The True Children of God


Daily Bible Reading – John 7, 8

Today’s Key Passage – John 8:31-51

 

As children, most of us learn how to live based on what we see our parents do.  Children tend to imitate authority figures, so the words and the actions of a parent are mirrored in their children.  If the parents lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead, so too will the children.  Likewise, if the parents are good, kind, and generous, the children will be as well.  It works the same way with being children of God.  True children of God imitate their Father in Heaven.  We study His ways and do everything we can to try to be like Him.  Going to church or reading the Bible does not make us children of God.  To be true children of God, we must follow Him and obey Him.  That is not always easy to do, and we will all pay a price to live our lives in this way, but the reward is great.  Jesus said that whoever obeys His word would never see death.

The bottom line is that every one of us will live forever.  We may not live long in these temporal bodies that we currently inhabit, but we will all live forever.  The children of God – the people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior – will spend eternity with their Father in Heaven.  The people who reject Jesus Christ will spend eternity in hell.  We have all heard about hell in the past.  We have all heard about the eternal fires that rage and how bad that must be, but the burning fire is not really the worst part of hell.  You see, everything good and pleasing that we experience in this life comes from God.  Laughing with our kids, a romantic dinner with our spouse, and a good cup of coffee are all gifts from God.  The biggest problem with hell is the complete absence of God.  Without God, there is nothing good there at all.  There is no laughing, no smiling, and no happy moments.  I know this all sounds pretty harsh, but that is where the good news of the Gospel comes into play.  God does not want any of us to spend our eternity in hell.  He wants all of us to be His children.  To make this happen, he has offered us a gift – the gift of His Son Jesus Christ.  In less than a week, most of us will be opening gifts that other people have given us on Christmas day.  Some of the gifts will be good, and some will be bad, but we will undoubtedly open all of them.  The gift God has given us is the best gift imaginable – it is the gift of eternal life.  If you have never opened that gift, I pray that you will today.  It is sitting in front of you, waiting to be opened.  It is sitting in front of people you know who are far away from God, waiting to be opened.  May we all open that gift, bask in its salvation, and then spend our lives obeying and imitating our Father.  May we all be the true children of God.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Deserting Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – John 5, 6

Today’s Key Passage – John 6:53-69

 

Jesus said that He was the Bread of Life.  While he did not literally mean that the disciples should eat of Him as bread and drink His blood, for some of the disciples the imagery of His statements was simply too difficult to understand.  This shocking message sounded cannibalistic to some of the disciples, and we learn that at this point, “many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him”. (6:66)  They may have deserted Jesus because they realized that He was not going to be the Messiah King they expected Him to be, or maybe they deserted Him simply because His teachings were difficult to understand and some of His words might offend them.  Either way, Jesus made it clear to the disciples (and to us) that there are really only two choices when it comes to Him – we can choose to accept Him or reject Him.  That is it.  There is no middle ground.

As we all walk the Christian life, there are going to be many times when we may be tempted to desert Jesus.  Some of His teachings are difficult, either because we cannot understand them completely, or because they are so convicting of our sins.  As an example, some people have a difficult time accepting Jesus teaching about money and possessions.  Jesus made it clear that we should not be so concerned with storing up our money and possessions and trying to have it all, but we should instead give of our money, time, and talents to further His Kingdom.  For many, this is a difficult concept because it goes against everything we have been taught by the world since we were very young.  What happens, then, is that some people decide to ignore that part of Jesus teaching.  Unfortunately, it does not work that way.  We do not get to choose which parts of Jesus’ teachings we are going to adhere to in our lives.  When we do this, and we reject a part of Jesus’ teaching, we are effectively deserting Jesus in that moment just like so many of the disciples did when they could not understand His teaching on being the Bread of Life.

Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”.  He tells us that every day, we must make a choice to follow Him completely.  When His teachings seem difficult or when they convict us of sin, pray for God to give us understanding of His Word and the courage to act on His truth.  Peter summed it up best when Jesus asked if the twelve also wanted to desert Him by saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (6:68-69)  Following Jesus is the only way to eternal life.  He is our only hope, and our only option, and what a beautiful option it is.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Taking Our Problems to Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – John 2-4

Today’s Key Passage – John 2:1-11

 

In Jesus’ day, weddings were weeklong festivals of celebration.  Running out of wine at such an event would have been very embarrassing for the families of the bride and groom, so when Mary realized there was a problem, she went to Jesus for help.  When Mary asked Jesus for help, she might not have thought He would perform a miracle to solve this problem.  She may have simply hoped that He would help the family by going out and finding more wine.  Even though this was likely the solution she had in mind when she brought the problem to Jesus, He had other plans on how to solve the problem.  Instead of going out to find more wine, He simply created the wine out of water.  When the master of the banquet tasted the wine, he realized that the wine made by Jesus was far better than the original wine provided by the hosts.

Like Mary, when we face a problem in our everyday lives, we should take these problems to Jesus.  We may have a solution for the problem already mapped out in our minds, but the solution Jesus provides may not always match up to our expectations.  Jesus responds to problems in His own way and by His own will, so sometimes the solutions He provides will take us by surprise.  When Jesus gets involved and solves a problem, the solution He provides is always going to be so much better than any solution we can come up with on our own.  Many people spend most of their lives trying to solve all of their problems alone.  They try to fix their issues without the help of Jesus.  So often, we look to everything but God for answers and for meaning, but our lives in Christ are so much better than any life we can have on our own.  We should not wait until everything else runs out before we turn to Jesus for help.  We should seek Him out and ask Him for guidance even before we run out of wine.  Instead of saving the best for last, we can put Jesus first in our lives and allow Him to solve our problems before they even occur.  Have faith that He wants to solve your problems, no matter what they are.  Nothing is too great for Jesus.  No problem is too big or too small.  He wants to help us, and He WILL help you in ways that you cannot imagine.  Praise Him today for His goodness, be open to His solutions, and resolve to “do whatever He tells you”.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Stereotyping Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – 2 Peter 1-3; John 1

Today’s Key Passage – John 1:43-51

 

For most of the Jews in Jesus’ day, Nazareth was a very unpopular place because a Roman army garrison was stationed there.  Some have also speculated that the people of Nazareth may have had a bad reputation of loose morals and lax religion at the time.  Because of these stereotypes, Nathanael was surprised to hear that the Messiah was from Nazareth.  Philip’s reply to Nathanael was simply, “Come and see”. (1:46)  Fortunately for Nathanael, he took Philip’s advice and went to see for himself who Jesus was.  What he found changed his life forever, as he became a disciple and spent his life following Jesus Christ.  If he had not overcome his initial prejudice, he would never have met Jesus and would have missed this life-changing experience.

There are countless stereotypes that people have about Jesus, Christianity, the Bible, and the Church.  Some people claim that Jesus was a “good man” or a “great teacher” but say that He was not God.  Other people think Jesus just wants to take away all of our fun and make us follow a bunch of rules.  Some think that people who are “born again” are religious zealots who use Christianity as a “crutch”, and still others think that the Church is only after their money.  Stereotypes and prejudices against the message of Jesus Christ abound everywhere in this world.  Sadly, many people hold onto these stereotypes their entire lives and never truly come to know the joy and the peace that comes with knowing Jesus.  As followers of Christ, our calling is to help them find Him.  Just as Philip told Nathanael to “Come and see”, we should also be inviting people to come and see who Jesus really is.

When Nathanael met Jesus, he was convinced that He was the Messiah because Jesus knew him and told him that He had seen him under the fig tree before Philip even called him.  To paraphrase Jesus using my own words, his response to Nathanael was basically – “if you think that was good, just wait until you see what else I have in store for you”.  During Jesus’ life on earth, He performed many miracles that ultimately convinced many people that He truly was the Son of God.  While Jesus is not still walking the earth changing water into wine, He is still performing miracles in the hearts and lives of believers today.  These miracles can easily be seen by anyone truly looking to investigate Jesus for themselves with an open heart.  Amid the hustle and bustle of this Christmas season, do not let people’s stereotypes or prejudices about Jesus, Christianity, the Bible, or the Church cause them to miss Jesus.  Help them see for themselves the miraculous things He does for us.  Invite someone new to church.  Talk to others about Jesus Christ.  Allow people to see the miracles He has performed in your life by being a good witness for Him.  Then watch as they find out who He truly is and start to follow Him.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Retaliation and Threats


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Peter 1-5

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Peter 2:13-25

We have undoubtedly all seen the movie – the one where the main character finds himself in a bit of a jam.  Sometimes the hero is being beaten or tortured.  Other times the hero is allegedly about to be killed before he somehow finds a way out of it.  Growing up in the 80’s, I was surrounded by these movies.  If I told you to think of one of these movies now, out of every ten people there would probably be eight or nine different answers.  In all of these movies, the plot is typically the same.  While in the dire situation, the hero usually makes a few threats to their attackers, promising them some form of retaliation in the future.  Then later in the movie, the revenge moment comes when the main character finds himself vindicated, sometimes with a funny one-liner in tow.  Thus is the way of this world.  This is the message the world sends us as to how we should all act when we are abused or mistreated.

The story of Jesus Christ is remarkably different.  First, as we see in today’s key passage, Jesus did not threaten anyone during His entire crucifixion ordeal.  He never promised revenge.  He never told any of the Roman soldiers that they would pay for what they were doing.  In fact, Jesus did the exact opposite when He asked His Father in Heaven to forgive them.  Secondly, Jesus did not escape from His situation and exact revenge on his accusers.  Instead, He acted as a lamb led to slaughter.  He was fully man, and fully God.  At any time, He could have turned the tables on his attackers, but He knew that this was all part of the plan.  He did not try to fight it.  Instead, he simply put His faith and trust in the Father, and surrendered everything to His will.

The next time you are faced with a dire situation – even if it is simply a matter of someone mistreating you – you will have a choice.  You can choose to react the way the world tells you to react – the way Hollywood says is right, or you can follow Jesus’ example and simply put your faith and trust in God and surrender everything to His will.  The former may bring you a little bit of glory, but the latter will bring all the glory to Jesus Christ.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Taming the Tongue


Daily Bible Reading – James 1-5

Today’s Key Passage – James 3:3-12

 

Our words are powerful.  What we say (or sometimes what we choose not to say) can make a huge impact on those around us.  In Proverbs 18:21 we learn that, “the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit“.  If you really think about this passage, you will find it to be absolutely true (just like everything else in the Bible).  Every argument we have is due (at least in part) to words.  Every time we have consoled another person, we have done it (at least in part) with words.  Every time we have shown love towards another person, we have done it (at least in part) with words.

We can all probably improve our ability to tame our tongues.  James compares the damage the tongue can do with a fire.  Our words can lash out at others and rage uncontrollably, and just like the damage done by a fire, the damage done by our words is often difficult if not impossible to repair.  Long-term relationships can end by the power of the tongue.  Churches can experience disunity by the power of the tongue.  People can become distracted from their faith and lose sight of God by the power of the tongue.  Conversely, God can be praised by the power of the tongue.  New friendships can be formed by the power of the tongue.  People can start down a path that leads them into the arms of Jesus Christ by the power of the tongue.

How are you at taming your tongue?  How often do you allow your tongue to become untamed?  Do you gossip, put others down, brag, manipulate, exaggerate, complain, flatter, or lie?  All of these are examples of an untamed tongue.  Do you ever turn your back on someone who is sinning without correcting them in love?  This is also an example of an untamed tongue.  Think about your words today.  What do you need to say to others to show the love of Christ?  What do you need to leave unsaid today to communicate your witness for Him?  What can you say today to build someone up instead of tearing him or her down?  Fight some fires today that were started by the power of the tongue, and avoid starting any new ones.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

A Father’s Discipline


Daily Bible Reading – Hebrews 12,13; Jude

Today’s Key Passage – Hebrews 12:4-13

 

When I read today’s key passage, I am reminded of a time when my wife and I had to discipline our daughter by sending her to her room.  When she came back out to apologize, we took some time explaining to her the reason for the correction.  We explained to our daughter that we were not mad at her but were instead mad at her actions, and that we only discipline her because we love her and because we want what is best for her.  As we were telling her this, I could see in her eyes that she was confused.  It can be confusing, especially to a child, to think of discipline as being an act of love.

When I look back on my childhood, I can remember some of the times when I received correction and discipline from my parents.  At the time, I obviously did not enjoy the corrections, but looking back on it now, I am grateful to my parents for loving me enough to try to shape me into a good person.  As parents, we all have the responsibility to try to raise our children to live according to God’s standards, and I am so thankful to my parents for the job they did.  I am now able to understand that every time I received discipline, it was done in love for me.  If my parents did not care about me, they would have let me do whatever I wanted to do without consequence, but fortunately that was not the way it worked.  As much as human parents love their children, the love God has for his children is infinitely greater.  If the love is greater, it only makes sense that the corrections would be greater.  Do not get me wrong, I am not talking about an angry God who smites us down to teach us a lesson, but God does provide us with corrections.  From time to time, He gently nudges us back onto the correct path.  Sometimes it happens when we read a passage and are convicted in a way we have never been convicted before.  Sometimes it happens in the circumstances we find ourselves facing.  Sometimes it happens during prayer.  God always speaks to us, and urges us to get back on the straight and narrow.  The question, then, is not whether or not God will discipline us.  As a loving Father, He will provide correction.  The only question that remains is how we will deal with that discipline.  Will we get angry at Him for it?  Will we rebel against it?  Will we think we did not deserve it?  Will we allow it to bring us down?  Hopefully, we will see it as an act of love from our perfect Father in Heaven, thank him for the correction, and make our way back to the path He wants us to follow.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

God Will Remember No More


Daily Bible Reading – Hebrews 9-11

Today’s Key Passage – Hebrews 10:11-23

 

We have all heard the saying “forgive and forget”.  Practically speaking, for most of us even when we are able to forgive, forgetting proves to be much more difficult.  It is hard to forget about past hurts and past injustices.  Fortunately, our Father in Heaven does not have this problem.  In the old Jewish system, the priests’ work was never done.  They constantly had to offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins.  They were always standing.  Christ finished the job and took a seat – not just any seat, but the one at the right hand of the Father.  While the priests’ work could not completely remove all sin, Christ’s work cleansed each of us from sin entirely.

Men who were guided by the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible.  It is inerrant and absolutely true.  God is our perfect creator who never lies.  Therefore, when we read in Hebrews that God said, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more” (10:17), we know that He means what He said.  When we confess our sin to God, he immediately forgives us, but He does so much more than that.  He also forgets about our sins, and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  When a person goes to trial and is found “not guilty”, legally his criminal record is expunged and it is as if he was never even accused of the crime.  God’s forgiveness works the same way.  Once He forgives us, it becomes as if we had never committed the sin in the first place.

For most of us, it can be difficult not to dwell in the past.  It is sometimes hard for us to forget what we have done.  It is hard for us not to want to ask for forgiveness for the same sins repeatedly.  God tells us we do not need to do that.  He says He has forgiven us and will remember no more.  Let us all take a lesson from God on this – once you have confessed your sins to God, trust that He has forgiven you and then remember to remember no more.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

God Provides an Answer


Daily Bible Reading – Hebrews 5-8

Today’s Key Passage – Hebrews 6:1-12

We all get discouraged.  There are times when we feel like we might be working in vain.  Sometimes, we might even feel like God has forgotten about us.  We may not always see the rewards of our actions.  We might face rejection on this earth repeatedly.  We might try to speak the truth to people who do not want to hear it, and it might even appear that we are not reaching anyone through our actions.  The fact is we are not working in vain.  God will never forget about us.  He is just and good, and He will reward us for our work – maybe not in this life but in our eternal life to come.  While we may face rejection in this world, God will never reject us.  While it may seem that no one is hearing us, the Bible says in Isaiah 55:11 that, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  His Word does not return void.

It is amazing the way God works.  It is amazing the things that He does and the ways that He goes about providing us direction.  About a year ago, I went through a time of discouragement.  I wondered if I was making any difference in this world, and I prayed night and day seeking God’s direction for my life.  One day, my daughter was over at a friend’s house playing until she came running back home crying.  As I sat in my office writing, she came in and sat on my lap.  While I was trying to comfort her and dry her tears, I still did not really understand what could have upset her so much.  Finally, she told me what had happened.  In the simple words of my seven year old, she said she “didn’t feel wanted over there” at her friend’s house.  I dried her eyes and explained that there are times when all of us feel like we are not wanted.  I told her that I felt like that too sometimes and that sometimes people will disappoint us and make us feel that way.  Then I told her that there was someone who would never make her feel unwanted or rejected.  When I asked her if she knew whom I was talking about, I expected her to answer that I was talking about her Mommy and me.  Instead, it melted my heart when her face immediately brightened as she said, “God!”  She got it!  She knew in that moment that God would never make her feel unwanted.  I knew in that moment that He would never make me feel unwanted either.

Today as I was going through my daily Bible study, I got to the passage above.  As so often is the case, this passage jumped off the page to me.  It was as if it were the only passage on the page.  “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (6:10-12)  This passage was written for the Jewish Christians who were thinking about going back to Judaism.  It was written for me.  It was written for you.  His Word speaks to all of us.  God communicates with us all the time.  When we go to Him in prayer, He WILL provide an answer.  All we have to do is wait and listen.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Finding Something Better


Daily Bible Reading – Philemon; Hebrews 1-4

Today’s Key Passage – Hebrews 1:1-4

Most people are constantly striving for something better.  A better house, a better job, a better car, a better phone, and better relationships seem to be the trend.  The Bible tells us that most of time, we are better off being content with what we have.  There are times, though, when it is good to seek something better.  We should all strive to have a better relationship with God, a better understanding of His word, and better ways to serve His Kingdom.  The Book of Hebrews is all about something better.  It was written to Jewish Christians who were tempted to abandon Christianity and go back to Judaism.  This Book pleads with these believers not to leave the faith, because faith in Jesus Christ offers something better.  In the first three verses, the author of the Book explains that we have a better message and a better messenger.

Since the Bible was first written, there has always been a good message.  God spoke to the people in the Old Testament in various ways and at various times.  As good as the Old Testament is, though, it is an incomplete message.  The Old Testament speaks of promises that were not yet fulfilled.  The New Testament fulfills these promises with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In addition, in the Old Testament, God spoke through good men like Moses, David, and Daniel who received messages from God and wrote them down.  In the New Testament, good godly men also wrote down the Word of God with direction from the Holy Spirit, but there is a difference.  Hebrews 1:2 says, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son”.  God sent a special messenger to Heaven to speak for us.  Jesus Christ is our messenger, and He is a messenger not available in the Old Testament.  He is a better messenger for us because of who He is, and what He has done.

Be grateful in the knowledge that we have something better.  Our faith in Jesus Christ has given us a better message and a better messenger.  That faith will also provide us with something better than anything in this world – eternal life with our Savior.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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