Category Archives: 2 – New Testament

Imitating an Apostle


Daily Bible Reading – Philippians 1-4

Today’s Key Passage – Philippians 3:1-21

In the early days of Christianity, just as it is today, the goal of a Christ follower was to live a Christ-like life.  Today, though, we have a huge advantage over the early Christians.  Today, if someone wants to learn about Jesus, all he has to do is pick up a Bible and start reading the New Testament.  In the Gospels, a person can read all about the life of Jesus Christ.  He can read about how Christ lived and what He taught.  If we want to find a person to imitate, we have to look no further than the Source.  For the early Christians, however, no such text existed.  There was no such thing as the New Testament in the early days of Christianity.  The story of Jesus life had not yet been written down in a form that was readily available to all seekers.  Paul knew this.  Paul knew that the people he encountered did not have a means to easily experience Christ directly.  He knew it would be difficult for others to follow Christ’s example if they were unable to see his example the way we can today.  In the absence of being able to imitate Christ, Paul told the Philippians to imitate him.  Paul was not claiming to be perfect.  In fact, at the beginning of today’s key passage he clearly states that he has not arrived at his goal of being Christ-like.  Despite his imperfections, the fact that Paul was able to tell others to imitate him is a testament to the way he lived his life.  He lived as a readily available example of Christ.

How many of us could say the same thing?  Imagine a person who had no way of knowing about Jesus Christ.  Imagine that this person had never read the Bible and did not have access to one.  Imagine that this person may have heard a few things about Christ, some true and some not, but had no way to tell the difference.  Imagine that the only way this person could try to become Christ-like would be to imitate you.  How would that go?  If this person tried to copy you in everything that you said and did, would they become more Christ-like?  While this may sound like a scary thought to a certain degree, it is not altogether far from reality.  Most of the people we know who do not know Christ are almost exactly like the imaginary person I described.  While most of the people we encounter do have access to a Bible, the simple truth is that they will not spend the time, at least initially, to read about Jesus Christ in the New Testament.  Instead, they will watch you and perhaps even imitate you.  Think about this today as you encounter people.  Are you acting as a good example for Jesus Christ?  If someone is watching you, are you leading him closer to Christ or driving him away from Him?  As we all attempt to reach the goal of a Christ-like life, let us all try to be good examples today for others to imitate.

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.

Instructions for Christian Marriage


Daily Bible Reading – Ephesians 5,6; Psalm 119:1-80

Today’s Key Passage – Ephesians 5:22-33

Submitting to another person is often a misunderstood concept.  In the past, some people have taken today’s key passage out of context or misused it, causing the idea of submission to take on a negative connotation.  There is no denying that Paul indeed said that wives should submit to their husbands as the head of the household. (5:22-23)  However, the part of this passage that is often forgotten about is the instructions Paul gives to husbands.  Marriage is a two way street.  Both parties have to submit to each other in different ways to make a marriage work and to keep both people happy.  Taking one of these instructions out of context while dismissing the other causes more harm than good.  For example, if a wife submits to her husband, but the husband is not loving his wife as he loves himself and is not putting her first above all of his needs, the marriage is going to have problems.  Likewise, if the husband is putting his wife first in everything he does and truly loving her every single day but the wife is not allowing him to be the spiritual head of the household, the marriage is going to have problems.  Paul is telling us that both of these things should happen in a happy marriage.  Men should take on the responsibility of being the spiritual leader in the home.  Husbands should be helping their wives in their walk with Christ, and wives should allow their husbands to take on this role and to follow him.  Husbands should also love and serve their wives above everything else.  Just as Jesus washed the feet of the disciples in an act of service to them, so should the husband serve the wife.  If both people in the marriage relationship are submitting to one another in these ways, then the idea of submission is not negative at all.  Submitting to one another is simply an act of love.

Think back over the times of strife in your marriage.  If you are anything like me, most arguments and moments of division can be traced back to either the husband or the wife or both failing to submit to the other person.  For the wives who are reading this, allow your husbands to lead and submit to them.  For the husbands who are reading this, remember that you have died to yourself and you now live for your wife.  Put her needs first in everything that you do.  Make her the center of your universe and serve her as you would serve the Lord.  You must take on the responsibility of being the spiritual leader in the home and ensuring that your household is serving Christ and living for Him.  To both husbands and wives, remember that submission is not a bad thing.  Submit to each other in a loving environment and watch as your marriage gets stronger as the two of you walk together with 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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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Dealing with Anger


Daily Bible Reading – Ephesians 1-4

Today’s Key Passage – Ephesians 4:25-32

 

Everyone gets angry.  Events unfold that make us feel anger.  People say things to us or about us that make us feel anger.  Feeling angry at some degree or another is basically unavoidable, but how we deal with that anger is what really defines us.  When it comes to dealing with anger, we have a few different paths we can take.  We can let the anger overtake us causing us to explode in a fit of emotion.  Obviously, this is not the way to go.  We can sit on our anger and bottle it up inside, which will lead to bitterness.  This bitterness will eventually lead to hatred if gone unchecked.  This too, is not the way to go.  Paul tells us in today’s key passage that the best way to effectively deal with anger is to deal with it immediately in a way that builds relationships instead of breaking them.  When someone makes you feel anger, do not blow up at them and say things you do not really mean to hurt them.  Do not just walk away from the situation stewing with anger, as this bitterness will eventually start to wear you down.  The best course of action is to talk to the person that caused you anger immediately.  Explain the situation IN LOVE.  Express how you feel about the situation without allowing the situation to escalate.  Try to find some common ground with the person, and try to find a way to alleviate the anger.

Of course, all of this is much easier said than done.  So how do we really accomplish all of this?  Practically speaking, how can we begin to start dealing with our anger in a healthy way instead of a harmful way?  Like everything else in this life, the answer is found in Jesus Christ.  At the first feelings of anger towards a person, immediately remind yourself that God made this person exactly as he is.  Remind yourself that God loves this person exactly as much as He loves you.  Remind yourself that this person is one of God’s children…just as you are.  In addition, remember that God has forgiven everything you have ever done.  By His grace, he has forgiven and forgotten all of your past indiscretions regardless of what they were.  He does not hold a grudge against you.  If He is able to forgive you for the worst thing you have ever done through His Son Jesus Christ, surely the least you can do is forgive this person for what he did.  Pray for God to help you to forgive this person, and to help you feel love for this person.  Finally, talk to the person calmly about the situation.  These practical steps have helped me start to deal with anger in a much more productive way.  For me, it becomes a lot harder to be angry with someone after I go through these steps above.  When I think of Christ first, the severity of the situation always begins to decrease and my anger goes along with it.  I pray that you will try these things the next time anger arises in your life, and I hope that in those situations you can find the strength to be a peacemaker.

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.

Following Your Conscience


Daily Bible Reading – Romans 13-16

Today’s Key Passage – Romans 14:19-23

 

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he discusses the topic of eating meat that had been offered to idols.  In the Roman world, animals were often sacrificed to a god in a pagan temple, but only part of the animal was actually burned.  The rest of the meat was taken to market and sold.  Because of this practice, it was often difficult for a Christian to know if the meat he was buying had been part of this offering to idols, so many Christians decided to abstain from eating meat altogether.  Other Christians did not feel obligated to abstain from eating meat, and these two differing opinions were causing strife and dissension in the church.  While the idea of eating meat sacrificed to pagan idols does not specifically apply in our world today, the underlying theme of what Paul says in today’s key passage certainly does.

When it comes to what constitutes a sin, in most cases the Bible is pretty clear.  Some sins such as lying, stealing, and murder are forbidden in Scripture.  It is easy for a follower of Christ to know that he or she should not do these things.  In other areas, though, things might not be so clear.  Some topics are not expressly covered in the Bible, so often people are left to question whether a particular act would constitute a sin.  In these “grey areas”, Paul is advising us to follow our conscience.  Paul says that, “whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (14:23)  In other words, if we have doubts about whether something is a sin, and if our conscience is telling us that it probably is a sin, then it becomes sin for us.  We are all born with a conscience.  Our conscience is a gift from God that he gives to each of us from birth to allow us to know right from wrong.  When in doubt about a particular circumstance, it is always best to follow your conscience.

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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Am I Really Saved?


Daily Bible Reading – Romans 5-8

Today’s Key Passage – Romans 8:28-39

 

Have you ever worried about whether or not you are really saved?  Have you ever thought that the gift of salvation might not be available for you?  For all of us, it is easy to be deceived by our pasts.  It is easy to fall into the trap of believing we are not good enough.  It is easy to believe we have not done enough to be saved.  It is easy to believe that we are not worthy of this gift.  How foolish are these thoughts?  How foolish we can be when we start to believe the lies.  How foolish we can be when we allow doubt to creep into our minds.  You hear this so often that it has almost become a cliché, but God loves us.  Think about His sacrifice for us.  He gave up His only Son to die for us, and He did this when we were still sinners!

I often think about the love I have for my daughter.  I would not give her up for anything in the world, but that is exactly what God did for us.  That level of love for us is almost beyond human comprehension.  Since we know this to be true, do we not also know that because His love for us is so great, nothing can EVER separate us from that love.  We are eternally bonded to God though our Lord Jesus Christ.  If God gave up His only Son for us, how much more will He surely give us?  Everything we need WILL be provided for us by our Father in Heaven.  Our salvation is not a “maybe” thing or a “sometimes” thing.  It is a definite gift to each of us who live in Christ Jesus.  He is interceding for us.  He is our advocate against Satan.  He gives us the power to live a Christ-like life today, and gives us the gift of eternal life.

When I was a kid, all of the neighborhood kids would come together to play football.  We would always choose teams, and there was always one kid that everyone wanted on their team because he was the best player.  You knew that if he were on your team, you would win the game.  Through Christ Jesus, we are now on God’s team.  He is our best player, and He is always by our side.  Through Him, we know we will always win.  We can never fail.  We can never be separated from Him.  His love for us guarantees our salvation.  Rejoice today!  Do not fear.  Do not worry about “if” you are saved.  YOU ARE!  God is the faithful parent that never lies and always does exactly what He says.  He will not let us down.  He can be trusted absolutely.  Accept His gift, and share the truth of His gift with others.  Any time doubt starts to creep in, focus on His gift and His love for YOU.  You were predetermined by God to be one of His chosen children.  Praise Him today for His faithfulness.

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.

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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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.

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