Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good works with the good news

S James 1:22-25 NLT

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

O   -   I find it only interesting the book of James follows the book of Hebrews in the Bible.  This is because Paul, in Hebrews, spent a good amount of time , reminding the Jewish converts that they are under a new covenant and things are now much different now that we have a perfect priest in Christ, interceding for us at the right hand of God.  However,  James comes in and says don't depart from the perfect things that God has  already written in His word.  Instead listen to the word, and let it reflect in you and on you, not forgetting what it has shown you.

A -  I know the book of James can cause some to be confused as if it is the Gospel of works , instead of the Gospel of Grace.  I believe James just realized that after receiving God's grace we are to grow in relationship to him.  Who God is , is written in God's word, old and new testament.    We must choose to allow His word to change our heart and mind, so that one day we will be able to share with others who God is, and speak truth by what we know and how we live.

P - Dear heavenly father, thank you for Designing me, and your kingdom perfectly.  I pray that I would have continued opportunities to display what I have learned and cemented to my heart.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Be holy and righteous - running the race to win

S Hebrews 12:1 NLT
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Hebrews 12:14-15 NLT
Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

O -  Paul continues to build his exhortation and edification to the Hebrews as he builds a strong case for firm faith, grounded in the truth of Jesus Christ.   He recognizes that the New Covenant is both a promise fulfilled but also for all a new paradigm for loving and following God.  In verse one we see explaining to just look around you in your community of faith and see the transformed lives that have been unburdened by their sin and now live a new life (this is likely more apparent for new believers).  But a reminder is needed to us that we are to continue to unload the weight of the consequences of our past sin, and to be sure not to re-clothe ourselves with the sins of the past and yoke ourselves to the Gospel of Good works.      Verses 14-15 go more to our hearts and minds, to remind us that when we live holy and pleasing life unto God, a peace is  granted to us, despite surrounding circumstances.

A-  The application for me is to recognize that I am to surround myself with believers who can witness to me the life that faith in Christ brings.   I am reminded to not let my past thoughts and sins weigh me down but look forward through the eyes of Christ.  I am also reminded that I need to live in peace with everyone.  I am on journey in this area, and need to see those around me not as challengers to my thoughts and way of life, but as God's creation, working out their own salvation, day to day.  

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.   I pray Lord that you would transform my heart and mind each day to become more of the man you created me to be.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A growing faith

S Hebrews 11:13 NLT
All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.

Hebrews 11:24-25 NLT
It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.

Hebrews 11:39-40 NLT
All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.

O - This chapter , often called the hall of faith, speaks to a key character trait without which following God is nearly impossible (o.k. all things are possible through God).   Paul uses bible figures of the past to encourage the new church (made up of old testament  believers) to focus on what faith is in following God, and now walking in the finished work of Christ. 

A - The application for me is simply one of being mentored by faithful men and women who have followed God.  These have been captured in the bible in a way that year after year I can be mentored to have a growing faith that is modeled after heroes from the bible.  Three elements of faith are highlighted in this scripture that I want to apply to my life today:
1.  Belief in his promises beyond my lifetime
2.  Constant identity as a follower of Christ
3.  A growing but not perfect faith

P - Dear heavnely Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart. I am blessed by the promises you have given me, and the prompting to keep pressing forward, in faith.  I pray for courage to continue to press forward in faith toward your promises.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

God's perfect strategy - today's plan

S Hebrews 10:12-13 NLT
But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet.

O - This explanation of the Christ the one, for all, forever sacrifice is essential to the the new covenant.  We have a High Priest who has completed the sacrifice and now sits interceding on our behalf for God.  All that remains is for all his enemies to be humbled and put under his reign.   

A -  The application for me is that I am to continue to focus on my part of the spreading the Gospel, without distraction or concern for who is in charge.  Jesus has once and for all been made Lord of my life and now reigns in heaven with God the Father.   Jesus is given us all a chance to let all those called to him, come to him.  His enemies are being humbled and those who will not be in his reign are being made a footstool.  

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank  you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that daily I would syn up with your tactical plan, for your strategy for all has been layed out.  I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A new covenant, a new life, a new Kingdom

S Hebrews 8:10-12 NLT
But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the lord : I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the lord .’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already. And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

O - This new covenant thing is pretty awesome!  I can imagine Paul who grew up very educated on the old covenant, even to the point of practicing it in a manner that he stoned Christ followers.   I now he comes to the understanding of the greatness of the freedom from the old covenant which though was perfect, was proven not possible for man to keep based on our  nature.  But now this new covenant is one in which God placess on the hearts and minds of the people the laws;  in stead of scroll and paper passed generation to generation through man, it would be given to people directly by God, and they would know Him.

A - The reminder for me today is to understand though I strive to go deeper in God's word, and know him more, He has already written on my heart and my His laws.  I am free from the depravity of my passed sins and able to daily commune with God to refresh my heart, mind, and spirit.   Today I live in the Kingdom of God, for I am no longer separated, thanks to Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

P -  Dear heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, thank you that he died on the cross, to reconcile me with you.  Dear Jesus, thank you for your daily comfort and intercession,  and for being my Lord.   I pray Lord that you would help me to serve in your kingdom in a meaningful way.  In your name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Following the perfect Priest, the perfect Father, and Perfect leader in my life

S Hebrews 7:2 NLT
Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.”

Hebrews 7:16-19 NLT
Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

O - Paul is teaching this very foundational principles to the Jews.  The argument is very likely necessary because they are in a culture dominated by the old testament covenant of priesthood, sacrifice, and intercession by man to God through the high priest and Levites.  But God had through the new covenant that  we now have a permanent priest,  and prince of peace, and justice who forever interceded on our behalf.  He is unstained by sin, and no longer needs to reconcile himself with God before interceding on our behalf.  He is therefore unmistakable, dependable, and fully trustworthy to follow.    In the past rulers of Israel and Priests alike had, even though repentant,  fallen away from God and lead and ruled the people astray from God's ways. 

A - The application for me is to have confidence in following Jesus, the one righteous, and unmistakeably perfect leader who I can depend on.   "Though my flesh and faith may fail" he will never fail.  So as I walk through this life looking to example myself after great leaders,  great fathers, and great husbands around,  I need to recognize that I have a relationship with The greatest leader, The greatest Father, and The greatest Groom that ever Is.   

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you Lord for your daily drawing me back to you and your ways.  May today's lesson be sealed to my heart.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Building the foundation with the right material

S HEB 6:1-2 NASB
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.
HEB 6:4-6 NASB
For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

O -  Paul (I assume) is laying it on heavy to the believers in Jerusalem because they face the challenge of complacency.  They were the first church to believe and be planted, and they are also surrounded by a old culture that has already fallen away from God's ways despite centuries of God leading them.  What Paul is exhorting hear is to press on to maturity for the sake of growing deep roots in Christ.    Christ is the cornerstone of the foundation but if we build the rest of the foundation on previous dead wood (works) vice the more of the solid rock of Christ,  we may not ever have a chance to be "saved" again.

A - For me I love this exhortation.  I respond well to prompting to press in deep and build deep solid foundations which can't be moved.  I too though am weak in that I can wrongly choose the wrong building materials.  Today I am reminded that though I have had the elementary teachings of Christ, I must press in to deeper maturity and understand of who Jesus is in my life and how to grow in deep relationship with Him everyday.  The building material is God's word, the helper is the holy spirit, and the carpenter and architect is Jesus Christ, my Lord and savior.

P - Dear heavenly Father thank you for today's reminder to press on and press in.  Thank you for Jesus for drawing me back to solidify the foundation on which you are building my spiritual house.  Holy Spirit thank you for dwelling in me, and speaking to me , so that each day I might get closer to the Kingdom of Heaven.
In Jesus name I pray, amen.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ordering my ways

SS - 2CH 27:6 NASB

So Jotham became mighty because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.

O - Jotham was a King of Israel during a time when the leaders of Israel had been going between following the ways of the Lord or leading in a way that David did, and outright making up there own way including following other gods and allowing the culture of those around them to infiltrate the culture of God's people.   It was also in a time where the prophet Isaiah had already foretold of the judgement that would befall the people of Israel, defeat and eventually exile.  However, despite this , Jotham became mighty because he ordered his ways before the Lord.   Our circumstanaces are not to shape our posture.   When things are going our way it is easy to stand up and exalt God and follow his ways; however,  when averse times come does our posture change, slumped over facing the opposite direction of God.  Do we seek to comfort ourselves by looking for the closest thing that will provide us some sense of relief , or do we order ourselves, and our ways, to the Lords ways, and wait patiently on the Lord.

A - The application for me is to recognize that I too can get wrapped up in my surrounding circumstances.   If I don't pause and take account of my life and my actions and ensure they are ordered in the ways of the Lord, I may find myself slumped over , facing the wrong direction and wondering how I got there.   I choose now to reorder my life before the Lord and allow him to correct any misdirection and show me His ways for my life.

P- Dear heavenly father, thank you today may this lesson be sealed to my heart.  I pray for forgiveness for any ways that have not been from you but that were in fact opposite of your ways.  I pray for the Holy spirit to help me order my ways and that they would be your ways. I pray all this in Jesus name. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Share with the Lord daily

S PSA 116:1-2 NASB

I love the L ord , because He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

O -  The psalmist confesses and testifies to the fact that He loves God because he listens.   Our God is trustworthy and faithful to keep His promise.  It is we that often forget this and need to remind ourselves that the relationship we have with God is valuable because he "inclines his ear" to us.    This is why we must speak, pray, and relate with Him, daily, if not momently.

A - The application for me is to be drawn back into the Fathers arms, who is lovingly listening to everything I am going through and wants to hear what I am thinking, and experiencing everyday.   I often like to handle the small stuff and save the big stuff to share with God.   When life gets busy and trials come I quickly forget He is inclining his ear for all I have to share with Him.   I must seek to maintain that close relationship with God in order to receive his comfort and guidance, and if needed strength for each circumstance I face.

P - Dear heavenly father, thank you for today's devotion may it be sealed to my heart.  Lord i share with you today all the events and activities that both excite me, worry me, and wear me down.  I submit them to you for help in steward each in a way that honors you and the calling you have on my life.  I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.