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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Sunday 8/12 ~ Jesus, Your Dawn

The scripture for today, August 12 (8/12), is John 8:12 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ “0-HS-592 VersesExamined-COVER-Thumbnail

Jesus had only about six months left to live. He knew the religious leaders were after his life out of jealousy. Before going to Jerusalem, he told his brothers, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me” (John 7:7). Knowing people were wanting to execute him, he slipped into Jerusalem after everyone else got there (John 7:10, 14). Then suddenly he appeared in the middle of the Temple complex ~ the size of many football fields. He knew he was safe as long as there was a crowd.

Jesus answered some private questions, and then “he cried out, ‘You know me! You know where I am from!’ ” (John 7:28).

Every day of this feast, a priest would ceremonially pour out some water to represent the water that poured out of the rock when the Jews wandered in the wilderness. But on the last day, the priest did not do this, for it represented their ancestors finally arriving in the Promised Land. It was on this last day of the feast that Jesus “stood and said in a loud voice…  ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him!’ ” (John 7:38f)

First thing the next morning at dawn he returned to the Temple court.  Maybe it was a beautiful sunrise. When the sun was up and the crowds returned, he shouted something else to everyone, “I am the light of the world!” (John 8:12).

He had compared himself to the water ceremony of the day before, and now he was comparing himself to the new dawn. There he was. God the Son crying out to humanity. “Come to me! I am doing everything I can to help you! Won’t you come? Please listen to me! Please come! I can save you!!!

Such stubborn love.

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Saturday 8/11 ~ How do we know our spirit is in us?

The scripture for today, August 11 (8/11), is Romans 8:11 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-1st Century Worship KINDLE-COVER-Thumbnail“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”

Death literally means separation. Physical death means separation from this body on earth. Spiritual death means separation of our soul from God who is Life. Whenever we sin, our soul dies. It happened to Adam and Eve who didn’t think God meant it when he said, “In the day you eat of the fruit, you will die.” They could no longer walk and talk with God in the garden because they were now separated from him, spiritually dead. With that eventually also came physical death.

There are certain spiritual laws that cannot be broken. For example, it is impossible for God to lie. It is also impossible for God to sin. Therefore, God cannot co-exist with sin. We sin. Another law is that sin demands death. For centuries, Satan allowed mankind to kill and sacrifice an animal in their place to take their death punishment. But it was just a temporary fix.

Finally, God sent the Son — his image — in bodily form to be sacrificed in our place and take our death punishment. Now, all we have to do is be “in Jesus” which is accomplished by baptism: Galatians 3:26 says this.

What is the role of our spirit? When we die, we say our spirit has left our body. So, as long as we are alive, it means our spirit is still in us. We are not conscious of our spirit being in us; we just know it is because we are still alive.

In the same way, when we become Christians by believing, repenting, confessing and being baptized, God’s Holy Spirit enters us; Acts 2:38 says so. This is when we become spiritually alive; Romans 6:3-4 says so. We are not overtly conscious of God’s Spirit being in us, but we know it is true because our soul is now alive.

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