That They Know

Scripture: Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3 NIV

Observation: Jesus prays before he is crucified.

Application: Jesus speaks of the meaning of eternal life, to know God the father and Jesus his son.  You can’t  get to heaven without knowing that truth.

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending us Jesus. Amen

“I Didn’t Do It…”

Scripture: So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” Exodus 32:24 NIV

Observation: Aaron took all of the blame for the act that he had committed and laid it off on the fire of all things. “I just threw it in and ‘poof’ out popped this calf, it wasn’t my fault!” This lame excuse reminds me of Adam in the garden answering God, “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’” Genesis 3:12 NIV It’s like what I heard a prosecutor say once of an accused’s defense strategy in an up-coming trial, “he’s going to use the S.O.D.D.I. defense…some other dude did it.” I can almost understand Aaron using that excuse with Moses, but Adam trying it with God? Really? When you stop and think about it, Adam really laid it all off on God, “it is your fault God! You gave me that woman.” As my Jewish brothers say, “now that’s chutzpah!”

Application: As Christians we need to man-up and accept responsibility for our actions. “It wasn’t my fault” is a really poor epitaph. When we fail we need to accept it and ask for forgiveness. We need to not make excuses for our behavior.

Prayer: Father, help me to know when I fail and accept that the failure is mine alone. I know that acknowledging sin to you when it is committed and asking forgiveness is what you expect of me. I ask for the strength to accept my failures and humble myself before you. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

Rituals of Religion

Scripture: Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”  But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. John 9:16 NIV

Observation: This passage made it clear to me that some people love the created more than the Creator. In this case the created being the rituals of religion. What does God want, clean hands from proper washing procedures or pure hearts from truly changed lives? I know the answer. The writer aineo from my notes section wrote “Which Are You?”, it makes the point perfectly.
“This made me think of how religious we are sometimes. Ask yourself, if some out of town strangers in an old beat up car were in a bad accident in front of your church right before the service, would your church members dirty up their clothes to help? Would the service be postponed or canceled in order to help those in need? There are all kinds of scenarios that could be painted, but the ultimate question is the same – are you someone that loves people, or are you religious like the Pharisees?”

Application: We need to examine our hearts and know that we are where God wants us to be.

Prayer: Father, help me to know that I am where I should be according to your will. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen

Doug

Bring Honor, Not Shame

Scripture: May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the Lord Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me, O Lord.  Psalm 69:6 NIV

Observation: The Psalmist is crying to the Lord to not be the cause of disgrace for him or other believers.

Application: That is my prayer, to not be the cause of disgrace for God or his church.  I owe it to my God, my wife, my children, my church and my coworkers to be consistent in my words and my actions.  If I fail that I bring shame upon myself for hypocrisy.  That hypocrisy is transferred to all believers; the church is harmed and God’s commission is stymied.  We have seen in the recent past how the sins of Christians, specifically famous church leaders, has translated into a “Christ-bashing fest.”  I can think of no greater insult to the Lord than to bring shame upon him and his church because of my sin. I pray that I never bring shame to either the Lord or fellow believers.

Prayer: Father, help me to live out the truth that I proclaim. Don’t let me ever be the cause of shame for you or the church. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

 

I Believe

Scripture: Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28,29 NIV

Observation: Jesus answers questions from a crowd of followers.

Application: Have you ever wondered what sort of “works” God requires? “Give to charity or volunteer your time and effort,” “do good to others.” Yes, but those are results of our changed lives through faith in Christ. The one “work” that God demands is simply “to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29b

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending Jesus. I believe in his sacrifice for me. Amen

Doug

Don’t Cause Others to Fall

Scripture: Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.” Acts 15:5 NIV
Scripture: He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? Acts 15:9,10 NIV

Observation: Paul and Barnabas discuss with the Jewish leaders whether or not the Gentiles should be required to be circumcised. It is decided that by requiring the Gentiles to be circumcised they would be demanding them to fulfill a need that they, themselves, could not uphold.

Application: This is an interesting set of passages when read with Acts 16:3, “Paul wanted to take him (Timothy) along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.” Acts 16:3 NIV Why? Why would Paul argue against circumcision in Acts 15 and then circumcise Timothy before they left on their missionary journey? I believe that he did it so that the uncircumcised Timothy wouldn’t be a “stumbling block” to the very people to whom they were going to minister. Certainly circumcision isn’t necessary for salvation but I really don’t think that circumcision was even the issue to Paul. The issue was winning souls. If the fact that Timothy wasn’t circumcised was going to close the ears of those to whom Paul was going to minister–then Timothy was going to be circumcised. We should learn from Paul. Our actions and inactions can and will affect people. We must take care to guard our speech, control our emotions and attitude, and be careful with our choices. We must care that what we think, say, and do can hinder our witness to others. Otherwise, we will become a “stumbling block.”

Prayer: Lord, don’t allow me to be a “stumbling block” to others. I know that my behavior and what I say can harm my witness to others. Amen

Doug

God is Holy

Scripture: The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
Leviticus 19:1,2 NIV

Observation: God is Holy.

Application: I’ve read through Leviticus and I’ve not really been expecting to get any good instruction from the book. For the most part it’s a book of “dont’s.” Yesterday I had an occasion to sit and talk awhile with my lead pastor and his wife about our daily reading; we are all reading the same passages daily as a church. We laughed about some of the “silly” do’s and dont’s in Leviticus. I know that much of the book is written to keep the Israelites from harm but I’ve thought it’s a bunch of antiquated rules that no longer apply…or so I thought. After we had some light-hearted talk about the book my lead pastor became serious. He told us that because God is Holy, He cannot be in the presence of sin or imperfection. It’s impossible for Him and imperfection to exist together. It can’t happen. Leviticus is a book given by God to man to make it possible for us imperfect beings to fellowship with Him. Whoa, the boring, sometimes almost laughable book of the bible was written for a noble purpose, to bring King and subject together. The Levitical list is specific and detailed and it leaves no room for error. Unfortunately we, man, don’t have the ability to adhere to the vast list of regulations. God saw that and so He sent us Christ to bridge the gap between himself and us. Christ’s blood covers our inability to be perfect, it covers our sin. Now, we too can have fellowship with God. Today God verified my lead pastor’s words and showed me in the first two passages of verse 19 why Leviticus was written. It was written because we are sinful and God is Holy. It’s a book that is a reminder of how much God loves us. He sent Christ to accomplish the “unaccomplishable” and make it possible for us to be with God.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for showing me how much you love me through the book of Leviticus. Thank you for Christ who covers my failings and allows me to come into fellowship with you. I love you. Amen

Doug

Righteousness of God

Scripture: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

Observation: Jesus was the “once and for all” sacrifice to the Father for our sins. Not only that but then we became God’s righteousness. I didn’t really understand what that meant so I went to the “notes” section for guidance. I found a blog entry written by djbrey it is titled “Righteousness.” I think it does a fairly good job of putting “…righteousness of God” into perspective. It follows,

“The Bible tells us that after Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross, God imputes righteousness not to those who strive to obey the law (Galatians 2:16), but to anyone who believes in His Son. Because Christ took our sins and gave us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), the moment we believe in Him, God treats us as righteous apart from our works or obedience. (Romans 4:5-8) This is new covenant righteousness – a righteousness that comes by faith and not works.

You are not righteous because of how morally upright you are. You are not righteous because you exercise self-control. You are not righteous because you read 10 chapters of the Bible daily. You are not righteous because you feel righteous. But you are the very righteousness of God in Christ solely because the sacrifice of Jesus made you so. When you believe this, your faith is accounted for righteousness.

And this is what God wants you to use your faith for. If you are righteous by your deeds, you don’t need faith. You also don’t need faith to know that you are sinful. But you need faith to believe and declare that you are the righteousness of God in Christ, in the midst of your struggles with temptation and sin.”

Application: I’m going through terrible times in my job right now. Satan is attacking me and, quite frankly, “he’s beating the snot out of me!” I have to remember that no matter the struggles I go through in my professional life, Jesus died for me and that makes me righteous. I’m going to still have difficulties dealing with men but God’s love for me trumps those difficulties. I need to meditate on this truth and smile at Satan’s attacks. God’s righteousness–that’s powerful!

Prayer: Father, I thank you for Jesus. Help me to remember that his sacrifice makes me valuable to you and a target for Satan. Strengthen me as you and I fight against Satan’s schemes for my life. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

Prayer is Power

Scripture: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Observation: The attacks brought on by Satan are subtle and constant.   Only through our Lord Jesus Christ  and the power of his shed blood at Calvary and his ability to conquer death do we as Christians have the power to push back and tear down Satan’s strongholds.   Our salvation, self-control and freedom from sin is obtained and maintained through our conversations with God through prayer.

Application: Prayer is power.  In his name we claim the promise made at the cross and found in his shed blood. We must pray without fear. Sometimes when I pray only a moan comes out; words are difficult and that’s okay. The Lord sees the inside, he knows our thoughts. We don’t have to be eloquent.  I praise him that we are not graded on our grammar or expression.  The Lord is a God of specifics…details. He wants our prayers to be full of confidence, believing that freedom, healing and salvation are already on their way. So lift your voice without fear and claim the destruction of Satan’s work. Pray with confidence!  Pray to break down the thoughts and habits that keep you away from your Savior and the relationship he wants with you. “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.” Psalms 19:13

Prayer: Lord, I claim your authority over all things natural and supernatural. Through your power and word I take captive the thoughts and actions that keep me away from you.   Satan I resist your temptations.  Lord break down any strongholds the enemy has in my life.   Lord I know you are working in my life and I pray that you bring my every thought and action into obedience to you.  Amen

Laurie

Unforgivable Sin

Scripture: And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Luke 12:10 NIV

Observation: I’ve often wondered how a person can blaspheme the Holy Spirit and not be forgiven. I went searching in the “Notes” of my YouVersion bible and I found the following. I hope that it helps you understand too.

Application: “Unforgivable Sin” by karensigman

“I have never totally understood the unforgivable sin. When I read verse 10 I got out my life application bible and looked to see what it said. “Jesus said that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable. This has worried many sincere Christians, but it does not need to. The unforgivable sin means attributing to Satan the work that the Holy Spirit accomplishes. Thus it is deliberate and ongoing rejection of the Holy Spirit’s work and even of God himself. A person who has committed this sin has shut himself or herself off from God so thoroughly that he or she is unaware of any sin at all. A person who fears having committed it shows, by his or her very concern, that he or she has not sinned in this way.” This helped me a lot. I hope it helps someone who is reading this.”

Prayer: Father, I pray that I never sin against any part of your character. Amen

Doug