Day 48: 1 Corinthians 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Corinthians 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

It is the Lord who judges me (4:4).  If it’s true for Paul then it is true for us. Jesus will be our judge. No one knows our heart. People may hate us. They may love us and be our biggest fans. However, the truth is that their opinion doesn’t count in the courts of Heaven. The God of all the universe will judge us rightly and He knows us.  Others can and will practice their own judgement, but it doesn’t matter. Those words of discouragement. Those word’s of flattery. Those whispers of doubt… They don’t really count in the one court that really matters. It’s before Jesus that we individually stand or fall.

On the other hand. There is no fooling God. He knows our hearts. We’ve not always been what we should be, thought what we should think, or done what we should do. We should be aware that the God of the universe will be our judge and He cannot be deceived.

As we dig deeper into 1 Corinthians we see a church that is divided on many fronts. Some were puffed up with pride and judging others not reckoning that we each stand or fall before the Lord (4:1-5). They had allowed open and blatant sin to go on unaddressed in the congregation (5:2). There were some who were so far at odds with one another that they were suing their brothers. They couldn’t even find someone from within the church to mediate their troubles (6:5). The behavior is so bad (6:8) that Paul has to remind the church at Corinth that the unrighteous won’t be in Heaven (6:9). He urges them to remember that(if they are truly saved) they are no longer what they were but that they are completely new in Christ (6:11).

FATHER, We pray for the unity of your church today. We pray for grace to know that each one of us will stand or fall before you our Maker and our Master. We ask for grace to lead lives that bring you glory and that when we do stand before you, we will hear the words, “Well Done.” We ask for grace not to judge our brothers more harshly than we ought. We pray for discernment and boldness to address blatant sin when it would appear in our midst. We ask that we would be jealous for the holiness of YOUR church. Thank you for the amazing grace of the gospel and the transformation that has taken place in our lives. We pray for brothers and sisters who find themselves in conflict and we ask not for the wisdom of man, but the power of God to bring about reconciliation and peace. Thank you for the grace 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 47: 1 Corinthians 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

Is Christ divided (1:13a)? Why are His people so often divided? Sometimes we have following the ways of a man rather than following Christ (1:12)! We have made an idol out of the wisdom of men instead of the power of God (2:5). Paul warns the church in Corinth and he warns us today… don’t be divided (1:10)!

I have to catch myself. Sometimes it can be tempting to think that if we just develop the right strategy, more people will come to faith in Christ. We can chase program after program looking for the right one. I think that if I can just make myself more appealing it will bring a better harvest. The thing we really need the most, is not a polished man made philosophy, but the power of God!

I’m glad that Paul knew he didn’t have anything to offer but the gospel. I am grateful that he was weak by the world’s standards (2:1-5). It gives me hope to know that God uses weak men (1:27). Because I pray that He uses me.

Side Note: I am confident that power in the pulpit is directly related to prayer in the pews.Where we are unified, God is glorified.  I am extremely grateful for those who pray for me every week! I am really humbled by today’s reading. It’s a great way to start a Sunday! Let’s be focused on looking for the power of God to reveal Himself through His Word!

FATHER, We pray for the unity of your church today! We pray that our focus would be on you and not a man made philosophy or the way we think things ought to be. We don’t look for worldly wisdom, we look for you. We need spiritual discernment. Examine our hearts. Humble us. Draw us to faith and repentance. Make us more and more into the image of Jesus. We pray for salvation and faith today. Thank you for the calling to lead your people. We lift our voice and ask for the advancement of your kingdom! 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 45: Romans 13-15 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

CONGRATULATIONS!!! We are half way through the 90 Day Reading Plan! Keep up the good work! Today’s reading comes from Romans 13-15 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

As the Apostle Paul works from theology to application, he writes that Christians are to be subject to the governing authorities (13:1) and pay taxes (13:7). We are to love our neighbors as ourselves which keeps the last five commandments (13:9-10). [Side note: I find it interesting that the command to honor your father and mother isn’t listed here. It seems that in Paul’s mind that command goes with the first four that deal with God. We will be addressing this command this Sunday at Little Escambia Baptist Church. ]

In chapter fourteen, Paul challenges us on two fronts. On the one hand we have freedom in Christ. Some Christians will do things differently than others and it’s not up to us to judge. We all stand and fall before the Lord (14:10-13). On the other hand we need to be careful in our freedom that we don’t cause others to stumble. We should be mindful of how our actions will effect others and be a source of encouragement not discouragement (14:19-20).

Paul wraps up this section with reminding us that to mature in Christ is to be concerned with the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should not seek to offend in our liberty, but we should seek unity of Spirit.

FATHER, We pray for those who govern us and are in an authority over us. We pray for their salvation. We ask for peace. We pray for the grace to love our neighbors both in thought and practice. We pray that we would make no provision for the flesh, but that we would “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Guard our hearts from sin and draw us near to you. We ask that we would be content to let you judge us and our brothers and that we would seek unity in name of Jesus. 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 37: Acts 16-19 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Acts 16-19 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Acts 16:6-7 it seems like the Holy Spirit didn’t want Paul to go to Asia. We can look back now and see that God was guiding Paul and His companions in a different direction. This isn’t because God didn’t want the gospel to go to Asia. Indeed some of the people from these areas had already heard the gospel (go back and read the regions people were from in Acts 2). It was because God was guiding Paul to Macedonia (16:9-10).  It seems like Paul and his companions also picked up Luke in the process (Notice “they” in Acts 16:7 quickly turns to “we” in Acts 16:10).

I am encouraged to see this model of being faithfully lead by the Holy Spirit of God. Paul didn’t pick up his phone and get a very clear and direct answer on the other end. He sought the Lord and the Lord guided him by Closing doors and opening opportunities. He still speaks and does the same for us today!

Sometimes God tells us “no” on certain ministries or directions in order to send us in the right direction. We see this on another level when Paul goes to the Synagogues first to preach the gospel to the Jews (Acts 17:2, 18:4) but when he meets a firm resistance he goes to the gentiles (Acts 18:6).

I just preached on the second commandment a couple of weeks ago and it really hit me today that Paul preached hard against idolatry in Athens (Acts 17:6) and his understanding of people being the image barer of God (Acts 17:29).  I can’t believe I didn’t make that connection sooner.

FATHER, Thank you for leading us and guiding us in the direction that you would have us go. I thank you for your sovereign hand that prevents us from going in directions that are not bad, but are not your direction for us. I thank you that you unite us with fellow believers along the way. I pray that we would all be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance today and follow where He leads. Thank you for your grace and your discernment. Thank you for the honor of encouraging your people to follow you more closely. 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 33: Acts 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

The prayer for boldness was certainly granted (4:29). However, it seems like praying for boldness is much like praying for patience… God just might bring circumstances into your life where you have to be bold. He certainly did this with the Apostles and the others there. I wonder do we pray for boldness today or are our prayers tempered with more requests for security and safety?

Gamaliel offered some wise advice to the council (5:38-39). If it’s of God it will stand, if it’s not it will fall away. I think many churches face a similar kind of conflict today. They argue or dispute over evangelistic initiatives, discipleship processes, etc.  Be careful what you resist. To be sure, we all want to resist the influences of Satan on the church, but we want to be careful not to resist our LORD if he is calling to spread the word in a bold and different direction.  Many great moves of God were begun in opposition to those who thought they had a lock on what God wanted.

Even the first church in Jerusalem had some tension and strife. Annanias and Saphira were jockeying for attention by lying about how much they gave (5:1-11) and widows were feeling neglected (6:1-7).  Sadly the experience is much the same in many churches today. There will always be those who seek to meet a personal need through undue recognition as well as those who haven’t learned to be content in whatever circumstances they find themselves.  There are legitimate needs and concerns that arise in any church and I am thankful for deacons that God has called to serve the church along side of the pastor and free him up for the ministry of the Word.

FATHER, I pray for boldness in sharing our faith today. May you give us great courage in our conversations with others to make sure we discuss matters of eternal significance.  We ask for wisdom and discernment to know what things come from you and what things are “man-made.” We thank you for those you have called to be deacons. We are grateful for their ministry both to the church and to the pastor. Thank you for the grace to lead your people as an under-shepherd. 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 32: ACTS 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

first thing that jumped out at me today was to, “Wait!” That is such a hard word for today’s culture. When the Lord says it though, there is nothing else to do, it is exactly what we need. The disciples were told to for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8). So they spent ten days actively waiting. I say “actively” waiting because they were intentional about it and intentionally seeking the LORD in prayer (1:14, 2:1).  God’s timing is always right and we can never do on our own, without the Holy Spirit, something that only the Holy Spirit can do. 

This was intentionally a missions moment. The disciples were from Galilee not Jerusalem and the gospel writer Luke goes out of his way to highlight that little fact (see Acts 1:11, 2:7).  Acts 1:8 which lays out the progress for how the book of Acts unfolds isn’t a mission mandate to reach our neighbors with the gospel first and then go to the uttermost parts of the earth… the gospel was going to the uttermost parts of the earth by being proclaimed in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost where so many international Jewish people and proselytes would be (2:5, 9-11).  The disciples understood Jesus to be the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (also Acts 3:25).  We should be open and intent on taking the gospel to the nations. (On a side note: Where I live right now, was not on anyone’s map when Acts 1:8 was given. It qualifies as one of the “uttermost parts of the earth.”)

It is apparent that the disciples understood Jesus to be God. Peter quotes Joel 2:32 and says, “Who ever calls on the Name of the LORD shall be saved” (See Acts 2:21).  He then concludes his sermon by calling on those who are present to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38).

Also, did you notice the lame man at the gate called beautiful at the temple? He was lame from birth and at the temple every day (Acts 3:2). Two months before this Jesus was in Jerusalem and coming and going to the temple every day (Luke 22:53) and while he was at the temple he healed the “blind and the lame” (Matthew 21:14). It doesn’t take much to figure that this man was in proximity to Jesus, but was never healed. His healing, like the sending of the Holy Spirit would came at a different time than expected. I don’t know why this man wasn’t healed when Jesus was in the temple before. We could guess. What I do know is that God’s timing is always perfect.

FATHER, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit and how He moves in our lives. I ask that we would press in wait for you to move.  Help our hearts to be satisfied to know that there is nothing we can do apart from you. I pray that we would be faithful witnesses where ever you place us and where you send us. We ask to see you do great things in our community. We give ourselves to be used by you to glorify you and  transform our families by the power of the gospel. I am thankful for  the grace given to me 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 29: Luke 16-18 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Luke 16-18 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The older I get the more I realize that most critics of the Bible have never actually read the scriptures. Do you see the portrait of Jesus here? Taking on Pharisees. Healing the sick. Welcoming the Children. Speaking words of warning and comfort.  Counseling a rich man to go all in for God. Speaking up for the helpless. That was just three chapters in the middle of Luke.

The gospel of Luke is so counter cultural it’s not funny. Have you noticed all the stories about rich men? The rich young ruler, the rich man and Lazarus, and from yesterday, the poor brother who wasted his inheritance (yes he wasted it just like a drunk on booze) and the other brother who never left home. There is a two fold theme opening up here… God accepts those who have nothing to offer and those who have lots of money often have the hardest time seeing there way to God because of it (16:14). Either way, you can’t love money more than God (16:13).

The big take away for me today was the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (18:9-14). There is really only one way to approach God and that is to be humble. Often, it is easier to see the sins of others and miss my own sin. To be humble is a gift of God’s grace. To know your sin before a holy and a righteous God, while uncomfortable, it ultimately the most profitable thing that can happen in your life.

FATHER, I pray that you would guard my heart from loving anything more than you. I pray that our hearts would always be humble. I ask that our consciences would be sensitive to you and that you would guard our hearts from idols. Thank you for the grace of leading your people. Convict us of sin and bring healing to our souls. 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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