Archive for : September, 2019

9/30/19: Philippians 1:27 – 2:18; Psalm 72:1-20; Proverbs 24:11-12

Philippians 212 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 

What does the expression “fear and trembling” mean?  Are we to be “terrified” that if we make a mistake the Lord will remove our salvation?  Are we to approach the Lord as serfs approached the king of their land — petrified with fear and actually quaking with anxiety.

Every commentator I read stated that this expression used does not “terror” but refers more to “respect and awe.”  One commentator summed it well:

The concept of “fear and trembling” addresses worshipful respect for God. This echoes back to the context of every knee bowing before the Lord mentioned in verse 11.

9/29/19: Philippians 1:1-26; Psalm 71:1-24; Proverbs 24:9-10

Philippians 1I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians is one of the epistles that I most quote. Perhaps it is because “joy and rejoicing” are mentioned so many times.

In fact I have a note in my Bible that states that words of “joy” or “rejoicing” are found 16 times in this letter.  The note also says that this epistle is very Christ-centered as He is mentioned 50 times in the 104 verses.

9/28/19: Ephesians 6:1-24; Psalm 70:1-5; Proverbs 24:8

Ephesians 6: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 

These verses are a powerful warning from Paul about the spiritual nature of our ongoing battle with Satan and his forces.  How can we even begin to fight against an unseen enemy?  The Holy Spirit does not leave my question unanswered and we are told to arm ourselves with truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation, the Spirit, and prayer  (vv. 14-18.

Nor does the Spirit say the battle will be easy because we need to “Stand Firm!” (v. 14)

9/27/19: Ephesians 5:1-33; Psalm 69:19-36; Proverbs 24:7

We know from scripture that David was a man “after God’s own heart.”  I think today’s reading from Psalm 69 demonstrates David’s insight into the nature of the Lord:

Psalm 69:

30 I will praise God’s name in song
    and glorify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the Lord more than an ox,
    more than a bull with its horns and hooves.

David was not denying the commands for sacrifice at that time in Israel’s history.  But he did recognize that the Lord desires our heart and our love more than what was laid before him on the alter.

9/26/19: Ephesians 4:17-32; Psalm 69:1-18; Proverbs 24:5-6

Ephesians 4:  26 “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold

So, what makes you angry?  I can think of a few examples for myself.  I do not enjoy getting cut-off in traffic, being tailgated, and having someone rudely blow their horn when I do not move within a second after the light turns from red to green.  I also become angry when I see someone in power abuse their position and denigrate someone in a “lower” position.

We all have the emotion of anger.  Paul recognizes that we become angry and he also recognizes that the initial emotion anger unto itself is not wrong — it is how we handle our anger that can lead to sin.

And if you note in these passages he provides excellent counsel.  We are not to allow our anger to last so long & be so pervasive it allows us to open ourselves to the temptations of Satan.

 

9/25/19: Ephesians 4:1-16; Psalm 68:19-35; Proverbs 24:3-4

Proverbs 24:  By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

When I read these verses my first thought was that while the literal reference is to a “house” the same applies to a “church.”  A church is blessed when the members grow in wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

And how are these attained?  By staying in, studying, and meditating on the Word of God.  Several weeks ago Artie spoke about “lazy” believers who do not study, how easily they can be lead astray and the negative impact this has on the church.

 

9/24/19: Ephesians 3:1-21; Psalm 68:1-18; Proverbs 24:1-2

Ephesians 3Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In these verses we see Paul repeat his mission of preaching to the gentiles.  But did you notice another vital role?

That’s right — the church then, the church now, and the church until the coming of the Lord.

9/23/19: Ephesians 2:1-22; Psalm 67:1-7; Proverbs 23:29-35

Galatians 2For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

I had a note in my Bible that said the Greek word used for “handiwork” is Poiema which, as it sounds, is the origin of our English word “poem.”  I find that a marvelous description — just think through His grace and your faith you are God’s created poem.

9/22/19: Ephesians 1:1-23; Psalm 66:1-20; Proverbs 23:25-28

Ephesians 1: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

When you read these verses from Ephesian I think it is inspiring for us to remember where Paul is.  You might think that from all of the words of “praise & blessing” he is in Jerusalem, or sailing, or traveling on another missionary journey.

But in reality Paul is imprisoned in Rome, unable to continue his travels and his goal of spreading the Gospel throughout the Gentile word.

Galatians is the first in a collection of “prison letters” Paul penned – the others being Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.  And each time I read these letters I am reminded that no matter the circumstance or the trial we encounter, like Paul are blessed and we can offer praise!

 

9/21/19: Galatians 6:1-18; Psalm 65:1-13; Proverbs 23:24

In the Galatians passages Paul, again, refers to our Christian walk as containing “independent verification” of one another’s actions.  And did you note how he counseled us to correct one another’s behavior?

Galatians 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

First counsel:  the Greek word used here for “gently” is praothj which carries with it the connotation of “humility.”   We do not approach the “sinful” member with a spirit of pride or “I am so much better than you”  but rather with a spirit of service.

Second counsel:  We must be alert to our own actions — while we are supporting our brother are we tempted to fall into the same (or worse) situation?

 

 

 

9/20/19: Galatians 5:13-26; Psalm 64:1-10; Proverbs 23:23

If you are like me you had much rather read well-crafted words of beauty and encouragement.  That is why (if you are like me) in today’s reading I usually focus on the “fruits of the spirit” in Galatians 5:22-25.

But during our self-evaluation it is equally as important to remind ourselves of where living a sinful life can take us.  Paul provides us these dramatic words, as well:

Galatians 5:  19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

 

9/19/19: Galatians 5:1-12; Psalm 63:1-11; Proverbs 23:22

As we read today’s passage we can be reminded of the recent protests in Hong Kong.  The people fear that the passage of some laws will place them under the control of China and they will lose certain freedoms.  And throughout history we have seen that “freedom” is a condition that has driven men to take great personal risks.

Galatians 5:5  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 

Several times we see Paul use the words “free” or “freedom” in his writings.  He speaks of “freedom” from sin and in this passage he is speaking of the “freedom” from all of the rules and regulations set on the necks of the Jews by the Law, amplified by the additional burden of the traditions of the Jewish religious leaders.

 

 

 

 

9/18/19: Galatians 3:23-4:21; Psalm 62:1-12; Proverbs 23:19-21

When reading today I was thinking of some “life challenges” & how to address them.  And what did I read:

Psalm 62: 1-8

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

“Trust” does not mean that we will necessarily see the issue resolved.  It means that we have faith in the one who controls the situation and that they will care for us.

9/17/19: Galatians 3:10-22; Psalm 61:1-8; Proverbs 23:17-18

We recently completed a study of “Genesis Genealogies” where we looked at the lives of the 20 patriarchs from Adam to Abraham.  In doing so we followed the “thread” of the promise of the coming Messiah who would redeem not just Israel but the entire world.

In today’s reading from Galatians we see Paul state the completion of thus thread:

Galatians 3: 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. 

 

9/16/19: Galatians 2:17-3:9; Psalm 60:1-12; Proverbs 23:15-16

Just as he did with the church in Corinth we see Paul correcting the church in Galatia for following false teachers.  And to me this is an indication of just how widespread the infiltration of false teachers among the first century church had become.

And while Paul certainly addresses and condemns the false teachers he does not hesitate to properly address the members of the Body — what they hear and weigh vs. the inspired teachings of the Lord is certainly their responsibility. — There has been no change to this tenant today.

Galatians 3: You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.

 

9/15/19: Galatians 2:1-16; Psalm 59:1-17; Proverbs 23:13-14

Earlier I wrote about a work-process called “independent verification.”  In this process you ask a co-worker to watch you perform a job.  It is their responsibility to stop and correct you if you are about to make a mistake.

Galatians 211  When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. 

And in Galatians 2 we see Paul act as an “independent verifier” for Peter.  The Greek word used for “opposed him” is anthístēmi  which means to take a complete stand against.  Paul understood his mission to follow the will of God and he ensured that Peter did not continue in his mistake.

Are you able to grow your relationship with fellow believers by, when needed, implementing “tough love.”

 

9/14/19 – Galatians 1:1-24; Psalm 58:1-11; Proverbs 23:12

Galatians:1Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead … 

During this reading the word “apostle” caught my eye especially as I note that Paul highlighted  his “apostleship.”  So, what is an apostle?  When you take a look back at the Greek meaning of the word the Greek term “apostolos”is used.  The word is a combination of “apo” and “stello,” meaning “from” and “to send.”

And the word also carries the overall idea of a personal representative who has the power and authority of the one who sent him.  And did you note that Paul strongly emphasized that he is an apostle not carrying the authority of any man but the authority of Jesus Christ!

 

9/13/19: 2 Corin. 13:1-14; Psalm 57:1-11; Proverbs 23:9-11

On my job we develop “Performance Objectives” that are used to evaluate our work performance.  In developing the Objectives one of the tasks that I find the most difficult is to perform a “self-assessment.”  That is to honestly examine myself to determine my job-related strengths and weaknesses.  We then address how to improve on my weaknesses.

Do you hear Paul tell the Corinthian church to do exactly the same thing — perform a spiritual “self-assessment.”    Of course the rewards for improving our spiritual weaknesses is not a bonus or pay raise — the reward is eternal.  So, how much more important is this assessment!!

2 Corinthians 13: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

9/12/19: 2 Corin 12:11-21; Psalm 56:1-13; Proverbs 23:6-8

Proverbs 22Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Two thoughts came to mind when I read this verse.

(1) Children may stray from God’s plan as they mature.  But if parents have been faithful in teaching them God’s will for their lives they have a base that they can return to as they mature & face life’s realities.

(2) The importance of teaching God’s plan!   Our hearts should ache when we think of the generations of children who have been spiritually abandoned by their parents, and as a society we see the results.  But our hearts should also rejoice when we see a child through their own searching find the joy of being in God’s kingdom.

9/11/19: 2 Corin 12:1-10; Psalm 55:1-23; Proverbs 23:4-5

Pages have been written on what was Paul’s “thorn in my flesh,” including epilepsy, vision problems, malaria, Malta fever, spiritual weaknesses, false teachers, etc.”

In this life I do not think we will ever know for sure.  But what we do know is that Paul, through Christ, set an example for us all.

2 Corinthians 12:  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

We all have weaknesses.  And whether they be related to areas such as physical/mental health, financial, family relationships, etc. we can all still serve the Lord, knowing that he understands and can take our frailties along with our strengths and help us serve Him.