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Bad Company Corrupts Good Character


Daily Bible Reading – Psalm 149; 1 Corinthians 15, 16

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 15:1-34

 

We are all surrounded by unbelief.  We all have people in our lives that are unbelievers.  We might also have people in our lives who claim to be followers of Christ but then unapologetically act contrary to the Gospel.  Television shows and movies are abound with non-Christian values and morals.  Books, newspapers, magazines, and blog posts attack Christianity and teach false Gospels.  For followers of Christ, there is no getting around it – we are all going to be faced with “bad company” from time to time.

Jesus and the disciples were also faced with bad company.  They spent much of their time surrounded by unbelievers, because Jesus knew that the sinners were the ones who needed to be saved.  We too must be in contact with unbelievers if we plan to fulfill the Great Commission and preach the Gospel to those who do not know it.  None of us can live in a protective bubble of only coming in contact with other believers if we intend to reach people for Christ.  This is why Paul’s words in today’s key passage are so important to us.

Even though we are surrounded by unbelief, we must not be misled.  We all have to guard our hearts from allowing bad company to corrupt good character.  When someone we know attacks our beliefs, we must stand firm.  We cannot waiver in our faith even for a second if we want to be effective witnesses for Christ.  We must let the Holy Spirit overflow from us, as He gives us the power to be surrounded by bad company without being corrupted.  In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, Paul gives the church in Corinth instructions while they wait for him to return to them.  He says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”  These were good instructions to the Corinthians waiting for Paul’s return and they are good instructions for all of us today as we await the return of 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.

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Minimizing the Cross of Jesus Christ


Daily Bible Reading – Job 30; Psalm 120; Galatians 3, 4

Today’s Key Passage – Galatians 3:1-14

 

Paul was very concerned about the Galatians.  The Galatians had started to believe the Judaizers who preached that Gentiles had to become Jews before they could become Christians.  They had started to impose Jewish legalism stating that works could earn God’s favor.  This false gospel minimized the importance of the death of Jesus Christ by implying that justification (salvation) could be gained through works.

The idea of justification by works goes against the message of the Gospel.  No man or woman can be saved by his or her own deeds.  We are all saved by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It is because of what He did that we can be reconciled with God, not because of anything we can do.  Believers today still run the risk of falling into the trap of justification by works.  It is easy to start feeling as if we can earn favor by doing good deeds.  It is easy for people who do many good things like serving the local church or giving to the needy to look down on other believers who do not do as much.  It is important, though, to remember that in the eyes of God, we are all the same.  In the eyes of God, a “baby Christian” is no less justified than a person who has followed Christ for decades.  Our works can be part of our sanctification over time, but our justification in the eyes of God is secure from day one.  When a person thinks that “living right” can secure salvation, that person is essentially saying that Jesus did not have to die, but we know that Jesus opened the door to salvation for us.  When it comes to eternal life, Christ is the only key that fits that lock.

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.

Worship God


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 42-44; Revelation 22

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 22:8-9

 

In 2011, my wife and I started watching a new television show called Buried Treasure.   In it, two brothers travel across the country helping people find unknown treasures and antiques that they have in their homes.  We enjoyed watching it because many of the people on the show have a legitimate need for the money they will get from selling their possessions.  Whether it is a family that needs to pay medical bills or a father wanting to provide for his adult children, people’s financial circumstances can be changed in an instant when something of value is found in their homes.  Unfortunately, there was a downside to this show.  We saw several occasions where treasures were found that could really help a family pay their bills, but the owners refused to sell because of an emotional attachment to the items.  In some cases, the attachment people had to their possessions seemed dangerously close to idolatry.

I thought about this show today as I read our key passage.  Near the end of his book of Revelation, the apostle John is reflecting on all of the things he has been shown by the angel of the Lord.  He had witnessed miraculous things firsthand, and must have felt overwhelmed when he fell down at the feet of the angel to worship him. (22:8)  Immediately, the angel corrected him and told him that he was simply a fellow servant and that John should only worship God. (22:9)

So often in this life, we can be tempted to worship something or someone other than God.  Sometimes it is a possession that we really like.  Other times it is a person that we place on a pedestal, such as a public figure, a pastor, or even a spouse.  While most of us are aware that worshiping money or possessions is a sin, we can sometimes forget this when it comes to people.  There is a fine line between respect or admiration and idolatry.  It is important that we keep in mind that every person on this earth, regardless of position, is simply a fellow servant of God (whether the person recognizes it or not).  I pray that today we will all ask ourselves what or whom we are worshiping, and I hope we will all resign to only worship 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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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Giving God the Glory


Daily Bible Reading – Daniel 1, 2; Revelation 16

Today’s Key Passage – Daniel 2:24-49

 

After the fall of Jerusalem, many of the wisest men were taken back to Babylon to serve the king.  Daniel was one of these men.  When King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream (Vs. 1), he called together some of his astrologers and asked them to tell him about his dream and interpret it (Vs. 5).  When none of these false prophets were able to do as the king asked (Vss. 10-11), Nebuchadnezzar ordered the execution of all the wise men in Babylon, including Daniel and his friends. (Vs. 12)  Fortunately, God spoke to Daniel and told him about Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Vs. 19), so he went to the king to spare his life and the lives of his friends. (Vs. 24)  Before talking to Nebuchadnezzar about his dream, Daniel took time to give God credit by saying, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” (Vss. 27-28)  This step proved to be vitally important, because after Daniel successfully interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he honored God and said, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries”. (Vs. 47)

When other people offer us praise for what we have done, we can choose to take all the credit or we can give the glory to God.  When we selfishly take the credit for God’s work, we rob Him of the glory He rightly deserves, but when we give the glory to God, we gain a wonderful opportunity.  When we give God the glory, we are able to be His witness on this earth, and we are able to tell someone who might be far from God all about His awesome power and love.  The next time you find yourself in that position, choose to give the glory to the One who made you and who allows you to do every good thing you do.  Give the glory to God, and then use the opportunity to tell others the Good News.

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.

Avoiding Apostasy and False Teaching


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 4,5; Psalms 115, 116; Jude

Today’s Key Passage – Jude 17-25

 

Jude was the brother of James and the half brother of Jesus.  (Mary and Joseph were the parents of both James and Jude.)  In his short book, Jude tackles two topics that were as problematic for the early church as they are today.  First, he warns against false teachers.  Then, he discusses apostasy, or turning away from God.  As we read his book, we find six practical tips that we can apply today as we attempt to avoid the same pitfalls that plagued the early church.

Building – “build yourselves up in your most holy faith” (Vs. 20) – As followers of Christ, we need to constantly be building our character.  We know that this is a lifelong process, and that our building will not end until the day Jesus returns.  While we will not reach the “destination” in this life, we must always strive to be progressing forward.  One of the best ways to build ourselves up in our faith is through the daily reading of God’s Word.  The more we know of God, the more we will progress.

Praying – “pray in the Holy Spirit.” (Vs. 20) – We all know that prayer is important.  We pray with our minds and we pray with our hearts, but so often, we may miss out on praying in the Spirit.  When we pray with the power of the Holy Spirit, we will worship God wholeheartedly.  We will also ensure that we are asking for things in line with His will.

Keeping – “Keep yourselves in God’s love” (Vs. 21) – To keep ourselves in God’s love, we must live a life close to God and close to His church.  As we press in closer to God and His elect, we will become more obedient to Him and will continue to grow in our faith.

Waiting – “as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” (Vs. 21) – Sometimes obedience to God means waiting patiently for Him.  We know the promises that God has made to us through His Word, and we know that God never lies.  We will receive the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ and we will receive eternal life with Him.  We can wait expectantly for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

Working – “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Vss. 22-23) – Even though we are waiting to receive God’s mercy and eternal life, He does not want us to wait while sitting on our hands.  We should be actively working for His purposes.  Sometimes that means having mercy on others or helping those who are struggling.  Other times it means saving the lost and helping them find God.  As we work for the Kingdom, we must be careful not to compromise on our beliefs or on God’s standards for living.  We are to hate the sin, but love the sinner.

Praising – “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!” (Vss. 24-25) – The final piece of the puzzle is praise.  We are to praise God in all things.  He alone keeps us from turning away from Him.  He alone keeps us from believing false teaching.  He alone allows us to appear blameless before His glory.  He alone gives us joy.

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 Deceived Prophet


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Kings 13,14; 2 Chronicles 12; Philippians 3

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Kings 13:1-25

 

In today’s key passage, we find the tragic story of a deceived prophet.  An unnamed prophet went from Judah to Bethel and spoke out against Jeroboam and his practices of appointing priests outside of the tribe of Levi and erecting idols.  The prophet spoke the words of God and was used by God for His good purposes.  Part of the message he received from God was that he was not to stop and eat any bread or drink any water on his way back home, and he was not to return the way he came.  As he left Bethel, he was stopped by another prophet who wanted the unnamed prophet to return to his home to eat his bread and drink his water.  At first, the unnamed prophet stood firm and told the other prophet that he was under strict orders from God.  Eventually, however, the other prophet was able to convince him by claiming the Lord spoke to him, and the unnamed prophet returned to the man’s house.  As he was eating, the other prophet received a word from God condemning the unnamed prophet for disobeying God’s commands, and when the unnamed prophet left he was killed by a lion along the road.  In the span of just a few short paragraphs, this unnamed prophet went from being a man through whom God spoke, to being a man condemned to die by God’s righteous punishment.

So what can we learn from this tragic story?  First, we can learn that when we are given specific instructions by God we cannot allow anyone or anything to sway us from doing what God told us to do.  We all know what God wants us to do.  It is spelled out in His Word for all of us to see.  We are to obey His commands.  We are to love other people.  We are to reach others for Him.  We are to be His ambassadors to the world.  Sometimes others will try to turn us away from God.  Sometimes, our own rationalizations will try to turn us away from God.  We must not allow this to happen.  This leads to the second point we can learn from this story, which is that God expects complete obedience from us.  He does not expect us to obey Him some of the time.  He expects us to obey Him all of the time.  He does not expect us to obey some of His commands.  He expects us to obey all of His commands.  He gave the unnamed prophet specific instructions and He expected them to be followed.  When they were not, the result was tragic.  Likewise, He has given each of us specific instructions that He expects to be followed, and if they are not the results will be tragic.  My prayer today is that all of us can learn a lesson from the deceived prophet.  My prayer is that none of us will allow anything or anyone to sway us from our mission, and my prayer is that all of us will practice complete submission and obedience to our sovereign 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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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Following Bad Advice


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 10,11; Philippians 2

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Kings 12:1-16

 

The period following Solomon’s death was a tumultuous time in Israel.  Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, succeeded him as king and went north to Shechem to try to maintain good relations with the northern tribes.  While there, the Israelites led by Jeroboam came to Rehoboam with a request.  They said, “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.” (Vs. 4)  The Israelites were looking for relief from the forced labor and the high taxes imposed by Solomon during his reign.  Rehoboam did not immediately know how to answer the Israelites, so he told them to return in three days for his answer.  During the three days, Rehoboam sought advice from two groups – the elders who served his father and the young men who had grown up with him.  The elders advised giving in to the Israelites’ demands, but the younger men advised that he should answer them harshly and refuse to back down.  In the end, Rehoboam chose to listen to his younger friends, and this decision caused the nation to be divided in two with the ten northern tribes following Jeroboam and the two southern tribes continuing to follow Rehoboam.

In reading today’s key passage, we can learn a lot about making leadership decisions from Rehoboam.  The first thing we learn is that when a request is made of us, it is often a good idea to delay our response if we do not immediately know the right decision.  Rehoboam was right in allowing himself extra time to make a decision instead of simply answering off the top of his head.  Rehoboam made another good decision when he sought advice from the people he trusted.  When facing a difficult decision, it is often a good idea to seek the council of others.  Sadly, the list of what we can learn from what Rehoboam did ends here.  The remainder of our lesson lies in what Rehoboam did not do.  To begin with, Rehoboam did not remain impartial to the advice given by the two groups and allowed himself to be swayed by his personal relationships with the young men he grew up with.  In addition, Rehoboam made his final decision based on what he believed to be his own best interest instead of the best interest of the group.  Finally, and most importantly, Rehoboam failed to consult God.  When facing a decision, we should always consult God first to determine the best direction in which to proceed.  This can be done by reviewing His Word and through prayer.  Rehoboam had all of the tools he needed to make the right decision, but instead he failed in these key areas, followed bad advice, and ultimately made a choice that cost him dearly.

The next time you are facing a decision, remember the story of Rehoboam.  Remember the things he did well, and remember the things he failed to do.  Give yourself time to make a good decision.  Seek the council of others, and do not be swayed by personal biases.  Make a decision that reflects the best interest of the group instead of yourself.  Above all else, seek God’s wisdom in discerning the right decision.  When we follow bad advice, we can set ourselves up for a tremendous fall, but when we follow God’s advice we will always make the best decision.

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 Modern Day Example of False Teaching


Daily Bible Reading – Proverbs 28,29; Psalm 60; Romans 16

Today’s Key Passage – Romans 16:17-20

 

Near the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he leaves them with a warning.  He says, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. “ (Vss. 16:17-19)  In Paul’s day, false teachers were fairly common.  It was the early years of Christianity, and different people were preaching different things.  Some people were doing it to try to make a name for themselves or to make money.  Others were doing it out of ignorance.  Either way, they were teaching doctrine that was not true and that contradicted the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When we think of false teachers, most of us think of those early days of Christianity.  The sad fact, however, is that there are still false teachers today.

In the spring of 2011 a false teacher named Harold Camping made headlines when he predicted that the rapture would occur on May 21, 2011.  Camping claimed that the Bible was basically a codebook and that his mathematical formulas cracked the code to determine the exact date that the rapture would take place.  In fact, he even claimed to know the time.  Of course, when May 22 came the only people really surprised were Camping and his followers.  The tragedy of this story is twofold.  First, Camping’s false teaching damaged the witness of every other legitimate follower of Christ.  Unbelievers the world over used Camping’s erroneous prediction as “evidence” that Christ is not returning and that God does not exist.  Secondly, some of Camping’s followers were financially devastated by his false teaching.  Reports trickled in for days about followers who spent everything they had in the days and weeks leading up to May 21.  As I read the stories (and some of Camping’s other false teaching), I was awed by the fact that so many people could be led astray from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ by a man preaching doctrines that completely contradicted the Word of God.  Sadly, Camping’s story is just another modern day example of how a man can use “smooth talk and flattery” to deceive other people.

My prayer is that Mr. Camping and other false teachers like him will repent from their evil false teaching and turn back to God.  I pray that the people who naively followed Mr. Camping’s teachings will pick up a Bible and read it not as a “secret code book” but as the divine and inerrant Word of God.  I pray that they will find a life-giving church that preaches the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Finally, I pray that others will learn from this situation that anyone preaching doctrine that contradicts the Bible is a false teacher, and will realize that, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Vs. 16:20)

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.

No Other Gospel


Daily Bible Reading – Deuteronomy 13-15; Galatians 1

Today’s Key Passage – Galatians 1:6-24

During Paul’s first missionary trip, he visited several cities in Galatia (which is now Turkey).  Upon his return from that trip, he found out that a group of Jewish Christians (called Judaizers) visited these cities in Galatia and tried to convince the people there that Paul’s teaching was incorrect.  According to the Judaizers, a Gentile first needed to become a Jew before he could become a Christian.  Paul preached the true Gospel and told the Gentiles that they were saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  The Judaizers, on the other hand, preached that all of the Old Testament laws (circumcision, dietary restrictions, etc.) must be followed by Gentiles before they could be saved.  These two competing messages caused a lot of confusion for the new believers in the early Galatian churches, so Paul wrote them a letter (the Book of Galatians) to try to clarify the matter for them.

Our key verse today comes from the first chapter in Galatians.  In it, Paul tells the people of Galatia that he is shocked to see that they have been misled so easily by the Judaizers.  He explains that the Gospel he preached to them was the real Gospel, and that anyone else who told them anything different was lying and should be condemned.  How do we know that Paul’s Gospel was the truth?  Because it came directly from the source.  Paul explains that his Gospel did not come from men – he received it directly by a revelation from Jesus Christ.  Did you ever play that game as a child in which one person whispers a sentence into someone’s ear, who then whispers it into another person’s ear?  The sentence is continually passed in this fashion from person to person until eventually it makes its way back to the original person.  Do you remember how the message at the end was always completely different from the message in the beginning?  Do you also remember that the first person who was told the message was usually the most accurate?  We know that the Gospel as presented in the Bible is true because it comes from people who had first-hand knowledge.  The Gospel in the Bible was given to men like Matthew, Peter, John, and Paul directly from Jesus Christ himself.  There cannot be a more accurate depiction than the one that comes from the people who heard it directly from the Master.

Sadly, today there are still people who preach false Gospels.  Some people do it intentionally in an effort to make money, and other people are simply misguided.  There are people who claim that we need to “do” something to be saved, but the reality is that Jesus has already done everything that needed to be done.  His death on the cross was enough to save us, and nothing we can do will add to that in the eyes of God.  Just like the early Christians, we must still be cautious to avoid being misled by people preaching a false message.  Our greatest tool in avoiding false Gospels is the Bible itself.  When you hear someone talking about a new idea, all we have to do is compare what the person is saying with what the Bible says.  If the preacher conflicts with the Bible, we know what he says is false.  If the preacher makes it more about him than about Christ, we know what he says is false.  Guard your heart against false teaching, and always remember that there is no other Gospel other than the one in the Bible, and there is no other way to be saved than through faith in 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.

Bad Company Corrupts Good Character


Daily Bible Reading – Psalm 149; 1 Corinthians 15, 16

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 15:1-34

 

We are all surrounded by unbelief.  We all have people in our lives that are unbelievers.  We might also have people in our lives who claim to be followers of Christ but then unapologetically act contrary to the Gospel.  Television shows and movies are abound with non-Christian values and morals.  Books, newspapers, magazines, and blog posts attack Christianity and teach false Gospels.  For followers of Christ, there is no getting around it – we are all going to be faced with “bad company” from time to time.

Jesus and the disciples were also faced with bad company.  They spent much of their time surrounded by unbelievers, because Jesus knew that the sinners were the ones who needed to be saved.  We too must be in contact with unbelievers if we plan to fulfill the Great Commission and preach the Gospel to those who do not know it.  None of us can live in a protective bubble of only coming in contact with other believers if we intend to reach people for Christ.  This is why Paul’s words in today’s key passage are so important to us.

Even though we are surrounded by unbelief, we must not be misled.  We all have to guard our hearts from allowing bad company to corrupt good character.  When someone we know attacks our beliefs, we must stand firm.  We cannot waiver in our faith even for a second if we want to be effective witnesses for Christ.  We must let the Holy Spirit overflow from us, as He gives us the power to be surrounded by bad company without being corrupted.  In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, Paul gives the church in Corinth instructions while they wait for him to return to them.  He says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”  These were good instructions to the Corinthians waiting for Paul’s return and they are good instructions for all of us today as we await the return of 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.

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