Saturday, September 30, 2017

Day 3~ Mt.3, Mk,1, Lk 3

I hate to admit, but I am the type of person who actually reads the names of the listed genealogies in the Bible.  In the back of my mind I often think, “Oh, that would be a good name to use today” or “Nope, that will never come back in popularity!” Hahaha

Well, if you are like me than you will notice that the genealogies for Jesus listed in Matt. 1 and Luke 3 are very different from each other.  Does that mean there is a contradiction in the Bible?
Not at all!

I have a commentary that explains that there are different reasons for listing genealogies in the Bible, including Old Testament, and outside literature.  They can serve different functions; familial, legal-political and religious.  For example, in the domestic area, social status or birth order may be reflected in the placement in the lineage.  In the political and military sphere, the decedents holding office may be the only ones listed.  Genealogies are also known as being “fluid”- meaning they are subject to change depending on their purpose.  This is technique is termed “telescoping”.  This is when names are omitted from the longer list.  Unimportant names are left out in order to relate an individual to a prominent ancestor.  The Bible writers use this technique, often omitting names to keep multiples of 7.  Matthew used the telescoping method to 14 generations (2x7) and Luke gives 21 (3x7).  (The poor ancestors who weren’t worthy or famous enough to be listed!) 

The purpose for the list is key.  Matthew’s purpose was to prove to his Jewish readers that Jesus was the promised Messiah they had been waiting for from the line of David.  Reading his list is like reading a list from the Bible Hall of Fame- you can read about many on his list in the Old Testament (some of them were down right evil!).  Luke on the other hand had more names.  His gospel was not directed to only Jewish believers, but to Gentile Christians as well.  So, it makes sense that he would go all the way back to Adam in his genealogy to show that Jews and Gentiles are related with the common father being Adam.  
You may be thinking, yea, that makes sense, Anita, but these names are so different!  I don’t see many similarities, at all, after David, when comparing the two lists!  Joseph even has different dads!  Well, there can be a simple explanation for that as well! It could be that Luke traced Christ’s lineage through Mary (since Joseph was the adoptive dad) and Matthew traced it through Joesph.  Here’s a site that explains more in-depth if you are interested: 

I went to the effort to explain this because I wanted to make a point. What seems like a contradiction at first (biblically speaking), usually turns out to have a logical explanation after a little digging. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Day 2~ Matt. 1-2, Luke 2

At times, when reading about the Jewish people in the Bible, it seems that many are “spiritually bankrupt”.  Especially the one’s that are supposed to be the leaders of this monotheistic religion; the kings, Pharisees and teachers of the law.  
Yet, in these beginning chapters of the New Testament, it is inspiring to read of lives that were very committed to God and the promise of the coming Messiah, even though there was a “quite period” of 300 years between the Old Testament and Jesus.  Yesterday we heard about Zechariah and Elizabeth, who were “righteous in the sight of God.” (Luke 1:5), and today we read about the steady faith of Simeon  and Anna.  

Simeon was told he wouldn’t die until he got to see the Messiah.  That leads me to believe he was on the older side.  We know Anna was old at 84.  How inspiring to read that these two did not give up on their hope even after years of prayer.  

I want to be like Anna!  What a role model!  She spent her life “worshipping day and night” (Luke 2:37)!  I think Luke mentioned her age and the devotion of these two to show us their example of perseverance in the faith.  We will see, as we continue in our reading, that perseverance is a key trait of a true follower of Christ.  What foreshadowing!  Perseverance paid off for these two; they got to see the Messiah!  Perseverance will pay off for us too!  We will get to see the Messiah face to face as well! 🤗

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Day 1~ Luke 1 & John 1:1-14

Welcome to reading the New Testament in 88 Days!
You are being eased into it slowly, only having to read less than 2 chapters today.  I hope you find that your daily reading becomes the favorite part of your day!  Some days you may not get much out of the reading, other days it may feel like it is speaking straight to you.  I hope you share those moments with me on the blog!

So, I thought I would give you a quick history lesson as we start reading about the time when Jesus came to earth in human form. 🌍 
About 50 years before Jesus is born, Cleopatra is a pharaoh in Egypt.  🇪🇬 She gets disposed of that position, but soon meets Julius Caesar who had come to Egypt in pursuit of an enemy named Pompey.  Caesar ends up marrying Cleopatra and puts her back into power in Egypt.  Due to other battles, Caesar needs to return to Egypt and eventually returns to Rome.  His wife joins him there.  However, the Senate didn’t like some things Caesar was doing so they killed him!  ðŸ˜³ Cleopatra went back to Egypt.  Eventually she meets and marries Mark Antony.  Antony is pretty much in charge of all of Rome after Julius Caesar, except for one other guy who is vying for  power, Octavian.  These two end up in a battle.  Antony loses and kills himself, as does Cleopatra!  This all happens just 30 years before Jesus!  The new guy in charge of all of Rome is Octavian (Augustus Caesar- we read about him tomorrow in Lk. 2).  Around that time, the Roman Senate positioned Herod as the governor of Galilee.  He becomes known as Herod the Great and eventually becomes king of all Judea.  It’s this Herod that orders the death of all male children in Bethlehem who were under the age of 2 (we read about the tomorrow in Mt. 2).  Here ends the history lesson for today! 🤓  

Don’t you think it odd that most people today would accept everything I wrote about Cleopatra as fact, yet when they hear about the history of Jesus they become skeptical and want to toss it into the fiction category?
I am thrilled that you have committed to reading the NT!   Luke worded, so well, my prayer for you as you read, “that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”

Feel free to comment on anything that stood out to you in your reading.  I would love to hear about it!!

The New Reading Plan starts today!!

You will need to print out the reading plan for this one!  We will be jumping around quite a bit to try to read the New Testament chronologically.  You can find the reading plan on the 'Spiritual Fervor' tab.
I hope you are as excited to start as I am!!!
Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Day 90~ Rev. 19-22

“He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But the cowardly, the unbelieving….their place will be in the fiery lake of burning suffer.” (Rev. 21:7-8)

I had a conversation with someone recently who once was a professing believer in Jesus Christ as their Savior, but has now apostatized (abandoned the faith).  When the question was asked, “How do your believing family and friends feel about that?” His answer disturbed me.  “Well, for those who actually believe there is eternal damnation for nonbelievers, they are having a really hard time with it.  It is just too painful for them.  For others who don’t believe in eternal damnation, they are fine, as long as they see I’m still a good guy.”

That answer disturbed me for two reasons.  First, because of the verse written above, I am one of those who do believe in punishment for the nonbeliever.  It is very painful for me to imagine anyone I know and love choose that end.😨  The other reason why it was disturbing is that some of his believing friends don’t believe their will be eternal damnation…just be a good guy?…they are missing the fact that God is just and there will not be a happy ending for those listed in Rev. 21:8.  Those that just want him to be a good guy are being the ‘Cafeteria Christians’, that I mentioned on a previous blog, picking and choosing what verses they want to accept or not.

Our reading today shows us, there is an ending; a happy one for believers and a sad one for nonbelievers. This fact should make us sad enough for the nonbelievers that we want to do our best to convince them of the reality of the ending.  
But, bottom line, God has given each of us the choice.  If some choose to persist in their unbelief it is because of their own stubbornness (Rom 2:5).  I pray for this friend of mine that he stops being so stubborn!

Well, we conclude our reading of the New Testament today. Congratulations and good job!!!
I hope the reading has drawn you closer to Jesus!  Keep up your new habit!
Join me again tomorrow, reading the NT chronologically!

Remember what John wrote Rev. 1:3, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it, and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”😌

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Day 89~ Revelation 16-18

Ok, you might be getting a little tired of me mentioning my geology class, but I can’t help it!  My Bible reading today reminded me of the subject!
My son took Geography last year.  I happened to read the introduction to his text book,  “Everything in this book is based on the assumption that earth processes have always proceeded as they do today” (Slowly).  That is how geologists get the ages of rocks to be billions of years old.  New Earth geologists, on the other hand, believe God has interceded, moving things quickly to begin with and then slowed it down.  

Today, I read, “Then there came flashes of lightening, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earth quake.  No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake” (16:18).
I had previously written in the margin of my Bible, “I bet there were some big ones before man was on the earth!”
Think about it, God created the world and it was covered with water at first ( Gen. 1:6), then he lifted the land and separated the water and created dry ground (Gen 1:10).  I bet there were huge earthquakes happening to accomplish this task!!!  Mountains and valleys formed because of those quakes.  

Now jump back to Revelation, “Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.” (16:20).😳  It sounds like God is going to use the same mechanisms to end the earth as we know it, as he did to initially create the earth’s topography.  Earthquakes will once again change the elevations of the land, bringing down what at one time was lifted up.  It makes sense that if mountains level out, waters would rise covering islands. And it sounds like it won’t take billions of years…. it’s going to be fast! 

Monday, September 25, 2017

We start the 88 Day reading plan on Thursday!!!

I printed out my reading plan today!  I got it off the Spiritual Fervor tab on the blog.  I am excited to get started and I hope you are too!  Invite a friend to read along with you!!

If you have decided not to read on this go around, please feel free to unsubscribe yourself.  I will not be offended and you won't be bothered with the daily email notice.

Hope to have you reading with me on Thursday!!!🤓

Day 88~ Revelation 13-15

Have you noticed how the Bible talks a lot about patience?  In many instances it is connected with endurance, trust, hope- even love.  “Love is patient” (1 Co. 13:4)
However, in our society we are anything but patient!  We are a culture of instant gratification, wouldn’t you agree?  So, if the Bible teachers patience, who do you think formed our culture to be the exact opposite?  Hum?…..could it be….Satan??….

Anyway, this statement in today’s reading is said twice, so I definitely perked up when I read it, “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.” (13:10 & 14:12)  
Here we read that these “end time” Christians need to endure patiently, but in reality we Christians today are encouraged to have the same patient endurance.  Here are a few verses directed straight to us:
  • “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (Heb 6:12)
  • “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. “ (Heb 10:36)
  • “Be patient, than, brothers, until the Lord’s coming.” (James 5:7)
And there’s more; too many for me to write here, but this will give you an idea: 
Lam 3:25-27, Psalm 40:1, 2 Thess 1:4, Romans 5:3, 8:25, 12:12, James 1:3, Colo 3:12.

We already live in a fallen world that is filled with evil. We can feel sad for these end-time Christians for what they will need to endure but the fact is, we are enduring hard times already, today! The encouragement and command to persevere in the face of trails is the same for us as for them. The thing we can learn from these end-time Christians is their example in Rev. 12:11, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” 

Do you have that type of patient endurance?…..

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Day 87~ Revelation 10-12

What a suspense filled day of reading!  Especially the events in chapter 12!  
My commentary said something interesting that I never knew before.  The woman we read about in Ch12, “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head” (12:1), yeah, that one….she symbolizes the “believing Messianic community”.   I don’t think I would have figured that out with out my commentary! Bible scholars come to that conclusion based on “similar language describing the rebirth of Jerusalem in Is 66:7 and Micah 4:10.  So, during the end times, there will be a rebirth of sorts of Jewish people turning to Jesus as their Savior.

You know Michael, the angle?  In Daniel 12:1, he is described as, “ the great prince who protects your people (the Israelites)”.  Apparently there is a ranking of angles, kind’a like the military- that protects different groups or regions.  Michael is the protector of the Jewish people, so it makes sense that it would be him and his squad that would be fighting to protect this group of Messianic Jews (12:7).
Interesting, don’t you think!?
And what excitement!!  This group of new believers will be protected for a time, but Satan does his best to pursue them!! Eekk!, …she flys away, he chases her, spews water,….even the earth steps in to protect her!  Exciting stuff!!! 
 And then the most frightening statement of all….. “Then the dragon is enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring- those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (12:17)

😳Gulp!  Does that mean Gentiles?  Nobody is getting off easy in those days!  I pray that pre-tribulation is the correct theology!  😬

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Day 86~ Rev 7-9

You know,…some people can read these chapters and get very sad; too sad to continue reading…
I get that, especially as we read how devastation comes with each new seal being opened.
Yet, there is another way of looking at it.  Today, as I read, I realized my mind had been prepared yesterday by focusing on the majesty of God (our little sneak peek).  So today, I was actually happy for that “great multitude, from every nation, tribe and language”(3:9) that came to their senses!!
They did not “hide in caves and among the rocks of the mountains” (6:16), wishing they were dead rather than face “him who sits on the throne.” (6:16).  Instead, they turned to Jesus!  They “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb” (7:14).  That’s fun to read!!!  

There will be a lot of people who will see that they are in the end times thus turn to Jesus as their savior, yet before they get to that point, they will suffer. They will probably suffer from hunger, thirst, and scorching heat (it says they will never suffer from those things again in 7:16).  It was in their suffering that some figured out the truth and repented, while others refused to acknowledge the truth, and stayed in their sin (9:20).  
Doesn’t that sound like us today?  During times of suffering people turn to Jesus.  Yet there are always those who don’t or won't no matter how bad it gets. 

I am just going to focus on the positive of the story.  It doesn’t matter what drives people to Jesus as long as they eventually turn to Him as their savior.  My prayer for the ones I know and love, is that it won’t take such suffering for them to figure it out.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Day 85~ Rev 4-6

At the risk of sounding weird, this is the verse that stood out to me today.  “And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian.” (4:3)  
Okay, let me explain, you may have heard, I am taking a geology class right now.  I am really into rocks and minerals at the moment.  So, I am sure you can now understand why I focused on this verse~ it has to do with gems!!  

Jasper can be red, yellow, brown or green in color.  Scholars are stumped as to what color John may have been referring to in regards to jasper. However, since we know carnelian is red, some scholars feel that the reference to the two stones together equates the two stones as looking similar. So, this is what red jasper and carnelian look like:

Here we are in Revelation, the very end of the Bible, and God gives us a sneak peek to what he looks like!  We know that no one has seen God (1 John 4:12), yet John, when he “was in the Spirit” was able to see what no man in the body could.   In his description he sees “someone sitting on a throne”.   
So God is someone (in human form).  
He also has a color; he is so radiant, John didn’t feel that “red” described him well enough.  He chose to use stones that had a translucent quality to them, to describe what he was seeing.

Since I am a Jesus/God groupie, I’ll admit, I stalk them!  I want to know everything about them!  So this verse was  kind’a exciting for me…..It leaves me wanting to see more and know more; just like a preview to a movie is supposed to do!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Day 84~ Revelation 1-3

I find Rev. 2:14 provides some clarity for me in understanding these letters to the churches.  “You have people there who hold to he teaching of Balaam…” 

Jesus is addressing “churches”- groups of people in each of the seven cities, who claimed to be Christian. 

Remember on Day 77, when I mentioned a theologian had cleared up something for me.  Not all the people in these audiences are believers even though the writers are addressing, “brothers”.  Some brothers are true believers and some are “mere professors in Christ”.

Well, bringing that idea over to this revelation given to John,  helps make this section of scripture clear to me as well.  
I think Christ is being pretty clear here that these churches are just such groups of people.  Some get the whole “good news” and some do not.  
Take the church in Ephesus.  The true believers had deeds, hard work and perseverance that demonstrated their faith in Jesus.  They were over comers just as we read about in 1 John 5:5 and they knew they had eternal life (1 John 5:13),
Yet, in the same church, Jesus addresses the “mere professors”.  They were the ones that needed to “remember” the truth they had learned and truly “repent”.  These people knew enough to hate idolatry and immorality, practices of the Nicolaitans (2:6), but they hadn’t realized that even though they were “good people” they still needed a Savior.  When and if they figure that out, Jesus promises they too can be “over comers” and receive eternal life (2:7).

The same goes for the church in Pergamum.  Some had genuine faith and they did not renounce it even under persecution.  However, Jesus clearly states that there are others that don’t get.   They don’t have that faith.  They are deceived by false teaching.  Again, Jesus is giving them a chance to repent (2:16).

I think these warnings are very sweet on the part of Jesus.  He knows each individual’s heart and is sending his warning forth to each individual even though he is addressing the whole “church”.  

I also think these warnings are very sad.  There are people in churches that go regularly, identify themselves with the church, yet they don’t get it.  They haven’t completely turned from their sin and repented.  Yet, Jesus has given fair warning….
Knowing how the rest of this book goes…I am feeling the anxiety I get when I am watching a scary movie.  (If you know me, you know I don’t do well in scary movies! I get very involved so to speak; screaming, squeezing the arm of the person next to me, kicking the seat ahead of me and ultimately getting up to pace in the back of the theater.)  I feel like I am in the audience watching these “mere professors” stumble along in the darkness.  I want to scream from the audience, “Wake up!  Look what’s coming! The good guy is warning you!” 

I guess that is why I started this blog.  I am wanting everyone I know, true believers and mere professors to hear what the good guy has to say to them.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Day 83~ 2 John- 3 John, Jude

“I ask that we love one another.  And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.” (2 John 6)
…So…in order to be loving to others….we need to obey God’s commands.  In other words, if you are not obeying God in your own life….you are not loving others.  
Isn’t that interesting?

It reminds me of something I learned in a parenting class when I was pregnant with my first baby.  The instructor said, “The best thing you can do for your baby is to love your spouse.” Then the child sees the harmony in that relationship and feelings of security result.  Security is what the child needs most of all.
Here I was in a class where I expected to learn how to care for my child in the best way possible, but instead the teaching was on how to care for my marriage.  The end result turned out to benefit the child.
In the same way, this verse in 2 John points out the way to correctly love others is to focus on your relationship with Jesus first.
Anyone can be kind to others.  Non-Christians can be kind to others. Opening a door for someone, cut the neighbors lawn, bring a meal to someone post surgery; these are all kind acts.  But, if you are not right with God and obeying him in your life, you are not loving your neighbor, no matter how many kind acts you do.  The true act of loving others is showing them Jesus.  This verse is basically saying, it’s impossible to show Jesus to others if you are not obeying Him.

I had never read this verse like that before…..again, another paradigm shift for me….

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Starting a New Reading Plan September 28th!!!!! Join Me!!

Hello Bible Readers!

I will be starting a new reading plan on Thursday, September 28th.  That's in 9 days....

I hope you will consider joining me or tell a friend about it~

The plan is different in a couple ways from what I have been doing.

First, it's two days shorter than the 90 Day plan. That is because I wanted to finish before Christmas Day. 😊🎄  So, consider reading the whole New Testament in 88 Days with me!

Second,  I will be reading in chronological order, meaning, in order of when events occurred.  That is most noticeable as we jump around the gospels, but there are some differences else where among the letters.
I created this plan from using two different chronological outlines.  I tried to minimize the flipping back and forth in one day of reading.  For example, one plan had you flipping to all four gospels in one day.  I tried to minimize the flipping to two books a day while we are in the gospels, but that won't always be the case.  Just keep you finger in one spot while you flip to the other. 😛

The reading is still about three chapters a day.  I would love to have you read a long with me and comment on what stands out to you!

You can find the new reading plan under the "Spiritual Fervor" tab.

Hope you can join me!!

Day 82 ~ 1 John 4-5

This caught my eye today,  “Who is it that overcomes the world?” (5:5) I always assumed it was Jesus because of John 16:33- “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  
But if you look closely at 1 John 5:5, the verse answers the question with, “Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  That would be us! You and I have also overcome the world!!

What exactly does that mean for us?  If you have Jesus (the overcomer) living in you (4:15), than you are an overcomer as well! You can obey God’s commands.  You no longer need to say, “It’s so hard to do what is right!”
I love this: “And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” (5:3-4)
That means, if there is an area in my life that I know is not right and pleasing to the Lord, I can change it!  I am not at the mercy of my sin.  I have overcome it!
John is writing these people to remind them of this fact.  Good thing we got the reminder too!

What stuck out to you in today’s reading?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Day 81~ 1 John 1-3

I am righteous.

Say that to yourself, “I am righteous.”

I think Christians have a hard time believing that, much less saying it.
But the fact is, if you are a true believer-you are righteous right now.  This is not a future achievement.  It’s now!  So, say it!  “I am righteous”.
“Dear Children, do not let anyone lead you astray.  He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. “ (3:7)
And, what, you might ask is doing right? It’s acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ (2:22) and doing the will of God (2:17) 

Just as I commented the other day about being holy, our culture has made the use of the word righteous, sound like a bad thing.  “Oh, don’t be so self-righteous!”  We hear that so much, we would never dream of saying out loud to someone, “I am righteous.”

But, the fact is, and I feel prompted to emphasize this verse, “He who does what is right is righteous.”  
So claim it!  Live it! Believe it!  
Do not let your heart condemn you and tell you otherwise! (3:20)  You already are righteous if you are a true follower of Christ!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Day 80~ 2 Peter 1-3

Only ten days to go to finish the whole N.T.!!  I hope it’s been good reading for you!

After day 78 & 79, talking about being holy, we start 2 Peter with the same theme!  I think God is trying to get a message across!  So, why does God want us to be holy?
“For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1:8)

He wants us to know him better!  

Well, I have to say, that created a paradigm shift in my thinking! 
Instead of thinking holiness is a future achievement after years of growth…
We are holy first in order to understand Him better.

Holiness leads to understanding  verses understanding leads to holiness…..Hum!🤔

I like the analogy that was mentioned yesterday about being in union (married) with Christ.
Picture a new bride.  
She does everything in the beginning of her marriage to please her husband: “I will wear my hair long- he says he likes it long.”
“I will cook this for him; this is his favorite food.” 
“I will tell him he did a good job; he loves when I notice that he has done something for me.”
Then as the marriage goes on, the bride gets to know him better than when she first married him.  She knows how he will react and what he would say in certain situations.  His likes and dislikes become hers.  Some say they even start to look alike!

Keeping that analogy in mind, when I go back and read 1:5-8, it makes so much sense!  Start off your union with God being holy; doing good things for your husband and leaning more about what He likes and dislikes.  Reading his word (1:5), using self-control (1:6), etc.   As a result, you grow in your understanding of who you married.

Was that a paradigm shift for you as it was for me?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Day 79~ 1 Peter 2-5

“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.” (1 Peter 2:12)

This verse stood out to me because a similar command has been painted on my boy’s bedroom wall for years. 
“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt.5:16)
It makes sense that Peter would be teaching exactly what he himself heard straight from the master teacher’s mouth. 

Even though we learned as children, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine,…” 🎶, it seems like Christians have gone into hiding.  Let me explain.  

I am reading the Old Testament right now, so I am acutely aware how God commanded the Israelites to be a holy people; to set themselves apart from the countries surrounding them.  They were to be different in how they dressed, wore their hair, what they ate, and who they married.  The rules were even more strict for the Levites, the ones who did the direct ministering in the temple.  All these outward signs set them apart from the ordinary.  They were a holy, consecrated (set apart to be sacred) people for the Lord. 

Now in the New Testament we are being commanded to be holy as well, yet Christians don’t know how to do this in todays culture.  The pendulum has swung from legalism to ignoring any moral behavior that would set one apart, in fear of looking like a Pharisee.  The very words “be holy” seem to carry a negative connotation, i.e. “Don’t be so ‘holier than thou’!” 

My question yesterday was sincere. How do we “shine our little light” for Jesus when we are struggling with knowing how to set ourselves apart and be holy?  I read a great article that addresses this topic.  I like how the author said that being a “Christian is far more than merely believing in God- rather it means we are united with Jesus..” In that union, instead of focusing on “obeying rules” we would want to be like him in every way.  “Every aspect of our lives is to be shaped and directed toward God.” 
Boy, if we really had a union like that with Jesus, everything we did would be holy! Every aspect…what I wear, eat, say, do, see,….

Here’s the article if you are interested:
And this is the painting on the wall of my boys room, thanks to my mother-in-law,  Zoe Hadley.  Styles may come and go, but I have never wanted to paint over this:

Friday, September 15, 2017

Day 78~ James 4- 1 Peter 1

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy because I am holy.” (1:15)
My footnote says, “To be holy is to be set apart- set apart from sin and impurity, and set apart to God.”  
James can’t be referring to just an inward change that no one can see because the writer of Hebrews just got finished telling us, “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” (2:24).
I’m just going to ask a simple question to my fellow readers, ‘cause I would really like to know the answer…
How would one demonstrate being set apart?  How would you appear/or act different from a nonbeliever?  I know the obvious answers, “Don’t do any of the things that would land you in jail or court.”  

But what about a suburbanite, Christian doing yoga next to another suburbanite, non-Christian?  How would you be able to tell one from the other?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Day 77~ James 1-3

Right on the heels of my comments yesterday’s reading “And without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6), today we get a more complete picture of what “faith” is exactly.

True faith perseveres(1:12)
True faith does what the word says (1:22)

Today I read a well known theologian named Jack Arnold.  I like how he clarified the audience of all letters to “brothers”.  I always assumed that brothers meant true believers.  However, that is not the case.  There are “true believers” and there are people in the audience who are “mere professors in Christ”.  The letters we read that contain clear warnings and are meant to bring “mere professors” to the reality of true faith or weed them out from true believers.

This was a concept I really needed to get clear.  When the letters are written to “brothers”, some are true brothers and some don’t quite get it yet.  However, our culture today does not see the distinction.  They believe all ‘brothers’ are true believers.  They read what Jesus says in John and stop right there.   
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)

However, we must go on to the expanded definition of “believe” that is given by the Holy Spirit to Paul, the writer of Hebrews, James and Peter.  We need to remember that their words are as if they came straight from the mouth of Jesus.  Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)  Therefore we cannot focus on certain scripture and avoid the others.  The other scripture has been written by the Spirit that guides to truth.

That being said, there are some that look like brothers, sound like bothers….but are not brothers, and the writers of these letters knew that.  That is why they are giving the warnings and more through descriptions of what faith/belief entails.  They wanted to bring these “mere professors” into the true faith that others in the room already had.  

Here's more on the topic by Jack Arnold, if you want to read it:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Day 76~ Hebrews 11-13

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists.” (11:5)

I find it interesting that even back in New Testament times, among Jewish people who were monotheistic, that they still struggled with “Does God exist?”
I’ve said before how I love how the Hebrew writer started at the beginning to clarify, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (11:2)

The writer is actually in exact alignment with what secular astronomers and geologists believe today!  This is an excerpt from my geology text book:
“According to the Big Bang theory, all matter and energy- everything that now constitutes the Universe- was initially packed into an infinitesimally small point. The point “exploded” and the Universe began.  Within a few seconds, hydrogen atoms could begin to form.  And by the time the Universe reached an age of 3 minutes, when its temperature had fallen below 1 billion degrees, and its diameter had grown to about 53 million km, hydrogen atoms could fuse together to form helium atoms.  Virtually all new atomic nuclei that would form by nucleosynthesis existed by the end of 5 minutes.”

People today seem to have no problem believing something came from nothing.  Nonbelievers just don’t like the part, “the universe was formed at God’s command.” (11:3).  Yet it is only those that have faith, God was the one who created it all, that actually “please him” (11:6).

What is astounding to me after learning how vast and huge his 1st creation is…he has another creation to share with those who believe in him (11:16).  How awesome is that!?! It’s going to be more mind-blowing than the first!! (As if this first one isn’t already mind-blowing!) 
Woo woo 🙌🏻

Sadly, Satan has played his role well and has gotten man to forget who made it all.  He has turned man’s mind to temporary things.  And, like the people of Moses’ time, they just want to “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”(11:25)

So, when we start getting wrapped up in our tiny little world of materialism or whatever else entangles us, we need to remember & remind each other, “God has planned something better for us…”(11:40)……Oh man! I am giddy with excitement just thinking about it!

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (12:28) 


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Day 75~ Hebrews 8-10

Reading chapter 10 made me think of a political rally the night everyone is waiting for the results of the election.   
I remember watching one group filled with joy and excitement at the start of just such a night.  As time went on, their excitement waned.  Eventually, before the race was officially called, the people slid away leaving the convention center near empty.  The majority left thinking their candidate didn’t have a chance.  The real committed ones stayed to the very end.

The writer of Hebrews is trying to get these believers to remember back to the beginning when their excitement was at it’s peak.  When they had such strong convictions they were willing to be persecuted for them.  And they were persecuted!  People insulted them for their beliefs or they stood by others who were being insulted (10:33).

The writer is trying to encourage these believers, “Stick together, stay at the convention center, because your candidate is going to win!!  I know it’s taking a long time to see who wins, but we will be victorious!”

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (10:25) 
Stay with people who believe the same as you.  Don’t listen to the majority that will make you want to leave the convention center.

 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” (10:35)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Day 74~ Hebrews 5-7

“We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.” (6:11)

Have you noticed that the writer of Hebrews talks about “the end’ a few times?!   
“..if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (3:6),
“..if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.” (3:14), 
“…it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.” (6:8)
 and the one that stuck out to me in todays reading (6:11).

I like how one commentary says, after reviewing these verses, “A reliable sign of regeneration is a faith that does not fail and continues to the end of life.  It may at times falter and grow dim as it faces various trails and pressures, but it cannot be wholly abandoned.”

If it is abandoned,…well, then this alliteration applies, “If your faith fizzles before you finish, it’s because it was faulty from the first.”

The writer of Hebrews is trying to establish these believers in a faith that is not faulty.  He doesn’t want these Hebrews to have a faulty faith that is stuck in elementary teaching (6:1), or a faulty faith that is stuck in disobedience (4:6), or a faulty faith that swings from belief to unbelief (3:12).  

As a true, regenerated, faith-filled believer, it is our goal to end our days the way Paul did at the end of his, being able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7) 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Day 73~ Hebrews 2-4

Have you ever heard the saying, “Life is hard and then you die.”? Life is hard!  I have even heard my 5 year old say that!  He especially feels it now in school, “I don’t like writing letters, it’s hard!”

I think I feel the hardness of life even more as I get older!  Sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed!
It’s hard to exercise, eat right, communicate with others, see clearly, get everything done, train the dog, train the husband, grieve the loss of a dog, remember names, keep things clean, keep things working, etc.  I definitely feel I live by the law of thermodynamics: everything goes from order to disorder! 
So, this verse stuck out to me today, “There remains then, a Sabbath-Rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” (4:9)

Ahhh, that sounds wonderful! Strange, I never really pictured heaven as a place where things would be easy!  i.e., I will understand what you mean by what you say, you will understand me!  We won’t have to work at being understood….That sounds heavenly!
We will be doing something, but it won’t be hard, burdensome or draining.   I can’t wait!!  Yet, the rest has already begun for us who have accepted the work Christ has done.  Even at this moment we don’t have to work for our salvation.  Christ did the work and we can rest, right now, in that.

So, from now until heaven, we should tell others of the rest they can have. We need to remember, “..since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” (4:1)  

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Day 72~Philemon- Hebrews1

I’m taking a geology class right now! Why?  Because I just find it fascinating now God made the land structures around us. 
My teacher actually said, “I don’t know what existed before the Big Bang and I don’t know what will happen after all stars burn out…but everything in-between is what we will be learning in this class.”

Then, today I read, “In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.  They will perish, but you remain; they will roll up like a robe.  You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed.  But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (1:10-12)

How beautiful! So true! So comforting!  
When learning how big the universe is……it’s actually quite mind-blowing to think how big God is…..
That’s something to remember when your troubles seem big; God is bigger!! 😌