“Kept by Grace” September 25

 

Kept by Grace - No amount of good works can make us right with God. And just as we are saved by grace through faith, we are kept by grace.No amount of good works can make us right with God. And just as we are saved by grace through faith, we are kept by grace.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 41 & 42
Psalm 109.26-31
Proverbs 26.3-4
Galatians 3.1-29

 

Kept by Grace

 

Galatians 3.1-29:

Saved by Grace and Kept by Grace

 

Verse 21, “… if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.”

I touched on this a couple of days ago when I talked about how we are all legalists at heart. We are so prone to believe that if we are somehow just good enough, we can be right with God. So often when you ask people why they think they will go to heaven, they will say “because I’m a pretty good person.”

But Romans tells us, “there is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3.10). We cannot be right with God on our own. As Jesus told us in John 3, we must be born again by the Spirit of God. We must accept Christ’s sacrifice and payment for our sin.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2.8-9).

We are saved by grace through faith in the Son and what He did for us. Ephesians 2.10 tells us that a changed life will produce good works, but they cannot make us righteous. Instead, good works flow from our righteousness in Him.

Just as we are saved by grace, we are kept by the same grace.

Jesus said in John 10:

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

In Romans 8, Paul said:

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And in Ephesians 1:

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

While it is not a license to sin (Rom. 6.1-2), our eternal security is sure because it’s not based on our ability to hang on to it. It’s based on His promises, His power, and His grace.

 

Kept by Grace -


Today’s Other Readings:

 

Isaiah 41 & 42:

His Care for the Faithful

 

Chapter 41 was written to warn those in Israel, who persisted in idolatry, but also to encourage and comfort those who remained faithful to the One True God.

Chapter 42 contains many prophesies about the Messiah. Jesus quoted from this chapter in Matthew 12 speaking about Himself (Matt. 12.17-21).  Continue reading

“Are You Prepared?” September 9

 

Are You Prepared? - We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and, even, hatred. Christian organizations that support the traditional family and are pro-life have been listed as "hate groups" along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. Earlier this week Amy Barrett, a highly qualified nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit and a devout Catholic, was questioned about her religious convictions by two well-known Senators, even though the Constitution prohibits any kind of religious test to hold public office. And we've probably just begun to experience the hostility and persecution that the Bible tells us will come.We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and, even, hatred. Christian organizations that support the traditional family and are pro-life have been listed as “hate groups” along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.

Earlier this week Amy Barrett, a highly qualified nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit and a devout Catholic, was questioned about her religious convictions by two well-known Senators, even though the Constitution prohibits any kind of religious test to hold public office.

And we’ve probably just begun to experience the hostility and persecution that the Bible tells us will come.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 9 & 10
Psalm 106.1-5
Proverbs 25.1-2
2 Corinthians 1.1-24

 

Are You Prepared?

 

2 Corinthians 1.1-24:

Epic Changes

 

Paul Nyquist in his book, Prepare, says the following:

Get ready. An exciting, yet terrifying era is beginning for American believers. As cultural changes sweep our country, we’ll soon be challenged to live out what the Bible says about confronting and responding to persecution. For nearly 250 years, Christians in America were able to live in relative freedom from persecution. We escaped because our society historically embraced and promoted biblical values. Our founding fathers penned a Constitution esteeming religious freedom and establishing that rights come from God, not the government.

But we’re witnessing an epic change in our culture— a spiritual climate shift threatening to reshape life as we know it. Hostility and intolerance are replacing toleration. Rejection and even hatred are pushing aside acceptance.

John S. Dickerson, in his well-researched book The Great Evangelical Recession, writes, “In the coming decades United States evangelicals will be tested as never before, by the ripping and tearing of external cultural change— a force more violent than many of us expect. Evangelicalism in the United States has stood strong through centuries of difficulties and setbacks. She has not seen anything quite like what she will see in the next fifty years.”

The complete title of Nyquist’s book is Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture. The world around us is changing rapidly and, whether we want to or not, we need to be prepared.

More and more often, Christians will be forced to choose between saying and doing what’s pleasing to God and what’s acceptable to those around us. And those opposed to biblical values are increasingly bold and vocal about their opposition and loathing.

Just this week, two well-known Senators challenged a judicial nominee about her ability to carry out the law because of her Catholic beliefs.

According to The Washington Post:

Amy Barrett, a nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit, has spoken often of her Catholic faith and drawn opposition from liberal groups, which argue that she’d place it above the law. Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, echoed those concerns Wednesday at a confirmation hearing, telling Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern …”

Here is the full context of Feinstein’s comments:

Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that — you know, dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.

It’s clear what Feinstein, a stalwart defender of abortion rights, is getting at here, given that her questioning of Barrett focused heavily on Barrett’s views of Roe v. Wade. But her use of the word “dogma” has plenty on the right alleging that she’s applying a religious test to Barrett’s nomination.

The Constitution, of course, prohibits religious tests, saying that ” … no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Some on the right now say Feinstein is violating that, too.

 

Are You Prepared? - We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and, even, hatred. Christian organizations that support the traditional family and are pro-life have been listed as "hate groups" along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. Earlier this week Amy Barrett, a highly qualified nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit and a devout Catholic, was questioned about her religious convictions by two well-known Senators, even though the Constitution prohibits any kind of religious test to hold public office. And we've probably just begun to experience the hostility and persecution that the Bible tells us will come.


How to Prepare

 

Persecution has always been a reality for believers in Christ. It may vary in degree in different cultures and time periods, but Jesus warned us to expect it (Jn. 15.20). The Apostle Paul said, “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3.12).

In fact, in spite of the fact that it flies in the face of some current teaching, the Bible says persecution is good for us. James said:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (Jas. 1.2-4 NLT).

Persecution, when responded to rightly, develops Christian character, helps us mature in Christ, draws us closer to the Lord, and is a testimony to the world. So how do we prepare to face it when it comes?  Continue reading

“Would you raise your hand?” August 1

 

Would you raise your hand? - What if God gave you a dangerous assignment? Would you be willing to go? Would you raise your hand and say, "I will go and if I perish, I perish"? Our passage in Proverbs warns us about the slavery of debt and Paul, in our New Testament reading, hits us with the issue of sin and then shows us God's cure. What if God gave you a dangerous assignment? Would you be willing to go? Would you raise your hand and say, “I will go and if I perish, I perish”?

Also, our passage in Proverbs warns us about the slavery of debt and Paul, in our New Testament reading, hits us with the issue of sin and then shows us God’s cure.

 

Today’s Readings:
Esther 3 & 4
Psalm 89.46-52
Proverbs 22.7-8
Romans 3.1-31

 

Would You Raise Your Hand?

 

Esther 3 & 4:

If I Perish, I Perish

 

Paul warned the Galatians that those who belong to the enemy will persecute and mistreat God’s children.

“But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now” (Gal. 4.29).

The devil has always been out to destroy that which God loves. It’s true today and it was no different in Esther’s day. But the good news is that the sovereign Lord was, is and always will be in control of the ultimate outcome.

Because of God’s favor, Esther was now Ahasuerus’ Queen, but even as Queen, her right to come into the King’s presence was limited. But now her people were in great danger and her Cousin Mordecai sent her a message to let her know she needed to petition the King on their behalf. Such a bold move could cost her life.

But Mordecai’s words to Esther encouraged her to trust in God’s sovereignty, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (vs. 14) and she responded in faith, “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (vs. 16).

I, actually, think Mordecai’s question was more of a challenge than a question. Look at the rest of verse 14:

For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

What about you and me? This is the time and place that God has chosen for us to live and bring Him glory (Acts 17.26). This is the family. This is the spouse. This is the nation. This is the time.

How would you respond if standing up for God or His people could cost your life? Most of us won’t be faced with the risk of, literally, losing our lives, but we are, at times, faced with the risk of losing favor or reputation or some other temporal benefit. How would we respond?

Jesus said:

23 …If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels (Lk. 9.23-26).

Are we willing to take a stand? Are we willing to be used by our sovereign God for this time in the kingdom? Could we say with Esther, “I will go and if I perish, I perish”? Would you raise your hand? Would I?

Continue reading

“From Grief to Joy” July 28

 

From Grief to Joy - Nehemiah 8.10 says, "... the joy of the Lord is your strength." How did the people in Nehemiah's day go from grief to joy?Nehemiah 8.10 says, “… the joy of the Lord is your strength.” How did the people in Nehemiah’s day go from grief to joy? Why should we find joy for the same reason?

Also, read about the confidence we can have in life’s storms.

 

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 8 & 9
Psalm 89.11-18
Proverbs 21.29-31
Acts 27.27-44
 

From Grief to Joy

 

Nehemiah 8 & 9:

The Importance of Different Gifts

 

God was at work. He had prepared Ezra with a great knowledge of the Scriptures and Nehemiah as a great leader with the energy and gifts to accomplish the rebuilding of the walls. What a great example of how God gifts people differently and then brings them together to accomplish His work. Ezra, while a great man of God, had been back in Jerusalem for twelve years, but it wasn’t until Nehemiah came that the Feast of Booths was reinstated, the walls were rebuilt, and other things began to happen.

In the New Testament we are called the body of Christ. Romans 12.4-8 says:

4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

As believers, each of us has been gifted to serve God and each other. 1 Corinthians 12 says:

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (v.7).

Every gift is necessary and important.

“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? …And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” (v. 17, 19).

 

From Grief to Joy

 

The result of Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s gifts working together, along with those of others who helped teach the people, was a reverence for the Word. They stood for three hours or more while the Scriptures were read and expounded … they bowed their faces to the ground … they wept in repentance.

It was good that the people wept and were grieved over their sin. We, too, should be grieved when we are confronted with our sin through the reading and study of the Scriptures, the preaching of the Word, or the rebuke of others. But, as Matthew Henry says in his commentary:

“Even sorrow for sin must not hinder our joy in God, but rather lead us to it and prepare us for it.”

The wretchedness of our sin should cause us to rejoice in the amazing grace of God through the gospel!

“Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’ … And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them” (Neh. 8.10, 12).

The proper understanding of God and His word led to great joy and celebration among the people.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 89.11-18:

Glories, Blessings, and Rejoicing

 

praise worship gratituteIn verses 11-14 the psalmist continues to extol the glories of God, and in verse 15 he begins to talk about the blessings of the children of God. Then verses 16-18 remind us that we can rejoice in who God is (good and righteous), that He makes us strong, that He causes us to walk in light (wisdom and understanding) and that it pleases Him to take care of us.

Meditating on the glories (character qualities or attributes of God) and the blessings of being His children should cause us to rejoice and be thankful.  Continue reading

“Parenting: Does A + B = C?” July 8

 

Parenting: Does A + B = C? -

 

From today’s New Testament reading: “Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone”—This truth is central to our faith and must be strongly guarded and taught.

And from our reading in Psalms: Is there a formula for godly parenting? If we do A + B (meet certain biblical requirements), does God promise us “C” (godly children)?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 11 & 12
Psalm 80.14-19
Proverbs 20.19-21
Acts 15.1-21

 

Parenting: Does A + B = C?

 

Psalm 80.14-19:

The Truth Will Follow Them

 

Verse 19, “Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved!”

As I read that verse, my first thought was, even though they constantly wandered away from God, they knew where their salvation could be found.

Many of us have done our best to raise our children “in the discipline and admonition of the Lord,” only to have them wander from the faith or fail to make a personal commitment to the Lord. We are often confused and discouraged, because we saw parenting as something of a formula. If I do “A + B” (take my children to church, teach them biblical truth, send them to church camp, etc.), then God will give me “C” (believing, obedient children).

We back up our belief with verses like Proverbs 22.6:

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

But this is not an iron clad guarantee that our children will serve God or that they will never rebel. Remember, God’s children rebel, too, and He’s the perfect parent.

What it means is they will not be able “to depart” from the truth. They won’t be able to escape what they know. They can choose to walk away, but the truth will follow them like their shadow and be there when they come to their senses as the prodigal son did (Lk. 15.11-31) and as the Israelites did on many occasions.


Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Chronicles 11 & 12:

Direct Your Heart

 

Notice verse 12.14 about Rehoboam, “… he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord.” The NASB says, “he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.” Other translations of that word include “to direct” or “to stand upright” or at attention.

Rehoboam was a mediocre king because he had a mediocre relationship with God. He never completely forsook God, he just never sought Him wholeheartedly. He didn’t pray as his father did for the wisdom he needed to rule the kingdom. He didn’t search the Scriptures to know the heart of God and get His wisdom. Matthew Henry in his commentary on the Bible says, “… he engaged not, his heart to seek the Lord …”

 

bible study

So how do we prepare our hearts to seek the Lord?

Our hearts, as the old hymn says, are prone to wander, we don’t automatically seek the Lord. We must purpose to do so. We first need to ask God for His help, then we need to read and study “at attention” and, finally, we need to set our minds, be determined, to obey those things He shows us.  Continue reading

“Are You Ready?” May 2

 

Are you ready? -

Are you ready? God is a merciful God. He has offered us the free gift of salvation. It’s available to any and all who will come to Him in faith and repentance. But there’s coming a day when He will return for His people and time will be up.

It’s important that we understand the balance between truth and grace in our lives. While we do live in an age of grace where God has offered the free gift of forgiveness through faith in His Son, and where we can trust the truthfulness of verses like 1 John 1.9, we should not and cannot live as if there will not be a day when Jesus comes back as the Righteous Judge.

At Christ’s second return, there will be many who say:

“‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then [He] will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt. 7.22-23). 

Are you ready?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 6 & 7
Psalm 55.1-8
Proverbs 15.14
Luke 21.20-38

 

Are you ready?

 

1 Samuel 6 & 7:

Golden Tumors

 

In yesterday’s reading God had allowed the Philistines to defeat the nation of Israel and to capture the ark of God. The Philistines mistakenly thought their god Dagon was responsible for the victory and that he had defeated the God of Israel, but they soon learned differently. When they placed the ark in Dagon’s temple, the statue of Dagon fell over twice and the second time its head and hands were broken off. And when they moved the ark, the people were plagued with tumors and death.

Ark of the Covenant - Are you ready?

They soon realized they needed to return it to Israel! So they made an elaborate plan to do so. Part of the plan was to include a sacrifice of five golden tumors and five golden rats as a representative of and payment for their sin.

Can you imagine having to announce your sin to everyone? It reminded me of the woman in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel The Scarlet Letter. She had to wear a giant scarlet “A” sewn to her dress so everyone would know she was an adulteress.

1 John 1.9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Aren’t you glad God made a provision for us to humbly come to Him and confess our sins, instead of commanding us to display golden images of our “tumors”? Jesus allowed Himself to be publicly displayed and humiliated so we don’t have to be.

There are times when we do need to confess our sins to others and rare times when our sin has affected a larger group and we need to go “public” with our confession and repentance, but the only sacrifice required is a contrite heart (Ps. 51.17).

Merely saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough, though. We must humbly ask God and those we have hurt to forgive us. Then we are to bear the fruit of repentance (Matt. 3.8; Lk. 3.8)—make the changes necessary to demonstrate a changed heart!

 

Luke 21.20-38:

He’s Coming Back … Are You Ready?

 

Verses 25-33 talk about watching for Christ’s return.

Verse 34 says, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.”

It’s important that we understand the balance between truth and grace in our lives. While we do live in an age of grace where God has offered the free gift of forgiveness through faith in His Son, and where we can trust the truthfulness of verses like 1 John 1.9, we should not and cannot live as if there will not be a day when Jesus comes back as the Righteous Judge.

At Christ’s second return, there will be many who say:

“‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then [He] will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt. 7.22-23).  Continue reading

“Disorder, Self-Sufficiency & Over-Commitment” March 2

 

Disorder, Self-Sufficiency & Over-Commitment - Do you struggle with disorder, over-commitment, and self-sufficiency? Do you ever feel like God isn't taking care of things on your schedule? Could your frustration and stress stem from a common problem?Do you ever feel like God isn’t taking care of things according to your schedule? Could your frustration and stress stem from a common problem? Do you struggle with disorder, over-commitment, and self-sufficiency?


Today’s Readings:
Numbers 1 & 2
Psalm 29.7-11
Proverbs 10.26-29
Mark 7.14-37

 

Disorder, Self-Sufficiency & Over-Commitment

 

Numbers 1 & 2:

Make no decision without prayer!

 

Well, we’re into a new month and a new book.

As I read these two chapters I couldn’t help thinking that God is a God of order. He specified who was to lead each tribe, where each tribe was to camp and even the order in which they were to break camp when they moved. He gave “the who, the where, and the how” of it all. And we know from other passages that He also told them “when.”

In Mark 6 when Jesus fed the 5,000, He had them sit down in an orderly way, “… He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties” (Mk. 6.39-40).

Like most of you, I never seem to have enough time to do everything I want or think I should be doing. That can easily lead to disorder in my life. It’s easy to forget Continue reading

“Religion or Christianity?” March 1

 

Religion or Christianity? - What is the difference between religion and biblical Christianity? And which one are you depending on to save you?What is the difference between religion and biblical Christianity? And which one are you depending on to save you?

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 26 & 27
Psalm 29.1-6
Proverbs 10.22-25
Mark 7.1-13

 

Welcome to a new month of the “Bible in a Year” devotionals. I hope you’ll join us every day as we read through the Bible. Don’t worry if you’re here for the first time or only read occasionally. Anytime we open God’s Word we will find practical help and refreshment for our souls.

On to the Word …

 

Religion or Christianity?

 

Mark 7.1-13:

Religious Self-Righteousness

 

As we continue reading through the Gospels, we repeatedly find the Scribes and Pharisees looking for reasons to accuse Jesus. In today’s reading they accuse Him of failing to teach His disciples to obey the traditions of the elders.

Instead of responding, Jesus accused them of failing to keep God’s law while they condemned others for not keeping their human laws. They had turned from the worship of the true and living God to religion!

 

Religion or Christianity: What’s the Difference?

 

What is the difference between true worship (biblical Christianity) and religion? Continue reading

“The Importance of Preaching the Gospel to Yourself” February 18

 

Preach the Gospel to Yourself Everyday

When do we need the Gospel? Is it a one-time thing? Does it have anything to do with our ongoing walk with God? Could focusing on it help us love God more?

Also, are we responsible for our own spiritual growth or is that the responsibility of our pastors and teachers.

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 7 & 8
Psalm 24.7-10
Proverbs 9.10-12
Mark 1.1-22

 

The Importance of Preaching the Gospel to Yourself

 

Leviticus 7 & 8:

Walking in the Truth of the Gospel

 

We’ve been reading about all the offerings under the Levitical system. Notice that a sin offering had to be made for Aaron and his sons just like all the rest of the people (8.14).

Even those God has placed in the ministry as leaders today are imperfect men and women. They are neither sinless nor infallible.

All of us must walk constantly in the truth of the Gospel. You might think, “Well, I accepted the Gospel once so that has nothing to do with me any longer.” It is true that when we accept the Gospel (the free gift of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, His forgiveness and cleansing, and are made His sons and daughters), it’s a one-time decision. But it is, also, true that until we get to heaven, we will have the pull of sin constantly at work in us (Rom. 7.13-25).

We need to run back to the cross and remember that it’s only by His grace that we are able to walk in obedience, rather than any inherent goodness in us. The Apostle Paul said:

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Rom. 7.18).

When we realize we have sinned, we can run back to the cross. The same grace that saved us is available to help us live the Christian life. God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sin (1 Jn. 1.9).

Some have called this “preaching the Gospel to yourself.”  We need to remind ourselves that He died for all of our sins: past, present, and future.

The more we contemplate that and understand His goodness, mercy, and grace, rather than giving us a license to sin, it should give us a greater desire to please Him in return.

 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk.7.47 NASB).

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 24.7-10

The King of Glory

 

Verse 7, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.”

According to Matthew Henry in his Commentary on the Whole Bible, this pictures Christ’s ascension into heaven after His death and resurrection, and the welcome He received there. He paid the price with His blood for entry, not just for Himself, but for us, also, so that we can enter in with Him! What good news!

 

Proverbs 9.10-12

Truth & Lies, Wisdom & Scoffing

 

Dollarphotoclub hands over ears

Verse 12 says, “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”

We are constantly reminded in Scripture that we alone are responsible for our acceptance or rejection of truth (Ezek. 18.20; 2 Cor. 5.10). We can’t blame our pastors or our teachers or our family. The Word and the wisdom that goes with it are there for all to see and to accept or reject.

That, also, means we are responsible for our own spiritual growth and for whether or not we are hearing solid biblical teaching. No matter where we attend church or whose teaching we sit under, we must be good Bereans.  Continue reading

“Where are You, Lord?” January 24

 

Where are You, Lord? & A Type of ChristWhere are You, Lord? Ever felt that way? Maybe you’ve been deeply hurt, possibly by someone close to you. Maybe it’s a financial trial or a serious illness. Whatever it is, we need to be like the psalmist in today’s reading.

Joseph was said to be a “type of Christ.” A type is a picture (like the old “tintypes,” pictures taken during the 1800s). In this case, a picture of Christ, a glimpse of what was to come. What exactly does that mean and how should his example inspire us today?

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 47 & 48
Psalm 13.1-6
Proverbs 4.18-19
Matthew 15.21-39

 

Where are You, Lord?

 

Psalm 13.1-6:

How Prayer Changes Us

 

 

Here we see the progression that comes by faithfully, and honestly, lifting our requests to God in prayer. The Psalmist prayed:

“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (v. 1).

He was saying, in effect, “Where are You, Lord?” Ever felt that way?

In spite of not fully understanding, the psalmist prayed in faith:

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken (vss. 3-4).

Then he goes on:

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me (vss. 5-6).

The psalmist made a conscious decision to trust God. He chose to focus on the faithfulness of God.

We, too, can choose to trust God in our trials!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3.5).

Our prayers may start out, as the psalmists did, “Where are you, Lord?” But if we stay faithful, God will not only faithfully answer according to His will and His timing, but we will be changed as we grow in our ability to trust Him.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Genesis 47 & Genesis 48:

A Type of Christ

 

Joseph and his family have been reunited. Here in chapter 47 we see Joseph’s care for his aging father, “Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh” (v. 7). Somehow I see Joseph helping his elderly father into some kind of a chair so Jacob can show his respect to Pharaoh and pray for him. But he doesn’t just care for his father; he also cares for his brothers. In verse 11 Joseph “situated his father and his brothers” and in verse 12 he “provided” for his father and his brothers. Remember, these are the same brothers who sold him into slavery.

tin typeJoseph is a type of Christ. A type is a picture (like the old “tintypes,” pictures taken during the 1800s). In this case, a picture of Christ, a glimpse of what was to come. We can look at those old photos and see that while they were not perfect images, they give us some idea of what the real person looked like. In the same way, when we look at the various “types of Christ,” each one gives us an idea of some of the attributes of our Savior.  Continue reading