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.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Verse for Today - Romans 11:33-36 (Click for mini-blog)

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
 “Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen."

Read all of Romans 11

I have probably said this before, but I would have to rate Romans 11:33-36 as some of my favorite verses.  These verses find themselves at the conclusion of some of the hardest chapters of the Bible... those that deal explicitly with God's sovereignty in election and reprobation.   These are things hard to understand... impossible to comprehend... and yet the very things that are revealed.  How can God be Sovereign and men be responsible?  It's a mystery, yet revealed truth.  The same God that sovereignly knew and loved his own from eternity past, is the same one who commands all men everywhere to repent...that  the Gospel should be preached to the ends of the earth.

These verses, perhaps as clear an any others, affirm that God is God and has the right and wisdom to do all that pleases.  He is not subject to our perceptions or understanding.  As human beings we are inherently limited in our scope and knowledge.  The psalmist and prophets affirm that we are like the grass or flowers of the field... we spring up, we grow, we bloom... and then we fade.  Not so with God.  "His ways are past finding out."  

After one thinks about these things, it's a good time to pray.  Amen?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Verse for Today - Philippians 4:6-7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Read all of Philippians 4

The Problem:
Sometimes we let life get us down.  We worry about our finances, our friendships, our jobs, our activities, our time... our futures.  How will everything ever work out?  
If this is something you do, then Today's Verse is just what you need hear. 

First off the verse tells us not to worry or be to be anxious.  Easier said than done, right?  Well, most any time when the Bible tells us not to do something, it's because we naturally tend to.  This might be our initial response, but we shouldn't stay there.

The Solution:
We should voice our concerns to God.  As the Apostle says, "in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  We're never stronger than when we're relying upon the grace to God to help.  It might seem artificial or forced at first, but God will hear the prayers of those who call upon Him.  He is near to the brokenhearted.  While these verses are written to believers, there is an implicit promise those who are still coming to him.  We pray... God listens.

Then the peace and presence of God will help you through... it "will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."   

Pretty encouraging, don't you think?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Verse for Today - Romans 12:12 (click to read mini-Blog)

Romans 12:12

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

Read all of Romans 12

This verse was forwarded to me from Biblegateway.com and I'm forwarding it to you.   :)   As a whole Romans chapter 12 is describing and urging believers to properly live-out the Christian life.  Some of the commands are negative, describing what they should NOT do, but many are positive describing appropriate actions and steps that should be taken.  

As a rule the Scriptures meet us where we are.  They tell us to do things we tend not to do; and to not dothings that we tend to do (reread that).  This is especially the case in the three exhortations of verse 12.  "Joyful in hope"... be joyful about waiting for the thing you're waiting for.  "Patient in affliction"... I really do not like my present trials, but I will be patient. 

And finally (and appropriately as its the National Day of Prayer)... "faithful in prayer".  Do we really have to pray and spend time in prayer?  Just depends.  What does it mean to be "faithful" in prayer?  Certainly it means being earnest and consistent in praying.  Let's be hearers and doers of the Word.

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Quotation: "Worry is not believing God will get it right, and bitterness is believing God got it wrong."   Tim Keller

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Verse for Today - Romans 8:1,2 (click to read mini-Blog)

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 
because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you 
free from the law of sin and death."

Read all of Romans 8

Not only were the Scriptures first written in Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT), they also use words and concepts that sometimes escape our understanding.  For instance, Today's Verse says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  While many would objectively hope and grant that this statement is TRUE, to be fully appreciated it needs to be heard with the awareness of one's sin and guilt before God.  

In verse 2 we read about "the law of sin and death." What is that law?  It is the humanly unbreakable connection between sinning/being a sinner and being punished for that sin.  Whether you think of this in terms of the Fall, "on the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" or Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death...." the law or rule convicts sinners of both their guilt (fact of sin) and their misery (its consequence).

The Good News (literally the Gospel) is that  this  "law" or unbreakable connection between sin-and-punishment has been overcome by Christ Jesus Himself.  

This should make guilty (but forgiven) sinners like us pretty happy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Verse for Today - Hebrews 11:6 (click to read mini-Blog)

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

Read all of Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11 is a remarkable chapter.  As 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the Chapter on Love, Hebrews 11 is called the Chapter on Faith.  It tells us what faith is, does, and has looked like in the lives of those who had it.  If you've not read through this chapter in a while, I would recommend it.

From my perspective, a proper grasp of verse 6 is essential.  Right off we're reminded that Christianity is grace based, not works based.  It is as the Apostle Paul says in  Galatians 2:16c,"by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in His sight."    

The second part of the verse shows what the experience of true faith looks like.   True faith believes... that "God is"... and that He rewards "those who diligently seek Him."   God's grace is free, but costs you you.

The old Gospel hymn got it right:  "Trust and obey for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."  (click for words and midi)