1:21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us. ... 24 ... We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.2:14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ's authority, knowing that God is watching us.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
"Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?"
56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
Friday, July 27, 2007
4 "I have sinned," he declared, "for I have betrayed an innocent man." "What do we care?" they retorted. "That's your problem." 5 Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. 6 The leading priests picked up the coins. "It wouldn't be right to put this money in the Temple treasury," they said, "since it was payment for murder."
Wow! Look how steeped in religion those wicked priests and leaders were. They were so deceived by their own religion that they would gladly murder Jesus, but they wouldn't accept blood money into the treasury! That's where religion alone will take you - straight to hell. I am reminded of James 1:26-27:
26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Contrast the religion of the pharisees with the utility of Paul's life (i.e., his fulfilled purpose):
19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Christ's substitutionary death, and thank you for stripping my own religion from me. I pray that I would only have as much religion as you want me to have, and that it would be characterized by compassion, love, mercy, and faith. Lord, please help me find my purpose in glorifying you and leading others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Please help me run in such a way as to get the prize - disciplined, focused, purposeful. Lord, may you receive all the glory from my life. I pray this in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.
22 And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. 23 God paid a high price for you, so don't be enslaved by the world. 24 Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
|Prov. 25||Matt. 25||I Cor. 5||I Cor. 6|
I need to research this. http://www.christiananswers.net/evangelism/beliefs/
Heavenly Father, thank you for helping me realize that I need to learn more about how to minister to someone who is deceived into thinking he/she is already a Christian. Lord, please guide me as I learn, and please give me another opportunity to share the Love of Jesus Christ with someone who does not know Him. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
1 Cor. 4:3 As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don't even trust my own judgment on this point. 4 My conscience is clear, but that doesn't prove I'm right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. 5 So don't make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.
Monday, July 23, 2007
|Prov. 23||Matt. 23||I Cor. 1||I Cor. 2|
I am amazed at this every time I come across it: Christ is the Wisdom of God. I believe that the personification of Wisdom in Proverbs 8 and 9 is based on Christ, as supported by the following verses in 1 Corinthians 1:
23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense. 24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength... 30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, "If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord."
Now, chapter 1 is mostly in the context of justification (when a person places their faith in Christ). But chapter 2 addresses the Mind of Christ and the Spirit of God at work in our consciences in the context of sanctification (growing in our faith in Christ). Not only is the Gospel message considered foolish by those who are perishing, but they don't understand our lifestyle either - how we make decisions in obedience to the Holy Spirit, which goes against the "natural" things of this world:
12 And we have received God's Spirit (not the world's spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths. 14 But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. ... 16 For,Prayer
"Who can know the Lord's thoughts?
Who knows enough to teach him?"
But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing the truth of the Gospel to me, and thank you for giving me your own Spirit to guide me according to your plan for my life. Jesus, I confess you to be the definition of Wisdom; I humble myself before your perfect wisdom and I ask you to make my mind like the Mind of Christ. Lord, I pray that my life would be a validation that your plan is good, pleasing, and perfect, and that other people will see your kindness, mercy, and grace in my life and want a personal relationship through Christ Jesus. I pray that I will not care that the world doesn't understand my lifestyle, but that I will only care what you think of my lifestyle - living in obedience to the Holy Spirit, moment by moment. I pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ. There is power in that name. Amen.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
|Prov. 21||Matt. 21||Rom. 13||Rom. 14|
My wife and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday, and we had a wonderful time. We had fun driving through downtown on our way to our favorite Mexican food restaurant (we received a gift card to this restaurant from my parents at Christmas, so we were excited about eating there for our anniversary).
When we arrived, the hostess informed us that there was a 45 minute wait, so we perused the menu and decided what we would have for dinner. Then my wife suggested that I open my gift. She gave me a very sweet and genuine card that was very special, and she told me that the enormous gift bag had several gifts inside it. (This is one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever received; she told me that she has learned a lot about me since we were married, and she brainstormed items to give me in honor of those things she has learned about me.) She instructed me to draw them out one at a time, and she would explain the significance of each gift...
- Frisbee - we are both adventuresome and enjoy outdoor activities and having fun playing games
- package of socks - she enjoys and wants to take care of me, and she is glad that God has given her the opportunity to be my helpmate
- Unveiling Islam (Caner and Caner) - for my personal growth in Christ and encouragement as I seek the Lord's direction for our family
- automotive fuel treatment - she feels blessed that God has given me handyman skills to help our family and others with automotive maintainance
- precision mechanical pencils - I've been a collegiate engineering student the whole time we've been married
- coin-role wrappers (not Jamaican musicians) - she is thankful that I am frugal
- Easy Cheese - she knows I used to get it as a treat when I was a kid... and I'm pretty cheesy sometimes
- Frappuccinos; Toblerone and Ferrero Rocher chocolates - she thinks I have a sophisticated side, and she likes to treat me
- Corn Nuts - I have certain idiosyncrasies that she does not like, but she accepts me anyway
- photo album - she looks forward to the future that God has planned for us
All of these gifts were very sweet and thoughtful, but the most valuable gift she gave me was a bottle of Liquid Paper correction fluid. She told me that the Lord is so gracious that He is whiting out my past mistakes that have hurt her heart. I was sincerely moved, as was she, and I just held her there in the waiting area of that restaurant for a few moments, thanking and praising God that He is so merciful to forgive my sins, purify me, and bring healing to our souls. This is what is so sweet about a marriage centered around Christ - He is actively involved in our hearts and minds, sanctifying our relationships, and bringing the Father glory. The joy and peace of a Christ-centered marriage is indescribable; He gives us the strength to persevere and the abundant life He promises to those who trust Him.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, who not only died on the cross to pay the debt of my sins, but He lives in my heart today, and He works miracles in my marriage - all for your glory! Lord, I pray that you will continue to purify me and mold me into the husband you want me to be - an example of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the same way, I ask that you continue to work in my wife's heart to shape her into an example of the Church - the bride of Christ. Spirit, I pray that you will fill our marriage with your fruit, and that other people would be drawn to a relationship with you through the testimony of our life. Lord, I pray that you will lead us along the path of righteousness that you have planned for us, and may we always give you the praise and honor you so richly deserve. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
|Prov. 19||Matt. 19||Rom. 9||Rom. 10|
I had a great time catching up with a buddy over dinner last night. He brought up the Pope's recent statement that all non-Roman Catholic denominations are defective and unable to provide salvation. First of all, salvation belongs to the LORD ( i.e, Jehovah, Jesus, & Spirit), not to any man or church! Second, salvation is extended from the LORD to anyone who places their eternal salvation in the sacrificial work of Jesus, the Christ. Albert Mohler provides an outstanding explanation of the implications of this statement - No, I'm Not Offended.
"Coincidentally," I came through Romans 9 and 10 this morning which ties in perfectly, and I have selected a few of the pillar verses that explain the salvation situation precisely:
9:30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow
God's standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this
took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God
by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get
right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled
over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures
when he said,
"I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that
makes people stumble, a rock that makes them
fall. But anyone who trusts in
him will never be disgraced."
brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the
people of Israel to be saved. 2 I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it
is misdirected zeal. 3 For they don't understand God's way of making people
right with himself. Refusing to accept God's way, they cling to their own way of
getting right with God by trying to keep the law. 4 For Christ has already
accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who
believe in him are made right with God. ... 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 L ord will be saved."
So, how does this apply to me, since I already believe this? Well, the following few verses engage the personal challenge:
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!"
Prayer Heavenly Father, thank you for offering salvation to everyone in the world through Jesus's death on the cross to pay the penalty of sin. Lord, thank you that anyone can come to you through faith for eternal salvation. Lord, I praise you for your goodness, kindness, love, mercy, and grace. Now, Father, I pray that you will send me to tell those who have not heard the Good News message of Jesus Christ! Father, I pray that the people around me would hear the Gospel message and would believe and repent. Lord, I pray for my friends around me, and especially the friend I met with last night, that they would see your overwhelming love and kindness that is explained in the Bible and demonstrated in my life. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. 5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to DEATH. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to LIFE and peace.
9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. ... 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you LIFE because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give LIFE to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. 12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will DIE. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will LIFE.
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. 31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.") 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
The truly righteous man attains life,
but he who pursues evil goes to his death.
"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
And the crowd followed behind, shouting, "Kill him, kill him!"
- justified by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ and declared righteous by God, eternally set apart with Him
- condemned with the world