Scripture for Monday 12/18 ~ Soar with Angels

The scripture for today, December 18, is Hebrews 12:18ff as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

0-HS-592 VersesExamined-COVER-Medium“You have not come to a mountain [Sinai] that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storms; to a trumpet blast….The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’ “

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a NEW COVENANT….”

The first paragraph refers to Mount Sinai in Arabia on which Moses received what was called the Law of Moses ~ not just 10 commandments, but over 600 ~ over a 40-day period. It was a terrifying experience for everyone. The second paragraph refers to Mount Zion where the temple was later built in Jerusalem by the Jews.

Next, the writer of Hebrews shows that Jesus took mankind higher than either physical mountain through his new agreement with us. He took us from the Old Agreement of the Law of Moses to the New Agreement of the Law of Grace. He took us from the physical to the spiritual. The Christian Jerusalem came out of heaven where angels and the living God dwell (Revelation 21).

Why would anyone want to dip into the old Law of Moses to get justification to do showy things in worship when Christian worship is so much more spiritual? Let us climb down off that old mountain of the Law and soar with the angels to the spiritual, the heavenly.

Scripture for Tuesday 11/28 ~ The Lord’s Supper

The scripture for today, November 28 (11/28, is 1st Corinthians 11:28,31 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

0-BK 7-ShadowOfDeath-Cover-new-Medium“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup [of the Lord’s Supper]….But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.”

“When they met on THE first day of the week to break bread” (Acts 20:7), these first-century Christians were meeting to keep the Lord’s Supper. The word (“met”) in the original Greek of the New Testament meant a religious meeting. Interestingly, the word “the” in the original Greek meant each and every without exception perpetually.

Even if we did not know the Greek, look at how the Jews (and we) interpreted “Remember THE Sabbath Day to keep it holy”. They did not remember the Sabbath day monthly, quarterly or yearly, but weekly. Therefore, the first-century Christians realized that “When they met on THE first day of the week to break bread [Lord’s Supper]” (Acts 20:7), it meant every Sunday.

We can sing, pray, teach and read the Bible any day of the week. What makes Sunday special is that is the day we are to meet to take the Lord’s Supper, the Communion ~ the bread representing his body dying in our place, the wine representing his blood shed in our place.

During the Communion, we consider Jesus’ terrible sacrifice in order to save us from hell. And we consider our sins that made his sacrifice necessary to save us from hell. During our weekly partaking of the Lord’s Supper, we should be examining ourselves, comparing ourselves to Jesus. It is kind of like taking weekly exams so we will be ready for the big final exam on the Day of Judgment.

God thought of everything ~ weekly remembering the sacrifice of our Lord so that we never take him for granted, and weekly remembering our sins. And so, we fall at his feet and whisper “Thank you.”

Scripture for Tuesday, November 21 (11/21) ~ A Little Church

The scripture for today, November 21 (11/21), is Acts 11:21 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-PAUL COVER-Medium-“The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”

What had just happened? Some Christians in Phoenecia (today’s Lebanon), Cyprus (the Mediterranean Island) and Cyrene (in today’s North Africa), went to Antioch in Northern Syria near the southern border of today’s Turkey. There they established a congregation.

This little congregation ended up being the home congregation of Paul and Barnabas for many years. It started small; we don’t know the size it grew to. Regardless of the size, it had foresight and eventually did great things.

Perhaps you live in a town full of churches, but you’ve compared them with the New Testament, and none of them follows that pattern. Perhaps you have even given up going to church because of this problem. What is stopping you from beginning a little congregation after the New Testament pattern in your home?  

New Testament churches were simple ~ not elaborate like those mega-churches out there. And those simple churches have always been dynamic in their simplicity. Who knows but that your new little congregation will someday produce a Paul or a Barnabas….

 

Scripture for Sunday, November 19 (11/19) ~ Worship

The scripture for today, November 19 (11/19), is Ezekiel 11:19 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

changes-in-worship-cover-medium“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

Although the 600+ commandments in the Old Testament Law of Moses were nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14), God has always had laws to keep us safe. In the New Testament era, he does not have a lot of laws, but he still has them.

What is our worship like? Is it full of things God never asked us to do? Does our worship elevate God or ourselves? When we’re done worshiping, do we say, “We were so great!” or “God is so great!”?

We add all kinds of things to our worship that were commanded only under the Law of Moses, or things we think would “add to the effectiveness” of our worship. If, for example, it’s okay to add things to our singing and praying because then they would sound better, then it is okay to add lemon pie to the Lord’s Supper because then it would taste better.

Again, the question: Who are we worshiping and trying to please? God or ourselves? Do we deep down have a heart of stone, but put on our halo and say, “Surely not me”?

 

Scripture for Friday, October 27 (10/27)

The scripture for today, October 27 (10/27), is Mark 10:27 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

worship-the-first-century-way-cover-kindle“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God: All things are possible with God.’ “

Can we be perfect? God let mankind try for many centuries to be perfect.

To one group of people he gave over 600 laws and said, “If you keep these, you will be perfect.” But, as hard as the Jews tried, no one could keep the Law of Moses perfectly.

To the rest of the world, he basically said, “Try to figure out for yourselves how to be perfect.” So, they tried all kinds of religions, but with all of them, they could not be perfect.

Finally, mankind was ready for Jesus. He came to earth and lived that perfect life that is impossible for us to live. He became the perfect Lamb of God, and sacrificed his life for us, for Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death.” He collected the wage for us.

So now, according to Romans 6:3-4, just as Jesus died on the cross, we too can die to our sinful nature ~ the part of us that sins and doesn’t care. Then, just as Jesus was buried in his tomb, we too can be buried in a watery tomb of baptism. And finally, just as Jesus was raised up out of his tomb the Savior, we rise up out of our watery tomb the saved.

Then God considers us perfect too. God cannot associate with sinners in his heaven. He can only have perfect people in his heavenly home. Impossible for us to live there with him someday? Yes. But, God sent Jesus to fix that problem. With God, nothing is impossible.

 

 

 

Scripture for Thursday, October 26 (10/26)

The scripture for today, October 26 (10/26), is 1st Corinthians 10:26 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-COVER-KINDLE“For ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.’ “

The beautiful part is that God left a lot of his creation undone for us to finish. After all, we are created in his likeness.

He left the stones and clay in the ground so that we could dig it up and build cities. He left the wool on the sheep so we could shear it and make warm garments. He left the trees growing tall so we could hew them and build barns and houses. He left the gravel in the ground so we could harvest it and build roads.

He left the ore in the ground so we could mine it and make skyscrapers, airplanes, ships, trains, automobiles. He left the water in the lakes and seas so we could capture it and create power and transportation ways. He left the beautiful stones unseen so we could dig them up, shape them, polish them, and make beautiful decorations.

Yes, we were created in the likeness of our Creator. He loved to create. So, do we. So, whenever we make something good from his creation, we honor him.

 

Scripture for Wednesday, October 25 (10/25)

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

0-BK 7-ShadowOfDeath-Cover-new-Medium“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.”

Some people declare, “I can walk through nature ~ the temple of God ~ and feel God is closer there than in a church building.” Well, do they really do it? How often? The purpose of the church meeting is not so much to encourage ourselves as to encourage others 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 we do these things? A lot of it is done during our 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 things that keeps us from falling.

Should we meet once a week? This scripture says to meet “all the more as you see the Day [of Judgment] approaching. Many 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 taking the blame for our sins, and then taking our punishment. Inconvenient experiencing agonizing spiritual death when God left him on the cross, and then that agonizing physical death.

Do we really know inconvenience?

 

Scripture for Sunday, October 22 (10/22)

The scripture for today, October 22, is Hebrews 10:22 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

worship-the-first-century-way-cover-kindle“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

The previous verse said that Jesus is the great (high) priest over the house of God (the church). Therefore, the sprinkling refers to the sprinkling of blood the high priests did on the Day of Atonement once a year. (See Leviticus 16 in the Old Testament.) Now our hearts (which we cannot see or touch) are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus.

And how are we to be cleansed from that guilty conscience with our bodies (which we can see and touch) being washed? I Peter 3:21 says, “Even so does baptism now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience toward God.”

We do not have to guess whether we were sincere enough when we gave our heart to the Lord. Our conscience never has to wonder if we did it right. For God gave us something we can actually do to give us a good and clear conscience toward him.

From henceforth, we can draw near to God in full assurance. Full! Not partial. Not wondering. Not with ups and downs of faith. But full! God thinks of everything!

 

Scripture for Friday, October 20 (10/20)

The scripture for today, October 20 (10/20), is Deuteronomy 10:20 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-BK 5-FloodGates-Cover-Medium-New“Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him.”

In the Hebrew, “fear” is yirah. It means to revere. Psalm 111:9 (KJV) says, “Holy and reverend is His name.” The Bible does not tell us that anyone else’s name is reverend or that anyone else can wear that name as a title ~ only God. Some say, “Well, I’m honoring God when I add ‘Reverend’ to my name.” Actually, no.

We are told to hold fast to God. Who do we hold fast to? Our denomination? Our religious friends? Our self-help Christian books? Our religious leaders? God says, “Hold fast to me.” How is that done? By reading his words for ourselves and obeying it, regardless of what our non-religious or religious friends tell us; by putting God on a pedestal, not a person.

Hold fast to Reverend God, and he will hold fast to you. And so, we worship him.  

Scripture for Friday, October 6 (10/6)

The scripture for today, October 6 (10/6), is Jeremiah 10:6 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-BK 2-DreamMaker-cover-kindle-medium-new“No one is like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power.”

The word “name” here is from the Hebrew word for “renown” ~ shem. This same word is sometimes translated fame. Sometimes we say someone “has made a name for himself” to indicate s/he has become successful and possibly even powerful. Sometimes, just the mention of a name gives us authority and power.

Just think. We do not have an impersonal God. The gods of the Bible era were made of stone. They were depicted as basically being giant humans who could throw down thunderbolts if they were angry.  Sometimes they were angry at humans and sometimes they were angry at other gods. Seldom were they ever depicted as pleased. 

Worship consisted of appeasing them so they would stop being angry at the much smaller humans on earth. Priests would claim any natural disaster was the result of their particular god’s anger, requiring even more sacrifices which lined the pocket of the priests. The priests had the real power in each country, even more than the throne.

Sometimes worship consisted in indulging in vices such as fornication, drunken orgies, and fights to the death. The priests could get even more power by catering to the baser desires of their “followers”. 

Still other religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism whose god is the essence of the universe such as Nirvana or Shamanism whose gods are the life force of objects in nature. 

The prophet, Jeremiah, and all the other prophets of the Holy Bible depicted the Lord of the universe as being the greatest power in existence, but with the greatest love in existence. He was a personal God and no imitation god could come even close to that.

Think back over your life. In what way has the Lord used his power to cause amazing things to occur in your life just at the right time? That is our God. The real God full of mercy, truth, love, and yes, power.