Biblical Discussion Topics
Operating as usual
"We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance." Psalm 66:12b
It is nice to hear that God desires to bring us into abundance. In fact, many a preacher has promoted the goodness of the Lord and His ability to prosper His children. Alas, my experience is that this gospel of material abundance has little to do with the gospel of the Kingdom as our Lord works in the realm of the sanctified soul. The passage above tells us that God does in fact bring us into places of abundance. However, upon further study of the entire passage, we learn the route to this abundance.
For you, O God, tested us; You refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us to a place of abundance (Psalm 66:10-12). God's economy of abundance often has little to do with material blessing. In God's economy, abundance is often measured in wisdom and knowledge of Himself. It is then that we are truly blessed. Wisdom cannot be gained through intellectual pursuits. Wisdom comes only through experience. Real wisdom comes from the kinds of experiences that come only through the deepest tests. Lessons of refinement, including prison accompanied by burdens, lead us through the fire and water. This is the territory that must be traveled to reach that place of abundance. It would seem strange that a loving God would use such means with His children. What we often fail to realize is that God's measuring stick is the character and likeness of Jesus Christ Himself in each of us. This cannot be gained through a life of ease and pleasure. Ease and pleasure fail to refine.
Is God using your workplace to refine you today? Has He placed you in a prison or laid burdens on your back? Take heart if this is the place you find yourself, and realize that if you are faithful through the tests, you will enter a place of abundance that few will ever attain. The darkest hour is just before daybreak.
"The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, "This is what the Lord says: 'Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord'." 1 Kings 20:28
Whenever we stand on the mountain, we are able to see clearly. It is the best vantage point to see what lies ahead. Wouldn't it be great to live on the mountain all the time in order to anticipate what is ahead? God allows us to experience the mountaintop at times. Joseph's first mountaintop experience was as a young man. He had the favor of his father, Jacob. He was given a fine coat and even had a dream about his future. As a young man, Joseph had a sense of destiny about his life. God often gives us a picture of our future so that we will remember this picture when we are being tested to trust Him in the valley. This picture usually does not reveal how God intends to bring about the visions for our life.
However, none of us really derive the character qualities God desires for our lives while we are on the mountain. It is in the valley where the fruit is planted and harvested. It cannot grow on the mountain; it must grow in the valley. God is a God of the mountain, but he is even more a God of the valley. In the valley, it is more difficult to see ahead; the clouds often cover the valley and limit our sight. Joseph was thrust into a deep valley that left him wondering if the God of his father had forsaken him. Jesus hoped that He might be able to avoid the valley that caused Him to sweat blood. There is a valley that each of us must enter, usually unwillingly, in order to experience the God of the valley-and to experience His faithfulness in the valley. Once we have spent time in this valley, we come out with something we would have never gained if we had not entered it. The valley brings much fruit into our lives so that we might plant seeds into the lives of others. God does not waste valley experiences. If we are faithful in the valley, we will enter a new dimension with God that we never thought possible. There is a harvest of wisdom and virtue that can only be grown in the valley.
Has God brought you into the valley? Know that the valley is a place of fruitfulness; it is a place of testing. It is where God brings what you know in your head into your heart. The only value of knowledge is when it becomes part of your heart. Look for God in the valley today.
"This is what the Lord says-your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.'" Isaiah 48:17
My career has been in marketing and advertising. Early on, I learned to distinguish the difference between features and benefits. Features represent characteristics of a product or service. Benefits are those things that directly profit or benefit me by using the product or service. For instance, my new computer has incredible speed and lots of memory (feature). This allows me to do things more quickly and easily (benefit). People are more concerned about the benefits than the features.
God tells us in the above verse that there are some direct benefits to the features of His nature. He is a God who is committed to teaching His children in the way they should go. What is the real benefit of His teaching? He answers this in the next verse. "If only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea" (Is. 48:18). The Lord tells us that the benefit of allowing God to teach us and lead us in the way is peace and righteousness. Here is a guaranteed promise from God. I often use guarantees in my advertising claims. Here is God's immutable guarantee: You will have peace like a river and righteousness like the waves of the sea! What a great promise!
Are you trusting God with the very details of your life so that He can lead you in the way you should go? Are you allowing Him to teach you? Seek the Lord today for what He wants to teach you and allow Him to lead you, and you will ensure peace and righteousness in your life
"Everyone will be salted with fire." Mark 9:49
Jesus used parables to communicate principles of the Kingdom of God. He said each believer's life should have the same impact on his or her world as salt has on food. Salt gives food flavor and brings out the best, while at the same time it serves as a preservative.
What allows a Christian to become salty? Fire. God knows that each believer needs a degree of testing by fire in order for Christ's fragrance to be manifested. We cannot become salty without this deeper work of the Holy Spirit's fire in our lives. Fire purifies all that is not of Christ. It takes away all the impurities that prevent His nature from being revealed in us.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:6-7). Are you a salty Christian? If not, pray a prayer that the immature are unwilling to pray. Pray that God makes you a salty Christian. It will result in praise and glory at the throne of God.
"And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of His people Israel." 1 Chronicles 14:2
King David learned an important lesson every leader must learn if he is to ensure God's continual blessing. He knew why God blessed him. It wasn't because he deserved it, though he was a man who sought God with his whole heart. It wasn't because of his great skill, though he was a great military strategist. It wasn't because he was perfect, for he committed some horrible sins during his reign as king. No, it was for none of these reasons. God blessed David for the "sake of His people Israel." God never blesses an individual just for that person's exclusive benefit. God calls each of us to be a blessing to others. So often we forget this last part. R.G. LeTourneau, a businessman who built heavy construction equipment, came to realize this only after God took him through many trials. Once the Lord had all of LeTourneau, he came to realize that the question wasn't whether he gave 10 percent of what the Lord gave him. Rather, the question was, "What amount does He want me to keep?" LeTourneau was known for giving 90 percent of his income toward the end of his career and was a great supporter of world missions. But the Lord doesn't bless workplace believers just for the ability to give financially. God has given workplace believers many more gifts beyond the financial.
What is happening with the spiritual fruit of God's blessing on your life? Is it clogged, or is it freely flowing to others? Ask the Lord to free you to be a blessing to those in your circle of influence.
Job 19:20 “My bone clings to my skin and my flesh, And I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth.” (NASB)
Today's verse speaks of how our bone clings to skin and flesh, and how Job escaped only by the skin of his teeth. I can relate to that, maybe you can too - being in a situation that becomes so dangerous that we narrowly escape by the skin of our teeth. Maybe the situation was one where we were in a place that we shouldn't have been, made a decision that we knew put us in harm’s way - maybe it put our marriage in harm’s way, or our job in harm’s way, or maybe our relationship with Christ. Maybe we need to be a little more careful with decisions that put us where we escape only by the skin of our teeth. Not a good place to be, but I thank God He got us out by the skin of our teeth. Is there something you should thank God for too?
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
In this sentence, Jesus acknowledged the inherent sinfulness of the human heart. He plainly called us “evil.” He knew the truth of Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Yet Jesus also knew there is still common grace in the world. There is some goodness in most parents. It is natural to want to care for our children and meet their needs.
18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21 Fathers,[a] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.
Our Lord’s primary point is God’s care for us. If we, fallen humanity, want to care for our children and give them good things, how much greater is God’s desire to care for us? He is the perfect, sinless, eternal, infinite Father—our Abba Father.
But there is a secondary point as well. As followers of Christ, we should realize the urgency of meeting our children’s needs and giving them what is best. They are God’s blessing to us, and they need all the patience, prayers, and Bible verses we can give them.
Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.—2 Corinthians 5:10
No church is any better or worse than the individual Christians who compose it....
One consequence of our failure to see clearly the true nature of revival is that we wait for years for some supernatural manifestation that never comes, overlooking completely our own individual place in the desired awakening. Whatever God may do for a church must be done in the single unit, the one certain man or woman. Some things can happen only to the isolated, single person; they cannot be experienced en masse. Statistics show, for instance, that 100 babies are born in a certain city on a given day. Yet the birth of each baby is for the baby a unique experience, an isolated, personal thing. Fifty people die in a plane crash; while they die together they die separately, one at a time, each one undergoing the act of death in a loneliness of soul as utter as if he alone had died. Both birth and death are experienced by the individual in a loneness as complete as if only that one person had even known them.
Three thousand persons were converted at Pentecost, but each one met his sin and his Savior alone. The spiritual birth, like the natural one, is for each one a unique, separate experience shared in by no one. And so with that uprush of resurgent life we call revival. It can come to the individual only. (AW Tozer - The Size of the Soul, 14-15.)
Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Recommended Reading: Isaiah 1:16-20
This is a very colorful verse. It mentions scarlet, red, crimson, and white. For the sake of time, let’s just focus on scarlet. For centuries, scarlet has been a color that signifies wealth and power.
How ironic that the color really came from a bug!
The finest scarlets in antiquity came from a tiny scale insect called Kermes, which were parasites among the oak trees throughout the Mediterranean world. The male insects were very small and could fly away, but the females had no wings. When collected, they were found to contain thousands of eggs and their offspring were brilliant red. The insects were captured, dried, and ground into powder, which was used to form the scarlet dye.
In a remarkably similar way, sin is a parasite to the human soul, and it dyes us—and it causes us to die. The devil wants to stain us through and through.
Only the scarlet blood of Christ can counteract the stain and make us white as snow.
Break down every idol, cast out every foe; now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
James L. Nicholson
Revival: How Much Does Revival Cost?
I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. -Leviticus 26:11-12
So we sit down to have a board meeting. What are we going to do to stir ourselves up? Who can we get? Where will we look? We forget that all the time Jehovah is present. "I am Jehovah shammah; I am in the midst of you. Why don't you talk to me?" No, we don't ask Him.
"I am your banner of victory." But we say, "I just wonder how much it will cost?" How much does a revival cost? Absolutely nothing and absolutely everything-that is how much it will cost. It will cost not one dime, and it will cost everything we have. You cannot import it by flying someone in. How many of these blessed preachers have come in fromscross the country ? They did some big things over here and there, we heard, so we flew them in and they never got anywhere. I never saw anything result from trying to import God. He does not fly over in a jet. He says, "I am Jehovah; I am with you. I am where you are; I am here now. Call on me." AW Tozer
John 4:23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” (NASB)
Today's verse speaks of worshipping the Father in spirit and truth and that worshipping like that is true worship. Jesus worshipped the Father by giving His life for us. Now, I will never be Christ, but I try to be like Him. Maybe you do too. That means our worship of the Father should be as close to Jesus' as possible. I wonder if we have taken enough of us off so that we begin to live like Jesus, to act like Jesus, to love like Jesus that would be true worship of the Father. Worship is not just singing songs in church; it is a way of life. So, are we copying Jesus’ example?
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