Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
In this passage, Jesus tells three parables: The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Prodigal Son. The common theme of the three stories is that Jesus came to reclaim lost and broken people. He loves us and is waiting for sinners to return to Him!
The mission of the Church is not to create “religious” people, it is to help draw people into right relationship with Him!
“Lost people” are any who are not walking in relationship with God. God cares deeply that ALL lost people return to Him, and we who are walking in relationship with Him are to share that passion! We are to rejoice (as God does) when the lost return to Him. God is waiting to forgive, He is gracious and compassionate toward sinners (Nehemiah 9:17). We are to reach out to the lost. Do you share God’s heart for lost people? How are you reaching out?
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Jesus is telling a young lawyer how he can obtain eternal life through the parable of the "good Samaritan." Two main principles are evident in this parable. First, Christianity is not about being an expert or being perfect...it's about being willing to receive God's love and forgiveness (grace) and express them to those around us. Secondly, true neighbors are those who show mercy - which is feeling empathy / compassion AND taking action to help!
Find an opportunity to show God's love, grace, and mercy to someone around you today, and DO so!
Friday, October 28, 2011
Following Jesus changes EVERYTHING. Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to yeast, a hidden treasure, a mustard seed, and a net. These are all seemingly insignificant things yet they each have amazing impact. This is like the decision to follow Jesus. A seemingly simple decision changes EVERYTHING about our lives, not and forever!
Some people consider the Kingdom of Heaven to be only a place we will live someday. The Kingdom of Heaven is also a way of thinking and behaving (now) that brings glory to God in all we say and do. Jesus challenged the hearers of His Words to “understand with their hearts” (v. 15) and to allow His Word to affect their attitudes, motivations, and actions. Listen to His Words with your heart. What impact are you having on the Kingdom of Heaven in the way you think and behave? Are you bringing glory to God with your attitudes, motivations and actions? Making a difference in the Kingdom starts with one small step of faith. Listen to Him with your heart today - what small step is He asking you to take? Take it!
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Jesus talks about several "spiritual pitfalls" (as the E100 Challenge describes them) in this passage. These "pitfalls" include:
- praying for show
- trying to serve both God and money
- worrying (about self or others) instead of seeking God
- judging unfairly
- being deceived by false prophets
- hearing but not obeying God's Word
In short, "spiritual pitfalls" are best described as focusing our lives on anything other than God!
Of the "pitfalls" mentioned, our focus today is on prayer. Take some time to assess your prayer life. Do you pray regularly? Do you only pray privately? Do you only pray publicly? When you pray, are you praying to "be seen by others?" Do you avoid praying publicly for fear of what someone might think or say about you? Do you use many empty words? Or is your prayer time (either in private or with a group of people) a time of conversation with your Heavenly Father who loves you?
Today's challenge: Ask God for a deeper, more intimate prayer life!
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Jesus was tempted, as we are. Jesus avoided giving in to temptation by speaking Truth. Notice this wasn’t a subjective truth, it was The Truth (with a capital T)! Jesus used the Word of God as His defense against the temptation (and deception!) of His enemy.
In order to use Scripture as a defense against temptation, we need to KNOW it. Today’s challenge is to begin a Scripture memory program, if you are not already doing so.
There are many ways to do this. A Google search of “Scripture memory system” returns hundreds of thousands of results. If you use any kind of handheld device, there is probably an app available for download. Post it notes and index cards work great, too!
If you just aren’t sure which Scripture to use first, try picking one of the top 100 read verses on Bible Gateway:
Or the Topical Memory System suggested by The Navigators:
The important thing is not WHICH verses you memorize, but that you are consistently and regularly meditating on Scripture.
Begin memorizing a verse today, and see what a difference God makes!
Friday, October 21, 2011
John the Baptist, a cousin of Jesus, spent his LIFE pointing others to Jesus, accepting no glory for himself....
Arguably, one of the primary themes of John's message was repentance - not in word only, but also in deed. John declared "you will be known by your fruits." I see in this a two-fold message. First, true repentance will be reflected in your actions - you WILL "walk the talk." Secondly, you cannot ride the coattails of anyone else's relationship with God. Just because your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents for multiple generations were powerhouses of faith does not make you righteous. Righteousness comes from God (through Jesus' death and resurrection) and each of us must accept the gift of salvation He offers. NO ONE can make this decision for us. And no one can rely on God on our behalf...no one can walk our walk for us.
If you have not repented of your sin and asked God, in His infinite grace and mercy, to save you and make you His child, don't delay! He loves you and wants you to become part of His family!
If you are already a member of the family of God, prayerfully consider your walk today. Do your actions reflect that you have been forgiven? Can others tell by watching you that there is something "different" (in a good way!) about you? Are you walking daily (moment by moment) in the path God has for you? Are you fully relying on Him with each breath? Repent of anything keeping you from intimacy with Him, and of anything keeping you from reflecting Him in your daily life. Ask Him to draw you closer to Himself.
It's all about Him!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Meeting Jesus is a life changing experience! Each of the people we read about in this passage - Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna, were changed for good after their encounter with this Baby.
For today, though, let’s look at the shepherds. Their lives were changed by:
1) observing worship (vv 13-14)
2) meeting Jesus (vv 15-16)
As a result of this transformational experience they immediately began spreading the good news to others! (v 17)
Have you met Jesus?
How has your life been transformed?
Do you worship Him regularly?
Do you share the good news with others?
Today’s challenge: spend time in private worship daily, engage in corporate worship (meaning with other believers) regularly, and let Him transform you! Then share with those around you the radical, life changing ways knowing Jesus has impacted you!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
In this passage we read about three people who are in different stages (and different ages!) of life. Each of them (Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary) were used by God in a way that was completely surprising and unexpected. Zechariah was performing a task in the process of worship that had been performed by Levites thousands of times. He certainly wasn’t expecting to encounter an angel! Elizabeth, advanced in age, was NOT expecting to become pregnant. And Mary, a seemingly insignificant young girl, BOTH encountered and angel AND became pregnant - even though she was still a virgin!
When God shows up unexpectedly, are you ready to be used? Will you, like Mary, say “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” or will you be like Moses and repeatedly tell God no?
Challenge for today: be ready to let God use you!
1) Believe He has the power to do anything - nothing is impossible with God! (v. 37)
2) Commit yourself to His way - no matter what happens! (vv. 6, 38)
3) Depend on Him - His mercy is great for those who fear Him! (v. 50)
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The Word is Jesus. Jesus is God Who, because of His great love for us, became flesh (human) and dwelt among men, in order to save us from our sin and make us His children! In His days here on earth most people did not understand who He really was. Today that is still the case. Many accept Him as a great moral teacher, but unless we ALSO accept Him as God, it’s equivalent to rejecting Him.
We are born with an inherent sin nature because of the original sin committed by Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden. Our sin keeps us from relationship with God. Because He loves us, however, Jesus is offering us forgiveness -- accepting His offer results in both a relationship with God (as His CHILD!) and freedom from the law. In order to experience this, we must both receive and believe in Jesus. Verse 12 tells us that those “who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God.” Name represents identity. We need to believe in Who He is ...the Christ, the Son of the living God, the only One Who can save us from our sin and give us a life (here and now and for eternity) beyond our wildest dreams! After we have become one of His children, we then learn to believe Him - to trust Him completely and without reservation.
Believe in Him AND believe Him and see the difference He makes in and through you!
Monday, October 17, 2011
To review where we left off in the Old Testament click here.
This week we focus on The Living Word:
51) The Word Became Flesh
52) Gabriel’s Message
53) The Birth of Jesus
54) John the Baptist
55) Baptism and Temptation
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
I do apologize.
When taking on a mentorship role for the Bible in 90 Days program, it was my intention to blog twice per week. Instead, I found myself completely swamped with reading, mentorship responsibilities, and life as wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and therapist - so blogging got put off for a day, then two, then a week.... You get the idea. :(
Then, a little over 5 weeks ago, I dropped out of the Bible in 90 Days program. My family experienced a sudden, very unexpected loss ~ my mother passed away in her sleep. We had no indication that Jesus would be calling her home just then. With the plethora of changes and the shock of it all, I could not continue the pace of the Bible in 90 days reading plan but was instead clinging to verses (sometimes phrases) of Scripture, trusting in God’s goodness and sovereignty even when life here on earth was NOT making sense.
Some of the verses I have been clinging to (emphases mine) include:
Psalm 34:18 The Message
If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath.
Proverbs 16:19 ESV
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Isaiah 55:9 ESV
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher that your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 ESV
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may life, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice, and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
And I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
I am so thankful my mom is with Jesus and I will get to see her again. Still, I miss her very much.
That being said, as I move further along in this journey of grief, you can start to expect some more activity here at Better Things. It is my intention (and I believe it is God’s plan for us) to resume the E100 challenge with the 50 New Testament readings sometime in the next couple of weeks. That study will take us through the middle of December and then we will start something else the first part of the year.
I am looking forward to resuming our studies together. :)
Hug your families. Tell them you love them. Appreciate the time you have with them. And thank God for the time He has given you with them. May God richly bless you and them!