dailybiblereader2012

Putting God's Word into Practice…

October 31, 2013 ~ Happy Birthday!

Fourteen years ago today I was briskly walking down the aisle at a church with tears rolling down my cheeks while the congregation sang, “I Surrender All.”  That is the day that my new life as a follower of Jesus Christ began!

I had known of Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins since my childhood.  I could even defend the Christian faith, after being raised in the church, a Christian home, and going to a Christian school.  But I didn’t know Him!

I’m so thankful that God broke through my pride and stubbornness that morning, by showing me my sinfulness and His holiness.  He captured my heart with His love, forgiveness and grace.  My life has never been the same.  He has been my hope, my strength, my joy, my help and my peace through many various trials and struggles.  He is my Rock, my Refuge, my Rescuer, and my Redeemer!

I’m also thankful that God has faithfully sustained and upheld me through these 14 years.  My continued faith and commitment to Him is a testimony to His power.  1 Peter 1:3-5 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who BY GOD’S POWER ARE BEING GUARDED THROUGH FAITH FOR A SALVATION READY TO BE REVEALED IN THE LAST TIME.”

Enjoy this version of “I Surrender All” by Jadon Lavik

http://youtu.be/uaTXNxUXcn4

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1 Peter 3:8-22 ~ A Life Worth Loving!

How many of us want to live lives we love and enjoy?  When do we get the most joy out of life?  Usually when things are going our way or when there is no conflict in our relationships.  God has a way that we can love and enjoy our lives no matter our circumstances, relational conflict, or harmful events.  It’s counter-cultural!

LOVE!!  Love others, bless our enemies, forgive, speak only what is good and true, search for and maintain peace, worship Christ as Lord of your life!

Unfortunately, most of us would rather wallow in pain, fear, and anger.  It’s easier and makes sense.  But we will not experience the abundant, joy-filled life Jesus died to give to us!  We will not have the presence of God with us, and King David wrote in Psalm 16:11 that true fulness of joy and eternal pleasures are only found where God is!

Think back over the last few days.  Have I retaliated in a conflict with someone?  Have I insulted anyone?  Have I spoken harshly or critically of anyone?  Is there anyone I need to forgive?  Have I spoken evil against anyone for which I need to confess and ask the Lord to forgive me? How can I love and bless EACH person in my life–even difficult ones?

Doing things God’s way is generally opposite of what our culture tells us is acceptable and goes against our own human nature.  But God’s ways promise lasting joy and a life worth loving!

Finally, all of you should be of one mind.  Sympathize with each other.  Love each other as brothers and sisters.  Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.  Don’t repay evil for evil.  Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you.  Instead, pay them back with a blessing.  That is what God has called you to do, and HE WILL BLESS YOU FOR IT.  For the Scriptures say, “If you want to ENJOY LIFE and see MANY HAPPY DAYS, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.  Turn away from evil and do good.  Search for peace, and work to maintain it.  The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and His ears are open to their prayers.  But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”  Now who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you suffer for doing what is right, GOD WILL REWARD YOU for it.  So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.  Instead, you MUST worship Christ as Lord of your life.  (1 Peter 3:8-15a)

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1 Peter 3:1-7 True Humility for Wives

The call to humility gets more personal for me as I move into 1 Peter 3:1-7.  Although husbands and wives are addressed in this section of the letter, I want to focus on the function of humility in the role of a wife.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis defines true humility this way: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”  This is a great starting thought for applying the lesson of Christ-like humility to marriage.

This chapter starts out with the word, “Likewise.”  In light of yesterday’s post about Jesus and humility, we are called to be wives who reflect the humility of Christ to our spouses.  God takes this role and responsibility very seriously.  Wives can damage their husbands’ spiritual belief and growth by their prideful reactions.  In contrast, by humbly responding to the wounds inflicted by our husbands, God can use our actions to bring about their spiritual healing.  (By wounds I mean common offenses not abuse.  All women must flee from abuse and get help.  Being abused is against the law and punishable by the government authorities which God has put in place for our protection.)

The Bible says that our husbands will be won over to spiritual growth and obedience to God by our respectful and pure conduct, not our words.  Unfortunately, words are what we as women use most to try to have our way with our men!

If my husband were to describe my conduct, would he use words like respectful and pure?  How could I be more respectful to him every day so that he is sure of my love for him?

As women, we have the ability to adorn ourselves with accessories that are outwardly appealing to others or adorn our hearts with the characteristics that are inwardly appealing to God.  Who we want to please reflects the true love of our hearts.  Does God have first place in my heart or others?

Adornments that are very precious to God are the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.  Aging does not have a negative impact on these features!  Sagging body parts, wrinkles, gray hair, thinning hair, more facial hair, yellow teeth, age spots, polyester/elastic pants, orthopedic shoes, etc…cannot tarnish true beauty!  A gentle and quiet spirit is only enhanced and refined over time.  Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

What are the ways that our lives as wives display holiness and humility?  According to verses 5 and 6 trusting God, submitting to my husband, doing him good (Proverbs 31:12), and having no fear of anything that is frightening, proves a gentle and quiet spirit.

This sounds to me like the old axiom is true, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Lord, give me direction and desire to grow into a wife that pleases You and has a lasting impact on my husband.

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1 Peter 2:13-25 True Humility

Christians are called to submit to government officials and employers whether or not they are worthy in our eyes, for the Lord’s sake and in reverence to the example set by Jesus–our Humble King!

Verse 15 says it is God’s will for us to humbly do good and in so doing silence fools.  God’s will is not for us to use our mouths to defend ourselves or destroy others, but to live our lives in a way that displays the character of Christ to a watching world.

We are to serve God and others, show honor to everyone, love others and fear the Lord.  Following these commands is only possible if our hearts are rooted in humility.  We are to be like Jesus, who according to Luke 6:35-36, is kind and merciful to the ungrateful and evil.

In this world people will cause us sorrow unjustly.  Because we are made in the image of God, we hate injustice and long to see it righted.  However, God is the only Judge!  He sees and knows all–nothing is hidden from Him.  Therefore, we are free to respond to injustice like Jesus, trusting the unjust to God the Father.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered FOR YOU.  He is your example, and you MUST follow in His steps.  He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.  He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered.  He left His case in the hands of God, who ALWAYS judges fairly.  He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.  By his wounds you are healed.  Once you were like sheep who wandered away.  But now you have turned to your Shepherd and the Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25

Remembering that Jesus was treated unjustly on account of our sins ushers in the humility God requires of us toward others.  When we are grounded in grace, it becomes our natural response to those who offend us.

Have you been insulted, afflicted, or wounded by others?  Jesus was, yet He did not retaliate or threaten revenge.  He forgave, made righteous, and healed.  He offered mercy and grace.   Amazingly, God can use our humility also to heal and restore others spiritually.

Since Jesus put sinners’ needs first by making himself nothing and taking the on the role of servant, even humbling himself to death (Philippians 2:5-8); I ought even more to put others before myself and humbly submit to authority for the sake of their souls, offering others the same grace that was afforded to me.

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1 Peter 2:4-12 Holiness and the Church

“As you come to Jesus…you are being built up as a spiritual house…”

Jesus is the foundation of the church.  As we come to Him in belief and for salvation, our lives are not only built on that Foundation, but also interlocking with other believers all over the world and throughout all time.  This gives lofty purpose to our lives.  We are to strengthen and hold each other up.  We are to interact with one another.  We are to serve and worship together.  Verse 9 says, “That you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  And Verse 12 says, “That they may see your good deeds and glorify God.”  A church that is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ keeps Him central in everything.  In this we may face rejection by men, but we will be precious to God!  And God alone will get the glory!

Since we are built up together, how we live affects the church and lives of others and the reputation of the Lord.  Be holy!

Being holy is different from being good.  A lot of people are trying to build “good” lives.  Being good can be managed in our own strength, and qualified by our own definition.  It builds on a foundation of self.  Being good makes me feel and look good.  Holiness is the result of Christ’s work in our hearts.  Being holy reflects on His goodness and gives Him the glory.  Being holy is integral to the structure that God is building.  Being good is building our own building, one block at a time.  This is why Jesus is prophesied as a “stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”  People who want to do life on their own get tripped up over the fact that their lives were meant to be built on Jesus Christ, and offended that He and His truth is the only foundation that is secure and eternal.

How can I proclaim the excellencies of God today?  How am I serving God with my life?  Am I allowing God to make me holy for His glory?  Am I abstaining from my own passions to pursue an honorable life that points others to God?  How are my relationships with other believers that are being built into God’s spiritual house together with me?

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1 Peter 1:13-2:3 Holiness

One of the most difficult commands in Scripture is God telling us in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in ALL your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

What does it mean to be holy?  Simply put, it means to be like God in our character, actions, reactions, and interactions; to be pure and undefiled by sin; to be like-minded with God in passions and desires.

Yesterday, I was thinking about why God the Father has the authority to require such a high expectation of moral character for His “children.”  It is because we belong to Him and He pays for everything–including our salvation with the precious blood of Jesus.  As a parent, I expect my boys to give me their very best in everything they do.   They will fail to fulfill my expectations, and I know it.  But the expectations don’t change, and neither does my love for them.  It is probably that way with God the Father, too.

God is not just our Father, He is also the impartial Judge who corrects and rewards us based on our deeds.  This knowledge should put the fear of the Lord in us, a healthy reverence and respect for the one who holds our lives in His hands.

The people Peter was writing this letter to were exiles in foreign lands.  He also reminds them that they are not to blend in to their culture, but remember that they belong to God and live for Him.  This was the most convicting for me.  Even when I think no one will notice, when I try to be like everyone around me instead of living as a child of God, God sees!  He is the judge and ransomer of my soul.  How could I disgrace the precious blood of Jesus by wanting to fit in comfortably with the world around me!  I am called to be separate from this world, and to be holy!

Believing the good news about Jesus Christ coming to earth to die and rise again to save mankind from our state of sinfulness and separation from God changes everything about who we are and how we behave.  Part of working towards holiness is putting away the passions, plans, and sinful habits.  Listed in chapter 2 specifically are: malice (ill-will, spite, vengefulness), deceit (deception, dishonesty, trickery, slyness, pretense, misrepresenting truth), hypocrisy (behavior that doesn’t match beliefs, false virtue), envy (jealousy, covetousness, discontent, resentful longing), and slander (gossip, character assassination, bad-mouthing others, false/damaging statements about others).  I am nearly 7 months pregnant now, and my closet has been overflowing with pre-maternity clothes.  Yesterday, I decided it was time to pack them all away.  It took time and effort, but the result was freedom and joy.  It also opened up room for new, good, useful things!  It’s the same way with putting away our old ways of living that just don’t fit our new selves in Christ!

Holiness is a good thing that God expects of us–it brings freedom and joy to our lives.  It eliminates shame and hypocrisy.  It magnifies His character to the watching world!

So where do we start!?

  1. Remember the eternal hope and inheritance that belong to us who believe in Jesus Christ!  Verse 13 starts with, “Therefore,” linking the two portions of Scripture.
  2. Prepare your minds for action, be sober-minded, and set your hope fully on the grace that will be given when we see Jesus face-to-face.  The battle for holiness starts in our minds! (1:13)
  3. Long for spiritual nourishment, just like a baby longs for milk!  Cry out to God to fill and satisfy you.  When we are satisfied in Him, holiness is the by-product. (2:2-3)
  4. Focus your heart on the goodness of the Lord.  (2:3)
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1 Peter 1:3-12 Be Hopeful in Trials

(Our women’s Bible study is finishing up Ruth tomorrow night, hence the length of time between posts on here.  We will actually be starting a study through 1 Peter on Nov. 6, if the Lord wills.)

As written in the introduction to 1 Peter, Peter was no stranger to persecution and trials.  Yet, he had found a hope to which to cling and an inexpressible joy in their midst.  This is what he writes to the scattered believers who are experiencing trials.

In verse 6, we can see four truths about trials.

  1. Trials last a “little while.”  Though they may seem like a lifetime, eternity is longer.  Those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, will have an eternity of joy in His presence.  What we face on this earth is temporary and short by comparison.
  2. We only experience trials “if necessary.”  God is in control of the trials that come into and go out of our lives.  He has a purpose for each one that He knows and sees.  He does not put us through unnecessary trials.  However, in our foolishness, we can sometimes put ourselves through unnecessary trials.  And our powerful God, can use those too!
  3. Trials cause grief–anguish, pain, distress, sorrow.  Only God–His mercy, power and promises–and our future hope and inheritance can give us joy in the midst of trials.  He never leaves us hopeless even in grief.
  4. Trials are various.  Because God knows us intimately and personally, the trials that He allows into our lives are suited to us for a specific purpose.  We will each experience different trials in our lives, but we will all experience trials.  Trials, though various, are unifying.  They give us the ability to empathize with each other and share our hope with one another.

The main purpose of trials is to test the genuineness our faith.  Every good teacher gives tests!  Their job is to prepare the students for the test.  God is a good Teacher!  He gives us all we need to know ahead of time to draw from during the testing of our faith.  He determines how long the tests will be and when they will come.  At the end of the test, we don’t just receive a shiny “Great job!” sticker; we have the promise of seeing Jesus face-to-face.  All the tests in the world will be worth that moment when Jesus says, “Well done!”

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Psalm 34:8-10 ~ Tasty!

If you’ve read this blog recently, you may remember that my son and I are trying to memorize Psalm 34.  Memorizing Bible verses is good because it hides truth in our hearts that we can draw on throughout life.   I’ve also found that it is more than memorizing words on a page, it is practical help for daily life in the process of committing it to memory.

This section of verses has many great promises, but it also has some directives in order to experience the fulfillment of those promises.

TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD!

One of the most impacting quotes I’ve heard is, “Don’t even taste what you don’t want to be hungry for.”  But if we want to be hungry for the Lord and His goodness, He invites us to “taste and see.”  So many people say, “God is not good, or He would….”  But have they tasted His goodness–even tried to see His goodness.  When I am more focused on worry and complaining, I am not tasting and seeing!  We cannot see the Lord’s goodness, if we don’t look to Him!

OH THE JOYS OF THOSE WHO TAKE REFUGE IN HIM!

We are all looking to encounter true joy in our lives…in fact most of us will pursue it constantly until we take our final breath.  The answer to experiencing true, fulfilling, and lasting joy in our lives is in drawing near to the Lord.  When we allow Him to be our place of safety and shelter, we will realize that all we’ve been searching for is found in His presence!

FEAR THE LORD, YOU HIS GODLY PEOPLE, FOR THOSE WHO FEAR HIM WILL HAVE ALL THEY NEED!

To fear the Lord is not to be afraid of Him, but to respect Him and recognize Him as the source of all things.  This promise to have all we need is not for every person, but it is for every person who belongs to God and shows proper respect and awe of Him.

When I first read this verse, I immediately thought of all the things we need to prepare for the arrival of our baby in January.  I thought, “If I fear the Lord, He will provide the dresser, rocker, high chair, diapers, formula, etc…”  But the more I meditated on the words, I realized that my greatest needs are not always material.  What I really need is grace, love, patience, guidance, a gentle spirit, more of God’s presence, and strength.  If I fear the Lord, I will have all I need to embrace and thrive each day!

THOSE WHO TRUST IN THE LORD LACK NO GOOD THING!

Often times I feel like I am lacking something I need, and I don’t trust the Lord to provide for my needs.  In fact, over the past several weeks, He has been continuously revealing the ways that I see a need and go out on my own to provide for myself.  For instance, my boys needed jeans and I didn’t pray and wait for the Lord, I went to Old Navy and bought some with my credit card. Then I felt anxious about paying it back.  Thankfully, God brought this to my attention.  I confessed my lack of trust in Him and asked for His help.  Today, the bill is paid in full!  Praise the Lord for His goodness!!

When we trust in the Lord we will lack no GOOD thing.  God always and only wants to give us what is good for us.  It may be different from what we think is good for us, but it will always be best!  God is good and only does/gives good things!

Want to experience all good things?  Need joy in your life?  Want to eliminate the fear of not having your deepest needs met?  It all comes down to the Lord–taste and see that He is good; take refuge in Him; fear Him, and trust in Him!

 

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1 Peter 1:1-2 Introduction ~ Be Encouraged

This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.  I am writing to God’s CHOSEN people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.  God the Father KNEW YOU and CHOSE YOU long ago, and His Spirit has made you HOLY. As a result, you have OBEYED him and have been CLEANSED by the blood of Jesus Christ.  May God give you MORE AND MORE GRACE AND PEACE.

Peter, was a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ during His life on earth.  He got in trouble with his big mouth several times; and in Jesus’ time of deepest need, Peter even denied he knew Jesus.  He suffered from pride and selfishness–just like me!  And he needed Jesus’ forgiveness and grace–just like me!  After Jesus affirmed Peter’s commitment to the truth, He returned to heaven.  With the promise to build His church through Peter ringing in his ears (Matthew 16:18), Peter was filled with great boldness and set about the mission entrusted to him.

Peter was no stranger to persecution.  In Acts 4 we find Peter’s first overnight jail stay for healing a lame man in the name of Jesus.  His boldness in preaching in the name of Jesus led to a second arrest and imprisonment–followed by a miraculous escape (Acts 5).  And in Acts 12, we learn of his third arrest, imprisonment and supernatural release.  Peter’s faith ultimately culminated in His martyrdom around 67 A.D. under the rule of Nero.  Peter was crucified head downward out of respect for his Savior-Jesus.

Therefore, if anyone qualified to be writing to the confused, scattered and discouraged Christians under extreme persecution, it was Peter!

Peter started right off with a hope-filled reminder and greeting.  He reminded the Christians that God knew them, chose them, and made them holy!  WE CANNOT DO ANYTHING TO MAKE OURSELVES HOLY!!!  We can only be made clean by coming to the cross and humbly bowing to King Jesus.  A true view of our standing with God helps us endure suffering.  True obedience only flows out of the change He makes in us by the blood of Jesus.  If we forget the price of our holiness, obedience will not be our default action.

Not only do we need reminded of our hope in our salvation and our value in the eyes of God, we need His grace and peace in desperate and uncertain times.  How comforting to know that when asked, God gives “more and more grace and peace”–it is multiplied in our lives and over our circumstances!

  • Where do you need God’s grace and peace today?  May it be multiplied to you!
  • Discouraged, weary???  Remember that God knows you and has chosen you!
  • Feeling like you don’t measure up???? If God has made you holy, you are holy!
  • Lacking obedience to the Lord???  Be reminded of the price that was paid to make you holy–the blood of Jesus shed on a cross!!!
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James 5:14-20 Prayer Unleashes God’s Power

Prayer unleashes God’s power to heal, restore, forgive sins, experience the impossible and to help us rescue others.

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them PRAY over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the PRAYER of faith will RESTORE the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be FORGIVEN.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and PRAYER FOR ONE ANOTHER, that you may be HEALED.  The PRAYER of a righteous person has GREAT POWER as it is working.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he PRAYED FERVENTLY that it might not rain, and for three ears and six months it did not rain on the earth.  Then he PRAYED again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.  My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The sicknesses mentioned in these verses are specifically linked to sin.  NOT ALL SICKNESS IS A RESULT OF SIN!  Sometimes physical ailments and weakness are a result of sin in our lives.  Some common sins that lead to physical sickness are: addiction, anxiety, anger, fear, bitterness, unforgiving/unmerciful, disobedience, jealousy, critical spirit, sexual immorality, etc…  THERE IS HOPE!  Prayer unlocks the power of God to forgive our sins and heal our hearts and then to restore our bodies from the physical consequences.

You may think, “There’s no hope for me, I’ve tried.”  But through humble confession, help from others, and fervent, energized prayer God can and will do the impossible in our lives.  Can you imagine praying for no rain for 3.5 years, and it not raining? And then praying for rain, and the dark clouds begin to roll in and release great rain.  God has the power and ability to change and heal people!

Or you may think, “There’s no hope for so-and-so.”  But through prayer, God’s power is loosed in us to grant us the ability to restore others.  God can do anything He wants, but how awesome that He has given to us the privilege of prayer to be part of His processes and plans in the rescuing and restoration of others!

If you do nothing else today, pray!

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