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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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Resisting Temptation


Daily Bible Reading – Psalm 122; 1 Corinthians 9-11

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

 

Temptation is everywhere in this world.  As followers of Christ, we are constantly tempted to diverge from the path that is good and right – the path to God.  It is important to note a few things about temptation.  First and foremost, temptation alone is not sin.  Everyone is tempted to sin, but it is how we react to that temptation that determines whether or not we are sinning against God.  Jesus himself was tempted by the evil one in the desert.  When Jesus was tempted, he used the Word of God to resist that temptation which is a perfect example of what we must also do.  When temptations arise, if we have God’s Word in our hearts and in our minds, we can overcome that temptation through Christ who lives in us.

Another important point about temptation is its origin.  In James 1:13 we read, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone”.  Temptation does not come directly from God – it comes from the enemy.  Keep in mind, though, that God is the supreme authority in the entire universe.  He is in control of everything and everyone – including demons and Satan himself.  We see examples time and time again when demons are subjected to Christ’s authority in the Gospels, and we see in the story of Job that Satan himself must be given permission by God to bring temptation to Job.  Paul says in our key passage today that God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear.  This statement, like everything else in the Bible, is absolutely true – and there is a great amount of power in that.

If we truly believe God’s Word, and if we truly believe that everything He says is perfect and good, then we have all the tools we need to resist temptation.  We know that God loves us and that while he does not tempt us, he does allow us to be tempted.  We know that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.  We know that the Holy Spirit living inside us gives us the power to resist any and all temptations.  Resisting temptation, then, comes down to a simple choice we must make – do we love God more than the thing that is tempting us?  If the answer is yes, then we can use God’s Word and power through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to resist temptation and keep from intentionally sinning.

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 Betrayal of Judas


Daily Bible Reading – Job 25; Mark 13, 14

Today’s Key Passage – Mark 14:12-26

 

It is easy for Christians to be angry with Judas Iscariot.  After all, he betrayed Jesus and turned him over to the chief priests, which would ultimately lead to Christ’s crucifixion.  Because of his actions, Judas’ name has forever become synonymous with betrayal.  The visibility of his sin and the fact that it is written so boldly in the Scriptures makes it easy for us to see his sin and condemn him for it.

We too, however, are sinners.  Just as Judas betrayed Jesus, we too have all betrayed him.  In John 14:21, Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”  There have been times when each of us has not kept Christ’s commands, and at these times, we have failed to show our love for Jesus.

Sin is an irritating problem.  The Apostle Paul spoke of sin’s nature in Roman’s 7:15 when he said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”  I once heard it said that when we knowingly sin, we decide in that moment that we love that sinful thought, word, or action more than we love Christ.  This has stuck with me and has always worked to convict me during times of temptation.

My question in all of this is the following: Are any of us really any better than Judas?  Have we not all betrayed Christ at one time or another?  While none of our betrayals are as visible as the betrayal of Judas, are we not just as guilty?  Fortunately, by God’s grace we have all been offered salvation and do not have to face the punishment for our betrayals.  Jesus Christ took that punishment for us.  If you do not know Jesus and if you have never accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, come to Him today and ask for his forgiveness.  If you do know Jesus, when temptation strikes remember that the best way for us to show Jesus our love for Him is to obey 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.

Weathering the Storm


Daily Bible Reading – Job 1, 2; Acts 6, 7

Today’s Key Passage – Job 2:1-10 

Stories of bad things happening to good people constantly bombard us.  Many people believe that God should shield good people from the bad things in life, and that if He really loved us He would not allow these bad things to happen.  We must realize, however, that the bad things that happen today are all due to a series of events that began in the Garden of Eden when Eve ate the apple.  Man’s rebellion from God changed a perfect world into an imperfect one.  While God is more than capable from putting an end to all of the suffering in the world today, that is not His plan.  It is difficult for our human minds to understand God’s plan sometimes, but that is because a human mind can never fully comprehend God.

God knew that Job was a good man.  He viewed Job as “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil”. (2:3)  Satan argued that Job was only faithful to God because God had been so good to him and had never given Job a reason to lose his faith. (2:4-5)  God, fully knowing what the outcome would ultimately be, allowed Satan to test Job. (2:6)  In the first test (1:6-22), Job lost his possessions and his family.  In the second test (2:7), Satan inflicted physical pain on Job.  Throughout the tests, Job remained faithful to God.  Even when Job’s wife chided him for staying faithful to God, he continued to be blameless.  Job told his wife “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (2:10)  Job knew that while it is easy to be faithful to God during good times, it is the mark of a truly good man to be faithful during bad times.

In the face of adversity, clinging to God is the only way to weather the storm.  Do not give up on Him.  The enemy uses these bad times as the perfect opportunity to try to test our faith.  We learn from the story of Job that Satan is only allowed to do what God lets him do, and God will never let him give us more than we can handle.  Stay faithful to God in the good times and the bad, and live a life blameless and upright in His sight.

 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.

Acting Without Hesitation


Daily Bible Reading – Daniel 3, 4; Psalm 81; Revelation 17

Today’s Key Passage – Daniel 3

Yesterday, people throughout this country remembered the victims as well as the heroes who emerged from the tragic events of September 11, 2001.  As we look back at that fateful day, we think about the first responders – the men and women who risked life and limb to save others.  While these first responders all had different backgrounds and personalities, they all shared one very important trait – they all acted without hesitation.

In today’s key passage, we find the story of another group of men who acted without hesitation.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced a dilemma.  They were called in front of King Nebuchadnezzar because they refused to comply with his decree that everyone in Babylonia worship a golden idol. (Vss. 13-14)  Nebuchadnezzar gave the three men a choice – they could bow down to this manmade idol as directed by the king, or they could choose to maintain their loyalty to the Most High God and face execution by being thrown into a blazing furnace. (Vs. 15)  Without hesitation, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose obedience to God. They knew God could save them from the fiery furnace (which He did), but even if He chose not to save them they were determined not to worship anything other than the Lord. (Vss. 17-18)

We may wonder how they were able to answer without hesitation when their very lives were on the line, but the answer is quite simple.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made up their minds beforehand that they would be obedient to God no matter what happened.  With this conviction already firmly implanted in their minds, they had nothing to think about when the life or death situation with Nebuchadnezzar arose.  Each of us face a different kind of life or death situation every day – the temptation to sin and to turn away from God.  In those times, our natural minds can try to rationalize our sin or convince us that our actions might not be that bad.  Like the men from our story today, when we make up our minds beforehand that we will obey God’s Word no matter what; we will not have anything left to think about.  When we decide on our obedience before temptation strikes, we will be able to act without hesitation.  Let us all make up our minds today to live in complete obedience to God, by pre-determining to do what He has called us to do.

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.

When the Enemy Falls


Daily Bible Reading – Lamentations 1, 2; Obadiah; Revelation 14

Today’s Key Passage – Obadiah 1:8-16

 

A few years ago, before I was saved, I had a troublesome client at work.  Most of our conversations involved him complaining about my company and berating me personally, which culminated in a meeting in which I was forced to endure him yelling and cursing at me at the top of his lungs for about an hour.  Despite all of this, he continued to do business with us up until the day he called to tell me that his company was going out of business, due in large part to his management.  While I am not proud to admit it now, at the time, I remember feeling a sense of joy and relief at his misfortune.  I was happy that I would not have to deal with him anymore, but more than that I was glad that he had fallen so far.  As I read today’s key passage today, I thought about him for the first time in years, and I was reminded of my sinfulness.

The prophet Obadiah was speaking out against the people of Edom.  He condemned the Edomites for gloating, saying, “You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.” (Vs. 12)  When people are cruel to us, it is easy to give in to the temptation of feeling pleasure when they experience misfortune.  While it is easy to extend grace to a friend who is suffering, the true test of our character is how we react when our enemy falls.  Proverbs 24:17 reminds us, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice”.  Even if we think he or she deserves punishment, we must never be happy about someone else’s suffering, because God alone is the judge.

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 Hardened Heart


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 22-24; Revelation 9

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 9:20-21

 

For the last few days, we have been reading about God’s judgments during the end times in the book of Revelation.  At this point in our reading, the people of earth have already experienced the seven seal judgments and most of the seven trumpet judgments.  So far, they have seen many things including a great earthquake, hail and fire mixed with blood, a mountain thrown into the sea, and the darkening of a third of the sun and the moon.  In today’s reading, they faced a plague of locusts and the release of the four fallen angels.  Up to this point in the prophecy, over one-half of the world’s population will have been killed by God’s judgments.  Amazingly, even after seeing all of these things, there will still be people who will refuse to repent of their sins and turn to God. (Vss. 20-21)

When we read today’s key passage, most of us will probably think that the people who refuse to repent must be some sort of super-villains.  The truth is that each of these people will start their lives as innocent babies just like the rest of us.  The reason they will be unable to repent is that their hearts will be so hardened toward God following years of sin.  This is the way sin works.  These people will not wake up one day and just decide to be evil.  Their hearts will become hardened over time until eventually they will be unable to recognize God at all.  This is why sin is so dangerous, and why we must be careful not to rationalize sin in our lives.  One sin leads to two, which leads to dozens, which ultimately leads to a hardened heart.  Fortunately, when we confess our sins as soon as we recognize them, and completely turn away from them, we can save our hearts from becoming hardened toward 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.

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.

Where is Your Focus?


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 45-47; Psalm 105; John 21

Today’s Key Passage – John 21:18-22

 

A few years ago, I was playing golf with a friend of mine on a course that was new to me.  From about 180 yards away, I hit a beautiful approach shot that landed about three feet from the hole.  I will be the first to say I am not a great golfer, so I was understandably excited until I turned to my friend to see his reaction.  As he stared at the green with a shocked look on his face, he slowly turned to me and started laughing.  Unfortunately, I quickly learned that I was incorrectly aiming for the green of an adjacent hole and not the one we were currently playing.  I ended up on the wrong green because I was focusing in the wrong direction.

In today’s key passage, we see that Peter had a similar problem.  Following Jesus’ resurrection, He was walking with Peter and talking to him about the difficult times he would face ahead. (Vss. 18-19)  As Peter listened to Jesus, he noticed that John was following them, and asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” (Vs. 21)  Instead of thinking about how he could serve Jesus, Peter was focusing in the wrong direction.  To this, Jesus simply answered by saying, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (Vs. 22)

All of us can fall into the trap of comparing our lives to other people.  We wonder why others have received a blessing we have not received or why their walk with God is different from our own.  We can even become judgmental and start comparing someone else’s devotion to Christ to our own.  When these temptations strike, we must remember Jesus’ words as he gently says, “What is that to you?”  No matter what is happening with anyone else, our role is to follow Him.  Instead of focusing on what God is doing in other people’s lives, keep your focus clearly aligned on Jesus.  When you do, you will never have to worry about ending up on the wrong green.

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.

Learning to Fly


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 50-52; Psalm 92; 2 Peter 1

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Peter 1:3-11

 

Airplanes have always fascinated me.  I have read all about Bernoulli’s Principle and I understand the physics of how a plane flies, but what really interests me are pilots.  Every time I walk past an open cockpit door, I am amazed that anyone could possibly learn how to use all of the buttons, switches, and gauges.  What looks like a jumbled mess to me is simply another day at the office for a trained pilot.  This thought brings me to an interesting question for today – what if someone walked up to you tomorrow and gave you an airplane?  I am talking about a genuine, no strings attached, free airplane.  It would certainly be an amazing and valuable gift, but for most of us, there would be a problem.  When we received the airplane, we would have everything we need to achieve flight, yet most of us still would not be able to fly because we do not know how to use the airplane.  We would find ourselves with a choice.  Either we could let the airplane sit around collecting dust, never to be used, or we could learn how to fly.

I thought about this question today as I read our key passage.  The apostle Peter says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (Vs. 3)  Many of us walk around this life with many questions in our heads.  We wonder if we are good enough, if we know enough, or if we can really fulfill God’s vision for us.  It is easy for us to think things like, “one day maybe I will be able to do this” or “one day maybe I will be able to stop doing that”.  What we often seem to forget is that when we were saved, the Holy Spirit came to live inside of us.  When that happened, God gave us everything we need to live a godly life and to follow him completely.  He gave us this free gift with no strings attached so that we “may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (Vs. 4)  Just like when we received the free airplane, with the Holy Spirit we have everything we need to live a life that is fully pleasing to God and to serve Him completely.  The problem, though, is that we might not immediately know how to use the free gift.  Each of us has the full power of the Lord of Lords living inside of us, but if we do not learn how to use that power, it becomes as useless to us as the plane we do not know how to fly, and we spend our time trying to overcome sin and temptation through our own strength.  The good news is that we can learn to utilize the power of God in our lives.  Do not leave the power of God’s Holy Spirit sitting around collecting dust.  Spend the time getting to know how to use His free gift through prayer and Bible study, and you can learn how to fly.

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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