Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. "If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean," he said. 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. "I am willing," he said. "Be healed!" 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.
1 If I could speak in any language in heaven or earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountainand make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
but the godly are as bold as lions.
to obey the law is to fight them.
but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.
but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells two parables that really speak to me. First, there are ten bridesmaids, and five of them do not prepare for the bridegroom being late. They attempt to make amends, but it is too late. The first question is, am I prepared to meet the bridegroom at all? ( i.e., Have I placed my faith in Christ Jesus alone?) The second question is, am I staying awake, eagerly awaiting His return?
The second parable is about a rich man that divides 5, 2, and 1 bags among 3 servants. The first two servants double their master's money, but the third buries it. The verse that cuts me to the heart is Matthew 25:29:
To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.
Heavenly Father, please help me be ready for your coming. Please help me be focused on doing your will. Please help me honor you with the resources you have placed in my stewardship. I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
listen carefully to words of knowledge.
my own heart will rejoice!
Keep your heart on the right course.
also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.
May your eyes take delight in following my ways.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
"The message is very close at hand;
it is on your lips and in your heart."
And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: 9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced." 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!"
Heavenly Father, I praise you for being just. I praise you for always being honest. Thank you for showing me mercy through Faith in Christ Jesus. Thank you for the missionaries who are sent to preach the Good News. Please bless and protect the missionaries that share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Lord, please send more workers to the plentiful harvest. Amen.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
As I read Proverbs 13 with my wife this morning, we were drawn to focus on the verses emphasizing the substance of your speech and how you take advice and criticism. According to Christ's teaching, your words are an indication (an overflow) of your heart. As I think about this, I realize that I am usually very critical, probably because I am an engineer by trade. However, as a Believer in Christ, I must allow Him to speak encouraging things through me instead of being so pessimistic and critical. I need to be less concerned with giving criticism and more concerned with taking criticism.
Accepting advice and criticism is only possible when demonstrating humility. As we know, the Lord gives grace to the humble, but He stiff-arms the proud (He holds them at a distance.) Accepting criticism is acknowledging that you don't know everything and that you need help. This is the attitude God wants us to have.
Heavenly Father, thank you for opening my eyes to my critical and sometimes negative speech. I confess that this is not what you want from my heart. Please change me from the inside so that I will honor and glorify you in all I say. Please help me listen to wise advisers and accept criticism so that I can grow into the man you want me to be. Amen.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
In Acts 21, Paul is in the Temple in Jerusalem, and some rascal Jews stir up a riot by accusing him of all sorts of falsities. As the Roman guard his hauling Paul away from the riot, he asks to speak to the crowd. They listen to him as he recounts his personal encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, but as soon as he says God told him to go share the Good News to the Gentiles, the crowed erupted with shouting, "Kill him! He isn't fit to live!"
Now, this baffles me. It seems like the Jews were more offended by the notion that Salvation was for Gentiles than they were that Jesus is the only way of Salvation. It seems like they were so religious that they missed the point.
Heavenly Father, don't let me become focused on religion. Please help me only have the religion that you want me to. Help me keep my eyes focused on Jesus so that everything else is in its proper perspective. Amen.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Proverbs 10 lists several worldy things that are worthless (riches, pride, laziness, too much talking, etc.) Matthew 10 records Jesus saying that the world hates him and is an enemy of the Believers. Acts 19 records the City of Ephesus rioting in defense of their god Artemis because Paul is preaching the truth of Jesus Christ.
The world hates God. The world hates Christ. The world hates Christians. The world lies and believes lies. The world want's to kill Christians, just like it killed Christ.
Be on guard! We are in a spiritual war. Be prepared. Know the scriptures. Pray continuously. Encourage the Believers.
Heavenly Father, open my eyes to this battlefield around me. Give me discernment to be aware of the the spiritual battles waged around me. Guard me with your Armor. Let me only be rooted in you, because you are my Strong Fortress. Teach me to stand for the Truth and defend the Faith. Amen.
Friday, March 9, 2007
Proverbs 9:6,10 - 6 Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding. ... 10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Matthew 9:5-6, 37-38 - 5Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." ... 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
Acts 18:5, 9, 28 - 5When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. ... 9One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. ... 28For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
The ways of this world lead to death, but there is life in Christ Jesus. We have the opportunity to have abundant life as we serve the Lord.
Heavenly Father, please open my eyes to the deception of this world so that I can see the death around me. Teach me to fear you and serve you, that I may experience abundant life in you and share this wonderful Grace with others. Amen.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Matthew 8 records an instance where Jesus cast out demons from two strong men in a cemetery. Acts 16 records and instance where Paul cast out a demon from a fortune-telling girl. Was this power over demonic forces exclusive to Jesus and His disciples? Or are we just chickens to stand firm in Christ's authority (Eph. 6)?
Consequently, Paul and Silas are imprisoned for casting out the demon from the girl. As they were locked up in the stocks in prison, they were "praying and singing hymns to God." What a beautiful testimony of being content in Christ. They weren't focused on the circumstances; they were focused on the Person of God. Circumstances change frequently, but the Person of God never changes. That is why it is wonderful to place your faith, hope, and trust in Him, because He will never disappoint, never forsake, never change.
Heavenly Father, I praise You for being the definition of perfect consistency - You never change because You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. I pray that you will teach me to find my identity in you, not in my circumstances. Teach me to meditate on your unchanging attributes so that I will be content in knowing You. Amen.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
There has been much discussion about the purpose and/or effect of works, especially in regard to salvation. I think it is helpful to view this issue through the trilogy of salvation: justification, sanctification, glorification. I believe Scripture clearly states that justification is by Grace through Faith in Christ, and not by works (Eph. 2, Rom. 8). However, sanctification appears to involve suffering in obedience as a mechanism to make us holy (Phil. 3, Heb. 10, John 15). Jesus explains in Matthew 7:19-21 -
19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
True Disciples 21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
This concept is also seen in the life of King David, as Paul cites in Acts 13:22
22 But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’
Heavenly Father, please produce the Fruit of the Spirit in my life. Please let my life be characterized by Your Person. Train me to be a man after your own heart as I seek to obey you. Amen.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Jesus gives quite a bit of insight on prayer at the beginning of Matthew 6, and it is extremely significant that Jesus makes an ultimatum about forgiveness after the model prayer. I see these major points:
1. Don't pray so that you will get attention. In fact, do the opposite. He knows what you do in private and will reward you accordingly.
2. You don't have to catch God up on everything going on; He is more aware of your circumstances than you are.
3. Pray in such a way that you:
a) give God Glory
b) ask for God's Will to be executed
c) ask for your needs to be met
d) ask for forgiveness
e) ask for strength against the enemy's attacks
4. Forgive others so that you will be forgiven by the Father
5. Don't fast so that you will get attention. In fact, do the opposite. He knows what you do in private and will reward you accordingly.
Jesus sort of sums it up with Matthew 6:33: "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."
In Acts 12, we get to see the results of effective prayer: King Herod Agrippa imprisoned Peter, but the night before his trial an angel led him out of jail as the believers were gathered and praying for Peter's safety.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for being omniscient. I praise you for knowing all of my needs and wanting to take care of me. I praise you for knowing what I pray for in private and answering my prayers. I thank you for the confidence it gives me to be a Child of the King. Lord, help me forgive others as you have forgiven me. Teach me to pray. May your will be done. Amen.
Monday, March 5, 2007
I have been married about 4.5 years, so we've had our share of honeymoon/newlywed times and our rocky times. Over the past year and a half, the Lord has really changed my heart and worked on me in many ways, especially in my relationship with my wife. I have come to appreciate her very much, and I have become more impressed with how the Lord has blessed me. So while this meditation may not be very theologically "deep," I find it significant nonetheless. These verses in Proverbs 5 have really become truth in my life:
18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 She is a loving deer, a graceful doe... May you always be captivated by her love.
As I consider the wonderful ways the Lord has blessed me through my wife, I desire to love her and bless her all the more, which reminds of the mysterious metaphor between earthly marriage versus the love of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). This is a practical/experiential component of the Christian life. As we grow in our fear, knowledge, intimacy with Christ, we are able to have a truer relationship with Believers, and especially Believing spouses, in this life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the many blessings you have given me in and through my wife. Please help me honor her and encourage her. Help me cherish her and love her. Help me love her in a way that glorifies your name. Thank you for the sweet experience of knowing her in my relationship with you. Amen.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
I thought of an interesting parallel to Proverbs 4:18:
18 The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.
Take the sun as an image of the Son (Jesus). Before the dawn (e.g., before a person believes), you can observe evidence of the sun's brightness (e.g., you can tell that Jesus is at work in his/her heart).
At the first gleam of dawn (e.g., Justification - when a person puts his/her Faith in Christ), you can see the sun clearly (e.g., you can see Jesus clearly in his/her life according to II Cor. 5:17).
As the sun continues to come over the horizon, you can see more and more of the sun (e.g., Sanctification - you can see more and more of Jesus in the way he/she lives according to Romans 8:28-29, II Cor. 3:18, and Hebrews 10:14).
Then there comes a point, when the whole sun is seen (e.g., Glorification - we stand face to face with our creator and Savior according to I Cor. 13:11-13 and Rev. 22:3-5)!
Heavenly Father, thank you for your wonderful plan of redemption. Please make me brighter and brighter as the light of your Son shines through me as a testimony of your holiness! Amen.
Saturday, March 3, 2007
The latter part of Acts 5 describes the Apostles' run-in with the "law." The Sadducees instructed them not to talk about Jesus, but they did it anyway, so they threw them in jail. An angel let them out, and told them to go back to teaching about Jesus. So, at the next meeting with the officials, the Apostles were flogged and sent away, and here was their response:
41 The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted themActs 6 records a situation where Stephen was debating with some egotistical smartypants that falsely accused him of evil things because they couldn't refute his wisdom. Thus, Stephen was arrested (soon to be martyred) for his obedience to the Lord.
worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. 42 And every day, in the Temple
and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus
is the Messiah.”
How similar these situations are to the example of Christ: he was falsely accused, wrongly punished and beaten, killed for our sin. We look like Christ when we suffer injustice from this world as we faithfully obey the Father.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for the suffering of Christ. I ask you to give me strength as you lead me to suffer according to Christ's holy example. May you be glorified. Amen.
Friday, March 2, 2007
Theme of today's reading: it is not by our own power that we obey the Father, but it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that He enables us to obey Himself.
In Matthew 2, the three wise men obey the Spirit's leading by not going back to see Herod, and Joseph and Mary obey the Spirit by going to Egypt and then to Nazareth (which fulfilled prophecy, of course).
In Acts 1, Jesus tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit will come upon them with POWER and that they will be His witnesses to the immediate region and ultimately, the whole world. In Acts 2-4, Peter and John obey the Spirit by preaching and healing, and more preaching. Remember how fickle Peter was with Christ and contrast that with how he behaves in Acts; this is clearly the work of the Holy Spirit!
And what is it, exactly, that Peter preaches that is so profound? The beautiful, Good News of Jesus Christ:
Acts 3:16-20 (New Living Translation)
16 “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know howActs 4:10-12 (New Living Translation)
crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very
17 “Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to
Jesus was done in ignorance. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had
foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. 19 Now repent of
your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of
refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you
Jesus, your appointed Messiah.
10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,
‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
Heavenly Father, please help me walk in Truth according to your Word. Help me listen to the Holy Spirit and obey! Help me seek your will above all else. Please glorify Yourself through my life. Amen
Thursday, March 1, 2007
I was encouraged much by the succinct message of the Gospel that Peter shares at Pentecost:
It's that easy. We preach the truth of sin and Christ's victory, and then God will bring in those whom He has called through the Holy Spirit's work.
36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” 37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”
Heavenly Father, give me boldness to proclaim the good news through Jesus Christ. Give me opportunity and spiritual discernment. I ask that your Holy Spirit work through me in the lives of those around me. Please bless me by allowing me to participate in your good work by sharing your redemptive plan. Amen.