Wednesday, October 10, 2018

James 3-5 ~James' 10 Commandments ~ Day 101

While I was reading James 4, I thought, “Wow! , he just rattled off a lot of orders on how to be humble!”.

According to some commentaries, in verse 7-11, James rattled off 10 commands to be exact! Well, that made me go back and count them up myself…..I could only find 9!😜So, then, I had to try again!  I see 10 now (with the help of a different commentary)! Hahaha!
Here they are in case you tried to count up 10:
 1.)  Submit to God
 2.)  Resist the devil
 3.)  Come near to God
 4.)  Wash your hands
 5.)  Purify your heart
 6.)  Grieve
 7.)  Mourn 
 8.)  Weep
 9.)  Change your laughter to mourning
10.)  Humble yourself

When looking at the list, to me, it seems like they are in order of how it works to become humble.  You can not be effective at resisting the devil if you don’t first submit your life to God.  You can try to resist, on your own merit, not to do things you know are wrong…but that will fail eventually because your strength will fail.  It is on God’s strength that we are able to resist the devil.  Remember he says, “for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

Then as you move down the list, when you draw near to God, he starts to illuminate areas in your life that are dirty; resulting in you “washing your hands” of those particular dirty spots.  As your heart is purified, you start to grieve how the sin in your life grieves God.  Sinful things are no longer funny or entertaining… have a whole new sense of the holiness of God, the greatness of God and the realization of that is humbling

But it all starts with submitting to God…..

Thanks, James, for the 10 practical steps to humble ourselves before our Maker! 
Lord, may I always submit to you!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

James 1-2 ~Persevere! ~ Day 100

James repeated himself almost immediately in our reading today, so that made me perk up!
“Perseverance must finish its work…” (1:4)

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown life that God has promised to those who love him.” (1:12)

Perseverance is the operative word! 
That is a theme that is repeated EVERYWHERE in the Bible! 

Jesus said it first in Matthew, “But he who endures to the end will be saved.”(24:13)
All the way to the end…..not just through a trail….but all the way until God calls you home!

We also just read in Hebrews, “For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.” (3:14) and yesterday’s reading was, “and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  (Hebrews 12:1)

Have you ever thought the criminal on the cross had it kind’a easy?  He didn’t have to persevere too long……he commits to Christ and that day his life here on earth ends and his eternity with Jesus begins.
Whereas, think about the child who makes a commitment to the Lord and then lives to 90?  That person has a lifetime of trials and tribulations that tests his/ her faith, and that person needs to persevere in his/her faith till the end.  
Looking back on both types of lives, they both seem hard.  One lives a rough life without the peace of Jesus.  The other lives a tough life of trials with the peace of Jesus.  Out of the two lives, I would rather have the rough one with Jesus!

My prayer for you and for me is that while we go on in this journey of life here on earth, we persevere through every trial that may come our way, and in the end join others like that criminal on the cross and look at each other and rejoice together saying, “Yay!! We both made it!!”

Monday, October 8, 2018

Hebrews 11-13 ~Halloween~ Day 99

Chapter 11 is a great chapter to read in the light that Halloween is approaching.  “What?”, you may be asking. Let me explain…

Halloween means different things to different people these days.  There is some debate as to how it originally started.  Some feel it originated as a Celtic pagan festival, other scholars find it began solely as a Christian holiday.  The name, obviously, originated from Christians.  So, let’s go with what the name means….November 1st is known in the Catholic church as All Hallows Day (aka All Saints Day) and the evening before, All Hallow’s Eve (aka Halloween). The church uses this time to remember saints, martyrs and all the faithful departed. 

Keeping that in mind, the Hebrew writer was doing just that when he was writing chapter 11.  He was listing out many of the faithful in the Old Testament and many we don’t know about. Remember that, “these were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (11:39-40)

And why is it good to remember dearly departed saints? 
So that we can be inspired by them to “throw off everything that hinders” (12:1) and “fix our eyes on Jesus” (12:2), like they did!  

Well, I can think of someone who does NOT want us to be inspired in our faith!  He would do anything to shift our focus away from Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.  He works hard to have us “grow weary and lose heart.” (12:3)

So during this fall season, take a look at the Old Testament and be inspired by the forefathers of our faith.  Also, think of others in your life that had a true faith in Jesus, but may have passed away now.  Be inspired by them!   Be encouraged in your faith!!  What a great time of year to do that!!πŸπŸ‚πŸŒ»πŸŒ½

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Hebrews 9-10 ~We do not shrink back!! ~ Day 98

What a great way to end the reading today! Can’t you just imagine the writer of Hebrews being like a captain on a horse in an old fashioned battle, calling his troop to have courage to go forward in fight!

The verse should be printed on a poster or banner to cheer believers on toward the reward! Therefore,…..I made one!! πŸ˜ƒ

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Hebrews 7-8~...they will all know me...~ Day 97

“No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’, because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (8:11) 

The Hebrew writer is quoting something similar that was written by Isaiah (54:13) over 740 years before this letter was written. “All your sons will be taught by the Lord,”

I love this reminder, that faithful God followers have always looked forward to being restored back to an intimate relationship with God.  Back into a relationship like Adam had with God before the fall; walking and talking with God.
Because sin entered into the picture, a mediator became necessary between man and God.  But, now, with Jesus, “they will all know me”- how awesome is that?!  We don’t need to go through anyone else to get to know our “Father”.

Like the Hebrew writer mentioned in yesterday’s reading, we now “share in the Holy Spirit, we have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age. (6:4).

How exciting to be back in that right relationship Adam and Eve had before the fall!!  And it’s going to keep getting better and better!!!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Hebrews 5-6 ~ Got discernment? ~ Day 96

Can you say that you are able to distinguish good from evil?  I would think most Christians would say yes.  I would think even most nonbelievers would be able to make two columns and place the overtly evil things in one column and good things in the other.  So, why would the writer of James say that it takes constant training to be able to distinguish good from evil?  

If you have been reading along with me for 96 days, you have had a good diet of “solid food”, and I trust that the Holy Spirit is maturing you in your faith.

“But solid food is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”(5:14, NIV) 
Here is the same verse in the Berean Study Bible version:
“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained their sensibilities to distinguish good from evil.”
They trained their sensibilities…..
So maybe a better question to ask is, are you sensitive to good and evil?

As for me, I have noticed that I am more sensitive to what is “righteous” and what is not in my life.  For example, I was at a Mumford and Sons concert the other day.  The lead singer, broke from a song and started to cuss up a storm.  The audience cheered!  Cringing, I thought, “What am I doing here?”  My husband had the same feelings so we got up and left! 
I truly don't believe that would have been my response if I was not spending so much time in God’s word.  I think I would have “tolerated it” or blown it off; enduring what I didn’t like for the part I did like.  And I certainly wouldn’t have left the concert since I had paid to be there!  
I’m just making an observation in my own life; my responses are different as I get “acquainted with the teachings about righteousness.” (5:13)

If you are on day 96, what do you think? Have you seen a difference in yourself?  Are there more clear “distinctions” in your life now verse prior to all this good food?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Hebrews 3-4 ~ Encourage one another~ Day 95

Texting can be a beautiful thing! 
I have a friend who is a mom of young children.  She is overwhelmed with life right now and has expressed negative feelings toward God.  So, this morning, since she was on my heart, I sent her this verse via text saying: 
“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

Then I started my reading for the day and got to this:
“But encourage one another daily as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (3:13)

Yea!! I don’t see my friend everyday, so texting helped me do exactly what this verse says we should do, “encourage one another”!

Is there anyone in your life who may need encouragement in their faith?  Sending a text could be just the thing they need right now!  Yet, may I suggest using scripture. 4:12 in our reading today says, “For the word of God is living and active.”  God does a way better job encouraging than I do.  One thing he says about himself,
“my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

That takes all the pressure off of me for saying the right thing!