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12/17 Jude

Jude is the writer of this short book and is the brother of James.  He writes a warning about godless men who are among us.  They are identified as those that change the grace of God into a license for immorality and they deny Jesus.  Then he goes on to site examples of this from the past.

4For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

8In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.

If you know of people like this you would be wise to avoid them. God calls us to fellowship with other believers and not fellowship with the ungodly.  While we should befriend the unbeliever to help lead them to God, we should not let them sway us towards their own beliefs or lack of.

This will be the last blog post on Reading the New Testament.  We still have the book of Revelations to read.  Hope you all enjoyed this quick read through the New Testament.

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/14 1 John 4-5

God is love.  John writes that love comes from God.  If you do not love then you can not know God, because God and love are inseparable.  God showed His love by sending His only Son to this earth as a atoning sacrifice.

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

So if we truly love God then we must love others.  During this season of love, show someone how much you love them.  Do something out of love for another person.  Not out of guilt or request, but just out of simple love.

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/13 1 John 3

The definition of love is that Jesus laid down his life for us.  He did this for the best of us and also the worst of us.  He did it so that the worst of the worst would have the same hope as all have.  Once we understand how deep this love is for us, we should in turn show that same level of love for others.  If someone is in need should we not help them out.  Helping others demonstrates that we understand what God’s love is.  Love is not shown through words alone, they must be accompanied by actions.

16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

During this season of giving, let your actions speak louder that your words.  This is a favorite saying, Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear what you say.” Hopefully that is true of you also.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/12 1 John 1-2

1st John was written by the Apostle John.  In chapter 1 he writes about walking in the light.  God is light and the darkness is where evil exists, where sin is a way of life.  If we claim to be Christians and we follow after Jesus, we can not exist in the darkness.  Walking in the light allows our lives to be examined by others and our imperfections to be seen.  Walking in the darkness hides our imperfections, our sins.  We fool ourselves and others when we try to hide in the darkness.  God will eventually shine the light on us at some point and then we need to decide whether to continue in the darkness or accept His way into the light.

5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

Personally, I prefer the light.  While it is difficult out in the light for all to see, it surly beats slinking around in the dark.  Walking in the light doesn’t mean you are expected to be perfect, it just means when you are not, God forgives you.  He has more faith in us than we deserve.

December 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/11 2 Peter 1-3

In his second book Peter writes about certain qualities we as Christians should possess.  He starts with faith and then tells us to add the following.

Brotherly kindness

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We should exhibit these qualities and they should continue to increase as we grow.  If we strive after these qualities then we will be effective and productive in our knowledge and work for the Lord.  What are you doing to allow them to grow in your life?

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/10 1 Peter 4-5

Peter writes in chapter 4 that we should not be surprised when we suffer.  When we do suffer we should not focus on the trial, but instead we should focus on Jesus.  He suffered greatly for us not for himself.  If we keep our focus on him during our suffering we will in turn bring glory to God as our creator and to Jesus as our savior.

12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

19So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Many times we wonder why us?  What did we do to deserve this?  I think those questions are impossible to answer.  But to observe the Christian who suffers and still praises God and thanks Him each and every day they are alive and for all of His many blessings is truly something to behold.  I have seen this firsthand and those people are nothing short of amazing.

December 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/9 1 Peter 1-3

In chapter 1 of 1 Peter we learn several instructions that we need in order to attempt to be holy.  First we must prepare our minds for action.  Next we must be self-controlled.  Thirdly we must set our hope on the grace of Jesus.  Fourth we must be as obedient children.  Lastly we must no longer conform to our evil desires.

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

It is difficult for us to imagine what it means for us to be holy when we compare that to a holy God.  I often wonder what must I do to have my name and the word holy compared in the same sentence.  At least now I understand how to get started in the right direction.

December 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/8 James 4-5

James chapter 5 has a section of scripture entitled “The Prayer of Faith.”  It states that if we are in trouble we should pray.  If we are sick we should have the elders of the church pray over us.  When we or others offer up prayers to God in faith, God will answer them.  I guess the question is how much faith is required.  But I believe that if we truly believe that God will answer,  He will.  Now whether it is on our time line or His is another question.  It also states that we will be forgiven and the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Verse 13 states that if we are happy then we should sing songs of praise.  I see many people on Sunday morning who are truly happy during worship time.  You can tell by the look on their face.  I also see others who look, well they look like maybe they backed over their cat on the way to church.  Okay maybe not that bad, but sometimes not so happy.  We should always be happy when we are in the presence of God singing praises to Him.

December 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/7 James 2-4

The book of James continues with good instruction for us all.  Instruction on not showing favoritism.  The instruction on faith without deeds in verse 14 of chapter 2 is very strong.  14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? But probably the most difficult instruction is in chapter 3.  Watching what we say.

7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Probably the best description of what comes out of our mouths, comes at the end of verse 8, ” full of deadly poison.” How many times have we said something to someone we love only to wound them deeply?  If we could just remain in control of our words for one more second, pause and think before we speak, how much better life would be for us and those that we hurt.  Not only words but looks.  You know that disapproving glance or the disgusted glare we give them, that they so easily understand.  It hurts just the same.  Many times we strike out of our own personal frustration, it’s usually not even their fault.

Many times we realize to late what we have done and ask for forgiveness.  Usually it is given, but the memory is there, it doesn’t go away.  You can never take it back.  Control is the key, though it is certainly difficult for us all.  With God’s help we can overcome.

Harsh Words by Danielle Hollister

I ran into a stranger as he passed by,

“Oh excuse me please” was my reply.

He said, “Please excuse me too;
I wasn’t watching for you.”

We were very polite, this stranger and I.
We went on our way saying good-bye.

But at home a difference is told,
how we treat our loved ones, young and old.

Later that day, cooking the evening meal,
My son stood beside me very still.

As I turned, I nearly knocked him down.
“Move out of the way,” I said with a frown.

He walked away, his little heart broken.
I didn’t realize how harshly I’d spoken.

While I lay awake in bed,
God’s still small voice came to me and said,

“While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use,
But the children you love, you seem to abuse.

Go and look on the kitchen floor,
You’ll find some flowers there by the door.

Those are the flowers he brought for you.
He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue.

He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise,
and you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes.”

By this time, I felt very small,
and now my tears began to fall.

I quietly went and knelt by his bed;
“Wake up, little one, wake up,” I said. ”

Are these the flowers you picked for me?”
He smiled, “I found ’em, out by the tree.

I picked ’em because they’re pretty like you.
I knew you’d like ’em, especially the blue.”

I said, “Son, I’m very sorry for the way I acted today;
I shouldn’t have yelled at you that way.”

He said, “Oh, Mom, that’s okay. I love you anyway.”
I said, “Son, I love you too,
and I do like the flowers, especially the blue.”

December 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

12/6 James 1

James is the writer of this book and was probably the brother of Jesus and a leader in the Jerusalem church.  The book of James contains a lot of great instruction that each of us can use in our lives.   He starts off with, be joyful when you face trials and tests.  The result is our growth and maturity.

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Verse 5 reminds us to ask God for anything we lack and it also contains a warning.  If you ask, believe that you will receive it, otherwise don’t expect it.  How many times do we ask God for this or that not fully believing that He will deliver?

December 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/5 Hebrews 13

The writer finishes up the book of Hebrews today with many instructions in chapter 13.  Verse 5 reminds us to be content with what we have.  Just like the sermon series we just finished.  We all have been blessed so much by God.  Be content.  Also in the same verse we read some very comforting words.  Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”

7Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

9Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.

Verse 8 is a important verse to memorize.  Jesus doesn’t change.  Just like God.

December 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/4 Hebrews 10-12

Chapter 11 is considered the faith chapter of the Bible.  Verse 1 should be considered the definition of faith.  Many times we only have faith in ourselves and what we can do.  We don’t have the necessary faith to believe that God will hear our prayers and answer them.

1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Chapter 11 is full of instances where people demonstrated great faith in trusting God.

7By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.

24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

30By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.

When we depart from this earth, how wonderful it would be for someone to say that we lived by faith and trusted God each and every day.

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment