dailybiblereader2012

Putting God's Word into Practice…

Thanking Henry

It was 4:12 a.m. when I heard the piercing cry that overpowered the sound of our furnace and humidifier.  I shouldn’t have been surprised.  This has been going on around the same time–give or take–for eight weeks now.  It is the desperate cry of a hungry baby.  The cry of a baby in need of care, sustenance, and nurturing.

I prepared his bottle, changed his diaper and started the feeding/burping process.  His eyes were fixed on mine, like I was the only one in the world.  I guess in his world at that moment, I was!  He almost looked grateful.  As I took in the perfection of his face and the miracle of his existence I was overwhelmed with gratitude–to him! I thanked him for waking me up in the middle of the night so I could have extra time with him. The days get so busy with taking care of my house, my husband, our other boys, homeschooling, and church responsibilities that early morning feedings become a special time between just the two of us.

When I tucked him back in and crawled into bed, I couldn’t help but to think about how God must feel when I get up early to spend time with Him–when I’m so hungry for spiritual food that nothing else matters; when I put my full trust in Him for care, nourishment and sustenance; when I fix my gaze on Him with gratitude that He would take time for me with everything else that is going on in the world.

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Hebrews 12:18-29 Too Amazing for Words

I didn’t take any notes on this portion of verses, just spent a lot of time in prayer, gratitude and worship.  If you have been made perfect by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, are a member of His church, your name is enrolled in Heaven, and know that you are receiving His Kingdom which cannot ever be shaken, then I hope you take time to worship Him today too!

Therefore let us be GRATEFUL for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken and thus let us offer to God acceptable WORSHIP with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire! Hebrews 12:28-29

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Colossians 1:1-14 ~ Only God

A brief intro:  This is another letter that Paul wrote to strengthen a church while he was incarcerated for proclaiming the name of Jesus.  He wrote it to the believers in Colossi to help them discern false teaching–teaching that was pushing religion and strict rules instead of grace and faith.

Paul started off by telling them why he thanked God for them–because of their great faith and their impartial love for all.  Both their faith and love flowed from their hope in eternity in Heaven because of Jesus.  When our hope is on earthly, temporal things, it is much more difficult to love others.  Setting our hope on eternity loosens the chains of this world and gives us a new perspective and greater ability to love others.  Love is the tangible evidence that the truth of the gospel of God’s grace has taken root and is growing in our lives.

Paul went on to tell them exactly what he prays for them much like he did in his letter to the churches in Philippi and Ephesus.

  1. He wanted them to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in spiritual knowledge and understanding.  This was not to benefit self, but for the reputation of the Lord as being His name-bearers and also that their lives would be pleasing to Him.  Paul wanted their lives to bear fruit in every good work which only comes from knowing and following God’s will.
  2. Paul wanted them to be strengthened with God’s might.  His might is the only might that produces patience, endurance and joy in all circumstances.
  3. He asked that they would be a grateful people.  Grateful for their salvation, redemption and forgiveness.

What a great thing to help others see and understand!  How freeing to know our salvation is ONLY by God through Jesus!  We did not do one thing to deserve it or earn it or even to keep it!  Qualification and deliverance are by God the Father; redemption and forgiveness is through Jesus Christ.  God created us, sin stole us, and Jesus’ blood bought us back.  Let this truth fill our hearts with gratitude and give us discernment when other’s try to say there is more to being a Christian that what Christ did for us!

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2 Corinthians 4 ~ Surpassing Power

Surpassing (ser-pas-ing) adjective  

  1. of a large amount or high degree; exceeding, excelling, or extraordinary

The power to continue on in a truth-centered, gospel-saturated, integrity-driven ministry belongs to God.

If we lose heart, it may be a sign we are relying on our own strength and seeking man-made results.  Only the “surpassing power that belongs to God” is able to shine light in darkness and unveil minds that have been blinded by the god of this world–the devil.

Notice that the text says, “Blinded minds to keep them from seeing…”  Paul doesn’t write “blinded eyes,” but minds.  Faith is not seeing; it’s believing.  At the same time, the gospel engages the mind.  It is not a weak-minded crutch as some are presupossed to thinking.

This surpassing power of God is power that exceeds and is greater than darkness, death, trials and tragedies.  In my own strength I cannot handle being afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down and self-sacrificing.  BUT when I focus on God’s surpassing power I can live a life in the midst of those circumstances knowing I will not be crushed by affliction, not driven to despair, not forsaken, not destroyed.  That’s true whether ministry is teaching, missions, etc…or marriage and parenting.

Why is Paul willing to suffer, to continue on in ministry even when it is difficult, discouraging and even dangerous?

  1. He has a heart to see grace reaching more and more people.
  2. He wants to see gratitude and thanksgiving over grace increase in transformed lives.
  3. He is all about God receiving glory!

How does Paul face discouragement and weariness?

  1. Renewing on the inside–heart and mind–day by day.
  2. Places hope in incomparable future glory.
  3. Fixes his eyes on eternity instead of transient.

Lord, help me to always press on in ministry in your strength that exceeds all my circumstances.  Give me a continued desire to renew my heart and mind daily so that I do not lose heart.  Let me recognize always that the results of ministry are in Your hands alone.  Keep me faithful no matter the results.  In Jesus’ powerful name I ask, amen.

 

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John 6:1-21 Importance of Asking

This is my fourth time meditating on Jesus feeding the 5,000 men plus women and children.  Even as I started to read, I thought, only God can give me something fresh from this–so that’s what I asked of Him.  Asking God is really important.  When situations arise that are seemingly impossible, overwhelming and out of our control, they tend to lead to fear and anxiety and fretting.  That is what happened with the disciples.

In John 6:5-6 Jesus asked Philip how they could feed so many people as a test.  Jesus “himself knew what he would do.”  Jesus is never caught off guard, never surprised.  In Isaiah 65:24 it says, “Before they call I will answer!”  My problem–and the disciples,too–is that I am not an asker.  I fret, I manipulate, I plan.  I have a hard time saying, “I don’t know how to do this, will you help?”  That’s really all Philip had to say when Jesus asked him how to feed so many.

A simple boy gave all he had to Jesus–5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  Jesus thanked the Father for it.  Sometimes I think I would be more prone to be grateful after the miracle, after seeing the leftovers.  Jesus was thankful for just the little gift provided and the anticipation of something great.

I think verse 10 might be my favorite.  Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”  NOW THERE WAS MUCH GRASS IN THE PLACE.  Jesus is the one who created grass from nothing and made it reproduce abundantly just for the people to have a nice place to sit!  He is a generous and lavish provider!

In the end, the people said, “Surely this is the Prophet!…and were about to take him by force to make him king.”  They recognized Jesus.  Do I see provision and abundance as coming from God?  Do I recognize that He alone is capable of giving everything I need and He is the one giving?  But more importantly than wanting Him as my King for all He provides, is wanting Him to be King of my whole life, because of Who He is!

Jesus slipped away by himself then and the disciples set out on the sea by boat at dark.  The sea became rough due to a strong wind.  They didn’t call out to Jesus and ask for help–maybe because He seemed too far away.  But Jesus came anyway.  He dispelled their fear and took them safely to their destination.  Life apart from Christ is filled with darkness, uncertainty and fear.  When Christ comes, He brings peace and direction.

In both instances, Jesus provided what they needed even without them asking.  I was thinking about it through the afternoon though and thought that asking is better.  I would rather humble myself and ask for help, acknowledging I need it, and see help come from God.  For me it would raise my gratitude.  Humility leads to gratitude.  Pride leads to shame.  

While reading The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis, we were at the part when Aslan sent Digory and Polly on a long journey to get one fruit seed to bring back to Narnia to protect the land and inhabitants from the Witch.  He sent them on a flying horse, but did not send along any provisions.

“Well I do think someone might have arranged about our meals,” said Digory.

“I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge.

“Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly.

“I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse. “But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”

When I don’t know what God wants me to learn from His Word–I need to ask Him.  When God puts before me a service opportunity that seems impossible–ask Him how to do it.  When I’m in the middle of a dark and fearful situation–ask Him to draw near and take me safely through it.

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John 1:1-18 In the Beginning…

The apostle John starts this account of Jesus’ life on earth in a similar manner to the beginning of Genesis’ account of the beginning of the world.

John 1:1-5 IN THE BEGINNING was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  ALL things were made through HIm, and without HIm was not any thing made that was made.  In Him was LIFE and the life was the light of men.  The LIGHT shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Genesis 1:1, 3-4 IN THE BEGINNING GOD created the heavens and the earth.  And God said, “Let there be LIGHT,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.  And God separated the light from the darkness.

What can we deduce:  Jesus is the WORD, Jesus is God, Jesus is the Creator, Jesus is the source of life, Jesus is the Light, Jesus is separate from the darkness.  And when John wrote his account it was because Jesus–the Light, the Life-Giver–came to the earth He created and it was good!  John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  That has always amazed me!  Jesus is full of grace and truth–the perfect example for us to follow.  

But here’s the verse I can never shake, and even now need to fix my thoughts on for the day, John 1:16 “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”  That’s how I memorized it, but the ESV says, “From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” Jesus didn’t come to smother us with truth, although He had/has every right to.   His truth is wrapped up in grace.   It’s His grace that He gives abundantly to ALL!  Think about that today.  If you woke up this morning it’s because the Life-Giving Jesus sustained you through your slumber.  You did nothing to keep your heart beating and lungs breathing.  And no matter how bad our circumstances may feel; if we look closely, we will be able to count one blessing after another.

Start counting tonight as you fall asleep, and if the Lord wills, when you wake in the morning, start thanking Him all over again for preserving you through the night!

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