Thursday, March 21, 2019

Ephesians 4-6~ Day 80~ You will be able to stand!!

The reading plan left out chapter 4!  Sorry about that ! Let's stick that chapter in our reading today.

I just can't help commenting on Eph. 6:10-18.  I love hearing about the armor God has given us to use in our struggle against the devils schemes!  These verse are worthy of memorizing!
One commentary I read said something profound, "All human life is a warfare; the Christian life is the most so; but the struggle will not last always."
Whew,  for that!😳

The verse that always strikes me anew is, "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."  (Eph. 6:13)

I love that!!  It does not say that "after you have done everything, you can count the dead demons strewn around your feet', or "count the converts standing with you because of your victory."  NOPE, it just says, "after you have done everything, to stand."

We will be left standing!  That is what the armor is for.  Ultimately, we will be left standing in front of the judge on the final day.  Because of the armor we have, we will be able to stand in front of our righteous king! All others will drop to the ground, shaking in fear, regret, shame, despair......but those who have the armor will be able to stand.  Stand with truth, righteousness, peace and faith, all because of the salvation that was freely given by Christ.
Judgement Day will be a glorious day for us!!! ðŸ™ŒðŸ»






Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Ephesians 1-3, Day 79~ Brought near to God.

My husband and I had the opportunity to go to Ephesus on a trip titled, "Footsteps of Paul".  When we arrived in Ephesus, our tour bus took us to the entrance of the gates that guarded ancient streets   uncovered by archeologists.  After paying admission, we made our way down the main street to the stadium, relatively still in tact, that had been built into a hillside.

As a group, we thought it would be cool to have a little worship service.  However,  as we sat, our tour guide said, out of respect to others tourists who may not hold the same beliefs as us, we should be as quite as possible.  We settled into the ancient stone seats, gazed off into the distance at the Aegean Sea and listened to our pastor's devotion. While doing so, we started to hear singing from across the stadium.  We looked over to the group that was a little larger than ours.  They appeared to be Asian (come to find out they were Korean) and were singing in a foreign language.  As we listened closely, we could hear the tune of "Amazing Grace".  We couldn't help ourselves! Spontaneously we all joined in! They heard us signing the same song, but in our language.  They sang louder!   Recognizing fellow brothers and sisters in Christ brought so much joy!   Both groups knew the reality of the words being sung!  The joy brought by the reality of the song and the fact that both groups knew it....well...the singing couldn't be squelched!

It moved me to tears thinking how the Holy Spirit had moved over the years.  First working through Paul to the Gentiles in Ephesus and then spreading out form there....across the globe!  The reality of the scene I was witnessing brought this verse to life for me,

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Eph. 2:10)

Obviously, we were far from God, spiritually, before accepting Christ.  We are brought close to God spiritually, through Christ, no matter where we live on the planet. But, together, we are all the church, the body of Christ!  My little experience gave me a glimpse of what it will be like when we all come together on judgment day and praise God for what Jesus has done for us.

The Koreans, the Americans, the people form Turkey, were all brought near to God through Christ Jesus!  What a fun way to celebrate-signing together- to the praise and glory of God!!


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Galatians 5-6~ Day 78~ Carry each others burdens.

I'm getting ready to talk with a group of moms Friday, so my mind is focused on what I am going to say.  (I don't have it completely planned yet.😬)  But, God's word always seems to speak to me at the right time and a new way!

This stood out to me, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (6:2)

Since I am focused on moms these days, this verse made me think back to my MOPS days.  MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) was all about this verse!  The leaders encouraged young, new moms to reach out and help fellow, new moms.

  • If a mom had a baby-"What day would you like to bring her a meal?'
  • If a husband was hurt or illness struck- "What day would you like to bring a meal?" 
  • If a mom is newly pregnant, sick as a dog, and needs to deal with the other sibling-"Stay in bed and tell me what time you want me to come get little Johnny to get him to his basketball practice...and what time do you want me to deliver the meal?
  • "Your husband and you need some bonding time?  I do too!  How about you watch my kids one night this week and I'll watch yours next week so we can both get that alone time with our husbands?"
  • "Your birthday cake didn't turn out the way you wanted it for Johnny's party? Well, take a look at my Pinterest fail, you'll feel better!"
  • "You were up all night with a teething baby and now feel worn out?  Come have breakfast with us and let your baby be in the care of our wonderful workers.  Enjoy some "me" time at MOPS!
MOPS was all about carrying each others burdens!  And in this way the law of Christ was fulfilled!  The moms felt loved and wanted more.  Then they encountered Christ!  It was and is a beautiful model of how to be Christ to others.  Needless to say, the new found friends back then became life long, life supporters to me.  We still carry each others burdens.  The model isn't to be used only in those baby years!  Paul is telling all Christians- this is how you do life!  Share your burdens, receive help, give help- this is how you fulfill the law of Christ!

Are you burdened?  Others can't read your mind.  They can't see behind closed doors.  You need to share your burden with others.  Allow them in!  Be vulnerable.  Likewise when one is vulnerable with you, do something!  "Carry " is an action word!  Praying for them is doing something!  And....you can never go wrong with a meal!!😋





Monday, March 18, 2019

Galatians 3-4 ~ Day 77~ The Nanny

Mary Poppins was a darn good nanny!  She guided those Bank's children into right living when they were young and later in their adult years!  (Mary Poppins Returns was a great sequel!  You should see it, if you haven't already!)

The lesson we can learn form Mary Poppins is that she was the nanny, not the parent and she knew her role.   Thinking of her helped me to understand Paul's analogy, "the law was our guardian until Christ came.." (3:24)
"Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God?  Absolutely not!" (3:21)
Was Mary Poppins opposed to the parents?  Absolutely not! She was put in place until Mr. Banks was able to be with his children.

Well, that's as far as the Mary Poppins analogy goes...unlike Mr. Banks who finally steps into his role as an active father, God had a perfect plan and knew exactly when Christ would step into the role of our redeemer (4:4).

The beauty of the Mary Poppins analogy (if you know the story), is that the kids were elated to go off with their parents at the end of the movie.  They didn't even look back at Mary Poppins.  Their parents were their first choice, their future and their hope!   with that in mind,  I understand Paul's question..."But now that you know God- or rather are known by God- how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces?  Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?" (4:9)  That would be like the Bank's kids turning back to Mary Poppins care rather than their beloved father and mother.  Mary Poppins care was always supposed to be temporary.

If I were to say a prayer regarding this reading it would be,
Lord, I want to be like the Bank's children!  I know who my Heaven Father is. I want to be with him and like him!  I would rather go with Him any day, then to stay with the nanny!!  So, thank you for sending Christ when you did!!!


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Galatians 1-2~ Day 76~ Skip to my Lou!

Do you remember the movie Big from the 80's?  I love the character that Tom Hanks play!  A teenage boy, named Josh,  finds himself in an adult body after he makes a wish.  There is a scene where Josh is walking along in his new adult body with a strut in his step and a smile on his face, like he didn't have a care in the world.  It looked strange or comical for the viewer because....well....adults don't walk like that!  Adults are burdened with the worries of the world, so their gait is more sober and purposeful. (Don't think anymore of the movie, I'm just referring to the child like strut in the adult.)
😉
Anyway, I was thinking about the freedom we have in Christ, the gospel that Paul was preaching, and thought, we Christians should be strutting around with that lighthearted skip!!  Life should be exhilarating and fun when we truly feel free from the burden of sin!!

Paul knew that!  He felt that freedom and wanted everyone else to experience it!  So, I understand why he said, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- which is really no gospel at all."(1:6)

The different teaching he was referring to taught that the people had to "do" something in order to get their salvation (2:16).  This 'works' thing became a tool of Satan's from the very beginning!! Adding to my opposite list from the other day, Satan was teaching, "Keep the circumcision thing.  Then you are true Jewish Christians.  Yes, Jesus did most of the work.  But you need to do one little thing as well!"  Paul was reminding these Christians of the true, great, good news,  message, "Only Jesus is required!"

What Christ did on the cross is our good news!  Period! Focus on anything else causes confusion and perverts the gospel. (1:7)  Once that fact is truly understood, I think we will be seeing more adults strutting around with a skip in their step!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

2 Corinthians 12-13~ Day 75~ Examine yourself!

I'm going to the dentist today. 😣Not my favorite thing! I go because I need a check up to see if I am taking care of my teeth.  I think I will pass the test!  I brush a couple times a day and I floss every night, so my teeth should be pretty good. There might be a few places that need scraping, but over all, I usually get a good report.
But, there are some who finally go to the dentist to be examined, and the hygienist finds the patient has not been flossing and gum disease abounds!!  Those people may think their teeth look good, but those teeth are actually getting ready to fall out!

OK, that was a long analogy, but it was what I thought about when I read, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.   Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you -unless of course, you fail the test? (2 Cor. 13:5)

Just like a bright smile that can fool others, a person can fool others and themselves into thinking he/she is a Christian.  Yet, deep down, the person knows they haven't been flossing, right? Partial belief works right?  Well, to go with the teeth analogy, does flossing once a year work?

"Examine yourselves"! Do you bleed when you floss because you rarely, if ever, floss?  Do you stay stressed even though God says, "Give me your burden" (Psalm 55:22, Isaiah 41:13, Matt 6:25, 11:28-29, Phil 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7), because you don't truly believe in God or put your trust in Him?

The beauty with this dental analogy is that it works in the regard of testing of one's faith.  If you fail the test, just start flossing!! Your gums start getting stronger immediately!  It's the same with your faith!  God gives you more/or better quality, when you turn to Him! (Matt. 13:12, Luke 17:5-10, Rom. 10:17, James 1:2-3)

Before I finish up on this topic of faith, I thought I would clearly state what faith is.  I like what my Bible commentary said, "Faith is a total dependency on God and a willingness to do his will.  Faith is not something we use to put on a show for others.  It is complete and humble obedience to God's will, readiness to do whatever he calls us to do.  The amount of faith isn't as important as the right kind of faith-genuine."

Friday, March 15, 2019

2 Cor. 10-11~ Day 74~ Satan vs. God

You have heard me say this before, it's becoming my mantra, "Satan teaches the exact opposite to what God teaches on every point!"

Where do I get that?  Well, John 8:44 says that Satan is the father of lies.  And I know he goes around teaching those lies by what Paul says in Ephesians 6:12 and our reading today, "For though we live in the world we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (10:3-5)

Satan's lies are the strongholds Paul is referring to and the arguments and pretensions that "sets itself up against the knowledge of God" (that's were I get my word "opposite" from)  If God's word says one thing, the father of lies will set himself up against that.

I can list a thousand examples of what Satan teaches that is in direct contrast to what Gods' word says.   I'll just list a few that we deal with in our society today:
                     
                                                                                                       
Satan:  Security is in money.                                          
God:   Give us this day our daily bread (Matt 6:11)

Satan: Security is in being liked by others.            
God: If the world hates you, they hated me first. (Jn.15:18) 

Satan: I can never change.                          
God: The old has passed away, the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17)

Satan: I can never say I am becoming perfect.                                   
God: Let us purify ourselves...perfecting holiness. (2 Cor. 7:1)

Satan:I know I'm forgiven, but I can't forget my baggage.                            
God: Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead (Phil. 13:13)                                                                              

Satan: It's my body, I can do what I want.                  
God: You are not your own, you have been bought at price. (1 Cor. 6:19)

Praise the Lord, we have divine power to demolish the strongholds!!!  We can take captive every thought that is opposite to Christ's teaching and make it obedient!! What we must do first, however, is to identify the strongholds, realize we have the weapons to combat Satan and learn how to use them!!  That is why I am doing my daily reading plan; I'm learning how to use one of my weapons!  I'm glad you are learning how to use your weapon as well!!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

2 Cor. 7-9 ~ Day 73~ Clean up the house!

"Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence. (7:1)

That is the first sentence of chapter 7, but it clearly goes with the previous chapter.  I wonder why they broke it up that way?  Since Paul goes on to a new thought, I almost missed what he was saying!  The use of the word "therefore" is a call to action!  So, I can't help ask myself, do I strive for perfect holiness out of my reverence for God?

I like how Spurgeon, (a famous preacher in the 1800's) says, "If God dwells in us, let us make the house clean for so pure a God."  That made me think, yeah, if the president of the U.S. was coming to my house for dinner, you can bet I would clean my house from top to bottom, take a shower and do my hair!  How much more would I want everything to be perfect for my all powerful God?!

So, Paul says the knowledge of the promises should play a factor in our desire to perfect holiness.  Again, Spurgeon lists the promises chapter 6 concisely like this:  God promises us divine indwelling (6:16), divine manifestation, divine covenanting, divine acceptance (6:17) and divine adoption (6:18).

Martin Luther also had words on the subject, "What greater insult to God can there be than not to believe His promises.  And if we truly believed his promises, we will strive to obey through His power working in us."

So, I guess the better question to ask myself is, do I really believe God lives in me? Do I believe he manifests himself to me, convenes with me and accepts me?  Do I believe that he has adopted me into his family?  If I truly believe those things than through his power, I will obey and get rid of everything that makes my house a mess! I will work toward perfecting holiness, because I hold God way higher than the president of the U.S.!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

2 Corinthians 4-6~ Day 72~ New bodies!!

I lover chapter 5!  It makes me excited about the new body I'm going to get!  I could totally relate when Paul says, "For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwellings, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." (5:4)  I'm groaning all right! 😜 Arthritis, old (er) aches and pains can drag one down mentally!  It's exciting to think about a day when all pain is gone, don't you think?!

The spiritual body in the future is one thing Paul talks about, but he shifts to talk about the here and now as well.  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (5:17)

We don't need to wait to get to heaven to feel no pain or suffering due to the sins of our past.  The pain caused by guilt or shame has been lifted!  We Christians need to embrace this new reality now!  The pain is gone!  Don't give into "phantom" pain!  That fact is equally, if not more, exciting than the spiritual body we will get in heaven!  We don't need to feel worn down and old in this life because of past sins.  The new creation of feeling good and excited about life is here now!
Yay!! 😄

I bet you agree, chapter 5 is a good reminder!!  Enjoy that new creation of yours!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

2 Cor. 1-3~ Day 71~ We need our time with God!

This section of scripture stood out to me, "I call God as my witness- and I stake my life on it- that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.  Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm." (2 Cor. 1:23-24)

What is Paul saying?  I had to do some digging.   Well, I read several commentaries to try to break it down and get some understanding.  This is what I came away with: it's like Paul is saying he didn't want to add "insult to injury" so to speak.  He had just written a letter that was both hard to write and hard to hear (2:3).  He didn't want to discipline the Corinthian church again on issues they were dealing with.  Rather, by stating, "it is by faith you stand firm", it's like he is saying, "I'm not going to come and lord over you or exhort my power to get you to change! Instead, I'm going to let God do the work in you, since your faith is (and should be) in Him.  He can do the convicting, comfort you in the feelings of turmoil you are having and provoke a heart change in you.  It will be all his doing- not mine!  After all, your faith is in Him, not me!"

Well, I can get some practical application form that!  Let God do the work in others!  Their salvation or how they work out their salvation is on them.  It should not rest in my "doing", worry, instruction or prayer for that matter!

However, at first I must admit, I didn't know how to write down what I was learning, so I decided I would chuck this whole thought and go for something else! So, I went back to reread the whole days reading!!  Maybe God would give me something new to focus on!

Yet, right when I started reading, I  smiled as I reread, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
Well, I read that with a whole new understanding!!  The Corinthian church had been reprimanded by Paul (first letter that caused pain and troubled hearts), they wanted clarification from Paul in person and were upset that he didn't come when he said he would (1:15-17), but in Paul's God given wisdom, he didn't return to them.  They needed to put their trust in God rather than in Paul.  That is why Paul says "it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ." (1:21)  Paul was literally giving them time with God!  He wanted them to see that God would do His work in them, not Paul's work.
Praise God, He does His work in our hearts.  The change does not happen because of another person's great teaching.  And when each person has that personal comforting touch by God, they can share that comfort with others.
That's beautiful!

Monday, March 11, 2019

1 Cor. 14-16 ~ Day 70~ A curse be on him??

The words at the close of this letter caught me by surprise again!  So, I went back and read a previous post that addressed the wording, "let that person be cursed".  I appreciated the reading the possible intent of Paul's wording, so I thought I would post it again.  Hopefully it can give some insight for any new readers that may have been confused at Paul's choice of words.


As I am reading, I am almost being lulled to sleep with sweet words of, “Do everything in love..”, “I was glad,…”, “…they refreshed my spirit..” (16:14-18)  
Calm words in a peaceful goodbye….😌  And then I turn the page….“If anyone does not love the Lord- a curse be on him.  Come, O Lord!” (16:22) 😳  Boy, did my eyebrows shoot up!  I’m thinking, “Whaaat?”  What happened to all the warm and comforting, good-bye words?! What is Paul saying?????

Then I thought about Paul.  
This actually fits right in line with all his preaching!  Remember, he is the guy who says, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22)  Save them from what? ......From perishing!
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1:18)  

Remember back in Acts when Paul said to the Jews who opposed him, “Your blood be on your own head! I am clear of my responsibility.” (Acts 18:6)  Paul takes eternal life very seriously!  It is real, and he knows it! We will all go one direction or the other at the final judgement (Matt.25:32).

When we read what he says to the Corinthians, “a curse be on him.” it isn’t like he is calling down a curse from heaven to spite these heathens.  On the contrary, he loves people, he will be and do anything to save some, especially the Jewish nonbeliever! Remember he said, “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”

So, instead, his statement about the curse is more like he is summing up what John the Baptist said using a few more words, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36) 

The curse is already on all men who don’t love Jesus.  Paul didn’t call down the curse.  He is reminding this group of people he is writing to…..”Do, you truly love the Lord?  ‘Cause if you don’t, the wrath of God is still on you.”

Sunday, March 10, 2019

1 Cor. 11-13~ Day 69~ In vogue or not, God’s word stands.

OK, we come to a chapter I think most Christians gloss over as being socially relevant in today’s US culture. I’m going to go a little deep here, so I hope you hang on to the end and give me your thoughts!

Before I get into the controversial chapter, I have a few questions.  Would you agree with Paul’s views on fleeing from sexual immorality (6:18), his thoughts about getting married or not (7:25-28), or what he says about eattng food sacrificed to idols (8:9))?  What about his warning to avoid temptation (10:13) and his encouragement to take communion in a proper manner (11:27), would you agree with that teaching?

I would and I do! So, why, all of a sudden when reading 1Cor. 11:7, do I bristle, as I’m sure other women do as well, when reading, “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image of  and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.”  (1 Cor. 11:7). And some may want to entirely toss out, “For man did not come from woman, but woman from man, neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.” (vs.8)

So, here is a challenging thought. Am I being influenced by our secular society striving for equal rights? Remember I have said that Satan will hold tight and teach the exact opposite from what God teaches?  Some would say that chapter 11 is socially irrelevant now, but is it? We battle with the same issues they did! I think the ladies of Paul’s time we’re dealing with the original curse given to Eva just as ladies today or doing! Eve’s curse had odd worded, “your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Gen 4:16b). One commentary explained that this curse meant women would now have an on going conflict with men. A “power struggle” would ensue.  The NLT translation says it like this, “ You will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

With that in mind, Paul’s words make a lot of sense!  They are not socially itrelevant! In fact, they are just as relevant today as ever! So whether head coverings go in or out of Vogue, the line of authority does not change. These verses are filled with God’s design that does not change with what secular society brings into fashion. This is a good example of what Jesus meant when he prayed in John 17:14 for his disciples, “I have given them your word but the world has hated them, for they are not of the world anymore than I am of the world.” In other words we are physically present in the world but don’t hold to the values of the world.

Therefore, if I bristle at any teaching found in the Bible, I better check myself. Whose values am I holding to?

Friday, March 8, 2019

1Cor 9-10~ Day 68~Not everything is beneficial.

Did you notice that Paul repeats himself? Paul uses the same quote twice. He must’ve gotten a letter from these Corinthian’s who felt their freedom in Christ so strongly, they said, “I have the right to do anything!”
But, Paul says, that may be so, but not at the detriment of another. (1 Cor. 6:12 & 10:23) Our freedom is rooted in love.   Out of love, everything we do needs to be for the good of others (10:24).  This isn’t new teaching that Paul made up. He got it from Jesus who was reiterating what God has said from the beginning!
“In everything, than do to others as you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 7:12)
Ahh, the Golden Rule!



1 Cor. 6-8~ Day 67~ Undivided devotion

Watch your reading plan!  It's switching form 2 to 3 chapters for a few days.  With that, look on the bright side, you will get more continuity in the letter!
That was the case for me with today's reading.  Instead of reading these chapters as a list of do's an don'ts, I read it from the perspective of the devoted followers who had asked Paul their list of questions (7:1).
I was endeared to these new believers who had such a strong desire to follow Jesus whole heartedly that they were willing to not get married, willing to change their lifestyle to follow Jesus, and they felt the freedom that is in Christ so they didn't care about the "taboo" of certain meat.  Their devotion was inspiring to me!
Yet, in their devotion, they needed some clarification:  Do I leave my unbelieving spouse?  Do I push the point that it is OK to eat anything?

Praise God, Paul took the time to answer all their questions!  AND, the letter was so valuable to them, they saved it!!  Saved it so well, that it has lasted two thousand years!  (That is SO God!)  I particularly loved this verse, "I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you but that you may live a right way in undivided devotion to God." (7:35)

It left me thinking, do I have an undivided devotion to God?  Are there areas in my life that distract me from God?  Lord, help me to be like these new believers in Corinth; eager to please you in all aspects of life.  From my marriage to what I eat, let me be fully devoted to you in all ways! 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

1 Cor. 3-5~ Day 66~ Three chapters today!

I think chapter 5 is really hard to read and hard to implement when necessary.  "Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the old yeast..." (5:6-7)

Welllll... a little yeast won't spread over to me! It's not my job to get rid of the yeast!  Only pastors should do that!  If we got rid of all bad yeast, there would be no bread!! Let's just try to keep the peace.  Who am I to judge if the yeast is bad or not?.......
Be honest...you've had those thoughts!  I think most would agree Paul is asking the church to do something really hard!!

While reading today, I got  a new perspective.  I focus too much on the hard act of getting rid of the bad yeast when in reality the focus should be on the latter part of verse 7,  "so that you may be a new unleavened batch -as you really are......unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (verse 7 and end of 8).  I was thinking...instead of focusing on the hard part, focus on the end goal!!
We want to be known as a people who have sincerity and truth.  That's the goal!

When one has a clear picture of what they are aiming for, than keeping away from things that hinder that goal becomes easier!
Like Paul says, "keep your eye on the goal" (Phil 3:14), referring to eternal life, we can also keep our eye on the goal of sincerity and truth, achievable in this life!

With that in mind, "getting rid of the old yeast" isn't so hard!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

1 Corinthians 1-2~ Day 65~Without the Spirit, it seems foolish..

Yesterday I got the opportunity to share the full gospel with a gal who came into the center where I work.  I asked her if I could "share some spiritual things" with her.  She said yes and admitted she knew nothing of God or Jesus.  She grew up in a home void of anything spiritual, but filled with alcohol abuse and neglect.
So, I launched into the topic from the beginning "God created the heavens, the earth and YOU!"  I explained the word "sin" (remember, she knew nothing) and how it separates us from God.  I also explained how Christ brings us back into a right relationship with God.

While I was speaking and looking at her face, I could practically hear her thoughts, "This story sounds like fiction!" So, I talked about faith and true belief in this true story and the power of God.  Ultimately, she confessed she was not ready to believe, full heartedly, in what I was telling her.

I couldn't help think of her today when I read, "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come form the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit." (1 Cor. 2:14)

BUT, I have hope for this girl!!  God is drawing her to himself!  He has had her come to our center twice!  Each time, we have shared a little bit more with her!!  I take heart in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day."  That verse does not refer to just a select few that God draws!!  Jesus clarifies in John 12:32, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." The act of dying on the cross for each individual....that fact alone..draws people to Jesus.  First, though, people need to hear that Jesus did that!! (Romans 10:14)

So, now this young lady is being drawn, she has heard.....Lord, please prepare her heart with good soil so that the seeds planted can grow.  Let the Holy Spirit give her understanding!! Amen!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Romans 15-16~ Day 64~Old Testament has a lot more for us than we think!

Just the other day I was thinking about Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

It's hard not to have that one memorized!  It's on every Christian plaque, poster, mug, graduation card  and blanket!  I was wondering if we have gone too far with that verse because, in deed, God was saying it to the Israelites.  The verse is actually written in a letter from Jeremiah to the "serving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon" (Jer. 29:1).

The Lord was saying, through Jeremiah, that he was going to bring the exiles back to Jerusalem at the end of 70 years,  and he had this plan for them. So, why do we use that promise today?  What makes us think that the verse originally meant for the exiles can be applied to us?

Because of what Paul said to the Romans in our reading today, that's why!!!
"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." (Romans 15:4)

"Everything written in the past" would be everything in the Old Testament!  Yes!  WE can apply those words to our lives and get encouragement from them!  So, go ahead and enjoy your mug that may have Jeremiah written on it!

Hmm....I'm thinking God may be prompting me to go back and read the Old Testament again!  ðŸ˜¬
Why wouldn't I want to, though?  I can learn endurance, get encouragement and have hope!!!  Who wouldn't want that?!?!





Monday, March 4, 2019

Romans 12-14~ Day 63~ Christian living

We come to a transition in Paul's letter.  He goes from deep theological points to guidelines on how to live as a Christian among those who are not saved.

Since I was quite wordy on part two of yesterday's blog, I thought I would be brief today.  That might be appreciated by those of you I may have messed up and found yourself reading 4 chapters today, like I did!! ðŸ˜›

So, what stood out to you in today's reading of "Christian living"?

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Romans 9-11~ More thoughts on Day 62 😁

Confession here! I misplaced my reading plan for a few days and just hoped we were still reading 2 chapters a day.  Sure enough we weren't! 😝
So,  just thought I would post some bonus thoughts on the reading and get myself caught up!

"It does not depend on human effort, but on God's mercy." (Romans 9:16) That simple verse stood out to me today.  Following Christ is a matter of truly believing in Jesus (a belief that shows like a grateful servant) and then professing that faith to others (10:9).

Simple!! But there is an entity that works overtime to complicate and confuse everyone.  You've heard me say this before, Satan teaches the exact opposite on every single Godly principle!  His goal is to complicate things! "When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)

I think Paul spent some time trying to clarify 9:16 because his mixed audience of Jew and Gentile Christians may have been grappling with some Jewish superiority teaching or simply addressing some lies of Satan that are still dealt with today.

Human effort, or doing, can be many things.  Paul illustrates these "efforts" in different ways and shows that they don't affect who God shows his mercy.  It's not your birth order, it doesn't matter if you were born first, entitled to the blessing that come with that position.  He used the twin story to illustrate that point (9:10-13).  It doesn't matter if you have a strong enough will, it's God's mercy that is displayed when even the weakest chose to accept His righteousness by faith (9:30). Your heritage doesn't matter (10:20), the way you were brought up doesn't matter (except that your parents may have been the one's to share the Word with you-10:17), the way you act doesn't matter *,.....the bottom line......you can't earn God's mercy, your salvation.

(*Side note for clarification: Righteous acts prior to salvation are like fifty rags to Gd (Isaiah 64:6), but righteous acts after salvation are a by-product of gratitude felt from receiving his mercy- not a required response.  Satan will do his best to get that concept mixed up in peoples minds!)

Once the concept of "mercy" is understood and believed, there will never be a time again that you would listen to Satan's whispers, "God won't forgive my sin, it was a bad one." "I'm not good enough". "If I try hard enough, God will let me in", "I'm good for the most part.", "I'm a Christian because my parents were and they baptized me."  Nope.  So, just rest in His mercy and share the good news with others!!!

Romans 7-8~ Day 62~ God is working for our good!!

It seems I have been quoting Romans 8:28 quite a bit lately!  It's a great verse to memorize because there is so much hope contained in the words, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

But.....the hope is only there for "those who love him".  You can't flippantly throw that verse out to someone who doesn't know or love Jesus. The promise isn't for everything to turn out good in this life time.  The hope is the good that will come in the next lifetime, for those who believe.
Yes, God can also turn things out so that the believer is blessed in this lifetime as well, but the ultimate "good" is our "adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies." (8:23)  That's it!  That's what we groan for inwardly and "wait eagerly" for.

Again, it's a great verse to share with a fellow believer who is going through a hard time.  It gives the reminder that this life isn't what "it" is all about.  This world is temporary, the hard time is temporary, and the picture is bigger than what we can see from here.  We are going to be made perfect; to live with Christ forever.   God is working for our good!!  What a great reminder and what great encouragement!!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Romans 6-8~ Day 61~ Pattern of teaching 💃🏻

So what stood out to you in the reading?

This verse stood out to me today, "But thanks be to God that though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance (6:17).
..."the pattern of teaching"....you learn a pattern and then it comes naturally from the heart.   I like that!
I thought of the cup song when I read that!  Once you learn the pattern to the cup song, it comes so naturally, you can do it without thinking. But, it first takes learning the steps and then practicing it!

Paul says that's what these Roman believers did. The pattern to learn is the same pattern the first Christians did in Acts 2:42, "Be devoted to the apostles teaching, fellowship, communion and prayer." That is what we are to do.

Yes, we are slaves to righteousness as believers and know what is right, without even thinking, but sometimes we mess up.  The beauty I find in the above verse is that the Holy Spirit has put the "pattern" into our heart so well, that after we stumble and repent, we know the pattern to step back into.  A true believer, with a life saving faith, may trip out of the pattern, but will step right back into the pattern of right living because of the true heart change.
One who stays in a pattern of sin needs to do an honest heart check-where is your allegiance?  Did you ever learn the pattern of teaching, to obey it from your heart?


Just FYI about the cup song, I want to learn to do this!! My kids can do it!  Look how good everybody in this clip can do this!! I'm jealous!! Leave it to me to spiritualize cup patterns!  ðŸ˜‚
4 min video:  Anna Kendrick- Cups
https://youtu.be/cmSbXsFE3l8

Friday, March 1, 2019

Romans 3-5~ Day 60~ It's always been about faith in Jesus!

So, I have always kind'a stumbled through this confusing passage,
"He (God) did this (present Christ as a sacrifice) to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." (3:25-26)

What does it mean that he "left the sins committed beforehand unpunished"?  Well, I read a commentary that helped me better understand what Paul meant.  "It's not that God failed to punish these old sins.  It's that he stored up His punishment and poured it out on Jesus to fully satisfy the payment for those "former sins".

Well, that makes sense since I know that Christ died for all my past, present and future sins.  He died for the sins of those in the past too!  Those who were "justified" by Christ's blood that would have been shed in their future would still have needed the faith that is required.  Old Testament believers looked forward, in faith, to Christ's coming.  Even though they didn't have the details, like we do on this side of the cross, they had the prophecies that pointed to Jesus.  Some chose to put their faith in those prophecies.  For those, Christ's shed blood covered their sins that Paul calls "unpunished".

That verse makes so makes more sense to me now! Yay!  I love getting new insights each time I read!