Glimpses of God

January, February, March 2012

Want to learn more about Glimpses of God? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: The Triune God (Deuteronomy 6:4, Matthew 26:63-64, Colossians 2:13-15)
When I first started using computers I was frustrated. I wanted to know how they worked internally. Anyone can type and print a document, just like anyone can drive a car. But, what is happening "under the hood?" To answer that question I did some reading and, with the direction of my young son, built a computer. Now, I am satisfied that I know the essentials even though my knowledge is far from complete. Our lesson this week is like that. We will learn some essentials about Jesus and the Trinity, but complete knowledge is simply beyond our grasp. Because I do not think you can be a Christian without being a Trinitarian, let's dive into our Bibles and see what we can learn!

Lesson 2: In the Beginning (Genesis 1-3, Job 38, Romans 5)
Last week I wrote that you were not a Christian if you did not believe in the Trinity. By that I meant a Christian must believe that Jesus is fully God. This week we study another central teaching of the Bible - that God spoke the world into existence. The world did not evolve, and God did not "supervise" chance and natural selection. In what ways does a belief in the Creation matter? Let's plunge into our Bibles and find out!

Lesson 3: God as Redeemer (Genesis 3, Leviticus 5, Romans 1 & 5)
Imagine that you are a mugger. You get excitement from hitting people over the head, and you profit from stealing their money. Imagine further two alternatives. First, that the police, if they catch you, simply ask you to apologize, and then they let you go. Or, second, that you have a very rich uncle who, when you are caught, makes everything right at his own expense. How would you view your mugging habit? You would not take the problem very seriously, right? We do not need to imagine that we are muggers, for in fact we all are in some sense. Our sins damage others and cost them money. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and consider our problem and our need for a Redeemer!

Lesson 4: The God of Grace and Judgment (John 3, Numbers 21, Revelation 14)
This week we study two aspects of our God: grace and judgment. If you read a few texts about judgment - and most refer to a judgment based on works - you might begin to wonder how grace and judgment can fit comfortably within the same gospel. In fact, I've long been concerned that Jesus often refers to a judgment based on works while Paul has a steady theme of salvation by grace. Can we fit those two ideas together? If so, how? Let's dive into our Bible study and see what we can learn!

Lesson 5: The Holiness of God (1 Peter 1, Genesis 2, Job 42, Luke 5)
The Bible tells us repeatedly that God is holy. What does that mean? This is not a question meant only to tickle our mind, because God commands us in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to be holy as He is holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16; Leviticus 11:44.) If we don't understand what it means for God to be holy, we are not going to be able to understand an important goal for our life. Let's see if we can figure this out by plunging, once again, into our study of the Bible!

Lesson 6: God the Lawgiver (Exodus 19 & 20, Matthew 22, Isaiah 48)
Our previous study was the book of Galatians, and that gave us an attitude of "law versus grace." Such an attitude will lead us astray unless we open our eyes to the bigger picture. Look around the world at the countries governed by law and compare them with countries governed by whatever the ruler decides at the moment. Countries subject to "the rule of law" are more prosperous and more free. Religious freedom, our most important freedom, only exists in those countries which operate under the rule of law. If your idea of "grace" is that you do whatever you think best at the moment, then you have badly missed the point of God's law. Let's dive into our study of the Bible to learn more about God's law.

Lesson 7: Lord of the Sabbath (Genesis 2, Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, Mark 15)
Last week we discussed that God's law is intended to be a blessing to humans, not something to trip us up. One great blessing of the law is the Sabbath. When I was in law school, the competition was fierce. Not only was law school inherently a lot of hard work, but students knew that the quality of the job they would secure after law school depended upon their class rank. After my first year, my school reacted to the pressure by not releasing our class rank! I had my own safe harbor, the Sabbath. On it I would not do any school work - and I was able to take a break without feeling guilty! It was wonderful. God blessed my faithfulness and gave me excellent grades. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more about the Sabbath.

Lesson 8: Creation Care (Genesis 1,2 & 9, Matthew 21, Hosea 4, Deuteronomy 4)
What is "Creation Care?" I shower daily, brush my teeth twice a day, floss, eat and exercise. Is that the sum of creation care? If you say that is too narrow a look at creation, I will tell you that I mow my lawn when needed and trim the bushes around my house. If you say that is "still too narrow," why is that true? If all took care of their own stuff, then creation would be cared for, right? These days the cutting edge of environmentalism is not so much about the relatively uncontroversial matter of everyone taking care of their own stuff, it is about the relative importance of humans in the greater world. Are we entitled to be "selfish" when it comes to the rest of the creation? Let's dive into our Bibles and find out what God has to say about the subject!

Lesson 9: The Bible and History (Genesis 22, Job 1, Daniel 2, Revelation 12)
One of the most interesting topics is the apparent conflict between human free-will and the foreknowledge of God. This is not one of those subjects that is fun to debate, but makes absolutely no difference in life. Instead, this is an issue that goes to the heart of the gospel story. Let me give you an example. If God knew that Jesus would not sin and would defeat Satan at the cross, then God did not risk His Kingdom to save us. If God knew that Jesus would not sin, then how could Jesus have sinned? This suggests that Jesus was not tempted like we are tempted. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see if we can find some satisfactory answers!

Lesson 10: The Promise of Prayer (Matthew 6, Luke 11)
How is your prayer life? If you are like me, I've struggled over the years with exactly how I should pray. These days, I think that I am in some sense "in tune" with God during much of the day. It is hard to describe, but it is looking for what God has in mind as various situations arise. On the other hand, except for my morning walk on the beach, I don't spend a lot of time in focused, formal prayer. Clearly, I've got a lot to learn and I'll bet you do too. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and examine what Jesus teaches us about prayer!

Lesson 11: God as Artist (Genesis 1, 1 Peter 3, Isaiah 53)
Think about looking at a beautiful painting, a beautiful sunset, a beautiful vista, a beautiful car or a beautiful person. How can we say all of these are beautiful? They have more differences than similarities. What is it about them that we call beauty? For me, the beauty in all of these different things is that I take pleasure in looking at them. Sometimes the pleasure seems like rest, in others the pleasure seems more like excitement. Our lesson this week investigates the artist side of God - the beauty that is part of the personality of God. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out more!

Lesson 12: Love Stories (Song of Solomon 4, Genesis 1-3, Hosea 1)
This week we take another glimpse into God's character and consider another improbable creation: romantic love. Last week we looked at beauty, and considered how a car, a person, a painting and a vista could all be beautiful. We decided that what beauty has in common in these things is to give us pleasure. What does romantic love give us? Pleasure! Can you recall the early stages of love (or infatuation)? It gave you an energy. A pleasure. Joy. How is this a part of God's character? Why would He create such a thing - especially since it is also the source of so much trouble? Let's dive into our Bible and find out more!

Lesson 13: The Promise of His Return (Acts 1, Matthew 24, Revelation 21-22)
Silly scientists. They keep making failed predictions about the end of the world. When one prediction turns out to be wrong, they make another based on some different event. When I was young, they predicted an ice age where life would freeze. When I was old, they predicted global warming where life would burn up. They must be an ignorant and easily led faith group to keep predicting things that have never happened in recorded history. Wait! Isn't that what they say about Christians? That we keep predicting the end of the world because we are ignorant and easily led? Are we exactly the same as the silly scientists? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out!

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