Thursday, February 28, 2019

Romans 1-2~Day 59~ I'm Jewish?

As we finished Acts we read, "The brothers and sisters there (Rome) had heard we were coming, and they traveled as fas as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us.  At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged." (28:15)

The believers that went to see Paul were most likely the ones who received and read the letter we are starting today.  Paul hadn't traveled to Rome yet, so these people only knew Paul through this letter.  He wrote to them at least two years earlier when he was in Corinth, getting ready to leave for Jerusalem. So, these Christians traveled a long way to see someone they grew to admire, through a letter, received over two years earlier!

I wonder if I would have traveled to see Paul?  I guess I would have if the letter was life changing.  Boy, these thoughts are getting me excited to see what the letter says....let's get started!!....

So, I just finished the first two chapters.  It's hard to start a letter and then stop...who does that after receiving a much anticipated letter?  The first two chapters are about man's sin and God's judgement of that sin.  If I was the original recipient of the letter and stopped there, I don't think I would want to pick it up again!  But, I peeked ahead, (as some of you know I do, when I read books)...the letter get's better! I actually like how Paul sets up his letter.  It's important to start with the basics and make sure everyone is on the same page.

This verse that stuck out to me today, "..a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code..."(2:29).  Paul is pretty clear here that Christian's can be called "Jews" in the true sense of the word and those by physical decent, but not Christ followers, are not Jewish (in the true sense of the word).  That's interesting, don't you think?  I've never called myself Jewish!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Acts 27-28~ Day 58~ Good comes out of storms.

It's my nature to think of my self first.  πŸ˜If I was Paul caught in that storm while heading to Rome, I would naturally be saying, "God, why are you doing this to me?  I have been loyal to you! I've been in prison for 2 years already!  I can't take anymore!  Give me a break!"

Well, hindsight is always 20/20, right?  Luke would have been an encouraging friend when Paul finds himself under house arrest in Rome.  I can imagine Luke with his scrolls reviewing with Paul what he wrote; getting to see the bigger picture that went beyond enduring the storm.

Luke:  I recorded that there were 276 people on board the ship we took to get here.

Paul:  Look what God did!  I can see now that if that storm didn't happen, I would not have had the opportunity to stand in front of all of them and tell them about God. (27:23)

Luke:  I also recorded that it was three months that we were on Malta.  That time went fast!

Paul:  Looking back, I can see that was a loving thing God did for the people of that remote island.  He wants even the farthest removed people to hear about him!  I would never have chosen to go to that tiny island, but that was God's plan so that those people could hear about Jesus!

I like the account Luke gives of Paul getting to Rome.  It reminds me not to look at the storms in my life like, "God is doing this to me, arg!", but rather, "God, please use this storm in my life to show your glory to other people."

If only I could have this perspective as foresight instead of hindsight!  God help me to have your vision!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Acts 25-26~Day 57~ It's a true story!

I am sure you have heard the argument that the story of Jesus was made up by one brilliant men, Paul.  Well, if that were true, would that brilliant man be willing to sit in jail for 2 years in one stretch and two more years in another stretch....for a made up story?....I highly doubt it!!

If you noticed, Paul's story doesn't change over time.  The encounter he had with Jesus was life changing and unforgettable!  He recounts his testimony to King Agrippa exactly how he told the story to the crowd in Jerusalem two years prior.  (It's easy to forget that it was two years since we read the story in one chapter.)  When one has a real encounter with Jesus, the story doesn't change!

I am so thankful that God used Luke to record the facts for Theophilus (so that he could know the certainty of the things he had been taught-Luke 1:4).  While reading Acts, I have noticed that Luke first recounts his research and interviews with those who saw things first hand, and then shifts to recording a first hand account.  Did you notice when he was describing Paul's journey back to Jerusalem he lists all those who accompanied Paul but says, "These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas.  But we sailed from Philippi..." (20:5-6)  It's a given that Luke was there.  He didn't need to state, "And me, the writer of this account.", that was implied at the beginning of Acts when he writes, "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all Jesus began to do..." (Acts 1:1)

So, with that in mind, I can imagine Luke had stayed near Paul during those two years in the Caesarea prison, being part of a faithful group that helped provide for Paul's needs while in jail.  Therefore, he writes the account of Paul sharing his testimony pre-prison and post-prison from a first hand perspective.  He was there in both cases! We are also going to read that Luke traveled with Paul to Rome and cared for his needs there as well when Paul was under house arrest (28:30). This is assumed by scholars because of Luke's choice of pronoun used in Acts 28:10-16.
God gave enough testimony to prove that the story of Jesus is true.  It's clear to see, it's not made up.  

Monday, February 25, 2019

Acts 23-24~ Day 56~ The Old Testament points to Jesus!

One of the accusations the Jews had against Paul was, "This is the man who teaches everyone, everywhere against our people and our law and this place (Acts 22:28).  Well, nothing could have been farther from the truth!
Paul was justified in saying, "I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked." (24:14-125)

I read an author once who said, absolutely everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus.  It is through that lens that we are to read Old Testament Scriptures.  For example, the Sabbath instituted by God was fulfilled in Jesus (Col. 2:16-17).  Every feast in the Old Testament points to Jesus and how he fulfills them (see John 7:37-44 when Jesus connects the dots).  In addition, the temple, a holy dwelling is now perfectly completed in the body of Christ, his church (2 Cor. 6:16).  And let's not forget the sacrifice system set up to foreshadow the prefect sacrifice!  So, clearly, Paul would not refute Old Testament Scriptures!  In fact, he used them to prove Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 13:16-26).

Jesus himself even said, "Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow form within them." (John 7:38)

I have a friend who has said that the Old Testament is null and void now that Christ has come...No, no, no!  No Christian should ever contradict Jesus!!!  He says, "For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." (Matt. 5:18)
So, if you haven't read the Old Testament lately, I challenge you to do so.  And when you do,  look to see how it all points to Christ! 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Acts 21-22~ Day 55~Baptized immediately!!

What is standing out to you in the reading?

As Paul was addressing the rioting crowd, telling his story, the words of Ananias stood out to me, "And now what are you waiting for?  Get up be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name." (22:16)  Have you noticed, like I have, that baptism for new believers back in those days was immediate!?!
Remember Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8:36), Cornelius (10:48), Lydia (16:15), the jailer (16:33) and Crispus (18:8)...they were all baptized immediately!  I find that very interesting!

Something is being communicated to these new believers so strongly, that it is a "given" that they do the act immediately.  Listen to the words of the Ethiopian, "Look, here is water.  What can stand in the way of my being baptized?" (8:37).

We know that baptism is not a prerequisite to salvation (as evidenced by the thief on the cross), but it is still an important act.  It's an act that forces the answer to the question, "Do you believe enough to be identified with a group of people who will be persecuted like Christ was?"

So....another question.......have you been baptized?  

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Acts 19-20~ Day 54~ I want Paul's work ethic!

I really admire that Paul was a "tentmaker" (18:3).  When he needed to make money, he knew how.  However, when fellow companions were with him, he allowed them to help him so that he could spend all his time teaching (18:5).  They seemed to have a good system down, providing for the needs of their group as they worked to "proclaim the whole truth of God." (20:27)

This verse stood out to me today, "You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.  In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'." (20:35)

Talking about a work ethic! He worked manually to meet his physical needs, mentally to study scripture and he worked spiritually to share God's love (all night long if necessary! 20:7).  Boy!  That puts me to shame when I have worked during the day and then at night say, "I'm too tired to go to Bible study".😝

Paul is showing how to do Luke 10:27, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "
Lord, help me to be like that and do that!!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Acts 17-18~ Day 53~ God has no need for a temple!'s the capital of Greece to this day...I've been there and walked around the Parthenon temple.  It sits on top of a hill for all the surrounding people in the city to look up and admire.  One thing that is very noticeable about the landmark is that it is empty.  It's majestic columns hold up nothing and there is no Athena statue for people to worship. Everything that was "greatly distressing" Paul as he walked through the city (17:16), every idol, has been wiped out.

Don't get me wrong, Satan is still alive and well deceiving people in different ways, but the overt idol worship has been replaced with little statue replicas for sale in tourist shops.

Paul was so right when he said,"The God who made the world and everything in it is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands" (17: 24).  I feel so blessed that God has revealed himself to me!  I know that my God isn't going anywhere, he can't be destroyed or become an empty tourist destination!!  He always was and always will be!  What assurance for me!! But how scary for those who don't see that reality!  These words leaped off the pages for me, "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.  For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed." (17:30-31) No wonder Paul was so distressed!😳

On a total side note, did you know that the Parthenon was used to worship Athena for about 1000years (438 BC- 600AD) years? But then it was made into a church (600's AD)! So for another 1000 years, it was used to worship God!  (Paul would have liked that!)  Then, the church was destroyed in 1458 and the turks converted it into a mosque until 1687 ( a mere 200 years)!  Then it just sat as the ruin it is today...I was surprised at this history.  Just thought I would share...

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Acts 15-16~ Day 52~ Don't be a conflict avoider!!

Can I just say....being a Christian doesn't leave you immune from having "sharp disputes" with fellow believers.

Hopefully, always, things can be discussed until a resolution can be found.  We got to see two examples of that in today's reading.  Paul worked so hard to get a resolution to the circumcision debate that he went all the way "to the top", so to speak, to discuss the matter.  Notice he didn't pull the "I saw Jesus personally" card to enforce his authority and establish policy on his own.  Rather, he went to the elders and presented his case in regards to this doctrinal issue (15:2).  As a result there was God given resolution.

In regards to his personal issue against John Mark (15:37), he and Barnabas came to a conciliatory agreement to "divide and conquer".  They both set off to do the same thing, "encourage and strengthen the believers' (vs34), yet with different partners.  Since we don't know the details of their conversation, we are left to speculate.  One's bias, I guess, would determine how one thinks their argument was settled (or not).  I want to believe that they came to a peaceful resolution of going separate ways,  each with a partner that they could work well with.  After all, we do read later that there is restoration in the relationship between Paul and Mark and they end up working together  (Phm. 23,  Col 4:10 & 2 Tim 4:11) later.

These were both excellent examples of how disagreements between believers can be handled! Don't avoid conflict! Work thorough it!   It is possible when both parties are working for God's glory.

When reading about Paul's conflicts, it's good to remember what Jesus said, "Blessed are the peace makers" (Matt.5:8), which is one who brings reconciliation.  They work at making peace. It does not say, "blessed are the peacekeepers", those who just try to calm people down.  "Shhh, don't say anything it will just upset them...."
There's a big difference!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Acts 13-14~ Day 51~ Acts provides some things to ponder!

When reading Acts, one can just read it as a story recounting how the gospel spread out from Jerusalem.  However, in the details of the story are some phrases or wording that can cause profound theological ideas, for those who are so inclined, to ponder!  

For example, as we are reading how Paul and Barnabas traveled to the cities in Galatia on their mission trip, we read, “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” (13:48)

What is that? …all who were appointed?  Well, I like to ponder theological issues!  Is this a verse to hang my “predestination hat” on?  Well…not so fast….Scholars have spent a lot of time studying the word “appointed” (Greek= tasso).  I am going to defer to their study since I don’t have the time to do it myself.😜 The phrase “are appointed” can also mean “have been arranged”, like putting in order or positioning.  Therefore a paraphrasing of this verse could be, “As many as had been prepared for eternal life believed.”

Having a heart prepared to hear the good news is very different than having a heart predestined to choose Jesus.  So, I’m not going to be quick to use this verse to prove any point on the predestination stance.  

If you want to read more on this verse, I found this article to be helpful:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Acts 11-12~ Day 50~ God's sovereignty + man's responsibility

There are a couple of things that I just can't figure out, no matter how many times I read through the New Testament.  But, that's OK with me.  It proves God is so much bigger than me and my little brain.  That is the kind of God I want!  One bigger than anything I can figure out, so I can feel safe and secure knowing that he can take care of me and my little issues.

So what are these mysteries?  One is "free will" verses "predestination".  The bottom line on that subject is that the Bible speaks to both God's sovereignty and man's responsibility.  Therefore, to me, the answer is both!  If the Bible speaks to both, both are true.

Today, my reading pointed out the other perplexing issue for me.
I thought it was interesting that Barnabas was sent to Antioch and “when he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encourage them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.“ (Acts 11:23)  Humm... why did Barnabas need to encourage them to remain true?  Could they turn away?  Ahhh, the age old question..."can one lose his/her salvation"?

Most would adamantly argue one can not. I would agree with that, yet because of a multitude of scriptures, I have put it into the category of "God's sovereignty and man's responsibility" working together once again.  A mystery that keeps God, God.
Again, if scripture speaks to both, than both must be true! The Bible speaks to "hold firm to the end", "persevere to the end", "hold on to the end", and "remain true" several times throughout scripture.  (Matt. 10:22, Heb. 3:6,14 and Col 1:23 to name a few).  But it also says God will complete his work, keep you from stumbling and keep you firm (1 Cor. 1:7-9, Phil. 1:6, Jude 1:24).

I LOVE pondering these issues because the mysteries keep me enthralled in my great big, wonderful God who can not be "figured out".

Monday, February 18, 2019

Acts~9-10~ Day 49~Immediate, life changing and growing!

I love reading how Saul got baptized immediately after he could see again – even before eating!!  And, “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the son of God.” (9:20)
What a great example for us!!  If a conversion is real, why wouldn’t one want to show changes in their life right away?! Paul didn’t slowly change, i.e. “I think I will persecute less Christians every day from now on!” No... his lifestyle changed over night! The same should go for us! We don’t slowly eliminate sin in our life, we do a 360 away from it when we realize who Jesus is! As a result,, for Paul, it was obvious to all who saw him that he had become a follower of Christ. The same should go for us! There should be no doubt in other people’s mind’s who we are following!

I also loved how Saul was so bold! Can you imagine if everyone’s conversion story was immediate and bold like his?  The world would be converted in a matter of days!

The best line of all, for me, in today’s reading was, “Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.” (9:22) Remember, Saul was already very familiar with the law since he was a Pharisee.  However, I bet after a day of preaching in the synagogue he would go back home, re-read the Scriptures, and get a whole new understanding now that he was reading them with “a new lens”.  This was a great reminder for me. I don’t need to know everything about the Scriptures before I share with others who Jesus is. Yet, I do need to keep reading the Bible so that I can become “more and more powerful” in how to explain and “prove” that Jesus is the Messiah.

Paul’s conversion story is a great example for all people, not just for murders, but for people who think they are pretty good in their own eyes. It was immediate, life changing and growing in knowledge day by day. Lord, help me to be like that!! 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Acts 7-8~ Day 48~ 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

We are so fortunate to live in America where we can make long speeches with relatively little fear of being killed for our words (although it does seem like our culture is changing ever so subtly in that regard)!
At first read through, it seems that Stephan’s speech is just an oral account of Jewish history, that his audience would have known well.  Why would they get so upset? 
Well, at the very end, he says something that I think provoked down right fear
“Look”, he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56) 
This very crowd could have been some of the same people who heard Jesus tell the council of religious leaders, “ But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” (Luke 22:68) These were the exact words that sealed the deal on the death sentence for Jesus! 
I bet the men who heard those words out of the mouth of Jesus were shocked out of their minds and filled with terror! “Oh no!! His words were true! Stephen is seeing it!! Nooooo, it can’t be!!!”

The fear of knowing one has played a role in killing the Messiah would be overwhelming, don’t you think?!  Instead of sinking into despair, anger is another reaction that can be chosen. Anger is useful to repress guilt and get rid of that which is causing the guilt. 
It reminds me of how some people respond today to guilt from their past. They may choose to get on a crusade to make what they did wrong into a socially normalized right. And they get angry at people who don’t agree with them. 

Sadly, for these people we are reading about and today’s people on their crusade, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Acts 5-6~ Day 47~ "Wait"~ That's sound advise!

You know Gamaliel, who stood up in the Sanhedrin?  He was a pretty wise dude!  Even though he was a teacher of the law (a group of people Jesus often called hypocrites), he seemed to have more sense than the others.

Luke, the writer of Acts, tells us Gammy was "honored by all the people" (5:33). Paul was even under his teaching (22:3).  I can see why!  He showed his wisdom when he said, "But, if it is from God, you will not be able to stop those men, you will only find yourselves fighting against God." (5:39)  That is good advise!!  It's like he is saying, "Time will tell."

I often say to my kids, "Just wait.",  "See how it goes." , "You don't need to respond right away."
God works at his pace not ours, right?!
What I know of God is that he is patient (Rom. 9:22, i Pt. 3:20, 2 Pet 3:9) and slow to anger (Ex. 34:6, Num 14:18, Neh. 9:17, Psalm 86:15. 103:8, 145:8, Jonah 4:2, Nahum 1:3 - to name a few).
Therefore, Satan would naturally encourage the exact opposite, right?  Look at our culture today: immediate gratification, results and responses, quick fixes and quick to jump to conclusions.  We don't know how to endure, persevere or be patient!

So, wise Gamaliel was  right; "Wait"  The Bible is full of this teaching!
"But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." (Romans 8:25)
"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." (Gal. 6:9)
"Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength." (Isaiah 40:31)

If hurry, worry and trying to fix things fast is your may want to look again at what Gammy said, "you will only find yourself fighting against God."

Gammy knew, what everyone eventually learns, God's purpose will be done regardless! 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Acts 3-4~ Day 46~ We are being the best!

I have a feeling that after Jesus rose up into the clouds, the disciples hurried back to Jerusalem, got out their dusty old scriptures they had at home and started to read.  Or if they didn't have a copy of their own, they went to the synagogue where they could get their hands on a copy.

I can just imagine their minds being blown away when they opened the scriptures and began to see what had been there the whole time.    I bet they squealed with excitement every time they came across a prophesy that they had witnessed Jesus doing.....

John:  Pete, listen to what I am reading in Psalms!!! "They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garments."  They did that!!! I saw that the soldiers didn't want to rip that really good coat Jesus had, so they gambled for it!!

Peter:  OMG! That's incredible!  Listen to what I am reading in Zechariah!, "..see your king coming seated on a donkey's colt."  I went and got that donkey!!  Jesus told me exactly where to go to get it and there it was!!  This is blowing my mind!!

It was no longer a boring read that they heard a thousand times as they grew up going to the synagogue each Sabbath.  Rather, they eagerly read it and the Holy Spirit revealed it's meaning to them.  No wonder,  "This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that says...", was a common phrase in our gospel reading we just finished!

So, in light of all that, this verse stood out to me:
"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)

I think by this time in the life of Peter and John, and the other disciples, they were pretty schooled!, they didn't formally study the law under a Jewish Pharisee like Paul had done (Acts 22:), but they studied scripture none the less! And they had been with the greatest teacher of all!!
What a good example for us who didn't go to seminary.  We don't have to have formal theological training to read and understand the Bible.  We just need to get into it and READ it!!  The Holy Spirit will reveal things to us daily!!  He is the best teacher after all!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Acts 1-2~ Day 45~Grief turned to Joy!!

I always pictured the disciples watching Jesus ascend into the clouds, leaving, with them feeling really sad.   I would be!.....don't leave me Jesus! πŸ˜«

But then, I remembered something Jesus said back in John.  "Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.  You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy." (John 16:20)

After being reminded of that verse and reading what the two men dressed in white said to them (he's coming back), I actually think they were filled with joy and eager expectation! They were probably excited thinking about what it meant to be "baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:5)  I don't think they turned from the scene and headed back to Jerusalem somber and filled with grief.  Rather, I bet they hurried back to Jerusalem with the excitement a kid feels on Christmas morning!  They're probably thinking, "What is Jesus going to do now??"  True, Jesus left them, probably, a little dazed, processing all that was happening, but I don't think mourning the loss of Jesus was one of their emotions now......
Anyway, that was a new thought for me on the reading today.

There was one other thing that stood out to me.   I found it interesting that Peter quoted Joel saying, "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people." (2:17)   The words "last days" stood out to me.  Did you know that the disciples and Paul all felt that they, and we, are living in the last days now.  Check out 1 Cor. 10:11, Heb. 1:1-2, 1 Peter 1:20 and 1 John 2:18.
The last day’s to what? “before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.” (Vs.20)

For those of you who read Revelation 20 and believe that Jesus will return and then reign for 1000 years, this must cause some confusion, don't you think?
I'm going to repeat myself, I know I have said it often on this blog....scripture does not contradict prophesy does not contradict old prophecy.  Therefore, I'm going to suggest an idea that's not so popular these days.....consider that we are in the "figurative" 1000 year reign of Christ now.  That makes sense in light of being in the "last days".  You might turn to Rev 20 and read about the dragon and think, well the devil certainly isn't bound up now!!.... well, don't forget...."by his (Jesus) death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fears of death." (Hebrews 2:14-15)
That sounds like the dragon to me!!.......I'm just say'en.......Something to think about.........😁

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

John 19-21~ Day 44~ Three chapters today! 😁

Two days ago I mentioned that I can remain in Jesus by staying in his word.  John says basically the same thing in today's reading!

"Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (20:31)

John wrote his account so that we may believe that Jesus is the Messiah.  Luke also wrote his account so that Theophilus "may know the certainty of the things" he had been taught. (Luke 1:4)
Lucky us, we get four written accounts to help us believe!!!

Once again I am thankful for this reading plan that keeps me in the word daily.

Have you EVER met anyone who was actively reading the Bible and says, "I don't believe."?  I have met a lot of people who have stopped reading the Bible and started spending a lot of time in other people's writings.  Those people seem to get off the course.  They go off their memory of what the Bible says, but they are actually not remaining in the words of Jesus.  I am reminded again of what we just read the other day, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (15:7)

If you know someone who is "getting off course" because they are going off their memory as to what the Bible says, why don't you ask them to read with you now!  We start Acts tomorrow.  That's as good a place as any to start reading!!  "These things are written that you (they) may believe"!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

John 17-18~ Day 43~ Jesus needs to be sanctified???

I thought I would give a little FYI today to help clarify a verse.  It clarified it for me at least!

"For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." (John 17:19)

I needed clarification because it's weird to read that a holy God (Jesus) needs to make himself holy. πŸ€”
So, here is the thing.  When Jesus says he "sanctifies" himself, it can also be translated "consecrate" which means "dedicated".  In light of that definition, Jesus is saying he is dedicating himself (which he did, to the cross) in order to make others holy.

Well, that makes sense!  So, it's like he is saying,"For them I am dedicating myself to the cross so that they may be holy as I am holy."

That word study helped me!  Hope it helped you too!

Monday, February 11, 2019

John 15-16 ~ Day 42~Remain in Jesus

So, yesterday I learned that the focus of my prayers and their results should be to glorify God.    With "glorifying God" fresh in my mind,  this verse stood out to me:
"This is my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourself to be my disciples." (15:8)

Yesterday I learned that in everything I pray, it is to glorify God and then today I am learning that everything I do should glorify God.  Everything I pray?  Everything I do?
Well, in my humanness, that's a little overwhelming!  I can't do it!  My nature is not one that naturally thinks about God and how to glorify him every moment of my day.  I'm just being honest here....
I can be focused on myself a lot of the time!  πŸ˜ž

So, I re-read the verses to figure out how to do bring glory to God even though I am an extremely inadequate human.
The answer was easier than I thought!  I don't have to struggle to "bear fruit" or live a life that is so above reproach that no one can accuse me of being a false Christian.  There is actually ONE thing, and only one thing that I need to "do".......remain in Jesus! Keeping his word in my mind and heart will result, naturally, in "bearing fruit".

I can do that!!  I can remain in Jesus! Thank goodness for this reading plan that keeps me in his word daily!!  I can keep believing in Jesus!  I can remain in his love. That's not hard!  I got this!!! I CAN produce fruit! I CAN glorify God!  I just need to remain in Jesus!!

You are reading with me!! The same goes for you!!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

John 13-14~ Day 41~ In His name...

I have to admit, I have been waning in my prayers lately.  Under my prayer tab on this blog,  I explained how I use a shopping list pad of paper to write down the names of the people I pray for.
I thought it was a good idea, and still do, except for one thing... that piece of paper gets separated from my Bible from time to time.  Then it ends up floating around the kitchen, then my desk...when it's out of sight, it's out of  mind.  πŸ˜ But, to be honest, I have been feeling "out of sorts" on my prayers with or without the list.  When a name stays on the list for over a year, it can feel discouraging.

Well, it's a good thing I am reading the Bible everyday!  It has a way of re-inspiring me to be diligent with my list!!

"And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask for anything in my name and I will do it." (John 14:14)

Did you notice Jesus repeats himself?  He says, "in my name" twice.  When I was pondering that, I came to the conclusion that he didn't want me to just tack on his name at the end of my prayer.
"In the name of Jesus I pray!"....hum....what exactly does he mean by that?.....

One commentary said it is to come before God in the righteousness of Jesus.  Not by our own efforts, "Well, I have been pretty good this week, so God will hear me" and not, "I haven't done well this week, so God won't listen." ...It is not anything good or bad that we have done that allows us to step a foot before a mighty God, but by Jesus.  Ahhh, this is making sense.... In the name of Jesus, by the act of Jesus, by the righteousness of Jesus....In the name of Jesus.

So, I am changing to be like Jesus.  Since I follow him, I want to be like him.  So, how does he pray?   We have a good example of how he does it in John 12:27, "Now my soul is troubled, what shall I say?  'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father glorify your name!"

Ah!  There is a similarity to what Jesus said in John 12:27 and 14:14, praying in the name of Jesus or like Jesus, would result in glorifying the Father.  That is how Jesus will give anything we ask in prayer; does it glorify the Father and be in the will of the Father.
Well.....that certainly changes the way one would pray, right?  Jesus didn't ask God to alleviate his "troubled soul" he just prayed that God would be glorified.
OK, Lord, help me to pray like Jesus, with the intent for all things I pray for to glorify YOU!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

John 7-8~ Day 38~ Sorry about the mix up!

Well, I guess I am a creature of habit! Therefore, when my day gets thrown off,  I get thrown off!
I always get up, make my coffee and sit down to do my reading first thing in the morning.  But, two days ago I started to read, checked off the day ( ✅before I was finished with the reading) but then found I had to run out the door earlier than normal, causing me to return to my reading later in the day.  When I went back to my reading, I looked to see where I was, forgot I had already checked my box and went on in the reading to the next date that wasn't crossed out. πŸ˜› 
Oh dear!  I get way too excited to do my little check!  I need to learn to wait until I'm done with the reading!!
So, there you have it!  That's how I missed Day 38...I am very sorry for any confusion I may have caused if you thought you got behind on the reading!! I probably messed up your check marks as well!! 😞

So, chapters 7& 8, how did you like them?  😁

I asked this question awhile back to other readers..I thought I would ask it again to a new group of readers:

John 7:7 “The world…hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” 😳
Have you ever pondered that?
So, here’s a question for you (as well as for me).  If I am to be like Jesus……do I testify to the world that what it does is evil?  Am I hated for doing that?…..
Do Christians (me) skip over this part and just want to focus on “loving” the world? 
The first line of this blog’s theme verse is from Romans 12.  Have you ever pondered how to do this?  “Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

What are your thoughts?

By the way, I'll be back on track tomorrow with chapters 13-14 πŸ˜Š

Friday, February 8, 2019

John 11-12~ Day 40~ "Light" seems to be the theme of the day!

The disciples had just questioned Jesus about the safety of going back to Judea since his life had been threatened.  "Jesus answered,  'Are there not twelve hours of daylight?  Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble for they see by this world's light.  It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for  they have no light.'" (John 11:9)

I think that is a super weird answer!  "Jesus, are you sure you wanna go back to where they tried to stone you?  Well, maybe if we walk there during the day, at least we won't trip on the stones as we go!"  At first read through, I didn't even think Jesus gave them an answer to their question!

No wonder that in other gospels, the close disciples would ask Jesus when they were alone, "Master, please tell us what you mean!"
John isn't clear in recounting the meaning of verse 9 right away, but he does share more of what Jesus says on the same topic of being the light in the next chapter.
"Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, so that you may become children of the light." (12:35)

Well, that gives 11:9 a lot more meaning.  When the disciples questioned Jesus about the safety of returning, he is basically saying, "I'm only supposed to be here for awhile, but, I'm not afraid of man, they can't do anything to me until I say it's time.  I'm just going to keep doing what I am supposed to do while I am here."
Well, now I can see he did give a very direct answer to their question.  Good thing I kept reading through chapter 12!

I loved how John continued to quote Jesus on the subject of being the light, "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." (12:46)

So, this is my simple break down on this whole light thing,  Jesus is afraid of nothing because he is the light.  When we become his followers, we have his light in us.  So, we have nothing to be afraid of!  Well, if that is the case, I want to let my light shine bright!!  Good thing I am reading the Bible daily, it's like filling my lamp with more oil everyday so I can keep burning strong! 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

John 9-10~ Day 39~ Display God's work!

Almost a year ago, I was reading this section of scripture and had the same thoughts I had today.  So, I thought I would post what I said before to encourage each of you to share God's work in your life!

God loves to display his work!  It is seen in his creation of the universe, and the earth (Psalm 104:24).  He also likes to display his work in people!
“Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (9:3)
God works miracles in peoples lives to display his work!

What a great reason to share your testimony! Your life story, if changed by God, needs to be told in order to put His work on display! 

Every believer has a story.  The miracle that must be displayed is that your heart opened to the truth.  I think Christians get caught thinking that they need a spectacular story like the man who was blind from birth.  That was pretty amazing!  Yet, thinking that your story needs to be as spectacular undermines the miracle done in you.

If everyone, including you and me has , “The heart (that) is evil above all things, and desperately sick…” (Jeremiah 17:9), than the fact that Jesus moved into my heart is a miracle! (Eph. 3:17).

That is every Christian’s story that can be shared with others in order to display God’s work!
OK, you may say, I will share my story, but I don't know what way is best.
Well, here are three simple points to share your testimony:
1.) What was your life like before Christ?
2.) How did you come to Christ?
3.) What is your life like now.

Simple!  Your story displays God’s work; tell it with joy like you would describing any other miracle!!  If you think about it,….every believer has a similar story to the blind man.  We can each say, “One thing I do know, that I was blind, now I see.” (9:25)

John Newton a sailor (who also had the mouth of a sailor) in the 1700’s personally experienced, “God’s work”.  God changed his life so he got into pastoral work in his 30’s and penned the famous poem that became the song, “Amazing Grace.”  He too, was blind at first but then could see truth.  I love that he took the time to write about it so that God’s work could be displayed and we get to benefit form hearing the story!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

John 5-6~ Day 37~Jesus is obviously making a point....but...what is it?

Did anyone notice that Jesus repeated himself four times in chapter 6?!

"And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day." (6:39)
"I will raise them up at the last day" is also found in 6:40, 44 and 54.
If Jesus repeats himself four times, he is obviously making a point, right?

I think the writer, John, is using the words of Jesus to give hope to his readers.  Perhaps by the time John is writing his gospel believers are being persecuted for their faith and several of the disciples have already died for their faith. So hearing these words of Jesus would be very encouraging!

As I was reading commentaries to see what others said about the 4x repeat, I found another interesting take on the topic.  Most say that "last day" means the second coming of Jesus. But, there are variations of interpretation as to when or how the "last day" would play out.  So, something that seems so straight forward gets confusing in light of eschatology (the study of end times) and how different people come to different conclusions reading the same verse.

I have spent way too much time today thinking about the 4x repeat.  I should just focus on the encouragement it gives, but it's hard for me not to get carried away with more thoughts on the future.

If eschatology is not your thing, than please share what you got out of your reading.  I would love to hear!
However, if the subject floats your boat, these verses can wreak havoc on a premillennialist, wouldn't you agree?

I know not everyone cares to think too much on the subject of eschatology, so by no means feel like you have to do more reading.  But for those who like to "go there",  I am reading a book looking at the millennium topic in a very different way from what I have been taught.  I find it super interesting!!
If you are interested in reading a chapter out of the book, here you go:

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

John 3-4~ Day 36~ What happens after Jesus?

Do you ever think about how the people in the Gospel stories went on with their lives after their encounter with Jesus?  I think about that a lot! 

Did the changing of the water to wine change the life of the master of the banquet or the bridegroom?  Did the woman at the well have a life change because of her encounter with the man who said, “I am he” (4:26) when talking about the anticipated Messiah?

It’s hard to know!  The Gospel writers don’t tell us what happens in each person’s life.  We can make some guesses however.  I think Nicodemus, the Pharisee who came to Jesus “at night” did appear to have a heart change that altered his lifestyle.  Let me explain.  It’s thought that since he came to Jesus at night, he was “hiding” from his own people- his fellow Pharisees that hated Jesus.  Later, however, we will read that in broad daylight, in the view of all the Pharisees who had Jesus crucified, he boldly took part in preparing the body of Jesus for burial. (John 19:39)  He was no longer hiding what he believed to be true.

On the other hand, the Samaritans who believed in Jesus when they encountered him on his journey up to Galilee (4:3), may have been the very ones who rejected him on his way back down to Jerusalem.  Remember reading Luke 9:51-53? “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.  And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him, but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem.”

What happened?  Was this the same town that Jesus stayed with the people for a couple days and some became believers? (John 4:40)  I don’t know if it was that same town, but it makes sense that Jesus would send his disciples ahead to a familiar house where he was once welcomed.  

Disciple: “Hey!, Guess who is coming back this way?!  Got’a place for him and a few others?”

Them: “Umm, about that…yea, our visit was great with him last time, but we aren’t into that anymore.”

Or is this a case of the believers staying silent and letting the nonbelievers who don’t like Jews speak for the whole group?  Who knows? 
What I do know is that people can have real encounters with Jesus but “fall away”. Matthew 24:10 says, “At that time many will turn away from the faith…but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

The one that has an encounter with Jesus followed by a real heart change is the one who stands firm to the end.  Maybe that’s why Jesus went back to Cana, to expose the hearts of those who experienced the great wine. (Expose their hearts to themselves.) How sad that he says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.” (4:48)  

😬In the words of my kids, “Exposed!”

Monday, February 4, 2019

John 1-2~ Day 35~ Even the most faithful need some good reminders!

We start the last of the four gospels today!!

How are you feeling about the reading?  Any new insights?  I would love to hear!!

I noticed today that I can relate with John.  He was absolutely convinced he heard from God…..but then at a later time, when things were difficult, he questioned himself and God.  I can relate with that.  How about you?

Here was John’s moment of absolute clarity:
“And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”  I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” (1:33)

I have had times in my life that I have dubbed “God Moments”, times where I am absolutely convinced God made things happen or did something that was miraculous in my life.  No one can convince me otherwise.  Somethings just aren’t coincidence! 

Yet, when I find myself in hard times, I have actual thought, “Is this all real?  Is there a God?”  Thankfully those times are short lived and God proves himself to me time and time again.  I’m also thankful to have John as an example.  
John had a firm faith in who Jesus was!  He saw for himself the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus as a dove descends in it’s landing.  Yet, later in the story, when John is thrown into prison for speaking against Herod, he sends his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:20)

Even one with the strongest of faith can have moments of doubt and need some encouragement!  Jesus was sweet to give a clear answer to John.  By saying all that he had done, healing diseases, casting out demons and giving sight to the blind, Jesus was reminding John of what he knew.  John would have known that Jesus was referring to a prophecy written about the Messiah (Isa 29:18). The answer was, “Yes, I am he!” 

It’s the same for us.  When we have those moments of doubt, we need to go back to what we know.  Go back and read His word and be reminded of truth.  Jesus is very clear with his answer to us as well!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Luke 23-24~ Day 34~ It's never too late...unless you die.

The criminal who rebuked the other caught my attention today.  The more I think about him the more I admire him!

Yes, I know that at first he participated in taunting Jesus (Matt 27:44).  But at some point in the day, he stopped.  

I can imagine at first, he was only thinking of the agony he was in. “I can’t breath!”, “I can’t feel my limbs.”, “Every part of my body hurts.”, “I’m so thirsty” (Those would be the thoughts about the physical, but then there are the emotional thoughts.) “I’m naked!”, “Everybody is glaring at me!”, “There’s that girl I liked in school. This is so embarrassing! What must she be thinking of me!” , “Argg, there’s the jerk that turned me in!, Oh, if only I got away!” 
Crucifixion is a slow death, he had a lot of time to think…and become introspective…
I would think every single thought would be about his misery!  So, how surprising to read the change of heart that he displayed!  

“We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserved.” (Luke 23:41)  

Who says that when they are getting punished?!…“I deserve this!”, said nobody ever!!  
It’s more likely that one would justify their wrong doing and point fingers elsewhere as to who was at fault.   Can’t you just hear it?  “I didn’t have a good up bringing, it’s my parents fault!”, “I didn’t have as many opportunities as others!”, “It’s the governments fault!”

Anyway, I was even more impressed at what he said next, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (23:42)  He understood something the disciples didn’t even understand.  The disciples thought Jesus was going to establish an earthly kingdom (24:21).

This criminal was the first to understand, believe and confess, out loud, that the kingdom of Jesus was bigger than an earthly kingdom. Perhaps he was present when Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” (23:3)
The criminal, at some point while hanging on the cross, must have been mulling over the answer Jesus gave and came to the conclusion that his words were true.  When we come to that realization ourselves, like the criminal on the cross, it provokes a heart change.  I pray all my loved ones come to that conclusion before they die, just as the criminal did.  

It’s only too late if one comes to that conclusion after one dies.😳

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Luke 21-22~ Day 33~ Stress is a choice!

Why do we get so stressed out when someone says, “Do you want to go evangelize?”  Eekk!..No way!  That’s not my “gift”.  I’ll leave that to someone else…..

I have three kids in college right now.  When they call, telling me how stressed they are with their work load or a big test is looming, I pray with them.  I don’t pray, “Help them do well on their test”, rather, I pray, “Help them to have a clear mind to remember all they have studied.”  
I take the time to remind them that they have put the hours of study time into the subject, they are prepared!  

Yet, getting stressed out has a way of blocking logical thinking. I can relate with that!  Illogical trains of thought pour into my mind when I am “stressed”!  

This verse stood out to me today, “Make up your mind not to worry before hand how you will defend yourself.” (21:14)  
For some reason, it had such a calming effect on me reading,  “Make up your mind!” I can choose NOT to stress!   It was like my heavenly father was saying, “You know the information, you have studied, now don’t let stress cloud your mind!”  

If you have been a Christian for a day or years, you are prepared!  You know what Jesus has done for you.  You know what you would be without him.  You know how your life has changed since you received him as your Savior.  
There should be no stress in sharing that with others.  One just needs to “make up one’s mind not to worry”, before you go out and tell others your story. It is every Christian’s “gift” to share their story with others! 

I am writing this out, because I need to hear these words!  I need to make my decision now, not to worry.  Can anyone else relate?

Friday, February 1, 2019

Luke 19-20~ Day 32~ What about the other 7?

I thought the parable Jesus tells of what the servants did with the money the king gave them, was about three servants.   Today, my observations skills we're doing better than usual, I guess!  Haha!
My Bible even titled the parable, “The Parable of the Kings Ten Servants”!
“Put this money to work until I come back” (Luke 19:13)
The first made 10 “mina” more than the one he started with.
The second made 5 more.
The third “laid it away”.
What about the other seven??????  

Here is a thought…are we the other 7?  

Think about it….we live in between the resurrection of Jesus and his  2nd coming…just as the servants lived between the time the man left and came back king. Were the other 7 not mentioned because we are in the process of investing our money?  
That idea goes so well with the parable we just read the other day about the “shrewd manager”.  “Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9)  I think it also goes well with, “Let your light shine before men so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

Obviously, mina can be symbolic of any gift Jesus gives to a believer.  It doesn’t have to be money.  Any gift can be used as an investing tool to bring others to know the Lord.  The question this parable points to is, am I using what God has given me to invest in the kingdom?  
Do I use my house to invest in the kingdom?
Do I use my car?
Do I use my time?
Do I use my singing ability….wait, no worries there…I don’t have that gift..
Do I use my medical knowledge to invest in the kingdom?

I want to answer yes to those questions because, one, I’m thankful God gave me those things and want to share and two…
well, we see how it went for the guy who answered “no” to investing his “mina”….😬

It clearly seems like we will be asked the question though, after all, we haven’t heard yet what the other seven did!!