Day 88: Revelation 13-15 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 13-15 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

There is much that remains a mystery about the symbolism we find in the book of Revelation. One thing that really stuck out to me today was how the gospel will go out to all the nations. John observes in the passage we read today, “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth–to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people– saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Revelation 14:6-7).  This reminds me of where, Jesus, speaking to the disciples about the end of the age, says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

It seems as though in John’s vision that we are getting very near the end. I am grateful that though all the really scary stuff, we still see the light of the gospel going to all the world even in the midst of persecution and hardship.  I think this says something about the grace and benevolence of God to call his people to repentance. 

FATHER, Thank you for the power of the gospel that has transformed my life. Thank you that the gospel must and will go out to the entire world. I pray that in my generation that we are faithful to take your gospel as far and fast as we can take your message. I pray that we would remain strong in the face of whatever obstacles or challenges we may face. 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 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 52: 1 Corinthians 16 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Corinthians 16 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

As Paul wraps up this first letter to the Corinthian church he gives special instructions about collecting money that give us insight into church life. The money was to be collected on the first of the week (Sunday), which indicates the early church had already replaced the Sabbath day with Sunday worship. Sunday was the day Jesus rose from the dead.

The money was collected as a reverse missions offering. The churches that had been planted by Paul were raising money for the church in Jerusalem, the church that had sent out Paul.  There were a couple of reasons for this type offering.  First, Paul wanted to establish the legitimacy of the Gentile church and his mission. An offering to take care of the poor and orphans of the mother church is a great way to demonstrate the church’s legitimacy. Second, the Jerusalem could have really used the gift with general calamities it had recently suffered and persecution that was arising.

Paul instructs the church to show Timothy some hospitality (16:10). Those first missionaries were first sent out with little reserves. As they traveled from place to place, they relied on the hospitality of individuals in the church. This benefited the church as they were influenced by ministers such as Timothy, Paul, and Apollos. It also benefited the ministers in that it meat their needs.

Paul reminds the Corinthians to make sure that all they do is done out of love (16:14). This becomes an excellent measure to evaluate our thoughts and deeds. Can we truly say that what we’ve said and done is out of love for God and neighbor? If not, perhaps we ought not do it.

FATHER, Thank you for the many churches in the world today that exist because you used your missionaries established gospel outposts. I pray that we would remember the faithfulness of brothers and sisters who have gone before us to establish the bodies that we so gratefully minister to and through today. I ask that we continue to open our doors and hearts to your ministers. I pray that we evaluate all that we do and seek to operate from a pure heart. Thank you for the grace to pastor 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 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 46: Romans 16 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

In today’s reading the first sixteen verses present a long list of people that the Apostle Paul and others know and recognize as genuine believers with pure motives. Then in verse seventeen Paul makes a stern warning for those who have an unholy ambition to serve themselves.

The point I took away is this, some people serve in the church as servants of God and are truly Kingdom first people. God is their king, their motives are pure, and they really want to see God glorified. They don’t serve for recognition, they don’t jockey for power, they just give and give generously of their time, money and effort to see God’s kingdom expand.

Others though use the same means to draw people away from the kingdom. They are divisive and self serving.They advertise a false doctrine.

Note, though where the line is. It’s over “doctrine contrary to what you have been taught” (16:17). It’s not over error or differing opinions on less than doctrinal matters. This isn’t a call to arms against those who are preaching truth from wrong motives (Philippians 1:15-18), or like Apollos who needed a little more education in the gospel (Acts 18:24-28), this is a call against those who are teaching divisive, false doctrine.

Be on guard, keep the gospel pure, but don’t be trigger happy and send out friendly fire either. Some people in error just need a better education in the gospel.

FATHER, I thank you for your many faithful servants who love you and labor to see you exalted in everything. I pray that we are faithful to you and encouraging to one another. I pray that you would protect the unity of Spirit that is among us and preserve us in your love. I pray that we would be aware of those with false motives. I pray that we would be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Give us wisdom and discernment in dealing with those who seek to destroy your body. Thank you for the distinct privilege 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 44: Romans 10-12 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

In Romans 10 Paul continues to point the readers to faith in Christ. Romans 10:2 is the verse that the Lord used to bring me to conviction of sin in my own life. I realized that I had a religious zeal for the things of God, but I didn’t know the LORD.  Hearing that particular Word of God at that time produced saving faith in my own heart (10:17).

Chapter 11 deals with questions about Israel (God’s chosen people) and their presumed rejection of Jesus. It is not as though the purpose of God has failed, but that it has been enlarged (11:12).

Moving into chapter 12, the Apostle Paul begins to write with more application in mind.  Most of what Paul has written so far, has been laying the foundation of a good theology. You will notice this trend in almost all of Paul’s letters. Theology comes first then the practical application flows last. This is what we see in Romans: Man is sinful, Jesus died to bring you to God, God is sovereign, therefore work together, love your enemies and trust God to deal out justice.

[SIDE NOTE: The point of a good theology is action. Some people live with a false dichotomy between theology and action. They say they believe one thing and behave another way. Then others just reverse the false dichotomy and say its all about action and forget why they do what they do. The truth is to have a fully colored in worldview you need to not only respond to God in faith, but know that previously you were separated from God by your sins.]

A love that focuses on the action and not the principle isn’t any kind of real love anyway. Its a coerced at best and a thin veneer over vileness at worst. Only resting in real truth about God and his character will ever free you to truly love your enemies

FATHER, Thank you that Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. I pray your word would go out far and wide today and many would put their faith and trust in you. I pray for boldness on our part to share the gospel so that others might believe. I praise you that you are too infinate to fully comprehend and humble myself to realize that I need your counsel in every area of my life. I pray that you would equip me to do my part in the body of Christ and exercise the gifts that you have given me, for your glory and the edification of the church. I pray that my heart rests in you today and I love others in the same radical way that I am loved by you. Help me to grow even more in my knowledge of your love. Thank you for the calling to preach your word and prepare your people. I pray that I would walk faithfully with you all the days of my life. 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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The 21 Day Financial Fast (REVIEW)

_225_350_Book.1060.coverWhere does you’re money go? Do you enter a grocery store to spend $5 and walk out having spent over $100? Do you find yourself living paycheck to pay check? Is your spending out of control? Try THE 21 DAY FINANCIAL FAST by Michelle Singletary. She challenges readers to slow down, spend money on only the necessities for 21 days and take an inventory of where your money is going. Each day of the journey she offers hope and encouragement as you look to asses your finances and bring them to order.

She is an amazingly gifted and insightful writer. I initially thought this book would just cover stuff I already knew from other courses like Dave Ramsey’s FINANCIAL PEACE (to be sure there was plenty of overlap), but was pleasantly surprised to find a different type of depth applied to money management and individual personalities. I swear she has met half of my family, or at least their financial alter-egos. When addressing the error of being overly frugal she used the illustration that taking extra condiment packets from fast food places… I was sure she had met my great-grandfather who horded stolen McDonalds catsup like it was gold.

Each day was full of good insight and was helpful at keeping up the “fast.” I applaud Michelle Singletary and her work on this book. It’s a great add to the subject of finances on my bookshelf and it is one that I highly recommend to anyone looking to get a better perspective on their relationship to money. I see it being especially helpful for engaged couples to use and discuss finances before they get married as well as young folks who have disposable income for the first time or are struggling to make ends meet.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher as part of their Reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”