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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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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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Do Not Worry About Tomorrow


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 5-7

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 6:25-34

 

I have always been a person that worries a lot.  I am not really sure why, but I have spent most of my life worrying about things.  Will I be able to pay the bills?  Will I be able to do this or that?  Will this work out?  How will I be able to do this?  All of these thoughts have consumed me.  It is funny when I look back over some of the things that have caused me worry in the past.  In the grand scope of things, most of them seem pretty insignificant.  Even though I constantly battle this, I eventually realized that worry is really nothing more than a lack of faith.

In today’s key passage, Jesus tells us not to worry.  He tells us that God will provide for us.  He tells us that if God takes care of birds and flowers, he will most definitely take care of us.  Jesus knew that if we spent time worrying about things, those things would eventually overcome our entire lives.  If we spend time worrying about paying the bills and about money for example, then eventually money will begin to consume our thoughts.  Before you know it, we will start putting money first over God.  This is definitely not what God wants for us.  God wants us to put Him first.  Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and to seek first His righteousness.

When I feel myself starting to worry, I now have to stop myself and think about this passage.  I constantly remind myself of God’s love for me.  I constantly remind myself to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.  I constantly remind myself that God is completely sovereign over the entire universe and that everything that happens is by His will and not mine.  Finally, I constantly remind myself to have faith in Him to provide what I need.  I cannot provide anything on my own.  Just as a loving father on earth provides for his children, our Father in Heaven will provide for us.

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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Correcting Other Christians


Daily Bible Reading – Job 41, 42; 2 Corinthians 1, 2

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Corinthians 2:1-11

 

Living a Christian life does not happen in a vacuum.  We know from the Bible that God intends for us to live together in community with other Christians.  This fellowship not only helps us grow as followers of Jesus Christ, it also helps us reach others.  Unfortunately, in doing this we are sometimes faced with circumstances where one of the other believers we are “doing life with” starts to stray from the path.

The idea of having to confront another believer terrifies me.  Like most people, I do not really like confrontation, and I try to avoid it whenever possible.  For a long time, I believed that when I saw another Christian sinning I should not say anything.  After all, I figured it was not my job to confront him, and I was afraid that I would come off as judgmental, but there is a fundamental difference in judging someone and correcting them in love.  This revelation came to me when another believer confronted me for something I was doing.  At first, I was angry at being “called out”, but I soon came to realize that this man was coming to me out of his love for me.  He saw an error I was making, and cared enough about me to bring it to my attention.  Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”  When Paul had to correct the Corinthians in today’s key passage, he did it out of love.  Even though he had “great distress and anguish of heart“, he knew that if he truly loved them and cared about them he had to correct them.

In his book, Who You Are When No One’s Looking, Pastor Bill Hybels discusses the “tough love” required to be a follower of Christ.  He lays out a four-point plan to dealing with confrontation.  Step one is clarifying the issue to really understand the problem.  Step two is cleansing your spirit to ensure we do not feel critical, angry, or judgmental before we confront someone.  In Matthew 7:3, Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”.  Cleansing the spirit allows us to avoid pointing out the speck in our brother’s eye if we have a plank in our own eye.  Step three is carefully selecting the time and place to talk with the believer.  Step four, probably the most important, is to pray to God for help.

By following these points, we can ensure that when we are forced to confront another believer, we do it correctly.  Obviously, the easiest thing to do it is to say nothing at all, but as we know, the easy thing is very rarely the right thing.  If you really love others more than yourself, sometimes it is necessary to correct another Christian.  When this time comes, remember to do it in love.

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.

Questioning God


Daily Bible Reading – Job 37,38; 1 Corinthians 12

Today’s Key Passage – Job 38:1-18

 

In much of the Book of Job, Job discussed what had happened to him with his friends.  Job spent most of his time wondering why he was made to suffer.  Job’s friends spent most of their time putting words in God’s mouth, and most of those words were wrong.  In chapter 38, God finally spoke to Job.  Instead of simply answering Job’s questions, God decided to ask Job a series of questions of his own.  Job (or any other human) could not possibly answer the questions God asked, and that was the point.  God was making the point to Job and his friends that He was completely sovereign and all-powerful.  God created the heavens and the earth without any help from anyone.  The earth and everything in it belongs to God.  Job could not understand all of the inner workings of God’s creation, because he was not there when God created the world.  If Job was unable to understand the creation itself, how could Job possibly understand God’s motives or what He was thinking?

We are all tempted to question God.  There are many times when we simply cannot understand why things are happening as they are.  In these times, we as humans tend to do one of two things.  Either we question God by asking Him why He is allowing this to happen, or we put words in God’s mouth by trying to explain His motives.  Sometimes, we try to do both.  God, however, does not need our help.  God does not need or want us to try to run the world.  God’s moral purposes are so complex that they are beyond human understanding.  How can we question God when we cannot understand things like His creation or the forces of nature?

The next time you feel tempted to question God or to try to explain His actions, remember this passage.  Remember that we were not there for creation.  Remember that we cannot explain the intricacies of this world.  Remember that we cannot explain how the wind blows or how storms move.  Most importantly, remember to trust God.  He has a plan.  He is in control.  He loves you and will always do what is best for you.  When we submit to God’s authority in our lives, we can rest in the knowledge that He will care for us completely.

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.

Facing Persecution


Daily Bible Reading – Malachi 3, 4; Psalm 148; Acts 5

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 5:17-42

 

In the early days of Christianity, the ruling authorities warned Peter and John many times not to preach about Jesus Christ.  Each time they received a warning, they went right back to doing what they knew was right, and they continued to share their faith and tell others the good news about Jesus.  They did this because they knew they “must obey God rather than men“. (5:29)  Because of this decision to continue preaching the Gospel, they faced brutal persecution.  Today’s key passage marks the first of many times that the Apostles were beaten.  When the beating was finished, Peter and John “left the Sanhedrin, REJOICING because they had been counted worthy [by God] of suffering disgrace for the Name [of Jesus Christ].” (5:41)  It requires a tremendous amount of faith to rejoice in persecution, and the Apostles had this faith, for they knew that they were doing the right thing.

Christians today are still facing persecution to some degree.  Most of us, however, face persecution in the form of mocking, ridicule, and exclusion as opposed to being beaten and jailed (though unfortunately that does still happen in some parts of the world).  Sometimes it is difficult to see this persecution as a blessing, but we must always remember that if we are persecuted for our faith, it is only because God has counted us worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  Jesus never said that living our lives for Him would be easy while on this earth.  Fortunately, no matter what persecutions we face here, we know we can count on blessings in Heaven.  On that day, when we stand face to face with the resurrected Christ, we can know we will never shed another tear.

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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Facing Opposition


Daily Bible Reading – Ezra 4; Psalms 113, 127; Luke 9

Today’s Key Passage – Ezra 4:1-24

 

The Jews returning to Jerusalem from exile wanted nothing more than to rebuild the temple of the Lord.  Unfortunately, their task was not an easy one.  Not only did they have to deal with the logistics of rebuilding the temple and all of the work involved, they also faced opposition to the rebuilding efforts from their neighbors.  When Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, many people were relocated to live in this region, and now these people wanted to keep the Jews from rebuilding the temple for fear that they would gain power.  The enemies of Judah tried several tactics to stop the construction.  First, they attempted to infiltrate the people of Judah by offering to help so they could sabotage their efforts. (4:2)  When this failed, they tried to stop the construction by discouraging and intimidating the Jews. (4:4-5)  Finally, they took their complaint to the king, falsely accusing the Jews of rebellion.  In the short term, all of this opposition worked and the rebuilding efforts were temporarily put on hold. (4:23-24)  Eventually though, God’s plans could not be thwarted, and the temple was ultimately completed.

When we step out in faith in service to God, we too may face opposition.  This opposition might come from unbelievers, or perhaps even friends and family members.  Sometimes, the opposition comes from powers and principalities that we cannot truly understand.  It can be easy for us to become frustrated with this opposition, especially when it works in temporarily stopping our efforts.  However, we can take comfort in knowing that when we are following Christ and acting according to His will, His plans will ultimately succeed.  Our God is all-powerful and completely sovereign, and there is absolutely nothing that can keep Him from accomplishing His mission and achieving His goals.  We may sometimes feel like we are facing a brick wall, but to God this wall is simply a hurdle that is easily navigated.  When facing opposition, pray for the strength to get through the tough times while maintaining a loving attitude toward your oppressors, and pray for God’s will to be done.  God, in His infinite wisdom, will take care of the rest.

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.

Questions about Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – Ezra 1; Psalms 84-85; Luke 7

Today’s Key Passage – Luke 7:18-35

 

John the Baptist knew what his role was in this life.  He knew that he was to prepare the way for God’s chosen one – the Messiah.  He had heard all of the stories about Jesus, and he knew that Jesus must have been sent by God.  The only problem was that he was not sure if Jesus was just another prophet or the Anointed One of God, so he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask him. (7:18-20)  Jesus response to John’s disciples tells us a lot about Him.  He could have been upset about being questioned.  He could have been angry that John felt the need to ask questions about Him instead of simply believing blindly.  This, of course, was not Jesus’ response.  Jesus told John’s disciples to report back to John all the things He had done. (7:22)  Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead, among other miraculous deeds.  He wanted John the Baptist to decide for himself if Jesus was the Messiah based on the evidence at hand.  Then, as further evidence that Jesus was not upset about being questioned, He spoke to the crowd about John the Baptist’s greatness among men. (7:28)

Most of us, whether we are followers of Christ or not, have had questions about Jesus.  They might be questions we have already answered, or they might be lingering thoughts that appear from time to time.  Is Jesus really the Messiah?  Does He really know me?  Did He really die for my sins?  Does He really see me as perfect and beautiful?  Does He really love me?  If you have ever felt guilty for asking yourself these questions about Jesus, today’s key passage will be a real blessing for you.  See, Jesus does not get angry about being questioned.  Having questions about Him does not mean there is something wrong with your faith or that you are not a “good Christian”.  Just like John, Jesus invites us to examine the evidence about Him and decide for ourselves that He is who He says He is.  The more we learn about Him through reading God’s Word and spending time with Him in prayer, the fewer questions we will have about Him.  Then, as we answer our questions about Him, we will grow to trust Him and love Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

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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