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Life is what happens while you are living. I am back and will have a new study this coming week. My goal is to publish one post per week. In the meantime, read your bible daily and may God bless you.

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(KJV Strong’s) ​Matt 5:
1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

In keeping with Lent, here is an outline of tomorrow’s more in-depth study. This outline is from the Life Application Study Bible: it shows Old Testament anticipation and how to develop these characters.

(LASB NLT- Notes)

Matthew 5:3-10

Realize need for God (5:3)
Old Testament anticipation: Isaiah 57:15
Clashing worldly values: Pride and personal independence
God’s reward: Kingdom of Heaven
How to develop this attitude: James 4:7-10

Mourn (5:4)
Old Testament anticipation: Isaiah 61:1, 2
Clashing worldly values: Happiness at any cost
God’s reward: Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:4)
How to develop this attitude: Psalm 51; James 4:7-10

Humble (5:5)
Old Testament anticipation: Psalm 37:5-11
Clashing worldly values: Power
God’s reward: Inherit the earth
How to develop this attitude: Matthew 11:27-30

Hunger and thirst for justice (5:6)
Old Testament anticipation: Isaiah 11:4, 5; 42:1-4
Clashing worldly values: Pursuing personal needs
God’s reward: Satisfied
How to develop this attitude: John 16:5-11; Philippians 3:7-11

Merciful (5:7)
Old Testament anticipation: Psalm 41:1
Clashing worldly values: Strength without feeling
God’s reward: Be shown mercy
How to develop this attitude: Ephesians 5:1, 2

Pure hearts (5:8)
Old Testament anticipation: Psalms 24:3, 4; 51:10
Clashing worldly values: Deception is acceptable
God’s reward: See God
How to develop this attitude: 1 John 3:1-3

Work for peace (5:9)
Old Testament anticipation: Isaiah 57:18, 19; 60:17
Clashing worldly values: Personal peace is pursued without concern for the world’s chaos
God’s reward: Be called children of God
How to develop this attitude: Romans 12:9-21; Hebrews 12:10, 11

Persecuted (5:10)
Old Testament anticipation: Isaiah 52:13; 53:12
Clashing worldly values: Weak commitments
God’s reward: Kingdom of Heaven
How to develop this attitude: 2 Timothy 3:12

In his longest recorded sermon (the Sermon on the Mount), Jesus began by describing the traits he was looking for in his followers. He said that God blesses those who live out those traits. Each beatitude is an almost direct contradiction of society’s typical way of life. In the last beatitude, Jesus even points out that a serious effort to develop these traits is bound to create opposition. The best example of each trait is found in Jesus himself. If our goal is to become like him, applying the Beatitudes will challenge the way we live each day.

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Study of the Book of Judges

If you make a study of the book of Judges, I recommend you get a good illustrated Bible Dictionary like the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary. and, if you are interested in the land, a couple of good atlases are referenced above in Bible study tools.

Following is a very small excerpt from the introduction :

“The book of Judges covers the period from the death of Joshua (c. 1380 or 1230 B.C., depending on the date of the exodus) to the generation that preceded the monarchy (c. 1050 B.C.). The book itself may have been composed soon after the end of that period (a Jewish tradition attributed it to Samuel), but many scholars date it several centuries later. It’s purpose was to provide a historical-theological account of the chaotic times following the Israelite occupation of canaan, and thus to show the nation’s need for the centralized rule of a king. After a prologue (Jdg. 1:1—2:5) and a summary of the cycles of sin and deliverance (2:5—3:6), the book describes the work of twelve “judges” or leaders, with emphasis on Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson (3:7—16:31), followed by an account of two shocking stories of religious and moral degeneration (chs. 17-21).

The book makes no clear claim to authorship or date of composition. Much of it appears to be very old. The Jebusites are referred to as still dwelling in Jerusalem (Jdg. 1:21). David’s capture of Jerusalem about 1000 B.C. (2 Sam. 5:6-10) brought this situation to an end. The Canaanites still lived in Gezer (Jdg. 1:29), a city that first came under Hebrew control at the time of Solomon (1 Ki. 9:16). On the other hand, there are also references that cannot be understood except as written at a time well after that of the judges. The thematic statement, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (Jdg. 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25), could not have been written before the reign of Saul; indeed, it would be unlikely until a time well after the institution of the monarchy, when the earlier chaotic days tended to be forgotten. The reference to the worship at Dan “until the time of the captivity of the land” (18:30) seems to be a reference to the conquest of Galilee by Tiglath-pileser III in 733 B.C. It would seem, then, that the book contains very old material, which may well have been edited at a later date. It may be noted that recent critical scholarship, while holding to a later date for the final editing of the book, acknowledges the general historicity of the narrative and uses it as the major source for our understanding of the period of the judges.

It is difficult to date with precision the historical period covered by the book of Judges. It appears to have ended about a generation before Saul became king; thus we may place the end of the book at about 1020 B.C. The year of the death of Joshua, with which the book opens, depends on the date of the exodus from Egypt, about which there is much dispute. Accordingly, some scholars date the beginning of the period of the judges at c. 1380-60; others, at c. 1230-10; still others, later. At first sight it may seem that the book itself gives the answer, for it states the duration of the judgeships of the various judges. A close examination of the text, however, reveals that most of the judges were local, not national in their influence, and it appears likely that their periods overlapped. Further, the frequency of the number forty for the length of their office (Jdg. 3:11; 5:31; 8:28; 13:1; 1 Sam. 4:18) suggests that this figure is a round number for a generation and not to be taken exactly.
The purposes of the book of Judges are (1) to bridge in some manner the historical gap between the death of Joshua and the inauguration of the monarchy; (2) to show the moral and political degradation of a people who neglected their religious heritage and compromised their faith with the surrounding paganism; (3) to show the need of the people for the unity and leadership by a strong central government in the person of a king.”

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Paul recounts the words of Christ and his conversion. I always considered this as a beginning of his ministry (to the Gentiles so that they might be forgiven for their sins).
Acts 26
17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,
18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.

26:17 The promise that Paul would be delivered from the Jewish people and the Gentiles must be understood as meaning deliverance in general until his work was done.
26:18 Paul would be sent especially to the Gentiles to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Through faith in the Lord Jesus, they would receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified.

H. K. Downie shows how verse 18 is an excellent summary of what the gospel does: (4 R’s)
1. It relieves from darkness.
2. It releases from the power of Satan.
3. It remits sins.
4. It restores a lost inheritance.

Here is a verse on forgiveness that I really like:

(HCSB Strong’s)
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

(Believer’s Bible Commentary)
1:9 In order for us to walk day by day in fellowship with God and with our fellow believers, we must confess our sins: sins of commission, sins of omission, sins of thought, sins of act, secret sins, and public sins. We must drag them out into the open before God, call them by their names, take sides with God against them, and forsake them. Yes, true confession involves forsaking of sins: “He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
When we do that, we can claim the promise that God is faithful and just to forgive. He is faithful in the sense that He has promised to forgive and will abide by His promise. He is just to forgive because He has found a righteous basis for forgiveness in the substitutionary work of the Lord Jesus on the cross. And not only does He guarantee to forgive, but also to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The forgiveness John speaks about here is parental, not judicial. Judicial forgiveness means forgiveness from the penalty of sins, which the sinner receives when he believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is called judicial because it is granted by God acting as Judge. But what about sins which a person commits after conversion? As far as the penalty is concerned, the price has already been paid by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. But as far as fellowship in the family of God is concerned, the sinning saint needs parental forgiveness, that is, the forgiveness of His Father. He obtains it by confessing his sin. We need judicial forgiveness only once; that takes care of the penalty of all our sins—past, present, and future. But we need parental forgiveness throughout our Christian life.
When we confess our sins, we must believe, on the authority of the word of God, that He forgives us. And if He forgives us, we must be willing to forgive ourselves.

Another aspect of forgiveness was in Paul’s letter to the young Church at Corinth. This will require some further study on your part.

2 Corr 2:
9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.
10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ,
11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

(Believer’s Bible Commentary)
2:9 In writing The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul had put the saints to the test. Here was an opportunity for them to show whether they were obedient to the word of the Lord, as ministered to them by the Apostle Paul. He had suggested at that time that they should put the man out of the fellowship of the church. That is exactly what they did, thus proving themselves to be truly obedient. Now Paul would have them go one step further, that is, to receive the man back.
2:10 J. B. Phillips paraphrases verse 10, “If you will forgive a certain person, rest assured that I forgive him too. Insofar as I had anything personally to forgive, I do forgive him, as before Christ.” Paul wants the saints to know that he is thoroughly in fellowship with them as they forgive the repentant offender. If he had had anything to forgive, he does forgive it for the sake of the Corinthians, and as in the presence of Christ.

I am afraid I am over my allotted time, but A. W. Tozer could have spent a ‘month of Sunday’s’ (that’s 30 weeks) preaching about this. If you enjoyed it, leave a comment.

Verse 11 reminds us:
Satan uses all manner of stratagems to turn souls from the truth:

a sieve to “sift” them (Luke 22:31),
“devices” to trick (as in our text),
“weeds” to “choke” (Matt. 13:22),
“wiles” to intrigue (Eph. 6:11),
the roaring of a lion to terrify (1 Pet. 5:8),
the disguise of an angel to deceive (2 Cor. 11:14) and
“snares” to entangle them (2 Tim. 2:26).

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A Living Sacrifice – Romans 12:1-2

Today’s study is only two verses, but requires us to stop and think about our lives . Here are 3 translations to consider.

(NKJV) ​
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

(HCSB Strong’s)
1 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

(NIV Proclamation Bible)
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

One of the things I like about HCSB is the use of “age” in place of “world” (in other words, what was the popular and current practices). All three use the word “transformed”, which is an ongoing process and not instantaneous and fixed. I also like the use of the term “reasonable service ” in the NKJV. Note that sometimes the use of different translations give slightly different viewpoints. Notice the very last sentence below.

Here are some further thoughts:

(Believer’s Bible Commentary)
12:1 Serious and devout consideration of the mercies of God, as they have been set forth in chapters 1–11, leads to only one conclusion—we should present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. Our bodies stand for all our members and, by extension, our entire lives.
Total commitment is our reasonable service. It is our reasonable service in this sense: if the Son of God has died for me, then the least I can do is live for Him. “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me,” said the great British athlete C. T. Studd, “then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.” Isaac Watts’ great hymn says the same thing: “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my heart, my life, my all.”
Reasonable service may also be translated “spiritual worship.” As be liever-priests, we do not come to God with the bodies of slain animals but with the spiritual sacrifice of yielded lives. We also offer to Him our service (Rom. 15:16), our praise (Heb. 13:15), and our possessions (Heb. 13:16).
12:2 Secondly, Paul urges us not to be conformed to this world, or as Phillips paraphrases it: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” When we come to the kingdom of God, we should abandon the thought-patterns and lifestyles of the world.
The world (literally age) as used here means the society or system that man has built in order to make himself happy without God. It is a kingdom that is antagonistic to God. The god and prince of this world is Satan (2 Cor. 4:4; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11. All unconverted people are his subjects. He seeks to attract and hold people through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 Jn. 2:16). The world has its own politics, art, music, religion, amusements, thought-patterns, and lifestyles, and it seeks to get everyone to conform to its culture and customs. It hates nonconformists—like Christ and His followers.
Christ died to deliver us from this world. The world is crucified to us, and we are crucified to the world. It would be absolute disloyalty to the Lord for believers to love the world. Anyone who loves the world is an enemy of God.
Believers are not of the world any more than Christ is of the world. However, they are sent into the world to testify that its works are evil and that salvation is available to all who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We should not only be separated from the world; we should be transformed by the renewing of our mind, which means that we should think the way God thinks, as revealed in the Bible. Then we can experience the direct guidance of God in our lives. And we will find that, instead of being distasteful and hard, His will is good and acceptable and perfect.
Here, then, are three keys for knowing God’s will. The first is a yielded body, the second a separated life, and the third a transformed mind.

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Where is the Kingdom of God?

This short study deserves more attention than just 1-2 minutes, but here it is in a nutshell: the Kingdom is both within and all around you.

(NKJV) Luke 17:20-22
20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;
21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.
22 Then He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.

(Believer’s Bible Commentary)
17:20, 21 It is hard to know whether the Pharisees were sincere in the question about the kingdom, or just mocking. But we do know that, as Jews, they entertained hopes of a kingdom which would be ushered in with great power and glory. They looked for outward signs and great political upheavals. The Savior told them, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation,” that is, in its present form at least, God’s realm did not come with outward show. It was not a visible, earthly, temporal kingdom which could be pointed out as being here or there. Rather, the Savior said, the kingdom of God was within them, or better, among them. The Lord Jesus could not have meant that the kingdom was actually inside the hearts of the Pharisees, because these hardened religious hypocrites had no room in their hearts for Christ the King. But He meant that the kingdom of God was in their midst. He was the rightful King of Israel and had performed His miracles, and presented His credentials for all to see. But the Pharisees had no desire to receive Him. And so for them, the kingdom of God had presented itself and was completely unnoticed by them.
17:22 Speaking to the Pharisees, the Lord described the kingdom as something that had already come. When He turned to the disciples, He spoke about the kingdom as a future event which would be set up at His Second Coming. But first He described the period that would intervene between His First and Second Advents. The days would come when the disciples would desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but would not see it. In other words, they would long for one of the days when He was with them on earth and they enjoyed sweet fellowship with Him. Those days were, in a sense, foretastes of the time He would return in power and great glory.

I like the Holman Translation of these verses (see below). If you don’t have a copy of this translation, go to Half-Price Books and you can find an inexpensive copy. Go to the Holman site and read about this excellent translation. The HCSB employs a translation philosophy known as Optimal Equivalence.

(HCSB Strong’s)
20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God will come, He answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable;
21 no one will say, ‘Look here!’ or ‘There!’ For you see, the kingdom of God is among you.”
22 Then He told the disciples: “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you won’t see it.

Need an extra couple of minutes? Yes, you can get extra points for this.

While we are waiting, what does it mean “pray continually“? I probably should save this for another day.

This is not a mere precept “capable of fulfillment in idea, rather than in fact” (Jowett); but it is an exhortation to live in a devotional frame of mind. It is impossible to be always on our bended knees, but we may be in the spirit of prayer when engaged in the duties of our earthly calling. Prayer may be without ceasing in the heart which is full of the presence of God, and evermore communing with him.

Here is a good starting place:


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Difficult to Understand?

There is a section of 2 Peter 3 that is sometimes entitled “Be Steadfast “. Almost always when I wrestle with a difficult passage or concept, I can take heart in verse 16.

(NKJV) 2 Peter 3
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;
15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,
16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;
18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

(Believer’s Bible Commentary) I especially like the following:
3:16 In all his epistles Paul spoke of the great truths with which Peter has been dealing in his two Letters; truths such as the new birth, the deity of Christ, His life of sinless suffering, His substitutionary death, His resurrection, His ascension, His coming again, the Day of the Lord and the eternal state.
Some Bible truths are hard to understand, such as the Trinity, God’s election and man’s free will, the mystery of suffering, etc. It should not disturb us if we find matters in the Bible which are above our understanding. The word of God is infinite and inexhaustible. In studying it we must always be willing to give God credit for knowing things which we can never fully fathom.
Peter is not criticizing Paul’s writings when he speaks of things hard to understand. It is not Paul’s style of writing which is difficult to understand but the subjects which he treats. Barnes writes: “Peter refers not to the difficulties of understanding what Paul meant, but to the difficulty of comprehending the great truths which he taught.
Instead of accepting them simply by faith, untaught and unstable people twist some of these difficult truths to their own destruction. Some false cults, for instance, twist the law into a way of salvation rather than a revealer of sin. Others make baptism the door to heaven. They do this not only with Paul’s writings but with other Scriptures as well.
Notice that Peter here puts Paul’s writings on the same level as the rest of the Scriptures, that is, the OT and whatever portions of the NT were then available. He acknowledges that the Pauline Epistles were part of the inspired sacred Scriptures.

If this strikes a chord with you, leave a comment. May the Lord bless you.

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