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The God of Dreams

Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory Of The Coming Of The Lord

No One Is Like God


The Presence Of The Lord in the World Today

A Strange Parable


The Divine Supermarket


Spiritual Depression



Being Faithful Can Be Lonely


Who Are The People Of God?


Looking Around You



Thoughts About Prayers

Thoughts About the Right

Thoughts About Building

Thoughts About The Future

Thoughts About Prophecy

Change in the Summer of 2008


Change in the Summer of 2008


We are in a season of change.  The warmer weather means that different entertainment and work options are now available to us.  We are trying to decide who our next president will be.  And the Classes of 2008, from high schools and colleges, will be moving on to he next phases of their lives.


When we consider how we handle change, we might find a clue about how to harmonize some of the seemingly contradictory passages in the Bible.  Parents of students in a Class of 2008 probably are having mixed emotions right about now.  They want their sons and daughters to go out into the world and find their own ways.  They want them to continue along the path toward independence and maturity.  Yet there's a part of their hearts which wishes that their children could stay young and live with them at home forever.  It's tough to say, "Goodbye."  But with tears in their eyes and with hearts both breaking and swelling with pride, the parents will do the right thing and let the young birds leave the nest.


If we have conflicting desires and yet can choose to do the right thing, how much more would a complex being like God have conflicting emotions and thoughts, yet choose to do the right thing?  For example, the scriptures teach us that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  And that is true at some level of God's heart.  But on another level, he is a God who will justly punish evildoers and won't let people mock him and his laws forever.  The Bible tells us that God desires that all men be saved.  Again, at some level of God's heart, this is true.  But it's also true that another level, he chooses who will find salvation in Christ.  Our all-wise God will always be able to choose the right thing to do and will always know how to balance, and express, his emotions.


I realize I'm using human language to describe the indescribable and that much about God will remain a mystery to us.  But these ideas, taken from Jonathan Edwards and John Piper, have helped me.  And I hope they will help you, too.




The God of Dreams


Read Genesis 28:10-22 - Why do you think God chose to communicate with Jacob in a dream?  How did Jacob know that this dream was really a message from God and not just an ordinary dream?


Read Isaiah 45:15 - Has God ever been "a God who hides himself" in your life?  In history?  What do you think Isaiah means in this verse?


Read Matthew 13:1-8 - Pretend you are hearing this parable for the first time.  Would you know what it meant and what Jesus was talking about?


Read Matthew 13:9-15 - Jesus says that the purpose of parables was to hide truth from people!  Why would God want to do that?


Read Matthew 13:16-23 - The disciples had asked Jesus a follow-up question to the parable.  And they were then privileged to learn the meaning of the parable from Jesus himself.


Read Daniel 2:1-23.



Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory Of The Coming Of The Lord


Read Joshua 6:1-14 - How do you think the people of Jericho viewed the parade that circled their city day after day?  If you were an Israelite, would you be trusting God or wondering if your leader had gone crazy?  This was certainly a strange battle tactic, but the city would fall because of God's power, not humans'.


Read Joshua 6:15-21 - When you read such passages in the Old Testament, are you troubled at all?  What do you make of God's people going to war and utterly destroying their enemies?


Read Judges 3:1-6 - Why was is important for the Israelites to learn warfare?  How does God teach us about warfare today, and what kind of warfare is it?


Read Judges 7:1-8 - Does our nation thank God for its victories, or do we claim all of the credit ourselves?  Did God help us in our victories?


Read 1 Timothy 2:1-4 - How should a Christian view his or her country and its leaders?


Read Zechariah 9:9-12.




No One Is Like God


Read Isaiah 44:1-5 - Has the Lord ever poured water on your thirsty soul?  Do you believe that you belong to the Lord?


Read Isaiah 44:9-11 - Why do you think God calls people who make idols "nothing."  If a "nothing" makes a god, how powerful can that god actually be?


Read Isaiah 44:12-20 - Here Isaiah builds a great logical case against idolatry.  What are the main points of his argument?  Does idolatry make sense?  Why then do people worship idols?


Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 - Here Paul gives us his opinion of pagan gods.  But, in the name of love, a believer may choose not to eat meat that has been sacrificed to them.


Read Revelation 22:12-15 - Idolaters are outside of the New Jerusalem.  Should this concern us?  After all, we don't bow down to statues!  But does idolatry creep into our lives in other ways?


Read Isaiah 44:6-8.


The Presence Of The Lord in the World Today


Read 1 Corinthians 12:27 - What does Paul mean by calling The Church "the body of Christ"?  What does it mean to you to be a part of the body of Christ?


Read Acts 2:1-4 - Today's scripture reading describes how God came to the believers on the day of Pentecost.  In what ways does God come to us today?


Read Psalm 144:1-4 - Why is it that God cares about humans?  We know He does indeed care because He sent Jesus to live among us and to die for us.  How confident are you of God's care in your life?


Read Psalm 144:3-10 - From what does God deliver us today?  Who or what are our enemies?  Does God deliver us in spectacular fashion or in quieter ways?  Notice that the responses of the one delivered is praise.


Read Psalm 144:11-15 - Is material property a sign that God is blessing us?  How do people today know that God is with them?  How does the world know that God is with The Church?


A Strange Parable


Read Matthew 21:28-32 - People who have lived disobedient lives, yet repent and change, enter the Kingdom of God.  But people who pay only lip service to God do not.  Do these words of Jesus comfort or challenge you or both?


Read Luke 15:11-12 - The younger son in this parable is basically saying to his father that he was impatient for his father's death!  He wanted the money now that he would normally get after his father had died.  How do you think the father felt?


Read Luke 15:13-16 - Not only did the younger son take his inheritance prematurely, but then he left the family and its land and way of life behind and squandered everything he had been given!  Jesus means for us to understand, especially given the culture of his time, that this kid was a real jerk.


Read Luke 15:17-24 - Can you relate to how the Father in the story is feeling here?  Do you think the younger son was surprised by the Father's actions?


Read Luke 15:25-32 - Can you relate to how the older brother felt?  The Father is throwing a party for the jerky younger brother who had to come crawling back because he had blown it so badly.  Who do the Father, the younger son, and the older son each stand for in this parable?


The Divine Supermarket


Read Isaiah 55:6-8 - God urges us to come to him when we have failed him and He will forgive us.  He's not like humans who hold grudges.


Read Isaiah 55:9-13 - For what purpose does God send his word into the world?  Will that purpose ultimately succeed or fail?


Read Isaiah 56:1-8 - These verses put an emphasis on doing good works and obeying God's laws.  How do these verses fit in with the emphasis on grace that the previous chapter in Isaiah had?


Read Isaiah 57:14-20 - In these verses, God not only calls for repentance, but promises that He himself will bring it about!  Do you have the peace in your life that verse 19 talks about?


Read Isaiah 58:6-12 - How we treat those in need is extremely important to the Lord!  In fact, our relationship to him depends on it!


Read Isaiah 55:1-5


Spiritual Depression


Read Psalm 80-1-7 -  Have you ever felt as the Psalmist does in these verses, as though God was against you?  How did you snap out of it?  Or have you been able to snap out of it?


Read 1 Samuel 23:15-18 - What people have helped you find strength in God?  How can you help others find strength in God?


Read Mark 9:14-29 - Does Jesus seem somewhat weary and maybe even discouraged in this passage?  Could Jesus ever be weary and discouraged?  Is it a sin to be weary or discouraged?


Read Mark 6:30-31 - How important is rest for our Christian lives?  Do you get enough rest?


Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 - Have you ever gotten to the point of "despairing even of life?"  How did God deliver you?  If you are at that point right now, do you believe that God is able to deliver you?


Read 1 Kings 19:9-18



Read Genesis 1:24-26 - God not only created the animals, but gave humans the power to rule over them.  Think about that the next time you drive past a farm.


Read 2 Kings 2:1-12 - There was a popular movie years ago named Chariots Of Fire.  But in today’s scripture reading, there are also horses of fire.  Chariots and horses represented military might and nobility.  The strong Lord came and took Elijah away.  The Lord, the general of his army, can move us around where He wants us.


Read 2 Kings 6:8-23 - Here is another mention of horses and chariots of fire.  The Arameans had their own chariots and horses.  But why should Elisha’s servant be scared of them when the Lord has chariots and horses made of fire?


Read 2 Kings 13:10-19 - Why does Jehoash call Elisha, “My Father?”  And why does he mention the chariots and horsemen of Israel?  What is he referring to?


Read Psalm 20 - Today if we were writing this Psalm, instead of saying, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses…,” we might say, “Some trust in automatic weapons, missiles, smart bombs, and tanks, but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God.”  Horses and chariots were instruments of war in the ancient world.


Read Job 39:19-25 and Revelation 19:11-16.


Being Faithful Can Be Lonely


Read Jeremiah 15:10-11 - Jeremiah is often called "the weeping prophet."  And, indeed, he knew his share of sorrows, some of them stemming from the fact that he was called by God to stand against his nation, and his own people didn't understand him.  So, God had to give him encouragement along the way.


Read Jeremiah 20:1-6 - Jeremiah brought an unpopular message of judgment to his country and because of this he was persecuted, even by the religious leaders.  God didn't spare Jeremiah from suffering, but he always ultimately delivered Jeremiah from the hands of his enemies.  Does he ultimately deliver us from our enemies too?


Read Jeremiah 20:7-18 - Jeremiah is really depressed in this passage!  He goes from accusing the Lord, to feeling used and abused by the Lord, to trusting in the Lord, to praising the Lord, to despairing of his life!  Whew!  Why do you think a passage like this is in the Bible?  Have you ever felt the ways Jeremiah felt?


Read Lamentations 1:1-16 - Jeremiah is also called "the weeping prophet" because he mourned over the fall of Jerusalem and expressed his thoughts about it in the book of Lamentations.  Jeremiah knew Jerusalem was being punished for its sins, but still was deeply affected by, and sorry for, its fall.  Jeremiah hated the sins and the consequences of those sins, but still ultimately loved the sinners.


Read John 6:53-69 - Jesus knew what it was like to have friends and followers desert him.  He knew what it was like to experience loneliness.  When you are feeling lonely, turn to Jesus and you'll find a sympathetic ear.


Read Jeremiah 15:15-21


Who Are The People Of God?


Read Matthew 8:1-4 - There are two amazing things in this passage.  First, Jesus is able to cure leprosy.  But second, Jesus reaches out and touches a leper!  Jesus touches someone that society had labeled “unclean.”


Read Matthew 8:5-13 - When reading this story, it’s important to remember that a Roman centurion would have been hated by the Jews.  Yet Jesus praises his faith and heals his servant!


Read Mark 2:1-12 - Why do you think Jesus forgives the man’s sins before healing him?  Why didn’t Jesus move straight to the healing?


Read Mark 5:1-20 - What sort of life and future did the demon-possessed man have before he met Jesus?  What did society think of this man before he met Jesus?


Read Mark 5:25-34 - The woman may have been afraid to approach Jesus because her medical condition made her “unclean” to the Jews.  But when someone “unclean” touches Jesus, he or she gets cleansed.  Jesus doesn’t become “unclean.”


Read Isaiah 56: 1-8


Looking Around You


Read Genesis 12:1-5 - God says that He will make a great nation out of one individual, Abram.  And Abram obviously believes this promise, because he acts on what God told him.  Why do you think Abram believed God?


Read Genesis 15:1-6: - What is it that the Lord required from Abram?  What does He require from us?


Read Deuteronomy 30:1-10 - Even after the Jews turned against the Lord and He punishes them by sending them into exile, they can still turn back to God in repentance.  And the Lord will turn back to them.


Read Revelation 6:12-14 - Some branches of science tell us that the end of our world and our universe is inevitable someday.  But the Bible tells us that this, too, is under God’s control.


Read Revelation 20:11-21:4 - Does such a passage fill you with joy, awe and expectation, or with dread?


Read Isaiah 51:1-6

To Be Truly Rich


Read Psalm 73:1-5 - Why would envying prosperous people cause the Psalmist’s faith to slip?  In our culture, isn’t it common to envy the prosperous?  How can we make sure that our faith doesn’t slip?


Read Psalm 73:6-11 - Because rich, prosperous people are so well off, they don’t believe they have a need for God.  And they don’t think God is very concerned with how they are living because they always seem to get away with whatever they are doing.  This certainly describes many famous people in our world today.


Read Psalm 73:12-14 - The Psalmist believes that he has been good for nothing, in other words, that serving God has been of no benefit to him.  He expected to be blessed.  Instead, he is always in trouble.  Have you ever felt the way that the Psalmist does?


Read Psalm 73:15-17 - The Psalmist was getting depressed, but didn’t share his thoughts with anyone, lest they be tempted to abandon the faith.  But then when the Psalmist went to worship God, he realized that all was not the way it appeared to be.  The rich don’t get away with murder.  God is indeed watching them!  Worship often helps us put things in the proper perspective.  Does worship help you in this way?


Read Psalm 73:18-28 - The Psalmist realizes that the blessings which the rich have and that cause them to snub God are actually traps that will lead them to God’s judgment.  God is always faithful and just.  And God held on to the Psalmist, even when the Psalmist wasn’t sure he wanted to hold on to God.


Thoughts About Choices

Read Revelation 9:17-21 - You can almost hear the incredulous tone in John's voice as he writes these words.  Why wouldn't humanity repent and turn from false gods and wicked deeds during the time of the plagues? Wouldn't we expect that a time of disaster would lead people to turn to God?  But this isn't always the case.  Why?

Read John 3:19-21 - Some people will choose darkness instead of light so that they won't be exposed.  But notice that John doesn't go on to say that people who come to the light do so because they are so great.  They come because God is working within them.

Read Proverbs 2:12-15 - There are people in this world who "delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil."  We can see them when we turn on the television.  Maybe we see them everyday at work or at school.  What is it that you rejoice in?

Read Hebrews 11:24-28 - Sin does indeed offer pleasure.  But it is only temporary.  We can say, "No," to sin by having faith that the pleasures of God are coming and that they will be eternal.

Read Matthew 27:15-26 - Like the people of ancient Jerusalem, we are faced with a choice.  Christ or the world?  What is your answer?


Thoughts About Prayers

Read Luke 18:9-14 - Do you think the Pharisee was lying about the good things he did and about his moral character?  Why is it that God would justify the tax collector and not the Pharisee?  How can we pray prayers that are pleasing to God?

Read Joel 2:23-32 - The blessings in this passage are blessings that will come after the people have repented of their sins and after the Lord has disciplined them.  The purpose of discipline is not to destroy, but to get people to realize their failings and make changes.  God's great love always abides with his people and though He may have to discipline at times, it is only to prepare us for future fellowship with him and for service in his Kingdom.

Read Psalm 51 - This famous prayer of confession is attributed to David after he had been convicted of having adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband.  Notice that David makes no excuses for his sin and is relying on God's mercy and not his own merits.  It is only after David receives forgiveness and cleansing and power from God that he will once again be a witness for the Lord.  He doesn't say, "I'll praise You and teach sinners to fear You and after I have done all those good things, then I'll have made up for my sins and You'll have to forgive me."  No, for David it is, "You have forgiven me and so now I will live for You."  David would have made a good Reformed Church member!  He knows all about Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude - in that order!

Read Mark 4:35-41 - Jesus has authority over nature!  And He also has the power to calm storms that are raging in our hearts because of fear, doubt, and sin.  May Jesus continually come to us and say, "Quiet!  Be still!"  Because we are awfully good at stirring up storms.

Read Jonah 2 - Talk about feeling overwhelmed by your problems and your sins!  Jonah was literally drowning in his!  But he turned to the Lord in prayer and found deliverance.  May we always turn to God when we feel like we're sinking.


Thoughts About the Right

Read Acts 17:10-12 - We belong to a church in the Reformed theological tradition.  Part of what this means is that we as individuals, our congregation, and our denomination should be like the Bereans.  We should be searching the scriptures to see if what we believe is true.  And if we need to reform our beliefs and practices to bring them in line with God's Word, we shouldn't be afraid to do so.

Read Romans 3:21-26 - Martin Luther had tried to make himself acceptable to God by doing all that he could do.  He made a pilgrimage to Holy Rome.  He became a monk.  He scrupulously tried to confess absolutely every sin he could remember.  He spent hours in prayer.  Yet he still wondered if he had done enough and how he really stood with God.  But when he studied the book of Romans, his spiritual eyes were opened to salvation by faith and to the fact that we are righteous in God's sight, not because of what we do, but because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.  Praise His name!

Read Habakkuk 1:1-4 - Every day we see all kinds of evil in this world via newspapers, magazines, and television.  Is our response only to shake our heads at it and to sigh?  Or is our response the same one Habakkuk had - to cry out to God about it?

Read 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 and 11-12 - In these verses we once again come up against the mystery of the partnership between God and Man.  Paul boasts about the Thessalonians' perseverance and endurance, but at the same time he thanks God for these qualities because he knows they ultimately come from the Lord.  He prays that the Thessalonians will be found worthy of God's calling, but he knows that it is God's power that will fulfill all the good works they try to do.  This is good news for us!  Your growth as a Christian doesn't depend on how strong a Christian you are, but on how strong God is!

Read 1 Peter 4:1-4 - The World won't understand Christians and will try to pressure you to conform to its ways.  But we are called to be willing to suffer the abuse the World will heap on us in order to live according to the will of God.


Thoughts About Building

Read Psalm 127:1 - Humans can put in their best efforts on a project, but the ultimate success or failure of the project is in the hands of the Lord.  So let us pray for our building project.  Let's pray for our nation.  Let's pray for our families.  Let's not allow a lot of effort in many areas to be done in vain.  We need the Lord's blessings.

Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 - A foundation is so important for a building.  Without a strong foundation, a building collapses.  Of course, as a building is going up, we hope that the walls, roof, doors, etc. will also be strong or else a disaster may be looming.  When it comes to our spiritual lives, Paul makes it clear that the foundation must be Jesus Christ.  Without Him, everything crumbles.  But then he implicitly urges us to keep using "good building materials" as we build up our lives.  Things such as prayer, acts of service in love to God's children, biblical truth and a striving for holiness.  If we don't add these "materials," maybe we'll still be ultimately saved because of our foundation, but it will be as though our lives were wasted and meaningless.  Let's not waste our lives!  Let's build our lives to last - eternally!

Read I Corinthians 3:16-17 - Church buildings are tools that God's people use to carry out the ministries He gives them.  But God's Spirit lives within the corporate body of believers.  While we take care to make sure our new building project is going just right, let's also be working to make sure our congregation is strong in Truth, Love, Godliness, and Fellowship.

Read 1 Kings 8:10-13 - May our new building be a place where God is glorified and as we gather to worship and fellowship in it, may the glory of the Lord fill us, His church.

Read 1 Kings 8:22-30 - Solomon knew that God wouldn't really be dwelling in the temple.  But he still asked that the temple would be used by God to bless His People.  God certainly doesn't dwell within our current church building and won't live in our new addition, but we can pray that He will use them to bless His people and that He will give special attention to what goes on in the buildings owned and used by the American Reformed Church.


Thoughts About The Future

Read Isaiah 12:1-3 - Has the Lord become your salvation?  Does He put a song in your heart?  Are you drawing "water" from the "well" with joy?  Have we grasped how amazing and wonderful salvation really is?

Read Isaiah 12:4 - What does Isaiah mean when he talks about the Lord's name being exalted?  Part of what he means may be tied in to the way kings and rulers were addressed in his day.  Someone approaching a king might have said something like, "Oh Great And Mighty One Who Has Conquered Your Enemies And Who Reigns With Wisdom And Compassion."  When we address God or speak to others about Him, we should be mindful of who He is and what He has done for us.  Isaiah may also mean that we should take care how we use God's name.  It's special.  It's not to be used as a curse word or as a common exclamation of surprise.

Read Isaiah 12: 5-6 - In what ways is the Holy One of Israel among us today?  How is He in our world, our church, your family, your life?  How can we become more aware that He is indeed with us?

Read Luke 21: 5-19 - Every time we turn on the news we see signs like those Jesus talked about in Luke, Chapter 12.  But notice that Jesus told his followers not to worry ahead of time about what would happen to them when they were arrested.  They were to trust him for the words to say.  And He told them if they stood firm in their faith in him, they would gain eternal life.  As we watch the news, let's not panic, but remember who we are trusting in and what lies ahead for us.

Read Luke 12:13-21 - When we think of preparing for the future, we usually think of such things as making sure we'll have enough money to live on or whether we'll have the education and training to get us the jobs we want, or where we will be living, etc.  But Jesus let us know that it's important to plan for the future by making sure we are rich toward God.


Thoughts About Prophecy

Read Jeremiah 23:5-6 - The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy is, of course, Jesus Christ.  And notice His name is "The Lord Our Righteousness."  No wonder the Jewish people, who had a history of being punished for their sins, longed for the coming of such a king.  And no wonder we who sin everyday are thankful that such a king came.  We depend on the Lord's righteousness and not our own.

Read Colossians 1:9-13 - In these verses, Paul gives us good reasons to thank God regardless of what sort of day we're having and whether things in life seem to be going well or badly for us.  We can always thank God because He has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints, rescued us from the kingdom of darkness, brought us into Christ's Kingdom, and redeemed us from our sins.  Wow!

Read Luke 1:5-25 - The Lord's people in the Bible are called on to believe some pretty incredible things.  In today's scripture reading, Zechariah had to believe that he and his wife would have a son, though they were both old.  The Lord still calls on us to believe some pretty incredible things today - that the grave is not the end; that a man dying on a cross two thousand years ago was God and that He took away our sins; that God is at work in us transforming us into images of Jesus.  May we believe the incredible more willingly than Zechariah did!  Let's remember that these things come from our incredible God.

Read Luke 1:39-45 - The Holy Spirit was working in John the Baptist even while he was still in his mother's womb and caused him to praise the Lord after a fashion!  It's never too soon to pray that God will begin to work in the hearts of your children and grandchildren and the children of our church.

Read Luke 1:57-66 - When Zechariah could speak again; the first thing he did was to praise God.  Are God's praises and/or edifying words always the first things out of our mouths?




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