Thursday, December 2, 2021

Strength in the Lord...

 Today's Readings: OT - Joshua 9  /  NT - 1 Peter 4:12-5:14

 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." - 1 Peter 5:8-9 
Elijah complained in 1 Kings 19:14, "I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” To this the Lord responded in verse 18 with, "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." In the face of spiritual warfare we often feel alone in the battle, but we find new courage when we are aware there are others who are fighting with us. We're strengthened by the Lord and inspired by the fellowship of suffering.

As Peter wrote to the early church under severe persecution, he charged them to resist the devil and stand firm, because there were others in the fight as well. He reminded them that they were not alone in the battle, so they would be encouraged to remain steadfast. As Elijah of old, there were others who suffered persecution but remained true to their faith. There was strength in Lord and inspiration in the fellowship of suffering.

The spiritual warfare is difficult and the pressure is great, but we are never alone in the battle. Be steadfast my friend, resist the devil and stand firm in your faith. Take time to remember, there is strength in Lord and inspiration in the fellowship of suffering.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Joshua 10:1-15  /  NT - 2 Peter 1

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Pray...

 Today's Readings: OT - Joshua 8:30-35  /  NT - 1 Peter 3:8-4:11

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. " - 1 Peter 4:7
Martin Luther said he had only two days on his calendar - today and "that day". The end was always on his mind. As a result, Luther was man of intense prayer, spending his best three hours a day in prayer. As the future pressed upon him, he prayed.

Peter wrote to a community of believers that were under constant persecution. Harassed on every side, Peter called their attention to the Lord's return and their need to be clear minded and self-controlled so they could pray. The best way to handle the present and the future is to pray.

While time passes far too quickly, the end of all things is nearer than ever. Shall we waste our hours on the frivolous or spend them on the eternal? If our days on this earth are coming to an end sooner than later, let us make the best use of the time that we have... let us pray.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Joshua 9  /  NT - 1 Peter 4:12-5:14

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Gentleness and Respect...

 Today's Readings: OT - Joshua 8:1-29  /  NT - 1 Peter 2:13-3:7

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." - 1 Peter 3:15-16
During the 90's we would occasionally watch a political talk show called "The Capital Gang". My son, who was quite young at the time, would ask why the guys kept yelling at each other. He concluded that they were angry, and to a young mind that just didn't make sense. Belief and conviction is good, but it is best communicated with gentleness and respect.

Many Christians are quick to quote the above passage up to the word "But". They are armed to the hilt and ready for battle whenever questioned about their faith. Peter called believers to always be ready with an answer for their hope, "but" with gentleness and respect. It's not just what we speak that brings truth to light, but how we speak. Belief and conviction is good, but it is best communicated with gentleness and respect.

Always be well prepared with Biblical truth in the face of error my friend. But may truth come with love. Love the lost as Jesus did. Answer their queries with the grace that has changed your life as well. Be someone with a clear and concise conviction, but communicate it with gentleness and respect.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Joshua 8:30-35  /  NT - 1 Peter 3:8-4:11

Monday, November 29, 2021

Keep your heart... ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Joshua 7  /  NT - 1 Peter 2:1-12

"Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul." - 1 Peter 2:11

Every time I read a news story about a shooting in a nightclub, I wonder how many people wished they had stayed home that night. The damage done is the responsibility of the perpetrators but being in the wrong place at the wrong time can have a haunting impact for years. In some cases it could be a life ender. 

Peter is very clear in his gracious, but firm warning. The red alert is to abstain at all cost from the passions that wage a devastating battle against the soul. He knew that a loose lifestyle could end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The outcome would have a haunting impact for years to come. In some cases it could be a life ender. 

Take warning my friend. The end result always begins with simple decisions that lead into danger. The enemy is always just around the corner and your soul is the goal. Be wise to abstain from those passions that lead to the wrong place at the wrong time. As a very wise man once wrote... "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." (Proverbs 4:23)  Better a life saved than a life ended. 

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Joshua 8:1-29  /  NT - 1 Peter 2:13-3:7

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Don't lose heart...

 Today's Readings: OT - Joshua 6  /  NT - 1 Peter 1

 "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you." - 1 Peter 1:23-25
Today I am acutely aware that "All men are like grass".  We have experienced a number of funerals in the last year, a number of friends are in rehab and a few others are receiving chemotherapy. Yet, in all of this the church is secure and at rest in it's imperishable life with God.

Peter wrote to fellow believers at a time when they suffered great persecution for being Christians. Their faith was severely tried, but they were encouraged by Peter to stay focused on their eternal and enduring inheritance in  heaven. Persecution and even the daily struggles of life can be more than discouraging. But when we live each day, looking for the coming of our Lord, we find our hope in him and are encouraged to press on in faith.

Being sick and emotionally unsettled can take its toll on us. But find strength and courage my friend, in the one who has given us his enduring word and everlasting life. Remember the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Joshua 7  /  NT - 1 Peter 2:1-12

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Never Late!

 Today's Readings: OT - Joshua 5  /  NT - James 4-5

"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!" -- James 5:7-9 
In a time of great impatience, farmers are a rare breed. When the internet and rapid transit has made everything lightening fast to the touch, these stalwart souls still have to be patient. Over two thousand years have passed since the above writing and little has changed for the farmer. Patience remains the great imperative.

The same remains true for the believer who awaits the return of Christ. His coming is nearer today than in James' day, but we still need to be patient and stand firm. Our conduct should be God honoring with brotherly love. Our faith in the Lord's timing must continue strong through the darkest days. As Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:8, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."

All believers know the end of the story and we live in great expectation of the Lord's return. The question is; how then shall we live? Take a lesson from the farmer my friend, and patiently sow your seeds of Christ-like living. As the spring and autumn rains come, the Lord will also come... and He's never late!

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Joshua 6  /  NT - 1 Peter 1

Friday, November 26, 2021

Wisdom from Heaven ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Joshua 4  /  NT - James 3

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." -- James 3:17-18
I have attended more board meetings than I can count. There have been church boards, associational boards, library boards and consultation boards. Each board has had a different personality and focus. And, time and again there would be some dear soul that believed they were wiser than any other. Their wisdom was to be accepted or there would be tension and stress beyond belief. Wisdom it might have been, but it wasn't from heaven.

The beauty of God given wisdom is the way it is expressed. Godly wisdom is given in a merciful, considerate and submissive manner. There is no partiality and peaceful results are sincerely sought. Wisdom of the natural man seeks praise and honor for the great insight that has been offered. If their counsel is rejected or altered, trouble comes and peace goes out the window. Only heavenly wisdom can raise a harvest of righteousness.

Before you enter the next meeting my friend, seek the wisdom that comes from heaven. You will know it comes from God when you are more concerned about others and a peaceful conclusion than your own ideas. The difference between a peacemaker and a peace-breaker depends on the kind of wisdom you choose.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Joshua 5  /  NT - James 4-5