by BJ | Apr 8, 2016 | Bible Studies, Life
Remember playing hide and seek as a kid? The games could go on for hours. You didn’t want to be found, at least right away, but you wanted them looking for you. It was “Look for me! Look for me! But, don’t find me too quickly.”
Sometimes people think God is like that. They see Him as the cosmic hide and seek master, and Jeremiah 29:13 as His mantra “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
If we try really really hard, maybe we will find Him and connect with Him in some way. But, that is not the way the God behaves!
But, in the context of Jeremiah 29:13 (the immediate context starts back in verse 10 and goes through 14) God is saying that at the end of the 70 years of captivity in Babylon you will seek after Me and I will reveal myself to you. In other words, I will turn your hearts to seek Me and I will make certain you find Me.
God is the God who refuses to hide Himself
God wants you to know Him. From the beginning of human history He has been revealing Himself. Before Adam and Eve sinned God walked with them in the garden (Genesis 3:8-11). Now, you would expect this, they were after all His creation. But, what happens next in the story is what makes me stop and wonder. God refused to hide Himself from them AFTER they sinned. Adam and Eve only had one rule, one law to obey in the garden and they broke it. But, even after they sinned God sought them out. And He has been revealing Himself ever since.
With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the name was God Almighty. He revealed Himself as the almighty God, the protector and sustainer (Exodus 6:2-3). He was a shield to Abraham (Genesis 15:1). He was the promise keeper and interpreter of dreams to Joseph. He was the one present with Joseph, Joshua, and Samuel, and David.
God is always revealing Himself to us
He revealed Himself in a burning bush to Moses and told him to challenge Pharaoh. In Exodus 6 we catch just glance of the intensity with which God reveals Himself.
God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel,
‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:6-7)
God said He revealed Himself as God Almighty to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but to Moses and the nation of Israel He is going to reveal Himself by His personal name, Yahweh or Yhwh, the word we translate as LORD.
How is He going to reveal Himself? He will deliver them from their bondage (Exodus 6:6-7). Their freedom is how they will know that He is God. God’s deliverance becomes the revelation to the people of Israel. In the story of the Exodus God declares at least 13 more times in the next six chapters that the miracles or plagues He brings on Egypt are for one reason only – so that Egypt, Israel, the rest of the world would know that the LORD alone is God.
This is important. The plagues were not because God needed to convince Pharaoh to let Israel go. God did not need Pharaoh’s permission. God is capable of accomplishing His will without the okay of any king. God’s purpose was to reveal Himself.
God’s actions revealed His existence and His character! Who God is was seen in what God did!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea that as Christians we should discover who we were created to be. We will never understand who we are aside from understanding Who created us. And, the good news is that God is always in the business of revealing Himself. He refuses to be hidden.
What steps can you take to understand the God who refuses to be hidden?
This sounds terribly simple, but the Bible is the Word of God. It is His revelation of Himself to us. By reading and studying the Scriptures you will see the revelation of God Himself to you.
Mark references to God in your Bible.
As you are reading draw a triangle around each reference to God and shade it yellow. The symbol and color are just a suggestion, but marking God as you read the Bible is a personal charge from me to you. Marking as you read slows you down and makes you pay close attention to the text. The results are amazing. You will see things you have never noticed before and ponder things you had only breezed by.
In a journal keep a list of what you are learning about God from your study or reading. There is no need to list every little detail, just list some of the things you see. God will guide you as write.
In your journal keep a very specific list of the things you see God in your life and the world around you. Over and over in Scripture the actions of God prove the character of God. Watch for His actions in your life. Note, what God did, when and where He did it. The journal will become a testimony for you, your children, and your grandchildren to the faithfulness of God.
Every few months review your notes. Take time to remember an enjoy what God has done in your life.
God is the God who refuses to be hidden. Watch for His hand at work in your life. He is working everywhere, but sometimes our eyes are too blind to see, our ears too dull hear Him. But taking time and being intentional you will be amazed at the revelation going on all around you.
by BJ | Apr 1, 2016 | Bible Studies, Life
No matter who you are at some point in your life you will experience difficult times. You might suffer the loss of a loved one, have an illness, lose your job, have a broken relationship or go through a divorce. It’s so easy to be overcome with a sense of hopelessness.
Whatever you encounter, it is essential that you don’t lose hope. But, your hope must be rooted in something bigger than yourself! It can’t be dependent on a person or life circumstances. The object of your hope must be God alone! Otherwise, you will only be disappointed, and ultimately sucked into a vicious cycle which will lead you down a path of depression and despair. Satan is never happier than when he sees people giving in and giving up to despair and becoming lost in hopelessness.
Don’t let that happen to you. Be prepared for difficult times so that you are ready when they come.
How is it possible to not lose hope in difficult times?
First, what is hope?
Many people define hope as wishing something will happen. However, biblical hope is a hope of expectation, knowing that it will happen. You might even define it as an eager anticipation of God’s promise coming to pass. This kind of hope is based on knowing that God will do what He said He would do!
Where is hope found?
Again Isaiah says, “THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE.” Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:12-13
Before coming to Christ we were without hope (Ephesians 2:12). But now in Christ we have hope! Our hope is found in our love relationship with Jesus. As a believer we are never without hope! But that is not all, as we live a life of surrender to Christ; we also have joy, peace and power! (Romans 15:13) What more could you hope for?
Properly Placed Hope
God is the God of hope. He is the foundation on which our hope is built; He is both the object and the author of our hope. (1 Peter 1:3)
Trusting in God (Hebrews 11:1) by the power of the Holy Spirit we experience
- Joy which comes as we anticipate seeing our hopes fulfilled. Much like the excitement of a child on Christmas morning.
- Peace which comes from the assurance that God will do what He said He would do. (Philippians 4:7)
Hope that is placed in someone or something other than God/Jesus Christ is misplaced hope. It will eventually lead one into
Hopelessness usually doesn’t come suddenly out of nowhere; rather it is usually the result of a series of events in which a false belief system is formed. It could be something like “I can do it“, which leads to “I thought I could do it”, to “I can’t do it”, and ultimately “it can’t done, there is no hope.” Hopelessness believes that no matter what you do, nothing will change.
Putting your hope in yourself is telling yourself a lie. You place your hope in yourself, others or your circumstances rather than God and you will ultimately be disappointed.
Loss of hope can also result in depression. Depression can be nothing more than a signal sent by your mind telling you that hope was lost. Often if you find a way to restore hope your depression will disappear.
What do you do when you find yourself hopeless, depressed and in despair?
What happens when you put your hope in God?
Have you ever been in despair? The answer is simple. Quit looking at your circumstances and look at God. Go to the Bible for direction. Jesus overcame every conflict he had with Satan by using the Word of God. The Word is a door for those in the prison of hopelessness through which they can look, see the light of hope, walk out of darkness into light, and find direction for their lives. (Psalms 119:105, Romans 15:4)
When you are in a difficult time, remember: don’t lose hope. Hope is essential; once you lose it, you have lost the game. Furthermore, it’s your responsibility to not lose hope.
Depression is the emotional result of hopelessness.
Joy is the emotional result of hope.
Peace is the emotional result of faith.
Our hope is based on knowing God will do what He said He would do. And so we wait expectantly knowing that Jesus is coming back!!!
by BJ | Feb 26, 2016 | Bible Studies, Life
It is a scary world that we live in and with each passing day the headlines tell of shootings, severe weather, terror threats, political unrest, economic upheaval and global instability.
In our personal lives we are faced with job insecurity, financial loss, health issues, broken relationships, prodigals, disobedient children, drama and the list goes on and on.
How quickly we find ourselves wringing our hands, trying to “make things work”, working hard to fix people, worrying about those we love and ourselves. Fear slithers in, like the one who uses it to pierce the heart and mind, and drains us of all peace.
How are we to respond?
When life begins to crumble you find yourself drowning in a sea of circumstances, when the world is swirling and the noise is deafening REMEMBER
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear… Psalm 46:1-2
The pressure to embrace the fear is great! But, our Refuge is even greater! As believers it is possible to be strong and confident no matter what is happening in today’s headlines, in our families or in our personal lives.
The way to overcome that fear is to trust what God’s Word says is true and cling to it, the way a child who is afraid, wraps their arms and legs around their father and refuses to let go. Why do they do that? Because they KNOW they are safe in their daddy’s arms. He is their refuge in times of trouble.
We live in a sinful, broken world and the one thing we can be certain of, is that our days are uncertain!
BUT, God’s Word is crystal clear – we serve a BIG God who is ever present and personal. While the nations are raging and kingdoms totter, the Lord of Hosts is with us – He is our fortress! (Psalm 46:6-7)
So what do you do when you are struggling with fear and uncertainty?
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! – Psalm 46:10
There are three parts to this verse
Be Still (cease striving)
It carries the idea of – stop struggling against, stop fighting, stop trying to figure things out. In other words we are to rest, relax, chill out, drop our weapons and stop fighting!
I don’t know about you, but it is very hard for me to be still. When I am struggling with fear and feeling out of control I want to do something. I want to take matters into my own hands and do whatever it takes to “make it right” – in doing so I often find refuge in all the wrong places. I trust in myself or others rather than resting in God.
But, there is another aspect to being still – that is learning to be quiet.
We live in a noisy world, one that is not only filled with sounds but with a multitude of voices. If we were honest with ourselves, most of us would confess that we are “plugged in” 24/7. The TV is on 24/7 (even if it is just for noise), iPods are plugged in, fans are blowing, Sirius XM enables us to listen in the car, at home or anywhere we happen to be!
There is also the multitude of voices: friends, family, foes, teachers, mentors and other sundry voices. Which ones do you listen to? Who carries the heaviest weight? We need to discern if this is God speaking through them or is it just the flesh?
When we are free from outside turbulence we are better able to hear the still, small voice of God’s Spirit. He speaks to us, but sometimes we aren’t quiet enough to hear Him.
One other voice that needs to b quieted is the voice of our flesh, the one which speaks in the language of worries, doubts and fears. By taking those thoughts captive and resting in God’s Word, peace replaces the turbulence. That doesn’t mean the storm has passed, it means the storm is no longer within you. The storms may still rage, but you will be free from their effects.
Learn that He is God, or you might think of it as “see that I am God”, or “Get to know Me better”. The way to get to know God better is to consistently be in His Word, learning who He is, what your relationship with Him is and how He operates. There is no better way to get to know someone than by spending time with them.
The more you get to know God, the easer it becomes to step back and see that He is who He says He is!
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth
Often I exalt myself and try to be my own god. I do what I want to do, when I want to do it! I take matters into my own hands. “I do it!”, as my granddaughter says.
However, there is only one god! (Deuteronomy 6:4) I am not He and neither are you!
When we become still and get to know Him we can stand in confidence no matter what is happening around us. And when we do, others will see and they too will know that He is God – and hopefully want whatever it is that we have!
Where do I start?
I would like to suggest you read Psalm 46, implant its words deep down in your heart so that you can stand firm on them when your circumstances try to consume you.
Actually, I think it would be a great exercise to not simply read Psalm 46, but to engage with it.
- Print out a copy of the text. (Double spaced to give yourself some room to work.)
- Read Psalm 46
- Mark God by drawing a triangle over every reference to God, including synonyms and pronouns.
- Make a list of everything you learn about God in this Psalm. For example:
1. God is our refuge and strength (verse 1)
2. A very present help in trouble (verse 1)
- Evaluate your list and see how it applies to you.
When I find myself in trouble, I need to act on what I know know is true. For example:
I can run to God my refuge and strength and not to my friends.
I go to His Word for strength and direction.
I cling to the truth of the Bible even when I don’t understand my circumstances.
Often we create our own drama because we don’t know how to live quietly, how to be still at the proper time. One of the marks of a mature believer is being still and confident, trusting God no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, as the result of being in the Word.
Stillness and confidence will be your strength and will reveal the One you serve!
by BJ | Apr 24, 2013 | Bible Studies
photo courtesy of precept ministries international
Do you ever feel like the news is NEVER good?
The terror in Boston, MA. The explosions in West, TX. The poison Ricin that was mailed to the President and a Congressman. North Korea threatening, Syria falling, and Iran going nuclear. Everywhere you turn it seems someone has a serious illness, is getting laid off, or is losing their home. Each day seems to bring fresh reasons for fear. Fear may have even taken a foothold in your life.
The real question is, can you even imagine a life without fear? Fear will always be a part of our life, but it doesn’t have to control us. In Jesus, we have the all powerful, sovereign Lord over all creation and all of life’s circumstances.
If you have ever gasped for breath, been paralyzed unable to move forward in life or felt the hair on your neck stand on end as the result of having been gripped by fear’s icy fingers, please continue reading in order to break free from fears or to help someone else break free. Click here to read more — > http://goo.gl/KN63D
by BJ | Jan 30, 2013 | Bible Studies, Life
It was a beautiful day, the rain had stopped, the sky was clear and a magnificent rainbow filled the sky. They were no longer cooped up with all those animals and the fresh air was a sweet perfume to their nostrils. And if that was not enough, God spoke a blessing over Noah and his family, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth”. Noah built an altar and worshiped God. Life was good! (more…)
by BJ | Sep 17, 2012 | Bible Studies
When the decision was made to do Genesis this fall I was a little bummed. After all how many times do you need to study creation? I already knew what God created and when, what else is there to learn? But as usual, God spoke and reality set in – There is always something to learn in scripture no matter how many times you study it. I found that we/I are so familiar with the first verses of Genesis that we don’t give them the attention they deserve. So with that said I am going to share some thoughts from Genesis 1:1-5.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God ….
The name for God here is Elohim – “el” means mighty, strong; the “im” ending is a plural ending, but has a singular verb. God (plural) created. So what? You may ask. The trinity (God, Son and Holy Spirit) was present at creation! Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2) Jesus – John 1:1-4, 14-18; Heb 1:1-3; Col1:15-17, Rev 4:11 (more…)