Archive | July, 2013

3 “One Anothers” that Make a Strong Church

July 31, 2013

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The whole point of Hebrews is to change the mind of the Christians backsliding to Judaism – or just outright falling away. While leadership in the church is important, it is not the only thing required to keep a group together and motivated. It takes the involvement and example of each and every member of the body. As such, relying on one another is a recurring commandment in the New Testament, as I listed in 10 Christian “One Anothers”

Three One Anothers for a Strong Church

In the Hebrew writer’s exhortations to examine how Christ improved the old covenant, he mentions three times that we are to help one another out along the way:

Christianity is a One Another proposition

Christianity is a One Another proposition

  • We are to exhort one another (Hebrews 3:13) – Christians are to rely on each other to get through our weaknesses and temptations. So many of our sins are hidden from our own eyes through their own deceitfulness.
  • We are to provoke or stir up one another to love and good work (Hebrews 10:24) – It is very difficult to attend a worship assembly of a close knit church and come away with no refreshment. The desire to know each other more and to work together grows at every meeting.
  • We are to encourage one another through our attendance (Hebrews 10:25) – It is impossible to be an influence to fellow Christians if we are not there to influence them! We should take advantage of every opportunity to meet with the saints, whether it is a scheduled formal worship or less formal opportunities to study and work together.

All three of these come from words of motivation – a positive action we are to take to help edify (build up) a fellow Christian.

The Christians that …

  • do not roll up their sleeves and get to the work
  • have spotty attendance
  • fail to participate in the fellowship

…are depriving the rest of us of what we crave: the faith and confidence that grows from being among one another.

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5 Comparisons of the Tabernacle to the Kingdom

July 30, 2013

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As the Hebrews writer details the superiority of Christ and the new covenant, he shows the audience how the old was actually a shadow of the new – pointing to more excellent things to come. Everything they did represented the events to come and Christ’s kingdom.

The writer reminds us in Hebrews 8:5 that God’s pattern was to be followed exactly. When we understand just how tight the comparison is between the Old and New Covenants, we see why God has always been concerned with attention to detail.

Shadows of things to come

The Old Testament comparison to the Kingdom shows us the shadows reach back to the beginning.

Here are five of the items used in Hebrews 9 to compare the earthly holy place to the spiritual one:

  • The Golden Candlestick – As the only source of light in the tabernacle it compares to the only true light in the church – the word of God. We can see this foreshadowed in Zechariah 4:1-6 in a talk between him and an angel. Much like the candlestick needed constant care to remain lit, the Bible requires our frequent attention to stay fresh and growing within us.
  • The Table of the Showbread – Two rows of fresh bread, twelve loaves in all, were kept on the table. This suggests a number of things: 12 tribes of Israel, the provision of their needs, two Israels (physical and spiritual.) Luke referenced it as Christ’s kingdom (Luke 22:29,30)
  • The Golden Alter – This is a symbol of the prayers of God’s people. (Revelation 5:8) The fact that it was located in the holy place, in front of the veil, instead of out in the court area, (Exodus 40:22,24,26) shows that prayer was intended for those in his Kingdom and not generally for just anyone.
  • The Veil of the Temple – Its three colors suggest the Trinity. It was discussed in Scripture to represent the mysteries of the Old Testament (2 Corinthians 3:14-16), Christ’s death and triumph over it (Isaiah 25:7-8), the flesh of Christ (Hebrews 10:19-22), A symbol of the separation of God and man (Hebrews 10:20)
  • The Ark of the Covenant – The container of the most holy things laid before God. It had the tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod that budded, and an urn of manna. It is interesting that the Hebrews writer chose not to detail those things.

Great arguments like those made in Hebrews are the reason we can be confident in the Bible. It took 1600 years and 40 men to pen the book conceived and written by single Author. The cohesion and unity of all the elements make it clear that it was inspired by God.

The Arch of Titus includes an honor to the siege of Jerusalem, showing the spoils from the temple.

The Arch of Titus includes an honor to the siege of Jerusalem, showing the spoils from the temple.

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8 Reasons Christ was like Melchizedek

July 29, 2013


In the Post 6 Ways Christ Was Better than the Law, the third bullet was that he was a priest like Melchizedek. How does that make him better than the Levitical priesthood and why would that argument have been convincing to the Jews?


An image of Melchizedek painted onto the altar side near the Royal Doors at Libotin wooden church, Maramure? County, Romania

Here are some interesting things we can know about Melchizedek from Hebrews 7:

  • Melchizedek means king of righteousness
  • King of Salem means king of peace
  • Melchizedek was both a king and priest
  • Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham
  • Melchizedek brought forth bread and wine
  • He blessed Abraham
  • Melchizedek’s service included the Gentiles
  • Melchizedek’s birth, death, ancestry and descendants has no Scriptural record.

As the writer pointed out in Hebrews 5:6 (and quoting Psalm 110:4) the expectation by the Jews was for one like Melchizedek to come. Since a main argument in the book of Hebrews is that Christ is the Most High Priest, these points would not have been missed by the Christians considering backsliding into Judaism.

Daily Bible reading for July 29, 2013

Song 6:4-12
Judges 8
Jeremiah 24
Hebrews 7

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6 of the Basics of Christianity

July 28, 2013

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Hebrews 5:11-6:20 was listed as one of the 5 Warnings to Christians given in Hebrews. One of the reasons I called it a warning of lethargy is because of the tendency for people to forget the basics of Christianity – the so-called “milk” of the word. It is ironic that this warning was given in a time when the gospel was given by inspiration. They were so close to the source, yet they were urged to get a solid grip on the basics so they could move on to deeper things.

The Basics of Christianity

The Hebrews writer listed off 6 items that Christians need to insure they have a firm grasp on. The proof that we don’t is in the sheer number of religious denominations out there. This is the opposite of the “one body” that Paul taught about. (Ephesians 4:4-5) Here they are given by the writer in no particular order:

The Basics of Christianity are Foundational

The basics of Christianity are critical to a firm foundation of deeper study

  • Repentance from dead works – Changing our ways from the world is an essential step in salvation (Luke 13:3) Hebrews makes a case that all works are dead unless they are motivated by faith and love of God
  • Faith toward God – A fundamental. (Hebrews 11:6) In fact it is so fundamental that many quit reading their Bibles when they see faith is a requirement to salvation.
  • Teaching of baptisms – There are around seven contexts of the word baptism discussed in the New Testament, including the one baptism of Ephesians 4:4-5. This is the gateway act of salvation. (Mark 16:16-16, Acts 2:38) It is crucial to understand how this fits into God’s plan
  • Laying on of hands – Since the printed and leather bound Bible didn’t just fall out of the sky, God had other means to get his word out there. 1 Corinthians 12-14 is a discussion of the spiritual gifts the first century Christians were given to help spread the gospel.
  • Resurrection of the dead – I don’t know that we can ever spend enough time on this. The empty tomb is the foundation of Christianity. Paul spent his entire career on this teaching
  • The eternal judgment – Sadly, many sinners think they are “ok.” There is a very big surprise waiting for those who haven’t given enough time to the idea that they will be held accountable on judgment day. (Hebrews 9:27)

Not being well grounded in these principles, these Basics of Christianity,  is dangerous to our salvation. Without them we cannot go on to deeper understanding. Without them we will fall short.

Daily Bible reading for July 28th

Song 5:10-6:3
Judges 7
Jeremiah 23:9-40
Hebrews 5:11-6:20

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10 Christian “One Anothers”

July 27, 2013

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Christianity involves one another more than self

Christianity involves one another more than self

Love one another:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another ; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:34-35).

Prefer one another in honor:
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (Romans 12:10).

Admonish one another:
And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another (Romans 15:14).

Speak the truth in love one to another:
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15).

With gentleness one to another:
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

Forbear one another:
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).

Forgive one another:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).

Comfort one another:
Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Edify one another:
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Exhort one another:
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).

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Bible Reading: Start With Jude

July 26, 2013

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Tonight a group from my church will meet for another Biblepalooza. I have written about it before, but we call it Biblepalooza to contrast our love for God’s word against the worldly activities that use up our time. These are some long sessions of Bible reading and it is an exercise just to be prepared mentally and physically to sit through it.

Diligent Bible Reading

In our quest to be at home with God one day, we’ll have plenty of opportunity to fall away – to leave the path of that quest. Just like the Jews that were denied entry to the Promised Land, our disobedience and weakness of faith can keep us out. (Hebrews 3:16-19) God has given us his word so we can learn through diligent study how to avoid being “…tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine….” (Ephesians 4:11-14)

It is through this word that our faith grows. (Romans 10:17)

Stacks of Book for Bible Reading

There is nothing like extensive study of the knowledge in God’s word

In our age of instant gratification, we have a hard time waiting. We hate having to put a great deal of effort into anything. This has sadly gotten into our churches and caused Christians to pass on serious or extended Bible reading. We have been tricked into believing that Google will give us all the answers on demand.

God expects a bit more effort than that. To get to that promised rest, we have to stay on top the knowledge he wants us to have. God’s word has a way of laying us open and exposing the blemishes that would cause his rejection of us. (Hebrews 4:11-13)

I put this site together as a way to help build a daily habit of Bible reading and study. Whether it be a few minutes or an hour or more, I want us all in the word daily…


We need even more. We need to set time aside for an occasional extensive reading. Nothing gets you plugged into what a book of the Bible is trying to teach you than to read it in one sitting.

Our group’s Biblepalooza is one way of doing that. If you don’t have access to something like that, find another way. Do it with your family. Do it by yourself. Just do it.

The more you do, though, the more you want.

If you have to, start with Jude, and work backwards through the books. (In case you never noticed, the epistles are arranged longest to shortest) Once you get the thrill of reading a complete book, you will be ready for the longer ones.

Friends, Be Diligent. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Daily Bible reading for July 26

Song 4:9-5:1
Judges 5
Jeremiah 21
Hebrews 3:7-4:13

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What is Doing Right?

July 25, 2013

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Some people think they are doing right, but in the end it leads to death. – Proverbs 16:25 NCV

When the Blue Fairy and Jiminy Cricket told Pinocchio to “let his conscience be his guide,” the world thought (and maybe still does) they were getting good sound Bible principles. Here is a little food for thought on this “Disney theology:”

  • The majority of people living in sin are not acting against their conscience.
  • Incorrect worship is sinful yet it usually makes people feel good about what they have “done for God.” (Colossians 2:23)
  • A philanthropist that never obeys the gospel will be passed over at the judgment even though most consider him “good”

What steps are you taking to know that you are “doing right?”

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6 Ways Christ Was Better Than The Law

July 25, 2013


An ongoing theme in Hebrews is that Christ was better. Christians enjoy a better agreement with God than the Jews had under the old law -all because Christ came and died for us.

Christ Was Better

  • Christ is better than angels (Hebrews 1:4-14) – The Angels worship him (Hebrews 1:6), He is God (Hebrews 1:8)

    Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek — by Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464–67

    Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek — by Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464–67

  • Christ is greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:1-6) – Christ was everything Moses was (prophet, mediator, king) and more (prophet, mediator, king, high priest)
  • Greater priest than the Levites (Hebrews 4:14-5:10) – He was both high priest and king. (Hebrews 5:5, Psalm 110) More Details ->
  • A priest like Melchizedek (Hebrews 7) – Christ’s priesthood is permanent (Hebrews 7:24), No need for daily sacrifices (Hebrews 7:27)
  • Sealed a superior covenant (Hebrews 7:22, Hebrews 8) – Sins are no longer remembered once forgiven, made the first old(Hebrews 8:10), Does not apply only to the Jews (Galatians 3:29)
  • A better sacrifice (Hebrews 9:1 – 10:39) – Used his own blood as a sacrifice once and for all (Hebrews 9:11-13)

And Three Things We Need to do to be Better

In return he expects better service. (Hebrews 12-13)

  • We treat Christianity like a race, running with endurance and setting aside anything that would slow us down or encumber us. (Hebrews 12:1)
  • We are to accept the discipline of a loving father that cares enough for us to make sure we are going the right way. (Hebrews 12:7-11)
  • We are to pick ourselves up and go on when we notice we are down (Hebrews 12:12-13)

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7 Warnings to Christians

July 24, 2013

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Five times during the course of Hebrews, the writer digresses from the main text to give some specific warnings to the Christians it is addressing. If we believe Christianity is slipping away, then I suggest these are where we start looking to fix it.

Key Warnings For Christians

There are usually urgent conditions behind every warning

There are usually urgent conditions behind every warning

  • Pay closer attention (Hebrews 2:1-4) – We should be more diligent in our Bible study. Anything that is neglected becomes old and useless faster than the things we use and protect. Neglect of our Bible study causes us to drift away.
  • Care for your beliefs (Hebrews 3:7-11) – The lure of innovative worship and doctrine, or refusing to leave something old and familiar when the truth is before us will cause us to fall.
  • Work toward maturity  (Hebrews 5:11-6:20) – It is just as fatal to our salvation to do nothing as it is to commit outright sins. You see, doing nothing is an active decision and is therefore a sinful act.
  • There are no more sacrifices (Hebrews 10:26-29) – The last and greatest sacrifice has been made for us. If we refuse to honor that through obedience, there is nothing more that can be done
  • Listen to the voice of heaven (Hebrews 12:25-29) – God always acted as promised based on the words of his prophets, how much more sure is it that he will act upon the words delivered by his own Son?

Since I first worked on this lesson, I have added two additional points.

  • Enter the rest (Hebrews 4:11-13) – Following the word of God takes a lot of work and focus. Whether or no we take it on, we will be exposed by it.
  • Avoid strange doctrine (13:9-15) – Any doctrine that does not come from Christ is strange or foreign. It doesn’t matter if we grew up with it or our best friend taught it to us. Stick to the Bible.

These seven building blocks are required for strong churches, families and individuals. When properly applied, they make the rest of God’s word easy to follow and a joy to be a part of.

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7 Reasons Christ is King

July 23, 2013


Hebrews opens with the writer explaining the superiority of Christ over all of the devices of the Jews – the law, the prophets – Judaism in general. The Jews worked hard to discredit Christ as the one they were expecting, but many came to realize the truth.

For those who were weakened by the efforts of the Jews to discredit Christianity, the writer opened the letter with seven reasons that they should recognize Christ’s authority and his qualifications as the King of kings.

The Credentials of Christ

Hebrews 1:2-3 packs seven things to look for in Christ:sunlight2

  1. He was appointed heir of all things (Psalm 2:8, Hebrews 1:5)
  2. The world was made through him (Colossians 1:16, John 1:3, Genesis 1:26)
  3. His excellence of character (John 1:14) – This is noted in Hebrews 1:3a as his radiance or effulgence
  4. He is the image of God (Hebrews 1:3b)
  5. He is a sustaining force (Colossians 1:16-17)
  6. He purchased our sins (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  7. He sits at God’s right hand (1 Corinthians 15:25, Hebrews 8:1)

Through every conceivable right of lordship, Christ is in authority. The Bible is brimming with proof that should encourage the faithful student to continue to follow him. This is the primary reason that reading your Bible is so important – it causes your faith to grow. (Romans 10:17) The seven credentials of Christ listed in Hebrews 1 are points that are continuously proven throughout the Bible – Old and New Testaments. Having these proven time and time again is what gives us solid hope. (Hebrews 11:1)

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Disobedience for Convenience

July 22, 2013

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Avoid letting sinful decisions become a thorn in the side

Man has a history of modifying God’s word to meet his needs.

  • Nadab and Abihu made a custom mixture and created strange fire (Leviticus 10:1-3)
  • Moses was too embarrassed to speak to the stone for water and struck it instead (Numbers 20:8-12)
  • Jonah didn’t want God to save Nineveh if they repented (Jonah 4:1-4)

The children of Israel were no different. They were supposed to drive the inhabitants completely out of Canaan, but they did not. Their disobedience ranged from taking the natives as slaves to allowing the natives to live among them as they took control of the land. (Judges 1)

God revoked his promise to drive the natives out and allowed them to become a “thorn in the side” of Israel. (Judges 2:3) We see throughout the rest of the Old Testament that God’s chosen people were drawn away from him by the sins and temptations of Canaan’s descendants. In all of the cases of disobedience, we see that God did not clean up their mess.

Even now, man continues to modify God’s word to suit his needs. And even now, man is getting himself into sinful jams that are more and more difficult to get out of. Take for instance:

  • Religious denominations: These were created by man’s slight changes from God’s word being taught as truth. How does a professional minister for one of these repent?
  • Divorce and remarriage: Through recent years, divorce has gotten easy to get for reason other than adultery. How do you break up an unbiblical marriage that has produced children?
  • Taking and keeping jobs that keep us away from the church: How does a person that becomes financially dependent on such a job quit so it stops weakening his or her faith?

This is the nature of disobedience. Making decisions contrary to God’s word to suit our needs and weakly justifying them has serious implications but fools us into thinking we’re OK. If you are not where you need to be spiritually, a serious look back at the choices you’ve made could help you see the way back to the correct path.

Daily Reading for July 22

Song 1:9-2:7
Judges 1
Jeremiah 17
Matthew 28

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In Memory

July 21, 2013

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Observing Christ’s Memory

As you go into your next church service, here are some thoughts for reflection while you participate in the Lord’s Supper to honor his memory. Look over Matthew 26 and 27 or Luke 22 and 23:cross

  • Jesus was full of sorrow and dread as the time approached for his crucifixion.
  • Jesus could have put a stop to it at any point.
  • He had to endure a crowd of his people choosing a horrible, vile man over him
  • Even someone suffering the same fate mocked him.

Some waited until it was too late to admit that “Truly he was the Son of God!” They realized they were too late to be able to enjoy being in his physical presence.

What can you start doing today to be a credit to his sacrifice? What would you miss if you suddenly realized it is too late?

Daily Bible reading for July 21

Song of Solomon 1:1-8
Joshua 23-24
Jeremiah 15:10-16:21
Matthew 27:27-66

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Time for a Decision

July 20, 2013


The Decision of Decisions


Sometimes we are tempted not to make decisions

How we live and who we surround ourselves with have a lot to do with how we’ll react to life. The way we react to life is made up of the chain of decisions we make to get through the day. Sometimes we even decide not to make a decision (which is still a decision!) – we just let happen what may.

What drives our choices?

  • The roar of a crowd of strangers
  • Approval of others
  • The subtle hints of a friend
  • What we feel in our heart
  • Experience

Pilate had all of these things at work when he faced the decision of whether to acquit Jesus. He knew deep down Jesus was innocent. His wife did her best to confirm it. In the end, he let the masses guide his decision not to decide, and released another who did not deserve freedom. (Matthew 27:15-23) Pilate literally washed his hands of it!

How often do we get the chance to influence the outcome of an event but fail to speak up?

  • We vote for those who would legalize abortion or legitimize sinful lifestyles
  • We attend parties or events in places Christians shouldn’t be
  • We dress in the “fashionable” way
  • We don’t correct those in our presence.

Just like Pilate, we often let things happen – the wrong things – because we decided not to act or speak. Even when we have enough influence to have changed the outcome!

James 4:17 describes exactly what I mean.

Daily Bible reading for July 20

Ecclesiastes 12:9-14
Joshua 22
Jeremiah 14:1-15:9
Matthew 27:1-26

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How God Feels When His People Sin

July 19, 2013

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A Celebration of Sin

The Babylonians are coming and God is tired of the sin.

At least that was the warning that Jeremiah spent 40 or 50 years trying to tell the Jews. Josiah had started restoring the temple and the law but it just wasn’t enough. The people had gotten so sinful they couldn’t even blush anymore. (Jeremiah 6:15) People were proud of the debauchery they could practice.

Jeremiah contemplating Israel's sin

Jeremiah as painted on the Sistine Chapel

In Jeremiah 13:1-11, God compares a loincloth as it clings to the waist of a man to the way he wanted the children of Israel to cling to him. God laid out an excellent plan for his people. One that would insure they would never want for anything. For whatever reason, the lure of false gods and strange people was enough to abandon that security.

Just as the cloth rotted from being hidden in the damp rocks of the river, (Jeremiah 13:7) God decided he would allow the pride of his people rot. A people that would do such a thing are good for nothing. (Jeremiah 13:10)

God gave his people warning after warning, but it was always accompanied with an offer of forgiveness. That didn’t happen in this event or anywhere in chapter 13 for that matter. Bible scholars can argue over the exact meaning of the parts of this difficult prophesy, but one thing is clear:

The ruined loincloth is the illustration of how God feels when his children fail him.

Daily Bible reading for July 19

Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8
Joshua 21
Jeremiah 13
Matthew 26:30-75

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Fruit of the Spirit: Love

July 18, 2013

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance Gal 5:22-23

Love Demonstrated Through Action

I saved the best for last in this series. Love is the first item in the fruit of the Spirit. Love is the last item in Peter’s list of Christian graces (2 Peter 1:5-7) Whether it’s first or last in the list, we understand that it takes love to have the other attributes. Look at it again and we see that having the other attributes makes us more loving. This is how our spirituality grows and sustains

That spirituality makes something very special manifest in our lives toward the father in heaven. The greatest command is to love God with all our hearts and our souls and our minds. When Jesus called this the greatest commandment in Matthew 5:37, he said the second one was just like it – Love your neighbor as much as yourself .(Matthew 5:39) That means to love your neighbor is loving God!

When the Agape type of love is mentioned in scripture is it associated with activity and service. God demonstrated it through the gift of his only son. (John 3:16) A couple of ways we can respond to that is by:

  • keeping His commandments John 15:10
  • keeping it sincere Romans 12:9
  • serving others Gal 5:13-14

Jesus said that the only way we can be identified with Him is to have this love for one another. (John 13:35) He will recognize us when we have the fruit of love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, self-control, longsuffering, and gentleness.

Daily Bible reading for July 18

Ecclesiastes 11:1-8
Joshua 20
Jeremiah 11:18-12:17
Matthew 26:1-29

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