Archive for category New Testament
Today’s readings are:
In Genesis, we have the story of the tower of Babel. It’s short, so here it is:
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
On the surface, it might be confusing why God would not want them to be able to do anything if unified. But, it’s interesting they used man-made materials (bricks and tar) rather than natural (God-made) materials. Does this tell us something about their hearts and their motivation. They were trying to make a city and a name for themselves.
I think it’s important to note that we are able to do anything if we are unified. This is a message for the church today! But, not to make a name for ourselves, but always for the glory of God and the building of His kingdom.
In Matthew today, we have one of Jesus’ most famous sermons, the sermon on the mount. “The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it is the least understood, and certainly it is the least obeyed” says author John Stott.
There’s also a good reminder for us as Christians in today’s reading. We are to be the salt and light of the earth. If we lose our “flavor”, what good are we? Let’s be salt and light today.
I am amazed by the story of Noah. It’s so hard to take it in. How bittersweet it must have felt for Noah to realize that God honored him above all others and saved only he and his family to restart mankind.
In Matthew, Jesus just had the encounter with satan in the wilderness and now is preparing to begin his ministry on earth.
Today’s Psalm is actually a song written by David. I sure wish I had the chord chart!
Keep reading along. We’re going through the entire Bible in a year!
Here’s the reading list for today:
Well, here it is. Genesis 3. The fall of mankind. I cringe each time I hear Eve’s response:
“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
Did you see it? God never said anything about “touching” the fruit. Already she is twisting what God said. And, she falls for the serpent’s deceit.
Also – some folks (usually men) like to point out that it was Eve that first took the fruit. Well, I would like to point out that Adam was standing right there next to her when she did. He didn’t say a word. He’s just as guilty as her:
“She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
Buckle in – we’re just getting started. Are you with us? We’re reading the entire Bible in a year.
The thing always blows my mind when I read Genesis 1 is the power and majesty of our God! When you stop to think about all the incredible detail and amazing vastness and unbelievable tenuity of what God did – all in 6 days?! Boom. Mind blown.
And, in Matthew 1 – I love the fact that Joseph was a kind man and even though his wife-to-be was suddenly pregnant, and she was telling him some unbelievable story about how she got pregnant, he did not wish to disgrace her. But, an angel came in a dream and explained everything. He had trust in God to accept the potential risk of reputation to stay with God’s plan. And look how he was blessed. Can you imagine raising a child you knew was the son of God? Boom. There it goes again. Mind blown.
Hope you’re reading the Bible in a year along with us! You won’t regret it.
Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 1-3 (NLT)
There are those that teach that the reason God granted the miraculous signs and wonders to the apostles that we read about in the book of Acts, was so that they would serve as a “letter of recommendation” to their apostolic ministry. If this were true, then it would make sense that the miracles and signs and wonders would cease with the apostles passing – because there would no longer be a need for their ministry. However, Paul clearly says it is miraculously changed lives that serve as his letter of recommendation – not any miraculous signs and wonders. This is significant.
Anybody can receive a certificate of ordination to be a pastor. Yet, it is the fruit of that person’s ministry that is the true credential – not a piece of paper.
If one thing is clear about Jesus’ teaching and constant rebuke of the religious establishment, it is that just because you call yourself a Christian, it’s the fruit of your ministry that is the true test.
Matthew 7:15-20 says this:
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
Which, inevitably leads to the following passage. I think many who think they are Christians will be surprised on judgement day:
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in yoply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” Matt 7:21-23 (NLT)
So – we are His ministers. Our credentials are not on paper, but in the changed lives of those we come in contact with today. We need to be caught doing the will of the Father when He returns.
Let’s do it!
I’m finally getting back into my daily reading routine! Ack, how easy it is for me to neglect the daily reading of God’s word.
8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.”
It actually comes up quite often that people misquote 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says:
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
This verse is all very affirming and everything, but it does not say that God will not “give you more than you can handle.” It’s talking about temptation only – that we will not be tempted beyond what we can endure.
And here’s the proof! As indicated by Paul’s writing in today’s reading, Paul and his companions WERE crushed and overwhelmed BEYOND their ability to endure. But, and here’s the good part, when they stopped trying to solve things on their own, and when they relied on God, He rescued them.
This is an important lesson to learn.
For people to think they are somehow protected by God from “too much” suffering is a dangerous, false teaching. In fact, He sometimes uses suffering to get our attention.
I have been at the place several times in my life, where I though I had been abandoned by God, left to fend for myself. But the truth is, God will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). When I felt this way, I had gotten myself into the predicament, and I was arrogantly trying to do things without God’s help. The only way He could get my attention was through suffering. Typically, I respond to suffering first by trying harder in my own power – so the suffering intensifies until I realize the only way out is by putting my focus back on God and trusting Him. When will I learn?
The more we resist and try to do it on our own, the harder it can be. Until we are able to trust Him and allow the suffering to accomplish its task, we will continue to struggle – and sometimes it will be more than we can handle, regardless of what good-intentioned people will argue with you about scripture and how God will protect you.
That’s the whole point! We simply can’t do this on our own! It’s arrogant and it’s wrong to think that way.
Today, I will try to rely on God for everything.
Paul is really bothered by these Corinthians. Their pride and arrogance really gets under his last nerve. But he’s to remain calm and kind. As a matter of fact, he pretty much lays out what it’s like to be a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ:
11 Even now we go hungry and thirsty, and we don’t have enough clothes to keep warm. We are often beaten and have no home. 12 We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. 13 We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash—right up to the present moment.
I’ve said it before – I guess things haven’t changed much. Being a true Christian in America today provides the same set of rewards (and it’s getting worse). But, as Paul says in verse 3: “As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority.” We are only to live as Christ directs us to, not the world.
I love how he warns those who are all talk and no action:
18 Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again. 19 But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. 20 For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
Lord, let me live out my life for the Kingdom of God today, not just in words. Fill me with Your power.
The people of the church there were arguing about who to follow, Paul or Apollos. Truth is they both of them follow Jesus. Paul was admonishing them to quit quarreling and just follow Jesus. It doesn’t matter who brought them the message first, the message is what’s important.
Being a worship leader, I have worship services on my mind, so I thought this is very much like arguing over styles of music. Some in our church have voiced their opinion that church music should be only hymns and traditional music. Others have voiced their opinion that that “old music” is boring and the church will die if we keep holding on to them.
It doesn’t matter what type of music the message is in – it’s the message that’s important!
I guess some things never change. I wonder what Paul would write about today.
The foundation is laid, and that’s our relationship with Jesus Christ. How we build upon it, with things that last (gold, silver, jewels) or things that won’t (wood, hay, straw), is up to us.
I find it interesting that Paul continuously mentions “reward”. In verse 8, he talks about how he and Apollos will be rewarded:
“The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.”
Then in verse 14, he shows us how we will be rewarded if we have built upon the foundation with things that will last:
“If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.”
He talks about this in other places, too. Leaders in my past have discouraged this reward mentality when it comes to our Christianity. However, I believe it is something we must all be aware of. There are rewards for doing the right things. Paul mentions this over and over in his writings. I am particularly motivated by rewards. I think most people are. It gives me something to strive for – something to plan and do and win. I will meditate on this today.
Have a rewarding day!
While reading in Acts today, there was a line that really stuck out in the story of when Peter and John were arrested and jailed. Look at Acts 4:13:
“The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had had no special training.”
Remind you of anybody? I’ve grown up wondering why God chose me to lead anyone or anything. I am ordinary. I have no special training. Yet, I continue to find myself talking about God or leading worship.
I wonder how many more feel the way I do.
Look at how many were converted as a result of Peter’s ability (willingness?) to be used by God to heal the beggar at the gate. Five thousand were added that day, not including women and children!
This could be happening today. This SHOULD be happening today. But the cost is great. I wonder how many would be willing to be unfairly jailed for boldly teaching about Jesus.
I find myself wondering what could be done if I would be willing to risk it all – mocking, back-biting, prison, death? I wonder what could happen if more would be willing to be bold for Christ and speak openly about what God has done for us!
Help us, Lord.
Help me, Lord.
The subtitle in the NIV version says: Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society.
Sounds like Peter had to deal with a society a lot like ours today. Here’s what stuck out for me today:
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
After reading in James about faith without works being dead, Peter follows up today with advice for us to be seen doing good deeds, even though we are accused of doing wrong.
And – here’s the real perk about doing good – you can put the ignorant talk of foolish people to silence:
15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.
Needed that today.