Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Verse for Today - I Corinthians 13:1-3 (Click to read mini blog)

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."

Read all of 1 Corinthians 13

These verses are beautiful, as is the chapter as a whole.  The Apostle Paul is describing the necessity, nature and value of LOVE.  In these first three verses he mentions several acts of piety and religious zeal, but indicates that the essential element is love.  So much is this the case, that if any or all of these things are done without love, they lack any value or worth.

The Corinthians were contentious.  They sought to build up their own esteem and importance.  The Apostle had spent most of chapter 12 admonishing them regarding spiritual gifts and how they were to use them for the benefit of others.  When he comes to this chapter, he extols the virtue of love.  He describes how love acts, what it looks like, how a person with love thinks and treats others.

Of course one of the important points in this chapter is that reveals the nature and character of God and His love... and of course how we should love each another. In John 15:2 Jesus said,

"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." 

Think about that. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Verse for Today - Psalm 33:4-5 (click to read about)

"For the word of the Lord is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice;The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

Read all of Psalm 33

Psalm 33 is remarkable on a number of levels.  In recent years it has become a favorite of mine.  It is subtitled in the NKJV "The Sovereignty of the Lord in Creation and History."  Verses 4 and 5 follow a five-fold exhortation to worship and rejoice before the Lord.  Verses 4 and 5 provide the "short" answer for why all of God's people should give glory to God.  The "long" answer is really the remainder of the Psalm.

Now let's consider these two verses.    The Lord Almighty and all that He does is impeccable... without sin.  He is and is the source of truth and righteousness.  These virtues (His virtues) are part of why we should worship and serve him.  Can we trust God?  Can we trust his words, will and commands?   ABSOLUTELY!  Listen to Deuteronomy 32:4:

"He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He."

These things cannot be said of anyone else.  Trust and worship the Living God.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Verse for Today - Deuteronomy 6:4,5 (click to read)

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

Read all of Deuteronomy 6

This verse should be familiar to most.  I'd like to draw your attention to three parts of these verses.  

1. The last part is quoted by the Lord Jesus as part of what we call the Summary of the Law.  Any effort or exercise of the Christian faith the doesn't begin and end with the desire to love, honor and please God is something else.

2. The affirmation of Oneness is that God the One True and Eternal God has revealed himself in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This is called the Doctrine of the Trinity. The three persons are not mentioned here, but the affirmation of Oneness is.  They are mentioned elsewhere.   We hold and believe what the Bible teaches.  Period.

3.  I remember reading a Morning and Evening meditation by CH Spurgeon years ago where he says he things the most amazing part of this verse is the pronouns "OUR" and "YOUR"   The Almighty Lord and Master of the Universe has identified Himself with His people.  The same is true today.

"To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."  Rev. 1:5a, 6

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Verse for Today - Psalm 86:5

"For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You."

Read all of Psalm 86

Psalm 86 is a pretty remarkable Psalm.  It is a personal entreaty... a prayer to God for help.   And yet it is more than this.  The Psalmist takes the opportunity of his prayer and meditation upon the things of God to identify the remarkable blessings that belong to all of God's people.

Verse 5 is the first of three such affirmations (see also verses 10 + 15) that encourage us to trust and rely upon the Lord Himself.  The goodness of God might sound routine or a cliche, bit it refers to God's very nature.  He is good, and all that that means.  Because He is good, he is ready to forgive and rich in mercy toward those who call upon him. 

Part of the mystery of the Christian faith is that we can't and don't see all things as they really are.  We live as we say by faith (another potential cliche), trusting and hoping in the God of Scripture.  Herein lies the rub, we ought not to just trust and believe in the idea of God or the concept of God, but in God Himself.  This is what the Psalmist was doing... and this is what we must do. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Verse for Today - Ephesians 6:12,13

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on thefull armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

Read all of Ephesians 6

The Apostle Paul is reminding the Ephesian Christians (and us) that we live in a spirit (aka demonically) influenced world.  He had just concluded and extended series of exhortations (5:21-6:9) of how the Christian ethic involves submission to rightful authority. 

In the verses just preceding today's verse he exhorted his readers to be strong in the Lord and His power by putting on the armor of God.   Doing this will enable us all to stand against the wiles (or trickery) of the devil.   The unstated premise is that if we don't put on the armor of God we will not be able to stand.

Today's verses, 12 and 13,  explain why this armor should be diligently worn.   There's a spiritual host of wickedness (many evil influencers) that wants you to fail... and fall.  Many times life seems monotonous and routine, but don't be confused.  Our enemy is real and  pretty tricky.  If he can get you to give in or to give up, he wins.

"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Verse for Today - James 4:10 (Click to READ)

James 4:10

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."

Read all of James 4

This verse in James 4 is found amid of exhortations in which the inspired author instructs believes how to see themselves and live in the world.  I remember when I first read and preached on this passage I was almost embarrassed by the strong language and forceful words.  Verse 10 is mild by comparison.

We're told to humble ourselves before the Lord... we do this by recognizing his greatness and our sinfulness.  He is the Lord and Master of all and we are unworthy and undeserving creatures.  I've said before that when we pray with out faces to the ground, we are modeling the proper relationship between ourselves, others and God.  

A little earlier in this passage an important verse from Proverbs 3:34 is quoted: . 

"God opposes the proud 
 but shows favor to the humble."

That should be reason enough for us to obey today's verse... and yet there is also a promise... "and He will lift you up."  How cool is that.

Westminster Shorter Catechism (QA's 13,14, 15)

A Summary of the Christian Faith

  Over the last weeks we have been laying a sound foundation of what we believe as Christians.  This week, we zoom in to a few particulars about man and his becoming a sinner.  After God made all things and created man in His image, he declared what he made “very good.”  This means that they possessed “true righteousness and holiness” (see Ephesians 4:24 for restored image of God).

  The question answered today is what happened to man and the creation?  What disfigured the perfect creation of God?  The short answer is sin.  Man was created without sin.  He had the ability not to sin, but he chose to exalt his own will over God’s.  As promised this rebellion brought sin and death upon themselves, and as we see later, upon their offspring.  Unless God would rescue, there would be no hope.

Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

Q. 14. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

Q. 15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created was their eating the forbidden fruit.    

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Verse for Today - James 1:5 (Click to Read Brief)

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." 

Read all of James 1

James 1 is a profound chapter on many levels.  In this first section he is explaining how trials and troubles are commonplace in the Christian faith.  With a tinge of hyperbole he says we should count it a joy when we face these difficult times.  This exhortation is not based on the idea that we should "enjoy" the difficulties, but rather the beneficial affect of them.  

The exhortation of Today's Verse is a good reminder and concludes with an encouraging promise.  If these difficult times are leaving you at a loss, pray to God... ask him for wisdom and understanding.  Lean on Him and He will supply what you need.  

Earlier today (before even thinking about sending out this verse) I found myself singing the verse of "How Firm a Foundation."  Notice the question in Stanza 1 is answered in Stanzas 2-5 (especially 4).  I think they fit.

  1. How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
    Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
    What more can He say than to you He hath said—
    To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
  2. “Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
    For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
    I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
    Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.
  3. “When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
    The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
    For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
    And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
  4. “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
    My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
    The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
    Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
  5. “The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
    I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
    That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
    I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Verse for Today - Matthew 7:7-8 (click to read brief)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

Read all of Matthew 7

These semi-familiar words were spoken by the Lord Jesus in what is called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  Jesus doesn't give us these instructions so that by speaking some magic formula, we can gain access to all the things we might want.  Rather, He is rather teaching us that the God of all grace hears and answers prayers.

It may be an overstatement, but we have never received anything from God without asking.  In God's providence and in the mystery of His gracious will, prayer has been appointed as the means by which we receive what we need from God.  Just think about that.  I think this is why the authors of the Heidelberg Catechism make the statement that prayer is the chief part of the thankfulness God requires of us.

As we have faith in God through Christ, we should be earnest in prayer.  Jesus follows up these verses with a logical statement... that if we know how to give our children what they need, how much more doesn't God know what we need?

  9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Verse for Today - Galatians 6:7-8 (Click to read brief)

Galatians 6:7-8

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life."

Read at Bible Gateway
Read all of Galatians 6

These verses are found toward the end of the Apostle Paul's Epistle to the Christians in Galatians.  He has used very strong language to insist that the Gospel and being saved by it, pivots wholly on faith alone.  This being saved by "faith alone" means that our works, our character, or the quality of our lives are not a contributing factors to our being forgiven and accepted by God.  Our acceptance (our salvation) depends wholly and only upon the completed work of Christ... when He offered himself on the cross.

The verses above don't contest this truth.  They simply state the spiritual truth of actions and consequences.  God's grace is never a license to sin.  If we think our sin doesn't matter, we're disagreeing with God and the Scriptures... and that's a problem... possibly on a problem on a deep spiritual level.  

Today's Verses sound similar to Romans 8:13-14 

"If you live according to flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds if the body, you will live.   For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."