Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

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Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bible Study - Connect (2) - Connect in Unity - Ephesians 4:1-6 - September 14, 2014


Bible Study – Connect (2) – Connect in Unity – September 14, 2014

This is lesson two in our series of study entitled “Connected: My Life in the Church.”

Our focus scripture is Ephesians 4:1-6.

Unity is one thing but staying unified takes work according to the will and purpose of GOD.

Ephesians Chapters 1-3 focus on doctrine. Chapters 4-6, Paul focuses, for the most part, upon the application of the doctrine. What Christians believe is reflected in what they do.

We saw in last week’s study that salvation is for all who will place their faith in CHRIST. Those who place their faith in CHRIST are redeemed from sin and eternal death by the shed blood of CHRIST. GOD declares the person who places his or her faith in CHRIST as righteous. Since the Christian is righteous, the Holy Spirit can indwell that person’s body and is part of the miracle of rebirth. Rebirth results in that person being made into a new creation through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the renewing of the mind, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:22-24:

22 You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

And in Romans 12:2:

2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

And in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

When we have not seen our grandchildren for a few weeks, we are amazed how much they have grown physically. Often, they are placing marks on a wall or a door to reveal how much they have grown. How do we measure our Spiritual growth? Is unity one measure?

Let’s explore!

As stated in our first lesson, the Apostle Paul was in prison, likely in Rome. Paul had been in prison before and GOD had miraculously delivered him quickly. This time, he remained in prison not because the legal system trumped GOD but because GOD chose for him to be there. Paul was a prisoner “of the LORD” and he was content in that situation because he knew GOD had a plan and purpose for his life at that time.

We know that Paul wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians while in prison. Christians then and now benefit from his writings. Did GOD allow Paul to be in prison and write to reveal to Christians what HE had revealed to Paul? Only eternity will reveal some of the why’s in life. Paul saw his being in prison as a calling. He was practicing what he was writing about. He urged fellow Christians to walk “worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love,”

The word “walk” relates to lifestyle and attitude. Christians are not to be arrogant. They represent GOD to others and in doing so, they are accountable to HIM and how they treat others. GOD has forgiven them and called them to obedient service according to HIS plan and purpose.

We need to keep in mind that Paul did not write in chapters and verses. The verses in Chapter 4: 1-6, in Greek, is one sentence.  

Let’s read Ephesians 4:1-2:

1 Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to • walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love,

“Therefore” is a word which ties together what was stated in the doctrine chapters with the application chapters.

The word “urge” is a beautiful word. The two Greek words which create the English word “urge” mean “along side of” and “call.” When translated it means to be “called along side of.” Paul tied “urge” to “walk” or “lifestyle” with the calling Christians receive at the instant of salvation. Salvation is a partnership with GOD through our relationship with CHRIST. Christians are to yield their will and lives to GOD by coming “along side of HIM” to accomplish HIS will and purpose through them.

When I think about “along side of” I think of Christians being in step with GOD as HE leads and directs their lives. As we walk with GOD, through relationship, we realize that our worthiness to walk with HIM is due solely to our relationship with CHRIST, through faith in HIM. There is nothing we could have done or do in our own strength or goodness to achieve salvation.

Such a realization and dependence is beyond our capability. This reality results in humility which in turn produces gentleness. We realize the patience and love it took for GOD to wait for us to accept HIS invitation of salvation. This realization, in turn, extends from us to others as we wait for GOD to complete HIS work in their lives. GOD calls all Christians to yield their will to HIM such that HE can mold them into the image of CHRIST. This is the process of sanctification, which produces humility and humility in turn produces gentleness.

GOD is patient with us as we are shaped into the image of CHRIST. GOD’S agape love for us prepares us not to give up on those who struggle with the things we have under control in our lives – food, lack of exercise and other addictions.

Christians are to walk carefully along side of GOD realizing that any of us can find ourselves in difficult circumstances and sin if we yield to the desires of the flesh.

Humility and gentleness comes from knowing GOD and trusting that HE is in control of all circumstances. Keep in mind that Christians can find themselves in circumstances as the result of their actions.

GOD calls to obediently serve HIM. Even when Christians obediently serve, circumstances may be very difficult but GOD has placed them in these circumstances for a variety of reasons – for our Spiritual development, to help others and the list goes on.

Accepting one another in love is based upon the realization that all Christians are sinners saved by grace. Patience is an attribute which results from the sanctification process. GOD teaches HIS children to wait upon HIM. We wait because we trust HIM and are confident that HE is in control and working to bring about HIS will, plan and purpose.

Let’s read Ephesians 4:3:

3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

Unity is one thing but keeping the unity takes work, thus Paul used the word “diligent.” Unity has value and is worth keeping. The word “keeping” carries the idea of a continuing effort.

Here, we have to be careful because we need discernment. In my opinion, it is not keeping unity at the cost of Biblical doctrine. That is why Christians must be filled with, controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit.

It is important that we, as humans, do not let our flesh guide our decisions. There is often a very fine line between those who are guided by the Holy Spirit and those who think they are guided by the Holy Spirit. Does our involvement in an issue lead to peace and unity that binds Christians together?

The peace that passes all understanding comes from GOD to Christians through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Philippians 4:7:

7 And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Amplified)

The peace that comes from GOD binds in unity.

Let’s read Ephesians 4:4-6:

4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Unity with CHRIST results in oneness with GOD, CHRIST, the Holy Spirit and true Christians. There is a witness of a Christian’s Spirit with GOD and true Christians as reflected in Romans 8:16:

16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,

Salvation results in the rebirth of the human spirit which in turn produces GOD’S children. Christians are family because they all have the same Father. As such, they are bonded together by the same Spirit and to GOD, through faith in CHRIST.

In the Greek, verses 1-6 are one long sentence, as mentioned earlier. Verses 4-6 read like a statement of faith or credo, which means “I believe.”

Notice that Paul used seven one’s in these three verses. He began verse 4 with “there is.” In Greek, there is no verb but the use of a verb helps readers to understand the term. The term “we belong to” could have been used, as well.

It is exciting to see how the Holy Spirit led Paul to reveal the source of Christian unity, GOD. The source of Christian unity is GOD through faith in CHRIST and knitted together by the Holy Spirit. CHRIST is the way to GOD. The Jews worshipped GOD. Since the passion of CHRIST, there is a clear, certain path to GOD. Faith in JESUS is the only way to GOD for all people. The ground at the foot of the cross is level, meaning all, regardless of wealth, position in life, race, social standing, good deeds and the list goes on, every human comes to GOD through faith in CHRIST.

To the Jews, the number seven represented completeness. When we consider all seven statements it reveals completeness in GOD, CHRIST and the Holy Spirit. Trinity is a contraction of “tri unity” thus Trinity, the three are One.

There is: [The first triad – one body, one Spirit, one hope. The second triad –one LORD, one faith, one baptism. One triune GOD – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.]

-         One body: The foundation for one Spiritual living body, the living church, is CHRIST. CHRIST gave HIS body/earthly life through the shedding of HIS blood to pay, in full, the penalty for sin for all who place their faith in HIM. Faith in CHRIST means receiving salvation from sin and eternal death. When a person receives salvation he or she receives eternal life, rebirth, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, citizenship in heaven and so much more. The miracle of rebirth is brought about through the union of GOD’S Spirit with the human spirit. The result is referred to as rebirth or being born-again in a person’s spirit. CHRIST in you is what makes you a Christian. At the instant of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes into the Christian’s life and confirms the miracle of rebirth. CHRIST unifies both the Jews and the Gentiles who place their faith in CHRIST because CHRIST was GOD in the flesh and HE is the only way to GOD.

-         One Spirit: Since all Christians are born into the family of GOD by the same Spirit or divine sperm, they are all in unity with GOD and fellow Christians. GOD gives Christians the Holy Spirit to indwell them to confirm their faith and to lead, guide, empower, gift, teach, warn, instruct, enlighten, assure and communicate with HIS children. The Holy Spirit helps Christians build an intimate, loving relationship with GOD through CHRIST. The Holy Spirit is the first installment or guarantee of a Christian’s inheritance yet to be fully realized through faithful living and ultimately at the instant of our physical death. To be absent from the body is to be in the presence of our LORD. Several scripture references focus on the guarantee and security deposit – 2 Corinthians 5:5, 2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:14, Ephesians 4:30.

-         [Called: Paul used the word “called.” First, GOD calls all people to salvation through faith in CHRIST. Once people accept HIS call of salvation, HE calls HIS children to obediently serve HIM as directed by the Holy Spirit. HE calls some to be pastors, teachers, deacons and into various vocations. When HE calls, HE also gifts and equips. Salvation is available to all. GOD does not discriminate.]

-         One hope: Hope can imply a certain degree of uncertainty but this is not the intent in the use of the word “hope.” Hope can be translated as “confidence.” The confidence or assurance of our faith in CHRIST is confirmed by the resurrection of JESUS and the indwelling Holy Spirit. I always wanted the assurance before I took the step of faith but it does not work that way. Those seeking CHRIST must take the step of faith and then the Holy Spirit will confirm their new relationship in CHRIST.

-         One LORD: The Jews worshipped the One True GOD before CHRIST came to earth in the flesh. The passion of CHRIST, the promised Messiah, established the new covenant of faith in CHRIST by HIS shed blood. Christians worship the same One True GOD who Abraham worshipped and was declared righteous because of his faith in GOD. One LORD is CHRIST.

-         One faith: It is faith that is the common bond between the Old and New Testaments. The shedding of the blood of certain animals was symbolic and a place holder for the day when the promised Messiah would shed HIS blood for the final and permanent remission of sin and conquer eternal death.

-         One baptism: Baptism is an outward expression of an inward reality. In the Baptist Church, we baptize by immersion in water. It is symbolic of dying to our old life before we accepted CHRIST as our Savior and being resurrected to walk in our new life in CHRIST. Some denominations believe that baptism is necessary for salvation. Baptism reveals that a person is not ashamed to be identified as a Christian and a follower of CHRIST. It is an act of obedience. Baptism reflects the oneness of all who place their faith in CHRIST. Keep in mind that JESUS was baptized.

-         One GOD and Father of all: The source of salvation and unity is GOD and HE unifies all who place their faith in CHRIST.

-         Who is above all: Indicates HIS position of power and authority. Omnipotent.

-         And through all: GOD is all knowing. Omniscience.

-         And in all: GOD is involved in all matters. Omnipresent.

When taken as a whole, faith in CHRIST results in unity with GOD and fellow Christians.

Scripture ascribes election to GOD, The Father, salvation to JESUS, the Son and sanctification to The Holy Spirit. The three are in complete unity and function as ONE. GOD calls all to salvation, CHRIST gave HIS life for all who will place their faith in HIM and the Holy Spirit indwells all who place their faith in JESUS.

We as Christians need to get back to the basics of building unity with each other based upon GOD’S leadership and HIS Word and not social acceptance or being politically correct. CHRIST in us is the hope of glory. Love the sinner but hate the sin. Blessings!!!

 

 

Friday, September 05, 2014

Bible Study - Connected - Connected in CHRIST - Ephesians 2:17-22 - September 7, 2014

Bible Study – Connected – Connected in CHRIST – September 7, 2014

This is lesson one in our series entitled “Connected: My Life in the Church.”

Our focus scripture for this lesson in Ephesians 2:17-22.

Church Membership does not make a person a Christian. CHRIST in the person is what makes him or her a Christian.

This begins a six-week series regarding the institution, we call “Church.” The focus scripture will be in the Book of Ephesians. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison either in Rome or Caesarea. Most Bible scholars believe Paul was in Rome. Paul wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians while he was in prison.

The letter to the Ephesians was likely delivered by Tychicus, Ephesians 6:21-22:

21 Tychicus, our dearly loved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me so that you may be informed. 22 I am sending him to you for this very reason, to let you know how we are and to encourage your hearts.

The true church is not a physical structure but a Spiritual structure of which CHRIST is the head. The apostles, prophets and born-again believers are the living stones that make up the Spiritual structure. The Spiritual structure functions as one because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. CHRIST is the head. Those who have received CHRIST, through faith in HIM, are gifted by GOD with Spiritual gifts to be used as led by the Holy Spirit. Thus the Spiritual body functions in unity to benefit the Spiritual body just as the human body functions as one to benefit it.

The Apostle Paul discusses this in 1 Corinthians 12:12-20:

12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body —so also is Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body —whether Jews or Greeks, whether • slaves or free —and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 So the body is not one part but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. 19 And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? 20 Now there are many parts, yet one body.

Those who belong to the Spiritual body also belong to the physical church. The degree that the physical church allows the Holy Spirit to lead and direct it determines the spiritual nature of the physical church. The indwelling Holy Spirit and HIS leadership results in Spiritual growth, maturity and balance. Balance relating to in-reach and out-reach. Meeting the Spiritual needs and physical needs both inside and outside of the church through the use of Spiritual gifts. No Christian will boast because he or she has a certain Spiritual gift neither will others be jealous or envious of those who have certain Spiritual gifts. Because each will realize and understand that the gift or gifts are from GOD to be used as HE directs according to HIS plan and purpose.

Let’s explore!

We will begin with background. The Apostle Paul builds upon the fact that his readers will be a mix of religious cultures - Jewish, Jewish-Christian, Christian, nothing and pagan.

Let’s read Ephesians 2:1-3:

From Death to Life

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously • walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

Paul begins by reminding his readers, which includes us today, that before we accepted CHRIST as our Savior, we were dead to GOD because of sin. Sin is a barrier between mankind and GOD. In our sinful state, we were not concerned about GOD or the things of GOD. We were interested in the things of the world or the things that pleased our human nature, the flesh. We were disobedient to the things the true one GOD desired for us. We were obedient to the ruler of the lower world, earth, who is Satan. Satan and his demons do all they can to prevent us from focusing upon the One True GOD and especially CHRIST.

There has always been spiritual/Spiritual warfare but has it intensified? Readers, we must keep in mind that GOD is in charge and the victory has been won by CHRIST. Christians must not let the raging storms around them distract them from the truth – GOD is in control and HE has a plan and a purpose. 

Let’s continue Ephesians 2:4-10:

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the • Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

GOD’S desire is for mankind to be redeemed and restored to HIS original intent before sin entered the world. John 3:16-18 captures the heart of GOD toward mankind:

16 “For God loved the world •in this way: He gave His •One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

GOD reached down to mankind by allowing HIS only Son to come to earth, to live and function as a human. HE allowed HIM to live fully human and to be tempted as humans are tempted. HE lived a sinless life and as such HE became the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for sin that GOD had imposed upon mankind. GOD reached down to mankind but GOD made mankind with the freedom to choose. Will mankind accept GOD’S free gift of salvation from sin and death by placing their faith in JESUS?

When humans reconcile their relationship with GOD by accepting CHRIST as their Savior, the Holy Spirit indwells them. When humans are reconciled with GOD through CHRIST, their flesh nature is changed through the renewing of their minds. They see the world through changed eyes and reach out to fellow humans around them with the Good News of salvation because of the love that GOD and CHRIST has revealed to them.

Reconciliation with GOD through faith in CHRIST and a changed human nature results in unity and peace among those who have placed their faith in CHRIST. Are we, as Christians, in unity and have peace? If not, why not?

Let’s read Ephesians 2:11-16:

Unity in Christ

11 So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh —called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” which iss done in the flesh by human hands. 12 At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. 14 For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In His flesh, 15 He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. 16 He did this so that He might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it.

The “uncircumcised” referred to non-Jews/Gentiles and the “circumcision” referred to Abraham, his descendants and the Jews. GOD established a covenant with Abraham which was confirmed by the ritual of circumcision. Circumcision was to identify those who placed their faith in the One True GOD. Circumcision was performed by man.

When the Israelites, descendants of Abraham, were in bondage in Egypt, GOD remembered the covenant HE made with Abraham, HE came to their rescue. GOD revealed Himself physically to the world through the Israelites. After GOD freed the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, HE led them safely to Mount Sinai. It was at Mt. Sinai that GOD revealed that HE had chosen the Israelites to be HIS people, if they agreed. They agreed and GOD gave them the laws and commandments they were to follow. Exodus 24:6-8:

6 Moses took half the blood and set it in basins; the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 He then took the covenant scroll and read it aloud to the people. They responded, “We will do and obey everything that the Lord has commanded.” 8 Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you concerning all these words.”

This covenant lasted until the ultimate and permanent covenant was revealed to the world and established through the shed blood of JESUS for all people who would place their faith in CHRIST, the Promised Messiah. Faith in CHRIST results in the circumcision of the heart which only GOD can do because of the faithfulness of CHRIST. CHRIST did for mankind what mankind could not do by any effort it made. CHRIST gave HIS life in substitution for those who place their faith in HIM as their Savior. CHRIST paid the penalty GOD imposed on mankind for sin. Each human, because they are human, this penalty of eternal death. The shed blood of CHRIST redeems all who place their faith in HIM from eternal death and gives them eternal life through the miracle of rebirth.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21:

16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 18 Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses   20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He (GOD) made the One (JESUS) who did not know sin to be sin for us (those who place their faith in HIM), so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Those who place their faith in CHRIST become the righteousness of GOD. Since GOD has declared those who place their faith in CHRIST righteous, the Holy Spirit can indwell them. Christians are set aside for the purposes and plans of GOD, which makes them saints. They have direct access to GOD.

Let’s read Ephesians 2:17-18:

17 When the Messiah came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

CHRIST gave HIS life by the shedding of HIS blood to pay, in full, the penalty for sin which broke the sin barrier between mankind and GOD. In doing so, HE reconciled all of the covenants into one new covenant which included all people. This new covenant was based upon any person, placing his or her faith in CHRIST as his or her Savior, would be reconciled with GOD and as such has direct access to GOD.

Let’s read Ephesians 2:19:

19 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the • saints, and members of God’s household,

CHRIST established a new everlasting covenant which includes all people who place their faith in CHRIST. JESUS said in Luke 22:20:

20 In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.

Through the miracle of rebirth, those who place their faith in CHRIST become members of GOD’S household and eternal citizens of HIS Kingdom. This was directed to both Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. Many of the Jews thought they were special because of their heritage but Paul wanted them to know that whether a person was coming from a Jewish or Gentile background, that by placing their faith in CHRIST, they were all members of GOD’S household.

Let’s read Ephesians 2:20-22:

20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. 21 The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord. 22 You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.

GOD’S redemptive plan has been revealed by the apostles, who witnessed the ministry, teaching, miracles, death, resurrection and ascension of CHRIST. The prophets throughout the ages have recorded GOD’S plan which has been fulfilled in CHRIST. GOD’S Word, the Bible, reveals these truths to those who seek truth.

GOD is not building a brick and mortar church but a Spiritual church of which CHRIST is the cornerstone. The cornerstone of a building is the foundational stone which sets the architectural intent of the building. The cornerstone connects two walls. GOD is the architect of this Spiritual building. CHRIST is the cornerstone and the apostles and prophets have their place in relation to CHRIST. Christians are living stones used in this Spiritual structure to accomplish GOD’S intended plan and purpose for HIS Kingdom. GOD has a plan and purpose for every person but in order for a person to achieve HIS plan and purpose, he or she must place his or her faith in CHRIST. When a person receives CHRIST as his or her Savior, the abundant life comes by allowing the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead and direct his or her life.

The Apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of the importance of allowing GOD to direct our lives in 1 Corinthians 3:9-17:

9 For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire. 16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.

Verse 21 in Ephesians and 16-17 in 1 Corinthians 3 reveal that born-again Christians are GOD’S sanctuary or the Holy of Holies, where GOD resides. GOD resides within every born-again Christian and when someone harms him or her, GOD will respond.

Have you accepted CHRIST as your Savior? If not, now is your opportunity. Blessings!!! 




Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bible Study - Earth (2) - Our Work with Creation - Leviticus 25:1-7 - August 31, 2014


Bible Study – Earth (2) – Our Work with Creation – August 31, 2014

This is lesson two (2) and our final lesson in this series entitled “And It Was Good.”

Our focus scripture is Leviticus 25:1-7.

GOD has given us responsibility over HIS creation.

GOD made humans to fellowship with HIM and to be stewards of earth.

This takes us back to Genesis 1:26-30:

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” 29 God also said, “Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, 30 for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth—everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.

After the sixth day, GOD ceased from work or ceased from all work which is the meaning of Sabbath. Sabbath is a transliteration of the Hebrew word “Shabbat” which means “restfulness.” Sabbath does not mean seven instead it refers to a specified period to cease from all work. We will see in our lesson that “Sabbath” is not limited to one day out of seven days. Sabbath or rest refers to a year following the sixth year and the year referred to as “year of Jubilee” which followed seven years of Sabbaths or 49 years. Did GOD need a break from work? No, but HE knew humans did and HE set the example for the health, well being of mankind, animals, and the cultivated land. Complete rest was a witness to those who did not worship the One True GOD of the Israelites to those who had other gods and those with no god.

GOD set the example.

Let’s read Genesis 2:15-17:

15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

GOD gave man the responsibility for the Garden of Eden and what went on in the Garden.

The title of the Book of Leviticus comes from the Latin translation of Greek “that which concerns the Levites” or the guidelines for the priests in leading worship, performing rituals, instructing the people, and instructions for tending and caring for the land GOD had given to them.

These instructions were given by GOD to the Israelites on Mount Sinai long before they were to enter the Promised Land. The Promised Land was GOD’S gift to HIS chosen people but if they defiled the land, HE would send curses on the land and ultimately take it away from them.

Christians in America, it is time to step up and rededicate your lives to GOD through your relationship with CHRIST. The Christians in America can be used by GOD to represent the truth of CHRIST to the world as GOD leads them. It is time for Christians to recommit their lives to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and respond obediently to HIS call. GOD is still in the business of revealing HIS power and strength through the faithfulness of HIS chosen: Christians.

America, as never before, is facing evil that can destroy, if we do not turn to GOD through CHRIST. The victory has been won by CHRIST but we depend upon military might (which is important) and have placed the mighty hand of GOD on the back burner of complacency. Sit on your hands and be destroyed or take a stand in the power and under the leadership of GOD and see the mighty hand of GOD prevail. After HE prevails; DO NOT slip back into complacency but stand strong in HIS power and truth as you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. It is time for Christians to step up, not in their power and strength but in the power, strength and truth of being genuine followers of CHRIST.

Yes, Christians are under grace but with GOD’S grace comes responsibility. The future of America and the world depends upon Christians yielding their lives to GOD and obediently serving HIM through their relationship with CHRIST.

The earth belongs to GOD and we are HIS stewards. Let’s explore!

Let’s read Leviticus 25:1-3:

1 The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: 2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you enter the land I am giving you, the land will observe a Sabbath to the Lord. 3 You may sow your field for six years, and you may prune your vineyard and gather its produce for six years.

The first thing we need to see is that “The LORD spoke.” This is the LORD’S directive given to the Israelites long before they entered into the Promised Land. As you recall, it was on Mount Sinai that GOD called the Israelites to be HIS chosen people, if they accepted. They accepted. GOD gave them the Ten Commandments and other laws they were to observe. Our scripture reveals GOD’S instructions to them regarding the need to observe a period of complete rest for themselves, their servants, animals and land when they enter the Promised Land. They were to observe a Sabbath to the LORD, which HE defines.

Some think that Sabbath means seven but it means rest.  GOD created for six days and then HE rested on the seventh day. GOD set the example for establishing our week.

Those who think the Bible does not reflect science simply do not know the Bible. Just look at the laws that GOD gave to HIS chosen. They were laws to protect them, keep them healthy and give them success. Land was important in Bible times and was a measure of wealth. It took land for livestock to graze, to cultivate crops, grow trees, manage water sources and much more. Having resources also carries responsibility.

GOD was leading the Israelites to the land of plenty/the Promised Land. GOD knew good agricultural practices. The Israeli Department of Agricultural had not been established, so GOD revealed good agricultural practices to them.

They were not to overwork the land because if they did, it would not produce enough nutritious food to sustain them. Therefore, every seventh year they were to let the land rest for a full year or lie fallow.

For six years, they were to cultivate, tend the land and harvest the crops but what then? Man learned the hard way to rotate crops. But GOD gave direction to the Israelites regarding good land management ahead of time. The Israelites still had to wander in the desert for 40 years before they entered the Promised Land. But GOD’S instruction regarding the Promised Land meant that in time they would enter the land GOD promised to them. They could have entered it 40 years sooner if they had faith in GOD. Only two, Caleb and Joshua, who scouted the Promised Land, had faith that GOD would give them victory over those occupying the Promised Land as we read in Numbers 14:30-35:

30 I swear that none of you will enter the land I promised to settle you in, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 I will bring your children whom you said would become plunder into the land you rejected, and they will enjoy it. 32 But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds in the wilderness for 40 years and bear the penalty for your acts of unfaithfulness until all your corpses lie scattered in the wilderness. 34 You will bear the consequences of your sins 40 years based on the number of the 40 days that you scouted the land, a year for each day. You will know My displeasure. 35 I, • Yahweh, have spoken. I swear that I will do this to the entire evil community that has conspired against Me. They will come to an end in the wilderness, and there they will die.”

Caleb and Joshua entered the Promise Land. Does our lack of faith in GOD deprive us of the things GOD has planned for us to experience? Do we follow the LORD’S instructions regarding the decisions we need to make in life or do we lean upon our own understanding? Wisdom is knowledge applied to GOD’S plan.

Let’s read Leviticus 25:4-5:

4 But there will be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land in the seventh year, a Sabbath to the Lord: you are not to sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You are not to reap what grows by itself from your crop, or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. It must be a year of complete rest for the land.

GOD said there “will be a Sabbath of complete rest.” Since “Sabbath” means complete rest GOD, in essence was saying “I mean complete rest.”

In the seventh year, the Israelites were to let the land rest or let the land “lie fallow.” GOD was telling them not to be greedy but let the land rest from being used to provide cash crops. Let it rest and depend upon the LORD GOD to provide for your needs. There would be volunteer crops but they were not to be harvested as a cash crop but neither should they go to waste. The land owners should use the food GOD allows to be produced for themselves and to share with others as we will see in our next scripture.

This was all about having faith in GOD to provide for their needs during this year of no work. They were to trust GOD to provide. It was a test and a demonstration of obedience to GOD and a confirmation of their trust in GOD.

JESUS words give us clear instructions regarding the care of GOD for HIS children in Matthew 6:24-34:

24 “No one can be a • slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.

The Cure for Anxiety

25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add a single • cubit to his height by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Verse 34, does not mean not to plan but to plan as led by the Holy Spirit and trust GOD with the results.

There is little to no evidence that the law of the Sabbath year was practiced. When we do not do what GOD tells us to do, HE steps in to get our attention. GOD warned the Israelites that if they did not worship HIM bad things were going to happen. HIS chosen had gotten so far away from worshipping HIM that HE allowed them to be captured by the Babylonians and taken from the land HE had given them for 70 years or a 70-year Sabbath for their land.

GOD’S original intent for the Israelites was for them to be HIS witnesses to the world. Christians in America are we honoring CHRIST in our lives or have we lost our first love? It is time for Christians to repent and for us to be obedient to GOD through our relationship with CHRIST. It is time that we pray for a revival to begin in us first and extend to all of America and to the world.

GOD instructed the Israelites to set aside a day of rest to renew their strength and to worship HIM. Then to set aside one year out of seven years to allow the land, the hired hands, the animals and themselves to rest, focus on GOD and let HIM care for them. It was a time to forgive debts and set slaves free. It was to be a witness to the world of the goodness of GOD.

Let’s read Leviticus 25:6-7:

6 Whatever the land produces during the Sabbath year can be food for you—for yourself, your male or female slave, and the hired hand or foreigner who stays with you. 7 All of its growth may serve as food for your livestock and the wild animals in your land.

The edible food the land produced during this seventh year or Sabbath year was to be used for food for – the land owner, slaves, hired hand or foreigner. GOD also included the livestock and wild animals.

The key is that the owners of the land were to obey GOD and trust HIM to take care of them, their slaves, hired hands, foreigners (Non-Israelites) and even the animals.

Let’s read Leviticus 25:8-12: (After 7 sabbatical years (49 years), the 50th year is the year of Jubilee.)

8 “You are to count seven sabbatical years, seven times seven years, so that the time period of the seven sabbatical years amounts to 49. 9 Then you are to sound a trumpet loudly in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month; you will sound it throughout your land on the Day of • Atonement. 10 You are to consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim freedom in the land for all its inhabitants. It will be your Jubilee, when each of you is to return to his property and each of you to his clan. 11 The fiftieth year will be your Jubilee; you are not to sow, reap what grows by itself, or harvest its untended vines. 12 It is to be holy to you because it is the Jubilee; you may only eat its produce directly from the field.

The word “jubilee” comes from a Hebrew word which means “jubilant” and to “exult.” The word is related to the word for ram’s horn. The beginning of jubilee was to be marked by the blowing of the ram’s horn on the Day of Atonement.

Why did GOD establish a year of Jubilee?

The overarching reason is for the Israelites to realize that the land they were occupying was a gift from GOD and it was theirs on a temporary basis. The land was to return to its original owner in the year of Jubilee. The Promised Land was conquered by GOD and the land was occupied by the Israelites. Close to the end of Joshua’s life there still was land that had not been distributed. Joshua distributed the remaining land by casting lots in the presence of GOD. As stated in Joshua 18:10:

10 Joshua cast lots for them at Shiloh in the presence of the Lord where he distributed the land to the Israelites according to their divisions.

The year of Jubilee followed the seventh year of the seven Sabbath years. So that meant that the 49th and 50th years there would be no work or cash harvest. Why do you think GOD wanted them to not work for those two years? During those two years they were to rely upon GOD and the provisions HE would provide for the land owner and others as identified in the scripture.    

Part of Leviticus 25:10 is inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia “proclaim liberty throughout all the land.”

With freedom comes the responsibility not to forget that GOD provides all things. HE manages the earth, the seasons and only GOD can ensure the next crop of food. How foolish, complacent and self-sufficient mankind and even Christians can become. Mankind depends upon the harvests of food.

The LORD GOD instructed the Israelites to observe a Sabbath year following the sixth year. No work was to be done in the seventh year. That meant for the Israelites to prepare for the seventh year. They were to harvest the food GOD provided during these Sabbatical years for them to eat and others. GOD provided food to be consumed in the seventh sabbatical year and the eighth year, when the year of Jubilee came. There was to be no work but complete rest for the land owners, their family, hired hands, slaves, guests and livestock.

Would we be able to survive a year without a salary or two years with no salary when the year of Jubilee followed a Sabbatical year?

Most of us feel secure and self-sufficient in the things we have but GOD’S desire is for us to consider who provides all that we have: just the right amount of water, sunlight and pollination. One day we will leave it all behind and others will manage what we had. GOD’S desire is for HIS children to realize that all we have, great or small, belongs to HIM for our use and to share with others as prompted by the Holy Spirit. Be generous! Realize that GOD cares for HIS children but HE expects HIS children to worship HIM and be obedient to HIM. Blessings!!!

 

 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bible Study - Earth (1) - GOD'S Work of Creation - Psalm 104 - August 24, 2014


Bible Study – Earth (1) – GOD’S Work of Creation – August 24, 2014

This is lesson one (1) in a two-part study entitled “And It Was Good.”

Our focus scripture is Psalm 104:1-5, 24-30.

Everything in creation is the work of GOD who loves us.

The writer of this psalm is anonymous. There is a possibility it could have been David.

The origin of the universe continues to be debated. Some do not see the relevance of the Bible to science but those who study GOD’S Word marvel at the truth GOD reveals through HIS Word. One of the most fascinating lectures I heard many years ago was by Dr. Smith who taught logic and scientific logic at Columbia College, Columbia, SC.

I studied mechanical engineering and chemistry in college and received my BS in Chemistry. I went through a period of time, even though active in church, I doubted the existence of GOD. GOD allows us to ponder the questions of life and HIM to strengthen us. When I considered conception and the formation of our children in my wife’s body and when they were born going from breathing embryonic fluid to breathing air it boggled my mind. The human body itself is so intricately and wonderfully made, especially the eyes, digestion, the brain and nervous system. This led me to ponder the order found in the universe, earth, human, animals, plants and the huge variety of species upon earth from micro to macro. I concluded that the creation of such a variety of the things seen and unseen could not have happened by random probability. There had to be a Master Designer. So I concluded that Master Designer was GOD.

If you placed all of the parts for a fine Swiss watch into a bag, would it ever be able to reassemble its self? No! Not without a watchmaker.

Then, I pondered where CHRIST fit into the scheme of things. Now mind you this pondering took place over years, while active in church and reading the Bible and teaching.

Notice reading the Bible is not studying the Bible but in reading it, trying to understand it, it was powerful because GOD’S Word does not return void. Mostly, I read what I needed to read to teach a lesson.

Let’s roll back the time when my Christian journey began.

When I was about 9-10 years old, we had a visiting pastor who spoke to a group around my age one Sunday morning. He presented the plan of salvation and I responded. He asked those who responded to join him in another room where he explained what we had done but it do not stick with me. That moment is vague, yet I knew I felt different inside.

We were not planning to stay for worship service that Sunday because my dad’s family was coming to our home for Sunday lunch. I asked my parents if I could stay for church and ride to our house with my Uncle Monroe. My parents agreed. I did not tell them what I had done during the Sunday school hour. I wanted to hear more. Something different was happening internally but I did not know what was going on.

The visiting pastor preached and I do not recall what he preached about. He gave the invitation or alter call to join the church. Back then, we equated joining the church to salvation. I went forward.

Now in the Baptist church that means walking down the aisle of the church in front of all the people to the front and telling the pastor whatever you want to tell him.

I walked down the aisle. I don’t recall what I said, if anything. I just remember that I was asked, “Do you want to join the church and be baptized or do you want us to pray for you?” Well, I can tell you I did not like the idea of being baptized because in the Baptist church they let you go back into the water, face up. That is what I called ducking. I had played duck with my friends and we played to see how long we could hold someone under the water before we would let them up for air. I never liked for anyone to duck me when we went swimming in the creek. So I opted for them praying for me.

Normally, those who asked for prayer would return to their seat in the church but they had me to stand in front of the church as if I had joined the church. Many in the congregation came by and shook my hand. My relatives were excited for me. Some were crying with joy and hugging me. To all in the church, I had accepted CHRIST as my Savior and had joined the church subject to baptism. In essence, I had responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit but I did not know that. I guess in retrospect, I became a member of the living church.

After all the people had shook my hand, I lingered back because I wanted to talk to that visiting pastor. He was busy talking to well wishers. I finally got his attention and told him that I had a strange feeling inside of me. I did not tell him that I was puzzled and wanted to know what was going on inside of me. He in effect said “ya, ya” and kept speaking to other well wishers. I left the church that day not knowing what had happened Spiritually.

When I got home, my parents told me if they had known that I was going to join the church they would have stayed for the church service.

I taught/read lessons from the time I was about 11 or 12 years old.

I recall that the person who was supposed to be our teacher often missed coming to teach us. So I decided to read the lesson to those who attended. My peers liked it and claimed they got more out of the lesson when I taught (but really read it) than when the teacher taught it. To GOD be the glory because I had nothing to do with it, except read it. But we know that GOD’S Word never returns void.

My, sweet, Christian mother had built a foundation in me because she read Bible stories to me from as far back as I can remember. My dad was a Christian and we went to church every Sunday.

I don’t recall much happening in my life after that until college. I was baptized my sophomore year in college and was active in a Bible study group. We had a guy in the class that asked questions our Bible leader could not answer. I thought they were good questions. Long story the guy asking the questions got straightened out but I went on a long journey of seeking answers. I continued in church and Bible study while seeking answers. GOD continued to place me in situations which forced me to continue reading/studying the Bible.

I have always asked GOD questions and in time HE has answered them or answered them to the degree possible with my capability to comprehend. But at least HIS answers satisfied my curiosity for a period of time. I have found that we need to grow Spiritually before we can comprehend some answers.

Along my journey in my twenties, a little boy was lost in the woods about 10 miles from where we lived. It was during winter but it happened to be the warmest day of the season. The little boy was dressed for the warm day. But that night was the coldest night of the season. They found the little boy, dead, the next morning with a tear frozen to his cheek. That news threw me into a tailspin regarding the existence of GOD and love of GOD. The GOD of the universe to me had the power over the weather and the animals. HE had power over the animals surely HE could have prevented that little boy from freezing to death.

Yes, I continued to be active in church but harbored this attitude of bitterness toward GOD.

It was not until one of our children was born that I began to think about the sperm and egg coming together and producing a human body. I thought of the intricate nature of the human body, its functions and all the parts which come together for it to function. I considered all of the senses and their function. We take in food which is converted into energy. The eyes can see up close or far away without having to turn a dial to focus them. I thought about the order of earth and the universe.

Finally, I concluded that GOD existed. Later, I began to explore CHRIST. Was HE real or a myth? I still attended church and even taught Sunday school during this questionable period. I tried to live the Christian life in my own strength. I really tried for months.

My wife and I were in a fellowship group with couples about our age. Several of them were having new experiences with CHRIST. I had dealt with several of the men in the business world and they were the same at work and socially. I concluded I needed what they had. So, I tried harder to live the Christian life but every time I failed. When driving to work one morning I was talking to the LORD and told HIM that I had really tried to live the Christian life for the past several months but could not. I told HIM I had cleaned up 60-70% of my life (notice the “I”) but the remaining 30-40% was just rotten according to Christian standards. I asked HIM to take all of my life, the good and the bad, lock, stock and barrel, and give me the strength to live the Christian life.

I can tell you in a flash, HE took it. It wasn’t but a few minutes when Satan came into the picture with words to discourage. I said, NO! I want to be GOD’S man doing things GOD’S way. That was in 1971. Oh, yes I have disappointed GOD many times but I have always known that I was HIS child. In my 70’s and I am still learning from HIM and building a stronger relationship with HIM through my relationship with CHRIST.

Why I have gone into detail about my journey with GOD? It is because we all have a story to tell. The Psalm, we will read, reveals some of the writer’s understanding of GOD. Theology is revealed in the revelation of GOD as we seek to know and understand GOD. Let’s explore!

Some Bible scholars believe that this psalm was written to reveal truth to those who worship the things GOD created rather than the GOD Who created all things. The psalm parallels the Genesis account of GOD’S creation:

Verse 1 – lays the foundation that GOD was the Master Designer and Creator of all that humans encounter around them, as such, only GOD is to be worshipped and not the things HE created.

Day 1 - Genesis 1:3 – light – 104: 2

Day 2 - Genesis 1:6 – heavens and waters – 104:2-3

Day 3 – Genesis 1:9-13 – land and vegetation – 104:6-18

Day 4 – Genesis 1:14-16 – sun, moon and stars – 104:19-23

Day 5 – Genesis 1:20-23 – fish and birds – 104:25-26

Day 6 – Genesis 1:24-31 - animals, man, and food to sustain them – 104:21-24, 27-30

GOD is sovereign and in control of all things. It begins with “my soul” which indicates that the writer acknowledges his need for GOD and GOD meets his need in a personal way through relationship. The use of “soul” means his entire being praises “Yahweh,” his GOD. The writer has such a relationship with GOD that he reveals what he has learned from that relationship regarding creation. Creation was the result of GOD’S Master Design and HE did not just create it but cares for it to maintain it.

Let’s read Psalm 104:1-5:

1 My soul, praise • Yahweh! Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with majesty and splendor. 2 He wraps Himself in light as if it were a robe, spreading out the sky like a canopy, 3 laying the beams of His palace on the waters above, making the clouds His chariot, walking on the wings of the wind, 4 and making the winds His messengers, flames of fire His servants. 5 He established the earth on its foundations; it will never be shaken.

The writer referred to GOD as “clothed with majesty and splendor” which refers to dignity and impressive presence. GOD is “light” and in HIM there is no shadow of turning because HE is the source of truth and light. GOD is not fickle like the manmade gods some people worship. GOD uses the elements to sustain life upon earth and to reveal to mankind that HE is in charge. HE speaks through HIS creation to mankind.

GOD placed earth in the exact spot to sustain life. Science confirms that earth is in the exact spot with the exact ratio of sunlight, atmosphere, water and reproducible food to sustain life. GOD created it and maintains it. If that perfect position is ever changed it will be GOD that changes it because HE established its foundations. The earth is HIS and all that is in it.

These verses and those to follow reflect both poetry and words which can be sung regarding GOD creating earth, sustaining it, its inhabitants and revealing Himself to mankind. Earth and life are no accident, GOD created it all for a purpose and HIS desire is for mankind to acknowledge HIM and ultimately HIS redemptive love for mankind through faith in HIS only Son, JESUS.

Let’s read Psalm 104:6-23:

6 You covered it (earth) with the deep as if it were a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. 7 At Your rebuke the waters fled; at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away— 8 mountains rose and valleys sank— to the place You established for them. 9 You set a boundary they cannot cross; they (waters) will never cover the earth again. 10 He causes the springs to gush into the valleys; they flow between the mountains. 11 They supply water for every wild beast; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12 The birds of the sky live beside the springs; they sing among the foliage. 13 He waters the mountains from His palace; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of Your labor. 14 He causes grass to grow for the livestock and provides crops for man to cultivate, producing food from the earth, 15 wine that makes man’s heart glad— making his face shine with oil— and bread that sustains man’s heart. 16 The trees of the Lord flourish, the cedars of Lebanon that He planted. 17 There the birds make their nests; the stork makes its home in the pine trees. 18 The high mountains are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for hyraxes. 19 He made the moon to mark the festivals; the sun knows when to set. 20 You bring darkness, and it becomes night, when all the forest animals stir. 21 The young lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. 22 The sun rises; they go back and lie down in their dens. 23 Man goes out to his work and to his labor until evening.

The psalmist reveals the personal involvement GOD had in creation and its functionality and care. Earth was not an accident but purposely designed, implemented and continues to be cared for by GOD.

Let’s read Psalm 104:24-26:

24 How countless are Your works, Lord! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. 25 Here is the sea, vast and wide, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small. 26 There the ships move about, and • Leviathan (a sea creature), which You formed to play there.

GOD created all for a purpose including the large sea creature called the Leviathan. In ancient legends, the Leviathan was a sea creature that fought with the gods. In the Bible, the Leviathan is depicted as an enemy of GOD. In this scripture, the Leviathan is depicted as GOD’S creation, which is not to be feared because it is under GOD’S control.

This draws us back into the fact that GOD is sovereign and in control of all things. HE imparts HIS wisdom to HIS children to deal with all matters no matter how frightening they may be. All living things, including mankind, depend upon GOD maintaining earth. Can man change the weather patterns? No! But we see the importance of weather patterns upon where we live and the production of food.

Let’s read Psalm 104:27-30:

27 All of them wait for You to give them their food at the right time. 28 When You give it to them, they gather it; when You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good things. 29 When You hide Your face, they are terrified; when You take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. 30 When You send Your breath, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth.

GOD is sovereign and takes care of all living things including people.

The Bible is clear; there is a time to be born and a time to die. We are living in the time GOD has appointed for us, who are living, to experience life upon earth. It is every person’s opportunity to accept or reject CHRIST as his or her Savior.

Between birth and death is time. Keep in mind that mankind was not created for time but for eternity. Time upon earth is mankind’s opportunity to discover GOD and HIS redemptive plan of eternal life through faith in CHRIST. Salvation is the beginning process of building an intimate, loving relationship with CHRIST. Through our relationship with CHRIST, GOD is revealed and understood.

Every living thing depends upon GOD to provide their physical food and in doing so HE reveals Himself. The use of the word “breath” means “Spirit.” HIS desire is for all to acknowledge HIM by accepting CHRIST as their Savior. When a person dies, his or her spirit leaves his or her body goes into eternity and the physical body returns to dust. Those who place their faith in CHRIST receive the free gift of eternal life through the miracle of rebirth. Their natural spirit is transformed by the Spirit of GOD and they become GOD’S Son or Daughters. They will spend eternity with HIM and JESUS in Heaven.  

The psalmist reveals his heart toward GOD in this psalm. If you were to write a psalm reflecting your journey and discovery of GOD and CHRIST, what would it be? I challenge you to write your psalm.

The psalmist sums up his psalm:

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works. 32 He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they pour out smoke. 33 I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God while I live. 34 May my meditation be pleasing to Him; I will rejoice in the Lord. 35 May sinners vanish from the earth and wicked people be no more. My soul, praise Yahweh! • Hallelujah!

Since the psalmist wrote this psalm, the promised Messiah, JESUS, has come to earth and HE revealed GOD in the flesh. Place your faith in CHRIST, receive salvation and discover the awesomeness of being GOD’S child. Start your journey building a loving, intimate, personal relationship with GOD through faith in CHRIST. Blessings!!!