Day 81: 1 John 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 john 1-3 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In 1 John chapter 1, the apostle John reminds the readers that what he has to share is real. He saw Jesus. He walked with Jesus. He talked with Jesus. He was taught by Jesus. John knew Jesus and his teachings very well (1:1-3). He isn’t sharing speculation. He isn’t building some sort of belief system on the foundation of Christianity. What he has to share is pure gospel. Undiluted by the world. With an introduction like that we lean in. We pull up our chairs. We strain our ears. We take note. We listen to what he has to say.

He writes for our joy. He writes so that we will have fellowship with God and one another (1:4). There should be nothing that stands between us and the LORD and if nothing stands between us and the LORD, then nothing should stand between us and our brothers and sisters in the faith (1:6-7). There once was something that stood between us and the Lord, but if we have confessed our sins we are cleansed and it stands between us no more (1:9). Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins (2:2).

Since Jesus has cleanses us from our sins, we should have a desire to follow and obey him (2:3).  If we really belong to the Lord, we should see fruit in our lives and we should look more and more like him (2:6). We should be abiding in the truth, loving others as the Lord loves us. If we are in Christ, we will love like he loves.

There is a transformation that takes place when we are adopted in to a family. Though not always sudden, our identity begins to shift from who we were before, to what it is to be a member of the new family. And so it is with being adopted into the family of God (3:1). We are no longer identified as sinners, but rather as children of God. And as our identity changes, our heart changes. We want to be more like God and the impossible begins to happen… We begin to love others because of the way that God has loved us. We change.

FATHER, Thank you for the gospel of our salvation. Thank you that we can confess our sins and come to you to be forgiven and made new. Thank you for the love you have put in our hearts for you and for one another. Help us to love one another and help one another in this present moment. We appeal to you for salvation and grace. Thank you for your grace in shepherding your people at this moment in history. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 80: 2 Peter (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 2 Peter follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The Apostle Peter writes in a way to persuade us to live holy lives that are pleasing to the Lord. In his first letter, he addressed a dispersed church suffering under persecution. In this second epistle, he is writing to those who are still suffering mild persecution in the form of ridicule and harassment.

He paints the picture of the imminent return of Christ. Peter wants to challenge and provoke us to holiness and preserve his readers in the truth. There are lots of false prophets in the world and many who would seek to mock or belittle the church of God. So much so that it may seem like the church is “loosing” in a particular generation. Peter reminds us that God is in control and he is not concerned with what men might say. The confidence of God is not in what people say about him, but in who He is.

Sometimes it’s not hard to figure out why the world would reject the gospel (3:3). Given the choice of accepting Jesus as Lord or playing the impostor and taking the title for themselves. Many people would rather play the king for a day than see Jesus as Lord of all. Scoffers, scoff because they don’t want it to be true.

 

FATHER, Thank you for your word. It is truly our daily bread. I pray that you would watch over us this day and guide us closer to you in personal holiness and love for all the saints. Give us wisdom in dealing with those who seek to distract us from serving you. I pray that we would point others to you as our only hope. Thank you for the grace of leading your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 79: 1 Peter 4-5 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Peter 4-5 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

We are certainly living in a day and age where there is plenty of worry. I am grateful for the word we find here near the end of 1 Peter that reminds us to cast all our cares on the LORD (5:7). Sometimes we hold on to our burdens, worries, and anxieties and that is not good for us. Like bread rising in the oven our anxiety multiplies and compounds upon itself and before we know it we are overcome. We need a place to go. What grace that we can take our burdens to the Lord.

We can take our burdens to the Lord because he cares for us. I am amazed that the sovereign LORD, creator God would condescend to care for us. I am well aware of the abundant love and mercy that is available from his pouring our. Caring for us means that he is actively at work in our lives providing the things we need. We can cast our anxieties on the LORD, because he is able to take our anxieties and fears. He meets us at the point of our greatest need!

The only problem is that I like to hold on to my anxieties for too long. Like holding on to a matchstick while it is burning down. We know that we should let go sooner rather than later, but still we wait until we are burnt to let them go. We shouldn’t let our anxieties consume us before we give them to the Lord. We should give them right away. We should “cast” them on the LORD. That is we fling them and let go, letting them fly into the LORD’s hands. He’s got them, he can be trusted. We just have to humble ourselves and let go of our pride and trust him.

FATHER, We thank you for your grace. We are grateful that you care for us. We rejoice to know that we can cast all our cares on you. We pray that you would give us humility to do just that. I pray that we would trust you in every moment of life. When anxiety rises in our hearts, remind us of this promise that we might be quick to remember and quick to cast our cares on you. Thank you for the immeasurable grace of leading your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 78: 1 Peter 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Peter 1-3 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

How are you different now that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior? That question is worth considering. The Apostle Peter deals with personal holiness (living lives that are more like Jesus than who we used to be) in the first few chapters of 1 Peter.  Christians are to be holy because we serve a holy God and if He is in us, then we should be becoming more like Him(1:15-16). We don’t become holy in order to get saved, we are saved by the blood of Jesus and made to be holy (1:18-21). Similarly we are not kept in holiness by our own power and strength, we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to move forward in our personal holiness (1:22-23).

Sometimes the way we treat other people hinders our ability to prayer or the effectiveness of our prayers. That’s at least what Peter says about how husbands ought to treat their wives (3:7). Our relationship to others really does matter when it comes to the business of prayer. How is your relationship with those closest to you right now? Have you been a good husband, father, mother, wife, son, daughter, etc. Are you honoring God in your relationships or do you sin quite often and still expect to go to God with grace and ease in your prayer life.

Sometimes the most effective thing we can do to increase our prayer life is to repent of our sin to those we have offended and seek healthy relationships (kind of like James 5)… Then our burdens flow freely to the Lord.

FATHER, Thank you for the cross and the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. I pray that we are conforming to your image and that we see holiness develop in our lives. I pray that we would keep short accounts with one another and be quick to confess our sins that our prayers may not be hindered. Thank you for the strength to lead your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 77: James (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from James follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

I am so glad that we are reading though James today. I needed to be reminded of James 1:2-5! We are certainly experiencing trials of various kinds. Virus trials, reaction trials, big trials, small trials, people trials, technology trials, all types of trials… I am grateful that the LORD is in control. I am also glad that we can ask Him for wisdom. We need wisdom especially today as we deal with things we have never dealt with before.

We are also reminded to bridle our tongue (1:26). Opinions abound about how to react to this virus, if the virus is real, how bad the virus is, who is or is not taking the virus seriously, etc. We can and should exercise self control over our speech about others and our fears.  Our discourse should be civil.

I have to admit that James 4:13-15 jumped out today. If ever there were a time when all of our plans have changed it is this one.

Finally, James 5:16-18 remind us to confess our sins and pray. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (5:16).  Let’s pray today against the spread of this virus, against fear, and for our communities.

FATHER, Help us to count it all joy in the midst of these trials. We ask for wisdom and discernment in making day to day choices. I ask that you would guide our steps and direct our path. We confess that we cannot predict the future and make certain our plans. Show us how to love our neighbors in the midst of crisis. We ask for you to spare our communities from the spread of this virus. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

A Little Extra: Have you ever considered that sometimes what we call wisdom may end up being demonic (3:5)?  Not that I’m saying God is against smarts… Just the opposite, we are to have a renewed mind. But that sometimes the lines we sell ourselves are actually just lies from the pit of Hell. Like when someone says that they’d be happier if they were divorced and were back on the dating scene… not Godly wisdom!!! That’s a lie meant to wreck you.

A little dope won’t make you feel better in the long run. Alcohol doesn’t really numb the emotional pain, sir, your getting drunk maybe what is causing all the pain (for you and for others). And a little slice of chocolate cake for dessert with enough frequency will kill you just as dead as those cigarettes will.

Worldly wisdom, demonic wisdom is persuasive, but it isn’t really wisdom. It’s a lie dressed up as the truth and sold in the package of “looking out for number one,” or “it will make me “feel” better.” Don’t buy it. Get your wisdom from God… Submit to God, Resist the Devil… and He will flee from you.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 76: Hebrews 11-13 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Hebrews 11-13 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

What does saving faith look like? The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is a long description of saving faith. The author goes back through a list of biblical characters and highlights what faith looked like in their generation: For Noah, it was building an ark (11:7). For Abraham it was leaving his home for a place God would show him (11:8). For Moses it was being identified with the nation of Israel rather than Egyptian royalty (11:24-25). Each one had a crisis moment where they either had to believe God in their generation of disbelieve God. They chose to believe God and act on it.

In Chapter twelve, the scene shifts to accommodate a race theme. We are reminded that many have gone on before trusting in the Lord and that we are each to run the race set before us (121:1). It can be tempting to look in someone else’s lane and think we want to run the race that is set before them, but we each have our own race to run, filled with different trials and challenges. Ultimately we rejoice to be a part of a kingdom that cannot be shaken (12:28)… great words for today!

Chapter thirteen is filled with practical and direct points of doctrinal application. The writer also pens a prayer (13:20-21) and includes a few personal and final greetings (13:22-25). The greetings help us determine the context of the letter as possibly being a Jewish house church in Rome.

FATHER, Thank you for the legacy of faith that we see in biblical characters who were human as we are with choices to make about believing you. Thank you for the gift of faith. I pray that we would seek your will, especially in the unique days ahead. Help us to run the race that is set before us. Thank you for the grace of leading your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 75: Hebrews 9-10 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Hebrews 9-10 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

We have a greater sacrifice. That is in essence what Hebrews chapter 9 and 10 remind us. That Jesus offered himself on our behalf, a perfect, spotless, once and for all  sacrifice.  The outward function of sacrifices, the temple, and priests all point us forward to Jesus as the coming fulfillment of the Old Testament.  How can anyone be saved if they leave the substance to embrace the shadow? Those who are in Christ have the substance of everything that was hoped for and are secure in their salvation.

Why then should we worry at what the world around us does? We have atonement for our sins, peace with God. The Hebrews were suffering the plundering of their property. They were seeing their stuff taken and perhaps even members of their fellowship thrown in jail. But what they couldn’t see was the once and for all peace with God that had been established on their behalf by Jesus. Peace with God was far more costly than what they were losing to a world that persecuted them.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that God has done far more for us in Jesus than we often give him credit for. The plundering of property seems like a small things compared to eternal life in Christ Jesus.

FATHER, Thank you for the forgiveness of sins and salvation found in Jesus Christ! We rejoice to know our savior. I pray that our confidence would be in you today, no matter what goes on in our world. Give us grace to minister to one another in the midst of chaos. Thank you for the grace to lead your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 74: Hebrews 6-8 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Hebrews 6-8 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In Hebrews 6 the biblical author charges his hearers to persevere in their faith, noting that if they were to fall back, they would be making it evident that their faith was not genuine. The first few verses of chapter six can be confusing, but note the metaphor of rain in verses 7-8, that help us understand the intention of the author. The same rain falls, but different plants grow. What shows up is evidence of what was planted.  Some plants are useful herbs, others are thorns and thistles. The rain doesn’t determine the plant, but as the plant grows it reveals itself as either good or bad. In the same way, persecution doesn’t make someone a believer, but it helps reveal genuine faith by what it brings out.

Some have taken this passage to teach that you can lose your salvation. If you follow that hermetical approach, you would also need to note that the passage clearly does teach that you can’t be saved a second time (6:4-6).  Which is somewhat the point.  Salvation isn’t something that can be picked up, put down, and picked up again. You are either saved or you aren’t. You have either experienced the things of God or you didn’t. If you did, you will not fall away (6:9-10). 

Chapters seven and eight go on to detail the need for a new high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a mysterious priest who showed up in the time of Abraham. His origins weren’t known. Some even suppose that he was the pre-incarnate Christ. It was supposed that he lived forever. The high priests that Israel had according to the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron died and a new high priest would be appointed, but Jesus was a better high priest who could not be defeated by death and therefore offered a better covenant (7:22).

FATHER, We pray that we would be those who have a persevering faith. We pray that our hearts affection never grows cold. We ask that we would stand firm against any temptation that would come our way. Give us grace when we understand a passage in a different way than some of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Bring us all to maturity in Christ. We rejoice in Jesus who is the better priest who makes intercession for his people. Thank you for the joy of leading your people. Protect us from enemies seen and unseen. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 73: Hebrews 3-5 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Hebrews 3-5 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In chapter three of Hebrews, the author states that Jesus is better than Moses (3:3).  Moses lead his people from captivity to the promised land. Yet, the Nation of Israel chose not to believe God when they came to the edge of the promised land and so they wandered the dessert for 40 years until an entire generation died off (3:8-10, 17). Knowing that persecution is coming, the author of Hebrews challengers the readers to be careful, lest they too fall into unbelief in the face of fear (3:12,19).

Chapter four begins the discussion of the sabbath rest. The author looks forward with anticipation to the rest that is afforded those who have believed Christ (4:3). We are charged that there is a rest to come, that we may be prevented from entering into that rest, through our disobedience (4:11). We are challenged to let the word of God have full effect in examining our hearts and exposing our motives (4:11-13).

The text flows from the end of chapter four and into chapter five stating that Jesus is the great high priest (4:14).  He is one who understands our temptation and weaknesses (4:15) and stands ready to receive us in our confession and repentance. We have been granted incredible access to God through him, and  should have no problem approaching the throne of grace (4:16).

FATHER, we thank you for the gift of belief and trust in you. I pray that we would be those who persevere in our faith even when we face obstacles that might cause of fear or concern. I pray that we would never forget the incredible high priest we have in Jesus who stands at the right hand of the father making intercession for us even now. I thank you for your grace that is so overwhelming. Thank you for the grace to pastor your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 72: Hebrews 1-2 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Hebrews 1-2 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The first recipients of the book of Hebrews were likely members of a house church made up of Jewish converts to Christianity (hence the name Hebrews). They were facing persecution (I have another article about that here) and were now being tempted to leave behind their faith in Christ to re-embrace Judaism, where the persecution wouldn’t be so severe.

The theme of Hebrews could easily be understood as “Jesus is better.” The Author relates how God has spoken throughout history but ultimately and fully revealed himself in Jesus (1:1-3). He is even superior to things like angels (1:4), which would have been highly revered in Jewish culture and tradition.

The first several chapters start out with a strong and compelling charge to keep the faith and remind the readers that there is nothing to go back too, in Judaism. In chapter two the author challenges the readers to pay close attention to what they have heard about Jesus so they don’t drift.

Drifting away from the truth is easy. It doesn’t require diligence, effort, or work. It just happens by neglect. If something is valuable we don’t neglect it. We pay attention to it. We are therefore, to pay attention to our faith.

The lack of attention to the scriptures can soften the effect of the gospel upon your life. You will generalize, moralize, and rationalize your thoughts on scripture until you pull the punches that are present in the gospel.  The writer here is challenging us to examine the truth. To go back to the genuine article and make sure that we do not drift from the truth.

FATHER, thank you for Jesus. We are grateful that he is far better than anything we could think or imagine. We rejoice in the power of the gospel to transform our lives and give us hope in you. We pray that we wouldn’t drift, but that we would be anchored to your truth. Hold us fast as we hold fast you you. Thank you for the calling if leading your people to faith in you. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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