Friday, December 7, 2012

Verse for Today - Psalm 2:9-11 (click to read)

"Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him."

 These verses from Psalm 2 are remarkably pointed.  They speak prophetically of the coming Messiah... and more.  They warn the mighty, the rich and powerful people of earth.  By logical extension, the commands and warnings to them, are commands and warnings to all (ourselves included).

The Kings and Judges of the world might have influence and wealth now, but one day THEY will all give account before the Lord of all.  They are told to respond rightly, with wisdom, to the Christ the Lord.  "Be wise," "Be instructed," Serve the LORD with fear and Rejoice with trembling."  "Kiss the Son." 

Why?  Because when He returns, it will be for judgment.  How one responds to the Gospel of Christ makes all the difference.  Those who pay Him no respect will perish; but "blessed are all those who put their trust in Him."    

"God's grace is free, but it costs you everything."  If you have questions, I can tell you about the One who has the answers.  :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Verse for Today - Colossians 3:16 (click for miniblog)

Colossians 3:16

16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

The exhortation of this passage was an encouragement to me to send out this Verse for Today. As Christians we're told that the "all scripture is given by the inspiration of God"... and more than that... "is profitable for teaching, reproving, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).  

In much the same way, Today's Verse is an exhortation to let the Scriptures be advantageous to us.  And how might they benefit to us?  Simply stated, we need to internalize them.  We need to read, remember and meditate upon them.  Have devotions, certainly.  But don't just check it off your to-do-list.  Let it simmer and stew.  Jot down some important points and remember them.

Once we've done this, we will be better able to share, teach and encourage one another.  

And lastly, don't under-esteem the value of singing and learning Scriptural songs.   God made us to enjoy and benefit from them.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Verse for Today - 1 Peter 5:8-9 (Click for mini-blog)

“Be alert and of sober mind. 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 the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Read all of 1 Peter 5

What does the world do with a verse like this?  Probably nothing.  Depending how they see they world, they might think there’s no need to be alert and watchful.  From their perspective they might think that Satan and evil beings don’t exist.

What do Christians do with a verse like this?  It’s something we should think about.  Sometimes Satan pretends to be an Angel of Light (see 2 Corinthians 10) and sounds almost Christian.  He uses deception and seduction to fool people into thinking they’re with him on God’s side when they’re not.  Of this sort are pastors who make you feel good about yourself and entice you with promises of wealth, success and happiness.  They won’t tell you to deny yourself, take up your cross and be ready to suffer for Christ. 

In Verses 8 and 9 we’re warned that sometimes Satan doesn’t pretend at all.  He hates God and he hates devoted Christians (see Rev. 12:17).  Sometimes he can ruthlessly persecute and crush them, seemingly at will.  What should Christians do when confronted with evil in this way?  

ANSWER: “Be watchful and sober minded.”  “Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”  Stand against evil and the Evil One and you have done your job.  In the last part of the verse he connects our trials to those of others around the world… and perhaps throughout history.  With faithful devotion, God will be pleased to either rescue us or welcome us into his eternal kingdom.  Those with genuine faith trust their heavenly Father to provide for them in this life and in the life to come.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Verse for Today - Psalm 19:14 (click for mini-blog)

Psalm 19:14

"May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."

Read all of Psalm 19

Psalm 19 is an important Psalm.  It is the classic reference for the two ways in which God has revealed himself.  He has done so by "General Revelation (vss 1-4) and Special Revelation (vss. 7-11)... that is to say through the creation all around us AND through the self-revelation of His Word. 

In other words, for those with eyes to see, the EVIDENCE is everywhere... around us and within.  Examples abound... from birds being able to migrate to places they've never been and construct nests they've never seen, to the way our minds can remember the past, and really even the existence of life at the molecular and chromosomal level.  

Special revelation is something else.  It is the visitations and written record of these visits and revelations.  On a practical basis, God's special revelation is mostly the Bible.  2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture was given by inspiration of God is profitable..."  It records the truth and teaches us about God, His grace and the work of salvation He accomplished in Christ.  

In our Verse for Today, the Psalmist recognizes the importance of the words he is speaking and thoughts he is thinking... that their ultimate standard is God Himself.  

We will all be measured by the the same Standard, and so we should all pray this same prayer.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Verse for Today 2 Corinthians 12:9-12 (click to read mini-blog)

I've been thinking about a quotation I heard from Allistar Begg in a recent message I heard a while back:  

"If dependence on God is the objective, then weakness is advantage."

I think this is quite profound. It certainly seems to be corollary to the Apostle Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 12:9-12

"And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

How often don't we resist or even resent weaknesses, trials and troubles? Yet, these are the very means by which the Lord draws us closer to Him. Any trial or adversity that draws us nearer to the Lord or causes us to depend more upon Him, is in the bigger picture, a blessing.

Ironically, in recent months, one of my recurring prayers has been that the Lord would mold me into a more effective and faithful minister of the Gospel. My hope is that the Lord would use me to strengthen the church I pastor and advance the broader work of the Kingdom. In recent weeks I've faced a few trials and discouragements, and have concluded that these were in affect the Lord's answer to my prayers.

"For when I am weak, then I am strong."

When we recognize our own inadequacies or weaknesses, we learn afresh our need of God and His grace.  When we recognize this, we will the more earnestly seek His aid and depend upon Him.

Truth be told we all need to believe and endure like Job. He endured loss of loved ones, financial ruin, and even his health, and responds to his exasperated wife, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” The Lord works in mysterious ways. He is pleased when we persevere through trials, when we trust His Word and hold fast to our integrity for His sake. As Peter says, “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.”

Seems the point is that we should trust in God all the time, especially when going through trials.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Verse for Today - 2 Corinthians 13:14 (click for mini-blog)

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. "

Read all of  2 Corinthians 13

This is perhaps the most common New Testament benediction.  And what, you might ask is a benediction?  Well, it literally means "to speak well of."  It is a pronouncement of blessing or favor toward another.   It is sometimes (and I might add should be) spoken by parents to their children and by grandparents to their  grandchildren, but perhaps most commonly pronounced at the end of a church worship service.  We should never underestimate the affect of our words on those who hear them.  

In Today's Verse, the words are spoken by the Apostle Paul to the believers in ancient Corinth and with official authority.   That is to say, while the Apostle Paul is speaking, he is really speaking with "Apostolic" authority.   He is declaring that those who come to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are really and truly the recipients of this "grace," "love" and "communion" with the Triune God. 

While we might might hear such a blessing, and even take it for granted, it is really a remarkable thing.   The God of all grace, who from all eternity determined to save a people for himself through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, has in the present time extended His grace and mercy to us.

The Grace of Christ is the extension of God's undeserved favor in Christ to guilty sinners.  The Love of God is the embrace and acceptance of those purchased by Him.  The Communion of the Holy Spirit is incorporation of those who were lost into the fellowship of His own special people-- His Church.  Pretty remarkable.  Amen?  Amen!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Verse for Today - Ephesians 2:19,20 (Click for mini-blog)

Ephesians 2:19,20

"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

Read all of Ephesians 2

These two verse from Ephesians 2 are important.  They anchor a number of essential truths that affect how we're supposed to think about ourselves, the Church, and the Scriptures.

1. Ourselves.  The Book of Ephesians is written to essentially a "Gentile" church.  Most of the members were not of Hebrew or Jewish descent.  They are no longer "strangers and foreigners" but "fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God."   In other words, they are not second class citizens, but are fully on par with other members.  While this might not sound like that big a deal, it really is.  It identifies believers (regardless of race) as belonging to God... as those who have been bought and paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. The Church.  The Church is composed of individual believers who become inter-related with each other..."fellow citizens and members of God's household" or family.  Pretty remarkable.  These words describe the core of our identity.  We really, truly, and genuinely become co-heirs with each other through the Gospel of grace in Christ.

3. The Scriptures.  Here's the zinger.  1 and 2 are amazing, but don't yet distinguish those who assume they are the Church from those who actually are.  3. The Scriptures are the only foundation on which the Church is built.  "The Foundation of the apostles and prophets" is the objective standard of the Word of God, such that our relationship to them determines our relationship to God.

Not everything that calls itself the Church is.  Only those who hold to the Scriptures and its message are true.  Paul affirms this in Ephesians 4:4f "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism...." And with earnestness in Galatians 1:8 when he says, "But even  if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed."    

So be like the Bereans in Acts 17 and search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so.  :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Verse for Today - Psalm 66:1-4 (click to read mini-blog)

"Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!  Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise glorious. 
Say to God, 'How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power your enemies shall submit themselves to You.  All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; they shall sing praises to Your name.'”

Read all of Psalm 66

In many places throughout the Psalms we're told to sing, praise, bow down and worship the LORD, and even to shout, glory and tremble before Him.  We were created for no less, and such we should do.

In distinction from these general or broader exhortations, These first verses of Psalm 66 are quite particular.  They not only provide an exhortation to us as God's people to shout and sing to the Lord, and to make His praise glorious, they also provide some of the content of what we should say.  I don't know that this is a really big deal, but it seems to me that if we're told to do or say something like this, we should probably do it.  I think it's sort of like the Lord's Prayer.  It's not the only prayer we should pray, but certainly it is a prayer that we should pray fairly frequently (daily?). 

There are only a few other places where we are told explicitly what to say.    If my count is right, I think it's only four times in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 40:16herePsalm 70:4and Psalm 96:10).   Each of these urge us to recognize God's great power and glory and to vocalize our recognition it.

I suppose this raises a pretty valid question, when was the last time you've said these (or similar) things to God?  By yourself in prayer?  In the assembly of public worship with your brethren?   And if you've not, it's time you should.

As I think about this... maybe the Conclusion to the Lord's Prayer insures that we think and address these things properly:

"For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power and the Glory Forever.  AMEN." 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Verse for Today - Luke 12:6-7 (click to read mini-blog)

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

Read all of Luke 12

This is one of those verses that no matter how many times you read it, it's almost too amazing to grasp.  

Note, first:  God is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing).  This is pretty amazing too.  How can God know everything about everything?  Not sure, but these are some of the words Jesus spoke, so they must be true.  (How could Jesus have been a good teacher or a great man and not be telling the truth?)  This is part of why we as humans have a hard time comprehending the greatness of God.  It is completely beyond us, or as Job 36 says: "How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out."  

OK, so how much does God know?  Two particulars are noted:  1. He knows all the insignificant sparrows (little birds) on the planet.  2. He knows the number of hairs on your head.  In other words, God has exhaustive knowledge.

What's the point?  Well, it's a logical relationship of the lesser to the greater.  If God knows those little details, don't you suppose he also knows and understands everything bigger?  The doubts, struggles, fears and questions that you have?  Of course he does.  AND (here's the kicker) He cares for you.  

Seems to me that if you have struggles, He's the One to whom you should go.   :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Verse for Today - Isaiah 41:10 (click to read mini-blog)

Isaiah 41:10

"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Read all of Isaiah 41

This verse in Isaiah 41 has been immortalized in the gospel hymn "How Firm a Foundation."  As you may know the first verse of this hymn asks an extended question. 

"How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, 
is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?"

What is this firm foundation the hymn writer identifies?  Well, it's the fact that God has revealed himself favorable toward His people.  In spite of their sin and the terrible judgment that He would inflict  upon them, God promises to take care of His own.

That was true then, and this remains true today.  These words were intended for God's Old Testament saints.  In verse 8 He describes them as "the descendants of Abraham His friend."   In spite of the judgment of the Exile, He would not forget His promises.  The same is true today.

The hymn writer captures the essence of today's verse in the second stanza:

"Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed;
for I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I'll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand."

Pretty encouraging.  The remaining stanzas then apply this comfort to believers in all of life's trials.

P.S. You can hear these words sung at the by clicking on the song title above.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Verse for Today - Isaiah 12:4

Isaiah 12:4

"In that day you will say: “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted."

Read all of Isaiah 12

This verse from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah looks forward to the time after the First Coming of Christ (His Incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection) and especially after His Second Coming.  In the previous Chapter (11), the anticipation of the great Son of David, "the Branch of Jesse", is announced.  

His coming will usher in a day when all that is broken will be fixed, all that is sick shall be healed.  We're told in Romans 8 that the whole Creation groans in travail awaiting for the fulfilment of redemption.  Well, after the final coming of Christ, all struggle, hardship and pain will be over.  Listen to the words used to describe this remarkable time (Isaiah 11:6-9):

"The wolf will live with the lamb, 
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
    and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together, 
and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
 and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy 
on all my holy mountain, 
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

Already now, we have the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming the rightful worship and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of all the Earth!  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Verse for Today - Psalm 46:10

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 

Read all of Psalm 46

This Psalm gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of time and history.  Almost by definition we look at life and our place in it from the perspective of day to day life.  Psalm 46 urges us to look higher.  To see that God is exalted above all and fulfilling the purposes of His holy will.  

Despite the fact that the earth and our lives in it can be hectic and hard... and even appear hopeless.... "though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea..."  

We are told to remember that the LORD is God.... that our Refuge and Strength, our Fortress is with us.   He provides comfort and hope for His People, His Church.  These are ones that God loves and love God.   An important consideration!

We're then told to be still...  to be quiet... to be silent.   And then we're exhorted to know (remember) that God is God.  Ironic in a way... we're commanded to do what we should do by definition.  He will vindicate Himself and His Name among the nations.    He will be exalted in the earth.  

Reminds me of Philippians 2:9-11 
"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

    and gave him the name that is above every name, 
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
    to the glory of God the Father."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Verse for Today - Mark 8:36

"What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?"

Read all of Mark 8

These semi-familiar words of Jesus strike at the heart of human existence.  Almost everyone everywhere evaluates their success or importance by material wealth.  To some extent this is probably true for each of us.   Advertisers know well how easily we are led along.  If only we had the next, new, better, shiny, even useful new thing, then we would be happy... or at least happier than we are right now.  If you think about it you know this isn't really true.  Material things and improved appearance won't make you fact they can't make you happy.

We are not random compilations of DNA.  No, we are special creations of Almighty God.  In fact, we were all created in the image of God Himself.  To suppose that we could find the fullest expression of earthly happiness apart from God is to not be thinking too clearly.  The Apostle Paul speaks of this inRomans 1:25, where he says unbelieving people "exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."

So what does this have to do with Mark 8:36?  Well, I'm just agreeing with Jesus.  It does NOT profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul.   Instead, all should humble themselves before God, confess their sins and pray to Him for grace and forgiveness through His Son, the only Savior Jesus Christ.  

If you have questions, I know the One with the answers (and I'm sharing).


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Verse for Today - Psalm 19:1,2 (click to read mini-blog)

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge."

Read all of Psalm 19

The first few verses of Psalm 19 affirm what is called "general revelation," that God has revealed Himself in the very fabric of life and the world in which we live.  Throughout the ages people have recognized their smallness and God's greatness, glory and power, when they look at the world around them (and via microscopes within them).

Yes, there are some who come to other conclusions, but "we have an app for that" (an explanation).  God made mankind and the world very good.  But our first parents, Adam and Eve under the instigation of the Devil, ate of the tree of which God said they should not (the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil).  As a result they brought spiritual blindness and death upon themselves and their posterity.

So, from the viewpoint of the Bible, it is the fool who concludes that there is not God and those with clouded judgement who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.  This is because they fail to fulfill their high and holy calling of living in fellowship with the God who made them.  
That this is so is affirmed in Romans 1:21 "because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened."
I guess the question for us all is, "Are we thankful to God and glorifying Him as God?"  

If not... why not?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Verse for Today - Ephesians 3:17b-19 (click to read mini-blog)

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Read all of Ephesians 3


This out-of-place benediction is found in the middle of Ephesians 3.  The Apostle Paul has been expounding the outworking of the God's redemptive plan.  From the beginning He was planning to extend his transforming grace to people of every race, language and location around the world.  For a time, the Nation of Israel (the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) were THE covenant people of God... but now through the Gospel of Christ, the People of God has been expanded to include believers from every race and place.  Those of Hebrew descent are now just a part (albeit the root) of God's cosmopolitan global congregation, His Church.

This is the MYSTERY we read about at several points in the Book of Ephesians (1:9, 3:3, 3:4, and 3:9)... The Creator of all, is the Lord of all, and the God of all... and by His Sovereign grace calls them (and brings them) to Himself through His Son, the Savior Jesus Christ. 

I don't know a better way to conclude that with the verses just preceding Today's Verse:  

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;"  Ephesians 3:14-17

 This is my prayer for you too.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Verse for Today - Revelation 21:2-4 (click for min-blog)

Revelation 21: 2-4

"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Read all of Revelation 21

I saw a quotation from John Piper this week that I've been thinking about about.  He said one of the dangers of watching TV and movies is that we become accustomed to not thinking about God.  These verses from Revelation 21 are also easily forgotten. 

We're told of the remarkable deliverance and future that awaits the children of God... and what do we do?  We loose sight of it.  Instead we spend our time, our thoughts and energy on everything but these things.  

These verses were part of the vision that was given to John for us all.  We are the Bride of Christ.  We are the Church He came to save... the ones purchased by His blood will dwell with Him forever.  What is heaven going to be like?  There will be no more pain, crying, tears, or death.  

Seems to me we should be living and dressing the part now.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Verse for Today - Psalm 103:17-18 (click for mini-blog)

"But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children, t o such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.

Read all of Psalm 103

Psalm 103 has a special place in the Book of Psalms. More than the rest, Psalm 103 extols the LORD for His greatness and glory, for His love and kindness.  It celebrates the fact that He is gracious and merciful to His people.  Because of the their sin, they should be destroyed, yet the LORD has compassion, He heals and feeds them, He pities those to come to Him and look to Him for help.  

As we come to Today's verses, the psalmist turns our attention to the connection between covenant keeping and the assurance of God's grace.  God is sovereign in all He does... no one can force or stay His hand.  The point of the Psalmist is a little different.  God administers His grace to those who live in covenant with Him.  Granted, God is the one working and moving within, yet the flow of His grace is to"those who fear Him."   The rest the verse affirms the same truth... His favor runs through families to "children's, children, to such as keep His covenant" and "who remember His commandments do them."

Short version: Fear God, Keep His Covenant, and Remember His commandments.