Sunday, December 4, 2022

Distressed?

Today's Readings: OT - 2 Chronicles 9:13-31 / NT - 2 Peter 2

"... and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) — if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment." - 2 Peter 2:7-9
The movie "Gone with the Wind" came out in 1939. This film brought an explicative to the silver screen before the ears of the public for the first time and with it came great distress from Christians. Seventy-three years have passed and profanity on the big screen and television has become regular fare. Sadly, Christians aren't so distressed anymore. As the world has drifted farther from moral absolutes, the Christian community has followed... not far behind. Where is our distress?

Lot was a man of mixed allegiance to God. His choice to live "near" Sodom, and eventually "in" Sodom is a story of spiritual slippage at its worst. But, Peter recorded that Lot never lost his righteous sensitivity that was tormented by the lawless deeds that he saw and heard. Lot was never disconnected from the Lord, and before judgment fell, God delivered him. Lot was surrounded by evil, but he persevered as a "righteous soul" and he was distressed.

We live in an age of great evil and unrighteousness. Our country murders children in the womb without any sense of guilt. We see the lifestyles of the first chapter of Romans surrounding us every day. We know that in time, God's judgment will fall and he will deliver his own. But while we wait for his coming, will we slowly accept and tolerate the Godlessness around us or will we remain a "a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 Peter 2:9) and be distressed? 

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 30 / NT - 2 Peter 3

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Reminders...

Today's Readings: OT - 2 Chronicles 9:1-12 / NT - 2 Peter 1

"So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things." - 2 Peter 1:12-15 
I stood with six men that I had known for years and found myself unable to remember the name of one of my friends. My mind went totally blank. The memory is a tricky thing at times and in the best of health we can have a loss that totally frustrates us. Spiritual truth is easily forgotten was well, no matter how long we have known the truth. We all need regular reminders if we are to be firmly established.

There are times when we are tempted to seek the "new" and "unique" at the cost of leaving the old paths behind. Peter knew that the old truth was the life changing truth that is timeless. He also knew that we all need reminders and he was totally focused on the ministry of remembrance. He wanted to leave behind a solid foundation as a lasting legacy.

Why should we revisit Scripture reading year in and year out? Why should we sit under the preaching and teaching of the same Biblical truths on a weekly basis? The fact is, that we all tend to forget and we need to remember spiritual truth if we are to be firmly established. Never hesitate to remind yourself and others of spiritual truths that will change your life for the better.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 2 Chronicles 9:13-31 / NT - 2 Peter 2

Friday, December 2, 2022

Strength in the Lord...

Today's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 11:11:9-43 / NT - 1 Peter 5

 "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 - 2 Chronicles 9:1-12 / NT - 2 Peter 1

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Let us Pray...

Today's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 11:1-8 / NT - 1 Peter 4

"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 - 1 Kings 11:9-43 / NT - 1 Peter 5

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Gentleness and Respect...

Today's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 10 / NT - 1 Peter 3

"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 - 1 Kings 11:1-8 / NT - 1 Peter 4

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Stay the Course...

Today's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 11-12  / NT - 1 Peter 2

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." - 1 Peter 2:21-23
I was quite moved while recently watching a "Voice of the Martyrs" video. A group of teenagers were on a V.O.M. visit to Vietnam and were asking a Christian leader if he felt anger when the authorities would often tear up his ministry center. He responded without ill feeling, that he was committed to reach his world for Christ, no matter how much opposition came his way. He entrusted himself to the Lord.

Persecution of any kind will bear witness to genuine faith and real discipleship. The fully surrendered Christian knows that there will be suffering for their faith. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12, "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted". Jesus is our example in this matter, as he suffered without retaliation or threats. He entrusted himself to the divine provision and purpose. 

My brethren, we're in a battle led by the Captain of our salvation. We will be persecuted and oppressed at every point. Some of us will suffer great loss and others will suffer humiliation, but commit your way to the Lord. As David wrote in Psalm 37:5-6, "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Stay the course my friend, and entrust yourself to the Lord.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 10 / NT - 1 Peter 3

Monday, November 28, 2022

Don't lose heart...

Today's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 10  / 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 is the last few months, a few good friends have been receiving Chemotherapy, and my wife and I have both recovered from surgeries.  Yet, in all of this there has been a calm assurance and rest in our 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 - Ecclesiastes 11-12  / NT - 1 Peter 2

Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Great Imperative...

Today's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 9  / 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 - Ecclesiastes 10  / NT - 1 Peter 1

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Heavenly Wisdom...

Today's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 8  / 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 - Ecclesiastes 9  / NT - James 4-5

Friday, November 25, 2022

Loving your Herbs...

Today's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 7  / NT - James 2

"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." - James 2:8-10 
Herb was a businessman who attended our church many years ago. Over time, his life fell apart and he became homeless, unkempt, with an unpleasant smell. In the colder months Herb used to stop by the church to get warm and have a bite to eat when we would have a church supper. I am thankful when some of our church family would talk with him and invite him in for a meal. But it saddened me when other believers would avoid him at any cost. How can we love one another and not love Herb?

James called us to a deeper level of compassion when he challenged our "Love Capacity". It's easy to love those who love us back and those who are lovable. Such are the people we choose to show that extra interest and care. But, if we are going to be consistent in our obedience to the second greatest commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39), we must take time to love the Herbs of our world.

Today you will meet someone. They will not win your attention or your desire to show compassion. They may offend you by their conduct and attire. How will you choose to treat them, my friend? Will you avoid them in the name of inconvenience or will "Love them like Jesus"?

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 8  / NT - James 3

Thursday, November 24, 2022

A Tight Rein...

Today's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:12  / NT - James 1

"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." - James 1:26
What a time for speaking carelessly. The social media, which includes everything from Facebook to Twitter, reaches the whole world with every small comment. Some people are losing lifelong friendships and even lucrative careers over thoughtless remarks made in cyberspace. Conclusion? It pays to keep a tight rein on the tongue.

James makes the quality of thoughtful speech a significant characteristic for the believer. We can do all the right things and teach others with great insight, but with just one wrong word we can irreparably offend someone. Many a Christian testimony has been lost over a few thoughtless words. As James said earlier in verse 19, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak". It pays to keep a tight rein on the tongue.

By the grace of God, there have been many thoughts that have come to mind that I refused to verbalize. I would encourage you to do the same, my friend. We may have "Freedom of Speech", but it's not freedom to offend. The treasures of friendship, peace, harmony and unity are far more valuable than words can say. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 25:11, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." and in Proverbs 17:28 "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." It pays to keep a tight rein on the tongue.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 7  / NT - James 2

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Getting or Giving?

Today's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 4:1-5:7  / NT - Hebrews 13

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." - Hebrews 13:15-16
The "Prosperity Gospel" has been popular for a very long time. Our generation has been quite taken with what they can get from God in riches. We come to worship and pray when we want something from God. The thought of bringing sacrifices to Him or giving generously to others is quite foreign to this self-centered theology. But what is it that truly pleases God?

We may be careful to choose a church that teaches the true gospel, but do we worship and serve in the spirit of that gospel? God is most honored in worship when we offer "a sacrifice of praise" and He is most pleased when we "do good and share with others". John put it this way in 1 John 3:16, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." The right response to the gospel is giving, not about getting.

So, what are you planning for this coming Lord's Day? How will you worship the Lord? Will you arrive with your heart focused on Him and lifting up all that you are to praise him? Will you in turn give to others this week and share God's blessings with them as unto the Lord? For "... with such sacrifices God is pleased"  

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:12  / NT - James 1

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Our Consuming God...

Today's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 3  / NT - Hebrews 12:18-29

"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
In 1970 a group named Ocean recorded the catchy tune "Put Your Hand In The Hand". The lyrics covered Jesus stilling the water and calming the sea encouraging the listener to put their "hand in the hand of the man from Galilee". A simple song with simple thoughts about God.

The writer of Hebrews doesn't give us simple. He reminds us of the awesome fact that our God is a consuming fire. In response to this sobering truth we are counseled to offer "acceptable worship, with reverence and awe". A profound passage with profound thoughts about God.

Always be encouraged by the fact that Jesus stills the water and calms the sea my friend. He is the answer to every storm you will ever face. But also remember that your God is a consuming fire. Be sure that your life is full of acceptable worship, with reverence and awe. May every day bring consuming thoughts about a consuming God.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 4:1-5:7  / NT - Hebrews 13

Monday, November 21, 2022

Sweet or Spoiled?

Today's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 2  / NT - Hebrews 12:1-17

"See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." - Hebrews 12:15
We often have a lot of fruit in our house during the summer. When it first arrives it's sweet to the taste and healthy for the body. As time passes we fail to eat it all and it starts to spoil. The taste changed from good to bitter and we missed the opportunity to enjoy the sweetness.

Living with trials and struggles brings about the same process. In the midst of troubles, God avails himself to give us the sweet taste of his Grace. (Hebrews 4:16) When we choose to ignore this opportunity, we miss his grace and a bitter root grows up. We start to complain and eventually cause trouble for others. The sweetness is gone and we've started to spoil and taste bad to others.

Have you missed the grace of God lately? Did you ignore the need for his grace when you were offended, tried or pressured by change? Are you now living with the results of a bitter root? Are others finding your presence to be a bad taste? Here is a word to wise, don't miss the opportunity to be sweet to the taste... "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 3  / NT - Hebrews 12:18-29

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Pleasures or Treasures?

Today's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 1 / NT - Hebrews 11:18-40

"By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward." - Hebrews 11:24-26
Our journey through life is full of choices. Every choice we make will determine our future to one degree or another. We are most alarmed when a bad choice can never be reversed or rectified. But it is most encouraging when a good choice reaps untold benefits for years to come.

Moses made a choice early in life. He calculated the limited value of earthly wealth to be a poor choice. A far better choice was the lasting reward given to those who chose to stand with the Lord. While the temporal cost was mistreatment and loss of treasures, to follow the Lord was a good choice that reaped benefits eternally.

Today and tomorrow will call for many choices my friend. May you seek wisdom and carefully calculate what are "fleeting pleasures" in contrast to Eternal Treasures. Remember that bad choices are most often irreversible, while good choices reap untold benefits for years to come.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Ecclesiastes 2  / NT - Hebrews 12:1-17

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Longing for better...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 29 / NT - Hebrews 11:1-17

"If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." - Hebrews 11:15-16
The puritan pilgrims arrived on the shores of America with a longing in their hearts. The days ahead were brutal and demanded great sacrifice. Eventually, opportunities came for a return to England, but they were focused on a better future in a new land. More significantly, they were looking and preparing for a heavenly country.

Whether it is the patriarchs of the Bible, the puritan pilgrims of the seventeenth century or the new believers of 2010, the dynamics are always the same. If we are still too tied to the old ways of the world, we can always return. But, devoted believers have left the past behind for good, with no desire to return. They are focused on the future, preparing for eternity every day.

Search your heart my friend. What is your longing? Are you so deeply rooted in this world that you rarely think about heavenly things? Are you so satisfied with the present material possessions that you have no longing for a heavenly country? Remember, God's children are those who have "admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth." (verse 13) and their "... citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20). God is never ashamed of those who are looking for the city that he has prepared for them!

 
Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Eccliastes 1  / NT - Hebrews 11:18-40

Friday, November 18, 2022

To give our utmost...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 28:12-28 / NT - Hebrews 10:19-39

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:24-25 
From one season to the next, sporting competition catches the attention of more people than can be counted. They root for their teams hoping that each player will do their very best. The coaches are just as determined to motivate every player toward peak performance. Because a team is only as strong as it's weakest player, every member of the team needs to be involved to their utmost.

The church is much like a sports team. Every member is important to the success and influence of the ministry. With this issue in mind, the writer of Hebrews instructs us to root for and motivate one another toward spiritual excellence. Just as sports figures need the encouragement of fans and coaches, so do believers. When we are regularly stirred up by fellow servants we most often give our utmost for the Lord.

As you serve the Lord this week my friend, are there others who are lagging behind? Are there those who are neglecting church services and Bible studies? When was the last time you called or visited them to stir them up to love and good works? We need all God's people to be involved, and they need us to cheer them on toward success. The Lord's church needs every member to give their utmost for His glory.

 
Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 29 / NT - Hebrews 11:1-17

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Forget about it...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 28:1-11 / NT - Hebrews 10:1-18

"Then he adds:  "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." - Hebrews 10:17
There is true forgetfulness and there is a forgetfulness of convenience. At my age there is no convenience about my forgetfulness. There are some things that I truly desire to forget and there are those matters that I can't afford to forget. One thing is for sure, there are some things we need to remember and some that we need to forget.

Having thought about our own memory issues, consider this: God chooses to forget and therefore he does. An omniscient creator who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) and knows our every thought before we think them (Psalm 139:2) can willingly forget. But what is it that he chooses to forget? The true joy is in this: God never forgets us (Hebrews 13:5), but he forgets our sins. God has chosen to completely clear his memory of the sins of the repentant sinner.

The thought I leave you with today is this: If the all knowing God of the universe has chosen, in Christ, to forgive and FORGET your sins... when will you forget them and move on??

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 28:12-28 / NT - Hebrews 10:19-39

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Are you ready?

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 27 / NT - Hebrews 9

"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." - Hebrews 9:27-28
"You only go around once", "This is a 'one time' offer", "You're only young once", and so the phrases go that tell us about onetime events. So it is with death, in this life, you only die once. There are no retakes or second chances after that moment. Since no one knows when that moment will come, it's best to be prepared.

Jesus died once to take away the sins of many, not all. The fact is, not everyone is ready for death. The most important way to "put your house in order" is to clear your sin debt. Jesus came the first time to do just that; pay for your sin. Only those who have been set free from their sins (verse 15) are truly prepared.

Yes, you only live once in this life, but there is a life to come. Are you ready? This is not a matter to put off until another day. Paul put it well in 2 Corinthians 6:2 "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." Don't wait my friend, you only die once, so be prepared. 

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 28:1-11 / NT - Hebrews 10:1-18

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The BEST Way...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 26:12-28 / NT - Hebrews 7:11-8:13

"But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises." - Hebrews 8:6
Over the years Sears had made the practice of categorizing their products as "Good, Better and Best". The practice caught on and a vast number of retailers are now doing the same thing. The consumer is left with a choice that will be affordable and work for them. Sadly, many people must settle for the "Good" or "Better" because they simply cannot afford the "Best". Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could have the "Best"?

In spiritual matters though, everyone can have the "Best" or "superior" product. In comparison to the old covenant of works and all other religious expressions, the ministry of Jesus is "superior". The new covenant is founded on "Better" promises and therefore, He will be our God and we will be his people by faith and the Lord will forgive our wickedness and remember our sins no more. Now, that is the "Best" offer to all who will receive.

Why try to work your way to heaven? Why follow religious teachings that always fall short of changing your heart? When it comes to the promise of heaven, there is no "Good" or "Better"; there's only one way, and He's the "Best" way.  Why not set aside the "Good" and "Better" and accept the "Best" as you trust Jesus and all His promises. Remember, "Whoever believes" (John 3:16) can have the "Best"!

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 27 / NT - Hebrews 9

Monday, November 14, 2022

Our Anchor ...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 26:1-11 / NT - Hebrews 6:13-7:10

"God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." - Hebrews 6:18-20
Our family has lived near the ocean for many generations. We have lived through and survived some of the most historic hurricanes that Long Island and New England have ever experienced. So, we know that when storms are brewing, many ships are taken out into deep waters and anchored. This prevents damage from the dock and others ships. The anchor protects from drifting and provides safety in the storm.

In like manner, believers have an anchor for the hurricanes of life. Their anchor is a hope that protects from drifting and provides safety in the storm. This hope is founded on the Lord who never lies and it gives an assurance for our soul that is firm and secure. The old gospel song says it this way, "I've anchored my soul in the Haven of Rest".

Why are you tossed every which way in the storms of life? Do you not have an anchor of hope in the Lord? When the winds start to howl, drop anchor my friend and find rest for your soul in Jesus.

THE HAVEN OF REST
Henry L. Gilmour

My soul in sad exile was out on life’s sea, so burdened with sin, and distress, till I heard a sweet voice saying, “Make me your choice!” And I entered the 
Haven of Rest.

I yielded myself to His tender embrace, and faith taking hold of the Word, my fetters fell off, and I anchored my soul—The “Haven of Rest” is my Lord.

The song of my soul, since the Lord made me whole, has been the old story so blest of Jesus, who’ll save whosoever will have a home in the Haven of Rest!

O come to the Savior—He patiently waits to save by His power divine; Come, anchor your soul in the Haven of Rest, and say, “My Beloved is mine.”

Chorus: I’ve anchored my soul in the Haven of Rest; I’ll sail the wide seas no more; the tempest may sweep o’er the wild, stormy deep —  

In Jesus I’m safe ever more.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 26:12-28 / NT - Hebrews 7:11-8:13

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Meat Needed...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 25 / NT - Hebrews 5:1-6:12

"Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." - Hebrews 5:13-14
I watched as our sons matured, moving from milk to solid food. They quickly grew strong and agile, leaving me no other choice than to stop wrestling with them for my own safety. During those same years I watched my father relegated to a puree diet and saw his weight and strength slip away. The choice of food will always make a difference in our health and strength.

The spiritual life is no different than the physical. We need to move from spiritual milk to solid food to become strong. Furthermore, we need to train ourselves "by constant use" or feeding on solid food so we can "distinguish good from evil". The choice of spiritual food will always make a difference in our ability to know right from wrong.

We all need to grow up in spiritual teachings about righteousness. But, we also need to stay the course so we don't become weak from the lack of constant use. You may have been a Christian for many years, but remember, you still need the meat of the Word to stay strong in the faith. You are what you eat!!

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 26:1-11 / NT - Hebrews 6:13-7:10

Saturday, November 12, 2022

The Right Combination...

Today's Readings: OT - 1 Chronicles 8 / NT - Hebrews 3:7-4:16

“For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith." ~ Hebrews 4:2 (NIV84)
Laws obeyed promises good results. Some people practice this by faith and others do not. Those who practice by obedience enjoy a peaceful life without complications. But, those who don't practice by disobedience end up in a world of trouble. It's not enough to know what's right, we need to combine knowledge with faith in the promise. 

The gospel was preached faithfully by the apostles with promised results. Those who believed found forgiveness and a new found rest. A peaceful life with God came without complications. Yet, there were some who heard the gospel and chose to reject it. They ended up in a world of trouble. It's not enough to know the gospel, we need to combine knowledge with faith in the promise.

Where are you today my friend? Are you satisfied with just a head knowledge of God's saving grace in Jesus Christ? Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Remember, such knowledge is of no value unless you believe it. It's not enough to know the gospel, you need to combine knowledge with faith in the promise. 

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 25 / NT - Hebrews 5:1-6:12

Friday, November 11, 2022

He Understands...

Today's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 9 / NT - Hebrews 2:5-3:6

"For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." - Hebrews 2:17-18
My wife had a physical condition some years ago that required medical attention. Of all the Doctors we visited, our family physician was the most understanding. Why? His understanding came, not from his training, but from his experience. This doctor suffered from the same condition as my wife. Because he also suffered, he was able to help.

The wonders of our Savior's incarnation are more than the mind can conceive. But, one aspect that is most comforting is the fact that our Lord suffered when he was tempted, and is able to help those who are tempted. His mercy comes from who he is and what he has experienced.

We should never find ourselves saying, "No one understands". The song writer was right on point when he wrote, "No One Understands Like Jesus". The next time you are struggling with the temptations of life remember, you have a friend who suffered more than you, and he is able to help you through it all.


NO ONE UNDERSTANDS LIKE JESUS
No one understands like Jesus.
 He’s a friend beyond compare;
 Meet Him at the throne of mercy;
 He is waiting for you there.

No one understands like Jesus;
 Ev’ry woe He sees and feels;
 Tenderly He whispers comfort,
 And the broken heart He heals.

No one understands like Jesus
 When the foes of life assail;
 You should never be discouraged;
 Jesus cares and will not fail!

No one understands like Jesus
 When you falter on the way;
 Tho’ you fail Him, sadly fail Him,
 He will pardon you today.

CHORUS:
 No one understands like Jesus
 When the days are dark and grim;
 No one is so near, so dear as Jesus–
 Cast your ev’ry care on Him!

Words and music by John W. Peterson.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 2 Chronicles 8 / NT - Hebrews 3:7-4:16

Thursday, November 10, 2022

What are YOU building?

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 148-150 / NT - Hebrews 1-2 :4

"He also says, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be hanged. But you remain the same, and your years will never end." - Hebrews 1:10-12
The foundation of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany was laid in 1248 and the work continued, with some interruptions, until completion in 1880. For four years the cathedral was the tallest building in the world and today it is visited by 20,000 people every day. Travelers from all over the world come to view a man made building that stands on a 762 year old foundation. Yet, how many come every day to worship the One who remains the same, whose years will never end?

As we begin our reading in the book of Hebrews, Jesus is presented as the eternal one, preeminent over all creation. When we choose a foundation to build upon, these words serve us well to remember the transitory nature of our world. 762 year old cathedrals, along with every other part of the earth and heavens will eventually wear out like a garment. But Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. The message is clear; don't build your life on the sands of this world, but build on the eternal foundation of Christ.

Are you all about building a cathedral my friend? Why spend so much time on what will ultimately be rolled up like a robe? Keep your eyes and heart on Jesus as your cornerstone. Follow his plan as you labor and build what will last... for all eternity.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 9 / NT - Hebrews 2:5-3:6

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Partnership...

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 147 / NT - Philemon 

"So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me." - Philemon 17
Partners ride the trail together, run the business together and compete in the game together. They are on the same page, with the same goal. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up." A healthy partnership is a blessing for all seasons.

Paul had a partnership with Philemon and a growing partnership with Onesimus. Being a brother and spiritual father in the Lord is a great relationship. It is more than a moment in time or phase in life. We are partners in the work of the gospel for life and strong teamwork brings a good return for our work. A healthy partnership is a blessing for all seasons.

Who are your partners in the gospel today? Do you work alongside with a welcoming heart and supportive spirit? Do you draw strength from them as you provide them encouragement? Christian partners work together, even through the most difficult situations, because they are partners with the Lord. A healthy partnership is a blessing for all seasons.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Psalm 148-150  / NT - Hebrews 1-2:4

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

His Power ...

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 134, 146 / NT - Titus 2, 3

"This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone." - Titus 3:8 
Our house is wired with electricity. It's great to have all the power we need for light, cooking, repair work, entertainment and overall comfort. The power is always just a plug away, but if we don't use the power what good is it? Having the power is only as good as using the power.

Titus 3 tells us of God's saving work, in which the Holy Spirit is poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ. Every believer is empowered with the very presence of God. We have all that we need to live for God and devote ourselves to doing what is good. The power is always just a prayer away, but if we don't use his power what good is it? Having his power is only as good as using His power.

Doing what is good comes from careful and thoughtful planning. We have the power, but do we have the devotion? What are you planning to do that's good today? Remember, having his power is only as good as using His power. 

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Psalm 147  / NT - Philemon