It is Finished.

Today’s reading is Hosea 11:12-12:14.

These verses remind us again how God feels about our sin. God is everything good and right. Sin is the exact opposite of Him and His nature. Hosea 12:1 and Hosea 12:8 discuss chasing things that don’t have eternal value but only earthly value. Often times when we receive worldly wealth we think we are invincible and don’t acknowledge that these things came from God. We think we don’t need Him. We become our own God and it’s all about us. God continued to provide for Israel, but yet Israel continued to turn their back forgetting what He had done for them. I do the same daily, and we can get a sense in here how God feels about that.

As you read verses like Hosea 12:14, it is concerning to think about the wrath of God and suffering for our sins. In his final breaths when He died on the cross, Jesus said in John 19:30, “It is finished.” The fact that He took the sin and punishment that should have mine is something that is hard to comprehend. God still hates sin the same as He always has. There are outcomes from our sin we have to deal with on this Earth. However, Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus took the punishment that should have been mine and yours for our sin. John 3:17 tells us that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world. The Old Testament, this chapter, and this book of Hosea tell us about the wrath of God and how He feels about our sin so we know how abhorrent it is to Him . However, the New Testament does not talk about suffering the wrath of God for our missteps and mistakes. Why? Because there was a new covenant established by Jesus’ blood. Jesus took the wrath and the pain that should have been on you and me on our behalf. I am extremely grateful to God for what He did through His Son Jesus which He didn’t have to so that “It is finished.”

Let Me Tell You About My Jesus…

Today’s reading is John 14:1-14.

Jesus said in these verses…

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

John 14:9

“I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who is in me.”

John 14:10

“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on the account of the works themselves.”

John 14:11

Jesus made it clear people should know who He was and who He was from and who He represented by the life He lived and His actions. I wish the same could be said about my life consistently.

I’ve heard it said that rules without a relationship is harassment. Sadly, many non-believers think the Bible and Christianity is just about following a bunch of rules. Does that attract them to following Christ and becoming a Christian? Look at the verses and quotes above from Jesus. If each quote from Jesus above were said by each Christian, and they could answer them in a similar fashion to Jesus in that their love and positive works were displayed daily in their actions..how many more people would be attracted to learning about the Gospel and would ultimately say yes to believing in Jesus? How true is the popular hymn, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love?”

Our life should be lived in relationship with Jesus. Pastor and author Bill Hull says he wakes up each morning and asks, “Good morning Jesus..what are we going to do today?” How might asking ourselves that question change our actions and how we live our life which would attract non-believers? Imagine if we were in communication with Jesus all day and if He were our GPS for all actions and decisions. We should all reflect on this and ask the question…is Jesus guiding the big and small things in my day in life through communication with Him or do I just think about Him during specific prayer times, church, and small group/Bible study? I know more days than not I don’t think about or talk to Jesus throughout my day. He does not lead my thoughts, decisions, and actions throughout my day like He should.

Many other religions believe in multiple gods. They think Jesus is good guy and much like other gods. They don’t know the difference. Eventually they must know what Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the way, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” They must know there is only one way to eternal life through belief in Him. But holding up a sign on the street saying, “Repent, believe in Jesus, or you are going to Hell!” is not the way to do it. As we said earlier, rules without a relationship is harassment.

Let us reflect on how we can act and speak in a way that whoever has seen, heard, and known us also knows the Father and Jesus (John 14:9-11). Then, once we’ve established a relationship with others they will likely ask us more questions on why we act and speak the way we do or like the song says we can simply say..”Let me tell you about my Jesus…” Will we still mess up and make mistakes? Yes..we absolutely will and that sometimes opens an even bigger door to tell them about the free gift of His grace, His love, and His forgiveness which is also available to them.

Anne Wilson – My Jesus (Official Music Video) – YouTube

Champ to Chump…to Champ Again??

Today’s reading is Luke 9:18-27.

Here, in Luke 9:18-20, Peter correctly states the Jesus is the Christ when Jesus asks him who He is. I would imagine this was one of Peter’s prouder moments. Can you imagine Jesus basically saying to you, “You nailed it!” Have you ever had one of those spiritual mountaintop moments where you felt like you did the right thing?  Maybe you spoke the Gospel or encouragement to someone who needed it, helped a homeless person, gave an amount more than normal to the church for a certain special offering or building project, or stood strong and avoided a temptation. However, we know it’s pretty easy in this world to go from champ to chump very quickly!

Peter experiences this when in both Mark 8 and Matthew 16 he tells Jesus that he cannot be crucified. Remember, Peter knows Jesus is Messiah. But, He and the other Jews incorrectly thought the Messiah would be an earthly king and save them from Roman impression. How many times do we think we know God’s plan, but His is different?! Jesus goes so far as to say to Peter, “Get behind me Satan..” in both Mark 8:33 and Matthew 16:23. Can you imagine Jesus saying that to you? We see again in Mark 14:30 Jesus foretells of Peter’s future mistake saying Peter will deny Him 3 times before the rooster crows twice to which Peter replies in Mark 14:31 he will not and will die with Jesus. We all know what happens!

Pastor Mike Baker spoke on this topic in his 1/16/2022 sermon at Eastview Christian Church. He asked the question, how do we proceed in life know the challenges and temptations which will come?

  1. With humility (1 Corinthians 10:12)
  2. With resistance (James 4:7)
  3. With the Resurrection in Mind (John 16:1)

For more on this topic, check out his sermon here. https://youtu.be/kYrRXVt8-Ns

I specifically like all the ways he says we can face Satan with resistance. Jesus tells us in Luke 8:23-27 that we need to deny ourselves and take up our cross. However, most of us deny Jesus, rather than ourselves, in the following 3 ways Pastor Mike speaks of.

  1. With our silence
  2. With our lifestyle
  3. With our Disassociation of God’s Church

However, Jesus still went to the cross for you and for me…even though He knew what we would do just like Peter. Despite Him knowing Peter’s failures, He told Peter he would build His church on Peter in Matthew 16:18.

Let me ask you a question, how can God use you despite your past..and even future…failures? What I love about Mark 14:30 telling of Peter’s failures and that he would deny Jesus is that Mark was telling the Gospel story through the eyes of Peter. Peter himself was telling of his failure. Why? He knew you and me would need to know God can still use us despite our failures and mistakes.

Are your past missteps holding you back? Or, have you moved on and God is using you, but have you told those mistakes to others who may need to hear your story so that they can themselves move past their own mistakes so God can in turn use them? I believe all of our entire stories are part of God’s plan and bigger story of His Gospel. There are no edits that should be removed from our story. Are we vulnerable enough like Peter to tell those to others to help them? The best leaders and coaches I’ve had are not the ones that seem perfect, but the ones who can relate to me because they have had the same challenges. We have all gone from champ to chump at one time or another like Peter. Let’s share our story with others as part of God’s greater Gospel story to impact them for His Kingdom. We can let them know God can still use them for big things. Most importantly, we can let them know we are all champs in the end and will spend eternity with Him in Heaven when we believe in Jesus and His forgiveness on the cross and Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Finish 2021 Well

Today’s Reading 2 Timothy 3-4 & Titus 1 

Leadership, Instructions, and Fatherly Advice were the last few posts inspiring and encouraging to us all as we lead in our ways daily.  As we continue reading 2 Timothy and Titus, Paul shares his final charge to Timothy and his advice to Titus as he takes on many church responsibilities.  I’m sure Titus was taking notes, highlighting, and jotting down his notes as he read the letter from Paul. For Titus, following a fantastic leader can be very challenging.  Leaders can make many changes to put themselves at the forefront or improve and enhance upon previous successes while walking alongside those they lead.  In Paul’s instructions to Titus, I see Paul sharing advice and providing him with a plan.  

In any leadership position, having a plan is essential. Remember, we are all leaders because we all have influence.  Paul’s advice was not of his own, but that always of our Heavenly Father. 

  • Have a good character that church leaders should have
  • How to teach to various groups
  • How to conduct ourselves

Reading through the verses between Titus and 2 Timothy, I caught myself capturing the contrast between the last days Paul warns us about in 2 Timothy 3 and what will equip us on our journey to Heaven in Titus.

Without fault Selfish 
Not arrogant – or quick-tempered  Greedy 
Not drunkard  Conceited 
Not greedy for money  Irreligious 
Hospitable  Ungrateful 
Self-controllable  unkind/merciless 
Agree with doctrine  Love pleasure more than God 

 

2 Timothy 3 

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Titus 1 

6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe[b] and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

What way will I choose to live? What path will you choose to lead? Many will say that we are in some of the last days.  I know that only He knows that day.  All we can do is choose how to lead every day this side of Heaven. One of my favorite Spiritual Audit questions is,  “Who did I serve in the name of Jesus today?”  Have no regrets about how and who you lead today. 

2 Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Finish Well!

Journey with You.

Today’s Readings: Ephesians 2 -3 

We all have traveled a different journey in our walk with Christ.  My journey had brought me through a time where I would have said I was truly spiritually dead—a time in my life when I definitely followed the ways of the world.  Paraphrasing from verse 2:3, Paul called it gratifying the cravings of our flesh.  I’m thankful for this letter Paul writes to the church of Ephesus. I, too, deserved the wrath Paul talks about in Ephesians 2:4. The joy Paul reminds the church elders is that we are all made alive in Christ when we turn our lives over to Him. 

 I’m grateful for so many people that have poured into me along my journey and brought me to be true and closer to God. I pray to share the same encouragement and dedication to others along their journey. Each day I read our Bible Journal posts and am inspired by the stories and reflections of how each chapter of the Bible has an impact o our lives.  

This journey is ongoing and can take different paths. I can hit potholes of worldly desires and selfish actions that humble my heart and mind in the daily walk.  Still, God’s grace captures me right where I’m at and draws me in.   

I leave you with Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in Chapter 3:14-21. 

Dear Lord, 

 I pray that out of Your glorious riches, You may strengthen us with power through Your Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. And I pray that we, 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 we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

Perfect In Weakness

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians chapters 12 and 13, as well as Galatians 1.

What is at least one thing you are self-conscious about? I have a few. One is my bow legs. As I grew, they got worse and classmates poked fun at me. I have to laugh though because my last name is Bandy and if you look up “bandy” in the dictionary it says “bandy-legged” means bow legged! It only stands to make sense that my brother, dad, and I have been smitten with this. The other item I became self-conscious about at a young age is my skinniness and lack of physical strength. I remember getting anxious about going to the weight room for football. I didn’t want my teammates and coaches to know that the kid who was competing for starting quarterback could hardly lift the bar in bench press. As I have shared before, I then broke my arm three times in two seasons. That obviously did not do anything to stop the jokes about my frailty but only poured gasoline on the fire.

Now that I’m an adult and married with four children, I should be past this right? To be straight, it’s still not easy. As a man, husband, and father, we still often measure ourselves by our physical strength and our masculinity. I should be able to lift or move something on my own, right…or use my physical skills to fix something around the house? That’s maybe a 3rd complex I won’t go into today..haha. We should also be able to physically protect our family with our strength if our family was ever in danger.

I have previously written about my spinal stenosis and ironically as I write this, I am getting ready to have my 5th surgery in a few weeks. As I’ve shared in the past, I have permanent loss of strength (about half) in my right hand, as well as motor skills, and now have had more surgeries including the one coming up to keep the same thing from happening to my left arm/hand. As you can tell, getting away from self-consciousness about my lack of strength because I now am old, no longer play sports, and work a job where I mostly use my mind and relationship skills is still not easy because now I still struggle with some of the basic things I want to do around the house for my family. I know it’s silly to be concerned about my physical strength at this point. Paul even tells us 1 Corinthians 16:13 physical strength is not what makes a man a man. He says, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”

I don’t believe in coincidences, so I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 where Paul talks about an affliction he was given was part of my assigned verses as I prepare for my next surgery.

 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,[a] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul states that his affliction (we are not sure what that affliction is) keeps him from being conceited. Is this the case for me? I don’t know..maybe. I know one thing..I’ve been blessed in my life with some things I don’t deserve that unfortunately not everyone has…loving parents, a loving and supportive wife, four healthy kids, financial blessings, and a stable career I love. If I didn’t have some “thorn(s),” would I even think I needed God? I realize God had His hand on my life when he led me into the field of financial planning, rather than dentistry/orthodontics, my original dream career, which I would not be able to do with my hand issues. If these surgeries were not possible due to modern medicine, I would be like the man at the pool in the Bible..paralyzed eventually. He led me to a surgeon and surgery options by His grace that were better than what Mayo even proposed. I can still throw a ball with my kids and type on a keyboard which is needed in my career.  I’m extremely grateful for His provision through all of this. I’m also grateful these challenges are mine and not my wife or my children.

Most importantly, as I look down and see my puny, almost withered right hand..I’m reminded what Paul says here in 2 Corinthians 13:10. When I am weak, then I am strong, and His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in my weakness. It’s all that matters and all I really need in life. Ironically,  another Paul, my good friend and Christ follower Paul Kelly, stated the following to me recently in a text message dialogue after a sermon…

“My desire to be the best version of myself will never be good enough. So..it’s in our weaknesses that God unveils our greatest gifts..His love is incomprehensively good and although I’ll never be worth it…I will forever be grateful.”

Thank you, Paul…no truer words can be said.

On Alert

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 5-6.

If you read these chapters not knowing when and where they came from, sadly you would likely think they were written to the current church. The Bible makes it clear that God hates sin..as we read just recently in Romans 6:23. Without Jesus’ saving grace, the wages of sin are death. In today’s reading we learn about how God feels about sin within the church, especially sexual immorality. We also learn about how He feels about sin to our own body.

Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin one commits is outside the body, but the sexual immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

When God created the universe and everything in it, He said it was good. But, when he created man on the sixth day He said it was very good (Genesis 1:31). God loved us so much that He gave His Son Jesus for us..giving us grace for a price…His suffering..not ours. The church is often referenced as the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7). With these things in mind, it is no surprise God is especially disappointed with sin inside the church (1 Corrinthians 5:12-13), and sin committed to our own body.

Arguably, sins of sexual immorality are the most visible and prevalent in our world today. They are also prevalent inside the church with members of the clergy not only committing sins of sexual immorality, but some churches claiming to be Christian even going directly against what the Bible says. They are not only condoning certain sins, but even allowing those knowingly committing them to serve as pastors and elders. It is more important than ever that we let the Bible be our guidance system. We must constantly be making sure that our churches and pastors are following and preaching what the Word says. The world should not lead what our pastors and the church should do and say…the Word should. One letter…the letter “l” makes all the difference.

It is also more important than ever that we guard the eyes, hearts, and minds of our children. Sins which the Bible says are wrong are being condoned and even taught in some churches and schools. We must educate and teach them what the Word says. We can dislike the sin, but still love the sinner in the same way that God dislikes our own sins yet loved us so much that He let His own Son suffer and die for us. We are sinners ourselves and in need of grace. However, we cannot knowingly approve of sins the Bible says are wrong in the same way we cannot approve of the sins we commit ourselves.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

This is not easy when we are getting told from TV, movies, advertising, schools…and even the churches what is acceptable that directly conflicts with Bible. We must stay on watch and fervently use the Bible as our guidance chip.

Be soberminded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

In Due Time..

Today’s reading is Luke 1.

Have you ever felt like you were doing everything the right way and following the Lord’s will but the one thing you want to happen does not? Maybe you keep getting passed up for that promotion at work or your business just won’t take off. Or even worse, you or a family member aren’t getting better from an illness. You are probably wondering why all is happening to do you when you are trying to do everything the way God wants. Why is He not “rewarding” you?

In Luke 1:6-24 we read of the birth of John the Baptist.  John’s parents Zechariah and Elizabeth face a struggle some reading this have probably faced..they want a child and can’t have one. In fact, we are told not only did they both come from a blessed lineage, but they both walked blamelessly and followed the Lord’s commandments and will (Luke 1:6) themselves. Yet, they could not have a child they yearned for and were getting very old likely past the age where anyone could have a child. Jesus tells us in this world we will face troubles and sorrow in John 16:33. Being a believer and follower of Jesus does not mean life will be easy and that we will get everything we want exactly when we want it. However, waiting does not mean God is not working and doesn’t have something bigger planned for you. In this case, Zechariah and Elizabeth give birth to John the Baptist who was filled with the spirit of Elijah and who would prepare the way and point people to Jesus (Luke 1:17). He even has the honor of baptizing Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17). Does God always give us what we want? No. Often times, in fact probably most of the time, He has a different plan than what we want. But, His plan is always better..even if we would have never chosen it ourself. God can do big things in time through life as He does here in the birth of John the Baptist and also through death as He did through Jesus. Have you ever looked at the bottom of a crocheted piece? It looks like a big mess! But flip it over to the other side, and it looks beautiful. The bottom side is how we see life..a big mess and not getting what we want..but what God sees is His bigger and better plan on the other side.

Let us pray..

Lord, please help ease my anxiety when I don’t get what I want. Help me remember that being a follower of You does not mean life will be easy and is not what You promised. You did everything right and did not sin, yet no one suffered more than you. Help me remember that the Father’s plan is bigger and better than my plan…perfect in time. Help bring me peace and trust in You no matter what I face. Thank you for you forgiveness, grace, and Resurrection. Amen.

You’re invited…what are you wearing?

Today’s Reading: Matthew 22

v 1-14 The Kingdom of heaven is like…

The more I’ve reflected on our wedding, the more memories jog my mind.  The details that were put into everything.  From invitations selection to music played to the food and cake served.  What an amazing day.  This summer Jennifer and I celebrated our 12th anniversary.  I know I don’t say it or recognize enough the masterpiece our Lord created in my wife and our three wonderful children Jackson, Marshall, and Gianna, but I know they truly are.

The parable that Jesus shares in Matthew 22 talks about a wedding that various groups are invited to. Everyone in town was invited to, yet people refused and paid no attention to the invite for one reason or another.  For those who finally came, some didn’t come dressed for such an occasion.   There is always some thought that gets put into your outfit when attending a wedding.  For me, this parable makes me reflect on what I’m wearing.  What d do I put on each day in the presence of the Lord? What are my actions as a preparation for a wedding feast in Heaven? People like to pretend that our choices or actions don’t matter much in our modern-day world, but this parable shows that it isn’t true.

God’s invitation from Him is not a light matter. We are accepting or rejecting this once-in-a-lifetime invite. Our answer matters.  Our actions matter. Our dress matters.

What are you wearing?

Ephesians 4:20- 24  20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Every morning we all wake up and get dressed for the day. Am I clothed in Humility?

1 Peter 5:5 and be clothed in humility…

I’m grateful for His mercies He has shown me for the moments when my character lacks, and actions don’t represent Him. Lamentations 3:22-23 says Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

You are invited.  Do you accept? As we prepare now for His Kingdom, are there any garments that you are missing? Am I truly dressed and ready, or do I think I am?

Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Lord,  I pray that my actions and words represent godliness in all I do.  In my sinful human moments, help me to repent and seek you.  Father, I know the Kingdom you have invited us to is bigger and better than anything the world has to offer.  Help me each day to know this truth and share it with others.  Amen

His Loving Patience

What a great Top 10 Lynden shared with us yesterday on things we take for granted.  His examples were definitely aligned with mine as a reminder about many of the things we have in this life. After Psalm 105’s reminder about the hidden things we take for granted comes a reminder in Psalm 106 of God’s grace and patience despite our forgetful and self-willed lives.

Todays Reading: Psalm 106

I read and listened to a recent Podcast that recommended going back and reading different Bible versions.  Today I landed on the Good news Translation.

1 Praise the Lord!
Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good;
his love is eternal.
2 Who can tell all the great things he has done?
Who can praise him enough?

Who can praise him enough? I know that I can’t.  Even if I started a list right now, I’d still be making a list for days to come. Take a moment to pause and reflect. Write it down in your journal, on the side of your bible, say them out loud.

  • Praise for His transformation in my life.
  • Praise for His love and grace He shows and gives me.
  • Praise for my family.
  • Praise for small groups.
  • Praise for 1777 posts Bible Journal has posted since 1/1/2016.

These were just some I thought about today.  As you continue to read through this chapter, you will be reminded of the importance of our obedience in verse 3.

3 Happy are those who obey his commands,
who always do what is right.

Verses 6-43 humble me and remind me of the blind, rebellious, and forgetful we can be in our sinful nature how stories from the Israelites shortcomings can connect back to our stories today.  To my story.  To yours.

Thankfully, we have a Father who has given and shows grace to those who deserved judgment. Verse 44-47.  God’s faithfulness to us is not dependent on our faithfulness to him.  Just a few weeks ago, we remembered that God sent His son to die for you and me.  He showed us grace when we were still sinners.  Imagine the grace He shows as his children.

44 Yet the Lord heard them when they cried out,
and he took notice of their distress.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and because of his great love he relented.
46 He made all their oppressors
feel sorry for them.

47 Save us, O Lord our God,
and bring us back from among the nations,
so that we may be thankful
and praise your holy name.

48 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel;
praise him now and forever!
Let everyone say, “Amen!”

Praise the Lord!