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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.

We Are New Creations in Christ


Daily Bible Reading – 2 Corinthians 3-6

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

 

When I was a kid, I was really into baseball cards.  I would collect them and put them into protective sleeves, and I can still remember the joy and excitement that came with opening a new package of cards to see what was inside.  The best part was trading the cards with my friends.  We would gather around with our cards and try to come up with trades, each giving up something in order to get what we really wanted.  While the details of every trade were different, there was one similarity – in each trade, both parties were giving up something of value.  No one would trade a priceless card for a worthless one.  This system of trade is common in most things in this world.

The trade that Jesus Christ made for us on the cross was entirely different.  He traded something priceless for something worthless.  He traded his righteousness for our sins.  He gave us eternal life, while bearing the weight of all of our baggage and sinfulness.  This was more than just an exchange or a trade – this was a gift.

When we become believers in Christ, we also make a trade.  We trade in our old lives for new ones.  At conversion, we are not fixed, repaired, or rehabilitated.  We are made entirely new creations.  Think about that for a second – WE ARE ENTIRELY NEW CREATIONS.  All of the old things that we used to be are dead – we are reborn in Christ.  What does this mean?  Does this mean we should continue to do the things we always did?  No.  Does it mean we will find pleasure and peace in the things that used to bring us pleasure and peace?  No.  We are entirely new.  When the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us, He changes things around.  He does a complete overhaul.  All of a sudden, the things we used to enjoy now cause us pain.  The shows and movies we used to watch now become unwatchable.  The activities we used to engage in now become unacceptable.  Some people see this as “rules” or as God limiting us, but that is not the case.  We are not changed to try to take anything away from us.  The Holy Spirit changes us to help us understand what real pleasure and peace are.  We die to our old selves daily not because we are forced to by a set of rules, but because we want to.  The Holy Spirit makes us want to.  Furthermore, not only does the Holy Spirit convict us into wanting to change our behaviors, He gives us the power to do it.

How have you changed since asking Jesus to come into your life?  Can you quantify it?  Is it tangible?  Do you see huge differences in how you were vs. how you are today?  More importantly, do others see differences in how you were vs. how you are today?  If the answer is no, then it might be time to reevaluate if you have truly accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life.  Are you still living for things outside of Him?  Are you a new creation or are you still your old self that has just been fixed a little bit here and there?  Die to your old self and your old ways, and be reborn in Christ Jesus.  The day of salvation is today.  The time is now.  Let tomorrow be the first day living as a new creation 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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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.

Making Excuses


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 17-19; Revelation 7

Today’s Key Passage – Ezekiel 18:1-32

 

It was not my fault.  I did not know I was supposed to do that.  I was waiting for approval.  I was just trying to keep up with the flow of traffic.  Over the course of our lives, we have all made excuses.  When we miss a deadline at work, forget to do our homework, or get pulled over for speeding, we might try to make an excuse.  Sometimes we might even try to excuse our own sin.

This is what the people of Judah were trying to do in our key passage today.  They believed God was punishing them for the sins of their ancestors, and not their own.  This led many of the people to wrongly believe that they might as well sin because they were already doomed.  Others believed that if their ancestors were good and followed God’s commands, they would be saved simply through their lineage and could do whatever they pleased.  All of this wrong thinking was leading the people further away from God and keeping them from repenting of their sins, so God set the record straight through the prophet Ezekiel.  He said, “The soul who sins is the one who will die.” (Vs. 4)

We are all responsible for our own actions.  When we choose to sin, we can try to make excuses or blame someone else, but at the end of the day, we are all accountable to God.  If God’s message stopped there, it would be bad news for all of us who have fallen short of His standards.  Fortunately, there is much more to His story.  God told the people of Judah, “if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die.” (Vs. 21)  Though we have sinned, we are saved by His overwhelming grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  So what are we left to do?  “Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.” (Vss. 30-31)

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.

Having a Bad Day


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 21, 24, 27; Psalm 118; 1 John 2

Today’s Key Passage – Psalm 118

 

We have all had one of those days.  They are the days when nothing seems to work out the way we think it should.  They are the days when the world seems to be against us.  They are the days when we want to just curl up into a ball and hide from everything and everyone.  They are the bad days.  We all have them from time to time, and when one pops up out of nowhere it can hit you like a ton of bricks.  A bad day can make every small incident seem like a major disaster.  A bad day can make every small misunderstanding turn into a relationship-defining argument.   A bad day can just make you feel completely out of sync and alone.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 118 knew all about having a bad day.  He faced periods of anguish (Vs. 5), and times when he felt completely surrounded. (Vs. 10)  He was pushed back and about to fall (Vs. 13), and had to suffer through God’s discipline. (Vs. 18)  Through it all, we see that he maintains a spirit of praise toward God as he declares, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Vs. 24)

We will all face bad days.  We will all face challenges in this life and will all feel alone or forsaken.  While we cannot always control our circumstances, we can take refuge in the knowledge that God is in control.  Every day, even your worst day, is a day created by God for His purposes.  Everything that happens during that day is part of His design, and can build your strength and your faith.  Every day is an opportunity for us to serve our God and to serve others.  Let us all rejoice and be glad in it.

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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It is Finished


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 23,25; John 19

Today’s Key Passage – John 19:17-30

 

Anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that I am a perfectionist.  Sometimes, this trait can serve me well, but more often than not, I run into problems.  My compulsive need to make everything perfect is particularly a problem when I am working on projects.  No matter what I am working on, I never seem to actually finish.  Even when I think my work is complete and I believe the project is finished, I usually think of one or two things I could do to improve upon my work.  Once I complete those tasks and think I am done, I usually come up with one or two more things I could do to make it better.  It is a frustrating cycle, and it is something I have struggled with my entire life.

Sadly, many people have the same reaction to Christ’s work on the cross.  Though He proclaimed, “It is finished” (Vs. 30), we are still tempted to try to add something to what He did.  We wrongly believe that we need to earn our salvation by our own deeds or actions, when in reality, He has already done everything that needed to be done.  Believing that we need to add to Christ’s work on the cross is not just damaging to our faith; it is actually sin.  When we try to earn our salvation by our own works, we are effectively saying that what Jesus did was not enough for us.  We are saying that though his work was finished, we have found one or two more things we think we can do to try to improve upon His work.  When you think about it in these terms, it is easy to see why focusing on our deeds as a method to salvation is so caustic to our faith.  We are saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  His work on the cross is all we need to receive complete forgiveness for all of our sins.  Do not try to add to His beautiful masterpiece.  It is already finished.

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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Understanding Grace


Daily Bible Reading – 2 Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 33; John 4

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Chronicles 33:1-17

 

A couple of weeks ago, we read what many call the faith hall of fame.  It is a list in Hebrews of some of the greatest people of faith in the Bible.  Today we read the story of Manasseh, one of the kings of Judah, who could arguably be placed on an opposite list of some of the “worst” people in the Bible.  When we look at his 55-year reign as king we see that it was marked by sin.  Manasseh worshiped other gods (Vs. 3) and desecrated the temple (Vss. 4-5).  He practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft. (Vs. 6)  He even sacrificed his own children in fire. (Vs. 6)  As we read about his life, it is pretty easy to believe that Manasseh might have fallen outside of God’s grace, and while it is true that his sins angered God (Vs. 6), Manasseh’s story is actually one of redemption.  When the king of Assyria took Manasseh prisoner and exiled him to Babylon, an amazing thing happened in his life.  We read, “In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God.” (Vss. 12-13)

All of us have some things in our pasts that we are not proud of.  Some of us might even have past sins that we believe are “too terrible” to be forgiven by God.  The amazing thing about God’s grace, though, is that He can and will forgive all of our sins, no matter how bad we believe them to be.  In fact, Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:31-32 that there is only one sin that cannot be forgiven.  This sin, called blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, is one that many of us worry we have committed, but that is not possible.  The simple act of worrying that we have committed this sin is an irrefutable sign that we have not.  Since we know we have not blasphemed the Holy Spirit, we can safely say that nothing else we have ever done or can ever do falls outside of God’s grace and mercy.  Do not believe the lie that the worst things you have ever done cannot be forgiven.  All of our sins, even our worst ones, can be nailed to the cross of Christ.  All of us can be forgiven.  All of us can be redeemed.  That is the beauty of God’s amazing grace.

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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Chosen by God


Daily Bible Reading – 2 Samuel 21-23; 1 Thessalonians 1

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10

 

There are a few concepts in Biblical Christianity that can be difficult if not impossible for human beings to fully understand.  There are three concepts that immediately come to mind.  The first is the Trinity.  It is difficult for us to fully comprehend God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit completely one and also completely separate.  Another example is the concept of eternal life in Heaven.  Think for a second about what it will be like to live for eternity.  If you think about it long enough, you will find that your mind will be running in circles because eternity is an idea that our human minds simply cannot fully understand.  The final example that immediately comes to mind is the doctrine of election.  In today’s key passage, Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you” (Vs. 4).   He is telling the Thessalonians that they were chosen by God.  Simply stated, the doctrine of election holds that before the creation of the world, God predestined certain people to be His chosen people.  In Ephesians 1:3-6 we read, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”  It can be difficult for many of us to simultaneously understand the concept of God choosing us and our human responsibility of choosing to follow Him.  It is almost impossible for us to understand how these two seemingly opposite things can both be true at the same time.  Like the other examples above, our minds simply cannot fully understand all of the ways of God.

Now before we get too deep into a discussion of the five points of Calvinism, my point today is to simply ask you to think about one thing.  If you are reading this and have been saved by God’s grace, then you are one of His chosen people.  Before you even existed, God chose you to be one of His children.  He chose you to be saved.  He chose you to live for eternity with Him in Heaven.  How does that make you feel?  When we truly begin to embrace this idea of election, we cannot help but to be simply awestruck by God’s grace.  We cannot help but to feel completely blessed.  We cannot help but to feel totally loved.  We cannot help but to want to obey Him and serve Him.  Think about God’s election of you today, and thank Him for choosing you as one of His children.

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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