Isaiah 15:1-18:7 ~ Galatians 1:1-24 ~ Psalm 58:1-11 ~ Proverbs 23:12
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Old Testament - This week is Isaiah we will read many prophecies against cities and kingdoms. I realize these can be tough to read in some ways. As you read these prophecies, consider why these prophecies were written. Why were these prophecies proclaimed by Isaiah? Bible.org's excellent commentary on this section of the book of Isaiah titled "The Burdens Upon the Nations" is worth spending a few minutes reading at this link.
Today we read in Isaiah chapter 15 a message against Moab, or the Moabites! Now, the big question for each of us is how many sermons in your life have you ever heard that touch on the Moabites?? I will admit that there is only one I can think of - and I actually just heard it on my iPod while jogging yesterday! From a previous post, many of you know that I'm a fan of Josh Harris and listen to his sermons often. Well, he has a recent sermon about the Moabites from Numbers 22 through 25, where the Moabites were first fearful of Israel (Num. 22) because of their size, and they realized they could not defeat them in open warfare. So, they tried to get Balaam to curse the Israelites (Num 23 & 24), but Balaam wouldn't do it because God was giving him messages of blessings upon the Israelites! So, finally the Moabites decide to simply seduce the Israelites (Num 25) into worshiping their gods and this strategy worked! To the point where God ended up killing 24,000 Israelites with a plague (Num 25:9) because of their disobedience! Josh Harris does a great job of integrating this story of the Israelites and the Moabites into our lives and how we can fall prey to temptation just like the Israelites if we're not careful. You can download an MP3 of this great sermon on temptation at this link. And you can check out more of Josh Harris' sermons online at this link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/covenantlifechurch A very bright map that shows where Moab is located in comparison to Judah and Israel is below:
New Testament - Today we begin Paul's letter to the church in Galatia! Paul’s letter was sent from either point #1 to point #2 or from #3 to #4 in the image below:
~ Galatians ~
Author: Paul the apostle
Date: A.D. 48 or 49
Content: Paul had preached to the inhabitants of Galatia on his first missionary journey (Act 13:14-14:23). Shortly after his departure, a group of Jewish believers arrived to insist that the Gentile Christians submit to the laws of Moses in order to be saved. Paul writes to combat this error by showing that Abraham, who lived over four hundred years before the giving of the law, was saved by faith in the gospel – so how could it be argued that the law could either save a man or make a believer in Christ more perfect? Paul couples this with a vigorous defense of himself as an apostle and with a discussion of how a Christian ought to live.
Theme: Paul energetically defends the truth of the gospel, which is that man is saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ and nothing else. Any other teaching is a perversion of the truth of God (Galatians 1:7). We are made right in the sight of God by faith (Galatians 2:16) and become the people of God (sons of Abraham) in the same way, by faith (Galatians 3:7). Because we are free in Christ, we must never allow anyone to drag us back to the idea of working for our salvation, but must live out of the gospel. This involves submission to the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:16) and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Galatians 5:14). (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” pp. 25-26) More great commentary on Galatians is at this link
Wow. I have to share with you that Paul's words in Galatians chapter 1 verse 1 stopped me in my tracks today when reading them: "This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group or by human authority. My call is from Jesus Christ himself and from God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead." The thing that struck me about this was Paul saying that he was not appointed by any group or by human authority to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. His call was from Jesus Himself! And this just made me think about our modern world today, where I am afraid that sometimes we will only maybe do bold things in our life for the Gospel - for the Kingdom of God - if we feel like we have been appointed by some group or by some human authority to do it. When, in fact the important thing is if we have been called by Jesus to do it! I hope humbly here I can share with you that there are probably a ton of reasons of why I "shouldn't" be leading an online Bible study like this one. I don't have a Seminary degree. I am not an ordained minister or pastor. Yes, I have been in a Bible study before, and I do a lot of studying each day for this ministry. But - no group or human authority has appointed me to do this. I have just done it because I do feel very called to it! And I share this with you not to pat myself on the back, but to encourage you. Maybe you've never been to Seminary. Maybe you're not an ordained minister or pastor. Maybe you've never done _____, ____, or ____. (fill in your blanks) But, maybe God is calling you to do something bold for his Kingdom, and the question becomes when will you do it? When will you stop relying on an old excuse of not being appointed by a group or human authority to do it? If God is calling you to something, please, please, do it! Our time is short. Your time is now. The water is fine. Please, dive in!
Psalms - Psalm 58 verse 11 stood out to me today - ""There truly is a reward for those who live for God; surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth."" I think this is wise for us to remember that God indeed judges. We don't. We shouldn't. But God indeed judges justly. This verse also brings up the question - are we living for God? If so, what will our reward be? Are you looking forward to the reward?
Proverbs - Today in Proverbs 23:12 we read: “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” Does this describe your heart and your ears? Are you open to instruction? Do you have a "teachable heart"? Are you listening for words of knowledge? What are some specific things in your life that demonstrate this?
Worship God: Okay, with my comments above on Galatians 1:1 and the picture of the boy jumping into the pool, I want to share with you today Steven Curtis Chapman's amazing song "Dive." What in your life is God calling you to dive into? Dive in!
Have you dived into a relationship with God yet? Click here and dive!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge." Proverbs 23:12 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you are applying your heart to godly instruction. Pray that you are turning your ears to words of knowledge through your study of the Bible.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!