“How are you at defending your faith?” February 16

 

How are you at defending your faith? - How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you're not a believer because it's inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a "personal thing" when you had an opportunity to "give a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to “give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.

 

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 3 & 4
Psalm 23
Proverbs 9.1-6
Matthew 27.55-66

 

How are you at defending your faith?

 

Matthew 27.55-66

Are you prepared?

 

bible study

In this passage, we find three of the women who followed Jesus there at the cross “looking on from afar.” It’s interesting to note that there is no record of any of the women who had followed Jesus leaving Him or denying Him in those last hours, when most of the men fled in fear.

What about you and me?

Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to defend and talk about what you believe?” Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.

Maybe we’re afraid someone won’t like us? Or of jeopardizing something we want? Or we’re afraid of the consequences?

Certainly, we need to be wise in the work place, but, at times, we keep silent more because it’s uncomfortable. Other times, we don’t speak up because we don’t really know how to defend our faith and we’re afraid we’ll sound foolish or mess it up.

Yet look at what the Apostle Peter told a earlier generation of believers–people who lived in almost constant danger of persecution or worse:

13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.13-17).

What do you need to do to be better prepared to “defend the faith”? Do you need to get involved in a discipleship class or Bible study so you can learn the basics of the Christian faith? Do you need to pray for boldness or freedom from fear? Do you just need to step out in faith?

Leave me a comment at the bottom of this post if you would like more information about discipleship or check out Fundamentals of the Faith: 13 Lessons to Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Leviticus 3 & 4

The Messy Business of Sin

 

The primary theme in Leviticus is holiness. God is holy and He has commanded us to be holy just as He is (1 Pet. 1.14-16).

The need for holiness is attested to by the complicated systems of sacrifices and offerings. The animal sacrifices made temporary atonement for the sins of the priests and the people.

And what a “messy” and costly business the sacrificial system really was.

But then, I’m reminded that sin itself is “messy” business! Think of all the messes we make in our lives: our friendships, our marriages, our families, our finances, and every area of life. It’s not always “pretty” and the only remedy is Christ.

When we see our complete failure to be holy and come to understand that He died as the perfect Sacrifice for all who believe, we can exchange our sin for His holiness.

But sometimes, before that can happen, Continue reading

“How to Overcome Evil” September 19

 

How to Overcome Evil

We are not to be overcome by evil. In fact, we are commanded to overcome it! Scripture gives specific instructions for how to overcome evil. Do you know what it is?
In our New Testament reading we’ll look at Paul’s warnings and concerns about false teachers and learn how to recognize them when they come our way.
Also read about the heart, godly jealousy, and how to become more steadfast in difficult circumstances.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 29
Psalm 108.1-6
Proverbs 25.21-22
2 Corinthians 11.1-15

 

How to Overcome Evil

 

Proverbs 25.21-22:

The Most Powerful Force in the World

 

God has given us a powerful weapon for overcoming evil. When we’re sinned against we want to fight back with anger, bitterness, gossip, withholding love and affection, and dozens of other sinful ways. But those are not the weapons God has commanded and empowered.

Today’s passage says:

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”

These are coals of conviction. Love and kindness will often soften the hardest hearts. But no matter how the other person responds, God has commanded us to do good for them. And the promise that follows is, “the Lord will reward you.” Paul quoted this passage in Romans 12 when he said:

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.17-21).

We are not to be overcome by evil. In fact, we are commanded to overcome it! So how do we overcome evil?—with good! The love of God is the most powerful force in the world and it wins in the end!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Isaiah 29:

He wants your heart!

 

Verse 13, “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.”

God is not impressed with our “praise-the-Lords,” our Christian yard signs, or our involvement in religious activities. Neither is He impressed with our Bible knowledge or our pious-sounding prayers.  Continue reading

“Unborn Babies, Ungodly Friends & Turning the World Upside Down” July 12

 

Unborn Babies, Ungodly Friends & Turning the World Upside Down - As a nation we will answer to God for our failure to defend the fatherless. Pray that our nation as a whole and our leaders, in particular, would repent and change. In the meantime, let's commit to do all we can for the most innocent and helpless of the fatherless, our unborn babies. Can being unequally yoked in marriage, in business, and in our close friendships affect our walk with God?As a nation we will answer to God for our failure to defend the fatherless. Pray that our nation as a whole and our leaders, in particular, would repent and change. In the meantime, let’s commit to do all we can for the most innocent and helpless of the fatherless, our unborn babies.

Can being unequally yoked in marriage, in business, and in our close friendships affect our walk with God?

With all the evil in the world, can believers still turn the world upside down?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 19 & 20
Psalm 82.1-8
Proverbs 20.29-30
Acts 17.1-15

 

Unborn Babies, Ungodly Friends & Turning the World Upside Down

 

Psalm 82.1-8:

Our Failure to Defend the Fatherless

 

The word “god” here refers to world leaders. All authority comes from Him and ultimately all the world’s leaders will answer to Him. This phrase from our reading in 2 Chronicles comes to mind, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD …  therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you.”

Verse 3 says, “Defend the poor and fatherless …” If there is any area where our leaders, the political movers and shakers, the media, and people as a whole, have lost any fear of the Lord, it’s in this area.

We may be defending the poor, though not necessarily wisely, but we have horribly ignored the second part, that of defending the fatherless. Instead, as a nation, by making abortion a woman’s right, we have decided to simply destroy many of the “fatherless” as an inconvenience! Pray that the fear of God would once more rule our country!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Chronicles 19 & 20:

Rebuked by God for the People with Whom He Associated

 

Verses 19.1-2, “Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, ‘Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore the wrath of the LORD is upon you.'”

Here was a man who loved God and obeyed Him in many areas, but God was greatly displeased with him because of the people with whom he associated!  Continue reading

December 6 “Turn your world upside down”

turn your world upside downWe have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and look at the consequences! It has affected education, politics, business, family life and more. Like a handful of faithful men and women did in the first century, how can you turn your world upside down?

 

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 3 & 4
Psalm 138.8
Proverbs 29.18
1 John 4.1-21

 

Hosea 3 & 4:

Turn your world upside down

What a beautiful picture of God’s mercy with His people and the fact that He will, eventually, redeem the true church and the nation of Israel.

Verse 3.1, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.’ ”

But that does not mean that there are not consequences for sinful behavior.

It’s impossible not to see some of the parallels between our nation and the church of God in America to rebellious Israel. We have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and loved a lover, a god, of our own making—one who allows us to live however we desire. Look at some of the phrases in chapter 4:

“…no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land … swearing and lying … killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint … bloodshed upon bloodshed … you have rejected knowledge … forgotten the law of your God … they set their heart on iniquity.”

No truth or knowledge of God: He’s been “kicked out” of our schools, our government and the public arena.

Swearing and lying: In politics, in business (whatever it takes to make a buck), and the list goes on.

Killing and stealing: Just turn on the nightly news.

Committing adultery: Even a sitting President can get away with sexual immorality and argue the meaning of the words. Continue reading

November 15 “Church involvement: optional or necessary?”

church benches pewHow do you view attendance at worship services and the importance of church involvement? Is it a requirement for a Christian? Is it a duty? Is it even necessary?

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 21 & 22
Psalm 126.1-6
Proverbs 28.23
Hebrews 10.19-39

Ezekiel 21 & 22:

Patiently inviting & warning

As we read the prophets it may seem that God is saying the same things over and over. It’s easy to get weary of reading them. But as we read these prophesies concerning God’s judgment, we need to remember that God repeats things because we need to hear them repeatedly. It’s His mercy and patience at work.

Even today, God has faithful men and women who continue to sound the alarm, to warn of the dangers of sin and compromise in our society. But many want to cover their ears, or worse, attack those who speak truth. They call us homophobes, mean-spirited, and narrow-minded and accuse us of trying to force our beliefs on others. But we need to be like faithful Noah who both encouraged others to get into the ark and warned of the coming flood. We need to speak the truth in love, inviting others to come into the ark of salvation while warning of the judgment to come.

 

Psalm 126.1-6:

Tears & joy

This psalm was probably written about Israel’s eventual repentance and return from captivity in Babylon, but also applies to our repentance and salvation. Those who sow tears of repentance shall reap the joy of salvation. Continue reading

July 18 “Paul’s secret to finishing well”

finish-line[1]

Will you finish well or will pride and self-sufficiency show up when least expected? Find out what makes the difference.

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 32 & 33
Psalm 85.8-13
Proverbs 21.12
Acts 20.17-38

2 Chronicles 32 & 33:

He started out well, but …

Wow! What a great start Hezekiah had. When he realized the Assyrian King Sennacherib was plotting to overtake Judah he sprung into action, working with his leaders and encouraging the people by reminding them of God’s faithfulness. Chapter 32.7-8:

7 “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

And when the danger grew worse: Continue reading