Sunday, May 26, 2019

Luke 7-8~ Day 26~What to do with doubts.

I've heard sermons on John the Baptist and his little episode of doubt.  Who wouldn't have doubts in his situation? Here he was doing what God called him to do and he was being punished for it!  If I were in his shoes, I would be wondering.....Why, God?  Why would Jesus leave me in here?  I was pointing people to him!"

The sermons I have heard usually focus on how Jesus assured John that in fact he was the Messiah for whom John was sent to prepare the way. This time reading the story, I noticed something different; a practical application for me!

First of all, I am pretty sure John knew, without a doubt, that his "relative" (Luke 1:36) was the Messiah.  After all, he was there when "the Holy Spirit descended on him (Jesus) in a physical appearance like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: "You are my beloved son; with you I am well-pleased." (Luke 3:22)
He also just heard from his disciples that Jesus raised a young man, the widow’s son, from the dead. (Luke 7:18).
John's knowledge of the truth and his belief in Jesus reminds me of mine!  Yes, I believe! I know it to be true!  Yet, John, I have moments of doubt, especially when things seem to be going side-ways. 😰

Did you notice how Jesus responded to John's disciples when they conveyed John's question to Him? It's like he said, "When you have doubts, go back to God's word!"
Jesus used scripture to answer them! In fact he quotes from three different chapters in Isaiah!
What a good, practical application for me when I have doubts.  God’s Word speaks to us! Don't go to other sources.  Don't go to self-help books or read the most popular sociology/psychology/secular insight.  That doesn't help with doubts in Jesus!

Jesus gives explicit directions on what to do when questioning one's faith, Go to the Bible!  Remind yourself of what you know is true!
What a great reminder! 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Luke 5-6~ Day 25~ Jesus IS our Sabbath

Let’s talk about the Sabbath since we read a lot about it in today’s reading.

“The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (6:5)  Have you ever given that sentence much thought? What does Jesus mean when he says he is the Lord of the Sabbath? My footnote says it’s that he had “authority to overrule the Pharisees tradition because Jesus had created the Sabbath. The creator is always greater than the creation.”

That’s true, but I think there is even more to it than that! The Sabbath is much more than “a day of rest”, it is symbolic of something greater!
I’m reading a book called Kingdom Come by Sam Storms. He does an excellent job of pointing out how everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus. In fact he asserts that “the Old Testament finds its consummate fulfillment in the person of Christ and his body, the Church” (pg. 16)

For example, Jesus is the true temple of God. The temple of the Old Testament with the  “shekinah” glory of God is now fulfilled in Jesus. God now dwells with his people (John 1:14).

He also talks about how Jesus is our Sabbath rest.  When Paul writes in Colossians that the Sabbath is “A shadow of what was to come; the substance of Christ.“, he is saying the Sabbath, though the immediate purpose in the Old Testament was to provide rest from physical labor, the foreshadowing and symbolism of the Sabbath finds its fulfillment in the spiritual rest provided by Jesus.
We cease from our labors, not by resting physically one day in seven, but by resting spiritually every day and forever in Christ by faith alone." (Storms p. 25)

So, in essence, for as Christians, every day is the Sabbath. Therefore Jesus is Lord over every day in a Christian’s life!  I love that! With all that in mind, I totally understand what Jesus is proclaiming in Luke 6:5, “The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath”.
Let him be Lord of your life because he gives you spiritual rest every day of it! You no longer need to work for your righteousness. Rest knowing you are righteous!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Luke 3-4~ Day 24~ Demons!😳😈

I am always left pondering demonic warfare when I read this section of scripture, "Also, demons were coming out of many, shouting and saying, "You are the Son of God!" (Luke 4:31)

Why is it that in our current culture no one, including Christians, would ever believe that a person is demon possessed?  People were back then... why not now?  We have been taught to believe a person's issues are always psychologically rooted.  Therefore give them medicine or psychotherapy.  I would venture to guess that it would be even a Christian's first thought to seek psychiatric help for someone with behavior that caused them to want to be naked (Luke 8:27), cut themselves (Mark 5:5) or attempt suicide (Mark 9:22).
I often wonder, what would be my role when confronted with a person with mental disorders?  Do I refer that person to a psychiatrist or do I pray in the name of Jesus to expel the demon (like they do in Mark 9:29, 9:38 & Luke 10:17)?

Remember, I am a nurse who believes God gave man wisdom to treat, medically, all kinds of infirmities.  Yet, I am also a Christian who reads the Bible.  So, when I read something like "Some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities.." (Luke 8:2), I must acknowledge both conditions exist in our world and both can be healed by the power of Jesus.

It's interesting that we just got finished reading Mark where it says, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons..." (16:16)
Humm... I haven't cast out any demons fact,  I am being totally honest here.....I wonder if it would dawn on me to try.

My first thought if I came across someone cutting or one who has a history of trying to kill themselves, would first be,  go the medical route. My next thoughts would be,  if I started to pray in the name of Jesus to expel a demon,
1.  People would look at me as a religious wacko. 
2. My faith would falter, not believing that a demon would really come out.
I am a product of our culture! 😫
I realize, I need to pray after reading these verses and pondering it all!  I need help!!  

Lord, please increase my faith!  Don't let me be a product of my culture!  I am just a visitor here, let me have a heavenly mind.  Remind me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13) and please teach me not to be concerned of what others think of me.  Who cares if I'm a religious wacko!  Especially if the result of praying in your name could lead to another being freed from a demon!!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Luke 1-2~ Day 23~ Parents prep the soil!!

Once again, this new version for me (CSB), makes a verse stand out like it never has before!
When Gabriel is telling Zach that he will have a son and what that son would do, he says, "And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people." (1:17)

I had to re-read that verse to try to understand "turn the hearts of fathers to their children."  My footnote helped me,  "John's message would include the straightforward admonition to families to restore godly leadership in the home.  He would call fathers to turn to their children with love and compassion, persuading their offspring to look to God."

I love that!  Fathers need to turn to their children and teach them about God!  We need that same message proclaimed here, today, in the USA!  We need dads to have the desire to teach their children about Jesus rather than turn their hearts to their favorite sport or TV series!  What a different culture we would have if dads took up the spiritual leadership in their homes!

I bet you anything that John used Deuteronomy 11:13-21 when he appealed to his Jewish audience!!

 “If you carefully obey my commands I am giving you today, to love the Lord your God and worship him with all your heart and all your soul, 14 I will provide rain for your land.....18 “Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates, 21 so that as long as the heavens are above the earth, your days and those of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your fathers."

The result of parents teaching their children spiritual truths is stated in our reading, "To make ready for the Lord a prepared people." (Luke 1:8). Children who have been taught truth, grow up to have soil prepared to receive the seed of Jesus in their heart (like the parable in Mark 4:7) when the time comes for them to make their own decision to follow Him or not.  What an honor and privilege we get as parents to play a role in prepping the soil!  Lord, let the hearts of fathers in our country turn to their kids and prepare them, make them ready for you!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Mark 15-16~ Day 22~ There’s no way he could keep faking it!

Obviously, if you are a "believer" you will see thousands of examples in the gospel writings that prove Jesus was/is the Messiah.
One such example stood out to me today.  I would love to have a conversation with a nonbeliever and discuss this one point.
First of all, it would need to be established that the writings of Mark is a first hand account of events.  Whatever was not witnessed by John Mark, the young man who ran away naked in the garden (14:51) was probably retold to him by Peter (first hand account) with whom he worked closely with (Acts 12:12 & 1 Peter 5:13).

So, after establishing that Peter or Mark heard the words of Jesus as he hung on the cross, it can be established that Jesus really said, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (Mark 15:34)

One could argue that Jesus was a brilliant man and memorized much of the Old Testament.  He spent his life pretending he was the Messiah and threw out quotes when they fit.  One can even argue that he set up the borrowing of the colt prior to telling Peter and John to go get it (Mark 11;2).  It would be a stretch for me to believe that Jesus pre-set up all his miracles and then went back to the scene to act them out.  He was always traveling with a group people.  They would have noticed long stretches of absences from the group.  Anyway, let's just say that this Jesus guy had a severe case of "delusions of grandeur".
Would that person, Jesus, be able to hold to the deception up to the last moments of their life.  After being beaten severely and crucified, would that person still be able to quote Old Testament scripture just because it fit in at the moment?
Jesus's lasts words are more proof to me that he was/is, indeed, the Messiah. On the cross he is not just quoting Old Testament scripture, he is living out what the prophet, predicted (nearly 1000 years before) Jesus would say, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?  Why are you so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning?" (Psalm 22:1)   That same Psalm has the words, "They divided my garments among themselves and they cast lots for my clothing." (vs. 18)

Even a person who suffers from delusions of grandeur could not carry their deception to their final, labored breath!  They could not pre-arrange that the soldiers would divide the clothes!

To me, it is so obvious what the truth is here!  I would love to point all this out to a nonbeliever!!  But, the fact is, some people who don't want a savior, will fight to keep from seeing the real one.  It doesn't matter how convincing an argument can be.  It doesn't matter if one gives a great, logical argument. Some just don't want to be saved. 😔

But.......some do!!  Therefore, when I ever do get to have a conversation with a nonbeliever about the truth of Jesus, I'm going to be ready!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Mark 13-14~ Day 21~ "Yet, not what I will.."

In church this past weekend, we had a missionary share about the work God is doing in India.  This particular missionary is Indian himself, he came to America and become the lead pastor of a church in Irvine, CA.  However, after several years here in the USA, he felt God calling him back to India to encourage the pastors there.  He went on to share a bit about the politics of India.  He explained that the government system has something like 530 voting seats. There must be a 75% majority to agree to change the constitution. There is a push right now to fill the up coming vacant seats in the next election with more of the majority who are pushing to change the constitution.  If they can get the 75% control, the plan is to make Christianity illegal as per the country's constitution.  Christians are already being persecuted in this mostly Hindu country, but the laws don't not say it is illegal....yet.

The missionary sharing this information with us asked us to pray that the party against Christianity would not get the "majority" to change the constitution.  Then he added, "But even if they do, that will not stop us from doing the work God has called us to do!"

How inspiring!  I will definitely be praying for him!!
I thought of him when I read today how Jesus prayed, "Abba, Father," he said, " everything is possible for you.  Take this cup form me,  Yet, not what I will, but what you will." (14:36).

The missionary was asking us to pray just as Jesus did.

Lord, it's possible that you can make it so that this powerful political party can not change the constitution, but even if it's your will that they do, please give the missionary, the pastors and all Christians there in India, the strength and protection to continue the work you want them to do. Also, Lord, may the first part of this prayer never be needed for the USA! 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Mark 11-12~ Day 20~Did something get lost in translation?

So, I commented once in the past about this observation, but I thought I would mention it again for anyone new to the reading plan and caught the little detail that is easily missed.

It would be fun to know if anyone else caught this little detail; let me know if you did.

The CSB version says,
25 "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrong doing."
27 "They came again to Jerusalem..."

That wording is pretty much the same in the NIV.  Did you notice there is no verse 26?
Is anyone reading the New King James? That version has verse 26 saying,
26 "But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

So, what's the deal?  Why are new versions leaving out the verse but keeping the number order?  I found a site that does a good job explaining. 
I thought I would share this interesting bit of trivia for you! I got the insight from the website, Evidence for Christianity.

"There is a textual variant in the Greek manuscripts.  The great majority of Greek manuscripts include this verse, but all the oldest manuscripts (such as Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus) do NOT include this verse.  Many Bibles have Mark 11:26 in brackets.  It is [But if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father i heaven forgive your wrongdoing.] Probably a scribe added this verse in order to make Mark 11 agree with Matthew 18:35.  Such attempts by scribes to improve the text, of course, never actually improves it.  The reason for the verse numbering is that back in the 1600s when these were being added, the only available Greek manuscripts were later ones which are not of as good a quality.  Besides, the Latin Vulgate, which was by far the most read Bible at the time also contained this verse.  It is too late to change the numbering, so we are stuck with Mark 11:26 which almost certainly was not in the original.
This is a fairly typical example of the kind of errors that are found in our Greek manuscripts.  First of all, in this case it is quite easy for scholars to determine the likely original.  Second, because this verse is in Matthew anyway, there is really no important Christian teaching which is affected by including or excluding this verse."

Isn't that interesting?!  I thought you might like to know since you are digging into the Bible with me these 120 days!  However, if the above answer leaves you feeling uncomfortable, asking, "Well, if the verse was added by a scribe and not in the original NT, how can we be sure the Bible is perfect?", click the link to get a logical answer from John Oaks on that: