Scripture: For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1 Corinthians 1:17 NIV
Observation: Paul was charged with sharing the truth of Christ. I believe that he may not have been a well-spoken man. A stutter or slow speech may have been the thorn in his flesh. 2 Corinthians 12:7 says, “…or because of these surpassingly great revelations, [Paul’s revelations]. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, [and taking the focus off of Christ], I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” Paul was highly educated and well versed in the scriptures. I believe that he had exceeding wisdom and with that wisdom he knew that if he excelled verbally in preaching and teaching he could become the focus–not Jesus. So that he would not be the object of worship I believe God may have given him his “thorn.” Paul had one ministry and that was to preach the gospel of Christ and he excelled at doing that in his writings. Of course, this is just my opinion but given today’s scripture it makes perfect sense to me.
Application: When we share Christ we need to be certain that he remains the focus–not us!
Prayer: Father, help me to share Christ and make sure that he is the object of worship. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.
My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
“Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” Song of Solomon 2:9-13
Observation: The Song of Solomon is a guide to marriage. Throughout it’s chapters and verses it tells not only of the proper courtship between two people but it’s gives a daily account of their marriage, “until death do us part.” In the above scripture the Lord tells us how when we marry the proper man. He is our protector and as he loves the Lord and loves the woman that the Lord has blessed him with he builds a confidence in her that allows her to let the past go and look forward in Christ. She then becomes fruit bearing in her relationship with the Lord.
Application: Doug is the young stag my heart searched for most of my life. In our father’s mercy and grace he gave me a Christ-driven man. He’s full of integrity, passion for truth and love according to Christ’s values. Through Doug’s love for me, my winter is passing. The woman who was lost to sin has found the freedom to face her sin and ask forgiveness. The barren soil has seedlings growing which will burst forth with beautiful flowers and a sweet loving fragrance.
Prayer: Thank you Lord! You are the God of Mercy and Grace. Even a sinner like me can receive the love and forgiveness I never thought possible. Thank you for giving Doug the ability to see me through your eyes. Bless him Lord. Let me honor him with my love and friendship each and everyday! Amen
Have a great day! Thank you,
Scripture: They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ Mark 7:7 NIV
Observation: Jesus tells the Pharisees that their concern about his disciples eating without ceremonially washing first is hollow.
Application: Do I worship the Lord or do I try to follow the rules? My desire is to love the Lord with all of my heart but I fear that sometimes I settle for doing “A, B, C and D” instead. My Lord would prefer my deep love which leads to my following the rules as opposed to my following the rules to show the world that I’m a “Christian.” God deserves all of me not–just the surface.
Prayer: Father, help me to be completely yours. Your deserve that! I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.
I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.
Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, LORD; do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding. Psalms 119:25-32
Observation: Depression and sin go hand in hand for the believer. Recently I found myself in this state. David, who the Lord proclaimed to have a “Heart for God,” suffered from the same. The Lord loved David yet that didn’t keep him from sin. However, in this bit of scripture we see David finds and shares the answer to fighting depression and sin. God’s precepts, his ways, and God’s Word will keep sin at bay and bring us out of darkness. “Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.” We must go to his Word continually seeking, learning, and asking allowing Him to set us free. Speaking freely with our Lord for he already knows our sin and pain. We must acknowledge it to him before he can begin to repair us.
Application: Get back to it! Read His Word everyday and listen to worship music each day, do whatever it take to keep the Lord in sight and out in front leading you. Take captive any thought or action that don’t line up with the Lord and his ways. Relief will come so don’t give up! Use church and other Christians as accountability in your life.
Prayer: Thank you for sharing David with me. His love for you and your love and forgiveness of him keeps me going. Thank you for putting so much honesty and truth in the Bible. Thank you for showing me my sin can be forgiven and I can receive your grace and a fresh start. Lord continue to guide me and help me overcome the darkness within me. Amen
Scripture: On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 NIV
Observation: Jesus is instructing on his ministry. Jesus came to earth to cleanse and sanctify sinful people and to provide a means for those same sanctified sinners to live forever.
Application: When Christians look critically at Christians who “associate” with the dregs of society or have ministries that are out of the norm, aren’t they behaving like the Pharisees or like all of the people, Jew and Gentile, who shunned the Samaritans? Today at church we had a guest speaker. He spoke about this very subject. He taught from John 4:39a, “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony…” His premiss was that the very Samaritan woman that Jesus spoke to at the well; the very Samaritan woman who shared her testimony in her hometown and caused many to believe, could be indirectly responsible for my faith. If Jesus had shunned that Samaritan woman and not cared and shared–she wouldn’t have cared and shared, her neighbors wouldn’t have believed, they wouldn’t have cared and shared, Christianity wouldn’t have spread and I may never have come to know Christ. It was a truth I hadn’t really considered before, my belief in Christ could be tied to a biblical character, especially a lowly character like a Samaritan, but it was a truth none-the-less. And it was a great reminder to me that ALL people are loved by and important to the Lord.
Prayer: Father, thank you for caring for the lowly. Help me to share you with others. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
The following blog entry is compliments of Pastor Leon Hiebert, Community Care Pastor of Generations Church, Andover, KS
Scripture: Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” (also verse 18)
Observation: 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. In the verse above, we see that God had the same desire in the Old Testament.
Instead of wanting to help the Israelites accomplish God’s will, the Egyptians were set on keeping them in slavery. They were working against God. Yet God wanted them to know Him. We know God loved the Israelites, but the truth is—God loved the Egyptians too!
Application: When people stand against me and what I believe God wants to do in my life, it is easy to write them off my list of friends. That may be my way, but it is not God’s way. He loves them too! He wants me to love them too.
Prayer: Lord, You love my enemies and You tell me to love them too, to bless them that curse me and to do good to them that hate me and pray for them who spitefully use and persecute me. (Mt 5:44) To do this, Lord, I need your help. Amen.
Scripture: Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:21,22 NIV
Observation: Jesus is teaching his disciples a truth about faith.
Application: Wow! As I read this today it occurred to me that I don’t think that I have the correct faith. I really don’t believe that I can coax God into throwing a mountain into an ocean. Do I believe that God can? Without a doubt! Do I believe that He will to prove my faith? No, to me that is akin to testing God. So how do I reconcile what the Word says and what I believe that it means? I went searching my Contrib section and found an entry by Tom Hogsed. As I read his understanding I realized that I was taking 21 and 22 out of context. They needed to be included with 18-20 to be fully understood. Tom’s writing is untitled, it covers Matthew 21:18-22 and it follows,
“On the surface this passage seems to be an action that Jesus did out of frustration, but upon closer examination He seems to be actually drawing some symbolism as well as teaching a spiritual lesson on faith. As Jesus returns to the city of Jerusalem in the morning He is hungry and stops by a fruit tree along the way but instead of finding figs He discovers a barren tree (21:19). Seemingly frustrated Jesus curses the fig tree and commands that no fruit grow on it ever again and immediately the tree withers. To me, this appears pretty harsh; however, the disciples thought it was pretty cool because they marveled that He was able to speak a curse and the tree withered (21:20). The disciples had a thing with power and were often amazed when Jesus performed a miracle. But, Jesus was teaching a greater lesson. The fig tree is often symbolic of Israel (see Hosea 9:10; Joel 1:7) and in reality its’ fruitlessness represented their rejection of Him in addition to their failure to follow God’s ways. As God’s chosen people, Israel had been given many spiritual and physical blessings but oftentimes found the evil around them more attractive than obeying God. Jesus would allow judgment to fall upon Israel for their failure to produce spiritual fruit (see Galatians 5:16-25 for a discussion of spiritual fruit). The disciples then question about His power to curse the fig tree and Jesus encourages them that if they have faith they can perform this miracle and also move mountains (21:21). He is quick to remind them that this power only comes through asking God in prayer and believing that He can do it (21:22). The application in this situation is two-fold. First, as a “tree” is God’s field, are you producing spiritual fruit? Your life should be drawing others to worship God alone. Secondly, do you realize you can accomplish God’s will through prayer and faith in Him? God always enables us to do His will when we turn control over to Him and believe that He can do great things through us. Have you reached that potential?” Thank you Tom.
Prayer: Tom closes with the following, “Dear God, cause me to produce spiritual fruit so I can accomplish Your will and draw others to You.”
Scripture: ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ Matthew 20:12 NIV
Observation: Jesus tells a parable about workers in a vineyard.
Application: I have repeatedly compared myself to Christians whom I know and respect and I’ve always found myself lacking. As I think about this parable I believe that Jesus is telling me that my little contribution to Christianity is as important to God as Billy Graham’s. God doesn’t want two Billy Grahams. He wants one Billy Graham and he want me and he want us both to love him and he wants us to want others to find and know and love him too.
Prayer: Father, I pray that my efforts to share Christ are worthy. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4 NIV
Observation: Jesus teaches the truth of humility in God’s kingdom.
Application: God not only wants to be our daddy, he wants us to be meek, child-like, and humble. I believe that when we have those attributes we are more willing to be led and more able to learn.
Prayer: Father, help me to be child-like. Teach me as I marvel and learn. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. Matthew 16:2,3 NIV
Observation: Jesus answered the Pharisees and Sadducees who had asked for a sign from heaven to prove he was who he claimed.
Application: I believe that people today are no better at seeing the truth than did the Pharisees and Sadducees. However, people keep searching for anything and everything except Jesus and his gospel. I believe that if we spent as much time concerning ourselves with finding Jesus and having a relationship with him as we do on any number of distractions we would all find the same truth, Jesus Christ is Lord! Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.
Prayer: Father, thank you for Jesus. He is the truth and I believe it. Amen