May 21, 2019

What I read today;

Colossians 2-3; Luke 7; Ezekiel 46-47; Psalm 141; Job 23; Numbers 30

We went on a cross country trip recently.  We left early on a Thursday morning, driving most of Thursday and then about a half day on Friday.  Saturday morning, we sat in bleachers, watching our daughter graduate for nearly 4 hours.  Between the drive and the metal bleachers, both my wife and I were aching and stiff.

When we got back to the hotel, we both eyed the hot tub in the pool room of the hotel.  We got into the hot tub, and after turning on the jets, we both sank into the warm water.  I felt the hot, bubbling water, untwisting, and unknotting my aching muscles.  I could feel the muscles in my back, shoulders, and neck begin to unwind.  After getting back up to the room and eating dinner, we both slept like babies.

Our relationship with Christ should feel the same.  If we immerse ourselves in prayer, worship, and God’s word and let the healing word of Christ heal our minds, we can remove the stress and worry of a crazy world.  When we spend time seeking out his love and grace and focus on the things that really matter how much healing can we see in our lives?  If we let that flow out of our own hearts to others, how much healing can we help to produce?

That’s what Paul is talking about in Colossians 3 vs. 12 – 17 when he says;

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” NRSV

 

May 20, 2019

What I read today;

Philippians 4 & Colossians 1; Luke 6; Ezekiel 44-45; Psalm 140; Job 22; Numbers 29

In Philippians 4 vs. 4-9, Paul proclaims that we should rejoice in the Lord.  How many times have you heard someone telling you to rejoice in the Lord while making it sound like a funeral dirge?

Paul was sitting in prison while he wrote these words.  He’d lived through several persecutions and attempts on his life.  Yet he would still say Rejoice in the Lord.

I’ve known people in my life who could rejoice in the Lord in spite of the most horrible experiences.

I know a man who suffered through multiple cancer surgeries in his early 30’s, and he never seemed to lose hope.

I watched my grandparents struggle for over 10 years while my grandfather suffered through heart issues and other health problems, but they never seemed to give up hope.

I know a Pastor who’s wife left him, causing him to leave the ministry, who is now back in the pulpit better than ever.

I know another cancer survivor who seems happier now than ever before.

I’ve watched my own daughter deal with diabetes since she was 12 who has never given up hope.

I watched my wife fight through a heart scare and still never give up.

You see our circumstances don’t dictate our hope and joy.  Our circumstances will eventually change.  Our hope and joy in God do not have to change.  Why?  Because as vs. 5 says, “The Lord is Near.”  It may sound trite, but the truth is that Jesus is there.  And if we’ll let him, he is the one who will ultimately provide us peace.  It is our own mind that will generally try and take our joy away.  Don’t let it.

#Bible Study, #Bible, #UMC, #Christianity, #Religion

May 19, 2019

What I read today;

Philippians 2-3; Luke 5; Ezekiel 42-43; Psalm 139; Job 21; Numbers 28

I have read Philippians 2 vs. 12-13 probably 100 or more times.  I struggle with it each time I read it.  Is he telling us that we have to work to earn our salvation?  No that’s not it, because repeatedly Paul has said to us that our salvation is a gift from God and that we can’t earn it.

I think what he’s saying is that our faith is going to be a struggle.  We’re going to have moments when we feel far away from Jesus.  We’re going to have times when we don’t know what to do. We’re going to have times when the temptations are going to be so strong that we fail to live up to God’s standards.

That’s why we should tremble when we realize what our God has done for us.  We should marvel at his grace and mercy.  We should start at his gift with awe and wonder.  Because God has continued working in us our new life in Christ.  He’s sent his holy spirit to continue to chip away at our hearts of stone and to replace them with a heart for Jesus.  He’s continued working on each one of us and will continue working on us until the very end of our days on this earth.

Each of us will have struggles in this lifetime.  I’m struggling to decide if I should head towards a new career.  One that would end up preaching from a pulpit.  I’m looking into options and trying to decide.  In many ways, I’m living these two verses this very day.  I worry is it God calling me or is it my ego.

We all face these struggles.  Thankfully, God has promised in these verses that it is he who is walking with us and guiding us in these very decisions.

May 18, 2019

What I read today;

Ephesians 6 & Philippians 1; Luke 4; Ezekiel 40-41; Psalm 138; Job 20; Numbers 27

I think you could say that Paul was going through a rough patch in his life when he wrote the book of Philippians.  In fact, he was sitting in Rome as a prisoner, thanks to the Jewish council in Jerusalem.  Yet, even now, Paul had figured out that God worked all things in his life for the good of the Gospel and more importantly for the good of Paul’s own eternal salvation.  Paul could look back on his life and see that everything had led up to this very day.

Paul no longer worried about the petty issues of rivals, or the attacks from the non-believers, or even whether or not he would ultimately live or die.

Everything in Paul’s life now focused on spreading the Gospel to as many people as he could, with whatever time he had left on this earth.

It’s funny, isn’t it, that no matter how many things change our lives all seem to follow the same pattern as Pauls.  We worry and fret about things that ultimately won’t matter.  Yet if we look back and honestly assess where we’ve been, everything we’ve ever done has led us to this one moment.  Good, bad or otherwise, we are who we are because of everything we’ve gone through.  What’s in our past has made us who we are today.

The question is not what have you done.  The problem is what will you do now, with the time remaining.  Will you be like Paul and spread the love of the Gospel or will you live your life in bitter regret over the failures that you’ve lived through?

That’s the real question, isn’t it?

May 17, 2019

What I read today;

Ephesians 4-5; Luke 3; Ezekiel 38-39; Psalm 137; Job 19; Numbers 26

I love how John the Baptist breaks down how Christians are supposed to behave.  Sometimes we try and make the Christian Life challenging to understand.  We invent tests and rules to try and describe how life is supposed to be lived. Those who don’t look like we expect them to fall into suspicion.

John breaks it down this way;

  1. Religious leaders need a savior just as much as those of us in the pews.
    • I’ve been around a lot of great preachers who never saved a soul.  Is the focus Jesus or is it building statues and monuments?
    • I’ve also seen ministers who preach eternal damnation with gusto, but never talk about the Gospel.
    • Do you spend your time pointing to Jesus or do you spend your time pointing out to anyone who will listen, your attendance numbers and the size of your churches offerings?
  2. Just because you go to church on Sunday doesn’t mean that you’re saved.
    • If you are using the church as a social club, or a way to grow your personal business, or because granny goes there you could be in trouble.
    • If the church isn’t the place you go because you know you need to hear the saving message of Jesus Christ, then you could be in trouble.
    • If you are in church as a status symbol, you could be in trouble.
  3. The way we live our lives matters.
    • Do we help those in need around us?
    • Do we mistreat people by taking advantage of people?
    • Do we love our neighbors as ourselves?
    • Do we understand that we are sinners in need of a savior?
    • Do we humbly lay our lives before Jesus out of gratitude for the incredible gift of life he’s given us?

John kept pointing people to Jesus.  It was the only mission he had.  He lived his entire life telling anyone who would listen that the Messiah was coming, get ready.  What a great example of how we should live our lives!