Sunday, August 18, 2019

Jude ~ Day 110 ~ Help me snatch them out of the fire, Lord!

I don't mean to make light of a very sad situation, but I can't help signing to myself, lately, "....And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust...."  ðŸŽ¶
Poor Marty Sampson, the worship music writer for Hillsong Worship, recently stated that his faith is "on incredibly shaky ground". He sounds like another one who has lived a lie for 30+ years (like we talked about others doing on day 107).

"Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all ‘coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it," Marty wrote in his confession.

I think Marty should join us on reading the Bible straight through over and over. When one does the reading and the research themselves, one can see that the Bible does not contradict itself.  In addition, if one clearly understood how evil each person is and when left to their own desires becomes more and more evil (Genesis 6:5), they would understand how a just God would need to respond to that.  And after all, wasn't it because of his love that he tried to give all 4 billion a chance to be saved through his Son?
It's clear that Marty does not have a Biblical understanding of God. 😞

So, I just finished reading about Marty. and turned to Jude. Jude stated he wanted to talk about the common salvation that he shared with the readers of his note, but instead, switched gears to warn these believers to watch out for unbelievers who "crept" into their fellowship "unnoticed".  The warning goes for us, today, as well.  Watch out believers!  Even your worship leader can be an "ungodly person who turns the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 1:3)

I love how Jude went on to say,"And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire;..."(vs. 22)  I pray that Marty has people in his life who will have mercy on him while still sharing truth, and also snatch him from the fire by being able to counter false teaching that he may be receiving.
Lord, please reveal yourself to Marty.  Let him see what a just, powerful God you are.  Help him to have a heart that continues to search for truth, and may he find you in the process. Please don't let him be another one who bites the dust! I pray this for several other people I personally know as well!!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

2 & 3 John ~ Day 109 ~ I have Truth in me!

Reading different translations often makes me get new insights to familiar verses.  It happened today when I read the first verse of today's reading!
"To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth and not only I, but also all who know the truth- because of the truth that remains in us and will be with us forever." (1&2)

I love how Jesus defined himself in John's gospel account, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6). John heard these words first hand from Jesus and knew he could use any of these descriptions interchangeably.  So, we can read the above verse like: "To the elect lady and her children whom I love through Jesus and not only I, but also all who know Jesus- because He remains in us and will be with us forever."

What hit me with this realization is that we can do the same today!  We can fill in the blank with the names Jesus used for himself.
"because of the ___________that remains in us and will be with us forever."
 (Choose: the Way, the Truth, the Light, or Jesus)
John choose to use "truth".  I love that!  But....let's think about that for a minute....do we choose to use that word?........

I have heard Christians say, "Jesus lives in me" and "I have Jesus in my heart."   Can you imagine if, instead, we said, "I have the Truth in me" and "Truth lives in me."

Let's be honest....I bet some would think...."I can't say that 😳.... that sounds a bit pretentious.  I think I will just stick with using Jesus to "fill in the blank".  "The Truth" sounds a little too prideful.  I don't want to turn anyone off from Jesus by sounding so...exclusive."

Humm...what do you think?  Am I right?.....
Yet, think how solid we would be in our thinking if we did talk like that!  Forget for a minute how it would sound to others.  Think how convinced one would be in their thinking if they went around saying, "I have the Truth in me!  Truth lives in me! Listen to me, what I am saying is true!!"

John is that confident and bold! He chose to fill in the blank with Truth.
I want to be that bold, and say, "I have Truth living in me!"  Jesus help me to be bold, like John!

Friday, August 16, 2019

1 John 4-5~ Day 108~ God is listening to every word!

Just last night, I was with a group of Christians and the topic came up about having "the fear of the Lord".  The question was asked, do Christians need to have a healthy fear of the Lord?

I believe the discussion ended with a redefining of the term "fear" to "healthy respect of his power".  Yes, everyone needs to have a healthy respect of God.

However, I find it quit remarkable that today's reading felt like God was answering the question for us,......the way He wanted to answer! 
"And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.  In this,  love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgement, because as he is, so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment.  So the one who fears is not complete in love.  (1 John 4:15-18) 
Well, there you go!  Boom!
I love when God shows he is intimately listening to our conversations and wants to chime in!!!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

1John 1-3~ Day 107~Walk like He walked!

I know someone who has claimed to be a Christian for 30 years.  This person's life was never real exemplary of a Christian, but, hey, who am I to judge, right?  After some time, the person divorced and is now living with a new "significant other".  Needless to say, it has left the friends of this person confused and somewhat speechless.  If this person was a teenager, I think Christian friends would call this person out and instruct the teen in the what the Bible has to say about sexual sin. "Avoid it!" (1Cor. 6:9-11, 6:18-20, 7:2, Gal. 5:19, 1 Thess. 4:3 and Heb. 13:4).

Yet, some sort of muzzle occurs on believers when the "Christian" is older and more autonomous in their thinking.  Maybe the friends think the person knows better so there is no need pointing out the obvious....I don't know what creates the muzzle.  I actually have not been in a position to talk with this person yet about their new living situation, but I have often wondered what I would say if the opportunity arose.

After reading 1 John 2, I think I would just refer this person to that letter!  I don't need to say a thing! I just need to suggest the person does some self evaluating while they read. "This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands.  The one who says, "I have come to know him," and yet doesn't keep his commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoever keeps this word, truly in him the love of God is made complete.  This is how we know we are in him:  The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked." (2:3-6)

Boom!  That's pretty straight forward!

I am getting older and I have seen now, how long a person can carry on a lie,  I've seen a few now who have appeared to be devout believers for 25+ years and then they get up and walk away from their "faith" (apostisize).  The reality is that they never truly knew Jesus and the salvation he offers (3:6). How utterly sad and what a waste of time for them!

However, there is always a bright side!!  After their lie is exposed, that person is in a better situation than they were before! Now Christians can speak truth into that person's life!  The muzzle is removed!  That person can still come to a saving faith in Jesus! It's never too late, no matter how long they lied!

I pray for this person I have been referring to.  I pray that they come clean so that truth can take the place of the lie!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

2 Peter 1-3~ Day 106~ Know the basics well!

Have you ever head that Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study genuine bills until they master the look of the real thing. Then when they see the bogus money they recognize it?  I heard that in a sermon once so I had to look it up to see if it's true.  It is!!  The best way to spot a counterfeit is to know the real thing well!!!

I often say that the gospel (the good news of salvation through Jesus) is simple to understand....and it is...yet, there are also somethings that are hard to understand.  Peter admits that! "There are some matters that are hard to understand," (3:16)

Both Peter and Paul exhort their fellow Christians, watch out!!

  • "I want to stir up your sincere understanding by way of reminder so that you recall the word's previously spoken by the holy prophets and the command of our Lord and Savior given through your apostles." (3:1-2)

To me, that is like Peter is saying, "Go back to the the basics!"  "Recall the words spoken by the apostles."  Read the Bible, itself, not every other book out there about the Bible!

Paul had similar sentiments,

  • "I fear....your minds may be seduced...For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached...you put up with it...! (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

and

  • "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!" (Gal.1:8)

It's good to be prepared with an answer to anyone who has questions about your faith (like we talked about yesterday), but don't get bogged down with the little things that can be hard to understand and easily twisted by teachers who "will be among us teaching destructive heresies" (2:1).  Make routine visits back to the basics.  Know the basic gospel well! If you know it well, you will be able to spot distortion quickly!

What a good reminder for us today!!
Lord, please give us that wisdom you promised us in James 1:5-8.  We need it!!  And thank you for the Bible that we read everyday, so that we can be well acquainted with truth, being able to easily detect a counterfeit.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

1 Peter 4-5~ Day 105~ I better get to practicing!🤓

Have you noticed all the talk of suffering in our reading?  Today, it really stood out to me, but it's not the first time we have been warned!
  • Jesus starts the warning with, ""Blessed are those who are persecuted, because of righteousness.." (Matt. 5:10).  
  • In his letter to Timothy, Paul warned, "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Timothy 3:12). 
  • James says we are to "consider it all joy when we experience trials of many kinds." (1:2) 
  • And, today, Peter says, "But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed." (3:13), and "Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourself also with the same understanding." (4:1)
That last verse was key for me!  We have been warned over and over that we will be persecuted just for being a Christian, and this last verse gives a directive- "arm yourself"!  Be prepared! Don't be surprised when you are treated poorly as you stand for Christ (4:12).  As a matter of fact, expect it!  

Have a game plan.  Pre-think how you will respond. Practice your response.  Be"ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." (3:15) Peter uses an imperative that implies, "Do it now without delay!"  Don't wait for the day you will be persecuted and then scramble for an answer......practice now!  

I know you are already doing that, because you are reading your Bible daily, but don't you think todays' reading was a great reminder?!  I think I need to go practice my response right now! 

Monday, August 12, 2019

1 Peter 1-3~ Day 103~ Salvation= Being saved from hell.🙌🏻 Woo 🙌🏻Woo!

”Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1Peter 1:8-9)

That verse stood out to me. I sometimes reword sentences in my head to get clear meaning.  For example, I read the above versus like, “The goal of your faith is the salvation of your souls. Because your soul will be saved, you love the Lord for it.  You believe this wholeheartedly, therefore you are filled with joy.

That makes me ponder “the goal of my faith”. The goal isn’t to love others, the goal isn’t to become the best person I can be… the goal is to be saved (my salvation).  That just begs the question… To be saved from what?

The dictionary says salvation means “a deliverance from harm, ruin or loss.”  In the Christian world it means to be “delivered from the consequences of sin”.  So, the long and the short of it is, the goal of my faith is to be saved from hell and agony. For this I have glorious joy and I love the one who saved me!
When one has true understanding of what they’re being saved from, they become a Christian. Peter goes on to write how a Christian is to live after that point.
“...set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1:13)
Live like you are waiting for the best gift ever! It’s coming!  Jesus said he would return and that’s what he is bringing, grace, aka, salvation!! How exciting!! 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

James 3-5~ Day 103~ What did you get out of the reading?

Can you believe we only have a few books to go before we are done with the New Testament?!

I love the book of James! There are so many practical points he made on how to live a godly life: Be loving to others, control your speech, use godly wisdom, don’t have the same attitude toward wealth as the world does, don’t be prejudice, the list goes on. Yet, it’s clear that these commands are not to gain entrance to heaven. These actions are used to be a good representative of Christ while we wait for his return. (5:8)

One of my favorite verses was, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) I think of how my little guy (nearly 7 years old now!!) will come to me to snuggle, when he does, I draw him in and we cuddle.  I love that precious time!! That’s what God wants to do with us!!

What did you like most about James? 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

James 1-2 ~ Day 102~ God given wisdom

“Now if any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God – who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly– and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting.” (1:5-6)

That sounds great....but....wisdom about what? Wisdom like Solomon had where he understood ants ways, plant life and human behavior?  James gives a little more description of what wisdom is in 3:17.
 I like how my commentary said James was referring to wisdom as Christian enlightenment. I can see that! James (the brother of Jesus) was addressing the “12 tribes dispersed abroad”.  These were Jewish Christians that needed to learn how to share Jesus with Jewish people that were very set in their traditions, culture and religion.

Yet, James knew, as do we, that Old Testament scriptures are filled with words about the coming Christ. Those that receive God’s wisdom can read the Old Testament and see all the prophesies that point to Jesus, those who don’t get that insight from The Lord....well...they just don’t get it!

This reminds me how Jesus gave insight to scripture that pointed to him when he was walking with the two on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection (Luke 24:27).  He also gave wisdom to John and Peter as they stood defending themselves in front of the Jewish leaders. We know it was God given wisdom because it was noted that they were “uneducated and untrained men”(Acts 4:13).  Philip was also given wisdom in regard to Old Testament scripture when he was talking to the Ethiopian eunuch heading to Gaza.

The stories of others needing God given wisdom to understand scripture are great reminders for me!! I can ask for wisdom to understand God’s word and He will give it to me “generously and ungrudgingly”! I better not doubt that ‘cause I don’t want to be “unstable in all my ways”!😬

Friday, August 9, 2019

Hebrews 11-13~ Day 101~A sacrifice of praise!

These Hebrews, who are reading this letter ,were probably well acquainted with the temple system where the aroma of BBQ was on-going.  God commanded it to be this way, "The fire must be kept burning on the alter continuously; it must not go out." (Leviticus 6:13)

I thought it was so cool to read today, "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)  So, does he want the fire burning continuously like he did back then?  Well....yeah, in a way he does!  As I kept reading today, this stood out to me, "Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is the fruit of lips that confess his name." (13:15)

One reason God wanted that fire burning all the time was to remind the people of his on going presence.  He was with them.  In that way, God doesn't change! He still wants his followers to have a reminder that he is with us.  When we continually "confess his name", we are reminded of his presence.  You can't talk to others about Jesus and immediately forget about him, right?!  It's when you stop talking about him...when you get busy with life and activities, talking about the current book you are reading, the show you are watching, the sport you are enamored with, the problems your kids are having, the stress at work....talking about those things only.....well, you forget about God's continual presences.....wouldn't you agree?

This was a great reminder for me! Keep talking about Jesus....ALL The Time!! Talk about Jesus to family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers! Paul also encouraged his readers to do this when he wrote, "...speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God..." (Ephesians 5:19). Thank goodness, Paul said, "making music with your heart", because I can't play any instrument!  ðŸ˜œ
So, not only does talking about Jesus remind me of his presences, God also looks at my talking about him like it's a sacrifice of praise! (Again, I'm glad the sacrifice of praise can be talking and not just singing.  I don't have the greatest signing voice either.  But I can talk!!). If my talking about Jesus is a pleasing sacrifice to him, why would I ever want to be silent???

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Hebrews 9-10~ Day 100~ This may seem complicated, but I find it simple!


"And just as it is appointed for people to die once- and after thus, judgement- so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."  (9:27-28)

"He is now waiting until his enemies are made his footstool." (10:13)

I like these verses because they are very straight forward and simple!  Jesus will "appear a second time" to bring salvation, (no secret hovering to collect some believers and then a third "appearing")   And, praise the Lord!!  He will give salvation to those who have put their hope in him (as Paul so eloquently describes in Romans 8:24-25, the Hebrew writer describes in 6:11-12, and Peter does in 1 Peter 1:3)!!!  But to those who do not put their hope in him at the time of his second coming, they don't get the salvation Jesus brings with him, they will face judgement.

So....he's waiting now.....Is he just waiting to reign in the future or is he reigning now? 1 Corinthians 15:25, implies the reigning period is now, "For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet." Other verses that back up that Jesus is reigning now would include, but are not limited to, Matt. 28:18, Mark 9:1, Jn. 18:37, Acts 1:9 & 2:29-36, Eph 1:20-22 & Col 2:16.

So Jesus has been reigning for a long period of time,.....over 2000 years.....this reminds me of what John says in Revelation 20,  Jesus conquered death (Rev 1:18) and sat at the right hand of God and believers "reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Rev. 20:4b).  Scholars don't feel that the 1000 years is a literal time period, but symbolic for a "long period of time". Doesn't that sound like it's describing now?
So, what about "locking up Satan for a 1000 years", you may ask?
These verses help my understanding in that:
"Jesus responded, "...Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out.  As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself." (John 12:31-32)
and
"He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced they publicly; he (God) triumphed over them in him(Jesus) (Col 2:15).
Satan's workers are doing their best to continue wreaking havoc in our lives, but Satan has been held back or "locked", from deceiving the nations, for a long period of time.
There will be a day, however, when he is allowed to "deceive the nations", and then....oh my! ðŸ˜± ...That sounds like the whole globe is involved! ......Well, I'm not going to be afraid of that time because of Hebrews 10:13!  Jesus is going to make Satan and his cronies his footstool!! Ha, take that, Satan!!!


Here is a great paper I read in my research if you are interested in getting more clarity on this view:
http://truthmagazine.com/archives/volume26/GOT026003.html

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hebrews 7-8~ Day 99~ Believers are the house of Israel.

I have been learning lately that many Christians believe that Jewish people have a "special spot" in God's heart.  I didn't grow up with this belief so I was slow on the uptake that this is a popular interpretation of scripture.  However, I would challenge that assumption on the basis of New Testament scripture and on how Paul describes who "Jewish people" are, or more specifically who makes up "the house of Israel".

Paul set out to define the true seed of Abraham in three of his letters.  It was very important for the early Jewish believers to understand this new concept and have a paradigm shift. (Perhaps the old way of thinking persists today.). It was not just Paul who was explaining this new way of thinking, I bring this up because of our reading in Hebrews today.

The writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31, "Look, the days are coming"-this is the Lord's declaration- "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." (8:8). Yes, that does sound quite exclusive to one certain group of people, that at the time consisted exclusively  of Jewish people.

However, as Christians, we use the New Testament to shed light on Old Testament scripture just as Jesus did (Luke 24:27).  We have Pauls writings to the Galatians, Ephesians and Romans to help us understand who the "house of Israel" is today.  For example,
"If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal 3:29)
and
"A partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And in this way all Israel will be saved." (Rom. 11:25-26)

When we keep these explanatory verses in mind, and then look back to the Jeremiah verse quoted in Hebrews, we know who God was referring to when Jeremiah writes, "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel after those days..." The House of Israel, now, is not Jewish people, but all believers-Jews and Gentiles.  God sees all believers as the house of Israel (Matt. 3:9, Rom 4:13, 8:17, Eph. 3:6, Gal 6:16)

"So it is not the children of the flesh who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring." (Rom 9:8).

Knowing that believers make up the house of Israel, we can see that the promise the Lord made to put his law "into their minds and write them on their hearts..." has been fulfilled by giving us the Holy Spirit (John 16:13 & Eph. 1:11-14).

When I read the Hebrew writer explaining these mysteries (laid out so well in Eph. 3:3-6) to fellow Hebrews, I am left feeling so grateful for the "new covenant"!  Believers are the ones who hold a "special spot" in God's heart.  Thank you, Lord, for making me part of the house of Israel and allowing me to partake in the fulfillment of your promise!  

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Hebrews 5-6~ Day 98~ Share the basic principles!

"Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God's revelation again." (5:12)

Hummm..... Do I know the basic principles well enough to teach them?  I should, I've been a Christian for quite some time! How about you?  Have you turned around and taught the basic principles to others?

I just got an email from some friends we have in India.  The goal of their ministry is to spread the gospel throughout their country where less than 1% of the population are believers.  The model they use to do this is very bold (when compared to the western standard of "lifestyle evangelism"). Their model works like this; they share the gospel with one, when that person accepts the Lord as their savior, they are invited to a week long training, the first of four training sessions.  Then that person is to go back home and share the gospel with another.  The trained person has 2 ½ months to invite another to the training, then they go back for their 2nd session. By the end of the four phases each trainee will be able to establish a church and bring at least two people who will go through the same cycle of training.  When the convert has finished their training, they are encouraged to move to new areas,  away from the initial church they started, in order to start the process again. This model has been very successful!  The missionary letter showed a graph that illustrated how their ministry has resulted in 1000's of converts!!!

To be honest, the missionaries letter and the timing of today's reading has caused me to do some self evaluation.  "Although by this time you ought to be teachers...." (5:12) I am feeling a little convicted!!  What am I doing to share the "basic principles"?  Sharing Jesus is not supposed to be complicated.  The Christians in India know this.  They know the basic principles well, and then turn around and share those.  I need to learn from them....keep it simple and share it!!!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Hebrews 3-4~ Day 97~ Reading scripture through the right lens is key!

The lens you use greatly influences what you see in Scripture.  Wouldn't you agree?!

I love how the Hebrew writer connected the 7th day of the creation story, when God rested, to the rest we enter when we receive "the good news" (4:6).  He explained the concept so well, using the story of the Israelites in the desert...it made me wonder what Jews today believe about heaven.  So, I googled a site called MyJewishLearning.com.   The site "offers 1000's of articles, videos and other resources to help people understand Judaism".  I thought that would be a good place to look into what  Jews, today, think about heaven.

There was no mention of "entering God's sabbath".   They do not pick up on the symbolism of the Lord's sabbath as the Hebrew writer did.  In fact, what I read of their view (they have several theories) is that most believe people go to haven, but bad people will have a period of time in an interim state to think about the wrong doings they did while on earth.  That time of contemplation in an ambiguous place doesn't exceed 11 months.  At the end of that time, they then join the others in heaven.

Wow!  Okaaay....yet, Jewish people ignore what their Old Testament scriptures say, including their own prophet Daniel who writes, "Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to disgrace and eternal contempt." (Daniel 12:2). I tried to figure out why this is so, ignoring certain scripture. It may be that they feel that Daniel was not a true prophet.  Therefore, they exclude him from their list of prophets but include him in writings called the Ketuvim (The Writings).

Hummm...to me, this makes Ephesians 4:18 very understandable when we read, "They are darkened in their understanding, alienate from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of heart."

The site listed above also goes on to say that, Jewish people don't need to worry about the afterlife.  "God will take care of that".  They just need to worry about living a good life here while they are on earth.  Well...that explains why they don't feel like they need Jesus to be their Savior.  What do they need saving from?  Certainly not hell!

The fact is, heaven is real and hell is real.  The entire story of Jesus is based on the good news that we do not need to go to hell.  There is only one way to enter God's sabbath.  That is through Jesus.  Jesus was clear on that point (John 14:6) and the writer of Hebrews reiterated this.  I pray that the Jewish people would re-examine their scriptures with a new lens....before it's too late! 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Hebrews 1-2~ Day 96~ Pay attention!!

"For this reason (the fact that Jesus is superior~1:4), we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard (about Jesus), so that we will not drift away(2:1)....Don' neglect your salvation."(2:3)

That verse stood out to me after receiving an email this morning.  The note was from a person I knew 35+ years ago.  He was trying to get in touch with the whole gang that hung out together at the YMCA, for a couple of years.  We were a group of teens joined together under the leadership of a "Grizzle Adam's" type, Christian leader.  Those were fun years for me and pivotal in the growth of my Christian faith.

Now, time has shown that not all in our group maintained their Christian beliefs.  They didn't pay attention to what they heard, so they drifted away.They neglected the one who was offering them salvation.  ðŸ˜”

I love the directive the Hebrew writer gives, "we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard."  Learning about Christ is an event in time.  Choosing to follow him is a life time commitment.   It's not something  you do at a ceremony, checkoff the box as being done and then move on to something else.  That would be like having a wedding ceremony, but never living with your new spouse!

Rather, Christianity is a lifestyle change that needs to be fed with reminders of "what we have heard".  That is why daily reading of the Bible is so helpful!  By doing this reading plan, I am reminded daily of what I have heard and why I made that decision, all those years ago to follow Christ.

I pray for that old group of friends that I had.  Many, as a result of "drifting away", have suffered from their choices and missed out on "signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts form the Holy Spirit according to his will." (2:4). But, I take heart that it is never too late, as long as one has breath, to make Jesus one's Savior.  I pray that Jesus draws these friends back to himself.  I pray their eyes are opened to what they have missed out on so that they can chose now to stop neglecting such a great salvation. (2:3)


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Philemon ~ Day 96~ Am I quick to forgive?

So, the other day I noticed and commented on that horrible list Paul wrote to Timothy of what people would be like in the last days.  One stood out to me that I hadn't noticed before.  "For people will be....irreconcilable." (3:3)

Being that we are in the last days now (Acts 2;17, Rom. 13:11-12, Heb. 1:1-2, James 5:3&8 and 1Peter 4:7), I'm sure you can share a story of two people you know who were never able to reconcile their differences.  I can! An argument can occur between Christians,  neither will humbly back down and as a result, the relationship is forever damaged.  If this occurs between two believers, then we can safely say, that neither of the two can clearly see the fact that Jesus forgave them from their own wicked ways. If they truly understood that, they would be able to turn around and forgive the other.

I bring this up because I think it's very consistent of Paul to first tell Timothy to look out for people who are irreconcilable, and then he writes to Philemon, as if to remind him of these same facts.  "There will be people who are unable to reconcile, but it better not be you, Philemon!"
To paraphrase Paul to Philemon, he says, "I hope, as a Christian, you can reconcile with Onesimus.  I'm not going to force it (vs8),.....it's up to you....but remember, you owe me (vs 19)...I'm just say'n."

Christians today need this reminder.  Paul gives us a great example on how we can encourage fellow believers to forgive if they are in an angry state. In addition, we (or at least, I) are reminded that we have been forgiven by God, so forgiving others should come quickly and easily. I am still working on the "easy" part. 😜 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Titus 1-3~ Day 94~ Be the moon, reflect the Son.

Can God's word be slandered by things I do?
.....yup...you bet it can!

Paul gives a list of instructions on how a Christian should present themselves to the world, which include, reverent behavior, not slanderous, not slaves to excessive drinking, teaching what is good, encourage others to love their family, be self-controlled, pure, etc. (2:3-5). It's a pretty long list, but certainly not exhaustive, so Paul adds a line at the end that catches everything else that can be included in the lifestyle of a Christian, "so that God's word will not be slandered." (2:5b). That statement doesn't leave wiggle room.  Anything that can malign the word of God should be avoided.

Rephrasing that line can become a great question to use when self-evaluating.   "Will what I am about to do put a negative light on Jesus, Christianity, the church, and God's Word?"
OR,
to put it positively, "Will what I am about to do reflect well on Jesus?"   I gotta remember to do that!
If I could remember to ask myself those questions, there would be no need to memorize a list of behaviors (which is good for me since I have a terrible memory for lists!).  The motivation for right living would simply be to make Jesus look good.

This reminds me of a t-shirt I bought several years ago that my oldest son adopted as his own.  I loved the sentiment on the shirt and was proud of my son when he wanted to wear it a a witness to his own faith.  On the front of the shirt it said, "Be the Moon", and on the back it read, "Reflect the Son."  That is what a Christian wants to do, right?  But, it's one thing to say it and another to do it.  When my son put that shirt on, he was raised to a new level of accountability.  Everyone who read it would be watching to see if he lived it.  His actions would reflect how others would think of Jesus.

Since my kids accepted the Lord as their savior at young ages, I would often remind them, "Remember, for some people at school, you are the only Bible they will read."  I didn't need to give my kids a list of behaviors to try to abide by, instead, I just reminded them as Paul did to Titus, watch what you do, "so that God's word will not be slandered."

Today's reading was a good reminder for me to get back into focus what is important. Even though I know it and taught it, a daily refresher course (daily Bible reading) is always needed to accurately reflect the Son.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

2 Timothy 3-4~ Day 93~Hard times are at hand...

I really gotta stop reading my news feed before I do my Bible reading!  It can be depressing!  And boy, was it depressing yesterday!
"Princeton Grad, 34, Faces Life Behind Bars, Convicted of Killing Dad Who Cut Off His Allowance", was the title of the article that caught my eye.
😵At 30 years old, this spoiled brat, who golfed, surfed and traveled-all paid for by his parents-decided to shoot his 70 year old father because his allowance of $1000 a week was being cut back. His father felt he needed to learn some responsibility and get serious in life.

The story made me sick to my stomach, so I pushed it away, picked up my Bible and started to read, "But know this: Hard times will come in the last days.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanders, without self-control brutal, with our love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power.  Avoid these people." (3:1)

Well, I had two thoughts on that.
Yeah, I want to avoid those people!  Yet, I looked at the picture of the surfer dude who killed his dad.  He looked like a pretty nice guy!  Before he did the actual killing, how would anyone know he was a lover of money, without self-control, brutal and conceited?  Well,....I suppose his friends would be able to tell he was "a lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God".  But, still,.....It would be hard to avoid all people on this list! 
I am reminded of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "I wrote to you a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.  I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world,  But actually I wrote you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister and is sexually immoral or greedy....Do not even eat with such a person." (1 Cor. 5:10-11)

So, with that in mind and going back to what Paul said to Timothy, he is implying that this horrible list of character traits will be displayed in people who are calling themselves Christians!! ðŸ˜± Avoid these people!😬 
Even though this narrows down the pool of who to avoid...I still think that would be hard to do- avoid Christians who are, i.e. holding to a form of godliness but denying its power. We are not taught anywhere in our churches and Bible studies to avoid anyone, yet Paul says it twice in the New Testament to do so.  Hummm.....very hard, indeed.....

My second thought has to do with, "Hard times will come in the last days."  That sentence actually gets me excited!  I know people who claim to be Christians, but can be found on that ungodly list.  Well,... you know what that means....(I like to look on the bright side), we are in the "last days"!!  
That's exciting!  Jesus will be returning soon! 
I can't wait for that day! It's exciting to think about the "crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give" us on that day..."to all those who have loved his appearing."( 4:8)  
Yes, that is exciting!!