Monday, September 30, 2013
Read Rev. 1:15-16 We are describing Jesus in the midst of the menorahs. He is dressed as a judge with burning brass feet which we talked about yesterday. Today we finish reading verse 15 where his voice is as the sound of many waters. These waters are explained in Rev. 17:15 as being peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. So, Jesus’ voice was like the sound of multitudes speaking. They are those that have witnessed Jesus in their lifetime and know that his judgment is just and fair. They are the crowd of witnesses that Hebrews talks about. To those who walk with Jesus, this sound will be like soothing rivers, but to those who rejected Jesus it will be like angry waves crashing on the rocks. Waters destroyed the people on the earth in the days of Noah, but those same waters saved Noah. There were seven stars in his right hand which verse 20 tells us are the angels of the seven churches. They were the messenger of truth that was used during each church age. They endured persecutions, perils, and hard times, to stand for the truth, and were instrumental in trying, or succeeding, in turning their nation back to the Lord. There is a vivid description of these men in Heb. 11:33-40. “Out of his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword.“ Heb. 4:12 tells us that the two-edged sword is the Word of God. Every thought and deed will be judged by the Word of God. “And His countenance was as the sun shining in its strength.” We see this in a type with Moses when he came down from the mountain and his face was glowing. He brought down with him a little of God’s glory. It was so bright, the people couldn’t take it, so they asked him to veil his face. Jesus showed his disciples this glory on the Mt. of Transfiguration. (Matt. 17:1-13) Rev. 21:23 says that God’s new Jerusalem will have no light because the glory of the Lamb will be the light. Mal. 4:1-3 prophecies of the S-U-N of Righteousness arising with healing in his wings. Lord, you call us to be your lights in this dark world. May we carry your glory to our generation.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Read Rev. 1:11-14 Jesus reiterates that he is the Alpha and Omega, the first and last. He instructs John to write everything he shows him in a book and send it to the seven churches in Asia, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. When John turned to look in the direction of the voice, he saw seven golden candlesticks or lampstands . These were menorahs. A menorah is a stand with a central bowl with three branches on either side. Oil is poured into the middle bowl that runs through the branches to their bowls. This oil represents the Holy Sprit that must come from God. We are the branches that grow from the main vine. There were seven branches to represent the seven church ages. We fit in one of the branches. We receive our anointing from God alone. Zechariah saw the same vision in Zech. 4:1-6. Jesus was in the midst of the candlesticks clothed in a robe and a golden girdle around his shoulders. Jesus used to wear this girdle around his waist as our priest, but now he is wearing it over his shoulders like a judge does, because he is now playing the part of our judge. He has white hair which is a sign of his maturity, wisdom, and experience. Daniel prophesied the same in Daniel 7:9-14. Courts used to try to depict this as their judges wore robes, white wigs and their girdle over their shoulders. It was derived from this picture of Jesus, coming back to judge the earth. His eyes are a flame of fire that can burn up any false excuse or lie. I would think the way he looked would have brought anyone to their knees in repentance. His feet were like unto fine brass burning with fire. Brass is the very hard metal that can’t be tempered. This brass has stood the test of the fiery furnace of trials and temptation, yet without sinning. Jesus is qualified to be our judge. Lord, thank you for the reminder that one day you will come an judge the earth. Let us be filled with an awesome fear of you.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Read Rev. 1:9-10 John who was described as being the “beloved of Jesus” humbly refers to himself as a brother and companion in tribulation. That would be a mild statement for him. He had been boiled in oil for 24 hours and when that didn’t kill him, the Jewish leaders labeled him a witch and sent him to Patmos. Patmos was a small island off the coast of Asia Minor that was infested with snakes, scorpions and lizards. It was a penal colony for the toughest criminals. It is here, that God chooses to give John the greatest revelation of all time. John was in the spirit when he received these visions that lasted two years. We have to be in the spirit to be able to understand them. It was the Lord’s day. If it happened over the span of two years, does that mean that every Sabbath he had a new vision? I don’t think so. I think it means that he was in the spirit and transported to the Lord’s day, the one that all this would happen. All this is going to happen on a Roshashana, a Yom Kippor, and the Feast of Tabernacles (the Day of Atonement) which is called the Lord’s Day. God gave the children of Israel an appointed day to be their Sabbath - a day of rest. But it was the type. If we have entered into God’s rest, then we live in the Sabbath day. It doesn’t matter what we are doing - it matters what we are allowing God to do. His rest is where we cease from our own work, and allow him to do His work through us, no matter what day of the week it is. (Heb. 4:8-10) While John was in the spirit he heard a voice that was loud and blasting like a trumpet. In the Old Testament, when Moses wanted to rally the people to hear what the Lord had said, he blew a trumpet. The people knew to come and hear. That is what this voice was doing. It was calling the attention to all who were in the spirit to come and hear. Lord, may we be in the spirit all the days of our lives. We pray that you will open this book to us so that we can know you better.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Read Rev. 1:7-8 Jesus is coming back and when he does everyone will see it. This is not talking about the Rapture, but the 2nd coming. This is when the Jews, who were the ones who crucified Jesus will recognize him and be saved. The Jews brought salvation to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles in the end will bring it back to them. This is the fulfillment of Zechariah 12:9-14. God is the beginning of time and the ending of time. He is eternal and has always been and will always be. We can’t comprehend eternity because we were placed in this bubble called time. God is outside the bubble in eternity. He governs eternity. There has been so much spiritual warfare over the two books, Genesis and Revelation. The devil has tried to replace creation with evolution, and tried to steal the truth to Revelation. Have you ever wondered why he hates these two books so much. Just think….he was introduced in Genesis as the serpent who deceived Eve into eating the apple. Then he is cursed and made to crawl and be under our feet - something he surely doesn’t want us to grasp. In Revelation, all his schemes are exposed and he is destroyed. No wonder he hates these two books so much. They paint a picture of his true nature and his lack of power. When Jesus says he is the Alpha and the Omega, he is saying he is the first letter of the alphabet and the last. He is beginning and the end. He has written the end from the beginning and it will happen as he wrote it. Lord, how fascinating you are! What a blessing to be a child of The King!
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Read Rev. 1:4-6 The Greek word for Revelation is apocalypse which means “unveiling”. A good picture of this would be like when a sculpture pulls off the cloth to unveil his masterpiece for all to see. Jesus pulled back the cloth and allowed John to see a glimpse into God’s great plan for next seven Church ages. It is not just about the future, but a revelation of the Person of Christ. The only way to get this revelation is through the Holy Spirit. John addresses the churches in Asia Minor which is a small piece of land about the size of Indiana. They were not the only churches at the time, but were chosen for their characteristics. These were the same characteristics that would be found in the church ages to come. Each church age was assigned a different Spirit who was their messenger, sent from God’s throne to give them their instructions. Verse five gives us a detailed description of Jesus: he is the faithful witness, the first to rise from the dead, the prince of all the kings on the earth. Jesus is the one who loved us, and gave his blood so that we could be washed clean. Because of his death we are made kings and priests unto “God and his father”. Jesus is God and that was the point he was making by saying it that way. God has three titles: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. We have been saved for a purpose. Right now we are spiritual kings and we rein over a spiritual kingdom. Ro. 5:17 says that one man’s offense brought death to all, so how much more will the death of Jesus Christ bring life to all. Right now we reign with Christ, having dominion over sin and the devil. Right now we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. We are priests that bring him a sacrifice of worship and praise and intercession. We are God’s peculiar people! Lord, let the truth of what we read to day sink into our mind and spirits and may we live these truths.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Read Revelation 1:1-3 I don’t know any more daunting a book as Revelation. I read it every year but avoid teaching it like the plague. For one thing, I don’t understand it completely or even remotely, but I know there is a blessing to those who read it. Let’s just rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us something we don’t already know and be content knowing that God will open up this book when he is ready. Revelation is the consummation of all previous prophecy. Daniel prophesied the coming of Christ, the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, and the last Antichrist. But John's Revelation fills up the period in between, and describes the millennium and the period beyond Antichrist. Daniel views the history of God's people divided into four world kingdoms. John, as an apostle, views history from the aspect of the Christian Church. Daniel was told to seal and shut up till the time of the end, and now John, (Re 1: 3), is directed to take away the seal and invites us to look. Jesus Christ, not John the writer, is the Author of the Apocalypse. Christ taught many things before he left but it was not time to tell about the end times in detail. Joh 15: 15, "All things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you"; also, Joh 16: 13, "The Spirit of truth will show you things to come." Revelation is the book of His second coming. Revelation was penned by John, Jesus’ closest disciple, at a time when the Christians were being severely persecuted by Nero. A great fire had nearly destroyed Rome in A.D. 64. This persecution continued until Nero’s suicide in A.D. 68 and got even worse after his death. It was during this time that John had fled to Ephesus. The first thing that leaps out at me is the fact that God gave this revelation to Jesus and Jesus gave it to his servants on earth via angels. I don’t understand the trinity and it’s verses like this that confuse me even more. Then, he says that these things are going to take place soon. “Shortly come to pass” in Biblical terms means “forever” in human terms. Apparently this was a vision, not just a foretelling of things to come because John said he saw them. He blesses anyone who reads it or hears it read or takes it to heart, because it is going to happen. Actually that word “blessed” means “supremely blest, well off, and fortunate”. It’s like this blessing is coming from God himself and is better than other blessings. So, whether we figure it out, we are going to be blessed just for reading it and taking it serious. I’ll take that! Lord, open our eyes to your revelation as we study this book.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Read Ro. 16:21 I purposely saved the last verse for today. Paul seems to have remembered a few more people he wants to say “hi” to so he adds a P.S. He mentions Timotheus which means “dear to God”. (Can I rename my kids?) What a name! Paul lets you know that Timotheus worked right alongside him. Lucius means “illuminative”. He must have radiated Jesus’ spirit. Jason means “healer”. A healer is always good to have around your church. I picture a person with great compassion and gentleness. The last one is Sosipater which means “saving father”. That one is self-explanatory. I imagine him to be an older man who has that loving father spirit that makes everyone feel loved. So all these names, that we usually skim over or skip are important to us because they make up the body. I bet we could find someone who fits the description of each of these people in our church. I bet we found ourselves in one or more of these names - or at least one we would like to be. The truth is, God has given us a name that he calls us and he has equipped us to walk out its meaning. The warning is to let God fulfill that strength in His way and not ours. I’m sure Philologus was tempted to use his argumentative spirit wrongly many times and had to learn to use it for the higher good. Whatever our strength is, the devil will tempt us to twist it and use it for him. God gives us the grace to use it for Him. May we walk in your name which is the name above all names and may we fulfill our calling on the earth. P.S. We are going to study Revelations next!!!! Pray!
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Read Ro. 16:15-20 I love Philologus! His name means “fond of words, talkative, argumentative, learned”. How many of us know just that kind of person. They can be the most interesting person to talk to yet the most annoying at times. Julia means “following” so she was probably married to Philologus since opposites attract. Nereus means “wet”and it is the name of a water nymph god. I guess in the spirit that would translate “immersed” as in baptism. His sister, Olympas was also named for a Greek god which means “heaven-descended”. Here are two kids from the same family that were raised under Greek occult worship that God redeemed. They were just a few of the followers of their meetings - the ones Paul actually knew by name. Next Paul tells them to embrace one another with a holy kiss. This seems like a crazy thing to tell a bunch of teen-agers in the faith, but in their culture that is how they met one another - with a kiss. Paul is admonishing them to be sure their kiss is holy, sacred, and God-approved. He also wants them to know how much he and the rest of the body of Christ loves them and supports them. He warns them against false doctrines and people who would come in and try to cause division and strife whose goal is to bring strife. He reminds them that they have gained a reputation for God and other churches are watching them. If they will concentrate on what is good and stay innocent of evil then God will take care of Satan. Lord, may your grace and peace be with us today and may we tread upon scorpions. PS: Today begins the Feast of Tabernacle in Israel! Happy Sukkot!
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Read Ro. 16:12-14 If you have followed my blog for any length of time you realize how much I love names. Obviously, God does too. He is always naming and renaming people like Abraham and Sarah. I’ve never looked at these names and studied them but it has been interesting. Today we start with two women, Tryphena and Tryphosa, whose names mean “luxurious and luxuriating” respectably. I wonder if they were twins! How awesome to have your name mean luxurious - to know that you are deemed a luxury to God. The truth is, we all are. I would have loved to meet these two women. I bet they didn’t look the part of their name, but their inner beauty was found in the Lord. He found them luxurious. Persis is also a woman from Persia which means “divided”. As a Christian we have to make a division between the world and God; good and evil. She apparently chose God. Rufus is a man whose name means “supping up”. “Sup” has to do with eating so he sounds like a man who just couldn’t get enough of the word - the bread of life. His mom is also mentioned who was probably the one to give him this hunger for God. This lady must have been a real nourisher because Paul claims her as his mom also. How endearing. I can imagine she probably had Paul over to her house for many a meal and probably his favorite dessert. Next we have a list of names: Asyncritus (incomparable), Phlegon (blazing), Hermas (bringer of good fortune), Patrobas (father’s walk), Hermes (messenger). These are self-explanatory. The one I especially like is Patrobas - the one who had his Father’s walk. I’m sure he didn’t see himself this way just like we don’t see ourselves as luxurious to God or worthy of any accolade, but this is how God sees us. He has covered our sins, so he only sees the good part and that is what he bet on when he saved you. Be encouraged - you are valuable to God and his kingdom! Lord, help us walk in your encouragement, and be who you say we are.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Read Ro. 16:7-11 Paul is honoring and sending his greeting to those in Rome that had labored with him. Andronicus and Junia are next. Andronicus means “victory of man” and Junia means “youthful”. Paul goes on to call them his kinsmen even though they were not blood-related. To Paul, they were his brothers. They went to prison with Paul and were his spiritual mentors and fellow apostles. Not only were they victorious over their flesh, but they remained youthful in spirit. Amplias was much loved by Paul. His name means “enlarged”. I love that word. It means growth and maturity. I couldn’t find Urbane in my book of names but I found Ur which means “light”. Paul describes him as his helper or companion in labor. That is what the light of the Holy Spirit is: our helper. He is mentioned along with Stachys which means “ear of corn”. He must have been like that ear of corn that Jesus said fell to the ground and died in order to produce great fruit. I would have loved to hear his testimony. Apelles is next. His name means “without receptacle”. A receptacle is a container. I can only guess that maybe he didn’t keep account of offenses or sins, but was able to let them go. That is only a weak speculation but he was acceptable to Jesus and worthy of Paul’s mention. Aristobulus means “best counselor” so we know about him and his family. Herodion means “heroic”. Narcissus means “narcotic”. He must have been addictive in the Lord. That’s a great thing to be addicted to! I had no idea we would spend so much time on this last chapter but this has been interesting. Lord, may our lives reflect your name.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Read Ro. 16:1-6 In this chapter Paul is going through a list of names that he recommends or wants to mention. Since all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for reproof, doctrine, discipline, instruction, etc. we are going to look at all these people. The first one he talks about Phebe from Corinth. Phebe means radiant so that gives us a good description of her ministry. She was from the church in Corinth and is coming to Rome. Paul wants to make sure she is taken care of and treated with the utmost respect because she has been a servant to many, even Paul. Next he lists people in their church in Rome that he wants to send a personal greeting to. He starts with Priscilla and Aquilla who labored with Paul, actually laying down their lives for him. Priscilla means a little old lady! Funny! Aquilla is a little more spiritual. It means immovable. So we can tell by Priscilla’s name that they were an older couple, and we can tell by Aquilla’s name just what kind of older couple they were - strong in the Lord - willing to lay down their lives for Paul. They didn’t let their age make them weak. They also had a church that met in their house. Next, Paul mentions Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Greece. His name means praiseworthy which was why Paul wanted to mention him - he lived a life worthy of being praised. Mary is mentioned because of all the hard work she has done for the church. Seeing this list and the short little descriptions Paul gives of them it makes me wonder what someone would say of me. If your pastor had to write a one-liner describing you - what would he say? It’s a little sobering. Then I wonder what short statement would God use to describe my life. I would hope he was find me unmovable, radiant, a life worthy of being praised; not just that I was a little old lady! Lord, I know that you commend all of us because you love us. It is not about our accolades that is important , but it is about your accolades and computers cannot contain all the things we could say about you. Let us meditate on that today. You are great and worthy to be praised!
Friday, September 13, 2013
Today is my husband’s birthday. Happy Birthday Dave! I pray verse 14 over you that you would be full of goodness and all knowledge and able to encourage others today. Read Ro. 15:14-33 Paul speaks this powerful faith statement over his flock that they are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to teach and warn one another, then he defends his ministry. He reminds them that God has given him grace to speak to the Gentiles because it is their time to come in. His calling is to lead them in the truth about what God requires and how to live for God. He did this through a demonstration of miraculous signs and wonders. All through the region of Jerusalem to Illyricum Paul taught the complete gospel. He went to places where they had never heard the name of Jesus to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy (Is. 52:15) that says “To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand.” And this is the reason Paul has been gone for so long. He has been doing just that… bringing the good news of the gospel to a group of people that have never heard of Jesus. He explains to them that he is not staying this time either but is on his way to Spain. Then he plans to come back through on his way to Jerusalem where he will give the money to the poor in Jerusalem, This offering was given to him by the people of Maceonia and Achaia. They realized that if God accepted the Gentiles, then they needed to accept them as brothers. And if they needed help, then they wanted to help them. Paul prays that he will come back to a church that is walking in the fullness of the gospel of Christ. He also asks for their prayers that he come home well and full of the joy of the Lord to refresh them with. Last of all he blesses them with peace. Lord, may we love the body like Paul did. May we spread your name to people who have never heard or understood.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Read Ro. 15:1-13 When Jesus came down to earth to live as a man he humbled himself to do that. He chose to give up all the comforts and privileges and freedoms of heaven to be constrained by time, limited by lack, and limited by his humanity. He chose to bear the infirmities of the weak, take the criticism and persecution and finally die a very violent death. He chose to become weak that we might grow to be strong. That is what we as mature Christians need to do. Sometimes it is better to hold back and not share all our “knowledge”. Sometimes it is better to restrain from a freedom to keep another Christian accountable. Jesus chose to come to earth to identify with us so that we could identify with him. We need to show that kind of humility with our brothers and sisters. Being humble doesn’t make us weak, it just makes us like Jesus who’s the strongest of all. God wants us to be of one mind and one mouth in our praise to God. He isn’t interested in a hierarchy, he’s interested in us becoming one. The Jews felt like they were the hierarchy and the Gentiles were below them, but Paul was trying to set the score even. He points out prophecy in the Old Testament that includes the Gentiles in worshiping God. Isaiah prophecies that Jesus is going to come forth and reign over the Gentiles and they were going to trust in him. Paul ends with a great admonition. Let’s make this our prayer today: May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may superabound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Amen!
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Read Ro. 14:17-23 The kingdom of God is not full of natural stimulation, but spiritual stimulation. In this life we do natural things like eating and drinking to fill ourselves with nutrition and joy but in the kingdom of God we are satisfied by filling ourselves with things like righteousness, peace, and joy. If we choose the spiritual things above the natural then God is pleased and so is man. We are to look for things that please both God and our fellow Christians. There was a big controversy in the church about eating meat. The Jews had strict laws about eating clean meat - not meat that may have been offered to idols. So to keep from maybe eating some of this idol meat, it became a practice not to eat any meat. That way you were sure you didn’t eat something unclean. Paul was trying to explain to them that it wasn’t the meat that was clean or unclean - it was their hearts. If they could eat meat and not feel defiled then they were free to eat it. If they couldn’t, then it was considered unclean. If they did’t believe it was a sin to eat meat and they were with someone who does, then they need to not eat it either in preference to them. In our society, I relate that to social drinking. Some Christians don’t think there is anything wrong with drinking beer and an occasional mixed drink. According to the Bible, it is not wrong… only if you get drunk. I, personally, don’t drink anything mainly because I was raised that way and it would defile my conscience to drink. It does offend me when people who know this chose to drink in front of me, but it doesn’t cause me to stumble as far as wanting to drink. I just have to deal with the offense. I truly know that it is ok with God for them to drink, it just doesn’t change my conviction for myself. If your faith allows you to drink then verse 22 says you are to keep that to yourself and enjoy your freedom. Verse 23 is more for me. It says that if I decided to try a drink just to test my convictions, it would be a sin because I would not be doing it with a clean conscience. Lord, today as we reflect back on 9-11 help us to remember to pray for our nation to turn back to you.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Read Ro. 14:1-16 We might not have so many different denominations if we actually lived by these first few verses. Paul warns us not to argue over our convictions that have to do with what is lawful to do or not do. He is directing this to people who try to influence new believers into living by their standards. Their convictions are between them and God. God is more than able to show a person what is acceptable and what is not. It is not our job to judge any man. One day we will all give an account to God as to how we obeyed him. I wonder how many people judged Hosea when God told him to go and marry a prostitute. How can we know why or what God leads another person to do? We are to judge ourselves and be sure that we aren’t doing anything that would cause our brothers or sisters to lose faith or sin. I remember what a famous preacher once said when observing the freedom he noticed in other Christians and asked God about it. God’s response was, “others may, you may not.” There are things that I choose not to do strictly because I know it might be a wrong influence on others. God has given each man a conscience which has been influenced by what he has been taught and by his God-given nature. To defile this conscience is sin to that person. It is not necessarily sin to others. The Israelites didn’t know the things that God liked or hated till the law was given them to show them. We just need to be sensitive to the people around us and be motivated by love. I just got back from a mission trip to Ghana, Africa. We were told to wear long skirts there because pants were considered the dress of a prostitute. We honored their wishes even though we all wear pants in the US. Lord, help us to be motivated by love in everything we do.
Monday, September 9, 2013
Read Ro. 13:10-14 We are not to bring harm to our fellow Christians. Once again he tells us that to love is to do the law. (If only the people of the Old Testament had known this). It does sound easy, but it is not always. That is why the next verse tells us it is time to wake up out of our spiritual slumber. If we are going to be children of the light then we need to not walk in the dark but put on the armor of light. We know that this is the armor talked about in Eph. 6. But, just in case we didn’t, verse 14 explains it even better. We are to put on Jesus. How do we do that? I want to jump up and down and shout “JESUS IS INSIDE US!” This is the best kept secret of Christians. If we really realize that we don’t have to walk this Christian life on our own - Jesus is in us. Whenever I need a creative idea, which happened yesterday, I just remind myself that the creator of the universe is inside me. Then I ask Him what to do. He always amazes me. I think I shared with you that God led me to write a book. It is called “Sarah’s Story” and it is about a girl in high school who finds herself pregnant and alone in a new city. She is a Christian and through the book, she learns to walk with God. It is an amazing story… I can say that because I promise, I didn’t write it. I would sit down to type out my ideas and my hands would type God’s ideas. I was just the vehicle God wanted to use to get this girl’s story out. Yesterday, I was thinking about the cover of the book and decided I would try to paint the cover. I sort of had an idea, but when I sat down and asked God to do it, he did something totally different. It’s perfect! I can’t wait to let you know when it will be out. Hopefully, before Christmas! Lord, today, help us to put you on and not make any fleshly decisions.
Friday, September 6, 2013
Read Romans 13:1-9 Everything that breathes is under the authority of a superior superpower. And there is no power greater than that of God. He gave everything else its power - even Satan. If we try to oppose the powers that God has put over us we are opposing his will and will be judged for it. What we don’t seem to realize is that Satan is not a higher power. He has been put under our feet at the cross and is subject to the spirit of God in us. We don’t have to fear authority on earth if we are doing good, only if we aren’t. We need to learn to submit to authority not only because it will save us from judgment but also because it keeps our conscience clean. Authority is for our good so we need to pay them for what they do. We should pay our taxes, tip our waiters, give respect to our elders and our leaders, and honor those who are in authority over us - from our parents to the White House. We are to let love be our only debt. If we love then we will fulfill all the laws in the Bible. We won’t commit adultery, we won’t kill, or slander someone, or steal from them. or want what they have. Jesus said that love was the fulfillment of the first and second commandment and if we could just do these two, then we will automatically do the rest. So all we need to know is to love God with all our heart and then to love one another as much as we love ourselves. Lord, this sound so simple till we come across difficult circumstances and difficult people. Help us to love through all these things.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Read Ro. 12: 18-21 We are to earnestly try to live in peace with all men. This is not always possible. We have friends that are having so much trouble with a troubled neighbor. She seems to be intent on evil and making their lives miserable. We can’t make people like us or be nice to us but that is not what this verse says. It just says that we are to do our part of trying to make peace. God will do the rest. I have another friend who is a single woman who was offended by some inappropriate comments her neighbor made to her. He was someone who did odd jobs and helped her from time to time. When he heard how she took his inappropriate comments he tried to make her feel guilty of thinking bad of him. They didn’t talk for about a year, but she just told me that she is trying to make amends with him and let him start helping her again. They talked things out and have come to an understanding of how his behavior needs to be. I was so proud of both of them. That is a great example of this scripture. Sometimes peace is a process that God has to work over time. David tried to mend things with Saul, but Saul couldn’t conform. God brought about the peace through Saul’s death. David was commended by God because he didn’t seek revenge, only peace. God says that, “vengeance is his”. He repays everyone what is due them. If God is the one who takes care or our offenses then we are free to feed our enemy when he is hungry and give them water when they are thirsty. By doing this it might make them feel guilty and repent, but, that is not the reason we do this. By doing good to our enemies we overcome evil with good just like Jesus covers our sin with his righteousness. So we can comfort ourselves in knowing we are being like Jesus. The results are God’s business. Lord, help us not to be offended easily but see what You are doing in the situation. Give us creative ways to bless our enemies.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Read Ro. 12:16, 17 We are to see everyone in the same light. In the second chapter of James, James goes into detail about this scripture. He says that if someone walks into your church and is dressed richly you should treat him the same way as a homeless person. It makes me humble when I ask myself, would I have followed Jesus when he was here or would I have thought he was a crazy man. Isaiah says that there was nothing about him that we would desire him. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Many hid their face from having eye contact with him because he was so unappealing. His description sounds just like a homeless person. If he walked into our church in this form, what would be our response. Would I ignore him and pretend not to notice this new face? I hope I wouldn’t. As Americans, we seem obsessed with watching the rich and how they live. There are so many magazines about ‘who’s doing what with who’ and as long as they are famous, people buy these magazines and read about their favorite celebrity like they know them. I am also amazed at the attention that Kate and William are getting. The encouragement there is that they seem to be good role models so far and there is not the dirty news about them…yet. Hopefully, there won’t be. Verse 17 says that we are not to return bad treatment to a person that treats us poorly. We love revenge and think it is somehow justified. It is if you want to live according to this world. We are suppose to forgive, no matter what - whether they ask for it or not. The rest of the verse tells us to be honest to everyone. If we are honest in small things then people will be more receptive to hearing and believing what we say about Jesus. Lord, help us to be honest in our dealings today.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Read Ro. 12:15 I am writing to you on the anniversary of my mom’s death and todays exhortation is to rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with them that weep. I opened my e-mail today and there was an message from my best friend that no longer lives here. I had sent her my book I had written so she could write the forward. I was not prepared for what she said. She is an excellent writer and I was bracing myself for constructive criticism, but instead she told me that she tried to read it out loud to her pastor-husband but she ended up crying buckets instead. I was shocked at her reaction to my story but realized that it was not just the story but the fact that my story so shows who I really am and who she knows and she misses our friendship. So I had to skim through the message with wet eyes. Then my husband called to see how I was doing since it was the anniversary of losing my mother. I had been so occupied with Anna’s e-mail that I had forgotten that this was the day even though I had remembered all week. Then my daughter-in-law called me to see how I was doing since it had been a year since Grandma had died and she was thinking of me and I cried again. So I experienced weeping with those who weep and having friends weep with me and I get it. What a comfort to know that I have people around me that really care about my feelings and my well-being. It helps carry the load. Now I need to find someone to rejoice with today! Lord, thank you for making us creatures who need each other and thank you that you have blessed me with wonderful people who make up your body.
Monday, September 2, 2013
Read Ro. 12:14 Bless those that persecute you; don’t curse them. In my daily reading, I read today in Esther. Haman had a grudge against Mortecai since he wouldn’t bow down to him, so Haman decided to kill all of Mortecai’s people, the Jews, to get back at him. Haman went before the king and told the king that there were these people didn’t obey his rules and it would be his best interest to annihilate them. The king agreed without doing any research on his own to see if it was even true. They drew lots to figure out the yearly calendar and it fell on the last month of the year to kill all the Jews. It says that when this edict went out and was read to the people that the whole city of Susa was bewildered. This was a totally unexpected blow. I can’t imagine finding out that my country was going to kill me and my family in 12 months. They had 12 months to think about it and let fear and every other emotion take them over. I’m sure that would be a time when it would be hard to bless the king and not curse him. We live in a time when, as Christians it is hard not to want to curse our political leaders instead of blessing them. I always go back to David who was being hunted down by Saul and given several opportunities to kill him and refused. He always referred to Saul as “God’s anointed.” And he was. So are our leaders. The Bible says that no leader is placed there except by God. A leader is chosen by God and reflects the people’s walk with Him. A nation gets the leader it deserves. We need to learn to find a way to bless our leaders instead of cursing them. If we can’t bless them, then we can pray for them. It all goes back to 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Lord, help us to bless our enemies and those that persecute us, and especially our leaders that you would heal us and our land.