Friday, August 31, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

24. Calling of Philip and Nathaneal- John 1:43-51


-Philip, from Bethsaida in Galilee and future evangelist, comes to know and follow Christ Jesus at this time. He shares the good news with Nathaneal, but the future disciple is hesitant and doubts the validity of Philip’s claim that he has found the Messiah of which Moses and the Prophets wrote. Nathaneal held a prejudice against people from Nazareth as we see in the text (John 1:46). He had to be supernaturally convinced that Jesus was indeed who Philip claimed Him to be.

-Jesus uniquely describes Nathaneal upon their meeting. Nathaneal was a man with no guile (deceit, deception, a straight-shooter, no pretense, no hypocrisy). *Application* This is the type of person we should strive to be as well. We are laid bare before God anyway. He knows exactly who we are and there is no sense in trying to pretend we are someone we are not. Nathanel was honest with himself and others as shown in this simple comment Jesus made about him upon their meeting. Let’s be like Nathaneal and cut out the show and fakeness in our lives. Let’s get real!

-Jesus prophecies some of the things Nathaneal will experience as he accepts the Son of God and King of Israel. He relates that this one “will see the heavens open up and angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man (John 1:51)” much like Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:10-17). *Application* There is no mention in the Scriptures of this literally happening with Nathaneal, but it is certainly possible that it did. What the deeper significance of this is; however, is an experience in the presence of God. Nathaneal, like Jacob would be privileged to find the gate to heaven, Jesus the Messiah, and experience life in His presence forever.


Verse to Memorize- John 1:47


25. Marriage at Cana- water changed to wine- John 2:1-11


-Jesus meets a heartfelt need that His mom made Him aware of. To run out of wine in this culture during the weeklong festival, which was customary in this time, was against unwritten rules of hospitality. Jesus corrects an awkward situation even though He was hesitant claiming His time had not yet come. But, Jesus, as we see here, was a people person and He felt compassion for the situation. He ends up making the hosts look exceptional because they reserved the best wine for last. *Application* When there is a specific need we are made aware of, do we do everything we possibly can to help out? This was the mind of Christ in performing His first miracle of His public ministry (John 2:11). Always show compassion and help those who have specific needs when it is in your ability to do something nice (Proverbs 3:27).

-This event was significant to the disciples belief in Him as the Messiah and the beginning of His revelation in glory (John 2:11). Jesus provided a sign for them and their trust was developed. *Application* Notice the miracles of God all around you and grow in your personal faith. Forget not all of His good works! Rest in His power!


Verse to Memorize- John 2:11


26. Jesus cleanses the Temple- John 2:13-25


-John gives us some very important theology in his gospel as we begin to see here in this section. First, Jesus is consumed with zeal for the House of God and reacts with intense passion when He sees the abuse and impurity of what is going on in it. The Jews had made God’s House a place of business for personal profit and this infuriated the Savior as He drove them out with righteous indignation. *Application* Do we sometimes get appalled at the things we see taking place in the church that we know dishonors the things of God? What do we do about it? Here in this instance we see that sometimes strong and decisive action is required and absolutely appropriate to correct an injustice. Jesus was just as filled with the Spirit when He overturned the tables as He was when He gave up His life on the cross. His emotion for the things of the Lord consumed Him.

-Secondly, God provided signs for the purpose of faith. Many were believing in Him because of the signs He was doing. The most important sign He gave was probably not even really acknowledged until after His resurrection (John 2:22). He claimed that He would rebuild the destroyed Temple in three days (John 2:19). He was speaking of His body and His resurrection of course and the ultimate gift of God being able to indwell us as the Temple of His Spirit (John 2:21; 14:15-17). *Application* Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection is the greatest sign ever given for the redemption of mankind’s sins and eternal life. Accept Him as your personal Savior and Lord today and receive all of His benefits!

-Thirdly, Jesus knew the heart of man. He did not entrust Himself to them and He did not need anyone to testify concerning man (John 2:24-25). This shows how Christ was above the mortal scene and had all knowledge of what was happening around Him. He had an ideal plan and mission and would carry it out to perfection in the fullness of time. *Application* Wait on the Lord and trust in His timing. Remember that Jesus Himself had to wait for the correct moment to lift Himself up to the Father’s glory as the Savior of the world.


Verse to Memorize- John 2:19

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

20. John the Baptist’s ministry- Matt. 3:1-12, Mark 1:1-8, Luke 3:1-18, John 1:15-28


-John came as a voice in the wilderness to make the paths straight for the Lord to come with His grace and truth of salvation. He lived a humble life and simply called out people to repent from their sins so that they could receive forgiveness from the Lord. *Application* Becoming aware and admitting your mistakes and problems is the first step to recovery with Christ. Acknowledge where you have gone wrong and receive His mercy in true and genuine Godly sorrow, not just worldly guilt.

-John’s mission was to point out the truth of who Christ Jesus was. Jesus was the One who would baptize (immerse, totally occupy, cover something completely and fully) with His Holy Spirit and with fire. The Spirit is the One who comes into us as part of the new covenant as of Pentecost that works His transformation in our lives as we receive Him and His power. The fire aspect is one of Christ’s judgment when we look at the context of the Scripture. He will gather the wheat and burn the chaff (the useless part of the grain, in other words those who reject Him as Savior) (Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17). *Application* Christ Jesus is the dividing line. What will you do with Him? Accept Him and receive His Spirit forever and be changed or reject Him and receive His just consequence of separation from Him and His love. The choice is always yours. His offer is on the table.


Verse to Memorize- Luke 3:16


21. Jesus’ baptism- Matt. 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:29-34


-John proclaims Jesus as the Messiah as He comes for baptism, not for the purpose of repentance but for fulfillment of righteousness (Matthew 3:15). John is hesitant to baptize Jesus knowing that He is greater and is already the Son of God and perfect in all ways, but he consents as Jesus implores him to do the work of this significant moment. The Trinity is in full picture here as the incarnate Son is consecrated by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and the voice of God is heard audibly from Heaven (Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:22, John 1:32). *Application* Just as John saw and testified that these things were true and that Jesus was the Son of God, we must also be witnesses of the grace and truth of our Lord’s saving power. Share the message wherever you go!


Verses to Memorize- Matthew 3:16-17


22. Temptation in the desert- Matt. 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13


-Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, which was an initiation into His public ministry of sorts, He is led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for 40 days and nights with every temptation (Luke 4:13). After this period of prayer and fasting He became hungry and had to defend His righteousness against the attacks of the tempter. He used Scripture from the Torah to combat the enemy and his evil schemes designed to take Him down. *Application* When Satan comes at us we have to resist him through the Word of God alone and its proper interpretation. Don’t ever try to reason with him; he is crafty, manipulative, and cunning. Instead, rely on what God’s truth has clearly said and walk in His victory (Matthew 4:4,7,10, James 4:7). Don’t let Satan twist the Scriptures on you in an effort to trick and trip you up. Have discernment, study diligently, and call upon the Lord’s wisdom to avoid downfalls. We live on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4).

-Satan tried to usurp authority by getting Him to bow down and worship. In exchange he offered all the worldly kingdoms and their earthly glory. Nothing compares to the Kingdom of God and His righteousness though. *Application* We are part of His Kingdom and His glory is radiating through it all the time. It far surpasses anything this world has to offer, so don’t get fool by the “shiny things” (material possessions, power, etc.).

-How awesome it is to realize that after the temptation and struggle the ministering angels were there! *Application* We also will be comforted after a time of trial and testing when we endure the struggle through the Spirit’s power. Hang on brother and sister, you will come into marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord! Praise Your Name Jesus!


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 4:11


23. calling Andrew, Simon Peter, James, John- Luke 5:1-11, John 1:35-42


-God’s call is irrevocable (not to be taken back, not to be regretted, Romans 11:29). His call was placed on these humble disciples and they chose Him. There was nothing super special about them or their families. These were hard working fishermen that toiled day by day and night by night to eke out a living the best they knew how. But God saw their potential and willingness to go and follow Him into the unknown adventure that would change the course of human history. These men simply knew that they had found the Messiah (the Christ) and gave up everything to follow Him (John 1:41, Luke 5:11). The three, James, John, and Peter, became the Christ’s inner circle of discipleship and trust. Peter was handed the keys to the kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19), a care taker of the message of salvation for the world and with it great responsibility. *Application* This calling is upon our lives as well. Are you willing to heed the call of the LORD upon your life? There is great reward in Heaven if you do and blessings untold on this earth as well (Matthew 6:33). Don’t be like the rich young ruler who could not accept God’s call on his life and went away sad and without (Mark 10:17-22).


Verse to Memorize- Luke 5:11

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

19. Young Jesus at the Temple- Luke 2:40-52


-In two verses, 40 and 52, we see that Jesus went through the growing process well defined in character, wisdom, grace, and stature. He continued to grow in all facets of His life. When He was twelve, He stayed behind intrigued by His Father’s house in the Temple and the teachers who were there. They were amazed at His understanding and answers as He listened to them and ask them questions for three days. One may wonder how a family with a Boy this special not miss Him for a full day. On my visit to the Promised Land I observed many children even to this day that roam the streets on their own unaccompanied by parents or any kind of adult supervision. This seems very strange to our western mind these days with all the crime and child abuse that is prevalent in our society, but there it is part of the culture. Safety seems to be assured for the young and the innocent. Jesus’ parents no doubt had any concern for this first day of travel homeward that their Boy was off with another relative in their caravan and was well cared for apparently. However, after a day of not seeing Him, they did begin to look and were unable to locate Him. Three days later they found Him and were perturbed because of their anxiety over looking for Him (imagine losing the only Son of God you were chosen to take care of!). Jesus again showed His supernatural wisdom with His response to His earthly parents and reassured them of His purpose and mission even as a lad. His mother treasured all of these things in her heart and Jesus continued in subjection to them as commanded by the Law (Exodus 20:12, Luke 2:51). *Application* Jesus grew every day in wisdom (mind), stature (physical body care), and in favor (relationship) with God (spiritual) and man (social) (Luke 2:52). There is no greater verse in Scripture for us to look to in order to find how we should evaluate every day that we live on this earth (Psalm 90:12). Make every day count and live in Christ!

Verse to Memorize- Luke 2:52

Harmony of the Gospels

19. Young Jesus at the Temple- Luke 2:40-52


-In two verses, 40 and 52, we see that Jesus went through the growing process well defined in character, wisdom, grace, and stature. He continued to grow in all facets of His life. When He was twelve, He stayed behind intrigued by His Father’s house in the Temple and the teachers who were there. They were amazed at His understanding and answers as He listened to them and ask them questions for three days. One may wonder how a family with a Boy this special not miss Him for a full day. On my visit to the Promised Land I observed many children even to this day that roam the streets on their own unaccompanied by parents or any kind of adult supervision. This seems very strange to our western mind these days with all the crime and child abuse that is prevalent in our society, but there it is part of the culture. Safety seems to be assured for the young and the innocent. Jesus’ parents no doubt had any concern for this first day of travel homeward that their Boy was off with another relative in their caravan and was well cared for apparently. However, after a day of not seeing Him, they did begin to look and were unable to locate Him. Three days later they found Him and were perturbed because of their anxiety over looking for Him (imagine losing the only Son of God you were chosen to take care of!). Jesus again showed His supernatural wisdom with His response to His earthly parents and reassured them of His purpose and mission even as a lad. His mother treasured all of these things in her heart and Jesus continued in subjection to them as commanded by the Law (Exodus 20:12, Luke 2:51). *Application* Jesus grew every day in wisdom (mind), stature (physical body care), and in favor (relationship) with God (spiritual) and man (social) (Luke 2:52). There is no greater verse in Scripture for us to look to in order to find how we should evaluate every day that we live on this earth (Psalm 90:12). Make every day count and live in Christ!

Verse to Memorize- Luke 2:52

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

15. Flight into Egypt- Matt. 2:13-15


-An angel again appears to Joseph supernaturally in a dream urging him to get up and immediately leave for Egypt to remain there until further notice. It was made plain that Herod was seeking the Christ Child’s life, and so Joseph arose with his wife and the Messiah and departed for Egypt that very night before the sun even came up (Matthew 2:14). They remained there until the death of Herod, which fulfilled Hosea’s prophecy that “Out of Egypt I called my Son (Hosea 11:1).” *Application* Here we see Old Testament usage by Matthew to give us a deep understanding and appreciation for prophecy. Just as the New Testament writers viewed the Law and the Prophets in the new revelation light of Jesus Christ, and so should we. This is just one example of the shadows of Christ in the ancient texts given for the hope of Israel and the world (Hebrews 8:5; 10:1). Also notice the immediate response of Joseph to obey and get his all important family out of danger’s way. It is supposed that the gifts of the magi helped to fund this trip and stay in Egypt, which was obviously a foreign land and a new adventure. When God calls, our best response is quick compliance. It could save us our lives!


-Verse to Memorize- Matthew 2:14


16. Massacre of the children in Bethlehem- Matt. 2:16-18


-Herod’s paranoia and lust for power are revealed in his reaction to the finding out that the magi had deceived (literally mocked, ridiculed, tricked, make a fool of) him (Matthew 2:16). He sends his troops and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity from two years and under in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jeremiah 31:15). The weeping and great mourning heard all the way across the mountainous region to Ramah harkened back even to the days of Rachel, who died in childbirth in this region and had her heart much set on children (Genesis 35:16-18). *Application* It is terribly sad to think about the cruelty that was inflicted on the innocent children surrounding and in the region of Bethlehem by the tyrant Herod. We must always stand up for injustice and the rights of those who cannot defend themselves. I saw a sticker just yesterday urging the stoppage of abortion in our country. We think to ourselves, “how cruel they must have been back in those days to destroy life so cruelly like that,” but we easily forget the untold millions of lives that have been lost now to abortion in our nation and world. Be a defender of weak and innocent (Psalm 82:3, Proverbs 31:9, Isaiah 1:17). Value life!


-Verse to Memorize- Matthew 2:16



17. King Herod dies- Matt. 2:19


-The passing of King Herod was great news for the Messiah’s family. The angel reappeared as promised and God’s salvation plan was continuing along just as predicted by the prophets of old.

-*Application* God is not slow about His promises as some count slowness, but He is patient and gives multiple chances for people to turn to Him in repentance (2 Peter 3:9). I believe God gave Herod every chance He could and time to come to know Him before his death. God has a plan and purpose for everything in the whole context of this world. He is sovereign and has all understanding. In the “fullness of time” is a great concept to contemplate when we read a verse like this one (Galatians 4:4).


-Verse to Memorize- Matthew 2:19


18. Returning to Nazareth- Matt. 2:19-23


-Joseph is reluctant to go back into Israel because Herod’s son Archelaus was reigning, but God warned him and once again he obeyed the Lord. The family left Egypt and ventured to the region of Galilee and settled back in their original hometown of Nazareth, which once again fulfilled the prophets word that “He shall be called a Nazarene (Isaiah 11:1. The word there is Netzar, which signifies either a branch, or the city of Nazareth; in being denominated from that city, he is declared to be that Branch).” This region was much more calm politically than other regions of Israel at the time. Philip was ruling in this region and was much more docile than Archelaus in Judea. Although Joseph was probably under the assumption, from his limited understanding of the Messiah’s life and work, that they would be in or near Jerusalem, God had other plans and somewhat secluded His Son for His upbringing and the bulk of His earthly ministry.

-*Application* Don’t despise the little things (Luke 16:10). Our lives at times can feel mundane, uncomplicated, and even boring. We yearn to do more and dream of extravagance and greatness even in Kingdom work. We must always remember God’s plan is higher than ours and let Him form and shape us just as He desires. The Messiah’s life is even reflective of that fact when we closely observe the Scriptures. Jesus lived a normal life for all we know until the age of 30 when His public ministry began. The preparation is important; allow the Lord to work in you even on the most normal of days.


-Verse to Memorize- Matthew 2:23

Monday, August 27, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

13. Simeon proclaims the Christ- Luke 2:25-35


-Simeon was righteous and devout (literally God-fearing). He was looking for (welcoming) the consolation (encouragement, exhortation) of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon him (Luke 2:25). He had received revelation that he would see the Lord’s Christ before he passed from the world by death (Luke 2:26). When he sees the Lord, he blesses God and prophecies the salvation of the Christ and His light of revelation unto the Gentiles, which is the glory of His people Israel (Luke 2:30-32). He further prophesied that Jesus would be the rise and fall of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed. He predicted that His parents would be pierced to the soul by the events of the Messiah, and it would be to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2:35).

-*Application* Simeon is a great example of a man who walked closely with the LORD and had the Holy Spirit at work prominently in his life. He was a man living in the old covenant dispensation; therefore, the Holy Spirit was upon him rather than in him as we will later see in believers when the new covenant is initiated by the blood of Christ and the coming of Pentecost (Jeremiah 31:31-33, Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25, Acts 2:1-4). His life shows the closeness to God and the reception to His voice that we can have when we are yielded and observant.


-Verse to Memorize- Luke 2:25


14. Anna the prophetess’ joy- Luke 2:36-38


-Another devoted (God-fearing) woman in the Temple area was Anna the prophetess. She was a long-time widow who served the Lord night and day with fastings and prayers (Luke 2:37). She came up to the Christ Child when Simeon was talking and began to bless the Lord with thanksgiving and she was making Him known to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38).

-*Application* Here we see the prominent role that a woman could have in Temple service. She was a prophetess, which meant that she could proclaim the message of God to all people. Some would erroneously say that women should not be allowed to make proclamation in the church of today based on some of the things that Paul instructed in 1 Corinthians 14:34. This was a correcting letter to a dysfunctional church though if we look at the context and very well could have been a somewhat isolated case. This is not to confuse the proclamation with authority in God’s church (1 Timothy 1:12). This can be a controversial topic in church polity today, but we can clearly see from this passage, as well as other portions of Scripture, that women played an important role in propagating the message of Christ to the world (Acts 16:40, Colossians 4:15). So all you women and men let your voice be heard for reaching the world with the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!


-Verse to Memorize- Luke 2:37

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

10. Wise men from the East- Matt. 2:1-12


-The magi from the east came to Jerusalem first and met up with King Herod. He was a apprehensive ruler who was extremely paranoid to anyone who might possibly usurp his authority. His inquiry with the chief priests, scribes, and magi reveal his fear and suspicion in the matter. He was not the rightful heir to the throne of David. He was ruthless, as we will see, and had many enemies causing his great paranoia. *Application* We see the true wisdom and revelation of the magi here in this passage. They were warned to go back another way to avoid this evil king and they obeyed. We should also heed the warnings God gives us in our lives. He will always make a way out when we listen to His voice.

-The magi find the Christ Child in Bethlehem just as was prophesied (Micah 5:2). They come before Him and worship giving gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). *Application* These gifts from royalty had symbolic meaning as well. Gold symbolized His kingship and worthiness. Frankincense embodied deity. Myrrh was foreshadowing His death on the cross for the sins of mankind. These gifts, some scholars have speculated, were the means for Jesus and His family to escape to Egypt when Herod sent his men to destroy all the children two and under in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18). Where God guides, He provides!

-The other item of note from this text is the fact that they came to worship Jesus in a house (Matthew 2:11). This more than likely indicates some significant passing of time between the Messiah’s birth and the visitation of the wise men, contrary to some Nativity scenes we see at Christmas. Jesus could have been as much as two years old at this point based on the age that Herod set for his inquisition (Matthew 2:16).


-Verse to Memorize- Matthew 2:11


11. Jesus’ circumcision- Luke 2:21


-Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day according to Jewish law (Leviticus 12:3). He and His family obeyed the Law in all ways. He was totally Jewish and subscribed to the LORD’s commands for life and worship perfectly (Hebrews 4:14-16). This was also the time when His Name became official. *Application* Christ was sealed by the covenant of the Law as prescribed by God. We in the same way are sealed for the day of redemption by the Holy Spirit when we trust to Christ for salvation (Ephesians 4:30). Baptism is now our outward manifestation and inward conviction of that covenant that God places on our lives as His children.


-Verse to Memorize- Luke 2:21


12. Infant Jesus presented at the Temple- Luke 2:22-24


-After the days of purification according to the law of Moses were completed, Jesus was brought up to the Holy City, Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord as the firstborn male (Exodus 13:2,12, Numbers 3:13; 8:17). His parents offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, by law, for this occasion, and it is notable that they were of the economic status to offer turtledoves or pigeons rather than a lamb, which was more expensive (Leviticus 5:7; 12:8). *Application* Again we see the obedience to cultural Jewish law given by God in the family of Jesus Christ. They were a humble, God fearing family that did things the right way. God will use the poor of this world to do great and mighty things for His Kingdom’s purposes. This is an example of that. In your life be willing to be used of the Lord. Follow His directions and obey His voice. There are no unimportant members of His family (1 Corinthians 12:13-27).


-Verse to Memorize- Matthew 2:23

Friday, August 24, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

7. Birth of Jesus Christ- Matt. 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-7


-When Joseph finds out his wife to be is pregnant he planned to put her away secretly, not wanting to disgrace her (or possibly have her executed under Jewish law as an adulterer). But an angel of the Lord appeared to him, just like Mary and Zacharias, and told him to not be afraid to take her as his wife because of His supernatural conception by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). This happened in a dream, and it was revealed to Joseph that this One would be called Jesus (God saves) because He would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). This was fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning a virgin birth and God coming to be with mankind (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14; 9:6). Joseph awoke and did just as the angel commanded and took Mary as his wife, but he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to Jesus Christ. *Application* This passage reveals Joseph’s love for his espoused wife and his obedience to the word of the Lord. He could have been rightfully upset with the situation and publicly humiliated her. The society that they lived in would not tolerate a perceived indiscretion like this and it could have left her alone in raising God’s only son. Instead, Joseph remained calm and didn’t want to embarrass his beloved. In time he got the message from the angel and had perfect understanding, by faith, of the things that God was up to. We also need to remain calm in the face of obstacles and things we can’t quite comprehend. Wait upon the Lord to reveal His plan and direction in the course of your life (Psalm 25:3).

-The scene shifts to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem Ephrathah (Micah 5:2). Joseph and Mary must go there because of their Davidic ancestry to participate in a census decreed from the Roman government by Caesar Augustus for all the inhibited earth (Luke 2:1). Luke gives us incredible detail of these events in his historical biography. Jesus was wrapped in grave clothes (esparganosen in Greek, swaddling or grave clothes, Luke 2:7, 12). This had prophetic implications for His destiny as He was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world for the sins of mankind (Revelation 13:8). He was laid in a manger in the animal stable because there was no room for His family in the inn because of the swollen population of the town in light of the census (Luke 2:7). *Application* I visited this site upon my recent trip to Israel. This stable was actually in a cave cut out of rock in a mountainous area (far from the wooden barn type representations you often see at Christmas). Our God chose to come to us in the most humble of ways. He emptied Himself for our benefit and deliverance (Philippians 2:5-8).


-Verse to Memorize: Matthew 1:21

8. Angels announce Christ’s birth to shepherds- Luke 2:8-20


-In the same region there were shepherds tending their sheep by night out in the fields. Suddenly an angel appeared to them with the glory of the Lord and frightened them greatly, but the angel told them to not be afraid because he brings good news of great joy, which will be for all people (Luke 2:10). The angel announces the birth of Christ Jesus in Bethlehem, the city of David, with a sign of Him being found in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger (Luke 2:12). Suddenly there were with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising the Lord and singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased (Luke 2:14).” They hurried to Bethlehem and found the Messiah just as had been told to them and they made known the statement, which had been revealed to them from Heaven’s messenger. This was causing wonder and amazement by all, but Mary treasured these things in her heart and pondered on them (Luke 2:19). The shepherds returned glorifying and praising the Lord for all they had heard and seen (Luke 2:20).

-It is amazing and prophetic how the Lord chose to reveal His angels to the shepherds. These were probably sheep that were being raised for the Temple sacrifices in nearby Jerusalem (Bethlehem is only over a mountain or two from the Holy City about 8 miles south). Jesus would be the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world some 33 years later in Jerusalem just outside its gates on Calvary’s cross. The excitement of seeing this revelation consumed the shepherds and they went in haste to spread the news after they had seen the Christ Child.

-*Application* Are we in a hurry to spread the good news we have in Christ Jesus? We should have every bit the enthusiasm for our Lord that they had. He has done great things for us in transforming us into His image. Share the message of Christ Jesus with everyone! It is good news and peace for mankind.


-Verse to Memorize: Luke 2:10


9. Star of Bethlehem- Matt. 2:1-2


-The magi see the star in the west from their eastern location and venture toward Bethlehem, which they know from the prophecies (perhaps revealed by Daniel and others in the Babylonian deportation). They arrive in Jerusalem looking for the Child because they have come to worship Him (Matthew 2:2).

-*Application* These were astronomers from a foreign land that came based on previous knowledge somehow to the place where God visited earth. Our God is so good He even places signs in the sky for the entire world to see His plan for the Messiah Savior. The King is announced in more ways than one!


-Verse to Memorize- Matthew 2:2

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

5. Mary’s praise of joy- Luke 1:46-56


-Mary gives the Lord exaltation and praise for considering her worthy of carrying the Christ Child. She rejoices in the fact that God had regard for her in her humble state and that every generation from that time on would called her blessed. Clearly the Almighty had done great things for her and she was thankful in all contriteness of heart. *Application* Mary was a special woman, favored of the Lord, but she never claimed deity or equally with God as some denominations have promoted. This is simply a tradition of man, a veneration based not on Scripture and its clear teachings. Jesus warned us not to follow the traditions of man, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4; 15:7, Mark 7:5-9, Colossians 2:8). It is perfectly fine to respect Mary, the mother of Jesus, but to worship her is never what was intended in the Scriptures or the heart of God. Mary in fact humbly called Jesus her Lord and Savior, not herself (Luke 1:46-49).

-Mary speaks of the mercy of the Lord to forgive throughout all the generations to those who fear Him (Luke 1:50). *Application* The fear of the Lord is a constant, reoccurring theme in His Word. We should not seek the mercy of the our God based on what we have accomplished, but out of reference and awe of what He has done in His gracious gift to us through Jesus Christ His Son. Through Him alone we can receive forgiveness and mercy when we call upon His Name in faith realizing His sole authority to save and deliver. He has done the mighty deeds (Luke 1:51).

-Mary also denounces those who are proud in heart and the self exalted wealthy ones, which is another reoccurring theme in Scripture (Luke 1:51-53). *Application* God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).

-The nation that comes from the man Israel is remembered in its fullness by the earthly mother of God. God has helped to His servant in remembrance of His mercy (Luke 1:54-55).

-Verse to Memorize: Luke 1:50

6. Birth of John the Baptist- 1:57-80


-John’s birth was unique in the fact that he was given a name that was not based on family lineage or ancestry. When his name was announced by Zacharias, his father, his tongue was loosed and he could speak again (Luke 1:20-22). As he began to speak, words of praise and prophecy poured out, which caused fear and the spreading of the words he spoke throughout the region (Luke 1:64-65, 67).

-Zacharias’ prophecy included God’s redemption for His people as He was raising up the descendent of David as the forever King of kings (Luke 1:68-70). This King would eventually give salvation from their enemies and show mercy toward their fathers in remembrance of His holy covenant made to Abraham (Genesis 22:16-18, Luke 1:71-73). This would eventually allow them to worship the Messiah without fear from their enemies (Luke 1:74). *Application* This is a beautifully put stanza of praise and truth concerning our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of all the law and prophets (Luke 24:27). In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (Colossians 2:9). He is the One we look to for salvation! Praise His Name!

-Zacharias also foretells his son’s role in this salvation plan. John will go as a forerunner going before the Lord to prepare the way providing knowledge of the truth of salvation by the forgiveness of sins through a message of repentance (Matthew 3:1-2, Luke 1:76-77). *Application* John’s life was significant in the preparation for the King of kings to come and be effective in His message and ministry of salvation. John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).” His heart was for his Savior and throughout his life he lived in that surrendered manner, filled with the Holy Spirit, and obedient to the Lord’s commands (Luke 1:80). He lived a separated life that was not consumed by the worldly pleasures around him. Tradition states that he may have even communed with the Essenes of the Qumran Community (from whence we got the Dead Sea scrolls).

-Verses to Memorize: Luke 1:78-79

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

3. Jesus’ birth foretold to Mary- Luke 1:26-38

-The angel Gabriel appears to the virgin, Mary, (probably a girl only in her early teens) in Nazareth of Galilee. She was espoused (engaged, promised to be married to) Joseph of the descendents of King David (Luke 1:27). This is extremely significant in light of God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:1-13 of a Kingdom that would be established forever. The angel greets her as the “favored one (Luke 1:28, 30)” who the Lord was with. She was blessed with high honor and prestige, which perplexed her and made her ponder what was being said to her (Luke 1:29). She, like Zacharias earlier, was afraid as indicated by the angel’s response to her, but she was told not to fear because of the Lord’s favor on her (Luke 1:30). She is told that she will have a supernatural (immaculate- faultless, perfect, completely clean) conception of the Son of the Most High by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:32, 35). His Name is given, which is also extremely important. His Name shall be Jesus (Iesous in the Greek, Yahushua or Yeshua in the Hebrew, the same name we use for Joshua in the Old Testament meaning “God saves,” Luke 1:31).

-Mary’s astonishment is valid because she is a virgin making a natural birth by natural means impossible. But this was in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy over 700 years before (Isaiah 7:14). Emmanuel (God with us) was conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit because “nothing is impossible with God (Genesis 18:14, Luke 1:37).”

-The angel also told her about her relative Elizabeth’s conception in her old age, which had happened six months earlier (Luke 1:36).

-Mary at the end of the conversation calls herself the bondservant (female slave) of the Lord and affirmed that this thing may happen to her according to the will of God and the words of His messenger (Luke 1:38).

-*Application* We sometimes hear things spoken over us that seem impossible or unrealistic. But, if God is in it He will make it happen and we also can go in His Divine favor or blessing to live it out. What is the Lord speaking to you about today? What are His messages and promises for you? Seek Him out in His Word and find your specific calling and purpose. It will astonish you just as much as it astounded Mary! With God nothing is impossible!

-Verse to Memorize: Luke 1:37

4. Mary visits Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s praise of joy- Luke 1:39-45

-Mary arose after her encounter with Gabriel and went in a hurry the house of Zacharias and Elizabeth in the hill country of Judah (this was probably a long and difficult journey in those days). When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby (John) leaped within her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). She cried out how blessed Mary was among women and blessed the fruit (produce) of her womb (Luke 1:42-45). She also extolled Mary’s faith to believe all that was promised to her by the Lord (Luke 1:45).

-*Application* Here again we see the faith principle in Scripture at work in real-tangible ways. The reason for Mary’s journey to Judah to see her relatives is uncertain, but God used this encounter for Divine revelation and affirmation of the things He was doing as the Spirit was poured out upon these individuals. As we believe and obey the Lord’s voice He will guide and direct us into more and more spiritual encounters that will amaze and illuminate us to His greater works and purposes.

-Verse to Memorize: Luke 1:45

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

1. Genealogy of Jesus- Matt. 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38

-Notes: We have in Scripture two records of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the Messiah. Matthew’s record indicates 14 generations beginning with Abraham (the father of the Jewish people) to David, 14 generations from David to the deportation into Babylon, and 14 generations from the deportation to Messiah. Matthew lists five women in the genealogy: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary, who was the mother of Christ Jesus.

-Luke goes in reverse order of Matthew in starting with the Messiah at the age of 30 at the beginning of His public ministry and working backward to His father Joseph and so on. Luke goes all the way back to Adam, the son of God in his list.

-*Application* We will note some discrepancies in the genealogy of Jesus by these two gospel writers, which will need some clarification. Matthew is focused on the generations matching up into segments of 14 and lists those important to the lineage of the Christ Child in his writings. Luke on the other hand is more thorough in the preciseness of his list (Luke 1:4). Names in antiquity are sometimes spelled differently from source to source and people are known by other names, sort of like a first and last name identification like we are familiar with. Other scholars have said that the deviation of the list is due to the tracing on the mother’s side (Mary) versus the father’s side (Joseph) of the lineage. Whatever the case, we can be assured that both are correct in their research and inspired writing concerning the genealogy of the Savior.

-Verses to Memorize: Matthew 1:17, Luke 3:23

2. John the Baptist’s birth to Zechariah Foretold- Luke 1:5-25

-Notes: These things happened in the days of Herod Antipas, king of Judea. The priest named Zacharias of the division of Abijah (Abia) with a wife from the daughters of Aaron (Exodus 29:9) named Elizabeth (Luke 1:5). She was barren (no children) and both were advanced in years beyond the age of regular child bearing (Luke 1:7).

-Zacharias is chosen by lot to go into the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem to burn incense with a multitude of people outside in prayer at the hour of the incense offering (Luke 1:9-10). As he went in an angel of the Lord appeared to him to the right of the alter of incense, which caused him great fear (Luke 1:11-12). He was told not to be afraid and that his wife would bear him a son named John who would be great in the sight of the Lord drinking no wine or liquor and filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in the womb of his mother (Luke 1:13-15). It was foretold that this John would turn the hearts of the people of Israel back to the Lord their God, and he would go as a forerunner of the Messiah in the spirit and power of Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6, Luke 1:16-17).

-Zacharias doubted the vision and became mute as a result (Luke 1:20-22). The angel (messenger) identifies itself as Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and it brings good news (Luke 1:19).

-Zacharias goes back home with Elizabeth and she becomes pregnant (Luke 1:23-24). She acknowledges the Lord’s favor on her in taking away her disgrace of being barren (Luke 1:25).

-*Application* We must accept the things and words of the Lord no matter how strange and unusual they may seem and appear. Doubt does us no good. Trust is what the Lord is always looking for in us just like He was with Zacharias. His ways are higher than our ways and His plan greater than anything we can wish or imagine (Isaiah 55:9). Follow His lead and you will never be disappointed in the end.

-Verse to Memorize: Luke 1:15

Monday, August 20, 2012

Zephaniah Bible Study Notes Chapter 3


Zephaniah 3

-After denouncing and pronouncing the LORD’s judgment on the surrounding nations, the prophet Zephaniah gives God’s woeful word upon Jerusalem, which is rebellious, defiled, and tyrannical (Zephaniah 3:1). Jerusalem heeded no voice (the prophetic word), accepted no instruction, did not trust in the LORD, and would not draw near to her God (Zephaniah 3:2). Jerusalem’s prophets (false prophets) were reckless and deceitful men and her priests profaned the sanctuary (desecration, disobedience) and treated the law violently (hamas in Hebrew, to knock off). These knew no shame even as the LORD brought His justice to light (Zephaniah 3:5). They disappointed their God because they were eager to corrupt all their works (Zephaniah 3:7) *Application* These qualities are a detriment to any city, cultural, or society. It is no wonder God’s wrath came upon even His own chosen people for these flagrant abuses of His good Name and intentions among them. What we see is a perversion of the good for a prideful deviation, a going away from their God. If you notice any of these qualities in your own life, repent and respect the Sovereign before it is too late and destruction befalls you. He desires to protect, bless and forgive, but we must seek it and ask for it in humility (Zephaniah 3:12).

-God’s indignation will be poured out as all the earth will be devoured by the fire of His zeal (Zephaniah 3:8). At that point He will give the peoples purified lips for the purpose of calling upon the Name of the LORD for salvation and serving Him together shoulder to shoulder (Zephaniah 3:9). The proud, haughty, and self exulting ones will be removed, never again to be on His holy mountain (Jerusalem) (Zephaniah 3:11). *Application* God’s vengeance will leave behind His purification. This is the fact that we see in these verses. Bow low before Him in His presence and realize His power and authority. This is the point of this prophetic message. Reverence the LORD!

-In the remnant of Israel will be holiness with no more fear (Zephaniah 3:13, 16). There will be rejoicing as the LORD takes away His judgments and all enemies (Zephaniah 3:15, 19). He will be in their midst and they will fear distress no more (Zephaniah 3:15). The victory is assured and God will be quiet in His abounding love with shouts of joy (Zephaniah 3:17). They will be regathered into their land and their fortunes will be restored, which will produce praise and glory among all of the peoples of the earth because of the King’s greatness (Zephaniah 3:20). *Application* The turning point here is a beautiful contrast and offers hope for the end result to those who trust and follow the LORD in humility. Never give up your expectation O Christian. God is good and will in the end provide assured victory. (see and

Verse to Memorize: Zephaniah 3:17

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Zephaniah Bible Study Notes Chapter 2


Zephaniah 2

-The prophet cries out for a gathering together before the decree takes effect and the burning anger of the LORD comes upon the nation or nations. Zephaniah’s plea is to seek the LORD, humble themselves, carry out His ordinances, seek His righteousness and humility for a possible hiding in the day of the LORD’s anger (Zephaniah 2:3). *Application* “In wrath remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:2).” God will always provide a way out for those who choose to turn to Him in complete dependence and true humility (Jonah 1-4). This is His desire. He is the One who can save and deliver.

-The judgments on the prideful, arrogant, taunting nations (Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Cherethites “Cretan Philistines,” Canaan, the Philistines, Moab, Ammon, Ethiopia, and Assyria) are given by the prophet for destruction and doom. Especially Moab and Ammon are denounced to become like Sodom and Gomorrah, which has been so destroyed as to never be found even with our modern technology. It is prophesied that they will become a “perpetual desolation (Zephaniah 2:9).” The LORD will be terrifying to them and they will be plundered by the remnant of God’s people for their sinful activities (Zephaniah 2:9-11). *Application* These predictions have come to pass. It is a stark reminder that we cannot oppose God and His people and be blessed. The blessings and favor of God are on the broken and contrite of heart (Psalms 51:7, Isaiah 66:2), not the arrogant and prideful. In our time there is a struggle under way to withdraw support for the nation of Israel for what is perceived to be political gain and world stability. The nation that refuses to bless God’s people will be doomed (Genesis 12:3). The decision is before us as a nation and nations. Who will side with, the godless nations of the world or Yahweh’s chosen?

-One other interesting note. Zephaniah 2:7 says “…the coast will be for the remnant of the house of Judah, they will pasture on it. In the houses of Ashkelon they will lie down at evening; for the LORD their God will care for them and restore their fortune.” *Application* It is unique and inspiring to me that in our present age we see the strength of the nation of Israel along the Mediterranean coastline in places like Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Holon, Ashdod, Netanya, Petah Tikva, Rishon LeZion, and Haifa (see The power plant and economic strength of the country is right where the prophet Zephaniah said it would be in these last days as He restores their fortune.

Verse to Memorize: Zephaniah 2:3

Friday, August 17, 2012

Zephaniah Bible Study Notes Chapter 1


Zephaniah 1

 -This book written in the time of Josiah, king of Judah, predicts the destruction of the earth and all things in the great day of the LORD as the wrath of God is poured out on a rebellious, stagnant, and idolatrous creation. Yet in the end there is given optimism for the remnant who believes in the day of hope (Zephaniah 3:8-20).

-This prophecy has relevance to both the near future of his time as they were about to be invaded, conquered, and dispersed by the Babylonians, but also a forward look to the great day of the LORD in the end times when His wrath is poured out over all of the earth. With poignant language Zephaniah declares the effects of sin in the sight of an Almighty God upon His fallen creation. His power is revealed, and the people of the earth will not be delivered by relying on silver and gold (Zephaniah 1:11, 18). Trusting in their idols like Baal (chief god of the Canaanites symbolizing strength and fertility) and Milcom (Molech, god of the Ammonites, which included such atrocities as child sacrifice) would prove futile and disastrous for His chosen people who went astray from His loving care and plan. In short, they forgot about God and didn’t think He would care about their transgressions. Therefore, they would build houses but not inhabit them, plant vineyards but not drink their wine (Zephaniah 1:13). *Application* It is easy at times in our life to think that we have it made with ease and comfort when things seem to be going so well. If we are not careful, complacency, apathy, and stagnation creep in and take us away from the God that is jealous for us and wants our total devotion (Zephaniah 1:12, 18). Don’t drift away from the LORD into the sea of sin and depravity. His corrective measures can be terrifying.

Verse to Memorize: Zephaniah 1:12

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Habakkuk Bible Study Notes Chapter 2


Habakkuk 2

-The prophet resolves to stand on his guard post, station himself on the rampart (a defensive fortification made of an earthen embankment, often topped by a low protective wall), and keep watch to see what the LORD will speak to him (Habakkuk 2:1). He is pondering his reply to his reproof. *Application* God will speak. Our job is to position ourselves in a posture where He can communicate with us. Often Scripture tells us to be alert and ready (Matthew 24:42; 25:13, Acts 20:31, 1 Corinthians 16:13, Ephesians 6:18, 1 Peter 5:8, Revelation 3:3). Here we see an example of this anticipation.

-The LORD responds to His prophet telling him to record the vision (write it down, inscribe it) that the one who reads it may run (take it and make use of it) (Habakkuk 2:2). The vision is in the future for an appointed time and it quickly is coming to its fruition. It will not fail. Even when it seems like it is taking a long time (tarries), wait for it because it is certain and won’t delay when it is the appointed time (Habakkuk 2:3). *Application* Patience is a virtue and a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). This is an important reminder that when God tells us to do something, we need to put it down it writing. This is special to you and to God and He wants us to inscribe the promises and visions He gives us. This is for communication with others that they may carry out the things of the LORD as He reveals.

-The proud will never be right in his soul, but the righteous will live by his faith (Habakkuk 2:4). *Application* Here we have solid proof that the Old Testament as well as the New Testament teaches salvation by the means of faith. The Old Testament connects with the new revelation in light of Jesus Christ in every way as we see here confirmed in this special verse.

-There is a denouncement of wine (alcohol in general). It takes a person from his home and enlarges his sinful appetite like Sheol (Hell). This person is never satisfied and takes in the ways of the world (Habakkuk 2:6). *Application* God tells not to be drunk with wine, but to be filled with His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). This is a matter of influence. Allow the right One to be your influencer and director in life.

-Woes are pronounced on the wicked by the LORD’s Word in the following verses for increasing what is not his (Habakkuk 2:6), getting evil gain (Habakkuk 2:9), building a city with bloodshed (Habakkuk 2:12), and making their neighbors drink their venom (Habakkuk 2:15). These will be filled with disgrace rather than honor (Habakkuk 2:16). Idolatry is condemned as ridiculous nonsense, but the LORD is in His Holy Temple and is to be worshipped as the true and living God (Habakkuk 2:18-20). *Application* In the comparison of good versus evil what side do we find ourselves on? Humble yourself before the LORD today. Though the vision tarries, wait patiently for it and trust in your God. He is alive and well and will eventually honor you as His righteous child.

Verses to Memorize: Habakkuk 2:2, 4, 14

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Habakkuk Bible Study Notes Chapter 1


Habakkuk 1

-Is it alright to question God when things don’t seem to make that much sense and the righteous seem to suffer under the oppressive hands of violent, wicked, unjust, and rebellious people? Habakkuk, the prophet, gives us an example of the honest-heartfelt cries for help in a distressful situation that was impossible to understand from the human perspective. He wants to know why Babylon (the Chaldeans) are so successful when they reject the living God and worship their own strength (Habakkuk 1:11). Habakkuk knows the truth that they will be held guilty before the LORD, but he is perplexed by what seems to be the LORD’s favor on those who deal treacherously (Habakkuk 1:13). *Application* God sincerely wants us to come to Him with our struggles and doubts. He wants our honesty and confusion to come before Him so that we realize in the end that the problem is not with God and His ways, but with our limited understanding of Him and what He is doing. David was the perfect example in the Psalms of honest pleas in prayer to the LORD over situations that seemed ridiculous and undeserved caused by the enemy. Job is another example from Scripture that shows us the ways that God works to bring us into a more intimate knowledge of Him and His ways for a closer walk with Him and His blessing. Habakkuk in this first chapter shows us that it is perfectly fine to beg for answers from our God in a profound manner that is bold and confident when we have complaints. We will see that eventually God will give His answers with an avalanche of proof and prediction. The LORD is all wise and reveals His mysteries to the earnest seekers!

Verses to Memorize: Habakkuk 1:2, 11

Monday, August 13, 2012

Nahum Bible Study Notes Chapter 3


Nahum 3

-A final pronouncement of doom is given to Nineveh, which is a city of violence completely full of lies and stealing (these three things are in God’s top ten of things not to do, Exodus 20:13, 15-16). They had played the harlot using beauty, prestige, and power to seduce other nations and take them from the One true and living God (Nahum 3:4). But beneath her beautiful and impressive exterior lay a vicious and deceitful interior, which was evil to the core. She was charming and the mistress of sorceries (occultic type practices) (Nahum 3:4). For these atrocities, God was against her and would devastate the nation (Nahum 3:5-19). *Application* Bullying is a big deal these days in schools across our land. Nineveh thought she could get away with treating others inhumanely and cruelly without mercy. However, as with any situation, God sees and knows all things and will recompense the wicked for every unkind act. If you have wronged someone or taken unfair advantage of them, go to them and make it right before the LORD is all out against you. Do the Godly thing and seek restoration, repentance, and reconciliation.

Verse to Memorize: Nahum 3:1

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Nahum Bible Study Notes Chapter 2


Nahum 3

-This chapter predicts the events of 612 B.C. when the Babylonians and the Medes sacked the seemingly impregnable Nineveh. This was the LORD’s judgment on the proud, oppressive, idolatrous nation that had repented in the time of Jonah, but had gone back to its wicked and evil ways. *Application* After a spiritual clean up the absolutely worst thing to do is revert back to your previous sins and depravity. There will always be a temptation to go back into your wicked ways after God has come in to purify and deliver you (Matthew 12:43-45). To succumb to the enemy at these times will mean a far worse situation than you originally had as your conscience is seared and evil prevails in your mortal members (Romans 1:21-32). Resist the devil at these junctures, stand firm and he will flee from you (Ephesians 6:11-18, James 4:7). Recognize that you have the Spirit of God within you to conquer the enemy (Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5). Rely on His power to overcome temptation and live a holy life, pleasing unto your Savior (Ephesians 3:20).

-The scene the prophet paints with his words from God are powerful as a fixed order (Nahum 2:7). Assyria is stripped and carried away with moaning (Nahum 2:7), she is plundered and emptied with desolation and waste, and she is in extreme anguish in the whole body (Nahum 2:9-10). The LORD is against her, and He will burn up her military might, cut off her prey (the Assyrians relied on plunder from war for their sustenance and wealth), and silence her messengers (Nahum 2:13). *Application* We see clearly the justice of God in this situation. It should remind us to realize that nothing escapes His attention. Resolve today to live with a pure and humble heart before Him always and do what is pleasing in His sight for blessing and honor rather than wrath and destruction.

Verse to Memorize: Nahum 2:2

Friday, August 10, 2012

Nahum Bible Study Notes Chapter 1


Nahum 1

-About 650 years before the birth of Christ and around 135 years after Jonah preached to the city of Ninevah, which is in Assyria, Nahum the prophet gives the Word of God concerning the LORD’s wrath on the evil nation of Assyria. Ninevah would fall in 612 B.C. and Assyria would be completely conquered by 609 B.C. then losing a final battle at Carchemish along with the Egyptians in 605 B.C. to the fierce Babylonian empire.

-Nahum points out by reiteration from other Old Testament themes God’s avenging, wrathful, and jealous nature towards those who reject Him and are His enemies. The prophet reminds us that the LORD is slow to anger and great in power, but will by no means leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:6-7, Numbers 14:18). Nahum reminds that nothing will stand in His way when He decides to bring His indignation and fire. *Application* It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). His enduring love and patience only lasts to a certain point. If we are obstinate and reject His kindness He is just and has every right to clean up the mess that sin has made against His authority. Come before the LORD with repentance and Godly sorrow for the mistakes you’ve made rather than having an arrogant, idolatrous spirit like Assyria had. God gives grace to the humble, but is opposed to the proud and will eventually oppress and destroy them (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6).

-“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him (Nahum 1:7).” (rock out with Kutless, Strong Tower *Application* Isn’t it good to know we have a refuge and stronghold in the day of trouble through our God? He knows us who are His children and will protect us in His strength. He is a fortress that is true and holy. Seek Him and live!

-Nothing devised against the LORD will prosper forever. God will make a complete end of it and distress will not rise up twice (Nahum 1:9). The LORD will consume those who go against Him and they will be cut off (Nahum 1:10-12).

-Then in the latter part of verse 12 Nahum turns his focus back to Judah and gives an encouraging word from God for freedom and renewal in holiness (Nahum 1:12b-15). Peace will be announced through the mountains and a reign of righteousness will one day be a reality. *Application* This is a futuristic prophecy in a sense, but it is interesting that after the destruction of Ninevah, it was completely lost to antiquity until some identifiable ruins were discovered in 1845. When God says something through His prophets, He is faithful to carry it out.
Verses to Memorize: Nahum 1:7, 15

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Micah Bible Study Notes Chapter 7


Micah 7

-The prophet announces woe upon himself for the sins of his people and their complete depravity. In a sense, poetically, he is taking upon himself the responsibility for his countrymen. It is a lament if you will. He points out that the godly have perished from the land with none upright in heart. They are violent with evil intent and destruction on their mind. The phrase, “concerning evil, both hands do it well,” speaks of the completeness of their wickedness (Micah 7:3a). They accept bribes and are altogether untrustworthy. Micah promises confusion for them and for the godly to be very careful about counting on them with their words even in their own household. These no doubt are evil days with the need for complete restoration and redemption. *Application* We live in much the same culture as the prophet describes here. There is so much vileness and debauchery that any righteous soul is driven to perplexity and deep sadness (2 Peter 2:8).

-But, the contrast comes, which is welcome right? As for me (i.e. the godly, the followers and believers in God and His righteousness) there is an anxious expectation for the LORD and His recompense and justice. He is the One who will bring His beloved into the Light. It is these that will see His righteousness and the enemy will be shamed and corrected. *Application* Carry on if you are weary O Christian! Be patient and leave room for the wrath of God. Pray expectantly and keep the faith. It is never over when you are on God’s side. We are fighting through the victory that has already been accomplished and completed through our Savior Jesus Christ. His word is secure and sure. It will come to pass. Endure to the end and be rewarded!

-There is prophetic literature in verse 14 speaking of the Shepherd with His scepter. This refers to the earthly reign of the Messiah, which will be a fruitful and abundant time as in the days of old. Restoration is promised along with miracles, which again will shame the nations of all their might in dread of the LORD.

-The final three verses of the chapter and book reveal complete hope and encouragement for God’s people. It is a stanza of praise extolling the attributes of the Living God who pardons iniquity, passes over rebellious acts, does not retain anger forever, and delights in unchanging love. His compassion is on His people and their iniquities will be trampled underfoot. Their sin will be cast into the bottom of the ocean floor (in other words to a depth that cannot be found). God’s promises and truth are sure and unchanging. *Application* What God says to us and about us is irrevocable. He sees you as righteous if you have trusted Jesus Christ and received the forgiveness He offers though His sacrificial death on the cross. He has you by the hand and has sealed you until the day of redemption (John 10:28, Ephesians 4:30). Our salvation is secure in Him! He never changes and is totally faithful!

Verses to Memorize: Micah 7:7-8, 18-19

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Micah Bible Study Notes Chapter 6


Micah 6

-The third section of the book begins with the break marking word “Hear (Shema, Micah 6:1).” This begins the prophet’s indictment from the LORD against His people (Micah 6:2). Reviewing the first two sections, Micah had first given the LORD’s case against the capitals (Micah 1:1) and then the leaders (Micah 3:1). God’s plea to them was sincere and practical. He had done so much for them in bringing them out of slavery and oppression from Egypt and had not wearied (to make tired, to wear out) them. He had purchased them as His people and sovereignly protected their posterity. He only wanted them to remember who He was and what great things He had accomplished in order to know Him in the present and enjoy His righteous acts (Micah 6:5). *Application* How quick are we to forget the over abundance and gracious acts of God in our own lives? He is good; therefore, just like the children of Israel, it makes no sense for us to turn to other idols and false gods in our affection and devotion. We were made by Him to worship Him alone. Our souls are never truly satisfied until we do. “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing.  It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.” (Blaise Pascal)Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, you have made us for Yourself, so that our hearts are restless until they rest in You; grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing Your will, no weakness from doing it; but that in Your light we may see light clearly, and in Your service find our perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (A prayer from St. Augustine: 354-430 A.D.)

-The requirements for coming to the LORD are enunciated in verses 6-8. God is NOT interested in the superficial and traditional religious activities of bowing down, bringing burnt offerings of calves and rams, rivers of presented oil, firstborn sacrifices, or the fruit of the body (asceticism) (Micah 6:7). What the LORD does require is the genuine good of acting justly (fairness, proper legality, no bribes, etc.), loving kindness (mercy, loyalty, faithfulness, unity, solidarity, grace), and walking humbly (to live modestly, carefully and cautiously, contrite spirit, NOT proud) with their God (Micah 6:8). *Application* There is perhaps no greater passage of Scripture in the Old Testament for what God desires from His people than this verse in Micah 6:8. If we can apply these three virtues in our lives we will be well on our way to living a life that is pleasing unto our God.

-“The voice of the LORD will call to the city—and it is sound wisdom to fear Your Name (Micah 6:9a).” *Application* The people had forgotten their God and had gone astray in their in beliefs and actions through disrespect. God calls out to us constantly for the purpose of drawing us to close relationship and fellowship with Him. It would behoove us to draw near to Him and remember all of His grace and goodness (Hebrews 4:16; 7:25; 10:22). This is the respect and adoration He deserves and expects from His creation. Bow your entire heart to Him and His ways with no further delay!

Verse to Memorize: Micah 6:8

Monday, August 6, 2012

Micah Bible Study Notes Chapter 5


Micah 5

-This magnificent chapter of Scripture is where we find the prophecy of where the Messiah will be born on this earth. Micah foresees that the place will be Bethlehem (House of Bread, Jesus said, “I am the Bread of life” John 6:35-51) Ephrathah (a specific designation, this is the city where David was from ancestrally, 1 Samuel 17:12, Luke 2:4). Some interesting facts about this Messiah (the Anointed One, the Savior) are described for us here. First, He comes forth from the Father. Second, He will be a ruler in Israel. Thirdly, His goings forth was from long ago, from the days of eternity (Micah 5:2). In other words, this Messiah is eternal, meaning He had no beginning or end. This makes this One God who will come in the flesh. Micah says He will arise and shepherd His flock (Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd” John 10:11-14) in the strength of the LORD (John 17:21-26).” He goes on further to say that in the majesty of His Name they, the people, will remain (sit, inhabit, abide, dwell securely). The Messiah’s Name will be great in all the earth and this One will be our peace (Micah 5:4-5). *Application* What a blessed description of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is all of these things and more when we contemplate it. He is our reigning King and will one day extend His Kingdom over all of this earth when He returns and takes His vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations who would not obey Him (Micah 5:15). For His children He is our peace. We have the peace (contentment, security, knowing all is going to be alright) from God (2 John 1:3), of God (Philippians 4:7), and with God (Romans 5:1) through the work on the cross done by Jesus Christ. His sacrifice has truly made us completely whole when we receive Him by faith. We believers, Israel and Gentiles combined, are the remnant that the prophet speaks of that survive the attacks and destruction from the enemy symbolized by Assyria and Nimrod in this passage. These enemies will be cut off in that day and no evil will be allowed to persist any longer (Micah 5:9-14). This is the day we look forward to with great anticipation!

Verses to Memorize: Micah 5:2, 4-5

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Micah Bible Study Notes Chapter 4


Micah 4

-In the last days Jerusalem is prophesied to become the chief of the mountains as the house of the LORD raised above all the other hills (Micah 4:1). The nations will come to her to learn of the ways of God so that they can walk in His paths. The word of the LORD will come forth from this place as law, and He will judge and render decisions in a peaceful and productive environment where the need to train for war will cease (Micah 4:2-3). His people will walk in the Name of the LORD forever and ever (Micah 4:5). *Application* This phraseology is cross referenced with Isaiah 2:3-5 to near exactness and has become the model goal for the United Nations. In fact artists have envisioned this concept too, for example Michael Jackson (Heal the World, 1991), Stephen Stills (Feed the People, 2005), and lines from Les Misérables:

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
They will walk behind the ploughshare,
They will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward.

Jesus will one day be the King reigning from Zion and all will finally be right with the world. What a wonderful world that will be!

-In that day the LORD declares that He will assemble the lame and gather the outcasts, even those whom He has afflicted and make them a strong nation as He reigns over them in Mount Zion (Micah 4:6-7). The former dominion will return.

-Micah curiously predicts that the peoples’ rescue will come in Babylon where the LORD will redeem them from the hands of their enemies (Micah 4:10). This occurred and can be explored further in 2 Chronicles 36:9-23 and Ezra 1-2.

-The chapter ends with the LORD’s wisdom verses the misunderstanding of the nations that assemble against Him and His people in the land. The LORD’s thoughts are purposeful as He gathers His enemies to the threshing floor to pulverize them and devote the nations’ unjust gain to Himself as He wills by His people (Micah 4:11-13). *Application* This end time prophecy reveals how the LORD’s ways are higher than our ways and that His thoughts far supersede our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). We must concede His greater good to all of our current life circumstances and trust in His guidance and direction. His plans are always for our good if we love Him and are called according to His promise (Romans 8:28). Though tough times come, they will also go and the LORD teaches us valuable lessons of faith and dependence on Him through all of it if we will be open to learning of His ways. Endure and hope! This is a message we need to cling to. God wins in the end!

Verses to Memorize: Micah 4:2-3, 7

Friday, August 3, 2012

Micah Bible Study Notes Chapter 3


Micah 3

-This next section beginning with the imperative to “hear” what the LORD is saying in regards to the national leaders for the purpose of them to know “justice (Micah 3:1).” The prophet makes his case against them for their love of evil in showing no compassion for the people by ripping them apart using a cannibal type analogy. The LORD is announcing that these false prophets will have no vision (Micah 3:5-6). They will be shamed and embarrassed because of their treachery and godless living. *Application* This is a classic example from Scripture about how people will rise no higher than their leadership in a society, culture, or church. Jesus clarifies this point with His own disciples (Matthew 10:24-25, Luke 6:39-40). We must be careful of to whom we listen and allow to persuade us in our free society. We ultimately are under the influence of one King and Lord who is the Head, even Jesus Christ our Savior. He is our perfect example and we should imitate and follow His lead. Jesus warned us often about false teachers and influencers. Be discerning and don’t be fooled by evil men that subvert and pervert the truth. If you happen to be a leader of people, don’t use your position for personal advantage and destroy the spirit of the people under your authority. As we see here, God sees and holds us all accountable for our actions, thoughts, and motives. Seek justice and true peace with courage.

-Micah is the true man of God as we see in Micah 3:8. He is filled with four incredible things as the servant of the most High. He, in antithesis of the corrupt leaders, has: 1. power, 2. the Spirit of the LORD, 3. justice, and 4. courage. It is because of his walk with the LORD that he knows the way of the upright and receives blessing (Micah 2:7). *Application* We see here four unique qualities of one who remains faithful even when the society around him is stumbling and errant. O that we would embrace the ways of God and gain these four virtuous attributes in our daily living.

-After giving his case for being a true servant of God in power, Micah resumes his denouncement of Israel’s inept leaders and their qualities. They abhor justice and twist everything that is straight (Micah 3:9), they build with bloodshed and violence (Micah 3:10), they pronounce judgment for a bribe (Micah 3:11a), and they instruct for a price (Micah 3:11b). They negate any wrongdoing and claim that nothing bad will happen to them, even saying that the LORD is with them in their midst (Micah 3:11c). The LORD will hold them responsible for their faulty leadership and destroy their land. Zion (the mountain Jerusalem sits on) will be plowed as a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest (Micah 3:12). This actually happened in 586 B.C. as the Babylonians destroyed the city and again under the Romans in 70 A.D. *Application* Money still has a way of controlling things in our modern age. Leaders and pastors who cater to the demands of the wealthy even to the detriment of what is right and good by what the LORD wants to do in a church is tantamount to accepting a bribe just like Micah denounces and abhors by the Spirit of God. If you are a leader who is swayed by people with money, beware! God is not for you and this is a bribe. Leaders cannot always be people pleasers. Don’t remain silent; speak up for what is right and Godly no matter what the cost. Your well-being and success is ultimately in the hands of God and He is who you should please above all.

Verses to Memorize: Micah 3:8, 11