Monday, September 15, 2014

9/16/14 I John 3

1See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,a we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3)

Thoughts: It is sheer love that overcomes our sin- that God does not disown us, but sacrifices for us that we may be adopted into His family.  What will we be like in heaven?  The answer is simple- we will be like Him- the risen Jesus.  What was He like?  He cooked and ate fish.  He allowed people to touch him or hold him, but could walk through walls.  He had the scars on his hands, but his hands were alive.
So if we really believe this- we will want to be as holy and pure as we can  We are inspired to be god-like because our hope is in God. 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your great love that we are welcomed into your eternal family!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

9/15/14- 1 John 2

1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
3We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5But if anyone obeys his word, love for Goda is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2).

Thoughts: Ideally, we can avoid sin.  But we also know that as much as we want to avoid it, we'll mess up.  Jesus speaks on our behalf and even sacrifices for us.  Whosoever will- no matter where they live in the world- can come to him.
     If we purposefully disobey him, we are trying to deceive God- which does not work; or we are trying to deceive ourselves which can work.  When we obey God, we show love for God.  Obedience doesn't happen when things are easy, but when the choice is hard.  Claims and talk is cheap.  But if we claim Jesus, we should live like Jesus.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to walk the walk, and follow in your footsteps.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

1 John 1

1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make oura joy complete. (1 John 1)

Thoughts: This is similar to the passage in the Gospel of John 1:14- "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."  John* wants to make sure we know that he is not making this up- but he is an eyewitness. He has experienced "that which was from the beginning"- that is the eternal God with his eyes and touch.  There are people today who doubt that Jesus even lived- even with the testimonies of the eyewitnesses, and extra biblical sources like Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny the Younger**. In John's day there were some called "Docetists" who believed Jesus did not really come in the flesh, but was a mere spirit or phantom.  John does not call Jesus just a "life" but "the eternal life" (vs. 2).
     The point of John's writing was to welcome people into the fellowship.  The fellowship is with Jesus- and also with those who follow/believe in Jesus.  The fellowship and the joy of the fellowship is made more complete when people come into the fellowship of believers. 

Prayer: Lord, may I treasure the fellowship offered to me- the fellowship with you and those who are united with you in spirit. 

(Thomas touching Jesus' wounds after the resurrection)

*John- This letter does not claim in its text who wrote it.  However, in the early church, no other person was pointed to or claimed authorship.  Papias, Tertulliam, Origen all pointed to John the apostle as the author. 

** Here is a link to an article on the external testimonies to the existence of Jesus.

Friday, September 12, 2014

9/13/14- Titus 3

 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,  (Titus 3:5)

Thoughts: We think we get what we deserve.  Too many think the good folk go to heaven and the bad folk don't make it.  It is not fair that sinners get into heaven.  But this is a mistaken sense of justice that doesn't take our wrongdoing seriously.  The Bible says that our righteousness- that we think is so great is as "filthy rags."  What we think is pure is still stained.  Our motives are never perfect, our actions are never perfectly sinless.  But the good news is that our salvation does not depend on us.  If it did, we could brag about how good we were, and self-righteousness would rule the day.  But we are saved instead because of his mercy- his washing- his cleansing of us.  This happens by the power of the Holy Spirit.   The Spirit makes the salvation of Christ real to us- applying us to our life.  Grace means we do not deserve salvation.  Other religions advocate earning your way to heaven by ten commands, ten steps, seven ways or keeping some code. There is no ladder that we must climb to go into heaven.  But the way of Christ is that a sacrifice- made on the cross by the infinite God-man.  It is not that we earn, pay, work our way into heaven.  But the door has been opened by the only One who can open it- Jesus.  

Prayer:  Lord, you are merciful.  Thank you for your mercy and love.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9-12-14 Titus 2

3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
6Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2) 

Thoughts: Spirituality and morality has age specific concerns.  What tempts an older woman does not tempt a young man.  Older women were told to not be slanderers or addicted.  Younger women were encouraged to control their appetites.  Titus was told to set an example of integrity and seriousness to the young men.  Temptations change with age and circumstances.  We should be slow to judge those who are tempted in different ways than us.  Yet we all should reject temptation. 

Prayer: Lord, lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

9/11/14- Leadership in the church- Titus 1

6An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believeb and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.7Since 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. 8Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9He 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. (Titus 1)

Thoughts: The writer of Titus (traditionally Paul) was trying to set standards for leaders in the church.  Leaders had higher standards than members.  It is important to set an example.  The example is in caring for the family, setting a good example of humility and self control. A leader must not waver in the faith or wander from the tradition- but is called to hold firmly to the faith as it is taught.  One of the problems in the church is that the leaders are morally lackadaisical, thinking that leadership is to be honored instead of those who serve.  

Prayer: Help me to live a strong life for you.  Bless the leader of the church who make every effort to set a good example for their flock.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

9/10/14- 2 Timothy 4

 2Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4)

Thoughts: Church discipline is necessary and the Word being preached properly are guards against people pleasing.  At the end of history, people only want to feel good and do not care about substance or real truth. When spin and perception is more important than truth we are all in trouble.  This is a great image- itching ears.  Hiring people to say things to scratch their itching ears.  People do not want to be told "no" or to be told to obey.  Instead, people always want to be in control and to set themselves up as god.  But the scriptures call us to endure and be faithful. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to listen to you and to do your will.