csibiblestudy


My Hope
September 7, 2016, 2:21 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

“For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth.” (Psalm 71:5)

As I drove past a small church, I noticed their sign.  On it was a short message – hope is trusting things unseen.  I thought, great thought but as I drove it was like the Holy Spirit was causing me to re-think the statement.  As I pondered the words, I realized they were insufficient as a definition and explanation for hope.  My problem wasn’t with trusting or unseen, but with THINGS!  So I thought about improving the definition.  Things was such a generalization.  What about trusting the wind?  The wind is unseen although it’s results aren’t.  Maybe on a hot day, I could trust a gentle breeze to bring relief, but the wind associated with a storm or hurricane produces no hope, only horror at the devastation it produces.  So hope isn’t trusting everything unseen.  I need something or someone who has characteristics that give meaning to my hope.  Biblically, hope seems to be based in something or someone that always comes through for you.  God directed me to Psalm 71.  The writer is an older man, like me, who is reflecting back on his life.  Life, being life, is full of events, circumstances, and incidents which at time are blessings mixed with tragedies.  There are great times of success as well as the times of crushing defeats.  Does that describe your life.  All of these were at one time unseen, but collectively don’t provide the basis for trust.

Look at the verse, the psalmist directs his words and focus to God.  Remember, this is an older person, reviewing his life.  The one thing or person he can always trust in any and all situations is God.  He comes through.  The writer relays this insight; “thou art my trust FROM MY YOUTH.”  Throughout the stages of life the one certainty, and the only certainty was, is, and always will be God.  Can’t you see the assurance the psalmist has in God that is not learned in a classroom or from a sermon.  This assurance comes from a daily relationship with God.  I find Him trustworthy and consistent to His revealed character.  I find Him present in both blessings and storms.  And even when I can’t see the “why” through walking with God, I have learned to trust Him regardless of whether He helps me understand.  As an older person, I can shout AMEN to “You are my hope, LORD GOD”.  My hope is in Christ alone!  You?

Jesus, my strength when I am weak



To Whom Are You Showing Love Today?
June 21, 2017, 3:57 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

2 John 1 “The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth.” The term elder is from a Greek word that can either refer to a church office or someone of advanced age. Sometimes it is used for some church leader who is older. In the case of 2 John, John, who never mentions Himself by name in his writings is referring to himself, both a church leader and an older man. I love that he starts this passage telling the elect lady (which could be an actually lady or as some think “lady” is a metaphor for a church) that he loves her and her children. How consistent is John? He has written the first epistle talking about love and now he shows it into practice. This in my challenge for today- put loving others into practice. Not just by words, but by my deeds. Others know we are Christ’s because we love!



Who is in Charge?
June 19, 2017, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

1st John 5:13-21. “Things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. and we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
John comes to the end of his first letter to the early church. In this letter, the Holy Spirit used John as He stressed the importance of love and truth in the midst of our journey of faith. Personally, this letter gives me evidence of my relationship to Jesus Christ that I can see in my own life. This is not a letter to critique others about their salvation but a guide to understand that being saved always results in a transformed life which is evident by our pursuit of truth and unconditional love for others. In simple words, John wants those of us who are saved to know and live like we are.
When we are pursuing God and following Him as both Savior and Lord, John teaches that prayers are answered because we are pursuing what God wants. So since we pray for what He wants, He is answering our prayers. John teaches us that pray can be spoken with a bold assurance that God is listening because we are in tune with His will.
Notice that God directs John to a specific example in which our bold praying can be see: praying for other Christians who are struggling with sin in their lives. Sin in the life of a Christian is a real danger. So John describes how God wants us to handle another’s sin, pray for our brother or sister.
In the midst of this passage there is a dilemma: there is a sin that ultimately leads to eternal separation from God. I think in this passage it has to do with accepting and following false teaching while rejecting Jesus Christ and God’s truth. The prayer for that is not the prayer in which we pray for a fellow believer. This person has never been saved because they have rejected Jesus.
A second difficult passage begins at verse 18. “we know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not”. Does that mean, anyone who is a Christian never sins? If so, I am not a Christian because I sin. Most likely you aren’t a Christian because you sin. So is anyone capable of not sinning? I think a little study reveals that this is referring to “practicing as a way of life, sin”. A Christian is not one who habitually as a pattern of life consistently sins willfully against God and His standards. This describes a person whose life is characterized by sin. There is not a change and there is no conviction for sin. I need to remind you that this passage is not a way of critiquing others, but a way of us seeing the evidences in our lives of a changed life. So if at this point, I am thinking about another person, I may have the problem myself. Is my life consumed about me doing enough for God to accept or approve of me? Do I live in a way that consistently involves me deceiving others? Am I know as a man of character or a character? Am I a grumpy old man, or a man of love and compassion? I guess we could use Paul’s two lists to determine the type of lifestyle I live. Is my life consistent with the works of my flesh or an example of the fruit of the Spirit. Maybe now is the time of a little self-evaluation, repentance and prayer. John describes our situation, we are godly people living in an ungodly world. John is such a bottom line person- if I am God’s He protects me from making sin a way of life. If I am not a Christian, then I am in the grip of the evil one, Satan. Each of us who are saved have the indwelling Holy Spirit, who reveals to us when we sin. His conviction is meant to bring us back to God. God please help me listen to You. We who know Christ are able to know that we are living in the truth, loving those who are of the truth, because we live in the Truth and in True Love.
John ends with what seems to be a warning to stay away from worshiping idols. But before you relax because you don’t have a little buddha in your room, think about our idols today. The biggest idol of today is us. We are the center of our universe and in some case, we extend that to the know universe. Just take a minute and watch how you drive. Is everybody else crazy because they make your driving experience more difficult? Do fast food places drive you crazy because you have to wait? Is everybody else at work lazy, stupid, favored, or promoted over you? Take a look at what your time, energy, money, emotions, and talk is about. Let’s make it simple: go look at your last 10 posts on social media. What were they about? What has your last 10 conversations been about? What were the last 10 purchases about? What about the top ten standards or values of life? Can you find them in the Bible and give the book, chapter, and verse and have studied it within the context of the passage? Found what you are worshiping yet? The idol we most need to keep away from is us. John reminds us to throw ourselves into the pursuit of God. All we need will be taken care of by Him. Seek first God.



Two Paths Today
June 14, 2017, 1:22 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags:

I John 5:19 “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” Here is a certainty expressed- Christians are the children of God! As Christians, we follow God, a path that changes our worldview. We begin to see life and what’s important in life from God’s point of view. So, according to what John has taught in this epistle, things important to God include having fellowship with God and others, obeying His commands, and loving God as evident by our loving other Christians, and eventually, all people. We put God’s plan as most important and are willing to sacrifice everything to follow God, who is our priority. “The whole world lieth in wickedness” speaks of the worldview that emphasizes wanting stuff, wanting to experience the temporary excitement that comes from living life to fulfill our fleshly desires, and the idea that our identity and worth is found in what others think of us. There are only two types of people, those following God and those following the path we call the “world”. What are you following today?



What Love Looks Like
May 28, 2017, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10. Love’s definition and example is found in God sending His Son to become the atoning sacrifice for all our sins.



The Value of Grace!
May 22, 2017, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

In the final verse of Colossians 4, Paul writes “The salutation by the hand of me, Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.” To Paul, grace was a serious issue, not to be ignored by Christians. As a former Pharisee, Paul knew what a life built on a graceless foundation looked like. His judgmental attitude led to a crusade on Christians. His pharisaical worldview didn’t contain the word “grace” and so he interpreted the acts of grace as signs of weakness, rebellion, and denial of the truth of God’s Word. Paul, in his desire to do the right thing for God, ordered Christians imprisoned or put to death because it was what the Pharisee version of justice demanded.
As we begin to read verse 7 to verse 18, names of individuals and groups of believers at specific cities and regions are mentioned. Each has a special story and a unique journey to and in the Lord. But I want to focus on two. Although vastly different in many ways, these two men shared a common bond; they both had failed. First is Onesimus, a slave returning home after running away. From what we learn, Onesimus was a slave belonging to a wealthy Christian named Philemon. Some think Onesimus may have stolen from Philemon, but one thing is certain: Onesimus ran away to Rome. While in Rome, he was placed into the same prison as Paul and evidently when hearing the Gospel, Onesimus became a changed man. He changed from a worthless slave to a man of whom Paul praised for his value.
The second man is Marcus, or John Mark. Known more today for the second gospel, Mark had originally been introduced as a member of Pau’s first missionary trip. Likely Mark had been included more as a favor to Barnabas on the first trip than for the value he added to the missionary team. Something went wrong, and Mark quit during the trip. While no reason is given for Mark’s departure, Paul’s reaction when Barnabas suggested Mark for the second journey indicates that Paul though Mark was a quitter who had abandoned them. So, whereas Onesimus was a lost slave who was transformed by salvation, most likely John Mark was a believer who failed.
Yet we read both names here included along the list of Paul’s choice helpers. While we know that God transformed the two failures, we also see how God had changed Paul. So many times, when others fail, we’re done with them! No second chance, not an ounce of grace can be found. This is especially true if we have been affected by the failure.
But look at what was true. Paul rejoiced to see the change that had occurred in Onesimus as well as what had happened to Mark. But maybe the biggest celebration was over the change that had occurred in Paul’s heart.
The penalty for a runaway slave was death, let when we read Philemon, we see Paul putting himself as the “spiritual dad” of Philemon. He even took the responsibility for the money owed by Onesimus to Philemon. Let you never read of a lecture Paul gave to Onesimus and a list of what would happen if he blew this.
Mark was not limited by restrictions on how he could serve God. Paul isn’t in judgmental court, passing sentences on Mark. He welcomed Mark as a servant of God and used him.
That’s because of GRACE. Believers are being in Christ and because of that, the failures had been removed as far as the east is from the west- an act of grace. John Mark and Onesimus were involved in serving God in ministry- an act of grace. There is therefore NOW NO CONDEMNATION to them that are in Christ Jesus- an act of grace. So, Paul could forgive Mark- an act of grace, and then have the freedom to ask Philemon to forgive Onesimus- an act of grace. Philemon is thought to have hosted the Colossian church, so the entire body of believers knew of Onesimus’ failure, and yet Paul was sending him back and seeking the church to forgive and forget- an act of grace. Remember how Paul ends this letter? “Grace be with you. Amen”
Is grace with you? Doesn’t it make sense that if it is, then grace is shown? The showing of grace to those who honestly don’t deserve it is exactly what grace is. If it is deserved, then it is not grace. Showing grace is one way to love others. Today, what one person in your life is the most undeserving of forgiveness? – is grace with you? Show that person grace, God’s grace. Remember the Lord’s discussion with the woman at the well. Jesus has the conversation with her at the sixth hour, or about noon. The woman would have to descend about 100 feet in the well to get water and then carry it back up, with the large jug balancing on her head. Why was she there, in a hot part of the day, alone? Many think she an outcast, rejected by the women of the city because of her relationships with five men or husbands. No wonder she is startled that a Jewish “religious” person would talk to her. Yet Jesus shows grace! He wasn’t assuming what she was or what was true,



A Psalm That Doesn’t Give Hope (Psalm 88)
May 20, 2017, 4:13 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

The fear that I had made a horrible life changing mistake gripped my heart, leaving a sense of hopelessness. The panic grew more intense and the failure seemed more final. My comfort zone had evaporated and my friends vanished like an early morning fog. I blew it and I would live with the consequences for the rest of my life in loneliness and utter despair.
Most of us probably have experienced this feeling. A new job with so much promise turns into a bust when the company is bought out. A friend or someone like family turned on us, throwing us under the bus as an act of self-promotion. A relationship that falls apart, a loved one who dies or maybe we experience a time in life were we doubt everything. A new friend turns all my friends against me. So, as a child of God, where do we turn for encouragement. If you’re like me, we turn to God. We open our Bible, seeking for comfort and support from the Almighty. His revelation is our strength. Many of us turn to the Psalms. In some of the Psalms, we can read of someone who in the midst of a difficult and trying situation turns their attention to God who delivers from the “pit of despair”. Except for Psalm 88. The Psalm starts and ends the same way, with the writer in despair. Most scholars place this lament as a single example of a Psalm that doesn’t end on a happy note. There seems to be no rescue. So what can we learn from this passage.
First, why is the writer in this place? Considering that the writer was a “holy man” inspired by the Holy Spirit, we are reading the writings of a believer.
Second, what led to this depth of gloom and loneliness? For a person who trusts in the Lord, the answers can be an attack by our enemy, a life lived as if God doesn’t exist so we are trying to live by our own strength, or a life of open rebellion and sin.. The author places the blame on God so Satan is not the cause, and trying to live in our strength is also eliminated. When we sin as a habitually thing, our despair and loneliness comes from being out of fellowship with God. Sin separates. We also see the author lists cause and effect brought about by a life filled with sin. The writer has lost everything, so where can he or she turn?
That brings us to the third point, the focus. Notice what the writer knows about God. He is my salvation, He hears my prayer, He works miracles or wonders, He shows lovingkindness and faithfulness, and God is righteous.
But the Psalmist also reveals that God is just. Sin’s consequence separates us from God. If and when God is separated from us, joy departs. If God is away, hope is gone. If embracing sin replaces embracing God, then loneliness and despair grows as the void left by God separating from being near us is filled with everything that God isn’t. We have no reason to rejoice at the end because nothing has changed.
I believe that his chapter is a picture of what happens when we refuse to repent and continue on in our rebellion. Joy vanishes, comfort flees, peace disappears.  But remember, this is the view of the psalmist, the rebel.  But what is the TRUTH?
God never leaves!  He is like the prodigal son’s father, waiting for the sinning son to come home. He rushes to protect the son from those who will destroy the wounded child, near destruction by sin’s consequences. But our Father also waits with GRACE. Wrapping GRACE around us, God doesn’t make us earn our place back, He restores back to where we were. Everything the son lost by sin, the father gave back. There is no lasting prohibition placed by the father, no conditions that have to be met. There is only GRACE. The son was altered by the experience. More humble, more thankful, and more loving of the father. Rebel, come home to the Father. Staying where you are deepens the scars of the experience. God is really for you to come home.



When the First Step Ends in Failure!
April 22, 2017, 6:24 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

“My little children” starts off 1 John 2:1. Many Bible scholars jump pass these words to “deeper” issues but how important are these words! When I read these words, I think of “toddlers”. With three children and nine grandchildren, dealing with these precious “gifts from God” create memories which God often uses to remind us of His eternal truth. How often we try to warn them against doing something that may hurt them or teach them a new and necessary skill only to see their actions bring the very thing we wanted them to avoid or their attempts to try to use a skill end in failure, and many times tears. Think about that dear child taking that first step with our encouragement and teaching. Do you remember how that first step was so celebrated because of all the times that precious child ended on the floor? What about the warnings not to do something that are ignored, only to end in the pain we tried to get our little child to avoid? The Holy Spirit gives John the knowledge that we are “little children” of God, and even though the path to living right before God in this world is simple, it is difficult because we are little children, with a tendency to fail and fall. But take heart little children as your eyes are dried and you receive a hug from your heavenly Father and the encouragement to try again. Failure is only the final part of our story when we give up. This message from John, given to him to share by the Holy Spirit when he was the elder saint, doesn’t end here. Read the rest of the story and see the great news that destroys our fear of failure! Get up and try again! God is on our side!