Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Proverbs3

Today's reading...
Proverbs 3 (NLT)
1My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart.
2If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.
3Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.
4Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.
5Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
6Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
7Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.
9Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.
10Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.
11My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
12For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
13Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.
14For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold.
15Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
16She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left.
17She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying.
18Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.
19By wisdom the Lord founded the earth; by understanding he created the heavens.
20By his knowledge the deep fountains of the earth burst forth, and the dew settles beneath the night sky.
21My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them,
22for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace.
23They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble.
24You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.
25You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,
26for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.
27Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.
28If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”
29Don’t plot harm against your neighbor, for those who live nearby trust you.
30Don’t pick a fight without reason, when no one has done you harm.
31Don’t envy violent people or copy their ways.
32Such wicked people are detestable to the Lord, but he offers his friendship to the godly.
33The Lord curses the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the upright.
34The Lord mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble.

35The wise inherit honor, but fools are put to shame!


Thoughts...
Your heart (1–8). What you do with your heart determines what you do with your life (Prov. 4:23). Cultivate an obedient heart (v. 1) that receives God’s Word (v. 3; 2 Cor. 3:1–3) and a trusting heart that obeys (vv. 5–6). Verse 5 does not suggest that you ignore your mind or common sense, but that you not lean only on them and reject God’s way.

Your possessions (9–20). Put God first in the way you use His wealth (Matt. 6:33) and major on the things that money cannot buy (vv. 13–18). When God corrects you, accept it as an evidence of His love (Heb. 12:5–6).

Your conduct (21–26). Let every part of your body be controlled by God’s wisdom (Rom. 12:1–2). Sleep is one of the tests of faith and true surrender to God (Ps. 4).

Your neighbors (27–35). If you want God’s blessing on your home, be a blessing to those around you. Share what you have and never plan evil against others (Rom. 12:9–21).
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Proverbs 2

Today's reading...
Proverbs 2 (NLT)
1My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.
2Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
3Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.
4Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.
5Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.
6For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
8He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.
9Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go.
10For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.
11Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.
12Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted.
13These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths.
14They take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil.
15Their actions are crooked, and their ways are wrong.
16Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman, from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman.
17She has abandoned her husband and ignores the covenant she made before God.
18Entering her house leads to death; it is the road to the grave.
19The man who visits her is doomed. He will never reach the paths of life.
20So follow the steps of the good, and stay on the paths of the righteous.
21For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it.

22But the wicked will be removed from the land, and the treacherous will be uprooted.


Thoughts...
Wisdom is not only a person to know (chap. 1) but also a path to walk. The word path is used seven times in this chapter. It suggests to us that life involves direction, decision, and determination, just like walking a path. God will do His part (vv. 6–9) if you do your part (vv. 1–5).

The path of wisdom is a guarded path (v. 8) and a good path (v. 9) that leads to life (v. 19) and righteousness (v. 20). The path of folly is a dark (v. 13) and devious (v. 15) path that leads to death (v. 18).

If you want to walk on the path of God’s wisdom, heed the admonitions in verses 1–5.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

ooops... Psalm 149

Last week, I neglected to take a "day off" for our Sunday reading. As a result, we are a day-ahead of the reading schedule.  So... today, let's read Psalm 149... then, we'll be on schedule again.

Today's reading...
Psalm 149:1–9 (NLT)
1Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.
2O Israel, rejoice in your Maker. O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King.
3Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp.
4For the Lord delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.
5Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them. Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds.
6Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands—
7to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples,
8to bind their kings with shackles and their leaders with iron chains,

9to execute the judgment written against them. This is the glorious privilege of his faithful ones. Praise the Lord!


Thoughts...
God’s people should be a singing people. They should sing in the sanctuary (vv. 1–4) because God is their Savior (v. 1), their Maker, and their King (v. 2). You are reminded again that praise pleases God and beautifies God’s people (v. 4; Ps. 147:1, 11).

You should sing at home (v. 5), even when in bed! Sing when you wake up in the morning, when you take a nap, when you go to bed at night. If it is a bed of illness, sing to the Lord even more.

Sing to the Lord on the battlefield (vv. 6–9). God’s Word is your sword (Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12), and it should be on your lips as well as in your hand. Praise is a wonderful weapon for defeating the enemy.

--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Proverbs 1

Today's reading...
Proverbs 1 (NLT)
1These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.
2Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise.
3Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
4These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.
5Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance
6by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles.
7Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
8My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
9What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.
10My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them!
11They may say, “Come and join us. Let’s hide and kill someone! Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent!
12Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave; let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death.
13Think of the great things we’ll get! We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take.
14Come, throw in your lot with us; we’ll all share the loot.”
15My child, don’t go along with them! Stay far away from their paths.
16They rush to commit evil deeds. They hurry to commit murder.
17If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away.
18But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed.
19Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.
20Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square.
21She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate:
22“How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge?
23Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.
24“I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.
25You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered.
26So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—
27when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you.
28“When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.
29For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the Lord.
30They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them.
31Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes.
32For simpletons turn away from me—to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

33But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”


Thoughts...
The importance of wisdom (1–6). All you need for success is yours when you receive God’s wisdom. “Success” means much more than making a living. It means making a life that honors God and serves others. Wisdom is more important than riches and power (Prov. 8:12–21) because wisdom helps you build for all eternity.

The instruction of wisdom (7–19). “The fear of the LORD” means reverence for God and respect for His Word, a willingness to listen and a promptness to obey. God uses different people to teach you wisdom, and you must be alert to each lesson. Note the warnings: “Do not forsake! Do not consent! Do not walk!” God says no that He might say yes.

The invitation of wisdom (20–33). Wisdom is like a lovely woman inviting hungry people to a great feast (Prov. 1:20–33; 8:1ff.; 9:1ff.). Folly is like an evil woman seducing the ignorant into sin (5:1ff.; 6:20ff.; 7:1ff.). Accept wisdom’s call and you will be blessed; accept folly’s call and you will destroyed.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Hebrews 13

Today's reading...
Hebrews 13 (NLT)
1Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.
2Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!
3Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.
4Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.
5Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
6So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
7Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.
8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
9So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.
10We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat.
11Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp.
12So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood.
13So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore.
14For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
15Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.
16And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
17Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.
18Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do.
19And especially pray that I will be able to come back to you soon.
20Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
21may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
22I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to pay attention to what I have written in this brief exhortation.
23I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released from jail. If he comes here soon, I will bring him with me to see you.
24Greet all your leaders and all the believers there. The believers from Italy send you their greetings.

25May God’s grace be with you all.


Thoughts...
Lest we get the idea that we can run the race successfully alone, the writer closes his letter by reminding us to follow our spiritual leaders. If we do, we will love the brothers and sisters (v. 1), help strangers (v. 2) and prisoners (v. 3), live above lust (v. 4) and covetousness (vv. 5–6), and not be led astray by false doctrines (v. 9).

Remember them (7–8). This may refer to leaders now dead, but their ministry goes on. Remember what they taught you, how they lived, and what they lived for. Church leaders may come and go, but Jesus is the same; and they must fix our eyes on Him.

Obey them (17). If they are faithful to care for your soul and teach you the Word, you have the responsibility to obey. A spiritual leader is not a dictator who drives you from behind. He is a shepherd who goes before and leads the way.

Pray for them (18–19). When you come to the throne of grace, ask God to make His shepherds faithful and fruitful. Pray that the Great Shepherd will use them to “make you complete in every good work” (vv. 20–21).

Greet them (24). You should know your leaders personally and be on good terms with them. Let nothing come between you that could create problems in the fellowship (12:14–15).
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Hebrews 12

Today's reading...
Hebrews 12:1–29 (NLT)
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
3Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
4After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
5And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.
6For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
7As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?
8If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.
9Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?
10For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.
11No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
12So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.
13Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
14Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
15Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
16Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.
17You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.
18You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai.
19For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking.
20They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”
21Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”
22No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering.
23You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect.
24You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.
25Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!
26When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.”
27This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.
28Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.

29For our God is a devouring fire.


Thoughts...
Runners (1–4). The people listed in chapter 11 are the “cloud” that witnesses to us, “God can be trusted! Put your faith in His Word and keep running the race!” When you read the Old Testament, your faith should grow, for the account shows what God did in and through people who dared to trust His promises (Rom. 15:4). When you read the Gospels, you see the greatest example of endurance in Jesus Christ.

Children (5–11). “Chastening” refers to child training, helping the child prepare for adulthood. It does not necessarily mean punishment for disobedience, although that sometimes might be included. The successful runner must exercise discipline and submit to training. Never fear the chastening hand of the Lord; it is controlled by a loving heart. God’s goal is your maturity.

Citizens (12–29). The people of Israel had a frightening experience of law at Sinai (Exod. 19), but our experience at Mount Zion is one of grace and glory. We are citizens of the heavenly city and will one day fellowship with patriarchs and angels—and God! But this does not mean we can ignore His solemn voice to us. If God is shaking things in your life, listen to His Word. You will discover the things that cannot be shaken, and you will run the race to the end.
--With the Word


If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Hebrews 11

Today's reading...
Hebrews 11 (NLT)
1Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
2Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
3By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
4It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.
5It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.
6And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
7It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.
8It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.
9And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise.
10Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
11It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise.
12And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.
13All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.
14Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own.
15If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.
16But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac,
18even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.”
19Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.
20It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.
21It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.
22It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.
23It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.
24It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
25He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.
26He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.
27It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.
28It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.
29It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.
30It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.
31It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
32How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.
33By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions,
34quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.
35Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.
36Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons.
37Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated.
38They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
39All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.

40For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.


Thoughts...
Faith is confidence in God that leads to obedience to God. True faith is based on what God says and is demonstrated in what we do. People with faith do things for God, and God does things for them.
Faith is not a luxury; it is a necessity. It is for common people and not just great leaders. We need faith for worshiping (v. 4) as well as for working (v. 7), walking (vv. 8–9), waiting (vv. 10–12), and warring (vv. 30–34). In any area of life where you ignore faith, you will sin (Rom. 14:23).

The phrase “still others” (v. 36) reminds us that we can live by faith and appear to be defeated. Not everybody who trusted God was delivered or protected (vv. 36–40). But the important thing is not God’s deliverance; it is God’s approval (v. 39). Faith in God gives you the ability to endure when others are giving up.

Where does this faith come from? Read Romans 10:17 and 15:4.


If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Hebrews 10

Today's reading...
Hebrews 9 (NLT)
1That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth.
2There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place.
3Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place.
4In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant.
5Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.
6When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties.
7But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.
8By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.
9This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them.
10For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.
11So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world.
12With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
13Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity.
14Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
15That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
16Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead.
17The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.
18That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal.
19For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool.
20Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.”
21And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship.
22In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.
23That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.
24For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.
25And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal.
26If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.
27And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,

28so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.


Thoughts...
A better sanctuary (1–10). In every way, the present heavenly sanctuary is better than any sanctuary on earth, including the temple in Jerusalem. The furnishings were only symbols, the work was never finished, and the ministry could never change the human heart. We should be grateful for the price Jesus paid to make His heavenly ministry possible.

A better service (11–15). The Jewish high priest could deal only with externals, but Jesus deals with the heart and conscience. He can purify us and perfect us (13:20–21) so that we can serve God acceptably. Do you come to Him daily and ask for His ministry?

A better sacrifice (16–28). The blood that purchased your eternal redemption came not from unwilling animals but from the Son of God who willingly laid down His life for you (John 10:14–18). The spotless Lamb of God had to die only once; the sacrifice need not be repeated. Have you trusted that blood to save you?
--With the Word

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Hebrews 8

Today's reading...
Hebrews 8 (NLT)
1Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven.
2There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.
3And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too.
4If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law.
5They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.”
6But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.
7If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it.
8But when God found fault with the people, he said: “The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.
9This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord.
10But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
11And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already.
12And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

13When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.


Thoughts...
Finality (1). There were no chairs in the Jewish tabernacle or temple because the priests’ work was never finished. But Jesus finished the work of redemption (John 19:30) and sat down on the throne (10:11–14). Rejoice!

Reality (2–6). The Jewish priests in the temple ministered with copies and shadows, but Christ in heaven ministers in the original sanctuary from which the things on earth were copied. When you trust Christ, you enter a life of reality, and you are forever finished with substitutes. Rejoice!

Maturity (7–13). The law of Moses was given to the children of Israel as a tutor to help them grow up and be prepared for their Messiah’s coming (Gal. 4:1–7). They were like children; God had to take them by the hand and lead them. But the new covenant, with its heavenly priesthood, leads us to spiritual maturity: God puts His Word in our hearts and transforms our character (2 Cor. 3:1–3, 18).

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad!


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Friday, July 20, 2018

Hebrews 7

Today's reading...
Hebrews 7 (NLT)
1This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him.
2Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.”
3There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God.
4Consider then how great this Melchizedek was. Even Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, recognized this by giving him a tenth of what he had taken in battle.
5Now the law of Moses required that the priests, who are descendants of Levi, must collect a tithe from the rest of the people of Israel, who are also descendants of Abraham.
6But Melchizedek, who was not a descendant of Levi, collected a tenth from Abraham. And Melchizedek placed a blessing upon Abraham, the one who had already received the promises of God.
7And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed.
8The priests who collect tithes are men who die, so Melchizedek is greater than they are, because we are told that he lives on.
9In addition, we might even say that these Levites—the ones who collect the tithe—paid a tithe to Melchizedek when their ancestor Abraham paid a tithe to him.
10For although Levi wasn’t born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham’s body when Melchizedek collected the tithe from him.
11So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law was based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood, with a priest in the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Levi and Aaron?
12And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it.
13For the priest we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members have never served at the altar as priests.
14What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned priests coming from that tribe.
15This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared.
16Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.
17And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
18Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless.
19For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
20This new system was established with a solemn oath. Aaron’s descendants became priests without such an oath,
21but there was an oath regarding Jesus. For God said to him, “The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow: ‘You are a priest forever.’ ”
22Because of this oath, Jesus is the one who guarantees this better covenant with God.
23There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office.
24But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever.
25Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
26He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.
27Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins.

28The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.


Thoughts...
With this chapter, the writer begins to explain the better priesthood of Christ; and he begins with the better order, the order of Melchizedek (Gen. 14).

Jesus Christ is both King and Priest, and His throne is a throne of grace (4:16). As King, He can control circumstances around you; as Priest, He can change attitudes within you. You will experience righteousness and peace as you yield to Him (v. 2; Pss. 72:7; 85:9–10; Isa. 32:17).

Because He is a Priest forever, He saves forever (vv. 23–25). “To the uttermost” means “completely,” “perfectly.” You are secure as long as He lives, and He lives eternally. You can live by the power of His endless life!

A perfect salvation should lead to a life of growing maturity. An earthly priesthood can make nothing perfect (v. 11), nor can the law of God (v. 19) or the sacrifices (10:1–2); but Jesus can lead you into spiritual maturity as you walk by faith (13:20–21). He invites you to come to His throne, and He understands you better than you understand yourself.
--With the Word

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Hebrews 6

Today's reading...
Hebrews 6 (NLT)
1So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.
2You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
3And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.
4For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit,
5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—
6and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.
7When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing.
8But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.
9Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation.
10For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
11Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.
12Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
13For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying:
14“I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.”
15Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.
16Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding.
17God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind.
18So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.
19This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

20Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.


Thoughts...
The impossible (1–8). The ABC’s of the Christian life are important, but they must be a launching pad and not a parking lot, for the challenge is, “Let us go on to maturity.” If we get sluggish (v. 1–8) and dull (5:11) toward the Word, we may fall by the wayside (v. 6; Gal. 6:1) and stop being fruitful. As long as disobedient believers are bringing shame to Christ, it is impossible to bring them to repentance, and God must deal with them.

The improbable (9–12). But the writer did not believe that his readers were in that condition. Although they had a long way to go in their Christian experience, the fruit was there. Diligence, faith, and patience are required to live the Christian life. Maturity is not automatic.

The immutable (13–20). The chapter ends with one of the greatest statements on security found anywhere in Scripture. God’s promise and God’s oath assure us that we are His, and God’s character backs up His words. Instead of drifting (2:1), we are anchored heavenward where Jesus ministers in the very presence of God, and that anchor will not fail. We are anchored so we can make progress!
--With the Word

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Hebrews 5

Today's reading...
Hebrews 5 (NLT)
1Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins.
2And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses.
3That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs.
4And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was.
5That is why Christ did not honor himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.”
6And in another passage God said to him, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
7While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.
8Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.
9In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.
10And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
11There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen.
12You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.
13For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.

14Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.


Thoughts...
Selected (1–6). Just as the Jewish high priest was appointed by God, so our great High Priest was appointed by the Father (Ps. 110:4); and He alone is worthy to serve. Never allow anybody to come between you and God, for Christ is the only mediator (1 Tim. 2:5). “The order of Melchizedek” refers to Genesis 14:18–24. Being from the tribe of Judah, Jesus could not serve as priest on earth; but He can serve as priest in heaven. He is there ministering for you today.

Perfected (7–10). Jesus had to prepare for His priestly ministry by experiencing the trials His people experience as they walk by faith (4:15). Because of the life that He lived and the death that He died, He is able to identify with your needs and give you grace to see you through. He understands!

Neglected (11–14). The “milk” of the Word represents the “first principles” of the Christian life, that is, what Jesus Christ did for us when He was on earth. The “meat” of the Word is the teaching about what Jesus is now doing for us in heaven, His ministry as High Priest. How sad it is when Christians neglect God’s Word and stop growing in grace.
--With the Word

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hebrews 4

Today's reading...
Hebrews 4 (NLT)
1God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.
2For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.
3For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, “In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’ ” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world.
4We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.”
5But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.”
6So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God.
7So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”
8Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come.
9So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.
10For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world.
11So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
12For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
14So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.
15This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.

16So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.


Thoughts...
His rest (1–10). Three different “rests” are in view: God’s Sabbath rest after creation (v. 4; Gen. 2:2); Israel’s rest of victory in Canaan (v. 3; Josh. 21:44); and the believer’s rest of faith today (vv. 1, 9–10). Israel was delivered from Egypt, but a whole generation failed to enter Canaan and claim their promised inheritance. Why? Because of their unbelief. “Let us fear!” (v. 1).

His sight (11–13). God sees the heart and uses His sword to help us see our true spiritual condition (Jer. 17:9). Spend time daily reading the Word and meditating on it, always applying its truths to your heart. One day you will give account to God of what you have done with His Word, so be faithful.

His throne (14–16). You cannot claim your inheritance in your own power or wisdom. But you have a great High Priest who can give you the mercy and the grace you need just when you need them. He lives to intercede for you (7:25) and to help you do His will (13:20–21).

--With the Word

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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.


Thoughts...
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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