webster’s dictionary. Interesting.

So, going to Strong’s ….

DOUBLE-MINDED: see ‘double’ and ‘minded’

DOUBLE and MINDED: (these are the exact same thing according to Strong’s)

#1374: “Gebiym” (gay-beem): plural of #1356

    #1356: “Geb” (gabe): a log (as cut out); also well or cisterns (as dug) – beam, ditch, pit

The first thought that comes to mind is a modern day phrase ‘keep your mind out of the gutter’ We can’t have our thoughts on things of God and focused on God and still wander around over ‘gutter’ ideas as well. We can’t have both.

Question: What does it mean to purify our hearts and how can we keep our hearts pure?

Answer: Whatever is in your heart is what is in your mind. Most people speak without thinking about the consequences and then try to take back what has been said. They say they didn’t really mean it or they were having a bad day. The truth is, and what most people fail to realize, what you say is what you think and what you think is what you believe; even if for just that moment in time. What comes out of our moths is a direct line to seeing what is truly embedded in our hearts and minds. Purify goes deeper than cleanse because it’s harder to control what we say or think than it is to control what we do. To purify our hearts we are consciously controlling every thought we think and every word we speak. To quote another modern phrase or two ‘think before you speak’ and ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’. Both are common phrase and both are well founded. Think about the consequences of what you are thinking before you say it. To keep yourself pure, well, like most habits, once you get into the groove of things you are good to go. But, you still have to keep yourself in check. Make sure your words and thoughts are not hurtful or wrong or any of that bad stuff. Make sure your thoughts reflect what is truly in your heart because what is in you mind is what will come out of your mouth and you want your words to reflect your true heart.

6.) LAMENT: to mourn aloud; to wail; to express sorrow, mourning, or regret for often demonstratively; mourn; regret strongly; a crying out in grief; wailing; dirge; elegy; complaint

7.) MOURN: to express grief or sorrow; to show the customary signs of grief for a death; to war mourning; to murmur mournfully; to feel or express grief or sorrow for; to utter mournfully

8.) WEEP: to express deep sorrow for, usually by shedding tears; bewail; to pour forth (tears) from the eyes; to exude (a fluid) slowly; ooze; to express passion (as grief) by shedding tears; to give off or leak fluid slowly; to flow sluggishly or in drops; to droop over; bend

Lament, mourn, and weep are close enough in definition that I lumped them all together. They are, in effect, the various stages of grief.

Example:

    • When someone passes away, once you are over the initial shock, you may begin to expressively show your pain by yelling and throwing things or by crying and the top of your voice, almost in disbelief. Once this person’s passing sinks in deeper, you start to mourn that loss. You are still crying and expressing your pain and grief, but not as demonstratively as before. This part of the process, for some, can take a while but during this time you are more opened to hearing about the death and starting to think about making future plans. Weeping is a little bit different. You still may cry, just not as excessively or expressively. You may still have your ‘bad’ days and sad memories but this is where you start to bend. Where you not only accept the passing of a loved one but also that life is still going on for you. You start to remember the good memories and realize there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Question: So what does all that have to do with us, in the context of this particular passage?

Answer: This passage is about humility and what it takes to get there. At this point in the process, you are grieving the person you used to be. It’s like when we first hear about God and the bible. The person we are at that moment rejects the idea, because of disbelief. You’re asking, “what’s the catch?” You’re lamenting the thought of losing this person you are. Mourning comes in after hearing about God and the Bible several more times. You become more accepting of what the Bible says and that there is no catch. You are becoming acclimated to what it would be like to be that new person but you’re not quite there yet. Once you finally accept the Bible as truth, you will be in the final stage, weeping. Weeping over the loss but able to see the truth for what it is: truth. You have bent and while there may be times when you wish for that person ~ the one you used to be, you have accepted the truth and can now see the light.

9.) HUMBLE: not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive; reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission; ranking low on a hierarchy or scale; insignificant; unpretentious; not costly or luxurious

Basically, not “high maintenance and/or demanding”. Self confident enough to share the spot light with others or to be out of the spot light completely and to be okay with not being in the spot light. To realize and acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers and that you need help.

Question: So, what does it take to be humble?

Answer: The whole passage of James 4:7-10 is a lesson in humility and how to become humble.

You have to submit yourself to God. Yield yourself to His authority. Surrender yourself to His will.

Resist the devil. Take a stand in resistance to the devil and exert force against him in opposition. Defeat him.

Draw near to God. Continuously move towards Him and allow yourself to be stretched and pulled from your comfort zone.

Cleanse your hands and keep them clean from sin (wrongdoing).

Purify your heart. Watch what you say and think and guard yourself. Reflect God in what you say and do.

Lament, Mourn, Weep. Go through the grieving process of losing your old self and becoming a new you. Accept the truth.

Humble yourself before God. Once you do everything else this one should be easy and come naturally. By this point you should realize that it’s not about you. It’s about God. You are the vessel He uses to declare His works. You are His masterpiece. Let His light shine through you.


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