1 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us...God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

HOSEA - God is Like a Tree

Years ago on a family vacation, as we were driving on the highway, we saw a sign:


One quick look at each other, one fast U-turn… and we were off into parts unknown.

It was a quaint country road – mostly dirt and gravel – bumpy, twisty – the four miles took about 40 minutes to navigate!

Around one more bend, and there was an adorable little farmhouse, nestled next to a fruit tree orchard!

The people were the nicest people ever…and the pie???

The MOST DELICIOUS I have ever tasted! YUM, YUM…

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” reminded me of that little orchard:

“[The LORD says] ‘I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.’ Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the LORD are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them.” (Hosea 14:8-9)

What a lovely picture!

God demonstrates His loving careHe listens to our prayers, and He answers them.

He is the source of our nourishment! He is a tree that never dies – His fruit is all we need!

I have this picture in my mind of myself sitting under a giant tree, relaxing in the shade - and then when I'm hungry, I just reach up and pick a piece of fruit to eat.

It's kinda like what I do with "Bible Pick 'Ems" -

God is the Tree, and His Word is the Fruit.

Each time I go to Scripture, there is something "good to eat." Something that nourishes my soul. Something that is pure, and good, and satisfying!

Hosea reminds us that we need to listen, learn, and benefit from God’s Word.

We need God’s wisdom – “Lord, help us to understand.”

We need discernment – “Lord, help us to listen carefully."

God’s paths are always true and right – "Lord, show us the
way to go.”

It is only by walking in God’s ways that we can live in His power and hear His voice.

Without God’s guidance we are lost –

He is the difference between life and death…

“Those who are wise will take all this to heart…” (Psalm 107:43)

“But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them.”
(Isaiah 26:7)

We must always remember that God cares for us continually – His love knows no bounds!

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

PROVERBS - Lord Willing!

When I opened my Bible yesterday to find the verse(s) for today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems,” I found myself right in the middle of the book of Proverbs.

A wealth of great verses – an overabundance of wise words.

So what did God want me to see?

What was HIS “pick?”

And then, slowly but surely, one verse began to stand out.

“You can make many plans, but the LORD’S purpose will prevail.
(Proverbs 19:21)

I venture to say that ALL of you have some form of a calendar – something that contains all the important appointments, meetings, reminders, dates, etc. - all those things that are an important part of life.

A calendar represents things we have done in the past, but ALSO some of our plans for the future.

This got me thinking about how we make plans.

We order our days.

But it is so important to remember that WE are not in control of our liveswe don’t even know the number of our days.

I’ll never forget my grandfather – my mom’s dad. Whenever he talked about future plans, he always added at the end, “Lord willing.”

“I’ll see you all next week when I come over for dinner, Lord willing.”

When I was younger, I thought he said it just out of habit, almost like a “good luck charm.” But as I grew older, and hopefully a little wiser, I came to see that he meant it from the bottom of his heart. He understood that he really wasn’t in control of his lifethat God indeed directed him by His Divine Providence and His Sovereign Will.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” is a good reminder of this indisputable fact –


There really is NOTHING random in this life. Luck has nothing to do with it – nor does some disembodied force called FATE or KARMA.

The Bible speaks directly against ANY random, chance view of human life. Rather, the Bible itself is a magnificent testament to the overseeing eye of a loving God, actively involved in humanity and events on earth.

The Bible is a literary “rainbow” – a story that starts in the Beginning, and spans over the entire course of history, to the very end of time.

Each of our steps is guided by God.

Nothing comes as a surprise to the Father. He has lived our calendar. And every twist and turn along the way serves a purpose in His overall plan.


Is it wrong to make plans? No, I think planning is important. Organization is a good thing – goals are necessary. I think a good guideline is this:

“Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year’…How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?...What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise, you are boasting about your own plans…”
(James 3:13-16)

We can plan ahead, but we must hold on to our plans loosely. We must put God’s desires at the center of our planning. He is in control. His purpose will prevail.

Live for God today!

I look forward to being with you again next Sunday for another “Bible Pick ‘Ems”…


"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

2 KINGS - Seek God, the Almighty!

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” comes from the book of 2 Kings 19.

A little background first.

Sennacherib has recently become the king of Assyria. He is the son of Sargon II, the king who had deported Israel’s people into captivity. To keep Assyria from attacking, the southern kingdom of Judah had been paying an annual tribute. But when Sennacherib became king, Hezekiah (the king of Judah) stopped paying this money. Sennacherib and his army retaliated, capturing all the fortified cities of Judah.

Finally, Sennacherib sent a message to Hezekiah, calling for his surrender, and taunting his God.

What did Hezekiah do?

He went to the Temple and prayed…

He sought the Lord’s help.

Though this story took place in history, a long time ago, I think there are some real nuggets of wisdom and encouragement that can apply to us today.

So, when we read this story, let’s pretend that Sennacherib is Satan, our “enemy” – taunting and menacing – and we are Hezekiah. Listen to some of the dialogue in that frame of mind:

“After Hezekiah received the letter…he went up to the LORD’S Temple and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed...’Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God…Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power…’” (2 Kings 19:14-16, 19)

Hezekiah had it right. He went immediately and boldly to the Lord. He presented his predicament, his petition – he “spread it out before the Lord.” He prayed.

A good example to follow.

And yet, I’m ashamed to admit, sometimes God is my “last resort.”

I read “the enemy’s” letter – and I don’t turn to the only One who can help me.

How often do I listen to Satan’s taunts, allowing myself to be intimidated by him, to be influenced by him – to let him defy God by trying to convince me that God is NOT listening, NOT in control, NOT good?

How often do I let him threaten me – “You know, God’s promises aren’t true. Look at all the struggles you’re having, the trial and hardships. God doesn’t care. You’re just a victim of circumstances, tossed around by fate, and I am going to conquer you.”

Lord, forgive me.

So, what happened in this confrontation between Sennacherib and Hezekiah?

Well, God HIMSELF replied to Sennacherib’s snide words (and I picture Him saying the same thing to Satan):

“Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel!...you have defied the LordBut I know you well – where you stay and when you come and go. I know the way you have raged against me. And because of your arrogance…I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth…” (2 Kings 19:22, 25, 27-28)

Sennacherib believed his kingdom and power had grown because of his own efforts and strength. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?!

But in reality, he succeeded only because of what God had allowed and caused.

God is the Supreme Ruler, the Sovereign One.

So, today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” brings us these lessons:

Immediately go to God with ALL your problems –
especially the scary ones.
Refuse to listen to “the enemy” –
don’t be intimidated, don’t be influenced.
Don’t believe Satan’s liesespecially about God.
God is in TOTAL control.
He listens to us, He cares, He is good…all the time.

Oh yeah…one more thing.


“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, September 5, 2010

ISAIAH - Be Alert!

Gloom and doom…

Sometimes the books of prophecy in the Old Testament can be difficult reading. It feels like they contain an endless litany of unheeded warnings, followed by devastating judgments.

And yet, there is always an unmistakable undercurrent of forgiveness, comfort, and hope.

God’s message is clear: There are consequences for rebelling against Me. Please don’t do it. But if you return to Me, I will forgive you and restore you.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” comes from the book of Isaiah.

I’d like to start with a little background information on the book of Isaiah.

Prophets stood with the priests as God’s special representatives. The prophet’s role was to speak for God, confronting the people with His commands and promises – pointing out their rebellion. Needless to say, true prophets were not very popular!!

But they continued to faithfully proclaim the truth.

The book of Isaiah is the first of the writings of the prophets in the Bible – and Isaiah is generally considered to be the greatest prophet. His purpose was to call the nation of Judah back to God. But his prophecies also tell of God’s salvation through His coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Our “pick ‘em” verses are found in Isaiah 21:5-7, 11-12:

“But quick! Grab your shields and prepare for battle. You are being attacked! Meanwhile, the Lord said to me, ‘Put a watchman on the city wall. Let him shout out what he sees…Let the watchman be fully alert.’
Someone…keeps calling to me, ‘Watchman, how much longer until morning? When will the night be over?’ The watchman replies, ‘Morning is coming…’”

These verses can be applied directly to the very real threat of Judah’s enemies during Isaiah’s lifetime. God was warning the people to return to Him, to remain alert and on guard, to prepare for battle. But, sadly, His warnings went unheeded.

But, these verses also apply to us today.

How so?

We also have enemies outside our “city walls.” They are ready to “attack” and we must “prepare for battle.” We are called to be “fully alert.”

We, too, must be watchmen…

Because we have a blessed “MORNING” that is coming!

Our glorious Savior is going to return!

“So you, too must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming…You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” (Matthew 24:42-44)

“You must be ready all the time…” (Luke 12:40)

“For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly; like a thief in the night…So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and clearheaded.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 6)

Not all people will join us in our watch.

We will hear people saying, “How much longer until morning?”

Some may say it with longing, others will mock.

“Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last day scoffers will come…They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again?’”
(2 Peter 3:3, 4)

Do not listen.

God is calling us to be watchmen.
To grab our shields and prepare for battle.
To shout the truth.
To be fully alert.

And most of all, to keep looking to the horizon, and believing with all our hearts -


“When in doubt, search God out!”