Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Day 61~ Ephesians 1-3

Two months down, one more to go in the 90 day reading plan!!!

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” (2:8)

This verse has caused many scholars to debate what Paul was saying.  Some read this verse as it is faith that is the gift from God.

However, if you take a look at the Greek, the word “this” does not match “faith” in gender.  Therefore, “this” does not refer to faith as the gift.  Salvation is the gift.

One commentary stated this verse can be written like this: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, that is to say, not of yourselves, it is a gift of God.”

That helped me understand this verse, so I thought I would pass it on to you.

It is with/through that faith that Christ will live in our hearts (3:17).

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Day 60-Galatians 4-6

“You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? (5:7)
Paul likes that race analogy!  He used it earlier in ch.2 and in his letters to the Philippians and Timothy.  Paul says to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith.” (4:7)
Here, in Galatians, Paul is appealing to these brothers to get back in the race.  “Finish strong!” (as we say in our house), or like the old adage, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

I loved all of chapter 6 and especially vs 9. 
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Paul is doing his best, as he closes this letter, to cheer these contenders (and us) on to the finish line.
“Stand firm” (5:1), “live by the Spirit” (5:16) and “do not give up” (6:9) on the faith that you have!!!
“ The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (5:6)


Keep that faith until to the day you die.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Day 59~ Galatians 1-3

A new day, a new book!

What stood out to you in the first part of Galatians?  The first few chapters intrigued me! 
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-.” (1:6)

Paul is addressing a group of people he said had received the Spirit (3:2).  The Spirit had even manifested himself in them by doing miracles (3:5).  Wow!  To me, I would think that would make them fully devoted followers!

Yet, we find Paul laying out the Good News all over again to these Jewish converts to Christianity.  He is re-explaining God’s promise came first, then the Law came (which was put in place to lead us to Christ (3:24), then, through faith in Christ, we get what is promised (3:22).

Just like his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is fearful for the Gentiles. (Sorry, but I had to keep reading through chapters 4-5 today.  I know that’s tomorrow’s reading, but I had to stay with Paul’s train of thought.)

4:11, Paul says, “I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.”😳
He asks them, “ What has happened to your joy?” (They definitely had a sincere faith to begin with) yet, now he says “I am perplexed about you!” (vs 20).

4:5 & 5:1 explains why Paul would have fear for these people.  “for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” (4:5);  “do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (5:1)
It seems pretty clear to me that Paul believes a Christian can choose to walk away from the freedom they have in Christ and in so doing will not receive the inheritance.
He goes on to say, “ have fallen away from grace” (5:4) if you go back to the old ways.

I know someone who did this (go back to his old ways).  It’s tragic and I can see why it would grieve Paul.  

Again, Paul is such a good example to me!  Instead of giving up on these people, he says, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” (4:19).  He is starting all over again with them! He is laying out the Good News all over again.  I like that!  It teaches me to do the same with the person I know who needs to hear the basics all over again!  Keep sharing the Good News, even to those who have heard and lived by it before, but have turned away; keep sharing the Good News until……they are born again!  πŸ‘ΆπŸ»

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Day 58~ 2 Corinthians 13

Even though we only have one chapter today, it sure is filled with a powerful punch!

“Examine yourselves to see weather you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you- unless of course, you fail the test?  (Remember he is directing this to people he just said had a “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” 11:3)

This is an intense statement!  I find this whole chapter intense!  In 12:21 he states he is afraid he is going to find people who are still living a life of impurity, sexual sin and debauchery.  Then in 13:2 he says, “On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier..”  
What on earth was he going to do on his visit??? 😳He states it will be through Christ’s power that he will deal with them (vs 3-4).  😬 Doesn’t that sound like it would provoke that fear you had as a kid when you did something wrong and your dad was coming at you like- “You’re going to get it!”

The fact is, there were people back then that said they were Christian, but either were not or not acting like one.  It’s the same today.  The difference between then and now, in my opinion, is Paul knew he had the authority to call them out on that.  Today….no one feels they have the authority to do so. Hmmmmm πŸ€”,😞

Paul’s prayer for these people was for them not to do anything wrong (vs.7) and to be perfect (vs.9).  Why would he pray that if it were not possible?  It must be possible if he mentions it twice and says, “Aim for perfection…” (13:11)🏹

Lord, I know I have Christ in me….so please, help me to hit closer to the mark!!🎯

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Day 57~ 2 Cor. 10-12

Paul says, “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpents cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (11:3)
He was afraid for these converts because they “put up with it (false teaching) easily enough.” (11:4)

He spends most of chapters 10-12 of our reading defending himself and establishing his authority as an apostle (12:12) so that the recipients of this letter would listen to his warnings.

Why does he do this?  Because he knows, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light….his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (11:14)😧
His fear is very real!  He doesn’t want to be grieved when he gets to them, seeing “many who have sinned earlier and have not repented.” (12:21)

I understand why he would grieve, after reading what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9. 
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?”  He is truly fearful that these people will be lost.

He loves these people in Corinth (11:11) and wants to see them in the kingdom when he and they get there.  What a great pastor! That he cared enough to take the time to write these people to warn and to exhort them; what a great example to us today!  Don’t you think?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Day 56~ 2 Corinthians 7-9

The first verse of our reading stood out the most for me today.  
“…let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

Our desire to be more “Christlike” is not only for our own good but it is to be reverent to God.  I never really thought about it like that.

I am left asking myself, how do I purify myself from everything that contaminates my body and spirit? πŸ€”  That can be anything and everything!!

One thing Paul mentioned just a few verses before was, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” (6:14)

My footnote says to that, “the Corinthian, listening to (or cooperating with) false teachers (we will read about that in 11:13-14), is to become unequally yoked, destroying the harmony and fellowship that untie them in Christ.”
So, being “yoked together” here does not only mean in marriage or business, but in who we listen to.😳
For me, that would probably include what I read and watch on T.V. as well…..

I guess in all I do, my litmus test would be, “Is this contaminating me? Am I showing reverence to God?”

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Day 55~ 2 Corinthians 4-5

Today’s reading impressed on me that sharing the gospel is a active, forceful energy (not a passive “hope they get it by my lifestyle” type of evangelism). Look at the words Paul choses when writing: 
5:11, “we try to persuade men.”

5:14, “Christ’s love compels us”

5:20, “we implore you…”

6:1, “we urge you…”

6:4-7 “We commend ourselves in everyday…with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left.”

The question is, am I being the ambassador for Christ that God wants me to be?  Can he make his appeal to others through me? (5:20). Does this type of “persuading” only belong to the evangelists or the original apostles? 
I don’t think so….especially when I read 4:13
“It is written; ‘I believe; therefore I have spoken.’ With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak,….”

I believe.  I have faith……I better speak!  πŸ“– πŸ’ͺ🏻

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Day 54 ~ 2 Corinthians 1-3

2 Corinthians 1:11 reminds me that prayer is important!

“On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

Reading about Paul, I sometimes feel that he has a direct line to God.  God tells him what to say and where to go.  What does it matter if people are praying for him?  Will that really change anything?….
Well, apparently Paul thought so!  He whole heartedly felt the Christians in Corinth, praying for him, helped him.  Perhaps he was even crediting their prayers to his  deliverance from the hardship they had in Asia. 
I see Paul giving 2 reasons why prayer from others is important.

1.) So that they (he, Paul) did not rely on himself, but on God. (vs 9).  When we bring things before the Lord in prayer, it’s easier to see God’s hand in the final outcome verses if we are silent on the matter and just see how things unfold…chalking it (the outcome) up to “coincidence”.

2.) Then many will give thanks (vs.11).  The more people involved in knowing what’s going on in your life, the more can give praise when they see God move.

God doesn’t want us to live life on our own.  He wants us in community.  He wants us to be vulnerable to others.  By living that way, we avoid feelings of pride (I can do this on my own!) and we put God on the throne showing he is worthy of praise by many! 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Day 53~ Only one chapter!! Catch up day!

1 Corinthians 16

Again, I am struck by the people that Paul lists in this last chapter..  Each had their own personal story that we know little or nothing about.  Each had their own conversion to Christianity, and each served the Lord whole-heartedly.  I’m looking forward to meeting Pricilla and Aquila when I get to heaven.  I would love to hear their testimony!

On another note, I love 16:13!  Such a timeless exhortation!

“Be on your guard: stand firm in the faith: be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.”

Monday, May 22, 2017

Day 52~ 1 Cor. 13-15

What are your thoughts on spiritual gifts and women speaking in the church?

These topics can make for some interesting discussions!  Thank goodness I have my commentary that helps me process a little of what I am reading!  For example, 14:34, “women should remain silent in the churches”, can be a very upsetting verse for an opinionated woman such as myself! hahaha

However, again, I am reminded to always read scripture in context!  My commentary reminded me of what was said earlier in chapter 11.  “Paul does not altogether forbid women to speak in church (11:5).  What he is forbidding is the disorderly speaking indicated in these verse.” Oh, yeah!  Chapter 11 did talk about women praying and prophesying in the church body.  This is another example of how good it is to read straight through a letter (like our 90 day plan) to get the full thoughts of the writer!  

On another note, a verse that stuck out to me in reading chapter 15 was, verse 2, “By the gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

What do you think of the word “if” ???😳

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Day 51~ 1 Cor. 10-12

Boy!  I have read through the New Testament a few times now and I haven’t yet put much thought into 10:14-22,….until now.
Maybe because I am also reading the O.T., so the sacrifices of the Levitical times are fresh in my mind right now.

“Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the alter? (10:18)
My footnote reads, “When the people of Israel ate part of the sacrifice made at the alter, they participated in the worship of God, who established the sacrifices and whose alter it was.”

Bringing the sacrifice and burning it, atoned for sin, but eating part of the sacrifice was worshipping God.  How poetic of Jesus to then institute communion for us.  Eating ‘part of him’ is participating in the sacrifice.  
I never saw it like this before!  I am not eating communion just to remember Him and what He did on the cross, I am eating communion as a form of worship.  

I love getting a new understanding of God’s Word as I read everyday!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Day 50~ 1Corinthians 7-9

I think 1 Cor. 7:14 is a very thought provoking statement!
“For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.  Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is they are holy.”

What?  What is that saying?

To figure this out, I first looked up the word sanctified.  It means, “set apart for holy use or make holy”.
My commentary clarifies the verse a little for me…..
“The unbelieving partner is influenced by the godly life of the Christian partner; so that family is under the holy influence of the believer and in that sense is sanctified.”

Did you know there is a verse in the Bible that explains why God made husband and wife one?  Malachi 2:15 says, “Because he (the Lord) was seeking godly offspring.”  
Huh!!  So, marriage is all about the kids!!
My footnote there says, marriage “sanctifies the children”.

Paul may have been referring to Malachi when he says in vs 14, “Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”
Again, my commentary clarifies, “They at least have the advantage of being under the sanctifying influence of one Christian parent and so may be called holy.”

However, it is clear as we keep reading that even though the partner may be under a sanctifying influence, they still may not end up being saved (vs. 16).

Here is some food for thought that I have been chewing on during this reading….

I can’t help but think how our history in America had been so strongly influenced by Christian values.  After today’s reading, I get it now, when remembering back to the olden days (anything before the 1950’s) of stories of girls getting pregnant by their boyfriends; the parents response would be to force a marriage.  Doesn’t that make sense?  They were going off the Christian principle of keeping the child “holy” or what we would call “legitimate”. 

It’s not surprising that even in this area of legitimate or ill-legitimate children, our society has moved farther away from Biblical teaching, and even hails the idea of single parenting.  (I’m referring to people choosing to single parent, not to those who find themselves in the situation against their choice.) Bottom line, Satan will twist every Biblical principle he can, or make it sound “old fashioned”, to keep people from being sanctified!!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Day 49~ 1 Corinthians 4-6

OK- Did you feel uncomfortable, at all, when reading 5:9-11?
I think, in our culture, we have moved away from this teaching all together.  This would be something we would say the extreme Amish practice, but we modern evangelicals do not.  What do you think?  Am I wrong?  Have you seen this put into practice?

Judging is an interesting topic and it seems Paul is trying hard to clarify how to do it.

In 4:3, Paul is talking about teachers “entrusted with the secret things of God.”  He cares very little about human judgment toward his teaching.  He states, “It is the Lord who judges me.”

Then Paul hits on the topic of judging sinful actions of Christians (5:3).  He clarifies that we don’t judge those outside the church, only those inside (5:12).  He gives two reasons why it is important to do so:
First, it is so the sinner might have a chance to repent and be saved (5:5) and
Second, so that his sin doesn’t permeate the whole church (5:6).

Yet, even knowing the logic, does the church do this today?......

I think we have adopted more of a mentality to just love and let the Lord do all the convicting. (But is that loving?) As a result we have people spread all over the church, living in their sin, not realizing they need to repent and as a result, the church has a hypocritical reputation.  (I know… I am sounding harsh, and maybe generalizing too much, but that is the reality of it and I know you would agree!)

I don’t know the solution other than to tell people, “Keep reading your Bible!”  If all Christians had scripture fresh in their mind….we all might start living more like how it is instructing us to live.

Fortunately, 1 & 2 Corinthians (2 letters to the same church) were both written! It’s a good thing the second letter wasn’t lost to us- people living 2000 years later.   We would have been left hanging….
This first letter we are reading, teaches how to expel that sin-filled brother, but the second letter teaches how to restore him after he has repented (2 Cor. 2:7). God has given us the full instruction manual!! We can keep loving that brother in the most sincere way!  (Like the theme verse to this blog!! Romans 12:9)
“Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

Day 48~ 1 Corinthians 1-3

We are starting our 7th book!  Seven down, 20 more to go! (but a lot of the 20 are super short so don’t feel overwhelmed!)

So, 1 Cor. 3:12-15….a once over reading can be quite confusing!  However, going over it several times, I think I got what Paul was saying.

Let me try to make it simple…….this is how I read it…..

“If any man builds on a foundation….”  Paul is referring to teachers as being the builders (i.e. Apollos, Paul, himself, or Cephas). He even refers to his work later in 9:1 “are you not the result of my work in the Lord?”
So, he as a teacher, or the others, can either teach well “using gold, silver, costly stones” or they can teach poorly using “wood, hay or straw” (vs.12)

“the Day” will test the teachers work. (vs.13)

“If what he (the teacher) built survives” is referring to the built convert.  If the convert “survives” the teacher will receive his reward. (Probably a reward of feeling satisfaction that their convert received eternal life.)

If the convert doesn’t survive (the believer abandons their faith- see Heb. 3:12), the teacher will suffer loss (possibly feeling sadness for the lost soul) but the teacher, even though his teaching was weak, won’t lose his salvation. (vs. 15)

There, I hope that re-phrasing helps clarify a confusing section…..

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Day 47~ Romans 16

One chapter today!  Another catch up day, if you need it!  Woo woo!

So it might seem funny to you, but I was actually struck by the people Paul was listing to be greeted.  Especially, the first couple listed in 16:3.

You may or may not remember from our reading in Acts that they were the Jewish, Christian couple that had to leave Italy when “Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome” (18:2).  They lived in Corinth for a year and a half (18:2) with Paul and started a church there (18:8).  Then they moved to Ephesus and invited people into their home there (18:26).
Now, here we are reading Romans and we find they had moved back to Rome and have another church meeting in their home! 
What an incredible couple!!!  Wherever they went, they never stopped speaking of Jesus, inviting people to their home and have church! Wow!  What a great example to us!! Talking about practicing hospitality!  They are the perfect example of living the theme verse of this blog.

Also, I have to say, 16:17-19 also stuck out to me….great advise then and now!!!
Paul advised “to watch out out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teachings you have learned.  Keep away from them!!!!”  (Exclamation points are mine) J  I love how he says, ”I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”

What does that last line mean to you in practical terms?  I would love to hear your thoughts!