dailybiblereader2012

Putting God's Word into Practice…

My Favorite Verses

Our Children’s Ministry Director asked the nursery workers this week to share our favorite verses. I felt completely overwhelmed, because they are almost all favorites!  But I went back to three verses that have sustained my heart for the longest amount of time.  I love these verses because they display the character and grace of God, they speak to the ultimate desire of my heart, and they challenge me to be fully committed to my Lord.

Psalm 86:11-13.  Teach me your ways, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth;

God doesn’t just want us to hear and know His word, He wants us to do what it says.  This is the prayer of my heart; that as the Lord gives me direction, I will recognize it as truth and I will follow it.

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.

I want every area of my heart–which is really my life–to be infiltrated with the knowledge of God and a holy reverence for His ways and a desire to please Him.

I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

I commit afresh to praising the Lord with all that I am in every area of my life.  It is my soul purpose now and forevermore.  Why wait until Heaven–start now!

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.

Because of God’s great, unconditional, sacrificial love for me; He has rescued me from the penalty of my sin–death and hell.  He has done for me what no one else can do and I cannot do for myself.  God alone is worthy of all honor, praise, glory, fear and obedience.

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1 Peter 3:4 A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

For the first time ever, I feel like the Lord has given me a clearer grasp on the meaning of this verse.  For years I have read this verse and felt poorly of myself as a woman of God.  I’ve allowed Satan to twist the meaning of it and use it to cause me despair at ever being able to “measure up” to what is precious to God.  I have read the words, “gentle and quiet” and thought, “boisterous and loud” would better describe my personality. Why can’t I be different!?

Having a gentle and quiet spirit is NOT being quiet, mousey, having unformed opinions, being afraid  to express anything, speaking just above a whisper with the lilt and tones of an old-fashioned Disney princess or fairy!

A gentle and quiet spirit happens in the heart.  A woman who has a gentle and quiet spirit trusts in her God (1 Peter 3:5).  His character and promises give inner confidence.  She does not fear anything (1 Peter 3:6) because her hope in God fills her with perfect, unexplainable peace.

The inner spirit is truly beautiful and precious to God and others.  It only gets more beautiful with time.  This is the beauty that I need to be cultivating.  The world’s opinion of beauty is unattainable, constantly changing, ever-fading and requires huge investments.  God calls His women to be more, and only by knowing and experiencing Him can our beauty be real and lasting.

This new focus may change my personality and speech, or I still may be boisterous and loud! And that’s okay!  We are called throughout the Bible to shout for joy, proclaim God’s excellencies, and speak of His greatness.  There is nothing quiet about that!!!  When we experience the joy that comes from inner peace and confidence in our great God, it is something to shout about!!

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HUMILITY: The Cost and Reward (1 Peter 2:21-25, Philippians 2:3-8, Isaiah 53)

Working through my 1 Peter Bible study this morning on treating others with humility, I was reminded afresh of the amazing, seemingly impossible, example of Jesus Christ in this area.

If we truly want to be humble, like Jesus, it is not impossible.  Philippians 2 says that we should have a humble mind, which is our IN CHRIST.  When we surrender our lives to Him, He exchanges our normal way of thinking for His way of thinking.  And Jesus was ALWAYS putting the needs of other’s first–humility!  He served others to the extreme of dying for them–even enemies.

The end of 1 Peter 2 reminded me of the prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 53.  I encourage you to read it today, and be amazed by the humility of our Savior.  Jesus was despised, rejected, grieved, undesirable, not esteemed, afflicted, crushed, sorrowful, stricken, smitten, oppressed, wounded, anguished, poured out, and judged.  JESUS allowed Himself to be all those things on account of our sins, transgressions, and iniquities.  His humility under the crushing weight of the sins of mankind and the grief that He carried because of our sins qualified Him to have the power to rescue us from them–to make us righteous, to give us peace, and to heal us spiritually.

I don’t generally want the descriptive words of Isaiah 53 to be applied my life.  I want ease, comfort, to be esteemed, loved, poured into, and accepted by others.  But when life is about my comfort and stroking my pride, my hands are tied in the area of serving others and allowing God to use me to point them to His ability to give peace and healing to their lives.  I must have Christ-like humility to be used by God.

Lord, change me.

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1 Peter 2:4-5 Master Craftsman

As you come to Jesus, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house…”

I love construction!  The whole process fascinates me–from breaking ground to completing the punch list.  My heritage is construction going back several generations.  This analogy of the people of God being built up into a house is a beautiful visual to me.

God is building His church in such a way that our lives interlock with one another.  We are always touching several other people for support and lending strength to the structure.  A masonry structure (not concrete blocks, but the beautiful stone masonry) uses stones of many different colors, shapes and sizes, yet the finished product is uniform and beautiful.

I watched several videos this morning on laying stones and several parallels occurred to me:

  • Masonry doesn’t build itself.  A master, skilled craftsman is required–God!
  • The Craftsman hand-picks the stones that fit together for strength and beauty. (chosen and precious)
  • Next is the slow process of fitting the stones together.  The Craftsman saws and chisels away the parts that don’t fit properly by hand until the stone is just right!  He sees everything, and knows exactly how to fix it!
  • Then a coat of masonry mud is applied to hold the stones together–making them steadfast!  This reminds me of the trials we go through that make us stronger and help us to support each other better.

God’s hands are mighty.  He is perfect in wisdom.  And everything that He is doing has a purpose–to strengthen us to serve and worship Him!

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1 Peter 5:1-14 God’s Mighty Hand

Before I write about God’s mighty hand, I wanted to share a truth from verse 1 that is amazing to think about.

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and A WITNESS OF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed.  Peter saw first-hand the sufferings of Jesus! Think about that–this letter that we are reading nearly 2,000 years after the fact was penned by someone who walked with Christ, saw His powerful miracles, heard His impacting truths, watched Him suffer and die, ran to the empty tomb and saw the resurrected Lord.  Peter received forgiveness, a new name and a new purpose from the very mouth of Jesus!  Peter is a credible witness!  He knows something of being humble before the Lord, being humbled by the Lord, and thanks to his failures can teach us a thing or two about resisting temptation, about God’s abounding grace and the restoration, comfort, and strength found in the mighty hands of God.

Think about that and read this last chapter of 1 Peter.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you….And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-7,10-11.

Yesterday at church, it seemed like every song we sang said something about the hands of God.  “It’s your hand that holds my life…” “My whole life I place in Your hands…” “Into Your hand, I commit again, with all I am, for You Lord. You hold the world in the palm of Your hands and I am Yours forever.”

I started thinking about how big the hands of God are, and how capable of holding everything.  Yet, there are so many things I refuse to put in His hands because I think mine are stronger or I somehow care more than He does.  Newsflash: I didn’t use my hands to create the world–I didn’t fling all the stars in the universe into place off my fingertips (Psalm 8:2)!  I cannot hold all the waters of the earth in the hollow of my hand (Isaiah 40:12).  And I did not send my Son to die so that everyone who believes in Him can have their name engraved on the palm of my hand (Isaiah 49:16).  It is not my mighty hand that rescues nations from slavery (Exodus 32:11).  Everything that sustains my life and that I enjoy is not a gift from my own hand (Ecclesiates 2:24).  It is the Lord’s mighty hands that are capable of far more than I can imagine.  He can hold the universe together and hold my life!

Psalm 139: 5 says, “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.”   God’s hand reaches down and touches the lives of His people.  He is near; He cares; and He is mighty!

It is under this hand that we must humble ourselves.  When we are humble under His mighty hand, He reaches down and lifts us up.  But when we pridefully push against His hand; it is powerful enough to put us in our place.  Most suffering and pain in my life is caused by thinking my hand is stronger than His, and that I am the molder and shaper of my life.

“Into you hand, I commit again, with all I am for You, Lord.  You hold my world in the palm of Your hand, and I am Yours forever.” (Hillsong)

“Oh LORD GOD, you have only begun to show your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand!” Deuteronomy 3:24

http://youtu.be/rZYPfYe77PA

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1 Peter 4:12-19 Fiery Trials

As Christians we will suffer persecution and insults just like our Lord Jesus.  In America, those who stand firm in their faith on God’s promises and truths may be insulted, but there is little real persecution.  In other countries, however, followers of Jesus Christ are being killed every day for their unashamed faith.   In fact, I got a prayer email last week about an elder of a church in India who was praying for healing for a man.  The man quietly left the room and came back with a machete-like weapon and slit the church leaders throat while he prayed.  Along with the prayer request for this martyr’s family was a request to pray for his killer to know the forgiveness and grace of Jesus.  Wow!

Although this passage says to not be surprised by the fiery trials WHEN they come, surprisingly we are told to rejoice in those trials.  In Hebrews 12:2 we are told that Jesus, “for the joy set before Him endured the cross.”  We can embrace suffering for Jesus with joy, when we know that someday we will see Him face-to-face, and He will reach out His nail-scarred hands and welcome us home to eternal rest in His presence.  Suffering here on earth is momentary in light of eternal joy in the presence of the Lord.

There are different kinds of suffering.  Suffering for the name of Jesus and suffering because of sin.  Most of the suffering in my life is a result of sin not because of my Savior.   There are no promises of God’s power resting on sinful suffering, no promises of joy and rejoicing, no promises of experiencing the faithfulness of God.  There are four specific sins listed in verse 15: murder, stealing, evil-doing and meddling.  The first three seem obvious, but the fourth one doesn’t even seem like a sin, does it?  Meddling–getting in other people’s business–is something many of us do on a daily basis!  And a lot of the conflict in our lives is because we have meddled in someone else’s!  This kind of suffering does not lead to joy, but is meant to lead us to brokenness so that we can repent and experience joy.

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19

God is faithful.  He allows suffering for a time for His purposes and ways.  He promises that when we suffer for His name that His glory and power rests on us and that we will receive blessing (vs. 14).  Psalm 139:16 tells us that God saw our unformed body while it was still in our mother’s womb, and that he had written every day of our lives in a book before one of them came to be.  God knows us, He sees us, He loves us, He has a plan for us, and He is not surprised by our suffering.  We can trust Him with our circumstances.  We can rejoice in our suffering because He is the Redeemer and Restorer of suffering.  We can continue to do good for His glory in the midst of suffering–it doesn’t have to paralyze us and steal our purpose.

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1 Peter 4:1-11 Purity and Purpose

Purity

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2

Jesus suffered on behalf of sinners, so that we can have victory over the sins that enslave us.  His suffering made our way for salvation.  When we “arm ourselves” with that way of thinking, it gives us another reason to embrace the suffering that we go through.  Suffering is a tool that God can use to purge us of our selfishness and pride.  Enduring suffering and overcoming sin are battles that start in the mind.  The way we think is a weapon that we can take up to make war against our unholy passions and desires.

So why does it even matter if we do battle against sin in our lives or continue in it after we have embraced the good news of Jesus Christ and His salvation by grace through faith?  Because we will stand before the Lord someday and give an account for our lives and actions.  There are only two ways that we can live: for our own human passions or for the will of God.  Living for ourselves does not demonstrate the change that takes place in our heart when we submit to the Lordship of Jesus.  When we let Him change us, and our lives don’t look like they did before, people may malign us and our old friends abandon us, but we will have the Spirit of God to carry us through until eternity.

Purpose

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace, whoever speaks, as one who speaks the words of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:7-11

Jesus is coming back to take those who believe in Him by faith home to heaven!  We don’t know when that day will be…it could be today!  That begs two questions: 1) Are you ready?  If Jesus came today, would you go with Him to heaven?  2) What should we do with our time while we wait for Him to come? What do we hope to be doing when He comes?

God graciously gives us great ways to fill our time on earth…ways that are according to His will, not serving our own passions.  We are called to pray; to love others earnestly; show hospitality; and use our God-given gifts to serve one another; and generously share God’s grace with others.  Can you imagine what our lives would look like, the joy and fulfillment, the productivity/fruitfulness we would experience if we approached our daily lives with this “to-do” list?  We would be achieving the purpose of man–that God would be glorified through Jesus in our lives.

The thing that gets in the way of our loving, serving, and caring for others is our own selfish desires.  Until they are put to death, we are of no use to others.  That is why we need to do battle against our flesh.

For any John Piper or Tedashaii fans, here is a great song about making war on the flesh:

http://youtu.be/a4mbn1u0wBs

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