Saturday 1/19 ~ How’s your hearing?

The scripture for today, January 19, is James 1:19a as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-PAUL COVER-Thumbnail-“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

There was a book published a few years ago entitled, Hurt People Hurt People.

Has anyone ever tried to console you by saying, “I know how you feel”?  Did you lash back at them saying something like, “How dare you think you know how bad I feel” or “How dare you think you understand the ordeal I went through!” or “How dare you treat me like that”?

Those are accusing words. And what do they accomplish? It’s almost like bragging. “My hurt is so far above your hurt, you could never come up to my superior level.”

You may feel justified in explaining how badly you were treated by someone. But, in reality, it makes the hurt keep going and going and going…. Perhaps this is an accusing cycle you’ve been in for a long time with someone.

Which one of you is going to stop the cycle?

Satan is the accuser (Revelation 12:10).  God is the forgiver.  Even Jesus forgave his killers. When you have been hurt, be ready to listen to the other person’s hurt instead of accuse. And in the process, “bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

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Thursday 1/17 ~ We get the good ones

The scripture for today, January 17  (1/17), is James 1:17 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

0-Mefiboset-KINDLE Thumbnail“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Do you sometimes feel slighted because other people get more gifts on special occasions (or even between special occasions) than you do? No need to feel that way. Christians get the goods ones. Christians get the perfect ones. We get them all! And our heavenly Father will never stop showering us with those “good gifts,” those “perfect gifts.”

God’s gifts are good and perfect because they are forever gifts. And what can be better than that?

Ah, Lord God, my creator, my life, lover of my soul. With you, I am never hungry, I am never cold, I am never in want. With you I have all that I need for my soul is filled with your love, I am warm in your embrace, and everything is good within my being. You, who died in my place, are even now waiting for me at your door.  I will be there soon.  Then we will be together for eternity.

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Wednesday 1/9 ~ Go anyway. Conquer anyway.

The scripture for today, January 9 (1/9), is Joshua 1:9 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

00-Hero Alone-COVER-KINDLE-Thumbnail“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Fear can paralyze. Just ask Joshua. He had just been given the job of conquering horrible people who practiced prostitution as a religion, self-mutilation and sacrificing their children to the fire god.  Plus, his spies said those bad people were like giants and his army was made up of the children of former slaves with no experience.

Guess what God said.  “Go anyway. Conquer anyway.” 

What do you fear?  A few people fear spiders and night time and heights and such? A lot more of people fear changing a bad habit that has us in its claws and won’t let us go. Even more serious, do you fear telling a neighbor, someone in a club, a relative about Jesus’ willingness to save them from hell and get them entrance into heaven?  To all this, God says, “Go anyway.”

Some of you reading this live in countries where it is dangerous to be a Christian. Do you fear being arrested, tortured, killed for your faith?  God tells you, “Be strong!  Be courageous!  Do not be terrified!”  Why. Because “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

What keeps the fear under control?  “Perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18).  Love yourself, love your neighbor, love God.

Today, whatever it is holding you back, “Go anyway, Conquer anyway.”

 

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Sunday 1/6 ~ Well, which one is our leader?

The scripture for today, January 6, is Titus 1:6f as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

0-Titus-Cover-Lg Thumb“An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless ~ not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, nor pursuing dishonest gain.”

This is quite interesting. God does not leave us to guess the qualifications of a church leader. We don’t have to hold conferences or synods to decide on qualifications for this office, because God has already given them.

Something surprising here is that the word elder is used interchangeably with the word overseer (sometimes also translated bishop). The word elder comes from the Greek word presbyter. The word overseer/bishop is from the Greek word episcopos. Elder and overseer and bishop all are the same in this passage referring to the same office!

Here’s something else interesting about the elder/overseer/bishop: The word pastor comes from the Greek word for shepherd, poiman. In Acts 20:17, Paul sent for the elders of the church in Ephesus to talk to them. When they arrived, he said, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds [pastors] of the church of God which he bought with his own blood.” He called them by three titles.

Do you see the overlapping of the same office being called by different names? It’s kind of like father and papa being the same.

Titus 1:6f uses elder and overseer for the same office. Overseer is the same in Greek as bishop. Acts 20:17 uses elder, overseer, shepherd (pastor) for the same office.

In our daily lives, we have different words meaning the same person; such as father, parent, dad, papa ~ all names for the same position in the family.

So, too, for the family of God ~ the church ~ all these words overlap as names for the same office! And the qualifications for this office are found in our scripture for today, Titus 1:6f. Indeed, how interesting!

 

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Thursday 1/3 ~ God, I’m coming back. Help me!

The scripture for today, January 3, is Jonah 1:3a as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

09-Jonah-KindleThumbnail

“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.”

Do you spend your life running away from the Lord? Do you do it with busy-ness, with resentments toward people, with anger that God does not make people stop being bad to you, with boredom at the thought of worshipping him, with refusal to believe he even exists?

Is it even possible to run away from the Lord? Eventually, it is. But for a long time, the Lord runs after you just as he did by causing a storm at sea where Jonah was on board his escape ship.  He does things to get your attention too.

Perhaps there are storms in your life. Have you ever thought of them as God trying to get your attention?  Perhaps you run here and there day after day, too busy to even think about God. But when disaster hits, do you suddenly remember God so you can blame him for your hardships?

Yes, perhaps you sometimes do blame God, but at least you’re thinking of him. Perhaps it’s been years since you have thought seriously about God. 

He has big shoulders. Go ahead and blame him for a while, then remember how he loves you and just wants you back.

But don’t wait too long. God only runs after you for so long. Eventually, he gives up. Don’t wait so long that God gives up on you and treats you the way you have been treating him.

“God, I’m coming back. Help me.”

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Thursday 12/20 ~ But my heart is set on it

The scripture for today, December 20 (12/20), is 2nd Corinthians 12:20b as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

05-Joseph-KindleThumbnail“….I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder.”

It can happen among well-meaning people trying to accomplish the same good work but from different angles. Do you insist your way is the best way, and people will be lost if the committee or congregation doesn’t do things your way? Do you then get hurt and think (or say) everyone else doesn’t love the lost like you do? Then are you tempted to switch congregations or just drop out of the church completely?

A good test when personalities clash is to ask yourself, “Would this congregation survive without me?” Of course, it would. It did before you came and will after.

A good solution: If your heart is set on a certain good work, but no one else’s heart is, do what you can alone. You don’t need a committee to follow your heart.

Let us prefer one another, honor one another, and love one another. We are family ~ God’s family.

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12/19 ~ Vengeance or Forgiveness?

The Scripture for today, December 19 (12/19), is Romans 12:19 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Hero Alone-COVER-KINDLE-Thumbnail“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

Thank God, he took away the old Law of Moses and gave you the new Law of Jesus instead. Under the Law of Moses, you had to take revenge yourself. You had to stone adulterers and children who were disrespectful to you as their parent. If someone killed a relative, you were obligated to go out and kill the killer. If someone knocked out the eye or tooth of a relative, you were required to go out and take that person’s eye or tooth.

Now God says to forgive and do good to your enemy (verse 20-21). That’s what God did for you who once was his enemy as a sinner. As you are merciful to others, he is merciful to you.

Forgiveness is not condoning evil, but wishing a better life for whoever did something bad to you. You may forever be afraid of that person, but you must forgive. Hard to do? Indeed! But, with God, anything is possible. So, let go of it. Let go of them. Let God take care of it. He has released you of that burden. Released you to “overcome evil with good”.

 

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