Category Archives: Bible Study

Son of Abraham, Son of God

To get this blog going again, I will be re-posting some of the most popular theology material from my former blog. This is from October 2008.

With my 7th grade class this week we were discussing the life of Abraham and his faith in God. I find it incredible that he remained faithful to God so much throughout his life. There was one particular aspect of his decisions and actions that caught my attention today.

Abram’s name meant father, yet at 99 years old he had no children. God chose to reverse this irony by giving him a child in his old age. So at the age of 90, Abraham’s wife gave birth to Isaac. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham as he was to be the father of many nations. Isaac was God’s provision of that promise.

However, there came a time in Abraham’s life that God told him to sacrifice his son. This was before the Law of Moses that prohibited such actions. God was commanding Abraham to cut off his link to God’s promise. The father was to become fatherless again.

Yet Abraham was not disobedient. He offered his one and only son as a sacrifice to God, and as a reward for his faith and action, God provided an alternate sacrifice.

Not only did God provide a ram in the bushes for Abraham, but he later provided a sacrifice to us. God gave Abraham a child and asked him to give the child up. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his one and only child. It was through that child that a tribe named Judah arose, and it was from the tribe of Judah that a man named Jesus came for the people of Israel.

Abraham gave his only son for God. God gave his only son for the people of Abraham.

God will not require from us anything He Himself is unwilling to do.


Read the Deuterocanon

There are many who follow a plan, often yearly, to read the 66 books of the  Protestant Bible. However, I find it also helpful and interesting to read books associated with and important to Christianity outside the Bible. This year, I’ve come up with a plan to read these books (very slowly) throughout the year.

I’ve chosen books from 2 categories. First are the Apocrypha or Deuterocanon recognized as Scriptural by the Catholic and/or Orthodox Christian faiths. Second are books highly regarded by early Christians. Some were even considered “canonical” by a bishop or two.

Even if not considered Scriptural, none of the books on this list have been rejected as heretical by any major Christian group and are usually considered helpful in understanding the history of Salvation.

Enjoy, modify, and feel free to pass it on.


Heaven’s Wisdom

 

The following is a sermon about James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a written for an audience that speaks English as a non-primary language.

If we’re going to study James, let’s start with the warning in 3:1 about people who want to be Bible teachers. We can learn that I should not desire to become a teacher, so we already know I am a disobedient child by saying any of this.

In this passagedivine light, James teaches us about the wisdom that comes from God. He first shows us what wisdom should not look like. Then he teaches what wisdom should look like.

The most simple way we show wisdom is by doing good works with humility. This means doing good things for others and trying not to let them know it was you. Make it your secret mission to good things for others.

Of course, it is better to do good works, even if other people do know it was you.

Now, James explains the world’s wisdom. The world says that it is wise to do only what is good for yourself. The world says that you must try to be better than everyone else. They say you should brag about your accomplishments.

This is not truly wise. James is teaching us that wisdom and humility work together. Telling others about the wonderful things we have done does not actually help us.

When I have a job interview, I tell the employer good things about myself. This is okay. However, many of us act like we are always in a job interview. It is not always important to talk about what we are good at. We should also admit our weaknesses.

Heaven’s wisdom does not act like this. The devil brags about his accomplishments. The people of the world have to “show off”.

The wisdom from Heaven is humble. It does not have to be seen. Its good actions are hidden and secret. God is the only one who knows what the truly wise have done.

Is it your main goal to do better than others? God did not tell you to be someone else. God told you to be you. He created you differently from anyone else. He has a plan and purpose that only you can fulfill.

My wife is a wonderful woman. She has been given certain gifts and strengths. However, God did not have us get married so that I would become more like her. The same way, God did not create my wife to be more like me. We are both to be more like the people God created us to be.

Wisdom is not about being better than others. Wisdom is about humbly being like Jesus.

If your goal is to be someone else, you will be quickly confused. You will actually do evil things you never planned on doing. Only following God’s purpose for your life makes it possible to do truly good deeds.

So, how do we make wise decisions? When you are faced with a difficult decision, you should think through a list of questions.

  1. Is it pure? – clean, undefiled, with no hint of doing wrong
  2. Is is peaceful? – causes peace
  3. Is it fair? – thinks about the needs of others, gentle
  4. Is it obedient? – allows you to obey others
  5. Is it full of mercy? – help you help others
  6. Is it full of good fruit? – helps you do other good deeds
  7. Is it clear? – a certain decision
  8. Does it not pretend? – does not hide

When a decision matches all of these qualifications, you can be sure it is the right one. Mark this verse and come back to it when you have challenging choices to face.

One difficult decision my family faced was whether my wife should quit her job a few years ago at the book store. We had to consider the rules of James 3:17. It was pure. It was peaceful; no one was hurt. It helped her meet the needs of our son. It didn’t affect our ability to be obedient. It was merciful to our family. It has the good results of helping us do more as a family. It was clear and sincere. We had to make financial adjustments, but it was a good move for our family.

James wants to make sure that we know how important peace is. When we try to have peace in our relationships and decisions, it will help us do what is right. We argue because of our own sinfulness. We fight outside ourselves because we are fighting inside ourselves.

We need peace inside so that we can have peaceful relationships. This comes by doing the good works God created us to do.

One of the rules for wise decisions was to make peace. When we want someone else’s life, we do not have peace. When we want their possessions, we do not have peace. We have arguments and fights.

What is the solution? We are supposed to ask God for what we want, rather than being jealous. We should come to him before being angry with someone else.

One question we quickly ask is, “Why doesn’t God give me what I want when I ask for it?” James tells us, sometimes we have bad reasons. Sometimes we are not trying to serve others. Sometimes we want to be sinful. God won’t give us what we want then.

God will meet our needs, and our first need is for his love.

Finally, James summarizes his teaching. Obey God. This simple idea is all we really need to know. When we obey God, we are confronting the devil. The devil must leave us when we are in God’s presence.

Come close to God. We do this by obeying and praying. Pray constantly about everything. Believe that God is always close. Know that he is giving us his wisdom.

The wisdom from heaven is humble, pure, and peaceful. These all come from constantly being in the presence of God. Come close to him.