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 49: 1 Corinthians 7-9 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Corinthians 7-9 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

There is a lot of tension in today’s reading. Chapter seven addresses how believers are to regard marriage in a fallen world. Keep in mind that each scenario that Paul addresses probably represented a question that had been asked of him by individuals who were seeking to live our their faith.

Chapter eight highlights the issue of eating food that has been sacrificed to idols. The idea is to not cause a weaker brother to stumble (8:9). In other words we are to show a high regard for those who are of like faith, but have a weaker opinion on  matters (say drinking, smoking, how you dress on Sundays etc.).  Don’t cause a brother to stumble(8:13).

However in chapter nine the Apostle Paul lays out the famous phrase,  “I have become all things to all people” (9:22). Paul wants to remove barriers to the gospel (9:23). So when with orthodox Jews he doesn’t eat pork, and when with gentile believers he enjoys the bacon they put on his plate.

In our current cultural dialogue we might ask something like, “Does formal attire present a barrier to the gospel?” Well then I’ll wear jeans and a t-shirt. If lack of formal attire presents a barrier then I’ll wear formal attire… The idea is to not let something as silly as clothing style prevent others from having an opportunity to knowing God. My wardrobe can change for the sake of the gospel, but the gospel cannot be changed for the sake of my wardrobe.

To apply this thought we should be asking questions like: What prevents our neighbors from hearing and responding to the gospel? Do they stumble over Christ himself or is it a man made barrier in their way? Are we willing to remove barriers for the sake of the gospel?

FATHER, We pray for families. We lift up those who are planning and preparing for marriage. We lift up those who are single. We pray for those where believers are yoked with unbelievers and in each situation we ask for your peace and guidance. We pray that we would take care to not intentionally cause offense to our brothers. We pray for grace and guidance to remove barriers to the gospel. Thank you for the grace of shepherding 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 43: Romans 7-9 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Romans 7-9 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online. You can get a copy of the New in 90 reading schedule here.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that we have been freed from sin by Jesus Christ. If we are not careful old thoughts and patterns will creep back into our lives. Paul reminds us that we are not only free from the hold of sin, but that the Holy Spirit of God now has a stronger hold of those who belong to Him (7:4-6).

What a grace, to have the Holy Spirit in our lives. He shows us how to live. His very presence is a guarantee of our salvation in Jesus Christ (8:9, 16). He causes us to look forward to the return of Christ and the fulfillment His word (8:23). He helps us pray by making intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered/heard (8:26). [Side note: This does not explicitly indicate a private prayer language.  The indication is that the Holy Spirit takes our inability to form a proper prayer and intercedes in a way that does not need utterance (sound). This is made clearer in verse 27.]

With Romans 8:28 we begin to move more and more into an understanding of the Sovereignty of God. First with providence, in that God works all things together for good. It is important to notice that Roman’s 8:28 comes in the context of perseverance (8:25) and that “good” ultimately entails salvation (8:29-30).  Romans 9 then becomes one of the most exhaustive passages on the sovereignty of God and salvation, as Paul lays out God’s prerogative to save who He will (9:14-16).

Make sure you don’t miss Romans 9:30-33. It all comes back to faith. Those who would be saved must come to God in faith. We must believe God. The Jews had attempted to find righteousness on their own, but righteousness can’t be achieved, it can only be given and God chooses to give it to those who come to him (both Jew and Gentile) by faith.

FATHER, Thank you for the gift of faith and thank you for salvation. Thank you for the Holy Spirit and how He moves in our lives to confirm our salvation and draw us nearer to you. Thank you that He intercedes when we don’t know how to pray. I pray that we would be submitted to you and led by the Spirit in all of our actions and desires today. I pray for my friends who don’t know you and I pray that they would find the forgiveness of their sins and new life in you. Thank you for the privilege 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 42: Romans 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

We are reminded in chapter four that “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness” (4:3). Abraham didn’t just believe in God, he believed God. He took God at His word. Even when it seemed impossible (4:18-22).  This is what it looks like to have saving faith in Jesus (4:23-25).

Chapter five highlights that it is by this faith (response to the gospel) that we are justified before God (5:1). We are justified through faith that Jesus died for our sins and reconciles us to God (5:8-10). Paul affirms how this changes our disposition to sin (6:1-2). The the result of sin leads to death, but the fruit of a life submitted to God through Jesus Christ is eternal life (6:23).

My big takeaway today is to remember that I have been transformed by the power of the gospel and am no longer a slave to sin (6:17-18).

FATHER, Thank you for saving faith! Thank you that I can be made right with you through the work of Jesus Christ! I thank you that sin no longer has a hold over me. I pray that I walk in the freedom provided for me through trusting in Jesus Christ. I pray for my friends who haven’t trusted in you. I pray that you would give me opportunity and boldness to share with them. Thank you for abundant life! 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 41: Romans 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

Paul jumps right into the gospel in Romans. He is not ashamed (1:16). He is making his appeal to both the Jews and to the gentiles. Paul says in chapter one that what can be known about God is plain in creation, but our perverse hearts seek something else to worship (1:20-21). The reason we sin is because we are sinners and that’s not something that takes place on the outside, that’s a heart issue!

[Side Note: a lot of people are fond of pointing out homosexuality in this passage (1:26-27). It is there, but there are also a lot of other sins that are listed as the result of our rebellion against God (1:28-31). Some that are a lot more evident in society. Things like gossip, disobedient to parents, boasting, being unloving, or unmerciful. We are warned in chapter two of judging those who do these things while doing them ourselves. Romans 2:4 stands out as a gem of hope against the backdrop of condemnation and the coming wrath of God… We should be those who seek repentance not the condemnation of those who are in sin.]

Paul says that the purpose of our conscience is to bear witness against us,  condemning us or justifying us as the case may be (2:15).  We take notice that our conscience is internal, in our hearts. Our consciences are not an outside influence like an angel sitting on our shoulder whispering in our ear. If we are really going to be acceptable to God we have to change from inside out. We must be changed in the heart (2:29). 

Paul reminds us that we are all sinners (3:23). We all miss the mark. We all inwardly don’t long or aspire of our own accord to glorify God. We are bent and broken creatures. So bent and broken that the only one who could really straighten us out is God himself. And that is exactly what He did through Jesus Christ (3:24-26). We grab hold of this being made right with God though God by faith (3:28).

FATHER, Thank you for the gift of faith and of salvation. We lift up those who seem content to live in sin and plead for their repentance. We plead for our own hearts so often bent by sin and swayed by the philosophy of this world. Thank you for the high calling of shepherding your people. Give us grace today. 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 40: Acts 26-28 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Acts 26-28 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Certainly Paul had a testimony to share and he wasn’t afraid to share it. Jesus made a noticeable difference in his life.  So much so, that Paul went from being the persecutor to being persecuted! So when people asked, “Hey what’s the deal?” He had a message to share.

We may not all have a testimony like the Apostle Paul, but those of us who are in Christ do have a story to tell about how Jesus changed our lives. If we are intentional we might just find a few opportunities to share with the earnest desire that God would change others the same way that he changed us (Acts 26:28-29).

A few years ago, I went on a mission trip and we were all challenged to prepare and share our testimony throughout the week.  The idea was that whenever someone asked why we were there, we would share a brief form of our testimony along with a verse or two of scripture. One of the people working where we were staying asked me if I could talk with them about Jesus. It seemed like this opportunity came out of the blue until I got to talking with her more.  She said that every time she would ask someone from our group what they were doing here, they would tell her about how Jesus had really changed their life and they wanted that for other people too. After several stories she realized that we were all together, but she also realized that we have all individually  had some sort of life changing experience involving Jesus. She wondered if Jesus had  changed all of our lives, perhaps he was worth checking into.”

My takeaway and challenge today is to revisit my testimony that I tried to write in 100 words or less. Pray that God might use me to share my faith with someone this week. Then see how many people I can share a simple and brief testimony with.

FATHER, Thank you for Jesus and how He has changed my life. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead stands at the center of history but it also stands in the center of my life. I pray that we would be bold in our witness for you this week. I know that there are many who have yet to hear how they can enjoy your grace, love and forgiveness through Jesus. I pray that this week we would be able to share with as many as you give us opportunity in the hope that perhaps you would change their life the same way you changed our. Thank you for the great responsibility of leadership. 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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