“Mirror, Mirror” February 13

"Mirror, mirror ..." How many times a day do you look in the mirror? What do you think about more often: how you look to others or how you look to God? Do you spend more time looking at yourself, your life, your world or are you looking intently at God and His Word?“Mirror, mirror …” How many times a day do you look in the mirror? What do you think about more often: how you look to others or how you look to God? Do you spend more time looking at yourself, your life, your world or are you looking intently at God and His Word?

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 37 & Exodus 38
Psalm 22.9-15
Proverbs 8.12-21
Matthew 26.51-75

 

Mirror, Mirror

 

Exodus 37 & 38

Where is my gaze fixed?

 

Bezelel and the others God had blessed with the talent and ability to craft the furniture and implements for this magnificent temple continued with their work. God was using all this beauty to give His people a little glimpse of His beauty and creativity and glory.

But one little verse jumped out at me as I read this passage.

“He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (v. 38.8).

He made them from the mirrors of the serving women. Think about it. These were nomadic people living in a desert environment. But they were also women … women who experienced love and marriage and jealousy and a desire to look attractive to their husbands, or perhaps potential husbands.

We walk into our homes and there is a mirror in the entryway, a mirror in the bedroom, a mirror in the bathroom. We go to work or church and … more mirrors. Even in our cars, we flip down the mirror for a last minute look. But in the desert, if a woman had a brass hand mirror, I imagine that was really something … possibly a luxury … but they gave them up!

I have to ask myself, what would I be willing to give up for the glory of God? What is really more important to me, people seeing the beauty of Christ or how I look to others?

And I wonder, on what is my own gaze fixed? Is it more on myself or God and His Word? Am I focused on my life and wants or is my desire to use whatever I have to point others to Christ?

How about you?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 22.9-15

Our God from the Womb

 

mother baby kozzi

Verse 9, “But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on my mother’s breasts.”

This doesn’t mean that David was saved as a baby, but it is a beautiful picture of God’s sovereignty, His complete control, and how He is wooing us and blessing us with His goodness, even from birth.

James said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights …” (Jas. 1.17).

 

Proverbs 8.12-21

Obedience Leads to Wisdom and Growth

 

As I have said over and over in the last couple of commentaries, God is not withholding His wisdom. It is here in His Word, but we must look for it. It’s not about being smart … or memorizing half the Bible … or sitting in Bible studies week after week and filling our heads with knowledge. It’s about faithfully seeking to know Him better through His Word and time spent with Him. And it’s about having a heart to please Him by choosing to obey what we know to do.

Hebrew 5.14 says, “… solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

It is by knowing and obeying that we grow in wisdom and maturity. On the other hand, James 1.22 says if we are hearers, readers, or sitters in Bible study without applying it, we deceive ourselves. We may think we’re mature. We may even be able to quote a lot of Scripture, even stand up and teach a Bible study ourselves, but we are spiritual lightweights!  Continue reading

“Are you growing in Christ?” December 5

 

Are you growing in Christ? - Are you growing in Christ? While we don’t earn God’s love through good works or stay in His graces because of them, a life that has truly been changed will produce different fruit. In fact, Jesus said, you will know a tree by its fruit (<a class="bible-gateway" href="http://biblegateway.com/passage/?search=%26quot%3BLk.&version=NIV" onclick="biblegwlinkpop(this.href,'"Lk.',800,950);return false;" target="_blank">"Lk.</a>). The amount and quality of our fruit is often a good indication of our spiritual maturity. Today's New Testament reading talks about some of that fruit. Are you growing in Christ? While we don’t earn God’s love through good works or stay in His graces because of them, a life that has truly been changed will produce different fruit. In fact, Jesus said, you will know a tree by its fruit (Lk. 6.44). The amount and quality of our fruit is often a good indication of our spiritual maturity. Today’s New Testament reading talks about some of that fruit.

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 1 & 2
Psalm 138.4-6
Proverbs 29.17
1 John 3

 

We have finished the “Major Prophets”—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel. Now we are beginning the “Minor Prophets”—Hosea through Malachi. In the New Testament, once we finish 1 John we have only three epistles (letters): 2 John, 3 John and Jude, before we begin the book of Revelation.

On to the Word …

 

Are you growing in Christ?

 

1 John 3:

We Shall Be Like Him

 

1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (vss. 1-3).

Think about that, “we shall be like Him.”

Jude said it this way:

“Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault” (Jude 24).

God who saved us and declared us righteous is working in us in the present. He is using the “all things” of Romans 8.28-29, to help us become progressively more and more like His Son. But one day, when we stand before Him, He’ll finish the work He started in us (Phil. 1.6) and cause us to stand before Him without a single fault!

Keep GrowingIn the meantime, we need to read and study and memorize and meditate on God’s Word (Ps. 119.11; 2 Tim. 2.15) and with His help seek to become more and more like Him by obeying His commands. Jesus said the greatest of those commands is to love God and love others (Matt. 22.37-40).

Verses 16-18 of today’s reading:

16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

Let’s ask ourselves: How am I doing in that process of spiritual growth? Am I loving others sacrificially? Am I “laying down my life”—willingly giving up what my sinful heart desires in order to do what is best for others? Am I loving, not only “in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth”? Am I becoming more like Christ?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Hosea 1 & 2:

Adulterers and Adulteresses

 

In this rich little book the prophet is commanded to marry a prostitute so he would be a living example of God’s love for His people in spite of their spiritual adultery.  Continue reading

“Does Salvation + Time + Knowledge = Spiritual Maturity?” November 9

 

Does salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity? - Does salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity? Does it come from years of church membership? From learning how to use Bible software or getting 10 devotionals in your in-box? Does it come with a degree in theology? Or from attending Bible studies week after week? If not, what does it take?Does salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity? If not, where does is come from? From years of church membership? From learning how to use Bible software or getting 10 devotionals in your in-box? Does it come with a degree in theology? Or from attending Bible studies week after week? If not, what does it take?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 9 & 10
Psalm 121.1-8
Proverbs 28.16
Hebrews 5.1-14

 

Does Salvation + Time + Knowledge = Spiritual Maturity?

 

Hebrews 5.1-14:

Where does spiritual maturity come from?

 

Does Salvation + Time + Knowledge = Spiritual Maturity

Does it happen simply because we show up for church week after week? Or get baptized, learn how to use Bible software or start serving in church? Does it come from attending Bible studies or displaying a Christian bumper sticker?

It’s not to say any of those things are wrong or that they can’t happen as a result of spiritual maturity, but in themselves they don’t make a mature disciple of Christ. In fact, James 1 says if we’re hearers of the word and not doers, we delude ourselves (Jas. 1.22-25). Often that delusion concerns our own maturity and level of obedience. We think we’re “OK” because we do Christian things.

Going back to our Hebrews 5 passage, let’s read it in the New Living Translation:

11 There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.

The writer of Hebrews was addressing those who “ought to be teaching others” because of their exposure to the Word and Christian experience. Instead they were still babies and needed milk.

But solid food, food that is fit for those who are spiritually mature, is for those who have trained themselves or practiced doing what God says. Spiritual maturity comes as a result of obeying the Word on a regular basis.

But before you can grow spiritually, you must be born spiritually (Jn. 3.3). Do you need to examine yourself to see if you are “in the faith” (2 Cor. 13.5)? Do you struggle with doubts about the genuineness of your relationship with God? Make sure you understand the gospel. Don’t let another day pass without having the assurance that you belong to Him.

If you know you belong to Him, could there be some area of life where you are blinded by hearing and not doing? We all need to pray regularly for God to help us avoid spiritual blind spots and if there is some area where you know you’ve not obeyed God, repent and ask for His forgiveness and grace. Then step out in obedience.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezekiel 9 & 10:

Marked by God

 

Even as God prepared to bring His judgment on the people, He commanded an angel to go out and put a mark on every person who loved and worshiped Him and who grieved over the spiritual condition of the nation, just as He did before the death angel passed over in Egypt.

The same is true today. All those who belong to Him, those who are born again by the Spirit of God, have His mark. Ephesians 1.13-14:

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.

There will be a day of judgment for everyone. But sadly, there are many who look good on the outside, but because they don’t have a genuine relationship with the Lord are not sealed with the Holy Spirit.  Continue reading

“Look in the Mirror & Take the Test” October 12

 

Take the Test

Take the test: look into the mirror of God’s Word and ask yourself, “Which of these characteristics describe me and which don’t?” What do your answers tell you about your walk with God, your trust in Him, and your level of spiritual maturity?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 9 & 10
Psalm 118.5-9
Proverbs 27.7
Colossians 3.1-25

 

Look in the Mirror & Take the Test

 

Colossians 3.1-25:

The Mirror of God’s Word

Take the Test

In chapter 1 of James’ epistle, he compares the Word of God to a mirror (Jas. 1.23) and goes on to say that “if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it” (Jas. 1.25).

Here in this passage, Paul commands us to “set our mind on things above, not on the things on the earth” (v. 2).

This chapter gives us a great summary of what a mature Christian life should look like—kind of a composite mirror image of Christlike character. Read back through Colossians 3 and take the test. Ask yourself what you are reflecting to the world.  Continue reading

“God, Authority & Speeding Tickets” August 14

 

God, Authority & Speeding Tickets - God is a God of order and He ordains authority as part of His order. No matter what we think, we are not fully submitted to God if we aren't submitted to the authority He has placed in our lives.God is a God of order and He ordains authority as part of His order. No matter what we think, we are not fully submitted to God if we aren’t submitted to the authority He has placed in our lives.

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 19 & 20
Psalm 95.6-11
Proverbs 23.4-5
Romans 13.1-14

 

God, Authority & Speeding Tickets

 

Romans 13.1-14:

Submitting to Authority

This is a very clear passage regarding authority. Scripture says all authority comes from God (v. 1). That could be a school teacher over a student, a boss over an employee, a husband over a wife, a pastor or elder over a church member, or a civic official over a citizen. Whatever it is, God expects us to respect and obey that authority. The only exception is if that person asks us to break God’s laws, then we must humbly and respectfully refuse to obey.

We should be teaching our children to respect the authority God has placed them under at school or any place else. Sadly, today many parents are quick to run to their children’s defense instead of teaching them to respond biblically.

But respect for authority begins with us and, sadly, we are often more concerned about what we perceive as our “rights,” than about being pleasing to God! We can’t expect our children to respect authority, including ours, if we are disrespectful to our spouses, police officers or bosses!

policeman ticketFor example, how do you respond when you get stopped for speeding or some other violation? Are you concerned about justifying your behavior or denying your guilt? Or are you more concerned about pleasing God and trusting in His sovereignty?

How do you respond when passed over for a promotion or criticized at work? Are you more concerned about whether or not it’s fair or are you concerned about giving your co-workers the right opinion about God?  Continue reading

5 Ways God Finishes His Work in Us

 

5 Ways God Finishes His Work in Us

 

Philippians 1.6  being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

 

What a great promise! We can be confident, not in ourselves that we’ll somehow make it to the end, but if we belong to Him, He will finish the work He has started in us. God Himself is the guarantor of His promises.

It would be nice if He just sprinkled some pixy dust over us and we were instantly changed. But that’s not the way God usually does His work in us.

And … We often wish He would do that in other people’s lives, too.

When we’ve been unequally yoked and a husband comes to know the Lord, we want them to immediately be where we are. When someone close to us surrenders his or her life to God, especially if it has been a difficult relationship, we can be unrealistic in our expectations.

There is immediate change in our lives and the lives of others. Before we were lost and now we belong to God. 2 Cor. 5.17 says we are new creations; we were born again by the Spirit of God, but it takes time for those changes to work themselves out in our daily living.

That’s not an excuse. In fact, as God shows us areas where we need to change and grow we need to respond to those promptings.

Milk baby Bottle Heb. 5.12-14 says:

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use (the NASB says PRACTICE) have their senses exercised (TRAINED) to discern both good and evil.

Some of us are still babies sucking on milk because we don’t do the things God has told us to do. AMEN … or OH MY.

Even then, God doesn’t stop doing His work in us, but it’s going to take longer and probably involve more pain and hardship.

What processes does He use to complete the work He started in us? I like to talk about five major ways.

 

God changes us as we learn to do 5 things:

 

1. Count it all joy (James 1.2-8).

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually feel like being joyful when I’m in the midst of a trial. How can we count it all joy when we’re in a trial? Continue reading

November 9 “Does salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity?”

books clock time knowledgeDoes salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity? If not, what does it take?

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 9 & 10
Psalm 121.1-8
Proverbs 28.16
Hebrews 5.1-14

 

Ezekiel 9 & 10:

Marked by God

Even as God prepared to bring His judgment on the people, He commanded an angel to go out and put a mark on every person who loved and worshipped Him and who grieved over the spiritual condition of the nation, just as He did before the death angel passed over in Egypt.

The same is true today. All those who belong to Him, those who are born again by the Spirit of God, have His mark. Ephesians 1.13-14:

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.

There will be a day of judgment for everyone. But sadly, there are many who look good on the outside, but because they don’t have a genuine relationship with the Lord are not sealed with the Holy Spirit. Matthew 7.21-23:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Our church’s founding pastor, John Morgan, once said he believed the church is one of the greatest mission fields. Coming to church, leaving behind some things like drinking and foul language, perhaps even getting involved and hanging around Christians can appease the conscience without any real heart change. As Paul warned some of the Corinthians:

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13.5).

And the psalmist prayed:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Continue reading

October 12 “Take the test”

mirror self-examinationTake the test: look into the mirror of God’s Word and ask yourself which of these lists describes you? What does it tell you about your walk with God, your trust in Him, and your level of spiritual maturity?

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 9 & 10
Psalm 118.5-9
Proverbs 27.7
Colossians 3.1-25

 

Jeremiah 9 & 10:

Tongues like arrows

I love the imagery in the Bible. As you read, think about what some of these images portray and ask, “How does this apply to my life? How does it apply to our nation? How should I pray? What does God want me to see and possibly repent of in my life? How can I be a doer of the principles contained here?”

Verse 9.3, “And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies …”

We don’t use a bow and arrow today, but we have all seen one. We understand how the bow is loaded with the arrow and then it is pulled back and fired at the target. God through the prophet is saying that their tongues were bent back and poised to fire lies.

This is a picture of someone whose life is characterized by lies and deceit. Just like the bow is known for shooting arrows (its only purpose), so these people were known for a life of deceit. Jeremiah goes on to say,

“They weary themselves to commit iniquity” (9.5).

I can’t help but think about some of what we call “politics” today.

The emptiness of living for ourselves

Because the people had forsaken the worship of the true God and because they had decided to live according to “the dictates of their own hearts” (9.13), God said He would “feed them … with wormwood and give them water of gall to drink.”

Life would not go well with them. Life would be bitter. They thought they would find satisfaction in living life their own way, but it was bitter and empty instead.

They thought they were so wise. Perhaps like our society today, they thought the religion of their fathers was for the weak, the unenlightened. They preferred some form of “spirituality” that suited them. Verses 23 & 24 say: Continue reading