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Daily Bible Reading

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rev 20: 1-15

Daily Bible Reading

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rev 19: 1-21

Daily Bible Reading

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Rev 17: 1-18, 18: 1-24

Daily Bible Reading

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Rev 15: 1-18, 16: 1-21

While the Iron is Hot

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said,

“ Today if you hear His voice,

DO not harden your hearts, as when they provoked ME.” (Hebrews 3:12-15 NASB)

 

What is the value of a day? I guess it would depend on the day, but anyone who has found themselves on the wrong side of time and chance, as I’m sure we all have, almost certainly knows what it’s like to wish for just one more day.  Maybe it’s one more day to right a wrong that destroyed a trust, or one more day with someone whose absence can be felt to the core of our very being. Or maybe it’s not the day that we lament, but rather the moment that we wish we could take back. A word spoken in haste that hurt more than we anticipated, a moment of selfishness that tarnished a reputation, a moment of weakness that destroyed the trust of a parent or spouse; these are the moments that speak to us because in some ways our regrets define our sense of self.

 

That’s why an idiom like “strike while the iron is hot” is seared into the collective consciousness. I know no blacksmiths myself, but there isn’t a single person who is old enough to be accountable for their actions that does not understand the sentiment. We see the image in our heads. The red-hot billet, pulled fresh from the flame laid upon the anvil, and the hammer that crashes upon it drawing it out and shaping it to the will of the smithy.  His work is quick and must be, or else back to the kiln it must go until the moment it is again hot.

 

For all the things in life that pretend at true urgency and bellow with tyrannical need, very few actually are of any real significance. Yet it is this seemingly unending stream of urgent needs that Satan uses to hide those things that are truly worthy and even needful of our attention.

 

Hot Irons

 I would direct your attention to the passage we began with. (Hebrews 3:12-15)  Is there no urgency in the sentiment of brotherly encouragement?  Or in 2nd Peter chapter 1 and verse 5 where he urges them to give diligence to the task of growing their faith.  We see urgency by the Apostle Paul when he beseeched the church in Rome (Romans 12:1-3) by the mercies of God to be transformed in renewing their minds, and to present their bodies as living sacrifices.  It is there again in the 13 chapter of the same epistle (Romans 13:10-14) when he urges them to consider that the hour of their salvation is nearer than when they first believed.

 

With so many beggarly things pretending at importance is it any wonder that we become distracted.  But this is not the moment for laments and commiserations over the difficulty of our walk.  Now is the time for us to make some tough choices.

 

Who are you?

14 “Now, therefore, fear the Lord (YHVH) and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

(Joshua 24:14-15 NASB)

 

The trouble with Joshua’s words is that we have read them too often, but we’ve not read them deeply.  This is not the carpe diem of scripture.  Instead he is telling them what it means to truly be the people of God. The relationship of God to His people is not one of mere convenience; it’s one of conviction based on love, fear, trust, and obedience.

 

Fear Jehovah and serve Him in sincerity and truth.  Sincerity comes from the heart of a man and Truth comes from the Lord, but any obedience must begin with deciding who we are.  We cannot obey God if we do not fear Him first.  Fear Him to the putting away of those things that would define us as something other than His people. And while we do not believe ourselves to be those who serve other gods we need to ask whether or not our actions say otherwise.

 

The one who fears God does not take what belongs to the Lord.  (Romans 12:1-3)  By our choices, our language, our behavior do people see in us the image of one who is in complete and total surrender to his God, or are we still serving those gods that we bowed before on the other side of the watery grave of baptism?

 

Kingdom First

 

Whatever else or whoever else we are, we must be those who live as citizens of Heaven.  (Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 10:36, Hebrews 11:13-16) If we can lead by no other means we can lead by example, and rest assured the eyes are watching. Our spouses, our children, the world around us they see our behavior. They see what we value, and it may well be that the only one fooled about the god that they serve is you and me.

 

We must ask ourselves, and honestly so, when did honoring God become giving the best of what’s left over? What are we saying if we do not live in sacrifice so that others see that we truly do fear God? Do our actions look like those who have hope fully vested in God’s eternal kingdom and in the blood of Christ?  

 

Brothers and sisters it is time once again to put away the foreign gods that are in the camp, and we must do it while it is still called today.  Whatever hinders your example and obedience, for the sake of your very soul, put it down and never pick it up again.

-JB

Daily Bible Reading

Friday, June 26, 2015

Rev 13: 1-18, 14: 1-20

Daily Bible Reading

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rev 11: 1-12, 12: 1-17

Daily Bible Reading

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rev 9: 1-21, 10: 1-11

Set Your House In Order

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

 

 

Live long enough and you will likely learn that most things in life just aren’t as urgent as they are made out to be. Deadlines change, offers are extended, projects, even ones that once seemed important, are abandoned without a second thought. The battles you prepare for are rarely fought, and the ones that rage around you sometimes make no sense when viewed from afar.

 

Isn’t it odd how the biggest tempests seem to blow in the smallest of teapots, and how the once urgent ways of man are rarely more than one generation from irrelevance? But then again wasn’t that the point of passages like Ecclesiastes 1:14-15, and Ecclesiastes 9:11-12. It was the point of James when he wrote in the fourth chapter “13 Come now, you who say, “ Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “ If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

 

Perhaps we might even be excused for asking “what is the point of all this.” If the battle doesn’t always go to the strong and if it is not the wise and discerning who eat and gain wealth, can there be any effort that is worthwhile? If all is vanity and life is like a vapor, and the world will have no memory of me, if the works of my hand maybe torn down while I yet live why feel any urgency at all?

 

As was said we might be excused for asking, but simple observation of the modern Christian in his culture clearly shows that we are loath to admit the truth of it. Instead we succumb to the tyranny of these urgencies without thought to their impotence.

 

Our free moments are filled with entertainment and not contemplation of God’s word; our thoughts are distracted by cares and other obligations even as we come to worship Him. We work not to provide but to dispose. We excuse ourselves from assemblies for the most meager of reasons and the most vain of pursuits all in the futile belief that such things make life better. All of this we do, even as we convince ourselves that we are unable to find time to progress spiritually.

 

Clean your house

 

Before Jordan was born I was the middle of three brothers. Raise them, and you will learn that there is a pattern to the behavior of boys. First comes lazy, then bored, and lastly strife. It doesn’t matter how much they are indulged eventually unproductive labor leads to boredom, which brings strife. Every time we reached the point where her boys were being, well boys, Mom gave the same instruction. “Boys go clean your room.” Why? I’ve never asked, but I suspect it’s because the surest cure for boredom is work and not indulgence.

 

Might I suggest the same cure for the spirit in each of us that leaps from one restless activity to the next? Set your spiritual house in order. At the root of this is value. Consider the words of James for a moment:

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose:“ He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”…

(James 4:3-5 NASB)

 

When our time is filled with pursuits that are not God’s, no matter how enriching they might appear to be, there is an undeniable futility. We know this. We find ourselves spiritually restless and feeling frayed, incapable of growth, and worn from a day’s pointlessness. So why do we continue under the yoke of tyrannical urgency when we know that these things are not that important?

 

Is it because we have not truly learned Christ?

 

Clear The Deck

 

When Mom gave her edict it was typically met with grumbling and complaining, but we knew she meant it. We also knew where to start. Clean the floor. That meant hampering the clothes, putting away those things that were worth keeping, and throwing out what was broken, unneeded, or just in the way. Strangely enough that is the best remedy for our spiritual woes as well.

 

27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.

(John 6: 27 NASB)

 

21 But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:21-24 NASB)

 

We need to learn the difference between what has value and what is merely busy. Busy does not aid us in our trek to Heaven in fact it hinders. That is the real lesson of urgency.

21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NASB)

-JB

Daily Bible Reading

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rev 6: 1-17, 7: 1-17, 8: 1-13

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