Showing posts from September, 2018

2 Tim 3-4 ~ Preach it!~ Day 91

Yesterday we learned that the gospel needs to be defended if people try to distort it.  I think many Christians would agree with that; if they heard something wrong, they may be bold enough to correct the one speaking in error.   In today’s reading, Paul is taking it a step further.  We should not only be correcting when we hear something wrong, but we should be out there preaching the gospel!  “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage- with great patience and careful instruction.” (4:2) On that point, I believe many Christians may think,  “Not me! That’s not my job! I’m not a trained pastor or teacher! I’ll let someone else do the correcting and rebuking.” Well…….would you consider yourself a man or woman of God?…….if so, than look at 3:16, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be throughly equipped for every good work.” 

2 Tim 1-2~ Guard the good deposit! ~ Day 90

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you- guard it with the help of the Holy Spirt who lives in us.” So, what is the good deposit that Timothy is to guard?  It’s the sound teaching that Paul has been doing; sharing the gospel; the good news. (1:11) Timothy is to guard the gospel….guard it from what?…..I picture a soldier guarding precious cargo….. Guarding is needed to protect from vandalism, thief, show respect, and honor.  The gospel was and is in need of that.  It is up to Christian’s and the Holy Spirit to preserve, protect and honor the integrity of the gospel; not letting it get distorted.  Paul explains that is not too hard to preserve the integrity of the gospel.  He reminds Timothy to stick to the basics, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.  This is my gospel,…” (2:8)   I like how Paul gave practical advise on how to guard it:   Don’t argue about it (2:24) but don’t stay silent.   Rather, “Opponents must be gentl

1 Tim 4-6~ Studies prove it!~ Day 89

I have a friend who is a humanist.  A humanist is one that “affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good”.   It is my friend’s goal in life to teach others how to live this life well, because its the only life one has, and then you die.  I find it interesting that he bases much of what he says on studies he reads.  (Humanists like to use critical thinking and evidence over ‘dogma’ or superstition), yet ignores other studies. Paul writes, “This is a trustworthy saying,”  when he says that, I perk up!!! “We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.”   We have put our hope in God.  Hope….Peter calls it a “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3-5) When it comes to hope, my friend ignores numerous studies that have concluded that an “absence of hope has an impact on well-being that appears to be as destructive as anxiety and stress…. A report from the th

1 Timothy 1-3~ True love~ Day 88

Have you ever wondered how Merriam-Webster defines love? Well, I looked it up!  There are 15 ways the word can be used!!  I’m not going to list them all, but the eighth one was,  an unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: such as  1.) the fatherly concern of God for humankind. 2.) brotherly concern for others. I started to wonder about “love” when I read, “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1:5) After looking at the other definitions of love; kinship love like “maternal love’; attraction based on sexual desire; affection based on admiration, I felt that #8 was most likely the one God calls us to and the one Paul is referring to.  So, I thought it was interesting to read that the only way we can have that type of love, according to Paul, is if one has a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. I was also intrigued by his use of the phrase, “sincere fai

2 Thessalonians~ May God direct you~ Day 87

Yesterday I talked about self-control and that it is possible to have it.  I love what I read today,  “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (3:5) Self-control, as we saw in yesterday’s reading, is a heart issue.  One can not achieve self-control by putting in place rules and regulations; shoulds and should nots.  One can always work around those or just give up when things get hard.   Instead, it is about a heart that realizes God’s great love and responds to that love. That reminds me of what we read in the first letter to the Thessalonians, “We are not trying to please men, but God who tests our hearts.” (2:4)  We exhibit self-control because we want to please God. Perhaps, if you are finding yourself in tempting situations often, God is test you, to see if your love for him is sincere.….so, my prayer for you would be the same that Paul had for the Thessalonians; may the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s per

1 Thess. 4-5~ What happened to self-control?~ Day 86

“So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self- controlled.” (5:6) The word ‘self-controlled’ stood out to me today.  Probably because Paul repeats it again 2 verses later,  “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith (in Jesus) and love (for God) as a breastplate, the hope of salvation as a helmet.” (5:8) Self-control….. I read something sad today.  Very few have self-control. Does that mean very few have faith and love for Jesus and the hope of salvation? I read that only 3% of Americans wait until marriage to have sex.  That is a small number!  That’s 1 in 30.  What happened to the Bible believing Christians who should be taking 1Thess. 1:3-8 seriously??? Well, a more positive way to look at this is, that one in 30 make up “10 million people alive right now in the US who waited, found love, got married, then had sex for the first time after they were married.”  http://waitingtillmarriage.or

Thess. 1-3~ Why do you do what you do?~ Day 85

I noticed Paul started his letter to the Thessalonians in the very same way he started his letter to the Colossians.  And I really liked what he says! “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1:3) Wouldn't you love to be remembered that way?  It would be nice to have someone say that about me at my funeral, but I want to be known that way now, as I live!    Now, I want to be clear…I don’t want to be known for how I act so that I can get accolades from people who know me, rather I want people to see and know why I do what I do, directing them to think of God. It would be awesome if people looked at me and thought, I know why she does what she does….it’s all because of her faith in Christ.   I want to be like those people in Thessalonica and Colossae, who worked because of their faith in Christ; who labored because of their love for

Col 3-4~ How to set your mind on things above~ Day 84

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,  set your hearts on things above , where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.   Set your minds on things above , not on earthly things." (Col. 1-2) Did you notice Paul repeated himself?  I noticed it the last time I read this, and I noticed it again.  So I thought I would point it out again!๐Ÿ˜Š It must be very important to keep our hearts and minds on things above, right?!  But, if one were to do that they might be accused of being "So heavenly minded that they are no earthly good."  Boy, Satan is so tricky with the expressions he makes popular! He has got it so that being heavenly minded is a bad thing! But, as Paul mentioned in chapter one, "faith and love that springs from the hope stored up for you in heaven.."(Col 1:5) our hope of salvation is all about being in heaven. We need to focus on that big picture and not get side tracked on the here and now. (Below is what I wrote last time whe

Colossians 1-2 ~ Circumcisions doesn’t grow back!~Day 83

Can you imagine at a Billy Graham crusade or at a Greg Laure Harvest Event, the pastor, instead of saying, “Simply ask Jesus into your heart.  Come down front if you want to publicly confess that.”, instead said, “Come down front to get circumcised.” I don’t believe 1000’s would come forward, even if the pastor clarified that it was a circumcision “of the heart” not the skin. Given the chance, the pastor could explain that one who wants to follow Christ will be putting off the “sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ.” (2:11). If people were real honest with themselves they may think twice if the cost of confessing publicly a belief in Christ required a perminent life change. Reading about circumcision struck me in a new way today.  I was thinking about my baby boys.  One thing I know, once a baby boy is circumsiced, that skin doesn’t grow back!  Following Christ is a permanent life change. Paul used such a good an

Phil 3-4~ How to stand firm~ Day 82

So, when reading 4:1, “Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!”, I thought, “Wait a minute! How did he say I should stand firm?” I had to go back and read chapter 3 again!  This is what I found, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” (3:13) I love that!!  That’s how to stand firm!  Forget how I blew it yesterday or what I did in my youth, and strain ahead (Like yesterday’s reading; “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”-meaning, stay reverent to God and keep going til the end). I had to giggle when I read, “And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” (3:15). I gotta remember that line! ๐Ÿ˜œ

Philippians 1-2 ~Continue! ~Day 81

“-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:12-13) I had written this in the margin of my Bible, “These two verses are a balance of 2 truths, human responsibility(vs.12) and God’s sovereign control (vs.13). I like what me footnote said to explain, “work out your salvation”: ‘Salvation is not merely a gift received once for all; it expresses itself in an ongoing process in which the believer is strenuously involved.” It is so true that becoming a Christian is not just saying a prayer of acceptance of the Lord, checking that off your list and then continue to keep living like you always did.  Instead, saying a prayer is the start of an ongoing renewal of one’s heart and mind. That on-going renewal will continue all the days of one’s life, to “the end”. Below are good verses to demonstrate how a believer, one who has a true saving faith in Jesus, will sho

Ephesians 4-6~The Spirit in me~ Day 80

Opps!  The reading plan left out ch. 4.  Don’t forget to read that one!  After noticing yesterday how many times Paul mentions God’s power in believers, it stood out to me today when he said, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (6:10) I love the fact that he says, “in his power”.  It’s not my power! I am only strong when it’s HIS power.  Whew!!  That’s good to remember after reading all that Paul is expecting of a believer. We are to live as children of the light (5:9), having no hint of impurity (5:3), submitting to our husbands (5:22), loving our wives (5:25), honor parents (6:1) and serve wholeheartedly (6:7).  All that can only be done well by the power of the Holy Spirit. So, if I feel like I fall short in one of these areas I can pray for the Holy Spirit to have his way in me; to come in full force; renew me; fall afresh on me. Like the psalmist wrote, “Create in me a pure heart , O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.” (Pslam 51:10) Whe

Ephesians 1-3~God's great power!! ~ Day 79

Did you notice how many times Paul was talking about God’s power in believers? God has “incomparably great power for us who believe”!! (Eph. 1:10)๐Ÿ˜ƒ “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe .  That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exhorted in Christ when he raised him form the dead…” (1:18-20) “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (3:16-17) Well, I too, pray that you, my friend, and I both, tap into that power today! I couldn’t help but think of Jeremy Camp’s song while reading today.  Take a listen to be inspired with this truth! “Same Power” (Skip the ad on the right lower corner)

Gal 5-6~ The best dance partner ever! ~ Day 78

Learning to dance is hard!  Learning a choreographed dance with a partner is even harder because it needs to be precise to look good.  It takes a lot of practice with that partner!  Yet, as impossible as it may seem, it can be done! For the observer, it is fun to watch!! I was thinking of Paul's statement, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." (Gal. 5:25) Some of those dance steps can be hard to get down pat.  Some days I have mastered having peace, goodness and faithfulness (5:22), but I radically blow it the patient step.  Well, the beauty with our dance partner, the Holy Spirit, is that he just says, "OK, let's take it from the top" until I perfect the step with him. Needless to say, I have a lot of practicing ahead of me!  I wonder if God smiles when he sees the dance moves pulled off without a hitch?! I like to picture myself moving with the Holy Spirit as easy as these guys make it look, keeping in step with each ot

Galatians 3-4 ~What's your labor story? ~ Day 77

Follow me on this analogy…becoming a Christian is like a woman telling her labor/birth story!   I thought of this because of Paul’s comment to the Galatians,  “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you right now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! (Gal. 4:19-20) So here is how the analogy goes, everybody is walking around “enslaved’ to gods (4:8).  Everybody gets an opportunity to hear the gospel, God’s word; the seed (Matt 24:14, Romans 1:21) and boom! You become pregnant! Then everybody goes through labor to be born (again). Some people who are “born again” have a quick delivery.  The mother can say, “Oh, my labor was so easy!  I pushed for 10 minutes and out he/she came!” Those particular ‘born again Christians’ can say, “I heard the gospel, believed immediately and turned from being a slave to gods to being a slave to Christ. I felt like a new person because the Holy

Galatians 1-2 ~"People pleasers"~ Day 76

So, I recently went to lunch with a fairly new friend, who is a Christian.  We have known each other for awhile, but now are taking it to the “lunch” level.  In our conversation we were making note how different we are from each other.  She stated that she thinks I am direct, where she would choose to “show people Christ, instead of telling people they need Jesus”.  She didn’t use the term “life style evangelism”, but that was what she was implying.    Reading the letters of Paul over and over again has made him a role model for me. He says, “copy me” (1 Cor. 11:1) (he was the ultimate lifestyle evangelist), and he also preached the gospel (Gal 1:1).  He did both!!  I want to do both!! In the course of our conversation, the friend also mentioned that she is a “people pleaser”. Now, mind you, I am not so direct that I would caution her about that, but a little red flag does go up for me when I hear Christians using that label for themselves.  Something my role model, Paul sai

2 Cor. 12-13 ~Grace~ Day 75

I woke up in a funk today!  I was feeling inadequate in everything!  Unlike the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none”,….I wasn’t even feeling I was a Jack of anything!  Ever have one of those days?   So, I’m reading about Paul boosting about his encounter with Christ (12:3-6) and I actually got a little jealous!…..I want an encounter with Christ!…..But, then I read about how God was keeping him humble by giving him a thorn in his flesh (12:7), and I thought, “Well, I don’t want that!” So, the jealousy left quickly!   But, I was still in a funk reading with, a “sassy attitude” (as my girls would say), until I got to, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (12:9) …….Ahhh…๐Ÿ˜Œ…I needed that! Thank you God, for giving me acceptance for who I am; taking away the need to strive; encouraging me to persevere; and promising to work through me in spite of myself. (I got all that from one verse!) God is so good to give me what I n

2 Cor. 10-11~Sparing added grief ~ Day 74

After reading the list of things Paul endured in chapter 11, I found myself agreeing with what he said in his first letter to the Corinthians , that it was a good thing he wasn’t married!   If he was, his wife may have kept him from getting into some of those situations….I can just imagine a wife saying, “I don’t want to get on that boat!  It’s doesn’t look sea worthy!”, “I don’t think you should go into that city, I got a bad vibe.”,  “I think you should go to bed now, you have been burning the candle at both ends!”, “Here, eat this, you skipped breakfast and lunch today!” The list I read today, made me think differently on how I interpreted what he said in his previous letter.  “I would like you to be free from concern.  An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs- how he can please the Lord.  But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world- how he can please his wife-and his interest is divided.” (1 Cor. 7:32-33) Again, I experienced a paradigm

2 Cor. 7-9~ Is it OK to compare?~ Day 73

Well, 2 out of 3 chapters today had to do with giving.  If you didn’t get the message in the first letter to the Corinthians (ch 9), Paul is coming at it again in this letter (chs. 8-9). I thought this statement of his’s was interesting, “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.” (8:8) Wow!  What a statement, right?! First of all, I thought it odd that Paul is doing the testing.  It seems to me these days that we think God is the only one allowed to do the testing…. Also, I thought it odd that he is comparing a group of Christians to another group of Christians.  I’ve always been told not to compare! But, aside from the terminology he uses, I get what he is doing.  He is challenging this group of people to be doers, not just talkers.  They already made a pledge to give (8:10), now it’s time to “Show me the money!”   Until they actually give the money…it’s just talk.  Now they will be tested.

2 Cor. 4-6~ Unequally yoked~ Day 72

I pondered  2 Cor. 6:14 quite a bit today. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” (6:14) I feel Christians use this almost exclusively in the context of marriage and perhaps business partners.  Probably because those are relationships that we are in control of choosing. However, in the context Paul is speaking….it says nothing about marriage or business dealings.  My footnote pulls out of the context that Paul is referring to cooperating with false teachers because he asks, “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” (6:16) My footnote goes on to say that cooperating with false teachers is to become unequally yoked, “destroying the harmony and fellowship that unite them in Christ.”  The Corinthians must have been dealing with a lot of false doctrine creeping into their church.  Paul spends more time, later in this letter, warning against false apostles “masquerading as apostles of Christ.” (11:13)  He comes right out and says that he is concerned that