“Beaten and Bruised?” December 27

 

Beaten & Bruised? - Do you feel beaten and bruised from raising a strong-willed child or by being in a difficult marriage? How do you keep going when life seems to be full of challenges? Not in your own strength, but …Do you feel beaten and bruised from raising a strong-willed child or by being in a difficult marriage? Have you recently faced a devastating loss or were the holidays especially difficult? How do you keep going when life seems to be full of challenges? Not in your own strength, but …

 

Today’s Readings:
Zechariah 4-6
Psalm 148.1-6
Proverbs 30.24-28
Revelation 17.1-18

 

Beaten and Bruised?

 

Zechariah 4-6:

Not by Might

 

Verse 4.6 says, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel. ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.

Sixteen years previously, doubt, discouragement and opposition had caused the Jews to stop the rebuilding of the temple. Zerubbabel was God’s chosen leader and this word from God was meant to be an encouragement to him that they were to finish the task God had given them.

This should be an encouragement to us, as well, when we feel beaten and bruised or when God has called us to some challenge—whether raising a strong-willed child, honoring Christ in the midst of a difficult marriage, growing a ministry, or serving Him in the workplace. It is not by might, not by our own strength or abilities, but through God’s power that we will succeed.

[Tweet “How do you raise a difficult child or handle other challenges? Not by might, but …” #soulsurvival]

Hebrews 4.14-16:

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

When we come to Him boldly in prayer, He promises to give us the help and the grace we need in every situation.

And James 1.2-7 says:

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

He will provide us with the wisdom we need, but we must Continue reading

“9 Ways to Live like Jesus Is Coming Back” October 18

 

9 Ways to Live Like Jesus Is Coming Back - Do you believe Jesus is coming back soon? Does your life reflect that belief? How should you live in light of that truth?Do you believe Jesus is coming back soon? Does your life reflect that belief? How should you live in light of that truth?

The alternative is to live like the people in Jeremiah’s time who needed God’s rod of judgment, as we will see in our Old Testament reading. As we dig deeper into Psalm 119, we will see how knowing and contemplating God’s Word can help us steer clear of sin and grow in our understanding of God and His will.

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 21 & 22
Psalm 119.9-16
Proverbs 27.14
1 Thessalonians 5.1-28

 

9 Ways to Live like Jesus is Coming Back

 

1 Thessalonians 5.1-28:

9 ways to live like Jesus is coming back

2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 

Jesus is coming back both for His church and to judge the whole earth. He is coming “like a thief in the night,” but as believers, who know His Word, we shouldn’t be caught off guard. Instead, we should live every day like we believe Jesus is coming back soon:

6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

The remainder of the chapter spells out some ways we are to do that:

1. By respecting our pastors and elders and submitting to their authority (v. 12).

Hebrews 13.17 says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

Incidentally, October is “Pastor’s Appreciation Month.” Is there some way you could show appreciation to your Pastor? A meal? A card? A word of encouragement?

2. By being faithful in our relationships to our brothers and sisters in Christ (v.14).

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”

Sometimes we need to encourage one another. Other times we need to gently rebuke one another.

3. By not returning evil for evil, but by giving a blessing instead (v. 15). Romans 12:

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,”[a] 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.”[b]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

4. By rejoicing in the blessings of God and being thankful (vvs. 16, 18).

5. By being faithful in prayer (v. 17).

6. By not quenching the Spirit through unrepentant, willful sin (v. 19).

7. By heeding God’s Word (v. 20).

8. By testing all things and making God’s Word our standard (v. 21).

9. And by abstaining from every form of evil (v. 22).

Jesus is coming back. It could be soon. Are you living like you believe it?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Jeremiah 21 & 22:

A Rod for a Fool’s Back

Some time has passed and the Jews have failed to heed God’s warnings through Jeremiah, but now the invaders are approaching. Skirmishes are already being fought outside the city, and the people will soon be driven back into the city itself.

Now that things are desperate, the King sends a messenger to Jeremiah asking him to intercede for them. God answers by telling them that they are not just fighting the Babylonians, but they have made themselves enemies of God Himself!

Many of us go through times in our lives, too, where we reject God’s truth, then when we get into trouble we cry out, “Oh God, help me! If You get me out of this mess, I’ll never do it again!” Continue reading

“Whatever is not done in faith … is SIN” August 15

 

Whatever is not done in faith ... is SIN - Even if something is not sinful, in and of itself, if we believe it is, and do it anyway, it reveals a heart that is willing to sin against God.Even if something is not sinful, in and of itself, if we believe it is, and do it anyway, it reveals a heart that is willing to sin against God.

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 21 & 22
Psalm 96.1-6
Proverbs 23.6-8
Romans 14.1-23

 

Whatever is not done in faith … is SIN

 

Romans 14.1-23:

Whatever Is Not of Faith

 

Christians and alcoholOne person believes she is free to have a glass of wine with dinner. Another believes it is a sin. One believes it is OK to eat pork. Another believes the Old Testament dietary laws should still be adhered to. One believes a certain book, or movie, or TV show is allowable; another’s conscience is offended by it. One thinks “Christian contemporary music” is great, another believes worship has to be hymns.

Certainly, there are lifestyle choices which are clearly right and wrong, sinful and good, but there is also a great deal of freedom in Christ. Whatever we do, however, we need to be able to do it in faith:

But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin (v. 23).

Even if something is not sinful, in and of itself, if we believe it is and do it anyway, it reveals a heart that is willing to sin against God and is, therefore, sinful.

One of the key points in this chapter, though, is that we should be willing to forego things we believe we are free to do, if what we are doing could be offensive or a stumbling block to someone else (14.13). Love considers the welfare of others above his or her own (Phil. 2.3-4).

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Job 21 & 22:

What did you do about my son?

 

In chapter 21 Job tried to convince his friends that their conclusion about his suffering was wrong. He reasoned that because the wicked are not always punished in this life, they couldn’t say good is always rewarded and evil always punished. He pointed out that, at times, even people who shake their fist at God seem to do so with impunity.  Continue reading

“Do you know your spiritual gifts?” July 9

 

 spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit.

All believers receive spiritual gifts at the time of salvation. Do you know your spiritual gifts and are you using them for God’s glory?

 

Do you know your spiritual gifts?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 13 & 14
Psalm 81.1-5
Proverbs 20.22-23
Acts 15.22-41

 

Acts 15.22-41:

Different Gifts & Strengths

In verses 37-41 Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement over whether or not to take John Mark with them on their second missionary journey—so much so that they split up and go two separate ways.

God gifts us all differently and sometimes we will disagree on things even in areas of ministry. I imagine Paul as being very practical. John Mark had deserted them on the previous journey and he wanted someone he knew would be dependable.

thumbs up

Barnabas, on the other hand, was an encourager. In fact, Barnabas was not his actual name. His name was Joses, but he was such an encourager that the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas which means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4.36). God used their differences to further spread the gospel as two missionary teams went out with their different styles and callings.

All believers receive a spiritual gift or, perhaps, we might call it a gifting as it is often a blend of spiritual gifts in varying amounts (1 Pet. 4.10, 1 Cor. 12). We receive it at the time of our conversion. This spiritual gifting is unique to us and different from our natural talents, although they sometimes work together. Spiritual gifts are not given to make us look good or to use for our own spiritual gain, but for the benefit of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12.7).  Continue reading

December 31 “Giving God our best”

your bestHappy New Year’s Eve,

Congratulations to those of you who have been reading all year and to those who started somewhere along the way. And I hope you’re looking forward to starting again in the coming year.

Let’s purpose in our hearts to give God our best in 2015. To offer Him the firstfruits of our time in the morning … to be faithful with our tithes and offerings … to use our talents and resources to further His kingdom, to bring Him glory in all we do, and to honor Him in our marriages or our singleness or whatever our situation!

 

Today’s Readings:
Malachi 1-4
Psalm 150
Proverbs 31.10-31
Revelation 21 & 22

 

Malachi 1-4:

Giving God our best

As is all of God’s Word, this little book is rich with His truth. In chapter 1 we see the importance of giving God our best, not what is left over, whether that means finances, time, talent or some other resource.

God rebuked the people because, instead of giving the best of their flocks as a sacrifice, they offered the stolen, the lame and the sick animals.

Many times, instead of giving God our best we give Him what’s left over, if anything. We can’t tithe or give to the work of God because we are too strapped with huge mortgages and car payments. Perhaps we need to drive that older vehicle a little longer or adjust our budgets in other ways.

Instead of spending time with Him first thing in the morning, we rush off to work or get busy with our day, promising to read His Word before we go to sleep. At night, we’re too exhausted to read more than a few verses before we fall asleep without giving it serious thought or attention.

our bestI don’t want to sound legalistic, because the Bible does not say we must spend time with God first thing in the morning. There may be some who are at their best at night. I also understand that some of you have young children who, as someone said, “Wake up at the first crack of the Bible.” But for most of us, morning is the time when we are most rested and when spending time with God is the most profitable.

In chapter 2 God rebukes the priests because, among other things, they took the covenant relationship of marriage lightly. And remember as new covenant believers we are all priests to the Lord (1 Pet. 2.5).

First, they knowingly disobeyed God by marrying unbelievers (2.11). Then those who were married Continue reading

October 18 “9 ways to live like Jesus could be coming back soon”

nine numbersDo you believe Jesus could be coming back soon? Here are 9 ways to live like you believe it.

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 21 & 22
Psalm 119.9-16
Proverbs 27.14
1 Thessalonians 5.1-28

 

Jeremiah 21 & 22:

A rod for a fool’s back

Some time has passed and the Jews have failed to heed God’s warnings through Jeremiah, but now the invaders are approaching. Skirmishes are already being fought outside the city, and the people will soon be driven back into the city itself.

Now that things are desperate, the King sends a messenger to Jeremiah asking him to intercede for them. God answers by telling them that they are not just fighting the Babylonians, but they have made themselves enemies of God Himself!

Many of us go through times in our lives, too, where we reject God’s truth, then when we get into trouble we cry out, “Oh God, help me! If You get me out of this mess, I’ll never do it again!” Continue reading

October 1 “What a Savior!”

cross Savior crucifixionIsaiah 53.12, “… And He bore the sin of many …,” including you and me if …

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 53 & 54
Psalm 113.1-4
Proverbs 26.17-19
Ephesians 3.1-21

Isaiah 53 & 54:

Despised and rejected by men for those who believe

Chapter 53 is perhaps the most complete Old Testament picture of the sufferings of Christ and all that would come about as a result.

Verse 2 “He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”

He was born to poor parents in a stable. There was nothing kingly about Him from an earthly perspective—nothing that would make people say, “Listen, this is a man of influence.”

Verse 2, “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

Relatively few recognized Him as the Messiah, instead, they despised Him because He exposed their hearts.

He took the punishment of our sins, and God’s wrath was poured out on Him instead of us (vv. 4-6).

He didn’t defend Himself. He remained silent before His accusers (v. 7).

He died with the wicked, between two thieves, yet He was buried in the tomb of a rich man (vv. 8-9, 12).

Verse 12, “… And He bore the sin of many” (including you and me if we have come to see our sinful condition, repented by turning away from our sin, accepted His grace and forgiveness, and placed our faith in Him as Lord and Savior).

He even “… made intercession for the transgressors (v. 12)—“Father, forgive them they know not what they do” (Lk. 23.34).

What a Savior!

Continue reading

February 15 “Life, death & sacrifice”

sacrifice

God asks us to offer up ourselves as living sacrifices (Rom. 12.1). How freely do you give yourself? Do you hold back parts of your heart and life for your own use or do you offer it all to Him?

Also today, read about loving death and rejecting life.

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 1 & 2
Psalm 22.22-31
Proverbs 8.32-36
Matthew 27.27-54

Leviticus 1 & 2

Our once and for all sacrifice

Well, here we are starting a new book. Leviticus is the third book of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), also called the Books of Moses.
Three of the themes which run through this book are: God’s holiness, mankind’s sinfulness and the need for a sacrifice. Of course, the sacrifices offered here in Old Testament times were only temporary coverings for sin. They point to the ultimate sacrifice Jesus Christ, the only sinless, perfect, once and for all, sacrifice.

What we offer in return

I noticed several things as I read these two chapters. First, twice in chapter one the Israelites were told to bring an animal “without blemish.” These were to be the best of the herd or flock. They were not to say, “Well, we might as well sacrifice this one, he’s probably not going to make it anyway.” They were to give Him their best. Continue reading