Archive | August, 2013

We Are Wonderfully Made

August 31, 2013

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Every time I read how Luke in his narrative and Elizabeth speaking to Mary refer to the life in her womb,  I think about how they both call it “the baby.” (Luke 1:39-45)

Baby in Womb - 14 Weeks

Baby in Womb – 14 Weeks

  • He was not called a lump of cells.
  • He was not called a fetus or any other scientific name

He leaped for joy when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, spoke to Elizabeth. So based on what the Bible tells us, the life inside the womb is a person and is capable of being filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:15)

The Biblical attitude of life in the womb is that the person’s life is already mapped out and that God is looking upon him, even then. (Psalm 139:13-16)

Baby in Womb - 17 Weeks

Baby in Womb – 17 Weeks

The Biblical attitude of life in the womb is that it is part of the Lord’s heritage. Further, it tells us the “fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3-5)

So an open question to the world is this:

Is that life in the womb a child or a choice?

If you still have trouble with this question, here are some more passages to consider:

  • 1 Corinthians 12:18 – God arranged the members of the body
  • Galatians 1:15 – Paul set apart before his birth
  • Proverbs 6:17 – shedding innocent blood is something God hates
  • Isaiah 49:1 – Isaiah was named from the womb
  • Jeremiah 1:4-5 – Jeremiah was appointed a prophet from the womb

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Build Upon the Rock

August 30, 2013

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God and Especially Jesus are referred to as our rock throughout the Bible. The psalmist builds on that idea: For the righteous, he is a firm foundation (Psalm 28). In Moses’ song, he praises the safety of the rock and shows the folly of other choices. (Deuteronomy 32)

Who Builds on the Rock?

The challenge for us is to build and trust in the rock of our salvation, not stumble over it in spite of ourselves. Some things to remember about where we build our house from Matthew 7:21-27:

Our choices are to build on the rock or on the sand

Our choices are to build on the rock or on the sand

  • Not everyone that claims to follow God will be saved
  • A few “good” works will not save us
  • True faith and love in Jesus is where we begin our relationship and building our lives.
  • Building a life on Christ means obedience to him
  • Any deviation from his will transfers us over the shifty sand
  • One the edifice built on the rock will survive the wind and the rain

The pursuit of a life build on Jesus will have great results, but dependence one’s self will result in a great fall.

Daily Bible reading for August 30

Psalm 28
1 Samuel 17
Habakkuk 3
Luke 1:1-25

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Credit Where There is Credit Due

August 29, 2013

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David dedicates a number of his works to praising God. In Psalm 29 he reminds us that God is the creator of all has credit due of our acknowledgement of His glory and power. There is a sense of great power, like a thunderstorm, that ends with peace and safety.

Modern idolatry detracts from God’s place by diminishing him in favor of money, ungodly pursuits, or other people. While we may not erect shrines to pagan gods these days, we often enslave ourselves material things without thinking about it.

Remember to recognize God’s creation in every corner of your life. Prioritize him above all else and the rest will take care of itself.

Daily Bible reading for August 29

Psalm 27
1 Samuel 16
Habakkuk 1:12-2:20
2 Peter 3

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False Teachers in the Church

August 28, 2013

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While Peter’s first letter is about the trials to come to the church from external sources through persecution, the second letter is about the false teachers attacking it from within. He acknowledged they were already at work within the church, even ignoring what they knew through spiritual gifts. And he warned that they would keep coming (2 Peter 2:1-3)

The Guilt of False Teachers

Peter’s words ring true even today. There are those false teachers that would bring discredit to the word even in their lifestyle. He speaks of:

  • Heresies (2 Peter 2:1)
  • Sensuality (2 Peter 2:2)
  • Covetousness (2 Peter 2:3)
  • Defiling lust (2 Peter 2:10)
  • Ignorant blasphemers (2 Peter 2:12)
  • Adulterers (2 Peter 2:14)
  • Slaves of corruption (2 Peter 2:19)

It is a very difficult task to teach against sins to the world when they world can point back to the church’s own sins they are overlooking.

New Testament Warnings of False Teachers

Peter wasn’t alone in his warnings either. There is much to be said in the New Testament about those false teachers that want to trick you out of your salvation:

False teachers can make things look fine outside when the destruction is inside

False teachers can make things look fine outside when the destruction is inside

  • Jesus warns of wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15)
  • Jesus warns of those that would lead us astray (Matthew 24:11)
  • Paul warns of grievous wolves (Acts 20:29-30)
  • Paul said it would be of huge magnitude and evil nature (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
  • Paul warned of leadership using their influence to influence false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1-3 2 Timothy 3:1-9)
  • Jude warned of the trend of apostasy already arising (Jude 4-9)

As we can see, there really is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9) We are to just keep trying to save those that will listen and teach whenever we can. If God can save just Noah from the great flood and if he can save Lot from the destruction of entire cities, then he will be able to save the last of his faithful servants at the end.

Daily Bible reading for August 28

Psalm 26
1 Samuel 15
Habakkuk 1:1-11
2 Peter 2

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A Point of Light

August 27, 2013

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Previously, we considered our knowledge of the Scriptures being needed to approach God. Peter shows us the kind of people we need to be generally, (2 Peter 1:5-7) but he was also preparing his readers to be aware of false prophets. He referred us to our Bibles as a source of light.

Our Source of Light

The Word is a beacon of light

The Word is a beacon of light

When one enters a room that is totally dark, the smallest point of light is almost blinding. When our sailors are at sea, they are not allow to have any white light topside after dusk. Did you know the flash of a cigarette lighter can be seen for miles over the darkness of the sea?

Peter wants you to know the word is like that. (2 Peter 1:19) In order to make a good defense against what is to come, we have to pay attention to the scriptures just like a flash of light.

Our understanding

We cannot leave the understanding to others and expect them to help us. We rarely have the luxury of their availability when we stumble into an opportunity to teach or defend the word. Indeed, the apostles expected us to understand what they wrote. (Ephesians 3:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:27, 1 John 2:12-13)

Even Jesus expected one questioning him to have understood the Scriptures. (Luke 10:26) So how do we get there?

  • We study (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)
  • We teach (2 Timothy 2:2)
  • We listen to other teachers (Acts 8:30-31)

2 Peter 1:12-21 mentions God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and the prophets all in that short paragraph. What better source of light and knowledge than that which was endorsed and proven by these?

Daily Bible reading for August 27

Psalm 25
1 Samuel 14
Lamentations 5
2 Peter 1:12-21

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The Power of Knowledge and a Pure Heart

August 26, 2013

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The psalmist writes that the earth and everything in it is the Lord’s. (Psalm 24:1-2) Peter writes that we have been granted everything we need to use the earth for God’s will. (2 Peter 1:3-4) Reading through 2 Peter, we find that “everything” to be knowledge.

Peter shows us:

  • that knowledge is found in his promises ( 2 Peter 1:2-4)
  • that knowledge is for our growth (2 Peter 1:5-11)
  • that knowledge needs to be taught and remembered (2 Peter 1:12-15)
  • That knowledge comes from credible sources (2 Peter 1:16-21)

The Psalmist asks “who will ascend the hill of the Lord?” then he answers “Clean hands and a pure heart.” (Psalm 24:3-4)

Peter shows us the “Christian Graces,” the things that can grow in a pure heart minded with clean hands. (2 Peter 1:5-7) We are to supply our faith with these things. When you read the verse notice how you need one to get the other:

  • Virtue – this is the kind of courage we need in today’s world as much as they needed in Peter’s time
  • Knowledge – continuing study of God’s word
  • Self-Control – everyone can use more of it
  • Patience – take advantage of challenges to learn this
  • Godliness – honoring God’s duties as a top priority
  • Brotherly kindness – a basic affection for fellow man
  • Love – this is an all-inclusive love. The desire to serve everyone

With these things in our life we become fruitful. We notice in 2 Peter 1:8 that big word “if.” They are not automatic and have to be worked on. That is what David was telling us when he said it was for those that seek him. (Psalm 24:6)

We have the knowledge. We can hold it in our hands. We need to use our clean hands, our pure heart, and the knowledge before us to seek God continuously.

Daily Reading for August 26

Psalm 24
1 Samuel 13
Lamentations 4
2 Peter 1:1-11

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Prepare For Worship

August 25, 2013

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As we prepare for worship today, let us really prepare.

Before Worship

As you are getting ready, be deliberate about the setting yourself up to be in a positive mood.

  • Stretch or exercise lightly
  • Eat something
  • Dress well
  • Sing some hymns – just the parts you know by heart

These are all things that set you up to have a great day, every day. They also show your intention of worshiping God rather than that you just barely made it.

During Worship

When you get to worship, make sure you are fully involved. Put away the world for a couple of hours. A complete worship should look something like:

  • Bible class – listen, participate, ask questions. The teacher spent a lot of time preparing for you.
  • Singing – bring your heart to this part of the worship, it is your instrument (Ephesians 5:19)
  • Praying – listen to every word as they are offered up to God. Prayer is powerful (James 5:16)
  • Communion – contemplate the love of God shown through the gift of his Son. (John 3:16)
  • Giving – You should have already planned the portion of you earnings you will return to the Lord (1 Corinthians 16:2)
  • Sermon – Again, someone spent a lot of time preparing. Takes notes. Write good points in the margin of your Bible. Try to understand.

Part of worshiping in spirit and in truth is actually being there in your whole heart, mind and body. (John 4:24) Start today looking for ways to improve that.

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Baptism and Noah’s Flood

August 24, 2013

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In 1 Peter 3:18-20, Peter compares baptism with the flood and the salvation of Noah’s family. In the same way that the flood separated Noah from the wicked, baptism separates us from the world and brings us into Christ.

Five More Ways the Flood Points to Baptism

So how else does the flood point to baptism and Christianity?

Peter compares baptism to Noah's flood waters

Cole Thomas – The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge – 1829

  • Noah was on the water for nine months, then began to live on the earth. Christians are to be born of water (John 3:5)
  • The flood destroyed the wicked who laughed and scoffed at Noah. Baptism might be thought to do the same thing considering the numbers that scoff and deride it as unnecessary.
  • Water saved Noah. Water saves Christians who walk in newness of life.
  • The flood washed away the filth of an evil generation. Water washes away sins (Acts 22:16)
  • Just a few were saved through the flood. Just a few, in relative terms, will be save through baptism.

Baptism is our way to get into Christ. Responding to our faith in baptism is God’s plan for the beginning of our life serving him. Baptism is the way we gain association with Christ ad his church.

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Our Government and Our Place in it

August 23, 2013

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Along with Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-25 instruct us to honor the authority of the government to the extent that is doesn’t conflict with God’s word. (For the Lord’s sake v13, cf. Acts 5:27-32)

Dealing With the Government and God’s Word

There are a lot of new laws, and disregard for old laws coming into play these days that make it very difficult for a dedicated Christian to honor the government. The Christians in Peter’s time were facing a lot worse than this. They were even at a disadvantage because they, as citizens, had no control over their government or who was in charge.

There are churches being persecuted today for simply obeying God’s word. What’s more, they are suffering for shedding light on the scriptures for others. We know that darkness does not like the light, and those events are the proof. (John 3:19-21)

How do we deal with a government that is both sanctioned by God's word and Breaking God's word?

How do we deal with a government that is both sanctioned by God’s word and Breaking God’s word?

In times like these, where the government and its citizens seem to have abandoned God, it is very important that Christians get back to the basics. We need to do our best to be on our best behavior. This is the weapon of choice against the ignorance and foolishness of those people. (1 Peter 2:15) Peter goes on to encourage goodness in the face of mistreatment as this is worth something in the sight of God. (1 Peter 2:20)

As we face these discussions with our secular friends, we can stand tall with our faith and God’s word as our shield and sword. (Ephesians 6:17) To do this we need to:

  • Practice impeccable behavior
  • Get good with our scriptures
  • Understand the weakness in the other’s arguments and remove the weakness in ours.

Most of all … Trust God’s plan and keep fighting the good fight. (1 Timothy 6:12)

Daily Bible reading for August 23

Psalm 21
1 Samuel 9:1-10:16
Lamentations 1
1 Peter 2:11-3:12

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Built Up to Sacrifice

August 22, 2013

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God’s original intention for his children were to become a nation of his priests. (Exodus 19:6) Jesus was the cornerstone of that intention. Having been baptized into him, we are to be used as living stones to build up his spiritual temple. (1 Peter 2:4-5) Christians therefore, are his priests. The concept is also a major point in the book of Hebrews and mentioned in Revelation 1:6.

Part of the responsibilities of the priests were to offer sacrifices. This was a big deal to the Jews of the time because once Christ sacrificed himself, there was no more need for the bloodshed of bulls and goats. This took away a major part of the ceremony of the Jewish nation. Peter reminds us that that we are a part of the holy priesthood with related tasks to practice.

Ten Ways Christians Sacrifice

New Testament Christians do not offer sacrifices the same way the Jews did. We have a number of other responsibilities that Peter refers to as Spiritual Sacrifices. (1 Peter 2:4-5)

We sacrifice through our:

Francisco de Zurbarán, The Bound Lamb, 1635–40. Rights reserved © Museo Nacional del Prado–Madrid.

Francisco de Zurbarán, The Bound Lamb, 1635–40. Rights
reserved © Museo Nacional del Prado–Madrid.

  • Our faith (Philippians 2:17)
  • Our love of God (Mark 12:33)
  • Our repentance (Hosea 14:2)
  • Our confession of faith in Christ (Hebrews 13:15,16)
  • Our baptism into Christ (Romans 12:1, Hebrews 10:19-22)
  • Our praise of God (Hebrews 13:15)
  • Our contributions (Philippians 4:18)
  • Our songs (Colossians 3:16)
  • Our prayers (Revelation 5:8)
  • Our life of honor and love (2 Timothy 4:6, Ephesians 5:2)

As we worship and serve God in these various ways, we need to be mindful of the reasons we do them. We often forget the reason and only go through the motions.

Daily Bible reading for August 22

Psalm 20
1 Samuel 8
Jeremiah 52
1 Peter 2:4-10

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A Perfect Creation

August 21, 2013

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God’s glory is spelled out in his creation.

Psalm 19 opens declaring that nature – the universe we live in – is the proof, the voice and the design of God. There is nowhere on earth to hide from this declaration.


As we get older and lose the childish wonder we are all born with, it seems we forget to “stop and smell the roses.” We no longer sit and contemplate a butterfly or the stars in the heavens. I wonder if that doesn’t have something to do with the difficulty we have setting a priority of studying God’s word frequently and deeply.

David transitions from the beauty of God’s creation to the beauty and perfection of the word of God as if to show us just how huge it really is. He tells us

Sometimes we need to stop and consider God's creation

Sometimes we need to stop and consider God’s creation

it is perfect,

it is right

it is pure,

clean and true …

In our time, we have the privilege of being able to hold the complete collection of the things God wanted us to know in our hands. It fits on our smart phones. We can have abundant copies to give away for very little cost. This is a collection of works that people have had to die over.

Like most things we forget to treasure it when we have it in abundance. Shouldn’t we remember its power? With God’s word we can:

  • convert a soul ( 2 Corinthians 7:9-11, Acts 3:19-20)
  • glean simple wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)
  • bring joy to the heart (1 Peter 1:3-9)
  • enlighten the eyes (1 John 1:5-7, Ephesians 5:8-17)
  • see God’s endurance (1 Peter 1:22-25)

Today, I give you permission to slow down and take in the world and take in the word. Those who are forgetting to do this are those who are not as close to God as they need to be. Listen to his speech. Take in his knowledge (Psalm 19:2)

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The Blackberry Test

August 20, 2013

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My hands were sticky and purple from broken blackberries and burning from the briar scratches. They seemed to scratch me no matter what I tried to avoid it.

I had been out there for what seemed like forever to my sixth grade experience and the bottom of my pan was barely covered.

How I ended up in this mess is just a blur – All I know is I simply asked my grandmother when there was going to be blackberry jelly this year.

If she said anything, I didn’t hear it. She just bent under the sink and I heard her digging that pan out from under the sink. That pan is the pan that comes out when someone is going to have to go to the garden – and it held at least 40 gallons. Any twelve year old that hears that sound would know to run the other direction, but I was trapped.

Let me just say, I have since have tested every blackberry jelly sold in stores and I have never found one that comes close to the jelly my grandmother used to make.

Blackberries are a lot of trouble to gather, but worth it in the end!

Blackberries are a lot of trouble to gather, but worth it in the end!

After suffering awhile with the hot sand and the thorns, I see a most joyous site! Grandma was coming out to rescue me! In a matter of minutes, the pan was full enough for her and she invited me back up to have something to drink. On the walk up I asked her how long I had been out there. She said she thought it was a little more than a half an hour.

The answer to the next question became part of the fabric of my life. “Why does it have to be so hard to get the blackberries?”

With a soft laugh she replied, “So you’ll remember to be thankful for them.”

I’m sure I didn’t have a lot of use for that answer as a sixth grader, but as I read through 1 Peter 1:3-9 and think about those Christians dealing with some extraordinary times, I start to really get that. The passages about how our patience and joy should grow and abound also take me back to that day almost every time. (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5)

“So I’ll remember to be thankful ….”

I’m sure Grandma would be proud to know she was first to introduce me to the idea that life’s challenges happen for our benefit just like these passages teach us.

I am sure too, that the jelly was the best ever that year.

Daily Bible reading for August 20

Psalm 18
1 Samuel 5:1-7:2
Jeremiah 50
1 Peter 1:1-12

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7 Ways God Forgives

August 19, 2013

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We serve a loving and forgiving God. When he forgives us, his forgiveness is complete.

Seven ways God Forgives Us

From these verses we can see that we are never in a position to be left unforgiven. The rest is up to us to make some changes and ask!

  • “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive. . .” (Psalm 86:5)
  • “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12)
  • “. . .For thou hast cast all my sins behind my back” (Isaiah 38:17)
  • “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Isaiah 43:25)
  • “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, and as a cloud, thy sins return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed. . .” (Isaiah 44:22, 23)
  • “. . .I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34)
  • “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18).

Daily Bible reading for August 19

Psalm 17
1 Samuel 4
Jeremiah 49
Mark 16

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5 Invitations to Pray for our Needs

August 18, 2013

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As you prepare for worship today, consider making an extra effort to really concentrate on the prayers led during the service. That is a time that we can come together as a group and talk to God as one.

God wants us to talk to him and has given us plenty of reason to. He has invited us countless times to pray for what is needed for ourselves and for others. Here are just five:

Praying hands

Praying hands

  • Matthew 7:7-11 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:…
  • John 14:13-14 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
  • Philippians 4:6 Be careful [NKJV: anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
  • James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
  • 1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Daily Bible reading for August 18

Psalm 16
1 Samuel 3
Jeremiah 48
Mark 15

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The Clutter of Life

August 17, 2013

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As I was cleaning out my sold house in preparation for closing this week, I was amazed by the amount of “stuff” I was storing that was not worth the space it occupied. Items that contributed nothing to household and could be thrown away without a conscience. Junk that detracted from the beauty of other things that I own.

A Cluttered life

The clutter in our habits and our schedule can hide the beauty of our heart.

That makes me wonder what I have using up the space in my life. Things that eat up my time and attention that do not contribute to God, family or my own spiritual needs.

Psalm 15 asks a related question: “Who is going to dwell with God?” Certainly not those who have clutter in their lives that keep them from practicing all that God wants from us.

Daily Bible reading for August 17

Psalm 15
1 Samuel 2:12-36
Jeremiah 46-47
Mark 14

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