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Books Of The Old Testament There Meaning And Promise

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Books Of The Old Testament There Meaning And Promise Empty Re: Books Of The Old Testament There Meaning And Promise

Post  Bertie on Tue 09 Dec 2008, 3:48 pm

Malachi

"But to you who fear My name the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves."
Malachi 4:2

Many analysts have offered theories about the religious attitudes of the generation known as the "Baby Boomers" and those in "Generation X." A lot of Boomers have deserted churches in droves because they didn't think church had any relevance in their lives. Many X-ers have never even been to church, and have stayed away because church seems impersonal and fake. And there are people in both generations who have turned to other things in search of spiritual satisfaction.

God sent the prophet Malachi to challenge the Jews of Judah to return to the Lord. They were turning away from Him, like some do today, and were insulting God by doing this.

Perhaps you have thought that "religion" is irrelevant and that so many so-called religious people say one thing, but do another. Read the Book of Malachi. Read it out loud and listen to what God says to people who have forgotten-or did not know-that God loves us and promises us a meaningful life.

For Consideration

Have you ever lost hope and doubted whether or not God is there? How was your hope restored?
When you realy believe God loves you, how does it change your focus in life?
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©️ 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Post  Bertie on Tue 09 Dec 2008, 3:47 pm

Haggai


"Then Haggai, the Lord's messenger, spoke the Lord's message to the people, saying, "I am with you says the Lord.'"
Haggai 1:13

Compaired to the writings of other prophets, the Book of Haggai may seem like vanilla ice cream. His messages are straightforward statements of what needs to be done. There are no visions, no dramatic actions, no bells or whistles.

But Haggai was a very affective prophet. The Jews who had returned to Jerusalam from Babylon listened to Haggai and followed his advice to rebuild the temple. He was succesful because he said exactly the right thing at exactly the right moment. All they needed to know was that God was with them, and they were inspired to respond.

Just like Haggia brought the timely word of God's presence to His people, we, to, can encourage other Christians by reminding them of God's presence in our daily lives. Like Haggai, your simple words of truth can refresh their souls, renew their strength and spark revival in the land.

For Consideration

What loose ends are in your life-things you've been putting off dealing with?
What kind of things discourage and draw you away from God? How can you overcome these things?
Why does knowing that God is with you and for you rekindle your love for Him

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©️ 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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Post  Bertie on Tue 09 Dec 2008, 3:47 pm

Zephaniah


"He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

The Israelites of Zephaniah's day thought God would come to earth and destroy all their enemies. The prophet however, shocked them by saying God would punish them for their sins, too.

Zephaniah's message may be difficult for us to swallow. We dont want to have all our weaknesses pointed out. But, if we ignore those areas of our lives that need correction, how then can we make them better? Let God sweep your life clean-even if it's inpleasant at the time. In the end, "He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

For Consideration

What parts of your character or personality would you compare to darkness that needs to be brightened and improved?
What parts of your character would you compare to the light that needs to be strengthened and expanded?
How does it make you feel to know that God sings over you?
"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©️ 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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Post  Bertie on Tue 09 Dec 2008, 3:46 pm

Habakkuk

"The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills."
Habakkuk 3:19

Where is God when awful things happen and bring terrible misery to people? The Book of Habakkuk is a discussion between the prophet and God about why He lets evil people have the upper hand over innocent people. Habakkuk starts out angry and ends up in prayer. You may feel like you're reading the prophet's diary as you explore his intimate feelings about God, good, and evil.

It's a difficult topic which Habakkuk explores with all honesty. But in the end, he concludes that God is both sovereign and good. No matter what happens in this life, we can rejoice like Habakkuk because our God promises to save all those who call on His name by faith.

For Consideration

What problems of evil in society are dominant today?
What are some ways you've witnessed God as both sovereign and good?
How might God use evil in the world to purify those who believe in Him?
"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©️ 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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Post  Bertie on Tue 09 Dec 2008, 3:45 pm

Nahum


"The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked."
Nahum 1:3

Many years before the time of Nahum. Jonah had warned the residents of Nineveh of coming judgement. When the Assyrians turned to the Lord, He spared them. But this attitude of repentance didn't stay with the Assyrians, and God's patience finally yielded to His justice

Assyria was arguably the most brutal country of this time. That's why Jonah did not want to warn the Assyrians of coming judgement; he wanted them to be judged without warning. Nahum faced the brutal power and cruelty of Nineveh and described its downfall very graphically.

The Book of Nahum says never to despair because of injustice and oppression. God sees and knows and promises to bring down even the biggest of the worlds bullies.

For Consideration

Who is troubling the peace of the world today as Assyria did in Nahum's day? How are they cruel and unjust?
How can we pray for these people, as well as for God's justice to be done?
"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©️ 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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Post  Bertie on Tue 09 Dec 2008, 3:44 pm

Micah


"But everyone shall sit under His vine and under His fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken."
Micah 4:4

The Book of Micah consists of quick-cutting prophecies that flash from the present to the future and back again. The images are strong and the wording is crisp. The mood leaps from the darkest despair to the brightest hope.

As we read the Book of Micah, Let's notice how realistic his writing is. Some people think things will work out fine in the end, no matter what happens along the way; Micah preached a message of imminent judgment by God for national injustice. Other people are pessimistic and see doom in every event; Micah proclaimed hope because God keeps His promises. However you view life, let the prophet teach you to keep the balance in a world that needs both correction and hope.

For Consideration

What behavior displeases the Lord?
How did Micah describe the future reign of God over His people?
How do God's promises reveal His goodness?
"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©️ 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:55 pm

Jonah


"For i know that you are a graccious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness. One who relents from doing harm."
Jonah 4:2

Imagine a guest speaker in a high school health class warning the students about the dangers of having casual sexual relationships. In the room is a combination of young people from various backgrounds. Many of these young people think "It could never happen to me," and disregard the warning. Some realise, "That's me she's talking about. I'd better chang my ways."

That scenario is simular to the experiance of the Old Testament prophets. Only one prophet of the Old Testament went to people who were not Israelites to deliver God's message. All of the others appealed to the chosen people of God. Which prophet saw his message accepted? Jonah, the one who went to the Assyrians in Nineveh.

In Jonah, we see God demonstrating tremendous mercy to the people the Israelites did not like. He could have just just wiped them out without warning. But instead, He chose to send them Jonah to warn them first. When they recieved God's Word, there hearts were changed and God was glorified-both through Jonahs obedience and the Assyrians repentance. His promise of love extends to all nations.

For Consideration

What do you think Jonah learned about God from the storm at sea?
In light of God's mercy, is there ever a reason to forgive?
How can we share the message of God's love with others who don't know Him?
"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©️ 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:53 pm

Obadiah

" 'Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there i will bring you down,' says the Lord."
Obadiah 4

In the pages of the Old Testament a family fued simmers between the descendants of twin brothers, Jacob and Esau. Jacob's descendants, the Israelites prospered under the leadership of David and Solomon. Esau's descendants, the Edomites, struggled for independence. When the Babylonians finally conquered the Israelites in the southern kingdom of Judah, the Edomites launched savage raids against the shattered Israelite survivours.

The Book of Obadiah contains God's angry reactions to the brutality of Edom. Hatred within familes leads to inexcusable violence. In Obadiah, God's promise is a negative one: Treat your brothers and sisters badly and He will execute swift judgement.

For Consideration

Read Genesis 25:19-34 and 27:1-41. What were the roots of the fued between Israel and Edom?
Why do you think family fueds make God so angry?
What does it take to stop the cycle of retaliation and hatred that charactezes a family fued?
"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©️ 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:52 pm

Amos

"For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth-the Lord God of hosts is His name.
Amos 4:13

After Israel's civel war split David and Solomon's kingdom into northern and southern tribes, the northern nation blossomed economically, but shriveled up spiritually. The movers and shakers of northern Israel climbed the ladder of success, while the rest of the Israelites struggled to get by. The rich were to busy working to get more for themselves to be bothered with the poor.

The Book of Amos presents a valuable lesson for us. We tend to think we deserve a certain amount of prosperity. We work hard for what we get. Some even have an attitude that if the poor worked harder they wouldn't be in that condition. But God demands justice for the poor. Amos helps us understand God's attitudes toward the needy as well as reminds us of the Source of our blessings, lest we become prideful and rebellious. God reminds us that earthly treasures are not the goal-but knowing and serving Him is, and He promises that we will find true life in Him alone.

For Consideration

What responsibilty does God give us for those who are in need?
What can you do to help the needy in your community?
Why is it dangerous to trust in wealth?
"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©️ 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:50 pm

Joel


"So rend your heart , and not your garments; return to the lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness and He relents from doing harm."
Joel 2:13

Once a drought settles on the agricultural heartland of a country, people start praying for rain. A hurricane strikes the coast, and we beg for relief. Natural dissasters force us to face God because we have no resources that are able to handle the situation. It is beyond our control.

The prophet Joel called on the Israelites of his day to contemplate a destuctive logust plaque as a warning of God's coming judgment of their selfishness and infatuation with other gods.

The Book of Joel teaches us to be aware of how much we depend on God for security and protection in every area of life. When difficult times come, remember His promise. God is not out to destroy you. Instead, He wants you to turn to Him so that He can heal you.

For Consideration

What do natural disasters teach us/
Why are we sometimes afraid to turn back to God/
How does His promise of love and forgiveness encourage repentance?
"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©️ 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:49 pm

Hosea

"Let us know, let us persue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and the former rain to the earth."
Hosea 6:3

Spiritual promiscuity-thinking it dosen't matter what you worship as long as you are happy with your latest god-was a problem for the Israelites of the Old Testament. It is also a problem for a modern people trying to be tolerant in a multicultral society. Worship anything, or nothing; it's leads to confusion.

God told the prophet Hosea to act out in his marriage the pain, jealousy, and forgivness that God experiances when someone treats Him as though He were just an idea rather than a Person. Do you want to know what God is like? Hosea helps us see Him as the jilted lover who longs to restore us to Himself and promises to forgive all are indiscretions if we will simply return to Him. God even promises to track down and reclaim those who believe in Him. How incredible that God Himself pursues us to bless us!

For Consideration

Who has broken your heart? What did you learn about rejection from this experiance?
Why did Hosea and other Old Testament prophets compare idolatry to adultery?

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©️ 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:48 pm

Daniel


"If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us from your hand, O king."
Daniel 3:17

Daniel was a young man when his country's most hated enemy snatched him from his home and his parents. Soldiers dragged him, and others like him, more than a thousand miles away to train them to be goverment agents. Daniel didn't understand the language. The food and the customs violated his religeon. His captors claimed their gods had beaten up on his God.

Eventually all the Jews experienced Daniel's dilemma. Had the pagen gods thumbed their noses at the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Could the Lord take care of Himself ? Can the Lord take care of Himself today ? Can he handle the dangers posed by terrorists, nuclear weaponry, genetic engineering, AIDS, increasing world population, and ecological disasters ?

The book of Daniel assured the Jews during their captivity that God was in control of all the empires of the world, present and future, Daniel says that God still controls the major players in world events, and He will certainly take care of us.

For Consideration

What things do you think people fear may be to big for God to handle?
Is anything to small for His concern?
How many ways do you observe in Daniel that God exerts His power over the world?

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:47 pm

Ezekiel


"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes."
Ezekiel 36:26, 27

If the Old Testament prophets were alive today, the television talk shows would all want to book Ezekiel as a guest. He had a vision of God that involved wheels. "True believers" claim he saw a flying saucer. He reported seeing a valley filled with the bones of soldiers who had died in battle. Then the bones grew flesh and came alive.

Most of Ezekiel's message pointed people to the present situation, which demanded repentance, and to the future, which promised hope. He tells them of God's intense love for them, despite their wickedness, and His commitment to them as people. No matter how far they are scattered across the globe He will, in His time, find His people and bring them back to Himself. He promises to exchange stoney hearts of disobedience with new hearts of flesh that respond to His Spirit with right actions.

For Consideration

If God promises to restore His relationship with His people, will He do it?
What does the graphic imagery in Ezekiel teach about faithfulness to God? God's faithfulness to us?
How does God's promise to change our hearts manifest itself in your life today?

[b][i]

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:45 pm

Jeremiah


"They shall be my people, and I shall be their God; then i will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them."
Jeremiah 32:38,39

Somewhere a doctor is telling a mother her baby will die. In preperation for battle , a commander is ordered to take his squad on a mission no one will survive. Every now and then an
executive lays off, transfers, or fires every employee because a division in the company is closing.

Nobody wants those kinds of responsibilities. Jeremiah probably felt as though his role as prophet was just as difficult. Over and over he had to tell people that their lives had been so bad for so long that destruction was at hand. But even with the impending punishment, God still provided a ray of hope.

The people would not see it in their day. But they could look expectantly to the future when God would restore His relationship with His people through a means more effective than the law-His Son. Jeremiah encouraged the people to repent and have faith in what God would one day do. We have seen His promise of provision fulfilled in Christ, and can praise God that we live in a day when His Spirit rules in our hearts to make us more like Him.

For Consideration
Jeremiah's peers thought he was a traitor against his nation. What do you think? Why?
Why should anyone repent for their sins if they wont be spared the consequences of them?
What basis for hope did Jeremiah have in his unpleasant task as a prophet of doom?

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:44 pm

Isaiah

" But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31

In the eigth century before Christ, the Chou Dynasty flourished in China, Homer penned The Lliad and The Odyssey in Greece, and the prophet Isaiah wrote the most exquisite Hebrew composition of all time in Judah. It was an era of high culture in the ancient world.

Isaiah's work is differant from the other works of his time because he didn't concern himself with art and culture. A vision of God inspired his genius. Isaiah shaped his behavior around the holiness of God, and he based his hopes on the comfort God gives those who depend on Him. The Lord is the living God, Isaiah proclaimed. All other dieties are simply human creations.

The book of Isaiah begins by explaining the historical situations of Isaiah's day. "Who do you trust-the Lord or the world?" Isaiah challenges. In chapter 40, he switches his style and sings the praise of the living God who promises to give you the wings of an eagle to rise above the weary world and rest in the power of His strength.

For Consideration

What are modern people likely to depend on rather than the living God?
How did Isaiah's vision of God's holiness act like a rudder to keep him on course through the whole book?
How can we practically apply God's promise of rest for the weary?

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:43 pm

The prophets


Isaial-Jeremiah-Ezekiel-Daniel-Hosea-Joel-Amos-Obadia-Jonah-Mica-Nahum-Habakkuk-Zephaniah-Haggi-Zechariah-Malchi

Prophets in Israel were persons who proclaimed and interpreted the action of God in the events of history. They tried to keep alive the memory of Exodus and reinterpret the meaning of the ancient faith for new times, to declare God's will (based on the Sinai covenant) in national crisis. After the national disasters of the fall of Israel (722 B.C) and Judah (597-586 B.C), they began to speak words of hope and comfort.

The written works of these men are called the Major and Minor Prophets. The terms "Major" and "Minor" have to do with the size of the books and not the importance of the message. In the Hebrew canon (the list of books accepted as Holy Scripture), the Prophets Isaial, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the book of the twelve. Daniel is included among the Writtings in the jewish Scripture, but we list that book with the Prophets, (for more on "The Writtings," see "The Historical Books," and Poetical and Wisdom Books.

Amos-Preached in the northern kingdom of Israel around 760 B.C. His message included an emphasis on social justice as an expression of the covenant, the idea of the coming Day of the Lord, and the hope of remnant. He emphasized that the covenant with God carried obligations as well as promises.

Hosea-Was active from about 755 to perhaps 710 B.C. he described the relationship between God and Israel as a marriage. His social themes were the danger of injustice at home and reliance on military alliances abroad. He talked about the compassion of God and of God's tender longing for His people.

Isaiah-Of Jerusalem was a counselor to kings from 740 to 680 B.C. During this time there were two major crises-the war with Syria in 734 and the Assyrian threats from 734 to 701. Isaiah saw those events as expressions of God's rule over the nations. The cause of the wars, he said, is social injustice. God is working out punishment for His people in the internatiol arena. Some of the best-known passages in this book are those dealing with the longing for a Messiah and Isaiah's description of his own call. The latter part of the book of Isaiah is a collection of great hymns and poems about the hope of restoration at the end of Exile. Included in the hymns are four about the Servant of God, who suffers for the sake of Israel.

Micah-Preached in Jerusalem somewhere between 735 and 710 B.C. He cried out against the injustice practiced in both Samaria and Jerusalem but also lifted up the vision of a great day of peace and salvation, with Jerusalem as the centre of God's kingdom. Micah 6:8 is a good summary of the teachings of the prophets of the eighth century.

Zephaniah-For sixty years after Micah the kings of Judah practiced idolatry and oppression. Zephaniah's preaching began the great reform that culminated in the finding of Deuteronomy and national covenant-renewal. His message was one of condemnation of idolatry and injustice.

Jeremiah-Preached from 627 to 580; and over so long a career, his message changed as world events changed and called forth new understandings of the work of God. It was a time of trouble for Judah and Jerusalem, ending with the destruction of the city and the temple. Jeremiah continued the great themes of the earlier prophets, calling for true piety, social justice, and he introduced the vision of a new covenant written on the heart. After 598, he began to preach the hope and new beginnings following a time of punishment.

Joel-Lived in the time of a great locust plaque, which he saw as the beginning of the judgement of God. His message is primarily a call to national repentance.

Habakkuk-Preached between 626 and 605, a time when the Babylonians were on the march and overrunning all the little kingdoms of the Middle East. He questioned the justice of God in allowing the Babylonians to triumph, and finally recieved the answer that "the righteous live by there faith."

Nahum-Was written between 663 and the time of the fall of Nineveh in 612. His work includes a hmyn about a God who is slow to anger but who will punish those who defy Him.

Ezekiel-was a priest taken to Babylon in 597. Before 586, he preached a message of judgement and doom. After 586 he focussed on hope and salvation. The source of his hope is not in any of the political powers of his day but in God's own nature and purpose. The temple is destroyed. But God is not bound by a temple but has moved to exile with His people. The Sins of the past will not keep the present generation from choosing life and salvation. The book ends with a great vision of the future restoration of the people and the temple.

Haggia and Zechariah-Preached in Jerusalem around 520 B.C. in the rain of Darius of Persia. Their message was that the temple was to be rebuilt and the people were to come together into a purified and faithful community. The source of hope was that God does keep His Promises. When work on the temple is begun, then God will raise up the glory of the house of David in Zerubbabel, the last known prince of Davids line.

Malachi-Told of the coming day of the Lord and accussed the people and priests of indifferance, doubt, and immorality.

Opinion is devided as to the chronologigal paces of the following prophets.

Obadiah-Is the shortest book in the Old Testament. It is a song of anger toward the Edomites for their part in the destruction of Jerusalem.

Jonah-Is the story of a prophet driven by God to proclaim salvation and mercy even to Israel's enemies.

Daniel-Was written to offer hope and consolation to Jews who were suffering persecution. The accounts of Daniel and his friends in the first half of the book show how loyalty to God brings victory over one's persecutors. The second part of the book says, in a series of visions, that the fate of the righteous is in the hands of God and that God can be trusted to keep the future safe for His people.

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:42 pm

Lamentations

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22,23

One day, more than a century ago, a man stood on the deck of a ship crossing the Atlantic and looked down into the waves. Some time earlier in the same spot, his four daughters had died when their ship was struck by another vessel and sank. What emotions tore his heart.

The man went back to his cabin and composed words that became a powerful hymn. "When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul."

Is it possable that this man could feel that all was well? Didn't that husband and father have a heart? Consider the prophet who saw Jerusalem fall in a siege. Enemy soldiers torched houses, raped women, and murdered children. He stood among the smoking ruins and stinking corpses and could not control his sobs. Then he wrote, "The Lord can always be trusted to show mercy each morning. Deep in my heart i say, "The Lord is all i need; I can depend on Him!'" Praise God for His daily mercies, and His strength to stand sorrow without losing hope.

For Consideration

What are the greatests sorrows you can imagine to bear?
Why do some people reject God and hope in the face of intense suffering?
What promises can we cling to when we feel all hope is lost?

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:41 pm

Song Of Solomon


"For love is as strong as death, jealousy as gruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame."
Song Of Solomon 8:6

The Song Of Solomon has been called the most passionate book of the Bible. During past centuries, both Jews and Christians forbade children to read it. Some skeptics have been known to point to the passion of the Song Of Solomon as reason to ban the Bible from school libraries.

The Song Of Solomon is a love poem. There are many of these poems in the ancient Near East, and this is one is similar
to others in its frankness. But the Song Of Solomon differs from the other love poetry of the day because it praises marriage and the passionate love God intends for every married couple.

Read Genesis 2:23,24. In many ways, Solomon expresses the same joy Adam expressed at meeting Eve. God designed marriage to reflect His relationship with us and to provide the fellowship we need. When we cherish and protect this precious gift from God, He promises to bless us and our families with joy that comes from Him.

For Consideration

How many reasons can you discover in the Song Of Solomon for the love between the man and his bride?
Why do you think the young women of Jerusalem keep advising never to awaken love before it is ready?
What parallels can you see between the commitment of man and woman in marriage and God's commitment to us?

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:40 pm

Ecclesiastes

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." Ecclesiastes 3:11

Humorist Kim Hubbard observed. "I'll say this for adversity: People seem to be able to stand it, and that's more than i can say for prosperity." But he also noted, "It's pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed." The wise teacher of Ecclesiastes would probably agree with Hubbard on both accounts.

Ecclesiastes is the most philosophical book in the Bible. The author sets out to show that every natural approach to life fails. He narrates his personal exploration of one approach to life after another, and he concludes that all of these eventually end in despair.

In the early chapters of Ecclesiastes, the author hints that faith in God offers hope. Finally, he tells his world-weary readers: Nothing from within yourselves can explain life. We only find meaning in Him as we believe and obey Him. God promises that everything that exists was created for a purpose and He causes all things to happen in the right time. We can leave our anxiety at the foot of His throne when we believe His promise of sovereignty over all things.

For Consideration

What approaches to life have you explored and found unsatisfactory?
Why do you think so many people are content to live without examining their lives?
How does seeing God as the Author and Master of all things affect the way you view life?

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:39 pm

Proverbs


"My son , do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you." Proverbs 3:1,2

Proverbs addresses such a wide variety of topics, we can all learn something from this book. Solomon and other experts candidly tackled issues of sexuality, friendship, money, honesty, sarcasm. motivation, and success. In this book, good life skills are called "wisdom" and poor life skills are labled "foolishness." Dont look for sugarcoated tips from this panel of experts.
They knock things like laziness, violence, and empty talk. They intensely advocate respect, godliness, hard work and self-discipline.

We know from other books of the Bible that wisdom is a cherished virtue, a gift that comes from God when we ask for it. It is His desire that we ask for and apply the wisdom that comes from not only hearing His Word, but doing it as well. As we pattern our lives according to God's wisdom, we will realise the benefits and blessings that come from obedience.

For Consideration


Why do you think God intended Proverbs to be written?
How can you remember His instructions?
What does God promise if we apply His wisdom?

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:38 pm

Psalms


"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God my strenth, in whom i shall trusr; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

Songs! They do many things in life. They celebrate happy events like birthdays, and weddings. Songs motivate athletes, soldiers, and ordinary people. Songs summarize the character and asparations of nations. They tell stories that keep heroes and villains alive. Songs help people mourn; songs help them dance. They help us worship.

The book of Psalms helps us connect withGod on an emotional level in addition to intellectual. In this diverse book is a collection of lyrics that can help us deal with anger and depression, joy and hope, fear and doubt, life and death, hatred and love. They are replete with praises for God and His greatness. And they are filled with His promises to His people.

As we join David and the Israelites of old in proclaiming God's grandeur, let's reflect on His promises to be our refuge, our future, and our hope!

For Consideration

In each Psalm, what is the writer concerned about in his life?
How can honesty before God breed deeper faith?
How can praising God and claiming His promise lead you to song?

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:22 pm

Job


"He shall deliver you in six troubles, yes, in seven no evil shall touch you." Job 5:19

Job's life had become a battle field on which God and Satan did combat. Unknown to Job, the outcome of this supernatural wager depended on his response to a series of personal tragedies. Satan proposed the wager out of total confidence in his experiance with human nature. God accepted the wager because He knew Job's enormous trust in Him was something Satan could not understand.

Faith and doubt waged war for Job's soul. They war in us, too. Every temptation to sin, every opportunity to help someone else, every ethical choice, every conversation is a skirmish that claims some terrain in our souls for light or darkness.

Fortunately for us, like Job, we belong to the Victor of life's battles. As we cling to God and His promise to give us a future and a hope, we know that our faith is not misplaced. And though the battle is fierce, we can rejoice with confidence that we shall indeed stand firm to the end and witness Satan's ultimate defeat.

For Consideration

How can a person maintain faith in God in the face of seamingly pointless suffering?
How could you relate to people who are suffering in order to encourage them?
How did understanding God's sovereinty help silence Job's complaints against God?

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:21 pm

Poetical And Wisdom Books
Job-The Psalms-Proverbs-Ecclesiastes-
Song of Solomon-Lamentations


In the Hebrew canon, these books are included in the "Writings." The books of poetry include the Psalms, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations. The wisdom books are Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. This does not mean all poetry in the Bible is found in Psalms and Song of Solomon, nor that all wisdom is found in only three boooks. Poetry abounds in the Torah and the Prophets. Much of the wisdom litrature is written in poetic form. On the other hand, wisdom is also found throughout the Bible.

The Psalms-Were the hymnbook and prayer book of the second temple, and they continue to be used in the same way by the Jewish community today. Traditionally, the Psalm were ascribed to David, but a reading of the subheads there are several collections of Psalms, including many by David, but also collections credited to the sons of Korah, toAssph, to Solomon, even to Moses. There are many kinds of Psalms, just as there are many types of hmyns in a modern hymnal. There are songs of praise and thanksgiving, songs of ascent, which were sung going up to the temple, royal psalms, prayers, laments, and so on. The Psalms are one of the favorite books for Christians and many of the biblical passages that are most meaningful come from the Psalms.

Song Of Solomon-Is a collection of love poems, which are beautiful expressions of human love at its best. They remind us God is present in all life.

Lamentations-Is a collection of poems of deep bitterness and grief over the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Babylonians in 586 b.c. It is traditionally attributed to Jeremiah and is printed immediately after his book in most Bibles.
Wisdom literature also takes several different forms. Sometimes it is short sayings on how to cope with life. The theme is usually how virtue can triumph over wrong. Sometimes wisdom takes the form of riddles. Or wisdom can be reflections on the meaning of life or on the life of faith (what we might call philosophy).
The heart of wisdom literature is a theology of creation and life. God has made the world and everything in it; and He reflected in all of life. Because of this, we are called to live joyfully as well as responsibly. A great deal of of wisdom literature deals with how to live the good life, that is, the life God approves.

Proverbs-Is a collection of sayings about how to live the good life. It also contains the great passage on the personification of wisdom as God's handmaid delighting in the works of the creation (8:27 and ch. 9).

Ecclesiastes-Reads almost like a diary of a spiritual journey. The author deals with ultimate questions of life and death, while talking about the routines of daily life. He reflects on what his job has meant from youth to old age, and how God has played a part in that life.

Job-Begins with the undeserved suffering of the patriarch Job and reflects on the meaning of suffering and God's relationship to one who suffers unjustly.

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:20 pm

Esther


"Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14

In 1949 a little-known evangelist from North Carolina pitched a tent in Los Angeles and preached a series of revival meetings that launched the career of Billy Graham. Who would have known how many people he would ultimately reach? Despite initial opposition and obstacles, Billy persevered-not because of his own agenda, but because he was committed to observe God's call on his life and he knew God would produce the results.

Esther was just one girl in a huge Persian harem. She was drafted into a charm and beauty contest for a chance to be named queen of Persia, and she wom. Then circumstances arose where the Israelites-her people-were in danger, and only her in a position to help save them. Interceding for her people could potentially cost her life. But Esther trusted God to protect her and her people, and believed that He had placed her strategically in this position of power for this very reason. Because of her obediance, the Israelites were saved.

We to can trust God to work His will in and through us when we submit to Him. It might seem scary since we can't see the outcome, but we can trust in God's goodness and faithfulness to produce the fruit He desires in every situation.

For Consideration


Can you think of a time when it was difficult socially to be obedient to God?
Did God demonstrate His faithfulness to you like He did for Esther?
How does knowing that God produces the fruit relieve anxiety when he calls us to a task?

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Post  Bertie on Mon 08 Dec 2008, 9:19 pm

Nehemiah


"but you are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them." Nehemiah 9:17

Several years ago Chicago Mayor Jane Bryne moved into an infamous housing project, Cabrini Green. At times Cabrini Green resembled a war zone, and the mayor thought she could have a positive influence on the violence-plagued apartment complex by residing there. A number of residents were inspired by Bryne's willingness to share their living conditions, but it took commitment.

The book of Nehemiah report's Nememiah's efforts to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and to reform the spiritual commitments of the Jews. He tackled the wall first, and then used the success of that project as a motivator for spiritual reform.

As the walls were rebuilt, Nehemiah reaquainted the people with God's laws. They were heartbroken over the many areas where they had been disobedient and neglected God's commands. But God, who saw their repentant hearts, welcomed them gladly and instructed Nehemiah to encourage the people: "Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength"(8:10b).

For Consideration

How did rebuilding the walls reunite the people of Israel?
How did hearing God's Word change their hearts?
What response brought God's blessing?

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