Monthly Archives: October 2014

A Week in the Word, October 26 – November 1

 

Theme: God — His Great Deeds

The famed hymn writer, Fanny Crosby opened and closed her well known song, To God be the Glory, with the same sentiment: “To God be the glory, great things He hath done…And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.”

One reason we know God is great is because of the great things He has done.  It is also because of the great things He has done that we know there is none like Him.  It is, as the hymn says, for the great things He has done that He is so worthy of our glory and praise and adoration.

Our readings about God during this reading program have focused on attributes and qualities of God: His sovereignty, holiness, glory and power, righteousness, justice, goodness, kindness, and steadfast love (other readings considered His role as creator and His Holy Spirit).  Of course who and what God is is of supreme importance, but not more so than all that He has done.  Alongside His character and nature our minds must also engage His activity.  And just as surely as the Bible extols Him for who and what He is (see Exodus 34:6-7, for instance) it also is replete with the accounts of His great work and acknowledgements that is is for these that He is to be revered.  By this very process—consideration of the great things He has done–we come to know God better.

This week’s readings will fall into two primary categories.  The first is those that refer in general to God’s great deeds, the second will be a brief overview reading of some of those great deeds as recorded in Scripture.  In that first category are found four important purposes and uses of God’s marvelous works in the development of our faith. Each of these four will be addressed separately below.

 

Readings and Introductory Comments:

1 Samuel 12:24; Psalm 26:6-7; 75:1; 92:5; 105:1-2, 5; 106:1-2; 126:2-3; 150:2; Joel 2:21

God is worthy of our praise and adoration and one of the most important reasons this is true is because of what God has done.  So we are encouraged to praise and honor Him for this reason.  Further these great deeds of God bring to us great joy which, then, spills over into our worship of Him.  Further still, this is reason for lives lived in devotion and faithful service to Him.

Exodus 15:11; Deuteronomy 3:24; 1 Chronicles 17:19-20; Psalm 40:5; 71:15-19; 72:18-19; 136:4-5

What makes God’s deeds so great is the fact that He alone is the one able to accomplish them.  These acts then become further evidence of His majesty, power, and sovereignty.  Who else could accomplish these things but almighty God alone?

Psalm 78:1-8; 145:4, 5, 12

One of the consistent feature of Scripture drawing out attention to God’s great deeds, is the fact that these are not simply to be recognized and acknowledged, but they are to be “told.”  Many of the passages we have already read, speak to this telling (Psa. 26:6-7; 40:5; 71:15-19; 75:1; etc.)  These are to be proclaimed in the assembly (26:6-7) and to the nations (105:1-2).  More specifically is the fact that they are to proclaimed to successive generations.  It is interesting that when the book of Judges laments the rise of an unfaithful generation, it is said to be because they “did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).

Psalm 77:11-12; 111:2; 119:27; 143:5

Not only are the great deeds of God to be acknowledged, recognized, and proclaimed, they also are to be seriously and thoughtfully considered.  The Bible uses words like (from the ESV) “study,” “ponder,” and “meditate.” It’s not just that God did these things—thought that itself is quite significant—but there are great implications and truths and realities to be learned from them.

Genesis 1:1-4; 2:1-3; 7:13-24; Exodus 19:1-6; Deuteronomy 30:11-14; Psalm 139:13-16; 1 Corinthians 2:9

This is likely the most selective series of passages we have read all year.  When talking about examples of the great deeds of God, we could, in reality, read the entire Bible.  Its very first words are of His great deeds, works that He alone could perform.  The entire Bible’s story line is of God’s successive marvelous works.  It is right for us to think about creation, the flood, the call of Abraham, the promised child, his descendants going down into Egypt, their coming up out of Egypt, etc.  All of these events are nothing short of His wondrous acts.  Beyond that, though the Bible also speaks to other works of God, like that of the revelation of His will to man, His continual sustaining of the world He made, the marvel that is the human body.  Finally, that to which all of God’s work points is the salvation made available through His own Son.  “To God be the glory, great things He has done.”

 

Study/Thought Questions:

1 Samuel 12:24

  • What does the great things God has done motivate us to do?

Psalm 26:6-7

  • What is done in conjunction with telling all God’s wondrous deeds?

Psalm 75:1

  • Same question as above.

Psalm 92:5

  • What is observed in addition to God’s great works?

Psalm 105:1-2, 5

  • To whom are God’s deeds to be made known? (v. 1)

Psalm 126:2-3

  • With what is our mouths filled because of the great things God has done?

Psalm 150:2

  • In addition to His mighty deeds, for what else is God to be praise?

 Joel 2:21

  • What should our response be to the great things God has done?

Exodus 15:11

  • What makes God unlike any other in addition to His glorious deeds?

1 Chronicles 17:19-20

  • What conclusion is to be drawn based on all the great things God has done?

Psalm 40:5

  • How many are the great things God has done?

Psalm 71:15-19

  • Through what age range are God’s great deeds proclaimed? (vv. 17-18)
  • To whom will His might be told? (v. 18)

Psalm 72:18-19

  • Who does wondrous things?

Psalm 136:4-5

  • What great work in particular is mentioned here?

Psalm 78:1-8

  • From whom were the things learned that will be told? (v. 3)
  • To whom will they be told? (v. 4)  And then to whom? (v. 6)

Psalm 145:4, 5, 12

  • What should I do in regard to God’s wondrous works? (v. 5)
  • To whom should God’s mighty works be made known? (v. 12)

Psalm 77:11-12

  • What should one do in regard to the deeds of the Lord?

Psalm 111:2

  • What do ones do who delight in God’s great works?

Genesis 1:1-4; 2:1-3

  • How did God bring heaven and earth into existence? (1:1-4)
  • What had God done in 7 days? (2:1-3)

Genesis 7:13-24

  • Based upon what were those in the ark present? (v. 16)
  • Who blotted out the living things on the face of the earth? (v. 23)

Exodus 19:1-6

  • In what was did God bring the people of Israel to Himself? (v. 4)
  • What did God intend for the people of Israel to be to Him? (v. 6)

Deuteronomy 30:11-14

  • Where is the revelation of God’s command not located? (vv. 11-13)
  • Where is it located? (v. 14)

Psalm 139:13-16

  • Why is God to be praised? (v. 14)

1 Corinthians 2:9

  • What has no eye seen, ear heard, or heart imagined?

 

Meditation Thoughts:

Do you spend sufficient time pondering and meditating of the great works of God?  If not, what should be done and how can it be done?

The great things God has done for His people throughout history are recorded in Scripture, but what great things has He done for you personally?

How are you telling God’s great deeds? Particular to the next generation?

Select a great work of God recorded in Scripture and then spend time pondering and meditating on His wondrous deed.

 

Memory Verse:

“Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens.  You have done great things, O God, who is like you?” (Psalm 71:19)

A Week in the Word, October 19-25

 

Theme: Biographical — Paul

Where would Christianity be without Paul?  Some would argue that it would not have spread as it did.  I disagree. Had Paul not been the man, someone else would have been. The spread of Christianity is not the work of Paul, its the work of God and Paul was the instrument God used, and what an incredible instrument he was.

Paul’s life is worthy of our consideration, not because of the greatness of the man, but because of his humility and sacrifice.  Because of that complete submissiveness on his part—“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20)—God was able to use him mightily.

Not only do the activities of Paul’s life encourage and motivate us, his writing also instructs us.  Having written about half of the books of the New Testament, and about half of the book of Acts being devoted to his life, the amount of potential reading material is quite large.  Our reading will take highlights from his life as well as some of the key sections of Scripture which he penned.

 

Readings and Introductory Comments:

Acts 9:1-22; 13:1-52; 16:11-34; 17:16-34; 19:1-20; 20:17-38; 21:17-36; 24:10-27; 27:1-44

As the book of Acts is a demonstration of the spread of the gospel, it begins, naturally, in Jerusalem.  Next it addresses the gospel being taken to the Gentiles, and then focuses primarily on the efforts of the apostle Paul. Nearly half of this inspired historical record spotlights Paul’s travels and preaching.  These readings are a sampling covering his conversion, excerpts from his journeys, his arrest, trial, and journey to Rome.

Romans 1:16-32; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; 2 Corinthians 4:13-18; Galatians 1:6-10; Ephesians 4:1-7; Philippians 4:4-9; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; 1 Timothy 2:1-6; 2 Timothy 4:1-8; Titus 2:11-14; Philemon 4-7

Each of these readings is but a small portion—one from each of his letters—of some of Paul’s best known and loved writings.

 

Study/Thought Questions: 

Acts 9:1-22

  • From whom did Saul (Paul) get authority for his task? (v. 1)
  • How did Jesus identify himself to Saul? (v. 5)
  • What did Saul do immediately after  his conversion? (v. 20)

Acts 13:1-52

  • Whom selected Saul and Barnabas for this task? (v. 2)
  • What two important changes are noted in v. 13?
  • From what Old Testament books did Paul quote to prove his points? (vv. 33, 34, 35, 41, 37)

Acts 16:11-34

  • Who was baptized along with Lydia? (v. 15)
  • Why did the jailer want to kill himself? (v. 27)

Acts 17:16-34

  • How was Paul characterized by Athenian philosophers? (v. 18)
  • What does God now command of all men? (v. 30)

Acts 19:1-20

  • For how long was Paul able to preach in they synagogue at Ephesus? (v. 8)
  • What did the newly converted Christians do with their books of magic arts? (v. 19)

Acts 20:17-38

  • How did Paul characterize his preaching in Ephesus? (v. 20)
  • What did Paul warn would threaten the church at Ephesus? (v. 29)

Acts 21:17-36

  • How did the Jerusalem elders respond to Paul’s report of his work? (v. 20)
  • Of what was Paul accused? (v. 28)
  • What was the intent of the mob who seized Paul? (v. 31)

Acts 24:10-27

  • For what did Paul always take pains? (v. 16)
  • What is Christianity called in v. 22?

Acts 27:1-44

  • How did Paul know that no one would die on this sea voyage? (v. 23)
  • Who tried to escape the ship? (v. 30)
  • How did the soldiers intend to insure that no prisoner escaped? (v. 42)

Romans 1:16-32

  • What has been known about God since the creation? (v. 20)
  • What phrase is repeated in vv. 24, 26, and 28?

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

  • What did Paul consider to be of “first importance”? (v. 3)
  • “But by __________________________ I am what I am” (v. 10)

2 Corinthians 4:13-18

  • What has been extended to more and more people that leads to thanksgiving? (v. 15)
  • How does Paul describe our present affliction? (v. 17)

Galatians 1:6-10

  • What astonished Paul? (v. 6)
  • What should happen to one who preachers another gospel? (vv. 8, 9)

Ephesians 4:1-7

  • With what should one pursue unity? (vv. 2-3)

Philippians 4:4-9

  • Instead of being anxious, what should one do? (v. 6)

Colossians 3:1-4

  • Who should seek things that are above? (v. 1)

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

  • What sound will be heard when the Lord descends? (v. 16)

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

  • Upon whom will vengeance be taken? (v. 8)

1 Timothy 2:1-6

  • What is God’s desire? (v. 4)

2 Timothy 4:1-8

  • What time did Paul warn was coming? (vv. 3-4)

Titus 2:11-14

  • For whom is salvation made possible? (v. 11)
  • For what purpose does God purify a people for His own possession? (v. 14)

Philemon 4-7

  • What did Paul pray would become effective? (v. 6)

 

Meditation Thoughts:

Why do you suppose Luke shifts from calling Saul to Paul?

How did God open Lydia’s heart (Acts 16:14)

What, to you, are the most inspiring aspects of Paul’s life?

 

Memory Verse:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8)

A Week in the Word, October 12-18

 

Theme: Great Bible Themes — Justification

Simply put, there is no greater theme is Scripture than that of justification.  Can man be right (just) before God?  That’s the prevailing, pervasive question being answered in Scripture.  From the first sin in the garden it is demonstrated that man is not just in and of himself.  Further, his sin adversely affects his relationship with God, to say the least. So, again, can man be right with his Creator?

The question has plagued man from ancient days.  It is posed several times in the book of Job.  “Can mortal man be in the right before God?  Can a man be pure before His maker” (Job 4:17). “Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God? (9:2).  “How then can man be in the right before God?  How can he who is born of woman be pure?” (25:4).

What is to be done?  What can man do?  What has God done?  In essence, this is the theme of the Bible: what God has done so that sinful man might be justified before Him.  On the one hand God, in His grace and mercy, has acted on our behalf through the sacrifice of His Son—that is, on behalf of our sin.  “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21).  This is, as Paul said, an “inexpressible gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).

Here, though is the issue; how do we appropriate that gift?  How does that justification come to apply to me?  One prevalent idea addressed directly in Scripture is that it is through obedience to the Law of Moses.  Though not many today would argue for such, the underlying principle is still pervasive, that justification is available based on obedience. Paul argues that justification is by faith, not works,  Yes, it is true that saving faith always involves obedience, but there’s a difference between obeying to be saved and the “obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). James’ discussion is very pertinent here (see reading below).

Many of our readings in previous weeks have been collections of single-verse passages.  This week is different. The bulk of the readings will be of extended passages, particularly from Romans and Galatians where Paul is tackling the issue of our justification by faith.

 

Readings and Introductory Comments: 

Romans 3:1-31; 4:1-25; 5:1-21; 8:28-39

Many people consider the book of Romans as the apostle Paul at his best and his teaching on justification by faith as the core of his preaching and teaching.  First, it should be remembered that Paul was first and foremost an instrument in God’s hands—a willing and effective instrument to be sure. What’s important isn’t that it was Paul who said or wrote something because its origin was actually God through the Holy Spirit moving Paul to speak or write.  The reason he dealt with the matter at such great lengths was because of the failure of so many of his own Jewish brethren to understand the faith-based nature of man’s right standing before God. He was responding to a great need for right understanding.of this critical doctrine.

Galatians 2:1-21; 3:1-29; 5:1-6

In many ways Galatians is a reflection of what Paul wrote in Romans.  He told the churches of Galatia, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6). That “different gospel” was the notion that justification came by means other than by faith.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Titus 3:3-7; James 2:14-26

Not surprisingly, the theme of justification surfaces in other places in the New Testament although perhaps not as frequently as one might expect.  Of course, justification is all about salvation and redemption as well–all viewing the same topic from different vantage points.

 

Study/Thought Questions: 

Romans 3:1-31

  • Who is righteous? (v. 10)
  • Who will be justified by works of the Law? (v. 20)
  • By what are we justified? (v. 24)
  • What is God able to be to the one who has faith in Jesus? (v. 26)

Romans 4:1-25

  • What is one’s faith counted as who believes in “him who justifies the ungodly”? (v. 5)
  • In Abraham’s case when was his faith counted as righteousness relative to his circumcision? (vv. 9-11)
  • Upon what does the promise of God rest? (v. 16)
  • Of what was Abraham fully convinced? (v. 21)

Romans 5:1-21

  • What do we have since we’ve been justified by faith? (v. 1)
  • How does God show HIs love to us? (v. 8)
  • By what means does man received the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness? (v. 17)
  • What is the “one act of righteousness” that leads to justification and life? (v. 18)

Romans 8:28-39

  • To what have men been predestined? (v. 29)
  • What will happen to those whom God justifies? (v. 30)
  • Who can condemn the one whom God justifies? (vv. 33-34)

Galatians 2:1-21

  • What do “we know”? (v. 16)
  • What is true if righteousness is through the Law? (v. 21)

Galatians 3:1-29

  • Is the work of God by works of the law or by hearing with faith? (v. 5)
  • What did Scripture foresee? (v. 8)
  • What is evident? (v. 11)
  • Could law give life? (v. 21)
  • What purpose did the law serve (v. 24)
  • What are you if you are Christ’s? (v. 29)

Galatians 5:1-6

  • What is one obligated to do who accepts circumcision? (v. 3)
  • And also in v. 4?
  • What “counts for anything”? (v. 6)

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

  • Who was justified? (vv. 9-10)
  • What other two spiritual activities are here associated with being justified? (v. 11)

Titus 3:3-7

  • By what process are we justified? (v. 5)
  • Being justified, what do we become? (v. 7)

James 2:14-26

  • What is faith alone (“by itself”)? (v. 17)
  • By what was Abraham justified? (v. 21)
  • By what is one not justified? (v. 24)

 

Meditation Thoughts:

If justification is not by works, but by faith, how does our obedience fit into the picture?

Why can God not simply overlook our sin and save us?

How do you rectify Paul’s statement that Abraham was justified by faith, not works and James’ statement that he was justified by works (Rom. 4:2; James 2:21)?

 

Memory Verse:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:23-24)

A Week in the Word, October 5-11

Theme: Psalms of Thanksgiving

Thankfulness is no small part of being God’s child and follower of Jesus Christ.  Honestly, could one make such a claim and not exude thankfulness?  The Bible links ungrateful men and evil men (Lk. 6:35).  The discussion of man’s infamous degradation in sin from Romans 1 all begins with those who though “they knew God, did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him” (Rom. 1:21). When Paul warns about “times of difficulty” ahead and describes what people will be like, among other things, they will be “ungrateful, unholy, heartless”  (2 Tim. 3:1-3).

On the positive side, the qualities of the “new self…renewed…after the image of its creator” begin with compassion, kindness, humility and so on; the list ends with “And be thankful” (Col. 3:10, 12, 15).

As our reading returns this week to the book of Psalms with all of its praise and adoration of God, not surprisingly, thanksgiving plays a major role.   As expressed in previous weeks’ readings from Psalms, many efforts are made to categorize the Psalms. This is an imprecise exercise.  Even so, a number of the Psalms can be catalogued as Psalms of thanksgiving.  In addition to that, many Psalms (categorized differently) also contain expressions of thanksgiving. Our reading will begin with entire Psalms of thanksgiving, followed by individual expressions of thanks from many other Psalms.

 

Readings and Introductory Comments:

Psalms 18, 30, 75, 92, 97, 100, 107, 118, 138

God has richly blessed His people. He has provided abundantly for them, He has delivered them from trouble, He has been faithful always.  For that reason God is to be greatly praised and thanked.  An earlier week’s reading from Psalms focused on Psalms of Praise.  How does one distinguish between Psalms of praise and those of thanksgiving?  I’m not sure.  Surprisingly, though, only two of these Psalms were also read during the earlier week’s readings of Psalms of praise.

Psalm 7:17; 9:1-2; 26:6-7; 33:1-3; 44:8; 50:14, 23; 52:9; 54:6; 57:9-10; 79:13; 86:12-13; 95:1-2; 105:1; 106:1; 108:3; 109:30; 111:1; 116:17; 136:1-3, 26; 140:13; 145:10

Found within Psalms of other types (Psalms of praise and even laments) are found expressions of thanksgiving to God.  For the very reasons that God is praised, He is thanked.  For those attributes of God from which flow His great blessings (steadfast love and faithfulness, for instance) He is to be thanked.  For His very nature—His holiness and compassion—He is to be thanked.

 

Study/Thought Questions:

Psalm 18

  • Why is God worthy to be praised? (vv. 2-3)
  • To whom does God show himself merciful? (v. 25)

Psalm 30

  • To what is thanks given? (v. 4)
  • Into what has the writer’s mourning been turned? (v. 11)

Psalm 75

  • What is remembered that prompts thanks? (v. 1)

Psalm 92

  • What is it good to do? (v. 1)
  • What three things are stated about God in v. 15?

Psalm 97

  • For what reason should the earth rejoice? (v. 1)
  • Who should rejoice in the Lord? (v. 12)

Psalm 100

  • What three qualities of God are listed in v. 5 (and reasons He is to be thanked)?

Psalm 107

  • Why is God to be thanked? (v. 1)
  • Why is God to be thanked? (v. 9)
  • Who will “attend to these things”? (v. 43)

Psalm 118

  • Why is God to be thanked? (v. 1)
  • What has God done? (v. 5)
  • Why is God to be thanked? (v. 29)

Psalm 138

  • What has been exalted above all things? (v. 2)
  • What will the Lord fulfill? (v. 8)

Psalm 7:17

  • For what reason is thanks due to the Lord?

Psalm 9:1-2

  • With what should God be thanked? (v. 1)

Psalm 26:6-7

  • In what way is thanksgiving given? (v. 7)

Psalm 33:1-3

  • By what mode should thanks be expressed?

Psalm 44:8

  • For how long will God be thanked?

Psalm 50:14, 23

  • What sacrifice should be offered to God? (v. 14)
  • Who glorifies God? (v. 23)

Psalm 52:9

  • Why is God to be thanked?

Psalm 54:6

  • Why is thanks given to the Lord’s name?

Psalm 57:9-10

  • Among whom is thanks to be given?

Psalm 79:13

  • Who gives thanks forever?

Psalm 86:12-13

  • With what is thanks given to God?

Psalm 95:1-2

  • Where is thanksgiving to be given?

Psalm 105:1

  • In addition to giving thanks to the Lord, what else is to be done?

Psalm 106:1

  • Why is God to be thanked?

Psalm 109:30

  • With what will thanks be given?

Psalm 111:1

  • In whose company will God be thanked?

Psalm 116:17

  • What activity is coupled with a sacrifice of thanksgiving?

Psalm 136:1-3, 26

  • Why is God to be thanked?

Psalm 140:13

  • What else is able to be done since God is thanked?

Psalm 145:10

  • Who and what will give thanks to the Lord?

 

Meditation Thoughts:

What has God accomplished in your life for which you are thankful?

What about God’s nature prompts your thanksgiving?

In what ways might your gratitude to God be better expressed?

 

Memory Verse:

“I will give the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” (Psalm 7:17)