Bible

All That I Need

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There was a barrier keeping the young man in Mark 10:17-31 out of the kingdom:  his love of money.  Money represented his pride of accomplishment and self-effort.  Ironically, his attitude made him unable to keep the first commandment, to let nothing be more important than God.  This man came to Jesus wondering what he could do; he left seeing what he was unable to do.

Jesus said it was very difficult for the rich to get into the kingdom of God because the rich have most of their basic physical needs met and thus often become self-reliant.  When they feel empty, they can buy something new to dull the pain that was meant to drive them toward God.  Their abundance becomes their deficiency.  Jesus explained that in the world to come, the values of this world will be reversed.

Commentary from The One Year NIV Devotional NT, April 20, Tyndale House Publishers. 2003.

Destroyer

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Satan’s deceptive cunning is highlighted by Paul’s statement that he becomes an angel of light, disguising evil as good (2 Cor. 11:14).  His destructive ferocity comes out in the description of him as a roaring, devouring lion (1 Pet. 5:8) and as a dragon (Rev. 12:9).  As he was Christ’s sworn foe (Matt. 4:1-11; 16:23; Luke 4:13; John 14:30; cf. Luke 22:3, 53), so now he is the Christian’s, always probing for weaknesses, misdirecting strengths, and undermining faith, hope, and character (Luke 22:32; 2 Cor. 2:11; 11:3-15; Eph. 6:16).  He should be taken seriously, for malice and cunning make him fearsome; yet not so seriously as to provoke abject terror of him, for he is a beaten enemy.  Satan is stronger than we are, but Christ has triumphed over Satan (Matt. 12:29), and Christian’s will triumph over him too if they resist him with the resources that Christ supplies (Eph. 6:10-13; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9-10, 1 John 4:4).

Acknowledging Satan’s reality, taking his opposition seriously, noting his strategy (anything, provided it be not biblical Christianity), and reckoning on always being at war with him-this is not a lapse into a dualistic concept of two gods, one good, one evil, fighting it out.  Satan is a creature, superhuman but not divine; he has much knowledge and power, but he is neither omniscient nor omnipotent; he can move around in ways that humans cannot, but he is not omnipresent; and he is an already defeated rebel, having no more power than God allows him and being destined for the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).

Commentary from, Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer, page 70.

“Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present.  With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past.  But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity.  It is far better to make them live in the Future.”  The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis, page 76/chap. 15.

Not Sometimes, But Always

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God hates gossip.  He wants our speech to be pleasing to Him-and He certainly does not consider idle talk or mean-spirited words pleasant (Col. 3:8).  Sadly, gossip is practiced so freely that even some believers participate and try to justify their chatter.  But hearsay has no place in a Christian’s life.

Romans 1 contains one of the Bible’s lists of sins.  The book’s author-the apostle Paul-is reminding believers that God has revealed Himself to all mankind.  Those who reject Him and chase after idols are turned over to their evil worship and the immoral practices that go with serving self (vv. 24-25).  Gossip appears in the middle of the list; God despises it because malicious talk destroys lives whether the stories are true or false.  The person who is targeted by the rumor often loses the respect of those who listen to it.  Hurt feelings may not be the only negative effect; a job or relationship could be lost as well.

Those spreading tales also face destructive consequences.  People who refuse to control the tongue reveal evil motives or, at the very least, a lack of discipline.  As a result, believers and unbelievers alike will often avoid such untrustworthy individuals.  For a Christian who spreads rumors, there’s potential for even worse damage.  Not only can the credibility of one’s witness be compromised, but fellowship with the Lord might also be harmed-animosity toward another person and intimacy with God can’t coexist in the same heart.

Gossip achieves no good in anyone’s life, which is why the Lord warns against it.  Instead, our words should build up, comfort, and encourage others.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, May 8, 2017.

I Hope to Meet You There

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Picture this:  A city shaped like a cube that covers the United States from the Atlantic coast to the middle of Kansas, and from Texas to the Canadian border-1,400 miles long, wide, and high.  It covers about two million square miles of land; but because it’s a cube with room for about 600 “floors”, all total it has 1.2 billion square miles of living space.  That’s the city the Bible calls the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).

Sometimes people wonder whether there will be room in heaven for all the millions of believers destined to go there.  Based on the above dimensions, it would appear so!  The New Jerusalem is not heaven-it’s a city in heaven that will serve as the “capital” of heaven.  In it are the thrones of God and the Lamb, a river of the water of life, and the tree of life:  food, water, and Jesus Christ-everything needed to live forever.  The question is not whether there will be room in the New Jerusalem for everyone-there will be-but rather, will you be there?  Jesus has invited you to join Him there.

Commentary from the Pathways Devotional by David Jeremiah, May 11.

The city is laid out as a square;

its length is as great as its breadth.

And he measured the city with the reed:

twelve thousand furlongs.

Its length, breadth, and height are equal.

Revelation 21:16

Made Perfect in Weakness

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In reading in the Bible in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 about something that tormented Paul, we see that although God did not remove Paul’s physical affliction, He promised to demonstrate His power in Paul.  The fact that God’s power shows up in weak people should give us courage.  When we are strong in abilities or resources, we are tempted to do God’s work on our own, and that leads to pride.

We must rely on God for our effectiveness rather than our own energy, effort, or talent.  Our weakness not only helps develop Christian character, it also deepens our worship; in admitting our weakness, we affirm God’s strength.  When we are weak, and when we allow God to fill us with his power, then we are stronger that we could ever be on our own.  We must depend on God-only His power makes us effective for Him and does work that has lasting value.  We must daily be mindful that God is our source for every need.

Give us this day

our daily bread.

Matthew 6:11

Commentary from The One Year NIV Devotional New Testament, May 14. Tyndale House Publishers (2003).

The Cold

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As Christians, we have the opportunity every day to pay it forward to those who are lost in this world by giving them a glimpse of Christ through our kindness.  We were each given a gift when Jesus hung on the cross and died for our sins; and every time we demonstrate His love to someone, we not only bless them, we also bless our Lord and Savior.

Let us eagerly search for ways to bless those that God places in our path with the ultimate aim of glorifying our Heavenly Father.

“All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors.”  John Calvin

Portions of commentary from David Jeremiah’s Pathways Devotional, November 18.

Stop Giving Up On People

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Consider the command in Ephesians 4:32 to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving.  When we carry resentment in our hearts, it’s like a little pocket of poison that pulls down our personalities and sours our spirits.  But when we’re kind and pleasant, it lightens our burdens and brightens our days-not to mention what it does for others.

God knows how we best function-He created us-and He’s an expert on the care of the soul.  Obedience not only glorifies Him, it blesses our lives.

Commentary from David Jeremiah’s Pathways Devotional, May 10.