Inspiration for Today's World

Category: Shadows (Page 1 of 13)

Immigration and the Bible

Our nation is undergoing an invasion. For many Americans, the images that come to mind are of fences and walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. Those images are followed quickly by the millions of people crossing our borders. While the subject of immigration is emotionally charged, it might be time to see if we can glean some holy wisdom on the entire topic from our Bible.

To start us off, the concept of borders (boundaries) was first established by God Himself. He did so both as a reward and to keep His people from the negative influences of the nations around them.

(Deuteronomy 32:8) 1 – “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.”

God’s expectation, also enshrined in our Constitution, is that one key role of government: would be to establish secure borders, know those who come into our nation, and protect us from those who would harm us. This can be viewed as a God-ordained role of (leadership) government.

(Romans 13:1-6) – “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.”

Let’s first understand that the Apostle Paul’s verses above are not a command to follow an ungodly government. When governmental policies result in drugs, the trafficking of women and children, and tens of thousands of deaths on both sides of the border wall, there is a serious problem. We are called to elect God-fearing people who will uphold our Constitution, including the protection of our nation’s citizens and our inalienable rights. We need leaders who love God and respect freedom. Only after we are able to establish such a government, are we then to submit to their leadership, pay our taxes, and become witnesses to the world. God calls us to His Truths first and foremost.

(Acts 5:29) – “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!'”

Illegal immigration occurs when there is no regard for a nation’s laws. It does not matter whether immigration is to improve one’s life or to enrich oneself, to break a nation’s laws is wrong in the eyes of God. It is the role of the government to establish rules so that the immigration process is orderly and secure. In a more direct statement about safety and security, we find these permissions from our Creator:

(Numbers 32:17) – “But we will arm ourselves for battle and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place. Meanwhile, our women and children will live in fortified cities, for protection from the inhabitants of the land.”

God permits nations to have border guards, armies, and “fortifications” along their borders to keep those who would harm them at bay.  There is the practical expectation that all fortifications would include the use of “gates” through which ALL visitors can be directed. The Bible lists much about this topic 2. You can find a list of one hundred verses on the topic here: And yes, even heaven will have a gate! “Not all who wish to enter will be granted access” (Matthew 7:21). It is easy, however, to miss that God defined three groups in His Word that are impacted by immigration. Let’s look at all three in more detail:

The foreigner – The Bible alternately uses the word, sojourner. It is a temporary resident; a stranger or a traveler who dwells in a place for a time. We call them guests and visitors.

(Deuteronomy 15:1-3) – “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you.”

When visitors’ loyalties remained with their original nation, God called them “foreigners.” Foreigners were those born in a foreign land, not bound to the customs and laws of the land they were visiting. In the verse above, we find an example: tolerance for debt was extended for the citizens of God’s nation but not so for foreigners. Foreigners typically made lousy citizens because their allegiances remained with their homeland.

The immigrant – This pertained to someone who, for a variety of reasons, was seeking to relocate to another nation. Biblical history shows us that people sought sanctuary for many different reasons. One was economic, to find work/food. Other reasons included forced exile, or even seeking freedom, and escaping injustice. There was always an expectation that when someone immigrated, their new nation’s laws would be obeyed, and the cultural values of that new nation would be maintained. God’s cautions were always about absorbing the customs and gods of neighboring countries (Deuteronomy 6:14). Immigrants to God’s nation were to become Godly people, worshipping Israel’s God, Yahweh. When God’s people were in another nation, they were to obey the laws but remain faithful to their God!

The citizen – This last category pertains to the people within a nation who share common beliefs, goals, language, morality, etc. History shows us that when a diverse group of immigrants merges with a group of citizens, a cultural blending occurs. It had been God’s premise that the citizens of His favored nation would share His Covenant with all those who sought to become citizens of His Kingdom. The blending was to produce a better and stronger nation, but not absorb all of the beliefs of the immigrants. History tells us that this rarely occurred. It seems that it is always easier to pick up bad habits than good ones!

The Bible does not give us a comprehensive set of guidelines for immigration. However, God does have a strong opinion about the fairness and safety of the results. These three specific vulnerable groups of people are often highlighted in the same passages as objects of God’s particular concern.

(Deuteronomy 27:19) – “Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow. Then all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

(Psalm 146:9) – “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”

It is easy to see that in today’s world of drugs, crime, human trafficking, and the importation of cheap labor go directly against many of God’s commandments. God’s view is that all life matters to Him. Whether a temporary visitor or someone seeking permanent citizenship, God expects equal and fair treatment of everyone. God also expects all people to obey His commandments and the laws of the nation they are entering! The citizens also remain bound to God’s commandments too. No free pass for anyone.

(Deuteronomy 24:14) – “Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns.”

(Malachi 3:5) – “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

There are many Bible stories about people being forced across borders. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt. David escaped the violence of King Saul and sought asylum among the Philistines. Daniel and his friends were exiled from their homeland. They all worked for their sustenance by serving a foreign government. Even Jesus himself, as a small child, was forced to flee, escaping to Egypt (Matthew 2:16-18). When famine hit, Abram (later Abraham) and his family left their homeland at God’s instruction (Genesis 12:10). His son Isaac and grandson Jacob would also move because of famine. Naomi and her family were motivated by hunger and left the land of Judah.

What our Bible tells us is that compassion and immigration go hand in hand. In every Bible story, we find what is often missing in our approach to our own immigration policy today. There was always a work requirement for those who could work to participate in their own care and keeping. Yes, God wanted the generosity of His people to feed those who were hungry. God never asked the government to usurp this role in society. That was what the concept of “gleaning” was all about. 

(Leviticus 23:22) – “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’”

It might be interesting to add here a Bible story about a smuggler or a terrorist that immigrated into a nation. But those are few and far between. That was what the guards and armies were established to handle. Our creator assigned the physical protection and the spiritual health of a nation to its leaders. He then said to those who became citizens to follow His Laws and uphold His Truths. God’s blessings were to make them fruitful. God knew that when the human heart was generous, His people would provide for the widows and orphans, those who could not work. God calls us to let those who seek asylum “glean in our fields.” We are to be witnesses to them, demonstrating the saving grace only our God can provide. That was always God’s master plan. You know, the “Light on the Hill.” When a nation’s leaders use immigration to enrich themselves at the expense of others, God sends the prophets! His judgment is always next. God has watched Satan’s trickery before. The ultimate test of leadership will always be whether a nation’s people move closer to Him! The survey group, Gallup, says just the opposite is happening in our nation today.

Should we then conclude that God wants our nation to open its gates, take down its borders and let tens of millions of people into our country? Unfortunately, both that question and a direct answer are missing from God’s Word. There is, however, an interesting test you can apply. First, our nation cannot physically hold all the people in the world. But why do they keep coming? It is because “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We are one nation, under God! Many, however, are being enticed for nefarious purposes, only to become cheap labor and victims in our land.  Too many are dying from drugs, gangs, trafficking, and profiteering to call our nation’s immigration system a Godly plan. To assure that our Constitution’s preamble has any hope of surviving for future generations, God calls us to first, remain a nation committed to law and order and the protection of our beliefs in the one true God. “GATES” and “BORDERS” have existed from the beginning of humankind as Adam and Eve found out the hard way. Therefore, it is reasonable to ask that immigrants seeking entry, allow us to defend our concerns for maintaining our own national identity (who we are), our nation’s economic health (financial stability), and national security (safety). That is what God’s Covenant is all about!


  • Are you willing to share your net worth with the people of the world?
    • Ideas to Explore: Be honest now, to have open borders, our nation would consume all its wealth to house and feed all the people. How much are you willing to give up?
  • Is it reasonable to ask that people wishing to become citizens, learn our language, obey our laws, and gain a skill through which they can house and feed themselves and their children?
    • Ideas to Explore: What is your opinion about adopting their laws from other countries? Do you agree that a parent can kill their child or spouse simply because they disobey? That, by the way, is a right guaranteed in some countries. Exactly what cultural blending is acceptable to you, religions, foods, morality, laws, etc.?
  • Should a politician/leader obey a nation’s laws?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is it OK for leaders or special interest groups to ignore laws and do what they want? Why don’t people use the present constitutional process to change the laws they don’t want?
  • Do you believe benefit programs should have a “work requirement” component?
    • Ideas to Explore: Should social programs be permanent? (Note: Social Security is not a social or welfare program. Beneficiaries have trusted the government and paid in their money, saving for their retirement.) Unfortunately, our leaders have given away those savings to people who have not contributed.


  1. NIV New International Version Translations

Whose Job is it Anyway?

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. ~ Thomas Paine, The Crisis No. I (written December  19, 1776, published December  23, 1776)

Thomas Paine was writing about a national crisis occurring almost 250 years ago. Yet here we are in 2023, with his words still ringing true in our ears. Our nation is witnessing a full-frontal assault on its children. Whether by a woke curricula grounded in neo-Marxist Critical Race Theory, the historically inaccurate and egregious 1619 Project, the constant pursuit for equity penalizing excellence, or the sexualization of our most vulnerable children, Satan is on a forced march through America’s schools. This should be a concern of everyone because the government has successfully removed God from public education making the only “firewall” the parents.

(Proverbs 1:8) 1 – “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”

In Proverbs 1, children are called to listen to and apply the knowledge learned from their parents. God defines this as wisdom. There are explicit warnings as to what they will learn elsewhere. Solomon points to misguided knowledge that leads one’s soul to ruin.  The command to parents is to nurture their children in the Lord and never leave it to the world!

(Ephesians 6:4) – “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

The world constantly seeks to remove God from education. God places the responsibility clearly in the hands of the parents, both parents. Biblically, the family unit is to consist of a mother and father with the job description of training, educating, and disciplining children. The “village” idea of education only perpetuates the demise of moral and Godly behavior. Why? Solomon wrote, “Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Solomon’s point was that there are more important things than simply amassing knowledge—namely, fearing God and obeying Him.

(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) – “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

Education as a cure-all for society’s ills is a false pretext because it does nothing to combat ungodliness. What are society’s ills? The truth be known, it can all be summed up as “ungodliness.” Knowledge, apart from the love of God, leads to pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). Pride is excessive self-esteem, conceit, or arrogance.  Pride is the sin of attitude and the heart and spirit. A proud person has ultimately shifted confidence to oneself instead of confidence in God. Simply knowing facts does not make one a better person, and it is indeed possible to be a highly educated fool. Education, however, is important to leading a productive life. One of the only things we know of Jesus’ childhood is that He “grew in wisdom” as He grew “in stature” (Luke 2:52). The Incarnate Son of God voluntarily put Himself in a position where He needed to assimilate knowledge as a human. Education was part of the process.

John Calvin began his reformation in favor of universal education under church control (the cost to be in large part borne by the community), but “universal” did not mean “democratic.” The purposes were to assure the populous could read the Scriptures. The spread of Protestantism would support that all children should go to school. So it happened that church regulations of the 16th and 17th centuries began to contain items governing schools and the instruction of young people in reading and religion. In the 18th century, following the general tendency toward secularization, governments began to assume responsibility for supporting the schools. Thus the “baby was thrown out with the bath water.” Religion was replaced by science, math, secular history, and other “state-sponsored” curricula.

Now that we know the problem, what is a reasonable solution? Here are the principles in the Bible relating to the education of children:

Do not neglect our children’s education. Numerous verses are commanding us to train and discipline our children. (

(Proverbs 22:6) – “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

There must be a moral component to education. As the Proverbs verse above says, there is a right path to be on in one’s life, and a wrong one, and we are not to let our children wander through life blindly. It should be the responsibility of both parents and the government to lead them in a godly way. Who we elect matters!

Education begins with the reality of God’s and Christ’s existence. As we learn more about God’s creation, our understanding of God’s wisdom and power deepens. As we study God’s Word, we become more equipped for God’s work (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 3:28). Children must be taught about God and His creation. Deuteronomy commands us to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Children cannot love what they do not know!

(Deuteronomy. 4:9-10) – “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.’”

Our God is a historical Truth. History must not become a philosophy worked out in human minds but must always be a faith founded on what God has already done. Without an accurate education of history, humanity cannot ever hope to see that God exists.

(Exodus 12:26-27) – “And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ Then the people bowed down and worshiped.”

Discipline is a form of teaching a child. Today, we seem to just give way to the lusts of childhood. Parents must remain responsible for their children and never relinquish control of their children’s education to Satan’s world. Follow the crime statistics and their trail runs through broken families and educational systems.

(Proverbs 22:15) – “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.”

(Proverbs 23:13-14) – “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.”

Children must be taught to reason for themselves. Without common sense, humanity is doomed. Without reasoning skills, children are easily influenced by our sinful world. It is the lack of reasoning skills that leads children and adults to accept the absurd. It will then be through faith that the importance of revelation, the Spirit, working in conjunction with humanity makes sense. It will be “revelation,” working through the Holy Spirit, that brings our Creator into focus!

(Romans 1:20) – “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Finally, parents must be directly involved in their children’s education. There is no place in God’s Word where you can subcontract the responsibilities of educating a child. While teaching may involve many different people from our communities, the responsibility for knowing the content of what is being taught remains with you. Government schools will not teach your child to love God. They may not even teach them a marketable skill. Even that responsibility solely rests with you. God expects you to fight for what is right in education so that children emerge as contributors to our nation and God’s Kingdom.

The goal of education must be to create adults capable of having a relationship with their Creator. They are to be moral people, having been made in God’s image.  Children are included among the people of God (Acts 2:39) and should not be hindered from coming to Him (Matthew 19:14). In fact, the young are often better able to approach and know God than adults (Matthew 11:25; 18:3).

“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” ~ George Washington


  • Are you familiar with your school’s curricula?
    • Ideas to Explore: We are talking about what we teach in elementary grades, middle school, high school, and at college levels. Do you look at the books children use? Do parental rights exist in your school system?
  • Openness and sunshine cure many ills. Is your child’s school system open to parental influence?
    • Ideas to Explore: Can you oversee any class? Can you browse your school’s library? Are you free to bring up concerns to staff or the school board?
  • To what extent are you willing to go through so that your child learns about God?
    • Ideas to Explore: If not in school, does your church have a children’s program? Do you take time to teach yourself about God’s Word?



  1. NIV New International Version Translations

My Way or the Highway!

The philosophy of relativism is pervasive in our nation today.  Relativism is a philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid and that “all truth is relative to the individual.” Let’s break this definition down further. This really means that all moral positions, all religious systems, all art forms, all political movements, etc., are truths that are relative to the individual.  Under the world’s definition of relativism, entire groups of “perspectives” or beliefs are categorized.  This means that all morals are relative to the group within which they were constructed, and ethics (right and wrong) are dependent upon the situation. It is relativism that brings you to the position today that men can bear children!

With the growing rejection of God and Christianity in our nation, absolute truth, God’s Truth is being abandoned.  How do we know? Just look at our deteriorating judicial systems incapable of administering punishment for crimes. Try our entertainment industry and media which are aggressively pursuing the education of our society on immoral and indecent behavior. What was once accepted as wrong is tempered with the teaching of “Social Tolerance.” What was once a sin is now celebrated on social media and in our government educational systems. Any pushback is attacked as bigotry! You can lose your job, lose your reputation, or fail a course in school when you do not adhere to the new “woke” standards of relativism in society. We cannot flourish or even survive as a nation in an environment where everyone does what is right in their own eyes. Our political systems and our economic systems cannot operate when lying and cheating are okay under the “end justifies the means” morality.  Without a common foundation of Truth and absolutes, our nation will become weak, descend into chaos, and fail. Some might say we are there now!

(Isaiah 5:21) 1 – “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”

(Proverbs 26:12) – “Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

If truth were to become relative, there would be no way of measuring what is real and what isn’t. Our nation could no longer turn to laws to govern society. We could no longer use science to study our world. Common discourse, the kind that the First Amendment of our Constitution was created to assure, would no longer function. How common ground is found would be destroyed. The argument for relativism is that no one has the same background of experiences and opinions. Each one of us approaches a given subject from a unique perspective that filters our viewpoint, leading to differing conclusions. However, the stronger argument against relativism is based on the view that there are absolutes. Common sense tells us so! The premise that all truth is relative and there is no objective truth is false! We know that absolute truth exists. You may not like that it exists, and you may live your life in a way that ignores its existence. However, that does not disprove its existence.

(Romans 1:18-25) – “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

If truth was to ever become relative, then so would the concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, and guilt and innocence. Even the worst atrocities could be justified simply by someone’s opinion. We can see the roots of that logic right now in the world around us. Relativism denies the concept that a moral reality exists. It is nothing more than “moral cowardice” masquerading as an “everybody wins, everybody gets an ‘A’, everybody gets a trophy” solution.

The alternative to moral relativism is a doctrine that emphasizes the existence of singular moral truths and values. Our very creation presumes the existence of moral truths independent of our own beliefs. The issue society faces is in establishing its source for moral truths. Unless you deny the fact that we are benefactors of a Created World, the logical and common-sense approach would be to look to the Creator for His Truths. Not some simple set of truths with a copyright date of a few hundred years ago. No, a copyright date that marks the beginning of our human story. God did not place His people here to wander in pain and anguish for no purpose. He provided a set of Truths to exist by. They have been unchanging since our creation. For a Truth to be effective, it must be simple and understood. The test of God’s Truth is that it is not relative to anything but God!

(Psalm 119:160) – “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.”

Simply translated, God’s Truth is “My way or the highway.”


  • What is the basis for what you personally hold to be self-evident and truthful?
    • Ideas to Explore: Education, Internet, News Media, Social Media, Church, Family, God’s Word, Friends?
  • What do you do with information to confirm it is not just someone’s opinion but based on facts?
    • Ideas to Explore: Do you check? Do you avoid those sources with a track record of being wrong? Do you search for what is true?
  • If nothing is wrong and nothing is right, can society exist?
    • Ideas to Explore: What does history tell us about believing lies? If someone lies about peace, do you have peace? Can we have peace without truth? Do you have anything without truth?
  • What are the weaknesses of humanity that allow them to accept relativism?
    • Ideas to Explore: Focus on self, Idolatry or the worship of things, ignorance? Please add your thoughts.


  1. NIV New International Version Translations

The Prophets of the Old Testament

The Old Testament of the Bible contains 39 books. The first five are written by one person, Moses. He introduces us to our Creator. Seventeen prophetic books, almost half of the Old Testament, are written by a group of men known as the Prophets. The prophetic books were written from the days of Elijah (874-853 BC) until the time of Malachi (400 BC). As a group, eighteen prophets represent the largest portion of contributors to our knowledge of God.  Sometimes, the first two, Elijah and Elisha are not counted as prophets. For this study, we will include them. The question that we will pursue, is why the prophets are important today. Moses led God’s people out of bondage to a promised land. God established a Covenant Relationship with His people. Moses, in his five books, taught the people the context of that covenant relationship. God would take care of His people if they obeyed God’s commandments. History shows us the people failed to uphold their end of the bargain. To bring them back into the covenant relationship with God, He sent prophets. Their purpose was to bring people of their time as well as future generations back to God. Secondarily, they were to reveal the consequences of not following their end of the covenant relationship. Remember, a covenant is a binding contract between two parties.

Our world is lost. Division and hatred are not only tolerated but rewarded. People choose leaders who mock God, enrich themselves at the expense of human life, and sacrifice the innocent without accountability. Godlessness has become a way of life for many today. Our world has been here before. Only the foolish would ignore history. Our God, our Creator, has never tolerated this before. It is time to search the words of God’s prophets to see what could be in store for us.

Over the next few months, we will look at this period of history, spanning about 450 years. A time when perversions were great, disobedience paramount, and God’s warnings and punishments clear. Just keep in mind that one generation of humans is about 20 to 30 years. Our God has amazing patience!  Dating prophetic writings is difficult and often controversial. Instead of dates, we will concern ourselves more about the order that they came and the content of their messages. It is also important to know what God’s people were doing to necessitate God sending a prophet. We will focus on how God communicates with us. How patient is our God? To what extent will God go to keep His end of the covenant relationship with us? Don’t worry about the terms “major” and “minor” prophets. They have no bearing on the importance of their prophetic messages, just the size of their contribution to our Bible. In this study series, all prophets will be treated equally. God’s prophets all had the unique skill to see humanity as God sees us.

The list below is our lesson plan. The date ranges are not necessarily when they lived but cover the period of their influence and prophecies.  Each week, we will take a prophet, in the probable order of their contributions, and publish a study.  At the end of our series, we will set up a separate study section on the Prophets of God for your permanent reference. Elijah is first and he comes next week.

  • Elijah – (870 BC to 845 BC)
  • Elisha – (845 BC to 800 BC)
  • Joel – (835 BC – 796 BC)
  • Jonah – (785 BC to 760 BC)
  • Amos – (760 BC to 753 BC)
  • Hosea – (755 BC to 725 BC)
  • Isaiah – 740 BC to 701 BC
  • Micah – (735 BC to 700 BC)
  • Nahum – (663 BC to 612 BC)
  • Zephaniah – (635 BC to 625 BC)
  • Jeremiah – (627 BC to 586 BC) 
  • Habakkuk – (610 BC to 605 BC)
  • Daniel – (604 BC to 532 BC)
  • Ezekiel – (593 BC to 571 BC)
  • Obadiah – (586 BC and 553 BC)
  • Haggai – (520 BC)
  • Zechariah – (520 BC to 470 BC)
  • Malachi – (445 BC)

Prophecy, itself, is a gift of the Holy Spirit. God chose His prophets even before they were formed in the womb. It is God who ordained them for their ministry. It is also God who gave each prophet their wisdom.

(Jeremiah 1:5) 1 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

(Numbers 12:6) – “he said, ‘Listen to my words: When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.’”

The value of a prophet is that they are God’s messenger, speaking the voice of God to His people. As we get to know our prophets better, we will see that God’s plan of salvation, Jesus Christ, is foretold through their messages. In the end, all prophets will lead us to Jesus. While their styles may be repetitive, and not always easy to understand, they tell important stories, not about the future, but about judgment, punishment, and restoration of our covenant relationship with God. Prophets reinforce the importance of repentance and obedience. God’s judgment of His people in the time of the prophets meant the people lost their land and their freedom. We are subject to the same judgment from God today. No one can claim to be part of the people of God while participating in an unrepentant rebellion against His commands. Not following God’s Truth has consequences!

Walking with the prophets of the Old Testament will help us understand that we struggle with the same sins and are subject to the same judgment, but we also share the same hope for restoration and renewal. The people of the prophets’ day looked into the future, placing all their hopes on the Messiah who would come. Christ came, Christ rose, and now we find our hope in Jesus Christ who is here with us today!


  • How do you use the Old Testament in your study of God’s Word?
    • Ideas to Explore: History, getting to know our, God, and creation story? The story of our salvation and hope? Understanding the causes and effects of human behavior?
  • Why do you think God used “prophets,” ordinary men to interact with His people?
    • Ideas to Explore: God had tried to do it directly with Moses but that didn’t work well. Maybe ordinary people would respond to ordinary men better?
  • How would the human perspective of sin and repentance differ from God’s perspective?
    • Ideas to Explore: God is patient but not necessarily accommodating of sin. God’s expectations are firm and consistent over time. Biblically, our world ends with two groups of people, those with God and those separated from God – Can humankind ever see this Truth?
  • Most prophets were disappointed in their people’s response to God’s messages that they shared. Did that matter to them?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is it good to know your faults? Does Godly advice still mean something even today? How do we feel when we see society abandon God?


  1. NIV New International Version Translations

The Really Big Question

As we end our year in search of God’s Shadows, it is good to reflect on the most important fact a person can learn in their lifetime. The Book of Job is thought to be the oldest written word of Scripture. Job struggles with God, asking the most important question humanity can ask its Creator:

(Job 14:14) 1 – “If someone dies, will they live again?”

In the Gospel of John, there is the story of a man named Lazarus. He is the brother to Martha and to Mary, the young woman who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped it off with her hair. Lazarus is a friend of the Lord. Jesus even weeps at the news of his death (John 11:35). But in this story, we can find hope for humankind and an answer to Job’s question. Humans, because of their free will, failed to secure their eternal life with God by willfully separating themselves through disobedience (the great apple debacle). Their failure to love God more than themselves set in motion a finite life. Death now haunts humanity.

(Genesis 3:17-19) – “To Adam, he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat from it,” ‘Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil, you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust, you will return.”

This passage shapes our understanding of death. Upon separation from God (Genesis 3:8), death became our destiny.

(John 11:25-26) – “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

John’s Gospel offers humanity hope. Jesus uses the word “life” to mean a resurrected life. Something different, something new, something we have not yet experienced. Jesus is telling Martha that even the one whose body is buried if they are a believer, will live despite their death. The believer will be resurrected. Jesus doesn’t end there; in the next verse, He speaks of one who lives and believes as never dying. Here “lives” is referring to eternal life. Remember that the Gospel of John was the last gospel written. John had watched Jesus and His ministry. He watched Lazarus come to life. John wanted to make sure that future Christians did not miss the point Jesus was making. Eternal life is not something that believers get in the future. Eternal life is something that believers have now! Even if the outer person dies, the believer will live as part of the outer Christ again since Jesus is the resurrection. Why? The believer already has eternal life in the inner Christ. What’s the catch? “Do you believe this?”

Humans are, by nature, dead from the moment of birth. Dead in the sense that our free will perverts our choices in life, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). We are separated from God through sin. This is what our Bible teaches. The first resurrection, the resurrection of which Jesus speaks, takes place when we believe. Jesus is changing Martha’s outlook on her brother’s death. This should not be new or shocking to us. Adam and Eve were hiding from God in paradise after their great sin. God immediately instituted the plan for their recovery, to fellowship with God. In Genesis 3:21. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” No more nakedness. In this moment of the first sin and first sacrifice, God’s plans are revealed. God knew at that moment how to fix everything through the incarnation of His Son, Jesus, and His sacrifice upon the Cross. The good news, it doesn’t end with the Cross.

There is the proverbial question of why did Jesus wait four days to come in order to bring Lazarus to life again? Where was His sense of urgency? He loved Mary and Martha. Why would Jesus let them have four days of utter grief and sorrow? “The world believes that there are different kinds of “dead:” there’s sort of dead, mostly dead, and all dead. 2” There was no doubt that by the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus was “all dead.” This would be the third time that Jesus spoke an “I AM” statement as part of a miracle. Jesus was the bread of life after He fed the five thousand. He was the light of the world after He healed the man born blind. Now, He is the resurrection and the life as He raises Lazarus from death. The implications of all of this for others would be that if you believe, you won’t be hungry, you won’t be in the dark, and, you will never die.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are brought into a new life. We will never die again. Our souls will live forevermore in fellowship with God. For Jesus to be the resurrection, He had to first defeat death. The empty tomb was Satan’s greatest defeat. “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Yes, from the moment of that first sin in Genesis, Satan’s days were numbered. Jesus Christ is Lord! This is because He defeated that ancient enemy: death!

The danger to all humanity is to miss the connection of Jesus to our lives. It isn’t just nice teaching. It is life-changing teaching. Why?

  • You are going to die someday – What will happen to you depends on how you answer Jesus’ question to Martha. Do you believe this? Not just do you believe that this is true, but do you believe this is true for you? Is your life now with Christ; is He your life?
  • All those we know, and love will die – It is going to happen, and it is going to hurt. We will grieve, we will weep. To an unbeliever, this is nonsense. Death is final. Faith makes all the difference. Do you believe this?
  • Death does not need to bring fear – God calls us to fight in this life for His Truth to become known. Our enemies will never stop attacking us. We are called to live with fortitude, strength, and courage in the Lord. Do you believe this?
  • Jesus is the Resurrection – We are not dead yet, are we? We are called to this life and the next life to be with Christ. We are called to live life and serve boldly with the Lord now and forever. Do you believe this?

The only New Year Resolution worth its salt is to BELIEVE!

Happy New Year


  • What are your greatest fears?
    • Ideas to Explore: Failure? Success? Judgment? Time? Death? Or maybe the unknown things that lie ahead?
  • Is it even reasonable to think about a life that comes after death?
    • Ideas to Explore: Where do our fears come from about death? Do people just ignore death, or do they even understand it? How will you understand it?
  • Do you believe Jesus died and came back to life? “Do you believe Him?”
    • Ideas to Explore: Jesus is trying to tell us that there is life after death. Why do so many people struggle with believing in Jesus? Would more evidence even help? 
  • The Scriptures are no ordinary set of writings. They are part history, part law, and part advice on how to live.  Could humanity write them without the inspired help from God?
    • Ideas to Explore: They are 6,000 years of writing. Is there anything equal to them? If humanity followed God’s Word and Truth, would we have a better world? Maybe even a perfect world? Why do so many people hate the thought of a Godly world?


  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. Quote taken from the movie, Princess Bride – quote no. 24

Do You Care?

It is time again for Christmas. That holiday is about trees, gifts, big family gatherings, meals, and traveling to see those whom we may not see all year. What is Christmas about? Let’s look at some of the traditions and see if we can find a pathway to better understanding.


The idea of giving someone gifts is not necessarily a Christmas tradition. Celebrations, whether personal or seasonal, have included gift-giving as part of their traditions for thousands of years. The first “Christmas Gifts” were given shortly after Jesus’ birth, the first Christmas. The Greek word magoi, correctly translated as “Magi” (Matthew 2:1), is a plural proper noun referring to people of a specific religious group that existed in the Ancient Near East, most specifically the area of ancient Media and Persia. Magi were astronomers, and the “star” they saw was a series of celestial events, including stars, planets, and conjunctions in retrograde, especially involving the “king planet” Jupiter. Some of the Magi were looking for a Messiah who would conquer darkness and restore justice in the world. The Bible does not tell us how many Magi came to see Jesus. All we know is that there were three gifts.

(Matthew 2:11) 1 – “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Gold for a King – Gold is rare, valuable, and hard to get. Part of its value is that it does not rust or corrode. It lasts forever. Both the Ark of the Covenant and the Jewish Temple were loaded with gold (Exodus 25). The child Jesus was to be the newborn King, the Messiah meant to rule forever!

Frankincense for a High Priest – The high priest of Israel burned incense in the temple on the Day of Atonement. The smoke generated by incense was intended to fill the Holy of Holies and hide God who dwelt on the mercy seat between the cherubim (Ark of the Covenant). If the high priest was exposed to the presence of God, he would die. Even the formulation of the incense had to be exact (Exodus 30:34). The child Jesus was to be the new High Priest.

Myrrh for a Sacrifice – The name Mary has the word myrrh as its root. When Mary presented Jesus at the temple, Simeon prophesies over Jesus and tells Mary that a sword will pierce her own heart as well. Myrrh reveals that our King and Priest, who is God forever, was somehow also a mortal man. His sacrifice upon the Cross and death in the place of His people would provide us access to eternal life.

The question is, “Does this mean anything to you?”

The Christmas Tree

Decorating houses with trees held different cultural meanings throughout history.

Roman culture – Evergreen trees symbolized light. Romans decorated their houses and temples with evergreen trees to mark the celebration of Saturnalia. It was a festival to honor their pagan god of agriculture, Saturn.

Greek culture – Coniferous pine was considered sacred in the world of vegetation. Greeks decorated their pines with bells and silver adornments. They even placed offerings under the tree as sacrifices to deities.

Japanese and Chinese culture – Cypress and pine trees are considered sacred and symbolize longevity and immortality in their cultures. The wood of these trees is used for building holy structures and temples.

German culture – In 16th century Germany, it is believed that the first known Christmas Tree was cut and decorated by a man named Martin Luther. He had six children named Elizabeth, Martin, Paul, Hans, Margaret, and Magdalene. One day, Martin Luther cut down an evergreen tree growing near his home. He bought it inside to bring some of its beauty and fight the darkness and bleakness of winter. With this evergreen tree standing tall in his house, Martin Luther compared the evergreen tree to his family’s faith in Jesus. He explained to his children that the tree remains green even in winter, just like their faith in Jesus. It remains green even in times of trouble and despair, just like their faith stays alive in Jesus in times of hardship and sorrow.

(Isaiah 40:31) – “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

The question is whether what Martin Luther thought, the same Martin Luther who brought about the Protestant Reformation, matters to you too.

The Star

The Star of Bethlehem was a very real occurrence, provable by science. It was as real as the birth of our Savior, Jesus! What Is the Significance of the Star of Bethlehem? Stellarium ( is a free open-source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars, or a telescope. link lets you view the sky by date over the Internet. Software of this type demonstrates the precision within our universe. God, at the moment of Creation, put in place the very constellations that would bring the Wise men to Bethlehem, the very circumstances of stellar retrograde that would form a bright star in the western skies to guide the Magi. The Star of Bethlehem reminds us that the gospel message is for everyone. God announced His Son’s birth to the world at creation, to show His love for all of humanity, and His desire for all to know Him. Do you care to know Him even better this Christmas?

(Matthew 2:2) – “and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

The Shepherds and the Sheep

Temple sheep were being raised for the Temple at Migdal Eder. This temple was located about a mile from Bethlehem itself. The shepherds in the Christmas story would have raised and tended to these sheep in the hills near Bethlehem. The value of these specific sheep, the shepherd’s duties, would have included protecting them from theft and injury. Only the unblemished sheep would be considered suitable for sacrificial purposes. Tradition has it that because those shepherds were raising Levitical sheep for the nearby temple, their responsibility of providing the “lambs without blemish” would have had special care from their birth. The selected lambs would have been wrapped in ribbons of cloth at birth to protect them from injury. The process was called swaddling. It was also customary during those times to wrap newborn infants in the same way and hence, the term “swaddling clothes” referred to the wrappings or protection for newborns. The shepherds would have also known of Micah’s prophecy, they would have known about the purpose of the Messiah, the Messianic Hope coming from the city of David. (See Lostpine’s Study: Thanks to the Shepherds of the World) The question is whether this helps you focus on what the holiday is really about.

The Stable

Why would the Messiah, the King Jesus, allow Himself to be born in such lowly circumstances? The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus was with God when the universe was created. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Jesus participated in the creation of everything, including humankind. Jesus started out and always wanted to maintain a relationship with His creation. He loves us! Humanity, however, abused the relationship and rebelled. The apple debacle removed humanity from both Jesus and God’s companionship. God and Jesus, however, never stopped loving us. Our Bible tells us that the blood of an unblemished lamb was sacrificed over and over by the Israelites to obtain forgiveness. Unfortunately, it offered only temporary forgiveness. Humanity loves to sin! Jesus, the creator of the universe, humbly came to earth to take the place of the lamb, shedding His blood once and for all time. The question is does it even matter to anyone anymore? It still matters to God and Jesus!

(John 3:16) – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Merry Christmas from


  • Do you celebrate Christ or Christmas?
    • Ideas to Explore: Through church services, special offerings, helping others who are in need, gift sharing with the poor, family? How do you celebrate Christ?
  • Do you have traditions like a tree, or a nativity scene set up somewhere, do you share presents?
    • Ideas to Explore: Are the traditions you have things that reinforce Christ’s mission on earth?
  • Do people see your gifts as something Christ would love to receive?
    • Ideas to Explore: For children, have you thought about gifts that tell the Christmas Story? For young adults, do your gifts prepare them for serving our God? For adults, will your gifts strengthen their hope and faith in our world? For seniors, will your gifts fill them with the reassurance that only God can give? 
  • Do you celebrate Christmas as the end of the calendar year or as the beginning of humanity’s hope?
    • Ideas to Explore: Too many people view Christmas as a time of labor and expense. It is Jesus’ birthday!


  1. NIV New International Version Translations

So What’s the Plan?

There were several dozen times that the Bible recorded Jesus praying. His most notable prayer is no doubt the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and (Luke 11:1-4). But there is another that offers even more insight into the purpose of prayer and the mission of the Church. Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane to set the stage for this prayer. It is just hours before his torture and death on the cross. Jesus slips away for a quiet moment and prays to His Father, God. Just hours before Jesus was arrested, we get to eavesdrop on a conversation with God. This becomes the longest recorded prayer in the New Testament. Jesus prays for Himself, that He would be glorified (John 17:1-5); for His disciples, that they would be sanctified (John 17:6-19); and for the church, that it would be unified (John 17:20-26).

(John 17:1-5) 1 – “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now, this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.’

Jesus begins His prayer with a recognition that God has always had a plan. The plan was to glorify God through Jesus using the cross. God laid his plans out immediately after humankind’s fall from grace. In Genesis 3:15, God is talking to Satan. The verse is commonly called the “Protevangelium.” This is a term that essentially signifies the idea of the “first gospel proclamation. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” This is an amazing early glimpse of God’s plan of redemption, His plan to put order in all of the world’s chaos. Its focus is on sending Satan into the eternal fire of hell (Revelation 20:10) and providing salvation for all believers.

Jesus recognized and submitted to God’s sovereign plan to glorify Himself through His death on the cross. We don’t debate the sovereignty of God. It is a practical truth to be applied anytime there is a major trial in life. The cross is an unlikely place to find glory. On that Friday, they didn’t make jewelry to display the cross attractively on a necklace. The cross was a place of shame, humiliation, and the most excruciating form of execution known to humankind. Yet God chose the cross to place His glory on display. In every religion except biblical Christianity, salvation has as part of it a component of human works or merit. The Protevangelium, the gospel of the cross, brings everyone before God as guilty sinners. Who gets the glory for salvation? God gets all the glory!

(John 17:6-12) – ‘I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you and believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.’

The second part of Jesus’s prayer is for His disciples. Not only for the original twelve that He picked and trained but all the future disciples that would be raised as part of hearing and trusting in the Protevangelium. Yes, from the beginning of our world, the plan was always to spread the good news of the Gospel’s message through discipleship. Jesus is praying that His disciples will live in such a way as to show the glory of God to the world (John 17:9-10). By showing the world that people in Christ are united, they will show that the Father (God) and the Son (Jesus) are the same. Jesus prays that His disciples will remain faithful to Him and not be defeated by the evil that is in the world. Jesus wants them to share in the triumphant joy that comes through completing the work the Father had given Him to do (John 17:11-13).

(John 17:13-19) – ‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.’

Jesus’s prayer is in preparation for Him leaving this world. He knows that it will be His disciples that carry on His work. He prays therefore that they will be neither discouraged by the world’s hatred nor corrupted by its sin (John 17:14-17). Jesus prays that His disciples turn their lives over to God and trust in God just as He has done. In this way, God’s Word and the message of the Gospel will continue to be spread throughout the world (John 17:18-19).

(John 17:20-26) – ‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known so that the love you have for me may be in them and that I may be in them.’”

In the final part of His prayer, Jesus prays for those who will believe through the preaching of that initial group of disciples and so become God’s new people and new disciples, the Christian church. He prays that the same unity as exists between the Father and the Son will bind all believers together. Unity in Jesus does not mean we have to agree with each other. While we are members of one family, members of any family will disagree. Our unity is about the Protevangelium. What is meant here is that we are united in knowing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God born of a woman. The “enmity” or hostility and hatred spoken of in Genesis 3:15 is between Satan and Jesus. The seed of the serpent, evil men, and demonic forces struck at the heel of the Savior when Judas, the Pharisees, the tumultuous crowds, and the Romans, conspired to condemn Jesus. Death, however, was overcome and Jesus rose on the third day. The ultimate victory was His, and He crushed the head of Satan, removing forever Satan’s rule over humankind.

Our salvation was assured by the incarnate Christ when He suffered and died for the souls of men (Hebrews 2:14–15). Because of what Jesus did on the cross, He “crushed” the devil’s head, defeating him forever. The Protoevangelium shows us that God always had the plan of salvation in mind and informed us of His plan as soon as sin entered the world. “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8). When we identify ourselves by our allegiance to Jesus, not a denomination, we emphasize our oneness. As followers of Jesus living in oneness, we are called to be humble, affectionate, kind, respectful, and caring. We are not called to tolerate sin or ignore God’s Truth!


  • What does the thought of knowing that from the time of creation, He not only created us with free will but put in place a “Plan B” to save us from ourselves?
    • Ideas to Explore: Does humanity accept its imperfection and sinfulness? Why or Why not? What would life on earth be like without free will? Can you find a flaw in God’s plans?
  • How has the consistency of God’s Word helped you with your faith?
    • Ideas to Explore: From Genesis to Revelation, God’s plans have been written with perfection. Do you see that perfection? If it had been nothing more than random rambling, would it have lasted the test of time?
  • Do you think of yourself as a disciple like Luke, John, or Paul?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is it because we have not been mentored like Jesus mentored His disciples?
  • How would you create disciples of Jesus?
    • Ideas to Explore: Scripture, training, regular attendance in church, stepping out, and taking risks with your faith walk?
  • Is discipleship the answer to passing on your faith to the next generation?
    • Ideas to Explore: Have you ever mentored someone in their faith? Have you ever been on a mission trip?


  1. NIV New International Version Translations

A Thankful Response

In June of 2022, Statista Research Department published the results of a public opinion poll on the most important problems facing the United States. Two concerns rose to the top: Tied at 18 percent, respondents listed the high cost of living and inflation along with dissatisfaction with the government and poor leadership. Christianity and Judaism both teach humanity to be concerned with the well-being of each other.

(Leviticus 19:16) 1 – “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life.’ I am the Lord.”

The contents of Leviticus are primarily a book of laws concerned with priests (those who were members of the priestly tribe of Levi) and their duties. One of its laws had to do with both the value we place on others along with their care and keeping. The Hebrew prophets frequently spoke against those who were content and comfortable while others were in great distress.

(Amos 6:1,4,6) – Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come!

You lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves.

You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.

Life is to be considered sacred, and we are obligated to do what we can to help others. The Prophet Jeremiah stated: “Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of famine; racked with hunger, they waste away for lack of food from the field.” (Lamentations 4:9). Yes, it was considered better to be killed than to die of hunger! The pursuit of fairness and justice in society is one of the most fundamental concepts of serving humanity. We are not to wait for the right opportunity, the right time, or place, but are to pursue or run after opportunities and to practice generosity, fairness, and justice. “Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 16:20) The Hebrew word for charity (tzedakah) means “justice.” The act of sharing is an act of justice. People in need are entitled to our love and help. They too are human beings created in God’s image. The hungry and the poor have a place and a purpose within God’s creation. King Solomon asserts “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3)

The act of charity was considered so important that it took priority even over the building of the Temple. King Solomon was prohibited from using the silver and gold that David, his father, had accumulated for the building of the Temple. That wealth was intended to be used to feed the poor during the three years of famine in King David’s reign (1 Kings 7:51). Poverty is destructive to the human personality and negatively shapes a person’s life experiences. “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor.” (Proverbs 10:15). Where there is no sustenance, there is no learning. The sufferings of poverty can cause a person to disregard their sense of right and wrong.

Unfortunately, compassion for the poor and hungry is not enough. A fundamental Biblical principle is that those who have much should share with others who are less fortunate. We are to reach out to all who are in need. We live in a world where millions are hungry. To honor our God and help those who cannot help themselves, we are all called to be compassionate, even viewing God’s word as a Voice of Duty. It may even require a simpler life for us to share more with others.

The Biblical use of the word “charity” (or we might use community service) is primarily found in the King James Version of the Bible, and it always means “love.” In the great “love chapter,” (1 Corinthians 13) the KJV translates the Greek word “agape” as “charity” while the modern Bible translations describe the word agape as meaning “unconditional love.” The only use of the word charity to mean “giving” is found in Acts 9:36, which refers to Dorcas (Tabitha), a woman “full of good works and charity.” The Greek word used in Acts means “compassion, as exercised towards the poor; beneficence.” The KJV translates this word used as “almsgiving.”

Dorcas is introduced in Acts as one known for her care of widows and her provisions of clothing for the poor. As a widow herself, she lived in the town of Joppa, a city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Dorcas was well-off and was loved by the townspeople. Well-off could easily be interpreted as the standard of living we all share here in our country. When Dorcas became ill and died, the people in Joppa called for the Apostle Peter. On Peter’s arrival, he found many other widows there, weeping. They all showed Peter “the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them” as evidence of Dorcas’ loving service on God’s behalf. No one should ever underestimate the impact simple acts of charity have on the people around them. In Dorcas’ case, they not only helped many of the poor in her community by making clothes, but she had given hope and purpose to many other women who were also widows. Peter “presented her alive” to the mourning community, as a miracle to their faithfulness.

The story of Dorcas is just one example in our Bible of how we are to meet the needs of those around us. God’s children are to “continue to remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10). James, Jesus’ half-brother, is quoted in (James 1:27) “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” This is how the Body of Christ functions. When people see justice, faith, and charity in action, it is one of the greatest personal testimonies that anyone can give to their own families and community.

(1 Timothy 6:17-18) – “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share”

As we end this study, it might be helpful to look to the Apostle Paul who is writing to his protege, Timothy about wealth. Those so blessed to have what the world considers wealth are reminded not to place value on themselves because of their wealth. Such an attitude does nothing for someone’s mind or moral worth. The uncertainty of wealth, things which never last or are ever-changing, seldom continue with the original holder. Worldly riches are never to be trusted. They are not permanent. Only God is permanent. Paul reminds us that our wealth is God’s wealth, and we are but temporary stewards of it. It is with our “free will” that we will determine its use. The true comforts of life can only come from God, as well as the necessities of life. While God gives liberally, humanity divides it up badly. In the end, God is calling each of us individually to willingly share His blessings with those in need and then feel good about it!

(2 Corinthians 9:7) – “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”


  • What charitable acts are most visible in your community?
    • Ideas to Explore: Food banks, sharing centers, churches, businesses, law enforcement, etc.
  • Have you ever been hungry, very hungry?
    • Ideas to Explore: What was the longest time you went without food? How did you feel? There are tens of thousands of homeless adults and children who go to sleep hungry every day – How do you feel about that?
  • In what ways do you share your “wealth” with others?
    • Ideas to Explore: Acts of volunteerism, gifts of food, financial support, etc.
  • What would you do to end hunger in your community? In the world?
    • Ideas to Explore: Support of local sharing centers, support of church programs directed at hunger? For supporting hunger programs in the world, why is this more difficult? Are there programs you support?
  • Have you ever volunteered in a local soup kitchen?
    • Ideas to Explore: There is nothing more rewarding than gaining an understanding about the people in need. You should never fear seeing them, helping them directly.


  1. NIV New International Version Translations

What does it Take to Discern God’s Will?

(1 Kings 3:11) 1 – “So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”

The heart of the question is what skills people need to recognize God’s Will for their lives when they live in Satan’s world that is full of temptation and deceit. Is there a checklist or a set of guidelines that could serve to protect ourselves and our families as we deal with a dangerous world out of control? The word “discern” and its appropriate derivatives all come from the Greek word, anakrino, meaning “to distinguish by diligent search and examination.” We especially use the word when seeking wisdom regarding a difficult question or challenge. King Solomon was known for his power of discernment, making many wise decisions and moral judgments (1 Kings 3:9, 11).

Our task should always begin first by seeking God’s Truth. The word “seek” is an action verb. It takes effort, it takes time, it takes research, it takes prayers, and it takes the Holy Spirit to clear our reasoning and provide the revelation necessary to make good choices. None of this is obvious in a corrupt world. A discerning person will begin by acknowledging the value of God’s Word: “All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge.” (Proverbs 8:8-9). To exercise care and love one another, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9). Paul simply states that we must be able to determine what is “evil” and what is “good.”

There are a few good habits to develop that can guide someone through the process:

Prayer – God expects us to ask Him to reveal answers to us. Have a conversation with God. Ask God for wisdom. Amazing the undeserved gifts He grants.

Allocate Enough Time – The best habit one can have is to regularly make time for God. Sometimes, it is nothing more than silence. Make a habit out of reading the Scriptures. God wrote down what we need to get through this world. It ought to be your favorite thing to do!

Never Stop Learning – Studying God’s Word isn’t a one-time task. To change your heart, to open your mind to the Revelation of the Holy Spirit, and to sharpen your reasoning is a journey, it takes a lifetime. There is a world of gifted authors, commentaries, and study material. Use them. “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

Take Time for Group Study – “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Yes, read the Bible but reading and studying are two different things. Attend group studies where you can ask questions, seek how others have overcome worldly challenges, and listen to alternative opinions. Yours, you know, could be wrong!

Check Your Sources – Just remember that the Internet contains more errors than truths. Why? Because everything that is published on it stays on it, whether it is right or wrong. No one denomination, no one theologian has a perfect record either. History proves that! Discernment requires that you keep your eyes open, and trust only overwhelming evidence. “Look for the Fruit.” God’s Willl for your life will always produces fruit for the Kingdom of God and lead you to Jesus!

Discern God’s Voice in Others – “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26) There is no greater skill that one can acquire than to hear and see God’s wisdom through others. Look for the fruit that is being produced. It requires a selfless form of observation and a humble heart to perfect. Mentors in the faith are important and will help those who hunger to discern God’s Will for their lives.

Serve Others – Seeking God’s Will isn’t just an intellectual exercise. To fully understand scriptural truths is a lifetime journey. But head knowledge is of marginal value to the kingdom of God. He expects us to first understand it, then put it in our hearts, and then spread it out in the community He’s placed us in. And if Jesus isn’t close somewhere, go back and start again!

Worship God – Take time to thank God for what He is doing in your life. We have a benevolent Creator. People need to act like it!

Reflective Conclusions:

  • You must believe that God is Real and has shared His Truth with us. Thus, the challenge is in our vision and intellect, not our God’s trustworthiness.
  • You must believe that God has placed in you a moral conscience, which exists as part of the Natural Laws of our very Universe. It is the roadmap through the good and evil in our world.
  • You must believe that God has already established the necessary first principles for humanity. Examples of these are God’s Law, science, government, education, politics, and economics. Our job on this earth is to discover them using common sense (discernment).
  • And lastly, you must trust that human reason and heavenly revelation will work together. Each one fortifies the other. For humankind can discern little without the aid of the Holy Spirit.

(1 Corinthians 2:14-16) – “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”


  • Where is your best source for detailed information about God?
    • Ideas to Explore: Bible, Bible plus Commentaries, Internet, Reading books, Church.
  • What do you do to make sure what you see in a book or on the Internet is true?
    • Ideas to Explore: Find alternative sources, talk with people you trust.
  • Why do you think the media is not trusted anymore?
    • Ideas to Explore: Their agenda is against God. It is all about the ratings and money.
  • Why do we allow our children to be exposed to the sin of the world in school but not allow them to be exposed to the Bible?
    • Ideas to Explore: Where do you think the idea of no God in schools came from? How has that helped/hurt our society? How would you fix it?

For more information, you can check Lostpine’s Study on What is God’s Truth by clicking HERE

For more information on recognizing God’s Truth, you can check Lostpine’s Study Can You Spot It When You See It? by clicking HERE.


  1. NIV New International Version Translations

Is Anything Sacred Anymore?

There is (or was) a wooden chest, covered in pure gold, with an elaborately designed lid called the mercy seat. In history, it is called the Ark of the Covenant. This is believed to be the most sacred relic of the Israelites. But in 597 and 586 B.C., the Babylonian Empire conquered the Israelites. The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and the Ark, stored in the Temple, disappeared from history. No one knows for sure whether it was moved, destroyed, or hidden. What we do know is that it is still missing. The Ark was so sacred that touching it meant instant death. Stored in the Temple of Jerusalem’s holiest chamber, only the high priest was allowed in its presence and only once a year. Everything about the contents of the Ark of the Covenant is a mystery. It hasn’t been seen for nearly three thousand years. All we know about the Ark and its contents is what the Bible tells us. And what is written in the Bible was written long after the Ark disappeared.

(Hebrews 9:1-5) 1 – “Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.”

According to the Hebrews, the Ark of the Covenant contained the two stone tablets with the original ten commandments written upon them, Aaron’s rod (staff), and a gold jar containing manna. Why these three items? Let’s see if we can understand the importance of the Israelites and our faith even today.

The Stone Tablets of the Ten Commandments

Rabbinical Judaism as found in the Talmud and Mishnah (written collection of the Jewish oral traditions known as the Oral Torah) teaches that the tablets of the Law were made of blue sapphire stone (also called lapis lazuli) 2 Scripture supports this. “And saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky.” (Exodus 24:10). Since the lapis is the only stone mentioned in this context, we can conclude that this is the stone that God used to write on. The Bible also says that God not only engraved the Ten Commandments, but He also made the stone: “The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.” (Exodus 32:16).

Why were there two Ten Commandments Tablets? It is not because the commandments would not fit on one. Hollywood got this all wrong. Half of the commandments were not on the front of each stone tablet. Scriptures describe the tablets in detail and tell us there is writing on both the front and the back of each tablet. The tablets, in Exodus 32:15, are more accurately described “Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back.” There were two copies of a Covenant Oath, where each party had a copy. This is not unlike our legal contracts of today. Both God and the descendants of Abraham had entered into a binding agreement. Both testimony documents would be required for the agreement to be lawful and enforceable on both parties to the covenant. They were kept together in the Ark of the Covenant. That is why it is called the Ark of the Covenant because it houses the two testimony tablets of the covenant. The agreement, the Covenant, was simply that God would be the eternal provider of care in exchange for the commitment of His people to follow the terms of the contract (covenant). If you had a written contract of any form that affected your livelihood, you too would consider it important.

Manna in a Gold Jar

The manna (mon) was the miraculous edible substance that fell each morning as dew from heaven during the 40 years between the Exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Israel of the promised land. You need to stop and think about that for a moment. For 40 years, God would provide sustenance to the people of Israel as they traveled across a desert. The manna would last only for that day and could not be stored up. One exception, the manna that fell as dew on the day before the Sabbath would last until the Sabbath was over. Each evening, the Israelites would find quail for meat. There could be no greater proof of God’s Covenant to His people than His demonstration of this sustenance for their travels and their faith in His provisioning.

(Exodus 16:33-34) – “So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.”

Moses was instructed by God to preserve an omer (3.7 Quarts) of manna as a reminder of the bread He gave them to eat in the wilderness on their escape from Egypt. God had kept His Covenant with His people. Whether it would last beyond a day or not is often debated. But again, God could have preserved the manna forever if He wished.

The Budding of Aaron’s Staff

(Numbers 16:1-7) – “ Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

Moses ran into a leadership problem. A few of the Levites became disgruntled about the extra authority given to Moses and his older brother, Aaron. Korah, who was also a Levite, joined with two others, Dathan and Abiram, to incite a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. To put an end to the unrest, God commanded Moses to have the leader of each tribe of Israel bring his rod or staff to the tent of meeting, with Aaron’s rod representing the tribe of Levi. Each of the twelve leaders was to have his name inscribed on his rod. The Lord told Moses, “The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.” (Numbers 17:5). They left their rods before the Lord, and in the morning, Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had blossomed and produced almonds. (Numbers 17:8). This was a clear demonstration of the power of the One who gives life. God then instructed Moses to place Aaron’s staff permanently with the Ark of the Covenant to serve as a warning to future rebels.

Aaron’s rod would become the perfect metaphor to represent the priesthood itself. It would solidify Aaron as the head of God’s church as the Israelites moved onto the promised land. Christ would later go on to ordain His apostles and ministers to those same goals, that they should go forth and bring fruit, and that their fruit should remain for the people.

(John 15:5-8) – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me ,you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire , and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

No wonder the Ark of the Covenant was considered the most sacred of artifacts! But do we hold anything sacred anymore? What would you fill the ornate box with today?

  • The Ark of the Covenant represented God’s contract with humanity.
  • The Covenant included God’s Laws for humanity to follow.
  • The gold jar of Manna would represent the outstanding patience, reliability, and provisioning of God to sustain us even when it seems impossible. That was God’s end of the bargain!
  • Aaron’s Staff (rod) would serve to remind everyone that even death can be defeated by God. As it was through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and Christ’s resurrection, even a dead stick can bud, blossom, and bear fruit through God.


  • What makes something sacred?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is it up to God? Can humankind make something sacred without God? Who chose the items that would be gathered within the Ark of the Covenant?
  • What things do you consider sacred in your life?
    • Ideas to Explore: Are there examples of God’s handiwork or His provisioning in your life? Do they represent things along your faith journey when God seemed closest? Are they people, things to remember events by or actual items?
  • Would it help or hurt your faith in God if the Ark was found?
    • Ideas to Explore: Even when the Ark was with Israel, they still would periodically abandon God.
  • What is it about human nature that would let someone forget forty years of God’s provisioning and abandon Him for a false God?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is it the embedded sinfulness of humanity? Is it that we need constant reminders?
  • What would society consider to be most sacred today?
    • Ideas to Explore: Are they wealth like stocks, or bonds? Are they power, such as position or title? Are they physical things like land? Are they living things like people? Are they Godly things? Would the Constitution and Bill of Rights be considered sacred?


  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. (Obadiah Bertinoro on Mishnah, Avot 5:6. Cf. Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 38a).
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