Category Archives: Bible Lessons – mini

Little Bible lessons under 500 words. You or your group can look up the passages, discuss the scripture and develop your own questions.

Trying to Be Something You are Not

Billy Graham is one of the top 10 most important people of the 20th century. He had a unique role and accomplished what he set out to do. And he has many copycats.

My seminary professor told us to listen to the evangelists trying to be another Billy.  They even faked his southern accent.  Maybe that is good training but it can’t substitute for what God has called you to be.  God is not looking for carbon copies of anyone or anything, a fact we can verify in our un-copy-able DNA.

Young girls want to be movie starts or famous singers, swathed in furs and diamonds. But the story of fame is a difficult burden. Boys want to be high paid sports stars with a pricey car and a gaggle of groupy-girls.

The “beautiful” people are surrounded by insincere hangers-on hoping to bask in their fame. Money buys opportunity but many famous people are never told the awful truth about their bad behavior or attitude. Just because you have a lot of money does not mean you should be buying cocaine. And erelong you are trapped, thinking the money that bought you in can also buy you out. It won’t!

The happiest people are those who know who they are and what they are supposed to be doing. Older people usually get to this point and their calm and self-confidence helps their grandchildren.

Everyone call a plan for his/her life.

Jeremiah 29:11 I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.

Everyone has gifts and a calling.

Romans 11:29 (The Message) God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.

Your gifts match your calling. And God will train you for the work.  Maybe you thought all those music lessons would send you to an early grave, but lo and behold, hours of concentration on another language (reading music is a language unto itself) now you need that discipline even though you never touched the piano after age 15. That job you had working for an idiot and being paid next to nothing taught you patience and to keep your mouth shut, a skill you find you need very badly now. All those camping trips with Dad, hating the flies and mosquitoes and falling in the lake as a child have made your work now in forest management easier and actually, fun.

At one time children thought religious work always meant the church. Today moderns know that God uses his people in every corner of the world and in every profession and job. Coming to the realization that you are in the center of God’s will as a secular worker opens up a brand new view of yourself.  Happy people are those who are fulfilled in their own call, not in someone else’s.

God said this: I am the Lord. I change not. (Malachi 3:6)

What this means is that you change in order to come into His presence.  If you are uncomfortable in your own skin, talk to him.

Government Health Care – the High Priest of Secular Religion

About 100 years ago Progressive politics started its long climb up as the secular way to replace a morally based government with one founded on the fashionable new Darwinian, evolutionary view of man as strictly an animal with “needs.”  Those needs did not include faith in God if one could replace a morally demanding deity in public life through governmental provision and intervention.

Out of this idea came the socialist then the communist state. In spite of obvious failures in every communist system right up to the 21st century and the fall of Venezuela, and weakness in socialist governments worldwide, devotees to this godless-religious view of life continue undeterred. The coup de grace came 100 years later in 2009 when on Christmas Eve one political party and only one voted to provide government health care.  Only it wasn’t medical care; it was an insurance tax which drained money into the government without allowing anyone but the well-off citizen to pay the ensuing doctor bill.

When only one group supports something you can be sure it won’t fly – and it didn’t. Eventually the high cost sank the project and it was finally eliminated by a new president through management decisions.

But why it represents the crown on the socialist system is our reason to write this. Throughout history every society has placed the highest honor to that person or group which could heal disease or at least ameliorate its effects.  The priests were also expected to turn base metal into gold, and perform essentially magic tricks.  And they could do it – up to a point. Moses’ confrontation with the Pharaoh in Egypt demonstrated that the priests of Ra (and other Egyptian gods) could copy many of God’s demonstrations of power.

Other societies went to witch doctors or cargo cult religious teachings as a substitute for the Great Healer. Jesus  Himself received the most criticism from the Jewish priests for healing – and that on a Saturday!  And that in spite of the fact that they could not copy His successes.

Satan blamed God for treating wealthy, righteous Job with kid gloves, and asked that he (Satan) prove whether Job was a summer soldier. (from The Message.)

Job 1:6-7 One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. God singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?”

Satan answered God, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.”

God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”

9-10 Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can’t lose!

11 “But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”

12 God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don’t hurt him.” Then Satan left the presence of God.

Satan lost that bet, but Job also lost nearly everything in the process.  His test of faith in the end, however, was rewarded by a restoration of much, and a remarkable increase in wealth as well. In addition Job proved to himself his faith. Self-knowledge is also a valuable commodity.

Have the American voters learned anything? We can certainly hope so.

Counterfeit Truth & the Blood of Jesus

Of all things on earth only the blood of Jesus cannot be counterfeited, and much of what we call love, grace, prosperity, health, honesty, humility, you name it, can be fraudulent. Many millions are trapped in false teaching with not a clue that is where they are.

Some people are wildly offended by the idea that blood has some bearing on one’s sins. But consider what we have here.

1. God established early on the blood sacrifice was the acceptable way to reach Him. Originally the Jews were given a series of yearly steps for the sacrifice of animals and told specifically that one’s children were unacceptable as a blood sacrifice.

Gen 22 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.) God substituted a ram instead of the son, and demonstrated that eventually God Himself would provide a blood sacrifice which is Jesus.

2. There is plenty of blood available. Both animals and birds have blood, and in the Old Testament they are occasionally used as sacrifices.

3. Human beings have @10 pints of blood, but it is not acceptable to God because men and women are sinners. In this way, if not for dozens of others, we know that Islamites cannot die for their religion, receive forgiveness and heaven. Muslims are sinners too; the blood of their innocent children is unacceptable so when they strap bombs on their children they are committing murder.

4. And this is the important point – Satan himself cannot find a blood sacrifice as a substitute.

5. Jesus’ blood came from a Holy Father.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

6. The blood type comes from the father not the mother. The father of Jesus is God Himself, the holiest blood of all.

7. When Jesus shed His blood, he not only won back the universe from the devil he foiled all attempts of the devil to provide a substitute.

1 Corinthians 2:7-9 …..the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

When Satan promoted the death of Jesus he sealed his own permanent fate which God, it says in this passage, had devised from the beginning.

That is why Jesus had to die by shedding of blood – a gun, a noose, drowning, suffocation – none of these would do the job.

What it means to judge righteously?

This may surprise you but when God says Romans 2:1 “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”
If you judge someone wrongly the judgment comes back to you. It seems simple but it is not. Here is an example.

A young woman leaves her husband of 8 years. This couple had been leaders of young marrieds, well respected in the church, and the predictable reaction was that she sinned by leaving. Here is what the members did not know:

1. Her husband was a practicing homosexual.
2. He had brought venereal disease into the home and she was infected.
3. He had no intention of changing his lifestyle and said so!

What would you have done?

The church had no knowledge of these sins and it is not the responsibility of the wife to confess her husband’s sins, nor is she expected to discipline him. The Bible is clear on that point. If she had stayed she would become an enabler of sin. If the church did not discipline him, the church becomes an enabler of sin.

He was charming, much loved and believed when he played the victim. He also was a thither and the church fathers did not want to challenge a big donor. Churches are charged by God with the discipline of its members. How often does this happen?

Now the rest of the story. The church members judged the woman as not submitted and in error. They called her a bad wife and she became the subject for gossip. Where is their judgment?

People would be judged on this basis:
1. Were they submitted to God?
2. Were they personally obedient?
3. Were they faithful to the Word?

At every point where the wife was faithful her judges would be condemned. In addition the church and its leaders must face an additional penalty – for not examining the situation in the Holy Spirit, and in addition to the unnecessary gossip there is the greed involving the husband’s donations.

I met this woman in seminary and she has had a long-lasting career as a foreign missionary. God rewards those who follow Him, whether a wife or a church.

Explaining the Trinity

Yes, the word trinity does not appear in the Bible. No, it doesn’t matter. Theologians create concepts and words to explain what cannot be seen. For example, angels are spirit beings that we cannot see; demons are spirit beings we cannot see. So how do we know the difference?

We know them by what they do – the results of their being here on planet earth.

The same thing is true of the Trinity. We define God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit not by what they are but by how we apprehend their impact on our life. The word “apprehend” is so full of meaning, and we simply do not use it enough. It means to reach out and take hold of an idea. (Sometimes an idea takes hold of us.)

People ask, How do you know you are saved? The average person says, I don’t know, I just do. This is not a very good explanation for others but the people who say this apprehend what salvation is to them. Bottom line for Christianity is that it is an act of faith based on the personal apprehension by the individual of the intervention of God ….. and a whole lot more as we grow.

So we apprehend Jesus as the Light of the World, (John 9:5) God as Light (1 John 1:5) and Holy Spirit as our personal light within. (John 15:26)

God is Father, (1 Corinthians 8:6) Jesus is His Son and a good friend to us, (John 20:31) and Holy Spirit then is the intimate knowledge that God is with us at all times. (John 16: 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.) We can expect new revelation about the future from him says this passage. Jesus didn’t save us, ascend to heaven and leave us with no tools!

God is the Judge (Psalm 50:6) sitting on the throne, Jesus is our lawyer, (1 John 2:1) and the Holy Spirit our probation officer. He’ll warn us when we are out of line. (John 16:13)

God created us, Jesus shed His blood for us, and the Holy Spirit advises us until we leave earth.

God as Trinity is not defined from what they are but how we understand them. If God can hold the whole world in His hands, explanations outside our own meager understanding beggar description. There is simply no reason to try. But the term Trinity will do. Perhaps on the other side of the grave we will learn of other dimensions, but for now, 3 is enough.

What it means to “judge not”

You will hear it often. They are quoting Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.” The word judge comes from a root meaning “to bring to light.” In my 44 years of experience I can guarantee you the people who parrot this have something in them they do not want brought to light.

The Bible has a lot more to say about judging than one verse. It also says

1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?

Clearly we are supposed to know those who call themselves Christians and are part of the faith. Unfortunately we see churches judging outsiders (not allowed) and giving a quick pass to fellow members.

God says He will judge those who are non-believers.

Here is what The Message says – a slangy version of verses
9-13 I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house. (emphasis mine)

This is why we encourage intervention. But we are cowards aren’t we. This is God’s will for church folk. And if you are guilty of telling people not to judge you, examine yourselves to see if you are walking in the light.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”

It is too easy to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.

6 Hours on the Cross – The Crucifixion

Jesus was nailed to the cross at 9 a.m., which Jews called the 3rd hour of the day because the day began at 6 a.m. He gave up the ghost at 3 p.m.

Luke 23: 44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened,[b] and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

Six is the traditional number of man who was created on the 6th day. 666 is the number of the evil-incarnate man. The Star of David has 6 points, three of these represent the human spirit, soul and body; the other three represent the 3 persons of God, God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the every present Holy Spirit. Laid on top of each other they represent Jesus, the perfect man,  perfect God and Son of David.

But why six hours? Jesus did not die for His own sins but for mankind’s. The first 3 hours when the sun was shining represent the renewed work of the Spirit to create one new man, the good part of the crucifixion. It was not enough to deal with sin – Jesus had to put in place the elements by which we grow in grace with ourselves and each other. There is the Church to consider. We may be saved individually but we are also part of a body. The last blackened, stormy 3 hours represent the punishment on all forms of evil and sin.  Then Jesus cried, “It is finished.” They put Him in a tomb and really thought that was the end of the story. But it wasn’t. He still had another thing or two to take care of.

While his disciples cried and feared, He visited the Temple where He surprised some priests with His own blood (not bull’s blood) and walked through the torn curtain which separated most of the tabernacle from both the Inner Court and the Outer Court. The priests on duty must have been mightily shocked. That curtain is as thick as a Persian rug! The curtain was torn top to bottom, indicating God did this, not human hands.

Then He went to the “spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19 “preached to the spirits in prison”) presumably those persons who had died without a chance to accept the promises of Father God. They could hear the same message from Him that we hear today and head up to heaven with him.

One occasionally hears that Jesus raised Himself up – not so. GOD raised him up. Acts 2:32 “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.” What is so interesting is that the Shroud of Turin looks like a photo of a crucified man. God is Light (1 John 1:5) That great flash bulb made a print and removed (vaporized might be a good word here) the earthly body.

Jesus was cremated by God and then given a new spiritual body which could walk through doors and be seen in diverse places.

Mary thought he was the Gardener, and rightly so. Adam, the 1st man, was to tend the Garden; the last Adam, Jesus, is mistaken for one. It all fits together so nicely.


How You Get Your Rewards in Heaven

Most people ignore the issue of rewards in heaven, thinking being good gets them there in the first place.  Some also think that heaven is a static place where everyone is the same.  To both assumptions – Not so.

Salvation deals with your sins on this side of the grave and yes, you are rewarded by going to heaven.  But when you get there your level of obedience is the basis for your future rewards. We have a picture in the Bible of angels going up and down ladders keeping records on very single person.  What is this?

It’s a list of the obedience level.  Billy Graham was asked what is the one question God will ask you when you get to heaven?

His answer:”Did you obey my son?” You can immediately see how this poses a problem.  If you were saved at age 50 your level of understanding and accountability to God and to His Son are more limited than the person saved as a teenager. The teenager also might be limited by a screamingly bad home life; the middle aged man might be aided by a generous income or a superior training in some area.  We are also products of our generation, our nation and our parents. All these factors we cannot use as excuses – in fact heaven will be re-markedly free of excuses, but they are factors affecting how much we know or could know, and how much we were able to do.

I wonder about Christians in Syria, under terrible persecution, their children snatched and murdered, with no one to help and no place to go.  And if they have a chance to leave, will they be persecuted at the nation where they are refugees?

I have many Chinese contacts; they have very little to help them grow in grace of God where they live. They are surrounded by people who claim to be atheists and who live their beliefs. Their world is more hostile than mine.  I am free to write this post; they are not.

All these factors simply tell me this; we’d be foolish to try to guess what happens to them after they face their Maker. The older I get the less I am interested in making judgments about people as individuals.  I do feel free to make judgments about how God is working in the world.

John in Revelation 20 said this:

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

This is perhaps the best scripture describing life after death for every single person who ever lived.  Notice that they had legs; it’s nice to know I will have a spiritual body that resembles the one I am in now.

The word “works” in this passage refers to trusting in God.  And yes, it is real work. You are faced with a decision – Do you marry this person? God seems to say no.  Your heart says yes.  What do you do?  Now you can see how much work it is to say no; it costs you everything you wanted. Only time will tell if you made the right decision.

Notice that the books are opened.  They have heretofore been closed.  God doesn’t want me judging before the time. (I Corinthians 4:5)

The Bible advises us to look to our own things.  2 John 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. There are no rewards for being a busybody.

If you have not been obeying God so far – not a problem.  You can start today.



How God Answers Prayers- Devotional

The Communist rebels took over Russia in 1918, deposed a cruel and selfish Czar and then went on to amalgamate the Soviet Union of Eastern Bloc states with other communist nations at the ready to consume the USA . Had it not been for the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe they might have subsumed that as well.

There were many Christians then as now praying for the release of these nations and their trapped peoples from the mandatory atheism and materialism which is the foundational doctrine of socialist-communist political systems. For 70 long years it appeared those prayers would not be answered.  Then finally as the poverty and bankruptcy of communism demolished Russia from within they started on the path of westernization.  But what kind of government would replace this system? Would they simply replace one failure with another?

God would answer that generation of prayers with one man, a hard drinking street fighter of a leader in Boris Yeltsin and the kind of government would occur as a result of a side trip to a grocery store.

It was September 16, 1989 and Yeltsin, then newly elected to the new Soviet parliament and the Supreme Soviet, had just visited Johnson Space Center (Houston, Texas). What followed was …. an unscheduled trip inside a nearby Randall’s grocery store.

Yeltsin, then 58, roamed the aisles of Randall’s nodding his head in amazement. He told his fellow Russians in his entourage that if their people, who often must wait in line for most goods, saw the conditions of U.S. supermarkets, “there would be a revolution.”

Shoppers and employees stopped him to shake his hand and say hello. Yeltsin asked customers about what they were buying and how much it cost, later asking the store manager if one needed a special education to manage a store. He marveled at the produce section, the fresh fish market, and the checkout counter. He looked especially excited about frozen pudding pops.

“Even the Politburo doesn’t have this choice. Not even Mr. Gorbachev,” he said.

The fact that stores like these were on nearly every street corner in America amazed him. They even offered free cheese samples.  Yeltsin didn’t leave empty-handed, as he was given a small bag of goodies to enjoy on his trip.

About a year after the Russian leader left office, a Yeltsin biographer later wrote that on the plane ride to Yeltsin’s next destination, Miami, he was despondent. He couldn’t stop thinking about the plentiful food at the grocery store and what his countrymen had to subsist on in Russia.

In Yeltsin’s own autobiography, he wrote about the experience at Randall’s, which shattered his view of communism. Two years later, he left the Communist Party and began making reforms to turn the economic tide in Russia.

“When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people,” Yeltsin wrote. “That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it.”

So God took a plain man of the people to a grocery store and the future of the largest nation on earth was forever changed. Russia is by no means out of the woods today, but now Russians can worship again, buy consumer goods, and enough heat and food. They can wear jeans and play rock music, and hope for the future.  Allowing Christianity is a major change because Christians bring life to a nation: “he who has the Son has life.”

God tells us, “Watch and pray and do not faint.” Just because we don’t see God working, is no reason to not pray. He uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Expect it!


The Chief Way to Know There is a God

The worst thing to ever happen to this world would be to have every day and every night a different length. One night is 4 hours long, the next day is 22 hours and the next night 12 hours the next day 30 hours and you would never know what would be next. Nothing could get done. No seasons for growing, no ability to make appointments, confusion everywhere, and what would be on TV and when? Our lives are dominated by time – time for dinner, time for work, time to brush your teeth. It would be chaos.

We walk into a house that is a complete mess, or an office with tools and papers thrown about and we ask what is wrong? As a housewife I looked at the Tsunami pictures and thought – how do you start cleaning up? Psychologists tell us chronic disorder is one sign of depression.

The presence of order in the universe tells us our first piece of information about God. That is what the ancients thought and they originally worshiped the sun, moon and the stars. They do that today as in astrology; bet you never thought of it as paganism. But really, do you think the stars are talking to us? Not likely. I have many stones in the yard and they never speak.

Every culture on the face of the earth believes in a supreme being based on the order seen everywhere. Philosophers call it Intelligent Design.

David was the youngest of 8 sons so he was given the worst job in the family – tending the sheep. After many long hours out in the hills alone he wrote this:

3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

Almighty God, we thank you for the orderly universe you have given us – the 24-hour day is the canvas on which we paint our individual lives. Amen.