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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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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.

The Unlikely Messenger


Daily Bible Reading – Job 3, 4; Acts 8, 9

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 9:1-22

 

In today’s key passage, we find the conversion of a man named Saul.  Saul, later called Paul, was a notorious persecutor of Christians who witnessed and approved the stoning of Stephen for preaching the Gospel (7:54-60).  One day, as Saul was walking to Damascus in search of Christians to imprison, the Risen Christ met him on the road.  This meeting with Jesus, as well as the events that followed with a disciple named Ananias, led to Saul’s miraculous conversion to Christianity.  He was immediately baptized and began preaching the Gospel to others, spreading the good news about Jesus.

Paul’s encounter with the living Christ led to a dramatic transformation in his life.  He went from hunting Christians to leading them, and would go on to shape the history of Christianity more than perhaps any other apostle.  While Paul undoubtedly had lived a sinful and evil life before he came to Christ, his transformation made him an amazing witness to others of what Jesus can do in a person’s life.  Jesus did not let Paul’s past get in the way of the mission He had in mind for Paul, and even though Paul was certainly not looking for a personal relationship with the living God, Jesus still searched him out and found him in His own time.

The story of Paul gives all of us hope.  It proves that no one is too far away from God.  It shows us that no matter what we have done in the past, and no matter where we might be in the present, God is searching for us and has a plan for our future.  Due to his past, Paul was an unlikely messenger of the Gospel who was transformed into one of the greatest messengers of all.  God continues to encounter people every day and transform their lives to advance His kingdom.  Do you know someone who might be far away from God due to his or her past or present?  Share with them the story of Paul today, and let them know that there is hope for the future 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.

At the Cross


Daily Bible Reading – Nehemiah 3, 4; Luke 23

Today’s Key Passage – Luke 23:32-43

 

In the events leading up to the death of Jesus, He suffered many things.  He was beaten, whipped, spit on, mocked, and nailed to a cross.  He knew that it was God’s will and God’s plan that all of this had to happen to Him, but he still must have been in complete agony.  I cannot even begin to imagine the pain Jesus must have felt on that fateful day.  Despite his misery, Jesus still asked God to forgive the people who had caused him the most pain.

We have all been hurt by other people at one time or another.  In some cases, that pain was physical, and in other cases, the pain was emotional.  As human beings, we tend to focus on that pain and on the people who caused it, and we sometimes have a difficult time forgiving the people who have hurt us the most.  Jesus’ actions show us that even when faced with the worst pain imaginable, we still have the capacity to forgive.  We may not have this ability on our own, but we can gain this ability to forgive through the power and help of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Another important thing to note from this passage is the faith of the criminal hanging on the cross next to Jesus.  By his own admission, he plainly states that he is “punished justly” and is “getting what [his] deeds deserve.” (23:41)  However, at the end of his life, when he knew he was going to die, he turned to Jesus.  Even though he saw Jesus nailed to the cross next to him, he was able to see past Jesus’ present situation to see His future glory.  The fact that Jesus forgave him of his past sins and accepted him, and even told him that he would be with Jesus in Heaven, shows that it is never too late to turn to Christ.  All we have to do is put our faith and trust in him, repent of our sins, and follow Him.  Then, like the robber, we can be with Him in paradise.

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 Guilt of Sin


Daily Bible Reading – Ezra 9, 10; Psalm 131; Luke 21

Today’s Key Passage – Ezra 9:1-9

 

Ezra knew the seriousness of sin, and he knew that no one sins without affecting others.  Ezra was so overcome with guilt and sorrow over the sins of his people that he “tore [his] tunic and cloak, [and] pulled hair from [his] head and beard” (9:5).  Ezra also knew that despite his sins and the sins of his people, God’s love and mercy had spared the nation when they did nothing to deserve it.

For many people, religion and guilt go hand in hand.  Sometimes we can all feel like religion or church puts an unwanted spotlight on our sin, and it causes us to feel guilty for what we have done, but this is not what God wants.  God loves each of us so much that he made the ultimate sacrifice – he gave his one and only Son to take away all of our sin and our guilt.  We can live guilt-free knowing that through Jesus Christ we are saved – not by what we have done or not done in our past, but by what He did for us.  God saved us by His grace and mercy alone.  It is a free gift and all we have to do is receive it.  When we do sin, the freedom of Christ allows us to go to God, confess this sin to Him, and ask for his help in repentance.

Instead of trying to run away from God out of guilt or shame, we can run TO God for help in restoring our relationship with Him.  God will always accept us and love us just as we are.  While it is true that He abhors sin, He truly loves us unconditionally just as we love our own children. When you sin and are truly sorry, confess this to God, ask for His forgiveness, and then accept his grace and mercy.  Accept that your sin has been washed away and that God has forgotten it.  Then, turn from that sin and run toward God by making the necessary corrections and walking in step with Him.  Never let the guilt of sin weigh you down.  Instead, focus on the wonderful grace and mercy of God.

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

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Extra Credit


Daily Bible Reading – Esther 1, 2; Psalm 150; Luke 17

Today’s Key Passage – Luke 17:1-10

 

When she was in the third grade, my daughter would receive a list of words at the beginning of each week to study in preparation for a spelling test on Friday.  On the list of words, her teacher would provide two “extra credit” words, which were much more difficult than the other words on the list.  If spelled correctly on the test, these two words could take the place of other words that may have been misspelled.  Because of their importance, my daughter would always spend a bit more time studying those two words just in case she made any mistakes with the other words.

Many times, we can wrongly believe that when we live obediently to God’s Word we are doing “extra credit” work.  We might feel that a few good deeds can make up for any sinfulness we may cling to in our hearts.  In today’s key passage, Jesus dispels this myth.  He tells His disciples to be careful not to cause anyone else to sin (17:1-2), to correct wrongdoers, and to forgive others who repent. (17:3-4)  The disciples realized they could never be obedient to these commands in their own strength and asked Jesus to increase their faith (17:5), but Jesus told them that even a small amount of faith was sufficient for them to obey. (17:6)  He then went on to tell them a parable about a servant who worked for his master not to receive praise, but because it was his duty. (17:7-10)

As followers of Christ, we are His servants.  When we act in accordance to His will, we should not do so in order to garner praise or to try to build up “extra credit” in Heaven.  We should live according to His commands because it is our duty.  Instead of feeling prideful for the deeds we complete in His name, we can all feel blessed to be given the opportunity to serve Him and others, and we can obey His Word because of our great love for 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.

Lost and Found


Daily Bible Reading – Zechariah 13-14; Psalm 147; Luke 15

Today’s Key Passage – Luke 15:1-32

 

In today’s key passage, we find three of Jesus’ most well known parables.  The parables of the lost sheep (15:1-7), lost coin (15:8-10), and lost son (15:11-32) all speak of God’s unwavering forgiveness, but each is unique in the way in which each item is lost and how it comes to be found.  In the parable of the lost sheep, the sheep foolishly wanders away from his shepherd.  In the parable of the lost coin, the woman’s coin is lost through no fault of its own.  In the parable of the lost son, the son blatantly defies his father’s will.  In the first two parables, the shepherd and the woman frantically search for their lost items, but in the third the father patiently waits for his son to return.  In all three cases, when what was lost is found there is a great celebration, just as there is a celebration in Heaven every time a lost soul comes back to the Father.

Every person in this world starts out as lost.  Some are lost through no fault of their own, perhaps growing up not knowing about Jesus.  Others are lost because they foolishly wandered away from God.  Still others are lost because they have blatantly defied God’s will and have rejected Him.  In any case, God spends a lifetime searching for these lost souls.  Sometimes, He finds them relatively easily, and other times He has to wait patiently for them to return to Him.  Has Heaven celebrated your return yet?  If so, rejoice in knowing that you are saved and help others find their way back to God.  If not, it is time to start heading home.  No matter what sins we have committed or how far we are from Him, we can always return to our Father’s house.  When we do, we will not be turned away, rejected, or ridiculed for our mistakes.  Instead, we will be welcomed by the loving arms of Jesus, and the celebration will finally begin.

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.

Returning to God


Daily Bible Reading – Zechariah 1-3; Luke 11

Today’s Key Passage – Zechariah 1:1-6

 

The prophet Zechariah was another of the minor prophets who spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem who had returned from captivity in Babylon.  Like his contemporary Haggai, Zechariah preached a message to the people asking them to resume their work on the temple.  In today’s key passage, Zechariah received a word from God that he shared with his people.  As I read it today, I was struck by how appropriate God’s message was: not only for the returning exiles, but also for all of us today.  It is not a complex message, but it is one that is both meaningful and powerful.  Speaking through Zechariah, God told the people, “Return to me…and I will return to you.” (1:3)

There are many times when each of us may feel as though God is far away.  We may feel this way when we are dealing with persecution or grief.  We may wonder where God is when we are facing difficult financial times or when struggling with a major life change.  There is a funny truth, though, about this feeling that God is far from us.  See, God has not actually gone anywhere.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  When we feel like He is far from us, it is not because He has moved but because we have.  God is faithful and true, and He will never turn away from us.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of us.  Throughout history, man has continually turned away from God in one way or another, and each time we do, the distance between us and God grows.  If you are feeling like God is far away from you, remember His words to the people of Judah.  “Return to me…and I will return to you.”  If we want to feel closer to God, all we have to do is turn toward Him and move in His direction.

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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Becoming a Star


Daily Bible Reading – Daniel 11, 12; Luke 6

Today’s Key Passage – Daniel 12:1-3

 

Over the last decade or so, American television ratings have been largely dominated by reality shows.  There have been countless shows over the years in this genre – some of them wildly popular and others that flopped.  We have seen singing competitions and dancing competitions.  Competitors have tried to survive on deserted islands, raced across the globe, lived with strangers, and tried to find true love.  While most of the time, the grand prize of each show is different, all of the reality shows have one thing in common – they showcase people who want to become stars.  So many people today share this dream of becoming a star, which explains why reality shows never have trouble finding contestants or viewers.  Unfortunately, most of the time these reality “stars” burn out relatively quickly, giving new meaning to the term, “fifteen minutes of fame”.  Most of these contestants find that their stardom is temporary, and when it fades, they are left with very little.

Fortunately, in today’s key passage we read about a better way to become a star.  God’s messenger is talking to the prophet Daniel about the end times, and tells him that his faithful people will one day be delivered. (12:1)  The messenger says that in the last days the dead will rise from their graves, some to everlasting life and others to everlasting contempt. (12:2)  He then goes on to say, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” (12:3)  Unlike the temporary stardom so many people today crave, we can all become eternal “stars” by being wise and leading others to God’s righteousness.  Instead of dealing with rude judges who might criticize our efforts on national television, we only have to face one judge – the King of kings and the Lord of lords – and we will always be found perfect in His sight.  If you want to be a star, become a star for God today, and let your light shine brightly for eternity.

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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Measuring Up


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 40, 41; Psalm 128; Revelation 21

Today’s Key Passage – Exekiel 40:28-37; Revelation 21:15-17

 

In today’s Bible reading, we are bombarded with measurements.  First, we see extensive measurements for God’s blueprint for the new temple given to the prophet Ezekiel.  Then, we see the measurements for the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation.  What struck me as I read these words was the shear perfection of it all.  In the blueprints for the new temple, the measurements for all of the gates, alcoves, walls, and porticos were exactly the same. (Ezekiel 40:28-37)  In the New Jerusalem, the measurements are all multiples of 12, corresponding to the twelve tribes in Israel and the twelve disciples of Christ. (Revelation 21:15-17)  In both cases, God is going to dwell in these places, and they will both be absolutely perfect.

As I was thinking about the perfection of God’s dwelling places today, I was reminded of how badly each of us measure up to His Holy standard.  We are all far from perfect.  Fortunately, we do not need to find perfection on our own.  When we put our faith and trust in Christ and accept Him as our Lord and Savior, God’s Holy Spirit comes and lives in our hearts.  When our perfect God comes to live in us, He makes His new home absolutely perfect.  He forgives us of all of our past, present, and future sins, and washes us clean of all unrighteousness.  In His eyes, we become as perfect as the measurements in our reading today.  Let us all praise Him today for the perfection He has given us, and for allowing us to measure up to His standards not by our own deeds, but through the perfect sacrifice of His Son.

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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