Monthly Archives: November 2015

Is Anyone Righteous?


Daily Bible Reading – Romans 1-4

Today’s Key Passage – Romans 3:9-24

 

There are many different excuses people use to try to justify their actions.  Some people say that there is no God and therefore they do not have to follow any rules other than their own conscience.  Others think they are not as bad as other people are, and that their sins have only been minor.  Still others think that since they belong to a church or give to the needy, they are automatically righteous in God’s eyes.  Paul spends the first three chapters in Romans debunking all of these myths.  He systematically explains away all of these excuses, and is left with the truth about our righteousness.  He quotes Psalm 14 in today’s key passage to explain that in God’s eyes, none of us is innocent.

We are all guilty of sin.  Based on our own merit, we all deserve to go to hell.  I know that sounds harsh, but Biblically speaking it is the truth.  God does not pull any punches in His Scripture.  He does not try to soften the blow.  If we have ever lied – even once – we are sinners, and as we see in Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death“.  There is no getting around it.  There is no hiding from it.  So how do we answer the question of whether or not anyone is righteous based on his own merit?  According to the Bible, the answer is a definitive “no”.  Fortunately, through Jesus Christ we are justified.  While we will never be righteous on our own, we can become righteous in God’s sight, though faith in Jesus Christ.

Anyone who says he does not need Christ is fooling himself.  Anyone who says he “lives a good life” or that “God will understand” is fooling himself.  Anyone who says he practices “religion” but does not have an actual relationship with Jesus Christ is fooling himself.  Christ is the ONLY way.  We will never measure up without Him.  Some people call that exclusionary, but in fact, Christianity is perhaps the most inclusive religion in the world.  In most religions, there are a series of steps that you have to go through to be justified.  In those religions, you are justified by your actions.  In Biblical Christianity, there is only one thing you need to do – put your faith and your trust in Jesus.  That is it.  Of course, as followers of Christ we still follow rules.  We still try to live our lives by His standards, but we do not do this to try to gain salvation.  Our salvation is already guaranteed through our Savior.  We follow rules and try to become more Christ-like out of our gratitude for what He did for us.  His sacrifice for us was enormous.  If we truly thank Him and praise Him daily, we try our best to follow His lead, and we will share this good news!  Anyone and everyone can become righteous today.  All it takes is a little humility.  All it takes is a little faith.

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.

Encouraging Others


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Thessalonians 4,5; 2 Thessalonians 1-3

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Thessalonians 5:11-24

 

Everyone needs encouragement from time to time.  Near the end of Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica, he talks about encouraging other believers.  His words in today’s key passage, though meant originally for the Thessalonians, are still poignant today and provide us with several examples of how to encourage others in our daily lives.  Paul tells us to build each other up in all ways.  (5:11)  We should respect our leaders and hold them in high regard. (5:12-13)  We should live in peace with one another. (5:13)  We should warn the idle, encourage the timid, and help the weak. (5:14)  We should be patient with everyone we meet. (5:14)  We should resist revenge. (5:15)  We should not put out the Spirit’s fire or treat prophecies with contempt. (5:19-20)  We should avoid all evil, and we should count on God’s constant help to keep us on the path. (5:22-24)

Life is hard.  Many times, we feel like we are the ones who need encouragement and therefore do not feel like we have the capacity to encourage others, but God gives us the power to do it.  Even when we feel discouraged ourselves, we can still encourage others.  Many times all it takes are a few words to turn around a person’s whole day.  In fact, in a broader sense, all it takes are a few words to turn around a person’s whole life.  While that may sound grandiose, keep in mind that most of us began on the path to Christ originally based in part on the words of another.  Words can be very powerful.  Proverbs 18:21 tells us that, “the tongue has the power of life and death“.

Perhaps Paul’s best advice for us is this – “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances“. (5:16-18)  Think about these three concepts for a second, and imagine how much better life would be if we always lived by these words.

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.

The Angel at the Tomb


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 28; 1 Thessalonians 1-3

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 28:1-10

 

When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (who was either Clopas’ wife or the mother of James and John) went to the tomb, they were expecting to find Jesus inside.  What they found instead was an angel of the Lord and an empty tomb.  The angel gave them four messages.  First, the angel said, “do not be afraid“. (28:5)  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a joyful event, not something to fear.  Secondly, the angel told them that, “He is not here; He has risen“. (28:6)  Jesus was not dead as was initially believed by the disciples.  He is not found among the dead, for He is alive and living with His believers.  Third, the angel told them to, “come and see the place where he lay“. (28:6)  The angel was telling them to look at the evidence of the empty tomb.  The angel wanted them to see for themselves that the resurrection was a fact and not something fake.  Finally, he told them to, “go quickly and tell” about the resurrection. (28:7)  The news of a risen Jesus was meant to be shared with others so that everyone could know the good news.

These four messages from the angel applied to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, and they apply to us today.  We should all hear these four messages and follow the two Mary’s examples.  The two Mary’s heard the words of the angel and did what they were told.  They were not afraid of the resurrection.  They understood that Jesus was risen.  They examined the evidence of the resurrection for themselves and found it to be true, and they went and spread the good news of Jesus resurrection.  We should all do the same.  Every time we follow these steps and spread the good news of Jesus resurrection, we are advancing the Kingdom of God.  When was the last time you shared the good news of Jesus with someone else?  We all have the power through the Holy Spirit to do it.  God wants us to do it.  The only thing stopping us from sharing the news is ourselves.  Ask God for boldness in sharing the Gospel and He will give it to you.  Use the gifts He has given you to reach other people for 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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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Regretting Our Decisions


Daily Bible Reading – Psalm 125; Matthew 26, 27

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 27:1-10

 

We do not really know what Judas was thinking when he betrayed Jesus.  Perhaps Judas was tired of waiting on Jesus.  Perhaps he finally realized that Jesus kingdom would not be an earthly kingdom filled with money and power, but a spiritual one.  Perhaps he believed that his betrayal would force Jesus’ hand into revolting against Rome.  Because it is not written in Scripture, we can only speculate about his motives.   What we do know from Scripture is that eventually Judas regretted his decision.  When he finally realized that Jesus was not going to rise up and form a kingdom on earth against Rome and was instead going to be killed, Judas “was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders”. (27:3)  Unfortunately for Judas, it was too late.  The chief priests and the elders had already started down the path to killing Jesus and they were not about to stop their plans now just because Judas had changed his mind. (27:4-10)

Just like Judas, we often regret the decisions we make.  Many of us have things in our pasts that we wish we could change or do differently.  For most of us, these decisions led to events that cannot be changed now.  Though we feel remorse for our decisions, it is unfortunately too late to do anything to change them.  The best we can do is take these decisions to God in prayer and ask Him for forgiveness.  The best part is that if we ask Him for forgiveness with a pure heart and pure motives, He will forgive us.  Unlike humans, God does not keep a record of our past transgressions.  God is able to forgive us of our sins and then move on, and we should do the same.  Not only should we forgive others of their sins against us and move on, we should forgive OURSELVES of our past sins and move on.  If Judas had been able to that, maybe he would not have ended up hanging himself.  Maybe he could have been redeemed.  After all, Peter also disowned Jesus and was able to come back and help start the church.  Holding on to our regrets can lead to our destruction.  At the very least, holding on to our regret can keep us from living the life God intended for us.  Let go of regrets and leave them at the cross.  Then watch as God’s plan for you begins to unfold.

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.

Separating the Sheep from the Goats


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 23-25

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 25:31-46

 

What would you do if Jesus showed up at your door today?  What if He rang your doorbell, and told you that He was hungry and thirsty?  What if He said He needed some clothes to wear or a place to stay?  Would you invite Him in?  As followers of Christ, this should be a pretty easy “Yes” for most of us.  If our Lord and Savior Himself came to us asking for help, most of us would go out of our way to help Him in any way that we can, but helping Jesus is the easy part.  This is no different than being nice to people who are nice to us.  The Bible tells us, though, that we should not just love our friends but our enemies also.  That is the harder part and the more important part.  Just as we should love our enemies, we must help those in need.  We know, Biblically speaking, that Jesus is not going to show up at our door because the next time He comes it will be in glory for the final judgment.  This parable tells us that how we react to needy people in general is how we would act towards Jesus Himself.  Are we inviting them in?  Are we giving them food, drink, and clothing?  Are we taking care of those in need?

Some people debate over what Jesus meant in this story when He said, “these brothers and sisters of mine”.  Some people argue Jesus was referring to Jewish people.  Others think He was talking about Christians in general.  Still others think He was talking about all people everywhere who are in need.  I think the argument of whom he was talking about is not nearly as important as what he was telling us to do.  What if we just assumed He meant all people everywhere who are in need?  What if we decided today to treat every person we encountered on a daily basis as if he were Jesus Christ Himself?  How much differently would we start to live?  What kind of changes would happen in our world if we began viewing every person we met in this way?  Would we not become more generous?  Would we not become more loving?  Would we not become more like Jesus Himself through our actions, which is the whole point of Christianity?  Today, let us all vow to treat everyone we encounter as if he were Jesus, and see what happens.  I promise we will all like the results…

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.

Accepting God’s Invitation


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 20-22

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 22:1-14

 

I remember the first time I read today’s key passage.  I understood the metaphor that the invited guests that refused to come to the banquet were representative of people who have heard God’s message for the world but have chosen to ignore Him and reject Him.  I understood that God sent the invitation to everyone just as God’s grace and salvation is open to everyone.  The one thing I did not understand was the one man who was found without wedding clothes who was kicked out of the banquet.  This seemed harsh to me.  In my young mind, my first thought was – what if the man could not afford wedding clothes?  It seemed so unfair to me, and it was a stumbling block for me, but then I started to learn more about God and about His Scriptures, and I came to understand this passage.  You see, in the days of Jesus when a wedding was announced, the guests were GIVEN wedding clothes to wear.  The person throwing the party freely gave every invited guest some fancy clothes to wear.  This changed everything for me.  The only reason this man would not be wearing the wedding clothes was because he did not think he needed them.  Perhaps he was too proud to wear the clothes or too arrogant.  For whatever reason, I could understand the king’s anger at this man for not putting on the clothes he had provided.

God is having a party and it is called eternal life.  It is going to be the best party you can imagine and everyone is invited.  You have received your invitation and it is in your hands whether you will attend.  God even provided us all with wedding clothes to wear in the form of His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus provided the wedding clothes for us by what He did on the cross.  All you have to do to receive the gift of eternal life is put on the wedding clothes that Christ has provided for you, and you will be welcomed with open arms.  As we all walk through this life, let us all put on the wedding clothes provided by Jesus, and let us all help others change their clothes as well.

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.

Taking Action for Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 17-19

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 17:24-27

 

Our Bible reading today contains many great stories.  Reading Matthew 17 through 19 we see the Transfiguration, the disciples arguing about who would be the greatest, Jesus warning against temptation, the parable of the unforgiving debtor, Jesus teaching about marriage and divorce, and Jesus speaking to the rich young man just to name a few.  With all of these great stories to choose from, it may seem like an odd choice for me to write about Peter finding the coin in the fish’s mouth.  The simple truth is that when I was reading Scripture today, the Holy Spirit kept bringing me back to this passage.  The fact that a coin was found in a fish’s mouth was obviously a miraculous thing, and that alone warrants our attention.  Even more than that, though, I think this passage really gives us valuable insight about doing our part for God’s kingdom.

God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is the sovereign ruler over the entire universe.  Everything imaginable is under the authority of God.  Everything that we have comes from God.  It all belongs to Him, and we are simply allowed to use it for a while we are here on this Earth.  Since we know this is true, Jesus could have simply reached into his pocket, pulled out the coin for the taxes, and handed it to Peter.  Just as Jesus multiplied bread and fish to feed thousands or turned water into wine, He could have also just created this coin and handed it over, but that was not His way in this story.  The end was the same as Peter ended up with the coin, but Jesus went about it differently.  To get the coin, Peter had to take action.  It was not just given to him, he had to go and do something for Jesus to get it.  To receive the coin for the taxes, Peter had to go out and do some fishing.  Do not get me wrong, that alone is some action.  He had to get some bait, get his fishing pole, go to the lake, cast, wait, etc.  Even more important than the action of having to fish, however, is the faith that Peter had to have.  If a friend of yours told you to go catch a fish and you would find a coin in its mouth, you would think your friend was insane.  When Jesus told Peter to do this, though, he did not question it.  He did not argue about the probability of success.  He did not argue about the amount of work that was involved to catch a single fish.  He did not beg Jesus for the coin.  Peter went and did what Jesus told him to do, and that, my friends, is faith.

God wants us to have everything we need, and He will provide for us, but to receive his gifts, we sometimes have to take action.  For some things like grace and salvation, God freely gives without expecting us to work for them.  For other things, God wants us to follow His directions.  He speaks to us daily about His will.  He tells us what He wants us to do just as Jesus instructed Peter.  He wants us to have the kind of faith in Him that Peter had.  When God speaks, He wants us to act upon His words, even if they seem impossible or improbable.  Listen to Him today.  What does He want you to do?  Where is He trying to lead you?  What would happen if you decided to just have faith in Him and follow His directions?  Whatever it might look like for you, take action today.  When we follow His directions, there is no limit to what we might find.

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.

Taking Our Eyes Off Of Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 14-16

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 14:22-33

 

When people think about Jesus, many times they think of the image of Jesus walking on water seen in today’s key passage.  It is certainly a grand display of His power and of His command over all of creation.  When Peter called out to Jesus, he was not testing Jesus.  In fact, he was the only person on the boat who reacted to Jesus in faith. (14:28)  Walking on water was an impossible task for Peter, but instead of focusing on the improbability of his success he focused on Jesus.  Basically, Peter was saying that even though the task seemed impossible, he would try it if it was Jesus’ will.  Jesus reply to this request was a simple one.  He did not need a long dissertation to explain to Peter HOW to walk on water or to explain the physics behind it or anything else.  Jesus simply replied to Peter’s request with one word – “Come“. (14:29)

This is how it should work with our faith.  When faced with impossible choices and impossible conditions, we should look to Jesus and ask Him what His will is for us.  Does He want us to step out in faith, or cower in the boat?  More often than not, His response will be for us to come.  We may not always be comfortable.  We might not always be doing exactly what WE want to do.  However, if we truly follow His guidance and live by HIS will, we will have to step out of that boat and walk with Him in faith.

When Peter stepped out of the boat, initially he was fine.  He was actually doing the impossible and walking on water because it was Jesus will for him.  It was only when Peter took his eyes off Jesus and noticed the wind and the waves and began focusing on the impossibility of his task that he started to sink. (14:30)  Once again, it is the same thing with us.  It is not enough for us to step out in faith.  We have to keep our eyes on Jesus.  We cannot start focusing on how hard it is to do what we are doing or on any storms that may pop up along the way.  If we do that, we will start to sink and fall into despair.  If we keep our eyes on Jesus and if we have complete faith in Him to make it happen, we will not sink.  We will continue to walk with Him on the water.  Furthermore, if we do lose focus and start to sink, we can take another lesson from Peter.  When he began to sink, he did not try to save himself.  He did the only thing he could possibly do in that situation – he reached out to Jesus. (14:30)  As humans we sometimes have a tendency to try to fix everything ourselves.  Jesus is the only real answer.  He is the only real solution.  If we find ourselves sinking, we must reach out to Him for help.  Instead of pulling away when we start to sink, it is at those times that we must draw closer to Him.  Just as He did with Peter, Jesus will save us in those circumstances.

If you cannot tell, I love this story.  I love the image of Jesus walking on the water, but even more than that, I love the message that the story conveys to us.  I constantly remind myself to step out of the boat and walk in faith.  I remind myself to do His will and not mine, and I remind myself to keep my eyes on Jesus.  He is the way, the truth, and the life.  If you have not taken the time yet today, reach out to Him.  Praise Him for being such an amazing God.  Ask Him to save you from sinking.  Thank Him for his help, and then remember to keep your eyes focused on 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.

The Parable of the Weeds


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 11-13

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 13:1-43

 

Jesus often spoke to the people in parables.  He knew that people who were truly seeking Him would understand the parables if they were receptive, while others would simply hear the parables as meaningless stories. (13:13)

In the parable of the weeds, He talks about the weeds that grew among the wheat.  When they first start growing, the young weeds and the young wheat look exactly the same.  It is impossible to distinguish between the two until they become mature.  The servants were told by the owner not to try to pull up the weeds because they might inadvertently also root up the wheat.  Instead, the owner would allow the weeds to grow among the wheat until it was time for the harvest, and at that time, he would separate the weeds, burn them, and place the wheat in the barn.  Jesus went on to explain to His disciples that the field is the world, the good seed is the people of the kingdom, and the weeks are the people of the evil one. (13:37-43)

How many times have we heard people argue that God should just do away with all evil and bad things in the world right now?  While this would seem like the easy way to us, that is not God’s plan and that is not God’s timing.  The weeds (unbelievers) and the wheat (believers) are allowed to live together in this world for now, but eventually, the harvest WILL come.  Eventually, based on God’s perfect timing, all of the evil in this world WILL be pulled out and thrown into the fire.  As we wait for that day, we must stand firm and remember that we are the wheat.

 

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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Disowning Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 8-10

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 10:17-33

 

I have a friend who is still afraid to acknowledge Jesus.  He is still in the “investigating” stage of his journey.  He has started going to church and has started reading the Bible, and he is really, really close to accepting Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.  Yet, he is not quite ready to take that step.  He will not yet talk about Christianity in public.  Outside of me and one other believer, he does not really talk about faith outside of the church.  I pray every day that he will take that step, and I know that at some point the Holy Spirit will move him to action.  Until that day comes, I will wait, listen to him, try to answer his questions, and pray.

Jesus wants us to acknowledge Him.  He does not want to be disowned, and He is not just talking about acknowledging Him in our words.  He is not just talking about what we say to our friends about him or what we post on Facebook.  Jesus wants us to acknowledge Him in everything we do.  Jesus wants us to acknowledge Him in our actions.  We have all been in situations when we have to make the choice between acknowledging Him and disowning Him.  When a temptation arises for sin, we can acknowledge Jesus or disown Him.  When we are face to face with a non-believer, we can acknowledge Jesus or disown Him.  Regardless of what we say or write, our actions in those times need to match up to God’s Word.  Remember that our actions speak much louder than our words.  To most of the non-believers we know, the only interaction they have with Biblical Christianity is through us.  When given a choice, most non-believers will read our behavior before they read the Bible, so our actions must match up to what Jesus said in His Word.  We must acknowledge Him today.  Then on the Day of Judgment, we have nothing to fear because we will know that when Jesus sees us He will run to us with open arms and say, “Well done good and faithful servant”.

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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