Atoning Sacrifice

He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

For all our offenses, Jesus came. Our debt has been covered.  As I reflect on this verse I can think about the guilt many can have from past sin.  Thankfully our advocate we have is Jesus who tells us He came and suffered for the sins of our past, present, and future.  The debt he paid was for you, me, and everyone.  One day when we come face to face with him we can wrap our arms around Him and thank Him as he welcomes us home.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins 1 John 4:10

Jesus ever lives to make intercession for those that come to believe in God through him.  We are all sinners in need of a savior.  The price has already been paid.  It can be hard to forgive yourself, it can even be harder to forgive others at times.  Still, all the sins of all the people paid in full by Jesus, our atoning sacrifice.  No one is beyond forgiveness.

Dear God,

Thank you for sending your son Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for us.  The sacrifice he made for all of us we didn’t deserve, still, he submitted himself for us paying off all our debts.  God, I pray for those who don’t know you and understand the forgiveness promised we help share this truth.   Help us to continue to turn from sin and when we do fall short turn to you for forgiveness.  God help us to commit our heart to you and not to ourselves or this world.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Walking with Him

Good Morning Biblejournal family,

Happy New Years Eve,

The other day I read One Day at a Time by Stephanie.  It really spoke to me at the current time and place in my life.  If you didn’t get the chance to read it I would encourage you to go back and read it again. Reflecting on the quote by Elisabeth Elliot which said,  “The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived – not always looked forward to as though the ‘real’ living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.”  This quote got me thinking how many years I have approached the New Year with a list a of new goals or plans for the upcoming year.  I reflect on this last year and leave myself we multiple if only… Still, as we enter into a New Year I was doing some reading and found the words by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:2 Meaningless! Meaningless!  says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

I know, encouraging right? Really, what I need to ask myself for the New Year is, what am I doing that is meaningful?  It reminds me that life can be meaningless when I don’t have God at the center of it.  That true satisfaction and joy only come through Him.  Many times I can do be doing things for me or/and make idols out of my wife, kids, job, sports, or earthly desires. Often I want things my way and in my timing. God shakes His head I’m sure wondering when will I let go?  My prayer is for a balance of love and grace while encouraging others and pointing everything back to Him.

Psalm 119: 133-134 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts.

I know we are broken and live in a broken world. But when I let God direct my footsteps and not seek my own satisfaction or desires, sin can take a back seat.

I recently read,  Christianity is lived on an incline, and if you’re not moving forward, your slipping backward.  What meaningless things are causing you to slip? What is causing me to slip?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your wisdom given to us through your living word. I pray as we enter into a New Year we will use your wisdom to help us in knowing what is meaningless or an idol that causes us to slip down that slope further from you. We pray for the wisdom to continue to take steps closer to you as we continue our journey of faith.  Help us to plants seeds and be the hands and feet to others pointing everything back to you.  God, we need you every day and as we enter into 2020 help us to trust and obey in your will for us on this earth so we can one day spend eternity with you in Heaven.  We love you. Amen

 

Are we there yet?

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12 

In the last couple of months, I have heard this many times as we have traveled as a family to watch our sons play hockey.  Many of these games have taken place around Chicago two to three hours away depending on the traffic and construction.  The first time this question is asked is before we have even left Bloomington.  So this week, we plan to drive to Florida I’m thinking of starting a tally chart for fun to see how many times this is asked.

I often can take for granted the time we spend with each other. As I reflect on previous shorter trips I can recall many lost times to frustration, short tempers, yelling both at our kids and my wife because of my loss of patience and grace. I’ve even quoted the “Don’t make me pull this car over” that may have happened a few times growing up.  In these moments that are fleeting, I have lost sight of God, His Grace, and the Kingdom promised to all of us.  I have lost sight of His purpose for my life and the lives of my wife, children, friends, and others.  For me, I need to be in His word every day.  His word is living and active. Hebrews 4:12 Proverbs 30:5 says Every word of God is flawless, he is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.  Psalm 119:105 says Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path.

There are many verses that you can go to when faced with challenges throughout the day. I will often carry a few in my pocket as a reminder to provide support in the face of adversity.  Remember that Satan is the father of lies.  Don’t let him ruin these moments you will be spending in the near future with family and friends. Keep your faith, trust, and hope in our Savior who sent his own son to die for us.  For me, I’ve been reminded about my wife and children and the importance of always showing my trust and faith in Jesus who came to show us how to live, how to love Him, how to love others.  I recently read the book Hero by Meg Meeker who said, “Every day that your children see you, they’re shaped by you. And equally important they are also shaped by your absence when you are not there”.

In nine days we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  He lived a perfect life. He died for us and was resurrected so that we would believe.  It will be easy to get caught up in the road trips, the parties, the gifts.  Don’t miss the opportunity you have today to share the greatest gift ever.  The chance to have a relationship with God.  Proverbs 3:6 says, In all your ways submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.  Every conversation we have with a person (or your own child) leaves them better or worse.  Make it better!

Dear God,

Teach us to number our days.  That earthly day we have is an opportunity to praise you and submit to your will for our lives.  Often we can get caught up in everything going on around us and lose sight of who should be at the center of everything. Heavenly Father, please help us to lean into you and celebrate the eternal life we will have with you one day.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Are we there yet?

 

King Agrippa II

And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”[ 29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”

King Agrippa had asked to hear Paul’s case.  What he heard was Paul’s testimony of transformation and the essence of why he tells of the glory of God.  Today’s reading is from  Acts 25-26

Paul is brought before King Agrippa and other prominent men to tell his case even though no one has been able to find any charges against Paul.  King Agrippa II was the brother of Drusilla, Felix’s wife. He was responsible during much of his rule for appointing high priests. Although he was Jewish by religion, the Jewish people disliked him, because he sided ways with Rome. He was a major political and religious person who had alternative motives in hearing Paul’s case to benefit future political maneuverings.

Like many people, King Agrippa stopped within the hearing distance of the Kingdom of God. He heard the Gospel but decided it wasn’t worth responding personally. Many of us still can hear or read a story and stop right there without believing.

28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

Almost… how many almost times have you been part of an almost story? Times where you have shared the Gospel or an offering into a relationship with God and it was left at that. For myself, growing up I heard many caring individuals share their testimony of faith with me and didn’t accept the invitation.  Like King Agrippa, I was too worried about what others would say or think. Only by God’s grace did He still provide testimonies and acts of true love providing me with a truth of a genuine relationship with God.  Every testimony I hear through our bible journal provides daily reminders of how great and loving our Lord is.

How has hearing the Gospel impacted you? Has it turned your life around and given you the hope of eternal life, or a message of resistance. I wish it would have taken a short time. But God’s perfect timing is and was just in time.  I’m grateful for the many people who share their testimony with others.  Paul shared his testimony.  He spoke the truth that King Agrippa had known, still, the King wasn’t going to let this testimony change what Agrippa wanted the world to see.

Paul shares his testimony for all who are listening.  Do we shy away from sharing ours?

To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

It’s not easy to share our testimony when we let our own human thoughts and worries get in the way.  But we have a Lord that will help provide the words and courage to share with others the hope of an eternal Kingdom.  We are all sinners.  But the two categories of sinners include saved and unsaved.

Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. for it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved… v13″ Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 

It may seem hard and scary to give your whole life to God, but the price will seem minimal compared to an eternity without Him.  Take time to share your amazing testimony with someone today.

Prayers for a great day today!

Lazarus ” אלעזר” “God has helped”

Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John record many miracles that were performed by Jesus. These gospels have just a small fraction of what and who Jesus healed and touched before his earthly death.  Still today, we can hear, see, and feel Jesus’s hand in our miracles and the miracles of others.  Today, we get to read about life after death for Lazarus in John 11:1-45. One of his last earthly miracles that really sent the religious leaders into a panic demanding Jesus’s death.

But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4 

Reading through this miracle of bringing someone back to life after four days is unbelievable.  It is only God possible. He had brought a couple of others back to life, but not after four days! This story also leaves me with some gut-check questions as I read through the scriptures.  Think about these questions with me.

  1. Who do you go to when you need extraordinary help? Do you rely on your personal strength or strength of man or? Do you rely upon  Jesus?              (Further Reading Psalm 3)
  2. How do we respond to adversity? Is it a grumble, complain, or blame? Or do we glorify His name in everything? ( But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

( 2 Corinthians  1:4 )  5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too

3. Are you walking in the dark or light? What do your choices look like? Are we trusting in His timing? 

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

4. Lazarus was dead to the physical world. The first word Lazarus heard was Jesus telling him to, “come forth”. When we physically die,  will the first person we hear be Jesus? Will you “come forth?”

Dear Heavenly Father thank you for the stories of your love, grace, and truth.  Help us to walk in the light, trust you in the face of adversity,   This heart-breaking story was all part of your plan. We love you and just ask for you to keep us in your light.  In your name, we pray. Amen

 

 

Are you neighborly?

The parable of the Good Samaritan found in today’s reading of Luke 10:25-37 is one of my favorites.  This story is so rich and has many parts you can reflect on. It begins with, an expert in the law testing Jesus, who, as always, turns the questioning trap, into a convicting crossroad for us.

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

  • Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.

Here is where I turned to a few different resources to get some additional light on this story I’ve read through many times.  Today, the term Good Samaritan is used in many settings.  But as I listened to John MacArthur discuss this scripture in Grace To You,  I was left convicted and grateful for this timely reminder of how I can love limitlessly more towards others than just myself.

The first response from Jesus deals with our relationship with God, the second answer relates to our relationships with others.   This love we show to God and to others should be constantly and consistently.  This would be similar to how we love our neighbor.

When we love like this, Jesus quotes Leviticus 18:5 saying,  if we do this we will have eternal life.  Eternal life with Jesus sounds amazing, as we pray for this day. Only by His grace and our willingness to submit our broken lives to Him will we be there.  So where do I start today? The story of the Good Samaritan goes deeper than kindness to others.  It’s not about who your neighbor is, it is about who I am and how can I draw closer to God that will determine my love for others.  I’m convicted because I’m not even close to the compassion this story shares about the Samaritan.  No number of trips, monies donated, or kind gestures compare to the love this Samaritan shows as Jesus desires from us.  Two men who we would have thought would have stopped to help this man passed by, the other man who was already putting himself into a dangerous situation did stop to show love for him.

Read the duration of Luke 10:33-35.  Do you see how he took care of this man walking from Jerusalem to Jericho? That is love.  Truly, and sadly the only person I take care of that way is myself. (convicted)  To some extent, we also do this for our families or close friends. Love without limits for others.  Not just my spouse, kids, physical neighbors or friends.  Love limitless everyone from the store clerk to the relative you said you would never talk to again, to a stranger on the streets?

Jesus asked the man, Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? And he said, “The one who had shown mercy for him., And Jesus said to him and to us, ” Go and do likewise!”

1 John 3:11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love on another.

Lord, I  ask for the strength and compassion to love others this way. Help me to put my selfish desires to the side and focus on others.  Help me to increase love others in my brokenness and in my circumstances no matter what is theirs.   A perfect love that we know we will all have once we are in heaven.  Help me to not set limits on the love I share with others here on Earth. Knowing there is a Kingdom waiting for us all that will have no limits of a love we will share with each other.  In your name, we pray, Amen.

 

MacArthur, John. (2003) The Good Samaritan

John the Baptist

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Mark 1:3

I love the stories of John the Baptist.  He didn’t care what people thought, what he wore, or what could happen to him as he pointed others to the coming of our Lord. John had a focus on repentance and baptism.  John encourages people to turn from their sin, and towards God.

Today’s Readings included stories of John in Mark 1:1-11, 2:18-22, and 6:14-29.

John prepared a way for Jesus 2,000 years ago and he prepares it for us today.  He checked his pride at the door. He didn’t care about his reputation, he spoke the truth with integrity.  What holds us back from preparing a way for others? Honestly, for me, it can be fear or pride. So, in order to,  “Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight” I need to give up my selfish ways that become evident in my calendars, finances, and time spent. It has been a journey but I know there is still work to do.  I’ll ask for some prayers to not let these insecurities or prideful selfishness get in the way of drawing closer to Christ each day.


John prepared the way for so many.  It was never about him, but about our Lord who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. How are we preparing a way for others?  How is the way being prepared for you? Do you know anyone lost, looking for a relationship with Christ?

John had two goals.

  1. lead people to repent from their sin (make new in Christ)
  2. prepare for us a way to the Lord ( do what is right, follow His commands)

If you have fallen off the path closer to our Lord will you pause to pray with me?

Dear Lord,  I admit that I have fallen short, that my ways have gotten in the way of your ways.  It’s only by Your grace that we are here now. Help me to get back on a path closer to you. I pray for guidance and protection against my selfishness and earthly desires.  Lord, I ask you to help us be models and examples of you to all we meet. Renew our hearts and commitment to you Lord.  Only through our love, and trust in you is this possible. We love you and are preparing a way to you eternally. Amen

 

I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8

 

Daniel 4: King Nebuchadnezzar

What an amazing testimony we have a chance to look at today in today’s reading of Daniel 4. King Nebuchadnezzar had authority over many nations and people of different languages. He had many leadership traits, people who worked under him, and resources to support his kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar could stay in his palace, be content, and live prosperously. I’m sure many would want to be in this position. Still, with it, all King Nebuchadnezzar lacked one thing, he didn’t acknowledge that God is Most High, sovereign over all.

Our Lord Most High reigns. Psalm 93:1

How did this life transformation take place? It started in a dream. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that terrified him. So he commanded all the people that he felt were wise or could possibly interpret it to come to him. They all came, and none could interpret until people told him about Daniel. Daniel listened to King Nebuchadnezzar to share his dream. Verses 10 through 17 share this dream. At first reading of these verses, you can understand why no one else could figure it out. Chopping trees, animals, roots bound with iron and bronze, and given the mind of an animal. In steps, Daniel ( also called Belteshazzar) and bravely interprets this dream. It was probably something that Nebuchadnezzar didn’t want to hear. He was the tree being chopped, and that the king had to renounce his sins and be kind to the oppressed.

Our Lord Most High reigns. Psalm 96:10

How would King Nebuchadnezzar respond? A year later he was still living his own lifestyle not acknowledging what God had said. God then fulfilled Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. He was transformed into the mindset of an animal. I had a conversation with a parent this evening about learning. We talked about how we all can learn differently sometimes. Some people listen and make the right choices following directions, others have to learn the hard way. King Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way until verse 34.

At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward Heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified Him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; His Kingdom endures from generation to generation.

Our Lord Most High reigns. Psalm 97:1

He reigns, our Lord has great plans for us when we listen. He has great plans for our leaders. Will you pray that we listen, that our leaders, as well as us, acknowledge that our Lord Most High reigns. Psalm 99:1

Now I, (Insert name here) Nebuchadnezzar praise and exalt and glorify the King of Heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble.

David

At first, when I saw I would be writing about David I had to laugh. What were the chances? God always has ways to make you laugh and to draw you closer to Him. It also could have been planned out by BJ as he set our readings up? Either way, I get to share the story of David.  Now before I looked at the readings for today I figured it was going to consist of some OT that looked at his courage as a young man or king. There was also the chance we looked back at the time where David was involved in some terrible sins. When my eyes read across the page revealed the readings for today are Psalms 3-8, Psalms 32, and Romans 4:6-8.  Did you know that out of the 150 Psalms seventy-three psalms are associated with David?  In Hebrew, the Book of Psalms is tehillim which means “praises”. The Book of Psalms can also be seen as a hymnbook. 

So what hymns or praises would David be singing about? Let me start by going to part of the Romans verses that were the bookend for today’s readings.  

Romans 4:6-8 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them”.

David had felt tremendous guilt for some of the terrible sins he had committed.  And yet he had experienced amazing joy in the forgiveness. We all have sinned. I truly feel like I grew up making many wrong decisions that selfishly were based on my own desires. Even today these desires to do it my way or by my terms can cause this pain. David reminds us all that you don’t need to hold on to this guilt. That when we quit denying our guilt and recognize our sin, admit to it and ask God for forgiveness, we can let go and trust that God that He will and has covered our sins.  I know, easier said than done. Maybe you contemplate the severity of the sin or who it may have involved. Just remember God sent his son for us, even when we were sinners. Jesus already paid the price. We just have to take them all to Him and trust.

1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive, and to cleanse us. 

This statement is a reason to sings songs of praise. Now goa head and read through Psalms 3-8, and 32.  In these Psalms, you will be reminded of how we need to trust in God for protection and peace. That when we have this confidence we can call on Him anytime and he will listen and provide the comfort we need.  God will defend you, He will deliver you in times of trouble and rescue you when you need it. I David, just like David, need rescue. Forgiveness brings true joy. Walk away from the pain of guilt into the arms of our Father who provides comfort and relief from the mistakes of our past.  

 

Psalm 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Psalm 32:10 Many are the woes of the wicked,  but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. 11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

 

Have a blessed day Biblejournal family. 

 

David 

Asa

Today we get the opportunity to hear and learn from the life of another king in Asa. While you read through 2 Chronicles 14-16, it has made sense to put these three chapters into two parts. In Asa’s 41 years of reign, after taking over for his father Abijah, Asa for many of his years did what was right and good in the eyes of the Lord, and then towards the ending reign of his life, allowed his walk to drift away from the Lord, making a difference in his ending days.

Part 1

2 Chronicles 14:2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.

Here were some of his actions while Asa first reigned.

  • He removed the alters
  • He smashed the sacred stones
  • He cut down Asherah poles
  • He commanded others to seek and obey Lord

After Asa had done these things, the Lord gave him rest. During this rest, an army formed against Asa and his army. Asa and his army weres outnumbered and under-resourced in the chariot department. Then Asa gives a prayer that would provide victory for any Christian.

2 Chronicles 14:11 Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”

This prayer provides absolute confidence in God. The numbers didn’t matter when you have God on your side. There was a total commitment to God, and they gave themselves into God’s hands to accomplish His purpose. Asa and his army had courage in the Lord’s name and reminded the Lord how mere mortals wouldn’t prevail against Him.

What odds are you facing today? Have confidence, commitment, and courage that the Lord can have victory in whatever you are facing.

Part 2

2 Chronicles 15:1-2 The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

The 35th year of Asa’s reign. He took silver and gold out of the Lord’s temple and gave it to Aram. Avoiding a battle, he pays of Aram. Seer comes and says Asa had messed up.

Verse 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

Asa becomes mad and brutally oppresses others. Thirty-nine years afflicted with a disease in his feet, verse 12, didn’t seek help from the Lord, only physicians. In Asa’s 41st year as king, he died.

How could this be? A king who stood so tall in times of victory gave a prayer to the Lord of full commitment. Still, Asa forgot who had trusted throughout his life. Sadly, Asa was eventually afflicted with a disease in his feet.  At this time, he only looked to physicians and not God as he had before.

As we live on this earth, experiences can either draw us closer or farther to our Lord. Unfortunately, we can stray if we start to rely on our strength and pride. We can’t let days slip away; we are not walking with God. We need to make the daily choice to trust God with everything.

Dear God our Father,  We pray for courage, commitment, and confidence in everything you have for our lives. I pray that through our days we don’t lose sight of you and rely on ourselves.  Help us to share this trust and confidence with others through our commitment to you in all aspects of our life. Amen