Friday 2/16 ~ Flaming hope with a flickering candle

The scripture for today, February 16 (2/16), is 2nd Thessalonians 2:16 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-PAUL COVER-Thumbnail-“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

Who were these people the apostle Paul was writing? They were suffering.  Physically they were suffering.  Some in their group had even been killed for their faith. Mentally they were suffering.  Would they be next? Would it be worth everything they were going through?

Spiritually they were struggling. The apostle Paul, who wrote this, had been through such struggles many times himself. He wanted to make sure their faith did not waver.

How? By praying that their persecution would stop? At no time in the Bible do we have an account of Christians pray that the persecution stop. What did they pray for? Boldness.

They could be bold if they knew Jesus Christ loved them personally. They could be bold if they knew God the Father loved them personally. They could be bold with eternal encouragement, strength.

“Just keep doing what you’ve been doing,” he basically told them.  “With the strength God gives you, keep doing good deeds and spreading the Word.”  Persecuted? Yes. Frightened? Yes. Cowering? Never.

How about your life?

God’s encouragement never ceases. It is always there. There when you feel alone, when you feel forsaken, when you are frightened, when you feel helpless, when you feel hopeless.

God gives good hope. Sometimes things in your life may be going so badly you have trouble having faith in God. But you can still hope. The candle of your faith may be flickering, but your hope can still be a flaming hope, a large hope, a good hope.

 

Thursday 2/15 ~ Never let them stop you

The scripture for today, February 15 (2/15) is 2nd Timothy 2:15 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

“Do your best,” Paul told a younger co-worker.  “Do your best.”

This was an apostle speaking. This was Paul who had endured multiple beatings with rods and lashings with whips. This was Paul who no one could stop.

He had endured floods and snowstorms, hunger and robbers on the road. Still, no one could stop him. He endured ship wrecks and even treading water a day and night in the sea. Nothing could stop him.

It seems with Paul, it was never enough. He was driven. When he was stoned and presumed dead, he got up and went back into the city! When he was imprisoned, he defied the magistrates who put him there and sang his sermons to the other prisoners. Nothing could stop him. Nothing could shut him up.

When he wrote this, he was now in prison. He had done his best. Now it was time for the next generation. He was handing the torch over to Timothy and the others.

“Do your best, Timothy. Don’t let them stop you. Never let them stop you. They are lost and don’t know it. Tell them, Timothy. Keep telling them, no matter how terribly they treat you. Keep telling them and keep telling them. Don’t stop, Timothy. Do your best.

“Some will stop what they are doing and listen to you. They will turn their life around. They will be there with you when it is time to be presented to God. They will be there with you, and with you they will say, “I did my best.”

Are you doing your best? Have you let anyone stop you? Don’t. Never let them stop you.

 

Wednesday 2/14 ~ Thank God for the Old Testament

The scripture for today, February 14, is Colossians 2:14 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00- Worship Changes KC COVER-thumbnail“[God] having canceled the written code with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”

It is beyond my comprehension why anyone would want the Law of Moses unless they don’t want to obey ALL 600 commands and want an excuse to justify the one they do want.

They want the part that says to tithe so they can get people’s money. (Actually, the good Jew gave one-third, not one-tenth.) Or they want a separate priesthood so they can feel important.  Or they want showy things in worship like candles, incense, musical instruments (though they were only allowed the harp, lyre, and cymbal) so they can enjoy themselves more. 

Hold on! If we obey one command we are required to keep the entire Law of Moses ~ all 600 commands. Galatians 5:3 and James 2:10 say so. Are you up to it?

Our verse for today says the Law was against us; that is, it was impossible for us to keep perfectly. Try wading through Leviticus in the Old Testament. That’s where most of the old Law (“the written code with its regulations”) is.

It’s tedious. It regulated nearly every part of everyone’s daily life. It involved what we could and couldn’t eat, having to kill animals to die in our place whenever we sinned, stoning adulterers to death, having a separate Levite priesthood, giving a third of our income, reporting to priests if we had an open sore, use of candles, having to go to the Temple in Jerusalem three times a year, spreading blood on our doorposts, and on and on.

The book of Hebrews in the New Testament was written to help us understand that God’s new Law of Grace is much more spiritual. Read especially chapters 8 & 9. We have to make a choice: Old or New.

Hebrews was written about the time the Temple in Jerusalem was permanently destroyed, thus making it impossible to obey several things in the old Law. And a little time later the Jewish genealogies were destroyed, thus making it impossible to prove who was a Levite and eligible to be a priest.

But wait!  The Old Testament of the Bible is not the same as the Law of Moses. The Law is a small part of the Old Testament. The rest of it is wonderful praise, amazing wisdom, accounts of people who did or did not try to follow God, and those astounding prophecies of Jesus all through them.

Let us not neglect the Old Testament as so many people do. Thank God for the Old Testament.

 

Tuesday 2/13 ~ Choose one

The scripture for February 13 is Philippians 2:13 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Cover-KINDLE-Thumbnail-New“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

Here is another related verse: “The Lord opened her heart to respond” (Acts 16:14). God the Father moved people’s hearts throughout the Bible ~ Old Testament and New Testament. But he never moved hearts to do what they were not already inclined to do. He does not go against someone’s will, for he gave everyone free will.

If you are struggling to know the will of your religious leaders and friends, you struggle alone. If you are sincerely struggling to know God’s will and do it, the Father will help you.

 If you are struggling to act according to the purpose of your religious leaders and friends, you struggle alone. If you are sincerely struggling to act according to God’s good purpose, the Father will help you.

If you have a sincerely open heart, God can move you closer to himself so that he can work in you and through you on earth.

He will always tell you what to do through his Word ~ the Bible. You do not have to guess. It covers every possible situation you could ever face and shows you his good purposes.

Choose one of those purposes and do it. God the Father will work in you if you are willing. Are you?