Monday, July 16, 2018

Hebrews 3

Today's reading...
Hebrews 3 (NLT)
1And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest.
2For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.
3But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself.
4For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.
5Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later.
6But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.
7That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice,
8don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness.
9There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years.
10So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’
11So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’ ”
12Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.
13You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
14For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.
15Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”
16And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt?
17And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness?
18And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him?

19So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.

Consider Him (1–6). Hebrews focuses on Jesus Christ. The writer wants us to “see” Him (2:9), “consider” Him (3:1), and keep our eyes of faith fixed on Him (12:1–2). Whenever you are tempted to look at your circumstances or at yourself, look to Jesus by faith and rejoice in His faithfulness.

Obey Him (7–15). The writer uses the failure of Israel as a warning against a hard heart. How does a believer’s heart become hard? By refusing His words, despising His works, and being ignorant of His ways. Sin is deceitful. You think you are getting away with it, but all the while it is hardening your heart and robbing you of blessing.

Believe Him (16–19). Here is another exhortation to faith. The fact that the Jews were delivered from Egypt was no guarantee they would claim their inheritance. Because of their unbelief, they failed to enter the land (Num. 13). An “evil heart of unbelief” (v. 12) will rob you of what God has planned for you in your Christian life, so pay attention to God’s Word. As Paul wrote, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
--With the Word

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Hebrews 2

Today's reading...
Hebrews 2 (NLT)
1So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.
2For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished.
3So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?
4And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose.
5And furthermore, it is not angels who will control the future world we are talking about.
6For in one place the Scriptures say, “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, or a son of man that you should care for him?
7Yet for a little while you made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.
8You gave them authority over all things.” Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under their authority.
9What we do see is Jesus, who for a little while was given a position “a little lower than the angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor.” Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone.
10God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.
11So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.
12For he said to God, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people.”
13He also said, “I will put my trust in him,” that is, “I and the children God has given me.”
14Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.
15Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
16We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham.
17Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.

18Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

Hear Him (1–4). This is the first of five solemn admonitions to believers to pay attention to what God says in His Word. During Old Testament times, God dealt with those who disobeyed His Word. In these last days, we have a greater obligation to obey because we have the complete Scriptures and the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Are you serious about what God says to you?

See Him (5–9). There is a “world to come,” and how you live today will help to determine your place in the future kingdom of Christ (1:13; 10:13; 12:28). Today, we see man fallen in Adam; but by faith, we see Christ and His victory. Because He is glorified, we shall be glorified in Him!

Trust Him (10–18). Persons who trust Christ are God’s children (v. 13) on their way to glory (v. 10). The Redeemer has defeated death and the devil, and He understands how His people feel as they face the temptations and trials of life. When you come to Him by faith, you come to a sympathetic High Priest who can meet your every need. Trust Him!
--With the Word

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Hebrews 1

Today's reading...
Hebrews 1 (NLT)
1Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.
2And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.
3The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
4This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.
5For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.” God also said, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.”
6And when he brought his supreme Son into the world, God said, “Let all of God’s angels worship him.”
7Regarding the angels, he says, “He sends his angels like the winds, his servants like flames of fire.”
8But to the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice.
9You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”
10He also says to the Son, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands.
11They will perish, but you remain forever. They will wear out like old clothing.
12You will fold them up like a cloak and discard them like old clothing. But you are always the same; you will live forever.”
13And God never said to any of the angels, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.”

14Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.

“God has spoken to us!” What a tremendous statement, and what a great responsibility it brings to you if you have heard His voice through His Word: “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks” (12:25). What you do with the Word of God determines what you will enjoy of God’s will and claim of your inheritance.

Jesus Christ is the Father’s last word. In Him, divine revelation is seen and heard in its fullness; and in Him, God’s revelation is complete. When we see Him, we see the Father (John 14:1–11). Through Christ, we understand where everything came from, where it is going, what keeps it going, and why it is here.

We also understand what He has done for us. He died for us! Today He is enthroned in glory, ministering to us and for us (13:20–21). He wants to mature us and teach us how to walk by faith. One day He will defeat all His enemies and bring in His righteous kingdom.

With a Savior like that, why look for a substitute?
--With the Word

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Psalm 23

Today's reading... (no, this isn't an error :)... we start Hebrews tomorrow)

Psalm 23 (NLT)
A psalm of David.
1The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
2He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
4Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
5You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.

6Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Though Psalm 23 is often read at funerals, its message applies to the days of your life right now (v. 6). The Savior who died for you also lives for you and cares for you, the way a shepherd cares for the sheep (John 10:1–18). If you can say, “The LORD is my Shepherd,” you can also say, “I shall not want.”

The Shepherd feeds us and leads us. Sheep must have grass and water to live, and the shepherd finds those essential elements for them. God meets the everyday needs of your life as you follow Him (Ps. 37:25; Phil. 4:18). Never worry!

If we wander, He seeks us and restores us, as He did with David, Jonah, and Peter. When we need to know which way to go, He shows us the right path and then goes before us to prepare the way. Even in the places of danger, we need not be afraid. (Note the change from “He” in vv. 1–3 to “You” in vv. 4–5.) He is with you!

At the end of the dark valley, He has a special blessing for you: you drink of the refreshing water of life, and you receive the Spirit’s anointing. The Shepherd is there to care for every hurt and heal every bruise.

One day, you will look back at your life and see that it was only “goodness and mercy,” and that includes the valley experiences. If life is difficult today, just keep following the Shepherd; He will never lead you where He cannot care for you.
--With the Word

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Titus 3

Today's reading...
Titus 3 (NLT)
1Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.
2They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.
3Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.
4But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,
5he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
6He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.
7Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.
8This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.
9Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time.
10If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them.
11For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.
12I am planning to send either Artemas or Tychicus to you. As soon as one of them arrives, do your best to meet me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to stay there for the winter.
13Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos with their trip. See that they are given everything they need.
14Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.

15Everybody here sends greetings. Please give my greetings to the believers—all who love us. May God’s grace be with you all.

We all need frequent reminders!
Remember what you should do (1–2). Christians are citizens of earth as well as citizens of heaven, and they should be the kind of people described in these two brief verses.

Remember what you were (3). God has forgotten our sins, and we should, too; but it does us good to remember what it was like to be a lost sinner. (See Deut. 5:15; 15:15; 24:18, 22; 1 Pet. 4:1–4.)

Remember what God did for you (4–7). Did you deserve to hear the gospel and receive the gift of eternal life? No, it all happened because of God’s kindness, love, and grace. “He saved us”—we did not save ourselves. He has washed away our sins; we stand justified in His sight; and we face the future confidently because we are the heirs of God.

Remember what God expects of you (8–11). A major theme in this letter is good works (1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14). People who are busy for the Lord do not have time for useless arguments.
--With the Word

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Titus 2

Today's reading...
Titus 2 (NLT)
1As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching.
2Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.
3Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good.
4These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children,
5to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.
6In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely.
7And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.
8Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.
9Slaves must always obey their masters and do their best to please them. They must not talk back
10or steal, but must show themselves to be entirely trustworthy and good. Then they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way.
11For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.
12And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God,
13while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
14He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

15You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.

Living (1–10). Whether we are young or old, married or single, we are all needed in the local church; and God has a job for us to do. One test of spiritual fellowship is its ability to accept and minister to a variety of people. How we live either blasphemes the Word (v. 5) or beautifies it (v. 10), and those who minister should set the example (vv. 7–8).

Learning (11–12). God’s grace not only saves us but also teaches us how to live the Christian life. Those who use God’s grace as an excuse for sin have never experienced its saving power (Rom. 6:1; Jude 4). The same grace that redeems us also renews us so that we want to obey His Word (v. 14).

Looking (13–15). What starts with grace will lead to glory! The return of Jesus Christ for His people is more than a blessed hope; it is a joyful hope (Rom. 5:2; 12:12), a unifying hope (Eph. 4:4), a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3), a stabilizing hope (Heb. 6:19), and a purifying hope (1 John 3:3).

--With the Word

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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Titus 1

Today's reading...
Titus 1 (NLT)
1This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives.
2This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began.
3And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.
4I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace.
5I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you.
6An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious.
7A church leader is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.
8Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life.
9He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.
10For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation.
11They must be silenced, because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching. And they do it only for money.
12Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.”
13This is true. So reprimand them sternly to make them strong in the faith.
14They must stop listening to Jewish myths and the commands of people who have turned away from the truth.
15Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.

16Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.

Titus wanted another assignment from Paul because he was having a hard time ministering in Crete. When you feel like quitting, follow the counsel Paul gave to Titus.

Focus on the privileges of ministry (1–4). God declares His truth through dedicated people, and it is a joy to share the Word with others. The angels in heaven would love to change places with us, so we should never cease to marvel that God would use us!

Obey the Word (5–9). Sometimes there are problems because unqualified people get into places of leadership or because places of leadership have not been filled. The Greek word translated “set in order” is a medical term that means “to set a broken bone.” The church body suffers when we avoid facing and solving serious problems.

Face the enemy (10–16). Perhaps like Timothy (2 Tim. 1:7), Titus was too timid to confront the enemy; but it had to be done. “Sound doctrine” (v. 9) means “healthy doctrine,” teaching that contributes to the spiritual health of the church. Just as a physician must attack infection and disease, so local church leaders must attack false doctrine.
--With the Word

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