Day 62: Philippians (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

The Apostle Paul wants us to rejoice. He uses that word abundantly through out  Philippians ( 1:18, 1:26, 2:16-18, 2:28, 3:1-3, 4:4, 4:10). Which is strange considering the context. We know that he is in chained next to a Roman guard (1:13-14). We also know that some are preaching Christ and are envious of Paul and want to add affliction to his imprisonment (1:15-16). So where does all this rejoicing come from?

Paul is confident that God will finish what he started in the believers at Philippi (1:6).  He has found what it means to be content (4:12-13). He knows that even while he is chained to Roman guards, he is guarded by the peace of God (4:7) His rejoicing is tied to his certainty that God is in control of his circumstances. He recognizes that he has been placed there for a purpose and that perhaps the gospel would go out through the Roman guard through his witness (1:12-13).

As I write this I can’t help but rejoice over God’s timing and placement (it certainly isn’t always our own).  The Philippians knew that God could use Paul in jail, that’s partly how their church got started (Acts 16). With Philippi being a Roman colony, there were perhaps many there in the church who would have known (or known of) some of the folks that Paul was chained to.

FATHER, We rejoice in your sovereignty. We are grateful that we can pray for your Kingdom to Come and your will to be done, knowing that you are actively arranging all things to that purpose. We rejoice in you in all circumstances. We rejoice to know that you have allowed us to be in certain places as certain times for the sake of the gospel. Give us eyes to see the opportunities that are ever before us. We rejoice to see your hand order our world today. Thank you for the grace of leading your congregation. 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 61: Ephesians 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Ephesians 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Paul charges the Ephesian church to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (4:3). Unity is one of those things that you need to fight to keep. Division is easy. We can drift into division. We can let small differences become big differences. Unity takes effort. Unity is what we are called too.

However, this unity, isn’t unity for unity sake. It is unity in Christ. It’s coming together with the same faith (4:13). It’s maturing in that knowledge of the faith as looked at yesterday. It’s working together. It’s “speaking the truth in love” (4:15, 25).

SIDE NOTE: To have this kind of unity. We have to be willing to tell one another the truth and we have to not be quick to let our feelings get hurt. I’m afraid that our culture, even in the church, is drifting so that we are more afraid of hurting feelings than we are of warning someone away from serious error. We must speak the truth in love.

Paul lays out in chapters five and six how this unity is to work. We are all to submit to one another (5:21). This pertains to marriage (5:22-33), children and parents (6:1-4), and workers and their bosses (6:5-9).  These are all places where it can be difficult to maintain unity of Spirit. In the flesh, we like to grumble about our boss, children love to rebel against their parents and marital strife abounds. Yet, if we are submitted to Christ, we will submit to one another to that God is glorified.

To strive for unity is spiritual warfare. Paul charges us to put on the whole armor of God Satan love to bring division and if we aren’t wearing our armor, we will fall for his attack every time (6:10-20).

SIDE NOTE: We like to think the battle is out there, but notice how much of this submission to one another is to take place in our everyday lives and especially at home. The questions I asked myself today from Ephesians 5 in the fight for unity are these: Do I love my wife like Christ loved the church? Am I raising my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord? Am I treating those above me or below me at work with respect and honor as people made in the image of God?

FATHER, Thank you for calling us to unity. We rejoice in our salvation and ask to continue to grow in the knowledge of our faith. We are grateful that you have given us all gifts and called us to be part of one body, unified but not uniform. We thank you for our spouses, families, and jobs. We pray that we would honor you in every aspect of our lives. We ask for grace to grow submitting to one another in a holy fear of you. Thank you for the grace to lead as a husband, a father, and a pastor. 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 60: Ephesians 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

Congratulations! We are on Day 60 which means we are 2/3 of the way through the New Testament and 2/3 of the way through the challenge! Keep it up! Hopefully reading through the scripture like this (and writing about it) is becoming a healthy habit for you!

Chapter one of Ephesians is one of the most wonderfully written descriptions of redemption in Christ. Paul immediately follows up his description of redemption with prayer (1:16). This theology (truth about how God saves us) provokes Paul to prayer and it should to provoke us to prayer as well. We should pray fro wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God (1:17-19). Paul wants his readers to know what is theirs in Christ (1:18).

I once was given a neat little remote control plane that had a few small propellers on the wings.  I love to play with it. I couldn’t ever figure out how it would take off, it didn’t have any wheels. So I would throw the plane lightly and hit the throttle.  One day a friend came over and I showed him the plane and how I flew fly it. He asked if he could have a turn. He flipped a switch, the wings changed direction and the plane took off like a helicopter. I was amazed. The plane had always had that ability. It was designed that way. All I needed to do was to flip the switch and a whole new feature of the plane would be accessible. Paul prays that those who read this letter wouldn’t be content to just play around with their faith in Christ, but that they would know fully about their salvation.

In chapter two Paul presses deeper into theology and worship. I say worship, because truth about God provokes our hearts to worship. In Chapter three Paul shares a brief  testimony about his call to take the riches of the gospel to the gentiles and delights that they should know the fullness of their salvation.

FATHER, We thank you for the gift of faith and salvation in Jesus Christ. We pray that we would grow in our understanding of the faith. We lift up friends and family members who have publicly identified with you and we pray that they would increasingly grow in the knowledge of their faith as well. I ask for grace to teach and preach to your people all the wonders of your Word and I pray that the Holy Spirit would provoke worship in our hearts. Thank you for the grace it is to lead your church. 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 59: Galatians 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

oday’s reading comes from Galatians 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In chapter four Paul continues to write with both passion and personality as he attempts to persuade the churches of Galatia ( Galatians 1:2) to reject the false gospel of salvation through Old Testament covenant law (specifically circumcision).  Paul continues to be very adamant that whoever has introduced this heresy to the churches in Galatia is in serious sin (5:10).  Just a few verses later, Paul uses a graphic double entendre (5:12). In one sense he means the grossest understanding of the text, in that those stirring up strife would physically emasculate themselves. In another sense, he has eluded to the fact that those who preach a false gospel will face the wrath of God (1:8-9, 5:10), and suggests that they would cut themselves away from the covenant people of God.

Paul presses the church in Galatia to ‘love their neighbor as themselves’ (5:14) and to walk by the Spirit (5:16). The deeds of the flesh flow out of a failure to love their neighbor (5:19-21). The result of walking in the Spirit (fruit of the spirit) is Love, which is what Paul commanded in verse 14. Since the word fruit isn’t necessarily plural and the context is ‘loving our neighbor’, it is reasonable to think the the fruit of the spirit is love, and from love, flows the rest of the attributes that are listed (5:22-23). It would read something like this: love is joyful, love seeks peace, love bares all things, love is kind, love is good to others, love is faithful, love is gentle, love demonstrates self-control. The bottom line is that you can’t love your neighbor without walking in the Spirit (5:25) 

We are reminded in chapter six that love looks out for others. It restores those who have fallen. Love causes a humble carefulness when we do restore others. Love causes us to share what we have learned from our teachers.

FATHER, we thank you for the gospel of Jesus Christ that sets us free from sin. We pray that you would guard our hearts from heresies. We ask that our love for you would be pure. We are grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We pay he would produce the fruit of love in all of it’s forms in our lives. We thank you that you work in us that which we cannot work in our selves. 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 58: Galatians 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

Paul uses some very strong language in Galatians chapter one. He says if anyone preaches another gospel (a false gospel), let him be accursed (damned to Hell) (1:8-9). Believing a false gospel and never trusting the true gospel does lead to Hell. While Paul is harsh, he is honest. It’s worth noting that he writes with passion because this is not a small issue.

He even goes out of his way to say even if “we or an angel” speak a false gospel, let them be accursed (1:8). Coincidentally at least two religions (Islam and Mormonism) are based on accounts of angels visiting “prophets” to say that the gospel Paul preached was all wrong and shared their version of the gospel. We remember that from our reading just a few days ago that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).

The false gospel and “work” of the Law at stake here was circumcision. The Jewish council had already ruled that converts to Christianity need not be circumcised to be saved (Recorded in Acts 15 which Paul recounts here in Galatians 2:1-10). Some people had come in behind Paul with the false doctrine of salvation by circumcision. All through Galatians, as we will see tomorrow, Paul defends the gospel against this heresy.

Side Note: Context is important. We read the phrase “works of the Law” (2:16) through western eyes and all we hear is the word, “works.” We don’t always take time to understand the “work of the Law” as used here, was related to Jewish rituals, specifically circumcision (5:1-6). If we aren’t careful, we create a false dichotomy between works (in general) and faith.  The specific issue at stake is that we cannot be saved by keeping the ceremonial law, but we can only be saved by faith. This is the way Abraham was saved (3:6). True faith manifests itself in good (not ceremonial) works (Ephesians 2:10, James 2:14).  As we will see near the end of chapter three in Galatians, the ceremonial law served the purpose of pointing us to Jesus for salvation (3:24-25).

I realize I’m a little wordy. To put it simpler: We are saved from our bad works (sin),  unto good works (the fruit of the Spirit), by the work of Jesus (Substitutionary Atonement), that we receive through faith (Believing God).  The rituals of Judaism (such as circumcision) pointed to our sin, but didn’t cover or remove our sin. To go back to Jewish rituals denies the power of the cross to forgive our sin, to reconcile us to God and fill us with His Spirit.

FATHER, We are grateful for salvation that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. We ask that we would live in the full power of our salvation. Keep us from idols and false gospels that would attempt to lure us away from hope we have found in you. I pray that you are glorified in our lives this week. Thank you for the grace to shepherd and 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 57: 2 Corinthians 13 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 2 Corinthians 13 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

There is no greater folly than to be self deceived. It’s one thing for someone to maliciously trick you and cause you to stumble. It’s another thing to trick yourself. Yet, it happens all the time even to the best of us.

I know for me, some one of the things I lie to myself about are thing pertaining to my weight. I tell myself that “It would be bad if I didn’t eat cake for their birthday party” or “I’ll burn it off on the elliptical later.” I’ll weigh and think, “well it’s just water weight” or “I’ deserve this high calorie food because I skipped breakfast today.” It’s not that I engage in the bad or destructive behavior concerning high calorie food, I flat out lie to myself about it. I rationalize it and make it seem as though I’m doing the right thing, when I’m actually doing the wrong thing as it concerns my goal of losing weight.

But that’s just food. What if we lie to ourselves about something infinitely greater than calories and pounds? What if we lied to ourselves about our relationship with God? What if we deceived ourselves into thinking we were true Christians, when we really weren’t?

Paul tells the Corinthians to examine their faith (13:5). They need to be sure that they are the real deal. They don’t want to get to the day of judgement and realize that they bought into a fake faith (Matthew 7:21-23). Faith that was all about what others saw, but wasn’t of any real substance. They were to examine their hearts and lives and look for the fruit of what it is to belong to God. Where we abide in him, fruit will abound (John 15:4). If we continue in immaturity and never seem to grow or produce the fruit of godliness in our lives, we should be concerned for the salvation of our souls.

FATHER, We ask that you would  examine our lives. Help us to see and know that we belong to you. Give us great grace to live godly lives and to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit alive in us. I pray that you would test us and if we fail the test that we would come to you for genuine, saving faith. Thank you for your grace in causing us to examine ourselves so that we might be absolutely sure that we belong to you. Thank you for the grace to shepherd your church. 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 56: 2 Corinthians 10-12 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 2 Corinthians 10-12 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In the reading today, the Apostle Paul brings up spiritual warfare. There were some in Corinth who were seeking to cause division, which Paul was compelled to address.  Some individuals mistook Paul’s directions and intentions as a personal attack, rather than a loving rebuke. Paul writes to reassure them that he’s not looking to start a fight, but that the church needs to be on guard against spiritual forces seeking to destroy it from within (10:3-4).

It’s not as though there is a demon lurking around every corner. Even if there were, you wouldn’t necessarily know it. One of the schemes of the devil is to blend in at church (11:14-15). Most often spiritual warfare begins with “stinkin’ thinkin'” (any thought that isn’t good and isn’t from God). Not every thought that pops into our head is a good thought or a true thought. Every thought needs the light of the gospel to examine it. Paul says, “take every thought captive” (10:5b).  We need to compare what we think to what we know to be true of Jesus.

I’m reminded of the movie, A beautiful mind. The main character begins to see people that were not real. When he interacts with them it becomes apparent that he is mentally ill. There comes a point, where he understands that he is having delusions and so he doubts and scrutinizes some of the people that seemed very real.  He used a metric to evaluate what he was experiencing. His delusions didn’t go away, but he was able to navigate life despite them because he put them in their place.

There are some thoughts that pop into our head that we should doubt. Thoughts that think the worst of others, rather than the best. Thoughts that seek to tear down and destroy. Thoughts that sow seeds of discord. Thoughts of hatred, envy, and bitterness. Thoughts of worthlessness. The list can go on and on… These thoughts should all be filtered by the gospel and brought to obedience in Christ (10:5b).

FATHER, Thank You for the Word of God. Thank you that we can evaluate thoughts that come through our mind and take captive those that would lead us away from you. Thank you for the Holy Spirit and the role He plays in guarding our hearts and helping us to discern truth from error. Help us to remember that we don’t fight against flesh and blood, but that we are waging a spiritual war. Help us to guard the battle ground of our minds. 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 55: 2 Corinthians 7-9 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 2 Corinthians 7-9 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Sometimes sorrow is necessary. Paul had written a stern letter to the Corinthians that had caused them grief. His desire wasn’t to hurt their feelings, but to bring them to a place of repentance. We live in a culture that is increasingly afraid to hurt feelings, but sometimes hurting feelings is necessary for someone to experience genuine, godly sorrow.

There is a difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow (7:10). Worldly sorrow is being sorry you got caught. Maybe you would be glad to do it again if you could guarantee that no one would find out. Godly sorrow is being sorry that you ever did such a thing to begin with. Sorry that your heart would be so opposed to God that you would even have acted that way. Godly sorrow agrees with God about the seriousness of sin and truly grieves over your condition. Godly sorrow is what leads to repentance. You’ll never  find real repentance apart from Godly sorrow.

In Chapters eight and nine, Paul turns his attention to giving and generosity. He shares about the generosity of other churches in the midst of affliction (8:2-3) as well as the model of Christ (8:9). He reminds the Corinthians of two facts concerning our giving to the work of the LORD. He encourages them that, “God loves a cheerful giver” and that our gifts aren’t to be given under grudging circumstances (9:5,7).  We are to give with a joyful attitude. He also reminds the Corinthians that we reap what we sow (9:6,10). Not to say that we get more money because we give more money.

SIDE NOTE: We Reap what we sow is true with all the spiritual disciplines. We gain joyfulness when we give joyfully. We gain knowledge when we study God’s word. We have a deeper understanding of God the more we talk to God in prayer. We get the blessing by being with God’s people that we can’t get when we don’t gather with God’s people. There is always a fruit to doing the right thing spiritually.

FATHER, thank you for godly sorrow that brings about genuine repentance. I pray that we would never shy from speaking your truth in love so that others might experience eternal life in Christ. Thank you for the basic instructions in giving generously that we received from your word today. I pray that we would all be joyful and generous givers because of how Jesus gave to us. Show us how to be diligent in our sowing so that we might be bountiful in our reaping. 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 54: 2 Corinthians 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 2 Corinthians 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Chapter four is encouraging. Paul  encourages us to endure when we face trials and opposition in the Christian life. I appreciate Paul’s charge, “do not lose heart” (4:1, 16). He compares the present trials to light afflictions in light of eternity (4:17-18).

I’m looking forward to the return of Christ when all is set right. I look forward to the glorious resurrection body that will allow us to experience the presence of the LORD (5:1-8).  This great expectation that we have in Christ should provoke us to live lives set apart for His glory (5:15). We are new creations and we no longer have to live as we once did, we are free in Christ (5:17). As those who have been set free, we are in the position of preaching the ministry of reconciliation to our fellow men so that they might know and experience the grace and forgiveness of God as we have (5:19-21).

Chapter six highlights two results from being made new in Christ. One is that we should press others to enter the Kingdom now while they can. “Now is the acceptable time; Behold now is the day of Salvation” (6:2). The other is that we should live holy lives. We don’t become holy to be saved, but when we are saved, we should start the process of becoming holy. This includes being careful of our closest associations. Paul warns us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (6:14).

FATHER, Thank you for the grace and ministry of Reconciliation. We give you all the praise and the glory for making us New Creations in Christ. We ask for grace and encouragement to endure whatever struggles we would face in this life. May they be viewed as light and momentary afflictions compared to the glory of Eternity. We ask for earnestness on our part to spread the gospel of reconciliation and holiness in our lives. Thank you for the grace to shepherd 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 53: 2 Corinthians 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 2 Corinthians 1-3 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online. You can get a copy of the New in 90 reading schedule here.

Paul begins 2 Corinthians by praising God for his comfort (1:3-7). I am thankful for the grace of God in comforting us when we go through various trials. I am grateful for the opportunity to comfort others because we have been comforted (1:4). The Christian has a

In chapter two, Paul advised the church on how to forgive those who have been addressed by the church for their sin. Sometimes we don’t take pause to think about how Satan might attempt to manipulate us (2:11). This is one of the reasons why it is so important to walk close to God everyday. If we are out of God’s word, the lines get blurry and legalism and an attitude of superiority can set in. We are not to hold people’s sins continually before them… ultimately, God is their judge.

So when someone repents we are to forgive, just as we have been forgiven.  We have to be careful not to let Satan rob us of the joy and freedom found in forgiving people their sins against us, because we want to nurse a grudge.  Satan uses this attitude of unforgiveness to cripple us not the one against whom we nurse the grudge.

FATHER, Thank you for how you have brought comfort to us in the midst of the trials that we face. We are grateful to be able to comfort others with the comfort you have given us. We pray for grace and discernment in comforting others. We ask for grace to forgive those who have hurt us. Guard us from unforgiveness. 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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