Sunday 10/28 ~ God gave each of us an assignment

The scripture for today, October 28 (10/28), is Matthew 10:28f as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”

This scripture indicates that sometimes God’s allows you to “fall to the ground” ~ your body suffers, or you are killed. How can that be? After all, God is so loving. Surely a good God would not allow any harm to come to someone if he truly loves them.

But we all have our assignment from God in this war between Good and Evil. Just as Job in the Old Testament lost his entire family and entire wealth and then his health, he refused to blame God. He even said, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” (Job 2:10).

Satan causes bad to happen to you. Why? In order to get you to blame God for it. Your assignment is to refuse to deny God. That way, Satan loses one more battle, and God wins one more.

There is an old Christian song called “Victory in Jesus.” How can you have victory in Jesus if you do not have something to be victorious over? Romans 8:37 says we are more than conquerors. How can you be a conqueror if you have nothing to conquer?

Stand strong and say with James (1:2) that you consider it pure joy whenever you face trials. Hard to say? Of course, it is. But it could turn your life around.

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Thursday 10/25 ~ Bored in heaven

The scripture for today, October 25 (10/25), is Hebrews 10:25 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

06-PROMISE KEEPER-ChildsCartoonThumbnail“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another ~ and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Do you declare, “I can walk through nature ~ the temple of God ~ and feel God is closer there than in a church building”? Well, do you really do it? How often? The purpose of the church meeting is not so much to encourage yourself as to encourage your fellow Christian and visitors along with worshiping God.

Look at the context. Verse 23 says “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” and verse 24 says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” How do you do these things? A lot of it is done during your congregation’s worship and encouragement service.

And what comes after our verse for today? Verse 26 says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.” Meeting together with other congregational members is one of the major experiences that keeps you and your friends from falling and missing heaven. Or does worshipping all the time in heaven sound boring too?

Should you meet once a week? This scripture says to meet “all the more as you see the Day [of Judgment] approaching.’ Do you say, “But that’s too inconvenient”?

It was inconvenient for Jesus to leave a perfect heaven for an imperfect earth. It was inconvenient for him to leave the company of angels for the company of sinners. It was inconvenient for him to do this for 33 long years. Inconvenient to take the blame for your sins, and then take your punishment. Inconvenient to experience agonizing spiritual death when God left him alone on the cross in your place, and then that agonizing physical death in your place.

Do you really know inconvenience? Do you love Jesus or not? Do you love your fellow Christian or not?

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Sunday 10/7 ~ Why would a good God condone violence?

The scripture for today, October 7 (10/7), is Joshua 10:7f as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

00-LUKE-KINDLE Cover-Thumbnail“So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.’ “

We today cannot imagine a good God condoning violence, let alone promoting it. But think back. Mankind was quite barbaric in the centuries and millenniums before Christ. For example, when Alexander the Great got offended at what a friend said to him, he cut off his nose and ears and put him in a cage for the rest of his life.

God never runs very far ahead of mankind, or else mankind would not understand, and not even try to follow God. By the time Jesus came, God was saying, “No more violence.”

In this scripture for today, God was telling Joshua to attack people in the Promised Land ~ Canaan. This brings up another question: Why would a good God allow one group of people to kill off another group of people? God told Abraham centuries earlier, “In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Genesis 15:16). By this time they were sacrificing children to their gods.

In Leviticus 18:24, 28, God warned the Jews through Moses, “Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled…And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” So God warned the Jews that, if they got as bad as the previous people in Canaan, he would drive them out too. (Eventually they did, so God did.)

Further, in Old Testament times, God often punished people immediately. Why punish them? Partly to get them away from the good people. And God used armies of believers to do the punishing for him.

Today God does not expect us to do the punishing. Romans 12:19 says, “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. On the contrary, If your enemy is hungry feed him…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Thank God, he has taken the terrible task of vengeance away from us. We can just forgive our enemies and hand things over to God to take whatever steps need to be taken. In the meantime, we can read the Old Testament and learn that God takes notice when people are doing bad things to us. God does take care of us. God does love his children.

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Sunday 9/30 ~ Oh, the things he went through for us

The scripture for today, September 30, (9/30) is Luke 9:30f as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

0-BK 6-PromiseKeeper-Cover-thumbnail-new-kindleTwo men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.”

Hebrews 5:7 says something very startling to most people. “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death.”

Jesus did not look forward to going to the cross, even though many thousands of others had died that way. Why was it different for him? Because he had to take on all our sins as though he had committed them himself ~ every lie we’ve told, every gain from cheating, every insult, every slander campaign against another, every adultery, every murder ~ everything ~ all our sins! How could he bear it?

Not only that, but he had to experience both physical and spiritual death. Spiritual death means being separated from, being forsaken by God. What a terror to experience!

And so, a few weeks before his crucifixion, as he prayed on the mountain, Moses and Elijah appeared to him and they spoke about his death. They surely gave him courage to do what had to be done to save you and me who deserve hell.

The crowning glory of this conversation with Moses and Elijah is that the Father reassured him by announcing, “THIS IS MY SON! WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN! LISTEN TO HIM!”

Jesus was to nail the Old Law of Moses to the cross (Colossians 2:14). He had promised people, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets: I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

On the cross, he said, “It is fulfilled.”  Indeed, by the time Jesus returned to heaven, he had lived the Old Law introduced by Moses perfectly ~ something no man had ever been able to do. And by the time he returned to heaven, he had fulfilled every prophecy about his birth, life, and death, the first such full-time prophet being Elijah.

Oh, the things Jesus went through for us. We fall at his feet and worship him.

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Sunday 9/16 ~ “I will not stop until they kill me.”

The scripture for today, September 16 (9/16), is 1st Corinthians 9:16 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail“Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

The Apostle Paul said this. An Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, said almost the same thing in 20:9: “If I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in! Indeed, I cannot!”

Are you so full of the Word of God that you have to share it? Do you work it into your daily conversations?

I knew a lady once who took several church bulletins with her every Sunday. Then during the week, if she heard a conversation at a bus stop, she’d interrupt them and say, “I couldn’t help but hear what you were saying. Perhaps God in your life would help.” Then she’d hand them a bulletin. She’d do the same thing at a fast-food place like McDonald’s, or in the waiting room of a doctor. She could not hold it in. She had to share, even if it was with strangers.

There is a man in Afghanistan who is a partially secret Christian. When he thinks he can trust someone, he teaches them the gospel. He has run for his freedom and his life three times in the last eight years. He tells me, “I will not stop until they kill me.”

What about you? Is the Word of God overflowing in you so much you cannot keep it in? Tell someone today that God loves them. Watch them smile with a gleam in their eye that says, “I’d like to know more”.

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Friday 9/14 ~ Jesus’ crucifixion freed those living before him! Here’s the proof.

The scripture for today, September 14 (9/14), is Hebrews 9:14f as found in the New Testament of the Bible.

Old Testament Survey-Cover-thumbnail“How much more then will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts [sins] that lead to death so that we may serve the living God! For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant [testament] that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance ~ now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant [testament].”

This is a very interesting passage. Just previous to this, the author was talking about the blood of bulls and goats being sacrificed for sins under the old Law of Moses [Testament]. But now that the Son of God, the Lamb of God, had been sacrificed for our sins, we no longer need any more blood sacrifices.

Further, Jesus’ sacrifice was retroactive! It reached back to the faithful who lived under the first/old covenant [Testament] and set them free from their sins too.

Aren’t you glad God did away with the old Law of Moses with all its 600+ rules and regulations, and its requirement for animal blood sacrifices, and brought us a law of grace? What a God! What a Savior! Jesus did all this to save us from hell.

Have a day of deep gratitude.

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Saturday 8/18 ~ Suffering for the right reason

(I seem to have sent you today’s yesterday.  So, today’s will be yesterday’s.)

The scripture for today, August 17 (8/17), is Romans 8:17 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail“Now if we are children, then we are heirs ~ heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (see also Galatians 3:16)

I Peter 4:12-14 says we should not be surprised when persecution happens, “as though something strange was happening to you.” If we are insulted because of Jesus, we are blessed.

Notice, we are co-heirs with Christ IF we share in his suffering. Have you shared in Jesus’ sufferings lately? Have you ever in your entire life shared in Jesus’ sufferings? If not, you haven’t told very many people about Jesus loving them or stood up for Jesus when people around you were making fun of him or using his name as a swear word.

Are you sinning by omission? Do you huddle with your church friends all the time and brag that all the friends you have are Christians? Jesus didn’t. Jesus went out to “seek and save the lost.” Are you seeking?

Sometime today, say something to someone about Jesus ~ someone in a store, at work, a neighbor, a fellow passenger on a bus. They probably won’t insult you. This may be exactly what they’ve been looking for. But if they do insult you, accept it graciously. Then go on your way feeling honored to be a “co-heir with Christ” by “sharing in his suffering.”

Try it. You will be glad you did.

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