What’s your Yeast?

Daily prayer is for obedience.  We keep an index card with Romans 12:2 written on it from a small group activity years ago.  The world has so much to offer.  An achievement-focused lifestyle can pridefully lift you to where you feel like nothing else matters.  In this breath of life until you realize our eternity.

Today’s Reading: Mark 8 (verse 15 & 34-37)

15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

The world can infect and change your heart and mind.  The same pridefulness that the Pharisees and Herod held can be seen in our world today.  So I ask myself, do I provide lip service and merely admiring the truth?  Or am I singing praises and obeying the truth?  Pastor Charlie Welke rechallenged me this weekend as he talked about our “Domesticated Faith.”  I reflected on the finite nature of our world and the infinite power of God.  Am I allowing any yeast of the world to enter into my life? I prayerfully ask the Lord to search my heart, see if there is any offensive way, and lead me. Psalm 139:23-24

Author MaryLu Tyndall writes about the World system vs. God’s Truth.

The world says it’s all about you. God says it’s all about Him. 

The world says elevate yourself. God says to put others ahead of yourself. 

The world says grab as much power as you can. God says to be a servant. 

The world says to eat, drink, and be merry, for this is all there is. God says you are an eternal being, so be wise with your time. 

The world says the ends justify the means. God says the means will be judged in the end. 

The world says outward beauty is everything. God says those with inner beauty will shine at the end. 

The world says gather as many things as you can. God says only your treasure in Heaven will last. 

The world says truth is relative. God says I am the truth. 

The world says to be tolerant.  God says to call evil, evil. 

The world says it’s all about personal happiness. God says it’s all about personal sacrifice. 

The world says death is the end. God says death is only the beginning. 

 

Just as Jesus will warn us what to stay away from, he points us to the truth.

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[b] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

God Bless your day!

 

Enter His Gate

When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching. 

As we read Matthew 6-7 for today, I pray you will pause and see where God wants you to reflect and seek what God wants you to make clear to you on your journey closer to Him.  Jesus provides so much wisdom in these chapters that leave me thinking and praying for continued transformation.  Topics in these chapters include:

  • Giving
  • Prayer
  • Treasures
  • Worrying
  • Judging

These topics are all sections in my Bible underlined, highlighted, and have notes in the margins.  In prayer for open eyes and ears for today, I landed on a few verses that, for some reason, there was nothing.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate, and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7:13-14

In the middle of one of the storms we had recently, it took my wife forty-five minutes to make a five drive.  As Jennifer drove back and forth, she ran into roadblocks and flooded streets that lead to some tears and fear.  Eventually, they made it home safely down a side street that led to home.  (prayers for everyone impacted by these recent storms)

What road or path are you on?  There are times when  I think I’m going in the direction, and I need to stop.  It seemed safe, and it wasn’t.  I follow the crowd and realize I’ve gone the wrong way.  God has a path laid out for you.

  • 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.  Proverbs 3:5-6
  • The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 
  • The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way. Psalm 37:23 

The road seemed wide and perfect, but it led to a dead-end, just like Jennifer the other day.  God provides the perfect directions. The road that leads directly to Him.  Will you seek His path today? This world offers a path that can lead you in many directions.  Our Lord offers us one way.  I pray we are all seeking the narrow road that leads to Him.

Matthew 6:10 Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

 

Picture Source: St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid; what can anyone do to me? 7. It is the Lord who helps me, and I will see my enemies defeated.  8 It is better to trust in the Lord than depend on people. 9 It is better to trust in the Lord than depend on human leaders.

I’m not sure what you have planned today.  Maybe you’ve just had a chance to read this, and your day is coming to a close.  In either case, you, as I reflect on Psalm 118, I’m reminded that as we believe and trust in the Lord, it is quick to lose sight that no matter time of day or task at hand, our Heavenly Father is always on our side.  When you truly believe and trust Him as the center of your life, you can live without fear. How awesome it is to know right now we can live every moment without any worry when we live in obedience.

Often, my lack of trust and wisdom throughout years and even in recent moments have led me down many dead-end roads. Times of complete self-absorption that goes opposite of where the Lord is asking me to be. He takes me through hills and valleys that remind me of my desire and need to put more trust in Him for every aspect of my life. Along this journey that includes being a parent, He has led me to a daily prayer asking the Lord to have His will with my life and to help me to show His love for Him in my actions and words. More Him, less me!

I think of the father in Mark that was asking Jesus for help with his son. He says in Mark 9:24 Immediately, the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  — Help me in any unbelieving time Lord. Or times where I think I have it figured out without your

The people-pleasing days and moments can come calling daily.  Pray, Listen, and take the next step. He is by our side!

Have a blessed day.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Hebrews 11:6

1 Corinthians 2:5

The Advent Path for God’s People

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5

40 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord[a];
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.[b]
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Happy Tuesday Bible Journal family,

December 1st, 2020. Our last month of this very different year! Let’s continue our daily journey through Advent and the promises found in Isaiah that point to the celebration of the birth of our Lord.  In verses 1-2 written by Isaiah, it provides us a promise of hope and comfort in a time of unease. How are you feeling today?  Anything have you uneasy this morning? I know I could share a few things if you had time. But instead of letting these feelings grab hold of me and pull me under I can find some timely rest in the assurance of our Lord who promises hope, joy, peace, and comfort while already paying the price for all our sins. Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

In twenty-five days, we will celebrate the birth of our Lord through Christmas.  We can celebrate today and every day to come the victory has already been won through His life, death, and resurrection.  Our comfort can be found in the words spoken to Israel and us. He reminds us “comfort, comfort, my people“.

Isaiah 40:3-5 provides us with a visual and a reminder about preparing a way in our lives it’s the holiday season to focus on the greatness of our Lord.  We are not alone right now or ever.  Does it feel like you are metaphorically walking around a desert (even though today’s weather by me would feel like a tundra), are you in a valley seeking to try to peek over a horizon? Possibly you are standing on the top of a mountain now wondering how will I ever get down? Or maybe just this year has felt like you have been traveling down a rough path.  Take a deep breath.  Take time to read through these promises we are finding every day in His words.  Promises that say that even in 2020 God has us.  That we have traveled some roads during this time and made many mistakes.  This advent can be a reminder that Jesus came to this world born in human form to live a life for an example of us, but also died for us to live and one day be again with Him in His presence.  This advent more than ever before can provide hope and comfort that our Lord is right by your side every on every rough path, valley, or mountain saying prepare the way. I’m coming back one day for you! What obstacles are standing in your way? Don’t try to face them with our own pride.  As children of God, we must prepare a way for Him.  What an opportunity we have to show others our love, hope, and trust in Him this advent season.  Proclaim the coming of our Lord this start of advent! Have a blessed day.

Dear Lord,

We are all in need of comfort. We know that our only true comfort comes from you. As we live out each day in this Advent season help us to recognize and praise you for the love and sacrifice you made for us.  We love you and pray for us each to draw closer to you and the comfort of your love for us.  Amen

Enjoy this song on this brisk morning.

Spirit of Holiness

Today’s verse is found in the letter from Paul to the Romans.  What an amazing letter that reveals the righteousness of God.  If you haven’t read through Romans in its entirety lately I would recommend it this week.  It not only talks about His righteousness but how God has revealed it to the world.  It also tells us how the good news of the Lord should be revealed to the world.  Guess who that involves? Yes, you and me. Chapters 12-16 provide directives for those who have responded to God’s righteousness and how we can demonstrate these directives in our daily walk.

Our focus today is on the Spirit of Holiness. Romans 1: 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 

What I’ve reflected on while thinking of the Spirit of holiness is how wonderfully amazing that this Spirit that was living through Jesus has now been placed in us.  As we pray daily to submit to God’s will it is the Spirit of holiness that helps guide us in our daily decisions in our own walks.  This includes obedience to the will of God.  Alone in this mission, we will miss the mark every time.  But, when we call on the Holy Spirit the work of the Third Person in the Trinity is to make God’s holiness ours. A. W. Tozer wrote in Knowledge of the Holy that this Holiness is made available to us through the blood of the Lamb.

The Holy Spirit, being the Spirit of Christ, is the Spirit of holiness. Hebrews 12:14 says Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

It’s estimated we make 35,000 decisions a day. We need the spirit of holiness in every one of them.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t work on us, He lives in us.  Let’s look at 1 Peter as a reminder about our calling.

 

1 Peter 1:13 – 25 Called to be Holy 

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action,[b] and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave Him glory so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for

“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Let the Spirit fill you with this awesome song of praise by Upperroom! 

Mary

Today’s reading is Luke 1:26-56 and Luke 2:1-7 with a focus on Mary.

As I read these verses and reflected, the two words that come to mind are trust and obedience. After the angel Gabriel told her what would happen, she says in Luke 1:28, “….Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” We then see in Luke 1:46-55 she sings song of praise to the Lord. It’s one thing to say in the moment when she was in the presence of the angel Gabriel that she would be a servant of the Lord, but the fact she followed through and continued to praise Him and follow His will is amazing. She could have questioned whether she was dreaming and whether the encounter with Gabriel was truly real. It’s easy to breeze over the fact she was likely ridiculed for being pregnant before marriage, yet she didn’t say “why me” or shed the responsibility God had given her. She says in Luke 1:47 that all generations would call her “blessed.” She embraced and trusted His will for her life.

Many of us have likely walked through an open door or taken a path we thought was God’s will for our life where we told God in prayer that we were his servant, and we would trust and follow Him. Yet, when trials and tribulations come later, we may begin to question whether the path we are now on was really His will, and we may even fall into sin. Again, despite Mary likely receiving much ridicule and embarrassment, she knew the promises in His Word (Luke 1:55) and trusted Him and remained obedient to His plan. We don’t know much about Jesus’ childhood and if He performed miracles or other acts Mary observed which no one else did. But, let’s assume for a moment that Mary did not observe any miracles since the Bible does not tell us she did, Mary still trusted in who the angel Gabriel told her He was years and years later when at the wedding in Cana she spurred Him on to his first miracle we know of by saying in John 2:3, “…They have no wine.” Then, she showed further trust in who He was still when she told the wedding officials in John 2:5, “..Do whatever He tells you.”

As we finish this week, let us reflect on the trust and obedience Mary showed and pray to do the same in our life today despite what might be trying to pull us away.

Saul

Today we get a chance to read and reflect on the life of Saul. I must admit it was a little difficult when thinking back to all the recent people of faith we have been sharing. Another side of me found it hard because of what you will realize about Saul when you read today’s readings of 1Samuel 18-19.

A few nights ago I was up in the middle of the night thinking of the life of Saul in these two chapters, it was marked by disobedience. When you look back at 1 Samuel 15 the Lord was not happy with Saul and how Saul had turned away from the Lord and didn’t follow any instructions from the Lord. He didn’t obey.

1 Samuel 15:22-23 says

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, Saul’s
and to listen than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king.”

Once Saul made the decisions to not obey the Lord. Evil entered Saul’s body. 1 Samuel 18:10. Then enters fear, jealousy, and selfish desires to have David killed. Saul tries this numerous times but without success. My wish was that we would read further and see how this disobedience changed, but we don’t. Saul continues to live his life this way eventually losing everything and even taking his own life. 1 Samuel 31

There are many things we want to do, places to go-lives to change. But I realize that the first action God wants from us is to obey. God has given us His Living Word so we know exactly what He desires from us. As I looked in the back of my bible for the word obey, obedient, obeyed, obeying there are 116 (if I counted correctly) verses on obeying the Lord or His word. I encourage you to look at this in the back of your bible now. Here is one of my favorite verses.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” — Luke 11:28

I just want to obey. I need prayer for this daily. We see the results of what happens when we don’t. When we allow ourselves to make the decisions. We stumble and fear, jealousy, or selfishness enters. When we obey, we will receive His blessings. When we obey, others we are blessed. When we obey the Lord, we will never be disappointed.

What’s your go-to verse on obedience? Do you have one?  Look back and find one that speaks to you today.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Just like I ask my own children daily to obey me, please help me to obey you. Our temporal world speaks lies that we can do it ourselves and that our way is right, but we see and know that the only way is through you. God, we ask for a mind, heart, and body that says yes to all the things you ask and desire through your Living Word.
Amen

Rome at last

Today’s Reading: Acts 28:16-31

During the summer months many people attempt and make successful family trips to various places. Some may be right in your backyard while others take you to far off exotic places.  Now, I’m not even going to try to connect these trip to that of Paul’s journey to Rome in Acts 28, but want to just dig a little deeper into Paul’s legal trip to Rome and highlight the influence he had in a specific place God divinely brought him to, in order to influence others.

Mindset’s, or lets say faith-sets make a difference. Paul’s trip to Rome was a “legal matter“, he was a ward of the military system and placed on house arrest and guarded in Rome for two years. What did he do? Paul thanked God, he took courage. verse 15 This wasn’t the way Paul planned to reach Rome but knew God had blessed him by allowing him to get there.

What is my response?  So…maybe the trip you take for work, or the family vacation to “not your ideal location“, or a stay at the your in-laws or your own extended family is like house arrest or a trip that you don’t have any control over.  Maybe its sitting at the practice or game with other parents? Talking outside with neighbors?  Either way, let’s make these summer trips or even just our daily routines like we have the mindset of Paul.  Our journey today may not include chains, being shipwrecked, and the many other trials in a physical sense or maybe it has? We all have a story and trials we face daily. So if it has felt that way like it did for Paul, trust that God is working all things out for good (Romans 8:28) for you as well.  God may not always allow us to feel comfortable and secure, but He provides us the opportunity to do His work.  Look at the work Paul was doing. When our journey is feeling difficult, we need to lean in a little closer to God and trust in His plan for our varied journey’s or storms like Lynden mentioned yesterday.

God called Paul to see and speak with both Jews and Gentiles in Romes.  Paul knew that the hearts of the people were calloused, ears were dull for hearing, and their eyes were closed (Acts 28:26-27) still, Paul would speak of God and speak of the glorious message that can convert a heart,can heal deafness, or any loss of sight. This is the same message that have changed our hearts, opened our eyes, and opened our ears to hear His Living Word.   These verses are originally quoted in Isaiah 6:9-10 where God was using Isaiah in Jerusalem to convert hearts.

God uses Paul, He used Isaiah, He is using us to share His message.  That even today in the spaces and places where it may seem hard or not favorable to share because of hardened hearts, closed ears, and blind eyes. Jesus will use His words spoken through us to convert, change, and heal those who are hurting. Those who feel like they have nowhere to go. Those who have lost all trust and faith in others… you can point them t to God.  Maybe this was your story? I know it was mine.

This summer we have some mini trips planned, many days will be spent around our home and neighborhood. some days will be spent at work, at the pool, practices or games.  Although, we may not be on house arrest, the fact is that without others knowing about God and His love for us, many will be in a lot worse place then jail for eternity. I’m humbled and amazed to think that Paul wrote letters like Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians, (the Prison Epistles) during this time. Paul wrote these letters for the millions that have read them through the centuries, he wrote them for you and me. Paul wrote while changing the hearts of many who were in his presence in these years at Rome.  Rome, a place that had many gods, similar to the many gods that we can focus on today.  Let’s not let these worldly things get in our way.  Let’s take today, and every day in our short lives here on Earth to preach about the Kingdom of God, and those things which concern the Lord Jesus, with all boldness and without hindrance.

Welcome to Rome biblejournal family, don’t worry about the words to say, God is with you, go with boldness.

 

What Are You Waiting For?

Joshua 18 & Proverbs 18

Chapter 18 of Joshua continues with the land division process for the final seven of the twelve tribes.  BAM!  Joshua hits them right between the eyes with his question of What Are You Waiting For?, as he charges the tribes to go get what God has given them!  I love the different ways this question is asked in the different versions of verse 3:

  • How long are ye slack…King James
  • How long will you put off…English Standard
  • How long will you wait…New International

We do not know WHY they’re slack – or HOW LONG they planned to put it off.  We do know that Joshua doesn’t mince words and clearly he wanted them to get a move on it.  I wonder if their reasons for waiting are much like mine?

  • Comfortable – were they cozy in their current stomping grounds and life was going along okay – why shake up the apple cart?
  • Fearful – were they concerned about some of the current inhabitants of the land and wanted to avoid conflict?
  • Doubting – did they question if the Lord REALLY intended this land for them? Really, God?  THIS land, for US, right NOW?
  • Unsure to Start – maybe they were ready and willing, but genuinely didn’t know WHAT to do first. Were they waiting around for someone to give them their marching orders?

What has the Lord given you that you need to take hold of? Do you have a gift or talent ready to be used for His Kingdom? Has He put a promise in your heart that you need to BELIEVE today?  Does He have something that will bring you much joy and delight?

I can think of a specific time in my life when God put it on my heart to take the next big step in healing a relationship.  While I felt God calling me to this deeper level of healing, it was definitely uncomfortable and didn’t feel like the easiest road.  In addition to the doubts I had about myself and if this was even possible, I also didn’t know HOW or WHAT to do FIRST.

When we are called to a purpose or given something to take hold of, God doesn’t promise it to be easy and without trials.  He promises to be WITH US through it. He will guide us – sometimes right through the center of a mess, that brings us to a deeper reliance and rest in Him. He will surround us with His presence when we do not know what to do.  He will place His Word on our heart that will speak to us. He will send brothers and sisters to minister to us and share wisdom.

I love how Joshua sends out 3 men from each tribe to do the survey of the land so he can assign the 7 parts for the 7 remaining tribes.  What great wisdom! Parents have experienced this with kids – they’re more likely to split a cookie evenly when they know someone else will be choosing who gets which half.  Twenty-one sets of eyes are better than seven. I wonder how many of Joshua’s decisions were impacted by the gained wisdom from the decades spent with Moses. In addition to the Holy Spirit and the Living Word, God uses His people to pass down wisdom to future generations.

Proverbs 18 is full of challenges for us seek wisdom and understanding before taking action and opening our mouths.

He that separateth himself seeketh his own desire,
And rageth against all sound wisdom.
A fool hath no delight in understanding,
But only that his heart may reveal itself.
A fool’s mouth is his destruction,
And his lips are the snare of his soul.
The words of a whisperer are as dainty morsels,
And they go down into the innermost parts.
13 He that giveth answer before he heareth,
It is folly and shame unto him.
15The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge;
And the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.

Just like Moses to Joshua, and Joshua to the Israelites, God has surrounded me with wisdom-sharing people,  especially when I needed it.  At an early age, I had a mentor counsel me (drill into me) the importance of seeking wisdom, staying coachable and ‘easy to help’.  He taught me to proactively seek  feedback and surround myself with experienced Godly people. Over the years,  I’ve leaned on this huge life lesson.

Back to Joshua’s original question for us: What are we waiting for? When will we take hold of what God has for us? Let’s move forward with wisdom!

Thank You Lord, for your gifts. Thank you for making Your wisdom available to all of us.  Help us to seek wisdom through Your Living Word and surround us with believers to point us to You.  Amen.

Salvation Test

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.  – 1John 3:10

The NIV starts verse 10 out this way, ‘This is how we know’.  All throughout Scripture, obedience and love are the hallmarks of a true believer.  1 John 3:10 answers the question every believer should test themselves on: how do I know that I am saved?

God assures believers of their salvation through the Spirit. (1John 3:24)  A believer’s renewed heart compels them to obey the will of the Father in obedience to His word and to love God and others in deed and truth.  The presence of Christ in a believer is unmistakable to them over time.

And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. – 1John 3:24

Obedience and love.  Like all of Scripture, 1 John chapter 3 continues to return to these two hallmarks of a believer.  As you read through today’s Scripture: 1 John 3 and Psalm 41, be on the lookout for these.  As you enjoy the fellowship of Christ today, feel the Spirit leading you to obedience and love.  

If you have not committed your life to Christ, placed your trust in Him alone and repented from trusting in all other promises, imagine for a moment what your day would be like if you had.  Your whole life made new.  Ever going with a Companion who will reign in your heart and will never leave you.  A companion who is Master over all, King of Kings, who leads you beside still waters in righteousness, who makes you to lie down in green pastures.