Bible Study Commentaries
Mar 9, 2014
As to what we work for, I suppose the spiritual answer is, for the Kingdom of God. However, many other needs have a way of intruding in our lives. Take making a living for survival. I remember when several of us preachers made plans to attend classes at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary after we had finished our college work. Finding part-time work in New Orleans did not leave many options. One of my colleagues considered employment at a huge grocery retail group. Then he found out the company sold alcoholic beverages. He quit and moved back to central Alabama.
Mar 9, 2014
One of the most popular philosophies in the late 20th century summarized its core teaching with the slogan, “You are what you choose.” This atheistic philosophy affirmed that what you choose is not important; rather the important matter is that you choose rather than following societal norms. Properly understood, “You are what you choose” summarizes the message of Proverbs. In contrast to existential philosophy, Proverbs emphasizes what you choose is vitally important. Proverbs sets forth two choices—the way of folly or the way of wisdom. The choice between the two has earthly and eternal consequences.
Mar 2, 2014
Toward the end of the Great Depression in the 1930s, my father used to leave home about 3 a.m. and walk to the Lighthouse Beach near Pensacola. Then he boarded a boat, the Sparrow, for the short trip to a Spanish Fort. At the close of the work day, he reversed his course. I never heard him complain. A job, the work, was nothing less than a blessing from God as far as my parents were concerned. The beginning of World War II resulted in expansion of Naval Air Station Pensacola, which brought the need for skilled tradesmen. My father found work there as a carpenter.
Mar 2, 2014
Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a proverb as “a short, traditional saying that expresses some obvious truth or familiar experience; adage; maxim.” Ben Franklin collected and published common American proverbs in his Poor Richard’s Almanac. For example, one famous Franklin proverb stated, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Franklin, however, did not live by this adage or maxim during the time he served as Ambassador to France and participated in Parisian nightlife.
Feb 23, 2014
Back in the days when we sang from “The Modern Hymnal,” trained choir directors made their presence felt in country churches. One of our favorite hymns was Fanny Crosby’s “To the Work,” mainly because the chorus had a few phrases where bass singers could really shake the rafters, so to speak. No one bothered with the tenor parts. I must confess, though, that for a 13-year-old boy fighting gnats and scratches from sugarcane fronds, the words “toiling on” took on a decidedly non-spiritual meaning. Being removed from the seemingly endless days, I have to see wisdom in the adage that creativity is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration. But wouldn’t it be nice to be in a garden where one did not have to fight Johnson Grass in the sugarcane rows? As the Bible account shows, even an ideal garden can harbor problems.
Feb 23, 2014
Proverbs, in the words of one scholar, is “spirituality of the ordinary.” Proverbs instructs believers that worship encompasses all areas of life: home, business, government, personal relations, etc. Proverbs 1:7 summarizes the theme of Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 1:2-7 expresses the purpose of Proverbs: to instruct in wisdom (2a), to assist in understanding wisdom sayings (2b), to provide moral instruction (v. 3), and to move the reader to maturity (v. 4). The early sections of Proverbs set forth Two Ways (wisdom and folly), personified as Two Women (wisdom and adulteress), and Two Destinies (Life and Destruction).
Feb 16, 2014
The presence of evil in the world is probably the single, most critical argument against the existence of God. You may have heard someone in deep sorrow or agony of soul make a statement like this. “If I were God, I would not allow bad things to happen to good people. So, why should I try to be good?” Upon mature consideration that negative spirit will probably lose its appeal. After all, if being good guarantees we will not suffer, the Gospel is reduced to a divine insurance program and not a message of hope no matter what the circumstances. Further, most of us can cite instances in which God’s grace worked powerfully in and among us when life seemed to collapse around us, an example of His sustaining grace. Job learned that lesson and passed on to us the battle he fought and won in spite never being told the circumstances. We know what was going on, but God never explained it to him. We are sustained by faith, not by an explanation of why the hard times arose. James 5:11 speaks of the patience of Job. The word then means to hold to one’s faith under misfortunes and trial.
Feb 16, 2014
Peter boldly, publically professed his allegiance for Jesus. If everyone else abandons you, Peter said, I will never abandon you (Matt. 26.33). Further, he brashly claimed his willingness to die a martyr’s death (John 13:37).
Feb 9, 2014
The enquiry about how we got here, I take to be a question about the origin of the universe. The answer will come from one of three sources: science, philosophy, or the Bible. The investigation boils down to science and the Bible. The discussion took on new dimensions following Edwin Hubble’s 1929 discovery that the universe is expanding in all directions. Astronomers concluded that the expansion began from a single point about 13.7 billion years ago. The number of years is not my main interest. The fact that the universe grew from a point to its limits in less that one second stands out as the beginning of our exposition.
Feb 9, 2014
“Doubting Thomas’” expressed the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus. Drawing a comparison to the famed words of Neil Armstrong, one theologian conveyed the significance of Thomas’ confession (my Lord and my God): “one small verbal step and a giant leap of faith and theology.” The resurrection of Jesus communicates the significance of the person of Jesus.