Archive for : November, 2019

11/30/19: 1 John 1:1-10; Psalm 119:153-176; Proverbs 28:23-24

One of the “Fears” we addressed during our Sunday morning Bible Class study was that we could sin in such a manner or so repeatedly that we could never be forgiven.   As we read then and read today, the passage from 1 John allays this fear as long as our repentance is genuine:

1 John 1If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

 

11/29/19: 2 Peter 3:1-18; Psalm 119:129-152; Proverbs 28:21-22

2 Peter 311 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

When I read this passage from Peter I was reminded of a greeting historians state was used between believers in the first century church.  The greeting was “Maranatha,” a Hebrew word meaning “the Lord is coming” or “come, O Lord.”  As we know the church was under persecution and the use of this word reminded believers of the promise we have of the Lord’s return.

In an article in “Compelling Truth” the author asks, “Does the church today live with that same feeling of assurance and the desire for the Lord’s quick return.  When we are discouraged, Maranatha! When we are worried, Maranatha! When we are joyful, Maranatha! Our Lord is coming back, and it is an appropriate reminder at all times. 

11/28/19: 2 Peter 2:1-22; Psalm 119:113-128; Proverbs 28:19-20

Like Paul, Peter has a continued strong warning for the church to always be on the look-out for false teachers.  He states that false prophets will continue to exist & that they will seek to exploit the church.  This reality has not changed in the slightest today.

2 Peter 2But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

11/27/19: 2 Peter 1:1-21; Psalm 119:97-112; Proverbs 28:17-18

 

Psalm 119: 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Many of you probably know that these inspired words are the basis for the song we often sing written by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.   But what you may not know is the full story behind the lyrics.

Michael originally came up with the song’s melody and some words for the chorus straight from David’s Psalms about being a light into my path. Amy fell in love with his demo, but as Michael had no idea what the verses were supposed to say, he gave it to her and told her she could finish the tune. “So later that night she starts walking back to her cabin,” Michael told us. “And you have to understand Caribou Ranch is an 8,000 acre ranch and it’s very dark, and you’re in the middle of nowhere. And she got lost. There’s bears and all that sort of thing. You’ve got to really know where you’re going. It’s obviously a compound with all these cabins and stuff.”

“She finally saw a lamp and started walking towards that light, didn’t realize that that was her cabin,” he continued. “And she walked into that little cabin and sat down with a notebook and pen and wrote the verses to ‘Thy Word.'”

The lyrics of the first stanza are:

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path
When I feel afraid
Think I’ve lost my way
Still you’re there right beside me
And nothing will I fear
As long as you are near
Please be near me to the end

 

 

11/26/19: 1 Peter 4:7-5:14; Psalm 119:81-96; Proverbs 28:15-16

To me in today’s reading Peter provides one of the most chilling but absolutely necessary warnings for our Christian living:

1 Peter 5Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  

Did you notice that we do not just randomly encounter the devil and his temptations — he is actively and stealthily pursuing us.   We are to be equally active, standing firm in our faith.  And we see in the following verses the promise we will receive:

1 Peter 5: 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

11/25/19: 1 Peter 3:8-4:6; Psalm 119:33-48; Proverbs 28:12-13

1 Peter 3:  15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

I can think of no greater witness than our countenance and demeanor that has people asking, “What do they have that I do not — Why are they always smiling?”

And as Peter explains we need to be ready to answer that question — not necessarily with a long dissertation but, simply, with a statement of our relationship with the Lord.  That simple response may open doors to more questions and an excellent opportunity to share further.

11/24/19: 1 Peter 2:11-3:7; Psalm 119:49-64; Proverbs 28:12-13

1 Peter 211 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 

An important instruction to the first century church and certainly an equally important message to us today.  Commentator William Barclay wrote:

Here is our challenge and our inspiration. It is by the loveliness of our daily life and conduct that we must commend Christianity to those who do not believe.  

11/23/19: 1 Peter 1:13-2:10; Psalm 119:33-48; Proverbs 28:11

In our recent Sunday morning study from Max Lucado’s “Fearless” one of the fears we discussed was a concern that we are insignificant and that our lives do not matter to anyone.  The following passage from 1 Peter is one of my favorites and should put this fear to rest:

1 Peter 2But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

We are “chosen,” “royal,” “holy,” a “special possession,” and “the people of God.”  And this applies to all believers – there are no exceptions

11/22/19: 1 Peter 1:1-12; Psalm 119:17-32; Proverbs 28:8-10

As I read 1 Peter today I was reminded of a very important similarity that the first century church has shared with all believers — and it is reassuring to me.  While we have not physically seen the Lord through our love for him and our faith we are “filled with joy” and are receiving salvation.  Amen.

1 PeterThough you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

11/21/19: James 5:1-20; Psalm 119:1-16; Proverbs 28:6-7

James 5 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.

Wow, that statement certainly seems to condemn those we know who may be blessed with material wealth, doesn’t it?  But when we read a little further we see that the “rich” are not condemned for being “rich.”  Instead they are condemned for how they hoard and/or obtained their wealth.

And even if we do not consider ourselves “rich” we must still be aware of how we use the blessings the Lord has given us.

James 5:  Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.

 

11/20/19: James 4:1-17; Psalm 118:19-29; Proverbs 28:3-5

As I noted when we first started reading James it is an inspired book filled with wisdom and instructions for daily living.  And today’s reading highlights a pattern we can use to overcome temptations:

James 4:  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. 

As he so often does James does not “wax poetically” about how we fight temptation.  Instead he gives us commands and verbs — “Submit, resist and come near.”

The big decision — will we follow these instructions inspired by the Holy Spirit?

11/19/19: James 2:18-3:18; Psalm 118:1-28; Proverbs 28:2

Today we read another inspired section of wisdom in James.  This section presents “similes” that describe the power of our “tongue” and the importance of taming our tongue (e.g., gossip, slander, cursing others, etc.)  The tongue is one of our smallest organs and yet, like the ship’s rudder or a horse’s bit can control our direction.  So, as James pens – let us be aware of the damage we can cause with just a few words:

James 3:  When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

11/18/19: James 1:19 -2:17; Psalm 117:1-2; Proverbs 28:1

hypocrite:  A hypocrite preaches one thing, and does another. You’re a hypocrite if you criticize other people for wearing fur, but pull out your big mink jacket as soon as it gets cold. The word hypocrite is rooted in the Greek word hypokrites, which means “stage actor, pretender, dissembler.” So think of a hypocrite as a person who pretends to be a certain way, but really acts and believes the total opposite. Hypocrites usually talk a big talk but fail to follow their own rules — like an outspoken vegetarian who secretly eats bacon. — from Vocabulary.com

Among the advice for daily living that the inspired Word of God provides via James is another more haunting example:

James 1:  22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

11/17/19: James 1:1-18; Psalm 116:1-19; Proverbs 27:23-27

Like Artie the book of James is one of my favorites and a book I always encourage new Christians to read.  For in this book the half-brother of the Lords offers instructions for daily living as a believer and answers many basic questions.  Today I think he answers the question — “how can God let this happen to me – he could have removed that temptation that lead me to … [fill in the blank?]

James 113 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

God did not create us to be automatons but gifted us with free-will to make decisions on our own and the intelligence to do so.   And it is often the results of our decisions that are apart from the will of God that cause us pain and sorrow.  We can be forgiven of the sin but we must sometime have to live with the consequences.

11/16/19: Hebrews 13:1-25; Psalm 115:1-18; Proverbs 27:21-22

We have been reading throughout Hebrews that the sacrifices and burnt offerings offered under “the Law” were inadequate to cleanse our sins once and for all — that required the perfect blood of the Son of God.  But did you notice today that there are “sacrifices” that we are to offer:

Hebrews 1315 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. 

Reflect upon this instruction when we enter into a time of worship or a time of service …

11/15/19: Hebrews 12:14-29; Psalm 113:1-114:8; Proverbs 27:18-20

I am always amazed at the way even very short verses of inspired scripture capture concepts that I cannot explain in several paragraphs.  Today’s passage from Proverbs is such a verse:

Proverbs 27:19  As water reflects a face so a man’s heart reflects the man.

Matthew Henry writes:  Let a man examine his own conscience, his thoughts, affections, and intentions. Let him behold his natural face in the glass of the divine law (James 1:23), and he may discern what kind of man he is and what is his true character, which it will be of great use to every man rightly to know.

 

 

11/14/19: Hebrews 11:32 – 12:13; Psalm 112:1-10; Proverbs 27:17

In our Sunday Bible Class we have been discussing living life with less fear and more faith (based on Max Lucado’s 2009 book.)

In today’s reading the inspired writer of Psalms repeats what we have discussed – those who trust in the Lord are secure and their fears can certainly be lessened if we seek and have faith in His will.

Psalm 112: Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

11/13/19: Hebrews 11:17-31; Psalm 111:1-10; Proverbs 27:13

Hebrews 1117 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. 20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones. 23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

The verses are part of the listing of “heroes of faith.”  And did you notice an important element for us today?   While the faith of a parent could not be “given” to their children or progeny their example of living in faith was critical.

This is certainly a daily challenge for all of us.

 

11/12/19: Hebrews 11:1-16; Psalm 110:1-7; Proverbs 27:14

Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 

I had always considered this verse the “definition” of faith but after reading several commentaries I agree that, as commentator Dr. Thomas Constable wrote, “Hebrews 11:1 describes faith rather than defining it.

And what a description!  In Greek the word for “confidence” is  “hypostasis” which means “that which has foundation, is firm; that which has actual existence; a substance, real being.”  This says to me that faith is the absolute basis and foundation of how our daily lives as believers should be lived.

 

 

11/11/19: Hebrews 10:18-39; Psalm 109:1-31; Proverbs 27:13

Having played a lot of sports I realize how devastating it can be to a sports team when a teammate is unable to play due to an injury or other priority.  First, the missing teammate is often left behind while the team travels and the athlete loses the opportunity to join in the comradery of not only playing the game but in just being a member of a team with a common goal.

Secondly, the team will miss the individual and the unique talents they bring to the entire group of players.  Every position, every skill  is vital assembling a winning team.

Just reflect a minute or two — how much more does this reality apply to the Body of Believers?

Hebrews 10: 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching