Saturday, January 31, 2015

2/1/15- Jesus the Main revelation

1In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4)

Thoughts: God has spoken in the past through prophets, through dreams, through visions, through a still small voice, through scripture.  Now God speaks to us by His Son.  Everything changed when Jesus came.  Jesus did not contradict the previous revelations- or the revelation from creation- but rather built on them and clarified them.   So he would say things like, "You have heard 'an eye for an eye' but I tell you to turn the other cheek." "You have heard do not commit adultery, but anyone who lusts after another has committed adultery in their heart."  He did not stop the idea of a Sabbath as rest (He knew we needed rest and worship) but allowed for deeds of necessity (like eating/picking grain, or getting the ox out of the ditch) and deeds of mercy (healing and visiting).  Jesus, God coming in the flesh, is the filter through which all other revelations should be filtered.  We see God clearest through Him- the Word made clear to the flesh.  

Prayer: Lord, give me eyes to see and ears to listen to you.  

Friday, January 30, 2015

1-31-15- The truth

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, (John 5:39)

6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really know me, you will knowb my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14)

Thoughts: Jesus describes the Bible as truth (the Old Testament at that point).  It is the word that makes us hope.  The scriptures testify to the living truth (5:39).  Jesus Himself claimed to be the truth.  The truth will ultimately win out and be revealed.  Jesus it the revealed truth for us.  

Prayer: May you sanctify me by your truth. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

1-30-15- The God who is

13Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14God said to Moses, “I am who I am.c This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”
15God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,d the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation. (Exodus 3)

Thoughts: God had revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush- Moses heard His voice.  God had revealed Himself as the god of Moses' fathers- Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  But Moses wanted more revelation than that.  It is not wrong to want more of God.  We should seek to know God better than anyone before us.  God loves us and we would do well to pursue Him in love and not just curiosity.  "I am"  is His name.  He is defined by the verb "to be."  There is no adjective that is worthy, no adverb that will work to describe God.  The name is so holy that later the word "lord" is substituted for the tetragramaton YHWH.  Some translate it Jehovah but most translate it Yahweh now (ys and js are interchangeable and ws and vs are interchangeable too- and Hebrew has no vowels).  Life is defined by the God who epitomizes being in His very name.  Jesus spoke in Revelation as the one who was, who is, and is to come (again the verb to be in a trinity of different tenses).  Reality is defined and sanity is realized in the One who made us and is.  We would do well to trust Him and give our life for the One who defines life - the I am. He is the ground of all being- because He was, is, and will be.  

Prayer: Lord, your existence precedes all others.  Your existence defines and gives meaning to all others.  Help me to honor and glorify you forever.   

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

1-29-15 God Speaks

1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. (Genesis 1)

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcomea it.
14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1)

Thoughts: John 1 is a commentary on Genesis 1.  It tells us that when God spoke and made the world- Jesus- the Word was there.  John would have us know that even in the beginning God wanted the world to know its Maker.  It is through the Word of God- emanating from the Father's mouth that the world was exploded into existence.  It was God's intention to relate and love His world.  It it interesting that God speaks and the world exists.  God speaks to us in the way we are made.  We are made to know the voice that called us into existence.  But God still reaches out to us- coming down to us in the person of Jesus Christ.  The Word that called the world into existence became flesh that we might know Him.  God is not silent- He speaks to us and for us. 

Prayer: Thank you God that you made us to hear your voice, to know you, and to love you.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

1-28-15 The Heavens Declare

1The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4Yet their voiceb goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. (Psalm 19)

19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:19,20)

Thoughts: Psalm 19 and Romans 1 speak of God showing Himself through creation.  The heavens declare God's power and glory.  Even scientists talk about the enormous power it takes to start the Big Bang (13 x 1054 megatons). His eternal power and god-like power are seen in the creation of the world (Ro. 1:20). But we tend to dilute and pollute the knowledge of God that we are able to see in the creation.  While the fingerprint of God is in creation- our own blindness distorts what should be plain.  Pain and human suffering (like in the holocaust) can keep us from clearly understanding the truth of God in creation.   

Prayer: Lord, help me to have eyes to see beyond the evil and suffering of life to see your hand working in the world. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

1/27/15- Revelation and Morality

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom's instruction. (Proverbs 29:18)

19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts (Romans 1:19-26)

Thoughts: Revelation helps us with a moral restraint.  This has been proven true in many ways- statistically, socially, psychologically.  When you believe that there is a God holding you accountable and telling you right from wrong (including stealing, murder, lying, adultery), and who sees and cares about our actions- then we are more likely to show restraint.  If you believed a policeman was in the room with you, would it not be a source for a deterrent?   Revelation, not only deters us with that image, but convicts our conscience about what is right or wrong.  So Proverbs says where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint.  So Romans indicates when we dilute or pollute the knowledge of God we not only make God in our own image, but tends to immorality.  

Prayer: Help me to hear your voice behind me saying, "This is the way walk in it."  Help me to stay on the straight and narrow path- the path of purpose and hope that leads to the abundant life here and life everlasting.  

Extras: De Toqueville, the sociologist said that America is great because America is good. He went on in his writings to relate how religion played a key role in that goodness.  

Statistically- those who believe strongly are more likely to keep their marriages, to give more to charity, to volunteer more time for others than those who do not believe strongly. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

1-26-25 A Voice in the Whirlwind

1Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2“Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
4“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7while the morning stars sang together
and all the angelsa shouted for joy?
8“Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?
12“Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place, (Job 38:1-12)

Thoughts; "Out of the storm" is "Out of the whirlwind" or tornado.  It is in some of the worst of disasters that we see God's might and hear clearer God's voice.  There are some who cannot hear anything in the sad times of life.  This makes the sad times even sadder.  But for those of faith, God speaks in creation.  We see God in the stars, in the limitations of the mighty sea and clouds.  Some can see to put the puzzle pieces together, others are blind and do not see the pieces or the larger picture.  Yet God speaks if we have ears to hear.  

Prayer: Lord, give me ears to hear you in the world around me.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

1/25/15- Words of God

 20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.(2 Peter 1:20,21)

Thoughts: Do we believe it is possible for God to reveal Himself to us with words?  Prophesy is precisely that- and the inspiration of scripture is based on this idea as well.  God, who gave us the ability to speak and understand- to think abstractly- can speak to our minds through inspiration.  But we must believe not only that it can happen, but that it does happen- and happens specifically.  This passage says this is so important- "above all."
     Revelation is divine or it is nothing and useless.  2 Peter 1 reminds us that the prophets of God had their origin with God and not by human guessing or will alone.  The Holy Spirit inspired them and then inspired us with their words.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to believe in your words.  Give me grace to rely and trust in them as a word from you for me.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

1/24/15- God speaks in Various Ways

19“Or someone may be chastened on a bed of pain
with constant distress in their bones,
20so that their body finds food repulsive
and their soul loathes the choicest meal.
21Their flesh wastes away to nothing,
and their bones, once hidden, now stick out.
22They draw near to the pit,
and their life to the messengers of death.c
23Yet if there is an angel at their side,
a messenger, one out of a thousand,
sent to tell them how to be upright,

Thoughts: Job 33- Words from Elihu to Job that summarize. The verses from yesterday point out that God speaks through dreams or sometimes in the voice of conscience.  Here is a reminder of God speaking through pain.  Someone said that pain is the alarmclock of the soul.  God tries to wake us up to Himself through pain.  Many times people wake up to God and see what is really important through sickness or sadness.  Sometimes we have to be flat on our back to see that work is not the most important thing in life.  Sometimes our pain teaches us to pray out to the Lord for help.  

Prayer: Help me to hear you speak to me- even through pain.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

1/23/15- God Speaks in Dreams

14For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though no one perceives it.
15In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they slumber in their beds,
16he may speak in their ears
and terrify them with warnings,
17to turn them from wrongdoing
and keep them from pride,
18to preserve them from the pit,
their lives from perishing by the sword. (Job 33)

Thoughts: God has spoken to people in dreams.  He spoke to Jacob at Jacob's ladder at Penuel.  He spoke to King Nebuchadnezzar in a dream.  But dreams are not always clear.  Nebuchadnezzar had to have an interpreter as did the Pharaoh when Joseph interpreted his dream.  Some wonder if a dream is from God or just from the worries of life as scripture mentions. Psychologists often point out that worry and past concerns play in different kinds of dreams.   Dreams are part of what theologians call "general revelation."  But God speaks clearer through scripture and Jesus Christ. 

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to hear your voice speaking to my life.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

1/22/15 - Revelation appliled

 11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. (Acts 17:11,12)

Thoughts: The scriptures point out it is a noble thing to receive the message with eagerness.  If God reveals Himself to us, but we do not receive it, it makes no difference.  So many of the Scribes and Pharisees rejected the living Word- Jesus- when they saw Him face to face.  Many of the Thessalonians rejected Paul though he brought the Gospel message with great power.  The task is not just to believe in revelation, but to welcome the revelation and receive it.  

Prayer: Lord, help me not to only believe in your Word but to receive it with eagerness  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

1/21/15- God makes Himself known

19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:19,20)

Thoughts: God reveals Himself in nature. Nature is the fingerprint of God.  To see God's fingerprint in nature- means we know something about God.  Paul even says God makes Himself plain in creation- but we distort the plain meaning before us.  God's great power and divine nature are the two things clearly seen.  When we look at the might of the oceans we can imagine someone stronger than them who made them.  Jesus calmed the storm.  His creativity- perhaps the essence of being the Divine Creator, is clearly seen.  The differences, beauty, colors, patterns in creation point to a Maker.  God reveals enough about Himself to all people so that no one can blame God if He holds them accountable for turning away from His knowledge.  It is possible to know God- creation teaches us that.  But Jesus teaches it clearly. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to see your hand and know you.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

1/20/15- Parable of the seeds

1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.9Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13) 

Thoughts: Jesus gave this great story to illustrate how people respond to the good news- the kernel of truth.  Some did not respond at all.  There are people who are in a position to hear the Gospel but just seem to be deaf to it- or hardened of heart.  Their hearts are as hard as a path- with no room for taking root.  Jesus was saying this so we would open our heart to the Gospel.
      Some seed fell on rocky soil.  the growth starts out great- but the minute hard times come, it fades.  There are many who join the church but they are like shooting stars or roman candles- the spark lasts only for a moment.  Some think being a Christian is all about being blessed.  So when they have tough times on this side of heaven, they are surprised and give up on God.  Jesus was saying this so we would persevere.
       Some seed falls on thorny soil.  The growth starts out great, but gets choked out because of worry or wealth.  Worry can crowd out faith- so we feed our worry instead of feeding our faith.  Wealth can lead us in many different directions, but can also deceive us into thinking we do not need God.  Jesus did not want us to get distracted from what is most important.
       But there is the good soil.  Those who respond to God with openness and love can bear much fruit for God.  The fruit is found in God's making a difference.  He makes a difference with the fruit of the Spirit- (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control).  The fruit also is found in service- when we feed the hungry or visit the lonely or hurting, or encourage the weak.  The fruit is also found in reproducing faith in others. Just as an apple has a seed in it for another apple tree.  So fruitfulness means reproducing in another the hope of the Gospel.  Jesus wants us to want to bear fruit. 

Prayer: Lord, may my life bear fruit for you.  Keep me from the distractions and hardness of heart that takes away my love for you.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

1-19-15 Paul in Athens

22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
24“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’b As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’c
29“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17) 

Thoughts: Paul was trying to help the Athenians who were always itching to hear the latest theory and philosophy, to see what he believed was an eternal universal truth.  Paul believed the God who made all the world was calling all people to Himself.  Paul tried to accommodate his sharing of the Gospel to the Athenians.  He sets us all an example here of trying to put the eternal truth in language that the hearers could hear and be attracted to.  Not many people responded to Paul.  His message was that we can know the God who made the universe.  

Prayer: Help me, Lord to be a bold witness as Paul was.  Give me wisdom to be able to put the good news of your hope in language that others can understand.  

On this Martin Luther King Day- let us remember that God is for all people- no matter what color or ethnicity.  God wants all people to know Him- for He made us all.  We are all God's children- but He wants us to acknowledge Him as Father.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

1/18/15- Faith and Deeds

14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2) 

Thoughts: Faith without action on the faith is meaningless.  Belief motivates action or that belief is probably not very strong.  To serve and to witness is a growth that comes out of belief.  Our faith is seen not by our fluffy words but by our actions that prop up what we say.  Serving others is an outgrowth of faith. 

Prayer: Let my faith show in the way i think and act.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

1/16/15- Faith in the Beginning Toward the End

1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.
3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. (Hebrews 11:1-4)

By faith we understand the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible.  Some look at the Big Bang and see just a process- a what and maybe a how- but not a why or a who.  It is by faith that we are able to see.  It is by faith that we are not blinded to the unmoved Mover- the hand that rocked the original cradle.  How did the primal substance come to be that exploded in the Big Bang?  God is the first cause of all causes.  The universe did not simply cause itself.
     The writer of Hebrews brings up Abel.  Abel offered a right offering.  He was killed out of jealousy for his faith from his own brother.  Persecution of belief is about as old as civilization.  It is not just brother against brother but a persecution of the one who had his offering blessed and accepted.  The faith of Abel speaks and keeps on speaking beyond the grave. Our faith lives on in those who keep the faith, and it will live on into eternity.  

Prayer: Help me to have faith to see your hand.  Help me to understand that faith was at work in the beginning and will be at work beyond my own life.  The gift of faith is yours, O Lord.  Thank you for opening the eyes of my heart. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

1/15/15 Hebrews 11:1

1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 11:1)

Thoughts: Faith is confidence- it is a trust that allows us to act.  It brings us confidence in God and indirectly confidence in our faith or tie to Him.
Faith is confidence in what we hope for.  Faith is not confidence in what we have, or confidence in what we fear.  It is placing our confidence in our hopes.  Our hope is found in God and our confidence remains in Him and not in ourselves alone or in what we fear.  In fact, faith helps us fight fear with hope for it is confidence in our hope and not giving into our fears.
Faith is assurance in what we do not see.  The difference between faith and sight is that faith allows us to rest our confidence and find peace in what we do not see.  We do not have to see and understand or experience everything in order to have confidence or assurance in something.  I do not have to have seen Napolean or his original manuscripts or his original uniform to believe he was a real person and he really did the basics of what people said he did..  I do not have to pull my brakes every time I get into the car to make sure they are working.  i do not have to see NASA;s charts and calculations in order to believe the sun will come up tomorrow.
    But faith gives us confidence and assurance to move forward with our lives.  Faith enables us to not get stuck in the past or simply determined by our gene pool or environment.  Faith empowers the human spirit to do more.
    The ancients were commended for their faith.  Perhaps they understood a lot less about how the world works today.  But they knew more about the why- and the purpose of the world and the who.  Ironically, the more we are addicted to having to understand everything, the less we are likely to make use of the gift of faith given to us.  Faith involves understanding, but it is not simply understanding.  The ancients may not have understood things- but they understood the need to have faith in God -which many today cannot even imagine.  

Prayer: Help me believe in order to understand. Help me to find my confidence and assurance in you, Lord.