Solomon, wise but weary

Just a little Sunday morning Bible Study

Chapters 1 through 10 of 1 Kings record Solomon seeking God and following after God. Solomon was wiser than anyone who has ever lived. He was also rich beyond belief. He had palaces and gold by the tons. It says that he did not use silverware but goldware because he was so wealthy. Solomon had everything but it was not enough for him. In all his wisdom in the end he did not apply that wisdom to himself.

In the New Testament we read in Galatians (6:9) that we should not grow weary, or tired, in doing good because at the right time we will receive a harvest. It is not easy always doing the right thing, and it is not easy to help others but it is right. We cannot grow tired like Solomon did. We cannot give up. We cannot forget the promises of God.

Solomon had an eye for the ladies but especially for the ladies God told him not to take as wives. He followed after their gods and broke covenant with the God of Israel. It always happens this way too. When we start to follow after things we should not they lead us to other things we should follow. There are somethings that are straight sin no questions about it but there are other things too. Things that maybe you should not do because they lead you down a path you should not go. Sin and these things will take your focus of God and end the end lead you down a path where you following after other things that take the place if your calling, your future, and maybe even your God.

Just a thought,
Mike

Bible Study Method

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I get questions from time to time on how to study the Bible. There are a variety of methods and techniques that one could use, but one of my favorites is the example below. I enjoy this method because it can be used as devotional and study. I have a few points first and then the example from Philippians 2:10-18 after that.

Points to Consider:

First, pray. This is the first step because it is the Holy Spirit who will bring the Word to life. If you skip this step then go back to it. Actually, it is not the first step it is the continual step. As you read and study keep praying. One of my most prayed prayers is “Lord help.”

Read a section continual section of Scripture. It does not have to be an entire book or chapter (although that is awesome)  but it should be a large enough section of Scripture that you can see how a section of verses tie together. I always suggest for those starting out that you take a verse that challenges you and then add 5 or so verses on both sides. This way you get a better idea of the context.

Next is if you do not have a Bible commentary on that book, a whole Bible commentary, or a Bible with study notes then use a website like Bible.org or alternatively you can Google a verse and look for commentaries on that verse. You do not need to agree with every commentary you read nor should you but it is a good idea to see what the different interpretations of a verse are. If you can check multiple translations as well.

Lastly, use the cross-references in your Bible. If you are reading your Bible and a verse has a little letter or number with another book/chapter/verse then look that up in your Bible. I have learned a lot just using that.

Now just grab a pen and paper or your keyboard and write down the verse and what you observe through your reading, praying and studying. Don’t worry about being profound or deep or even amazing just study the Bible. The goal is to grow closer to God personally. If you get something worth sharing then share but that should not be the goal. Most of what I write stays between me and God. Actually what is below is from my own personal time but for your sake, I share so you have an example.

10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth

Jesus’s rule is over all of heaven and earth. He is Lord over all He created.

11  and every tongue should confess that Jesus  Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Today not everyone confesses Jesus as Lord, but there will come a day when Jesus returns that everyone will say that Jesus is Lord. To confess Jesus as Lord gives the Father glory. When as a human father I hear someone brag on my kids I am not only pleased but I am honored because someone else loves what is closest to my heart.

12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Working our your salvation does not mean to earn your salvation because Paul expressly says in other places like Romans 8:3 that we cannot earn salvation. Instead what we are working out is our place in Christ (Colossians 3:3), the effects of our salvation (Romans 6:8-11; Galatians 2:20), and our new nature (Colossians 3:12).

13  For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

God called us (John 15:16) and has prepared works for us to do.  He has placed the desire in us to do good according to Jeremiah 31:31-34.

14  Do everything without grumbling and arguing,

God is not opposed to you bringing your frustrations to Him. In fact, He tells us to cast our cares on Him because He cares (1 Peter 5:7), but grumbling is different. Grumbling is what children do when they are asked to do something and instead of just doing it they complain. Grumbling is what the people did in the desert. Grumbling says after crossing the red sea “this is hard let’s go back.”

15 so that you may be blameless and pure children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.

By not complaining you show how you are different and that you belong to God. If everyone around you complains about everything and you just keep moving and trusting God you show you are different. Having faith that His ways are right makes you stand out.

16 Hold firmly to the message of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing.

In a world that has shifting and ever changing ideas and loyalties, we are called to hold firm to the words of life.

17  But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.

Trials come. There should be no question about that. Hard times are inevitable and we need to expect that. Sometimes hard times come because we make foolish choices, sometimes hard times come because other people make bad choices, and sometimes it is just because we live in a fallen and sinful world. Jesus said that He has overcome the world (John 16:33) and we should never forget that. Yes, hard times come in this world but Jesus has overcome the world.

18 In the same way you should also be glad and rejoice with me.

The hardest thing to do when faced with difficulty is to rejoice. When we are being pressed like grapes for our faith how do we rejoice? Where do we find the strength to rejoice in the midst of suffering? We find it in Christ. Jesus has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is our ever-present help in time of need (Psalm 46:1).

 

Just a thought,

Mike

Chapter Nine – Missing the Point

This is a rough draft from chapter nine of my new book. It is a Bible study through the Gospel of Mark.

 

Chapter Nine – Missing the Point

When deciding what to look at in chapter 9 we are faced with a what at first appears to be a series of different situations and incidents. There is the transfiguration, the demon that could only come out by prayer and fasting, Jesus’s second prediction of His death, a conversation about who is the greatest, others casting out demons in Jesus’s name, and a series of warnings from Jesus. These things on their own present a difficulty when trying to decide what gets the little time together we have. However, there is a common theme that runs through most of these incidents. If you saw it at first, then, to be honest, you did better than I because I had to read and reread a few times. In most of these events, someone missed the point.

At the transfiguration, Peter missed the point by wanting to make three tabernacles. He wanted to make one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. I am not sure but it would seem that his hope was the other two would stay awhile. Peter made the mistake of putting these three on the same level. He foolishly thought the Messiah was about the same as the previous prophets. In Peter’s mind, as well as others of his time, Moses and Elijah were two of the greatest people to ever live. Moses because he led the children of Israel out of Egypt and then later the Law was given through him. Elijah because he was a mighty prophet. So mighty of God in fact that he was taken to heaven by chariots of fire. For them to come and speak to Jesus must have been a sight and only reinforced to Peter that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. The problem, as we said, is that Peter put these three on the same plain. Jesus however, is greater. The Father Himself actually corrected Peter by declaring “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.”

Peter foolishly thought these three were the same but how many times have we foolishly placed things on the same level as Jesus? How many times have we missed the point and thought something was as big as God? A job. A death. A new child. A tragic loss. A debt we cannot pay. A new marriage. A failed marriage. A wayward child. There are good and bad things we put on the same plain as God. We elevate these things and build dwellings for them to stay and take up a place of high importance in our lives. Just like Peter we need to be corrected and reminded that Jesus is the beloved Son and it is to Him that we must listen.

                This is my beloved Son; listen to Him. Mark 9:7

The next one to miss the point was the father of the possessed child. If there is anyone who gets a little extra sympathy from me, it is a distraught parent. I cannot imagine having to see your child go through something that you cannot fix. Seeing them suffer and knowing there is nothing you can do to fix the situation. Knowing that your child is hurting and you cannot take it away crushes you as a parent. This man did what he could, and he took the child to the disciples but they were not able to do anything. Enter Jesus. The man comes before Jesus and says “if you can do anything have compassion on us.” Have you ever reached a point like that? To just cry out to God and say “can you do something?”

The man for all his love for his child missed a point, though. It was not a question of if Jesus could do something. Instead, the question was did the man believe? The man questioned Jesus’s ability when in this case it was his faith that was in question by Jesus. Jesus was able to and did cast out the demon. He tells the disciples after that they could only do this by prayer and fasting. There is a common misunderstanding that surrounds this section of Scripture. I have heard people say to others that they do not have the faith to be healed and some site this verse as proof of their claim (that enough faith is needed) but there is a problem. The problem is that it is not the father who needed deliverance but the son. The faith of the son was not in question but that of the one bringing the petition to Jesus. In the same way, we should not be so quick to question the faith of the infirmed if we are praying to God for them. If we interpret this section correctly we should see the man is acting as the intercessor for another and his faith is questioned. The question we should ask ourselves is not do others have enough faith but do we?

I do believe! Help my unbelief. – Mark 9:24

The last thing I want us to look at is the way the disciples missed kingdom greatness. The disciples had been arguing among themselves about who was the greatest in the kingdom but when Jesus asked them what they were talking about they had nothing to say. This is one of those things in the Bible that transcends time and culture. You do not really need to know about the historical setting or cultural nuisances in order to understand that the disciples wanted to know who was the best. This is not a specific issue to the disciples but a fundamental flaw inherent in all people. It is the desire to be important and to be known. In our day with cell phones, social media, blogs, and streaming video we can be famous for just being famous. We have people who are famous in our day just because they are on TV or just because they make on-line videos. They do not actually do anything nor have they studied for years to learn something they are simply famous because they are. It is very odd. That is just how it has come to work in the world and because it feeds our natural desire to be important and known we allow it hoping someday we will be known. In God’s kingdom, it does not work this way, though.

Jesus says that those who want to become great in the kingdom must serve. If you want to be exalted, you must be humble. If you want to be first you must be last. It is contrary to the way things work in the natural but in reality it should be. If Jesus has come to bring God’s kingdom, then we should understand that it is different than what we have. Jesus uses a child as the example of what we must be like. A child while loved does not have much to offer. They are dependent on the parent for everything. We must be like a child and be dependent on God. Not seeking our own but trusting in our Father for direction, provision, and instruction. A child thinks they know more than they do but as any parent can tell you their child is not as smart as they think they are. You and I are not as smart as we think we are. We think we know a great many things but God knows all things. To be great then in the kingdom then is to understand your place and serve those who God puts in your life. There are no famous people in the kingdom of heaven except God alone.

If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all. – Mark 9:35

 

Questions:

  1. How do you think Peter missed the point in putting Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus?
    1. Moses and Elijah are important in Israel’s history but not as important. What do we do things that are not as important as God?
  2. Are there things you have put on the same level as Jesus?
    1. How can we better prioritize these things in our lives?
  3. The father went to Jesus because he knew he could not do it himself, have you gone to Jesus for things that were beyond you?
    1. Do you ever wonder if God cares?
  4. Jesus asked the father if he believed; do you believe when you pray?
    1. The father confessed his need for his faith to be strengthened, have you ever acknowledged a lack of faith?
  5. What was wrong with the disciples wanting to be great?
    1. Do you desire greatness?
  6. What does it mean to be humble?
    1. What is the difference between true humility and false humility?