Tuesday, January 15, 2019

This Blog is on hiatus through 2019. Join us at Today in the Word.

Our church family is following the 2019 daily Bible readings available at Today in the Word. 

That website effectively makes this blog unnecessary. We invite you to read the Bible and the accompanying daily devotional at Today in the Word.

You can read daily readings on the website (computer, tablet or cell phone). You can also have the daily devotional sent to your email or listen to it as a daily podcast.

link: www.todayintheword.com

Psalm 104 (read note)

Psalm 104 (NLT)
1Let all that I am praise the Lord. O Lord my God, how great you are! You are robed with honor and majesty.
2You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens;
3you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds. You make the clouds your chariot; you ride upon the wings of the wind.
4The winds are your messengers; flames of fire are your servants.
5You placed the world on its foundation so it would never be moved.
6You clothed the earth with floods of water, water that covered even the mountains.
7At your command, the water fled; at the sound of your thunder, it hurried away.
8Mountains rose and valleys sank to the levels you decreed.
9Then you set a firm boundary for the seas, so they would never again cover the earth.
10You make springs pour water into the ravines, so streams gush down from the mountains.
11They provide water for all the animals, and the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12The birds nest beside the streams and sing among the branches of the trees.
13You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home, and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor.
14You cause grass to grow for the livestock and plants for people to use. You allow them to produce food from the earth—
15wine to make them glad, olive oil to soothe their skin, and bread to give them strength.
16The trees of the Lord are well cared for— the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17There the birds make their nests, and the storks make their homes in the cypresses.
18High in the mountains live the wild goats, and the rocks form a refuge for the hyraxes.
19You made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to set.
20You send the darkness, and it becomes night, when all the forest animals prowl about.
21Then the young lions roar for their prey, stalking the food provided by God.
22At dawn they slink back into their dens to rest.
23Then people go off to their work, where they labor until evening.
24O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.
25Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small.
26See the ships sailing along, and Leviathan, which you made to play in the sea.
27They all depend on you to give them food as they need it.
28When you supply it, they gather it. You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied.
29But if you turn away from them, they panic. When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust.
30When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.
31May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!
32The earth trembles at his glance; the mountains smoke at his touch.
33I will sing to the Lord as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!
34May all my thoughts be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.
35Let all sinners vanish from the face of the earth; let the wicked disappear forever. Let all that I am praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!


Today in the Word reading (click here)


At the Today in the Word website, you can access the Bible passage and read the devotional guide. You can also listen to it to it as a podcast or have the daily devotions emailed to you.

It appears that for 2019, this blog is unnecessary. Unless I get a groundswell of requests, today will be the last post until further notice. Thanks for reading with the church family!

Tomorrow, I will post just the links to the Today in the Word site. Eventually, the sturtevantbible.com will be pointed to the TodayintheWord.com website.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Psalm 46:1-11

Today's reading...
Psalm 46:title–11 (NLT)

For the choir director: A song of the descendants of Korah, to be sung by soprano voices.
1God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
2So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
3Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude
4A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High.
5God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it.
6The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts!
7The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude
8Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world.
9He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
11The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude


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, January 12, 2019

1 Thessalonians 4

Today's reading...
1 Thessalonians 4:1–18 (NLT)
1Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more.
2For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
3God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.
4Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor—
5not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.
6Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before.
7God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives.
8Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
9But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another.
10Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more.
11Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.
12Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.
13And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
14For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
15We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.
16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.
17Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

18So encourage each other with these words.


Thoughts...
“More and more” should be the desire of the dedicated Christian (vv. 1, 10).

More holiness (1–8). Your body belongs to God, and His will is that you use it for holy purposes. Christ purchased your body (1 Cor. 6:18–20), the Spirit dwells in your body (v. 8), and the Father has called you to holy living (v. 7). Disobey and the penalties are great!

More love (9–10). You are taught to love by the Father (1 John 4:19), the Son (John 13:34), and the Spirit (Rom. 5:5). Love is one mark of the true believer (1 John 3:14).

More quietness (11–12). Because they expected the Lord to return any day, some believers had quit their jobs and become idlers and meddlers (2 Thess. 3:6–15). What kind of testimony would this be to the lost?

More hope (13–18). Christians sorrow because God made us to weep; but it is not the hopeless sorrow of the world. Jesus is coming again, and that means reunion and eternal rejoicing!
--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, January 11, 2019

1 Thessalonians 3

Today's reading...
1 Thessalonians 3 (NLT)
1Finally, when we could stand it no longer, we decided to stay alone in Athens,
2and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith,
3and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles.
4Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know.
5That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.
6But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you.
7So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith.
8It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord.
9How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence.
10Night and day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill the gaps in your faith.
11May God our Father and our Lord Jesus bring us to you very soon.
12And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.

13May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.


Thoughts...
What should you do when people you love need your help, but you cannot go to them? The new believers in Thessalonica desperately needed Paul’s ministry, but he was not able to return to help them. So, he did what he could.

First, he sent Timothy to minister to the church. If you cannot go, try to get somebody qualified to go in your place.

Then, he prayed for them (v. 10) because prayer is not limited by time or place. Your prayers for your loved ones will do more good than you realize, so keep praying.

Paul encouraged them by writing them at least two letters. His great concern was not their comfort or safety but their faith (vv. 2, 5–7, 10), their love (v. 12), and their obedience to the Lord (v. 13). Perhaps today you could write a letter or send a card to someone who needs your encouragement.


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, January 10, 2019

1 Thessalonians 2

Today's reading...
1 Thessalonians 2:1–20 (NLT)
1You yourselves know, dear brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not a failure.
2You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition.
3So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery.
4For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.
5Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money!
6As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.
7As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children.
8We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.
9Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you.
10You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers.
11And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children.
12We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.
13Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.
14And then, dear brothers and sisters, you suffered persecution from your own countrymen. In this way, you imitated the believers in God’s churches in Judea who, because of their belief in Christ Jesus, suffered from their own people, the Jews.
15For some of the Jews killed the prophets, and some even killed the Lord Jesus. Now they have persecuted us, too. They fail to please God and work against all humanity
16as they try to keep us from preaching the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles. By doing this, they continue to pile up their sins. But the anger of God has caught up with them at last.
17Dear brothers and sisters, after we were separated from you for a little while (though our hearts never left you), we tried very hard to come back because of our intense longing to see you again.
18We wanted very much to come to you, and I, Paul, tried again and again, but Satan prevented us.
19After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you!

20Yes, you are our pride and joy.


Thoughts...
Faithfulness (1–6). Paul’s sufferings in Philippi might have made him hesitate to minister in Thessalonica, but he was a steward who wanted to be faithful to the Lord. His message and motive were pure, and God blessed his ministry. It is better to be approved by God and suffer than to be applauded by men and prosper. When you feel like quitting, keep going (1 Cor. 4:2).

Gentleness (7–9). Young believers need a spiritual parent to lovingly nurture them in the Lord. Paul’s ministry was motivated by love, not by pride or the desire for material gain.

Blamelessness (10–12). How important it is to be good examples before young believers! Children do what we do, not what we say. Does your example as a Christian make it easier for others to grow?

Eagerness (13–16). These people had an appetite for the Word of God, and that helped them to grow (Jer. 15:16; 1 Pet. 2:2). When they heard God’s Word, they eagerly welcomed it and put it to work immediately.

Hopefulness (17–20). Paul hoped to visit his beloved friends again; but even if they did not meet on earth, he would meet them at the coming of the Lord. When Jesus comes, will you rejoice in His presence because of people you have influenced for Christ?

--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, January 8, 2019

1 Thessalonians 1

Today's reading...
(so you know... we ordered new devotional guides for the church family many weeks ago. They were shipped to arrive by Dec. 15. They got lost. When they arrive, we'll start on a new schedule. :)  )

1 Thessalonians 1:1–10 (NLT)
1This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May God give you grace and peace.
2We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.
3As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.
4We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.
5For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.
6So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord.
7As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia.
8And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it,
9for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God.

10And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.


Thoughts...
Paul’s description of the believers in Thessalonica suggests that they typify an ideal congregation. Ask yourself these questions.

Are others thankful for me (1–4)? Paul was grateful for their faith, hope, and love, and that these Christian qualities revealed themselves in work, labor, and patience. Can others tell that we belong to God? Are they thankful for our spiritual growth?

Is God’s power seen in my life (5–7)? This comes when you receive the Word of God by faith and allow the Spirit of God to minister to your heart. It also involves suffering for the Lord and letting Him give you His joy.

Do I make it easier for others to talk about Jesus (8–10)? Some believers are such poor examples as Christians that their lives give unbelievers an excuse for rejecting Christ. But the Thessalonian Christians made it easy for Paul to preach the gospel! Their testimony had gone before him and met him wherever he went.
--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, January 7, 2019

Psalm 1

Today's reading...
Psalm 1:1–6 (NLT)
1Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.
2But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.
3They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
4But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
5They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.

6For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.


Thoughts...
Blessing (vv. 1–3). God enjoys blessing your life, but you must be “blessable.” That means having discernment (v. 1), avoiding the steps that lead to sin: considering sin (walking), contemplating sin (standing), being comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch that first step!

Blessing involves delight (v. 2). The Word guides your walk and rejoices your heart (Jer. 15:16). Meditation is to your inner person what digestion is to your body: you make the Word a part of your life and you grow.

Blessing involves dependence (v. 3). Your spiritual roots go deep into the resources of God’s grace, and you bear fruit because His life is at work in you.

Perishing (4–6). How tragic that anyone is perishing when Jesus offers abundant life! Contrast tree and chaff if you want to see the difference between the godly and the ungodly. The godly receive blessing but the ungodly receive judgment.

The psalm starts with “blessed” and ends with “perish.” The choice is yours.
--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, January 5, 2019

James 5

Today's reading...
James 5:1–20 (ESV)
1Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.
2Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.
3Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.
4Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
5You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.
6You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
7Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
8You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
9Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
10As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
11Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
12But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
13Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
14Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
15And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
16Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
18Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
19My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back,

20let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.


Thoughts...
In these last days, before the coming of the Lord, what does God want in our lives?

Priorities (1–6). To live only to get wealth is to rob yourself of true riches (1 Tim. 6:6–10, 17–19). It is to worry instead of worship (Matt. 6:19–34). God knows you have needs, and He will meet them if you practice Matthew 6:33.

Patience (7–12). If you have sown the right seed, you will eventually reap a harvest of blessing, so be patient. If others have exploited you, be patient; the Judge is at the door. If you are going through trials, be patient; God is still on the throne.

Prayer (13–18). Many kinds of prayer are named here: prayer for the sick, prayer for forgiveness, prayer for the nation, even prayer about the weather. There is no need that prayer cannot meet and no problem that prayer cannot solve.

Personal concern (19–20). Once again, James emphasizes ministry to individuals (1:27; 2:1–4, 14–16). Can you detect when a fellow believer starts to stray? Are you truly concerned? Will you try to help? Will you wait too long?
--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, January 4, 2019

James 4

Today's reading...
James 4:1–17 (NLT)
1What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?
2You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
3And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
4You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.
5Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him.
6And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
7So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
9Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.
10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
11Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.
12God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
13Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.”
14How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
15What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”
16Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.

17Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.


Thoughts...
Of the early church, it was said, “Behold how they love one another!” Today, people might say, “Behold how they compete with one another!” Why is it sometimes so difficult for God’s people to get along?

Selfishness (1–3). The wars among us are caused by the wars within us. We want to please ourselves, even if it hurts somebody else. If we are not careful, even our prayers can become selfish!

Worldliness (4). Because Abraham was separated from sin, he was the friend of God (2:23); but Lot was the friend of the world (Gen. 13:1–13). Ponder 1 John 2:15–17.

Pride (5–10). Satan knows how to use pride to defeat you as he defeated Eve (Gen. 3:1–6). Are you laughing when you should be weeping over your sins? Are you resisting the devil or resisting the Lord?

Criticism (11–12). One of the easiest ways to hide our sins is to expose the sins of others. Gossip and slander grieve the Spirit and divide the family. God called us to be witnesses, not judges!

Boasting (13–17). Life is short and the future unknown, so do the will of God today. When you make plans, always say, “If the Lord wills” (Prov. 27:1).
--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, January 3, 2019

James 3

Today's reading...
James 3:1–18 (NLT)
1Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.
2Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
3We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.
4And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.
5In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.
6And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
7People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish,
8but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.
9Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.
10And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!
11Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?
12Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
13If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.
14But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.
15For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.
16For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
17But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

18And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.


Thoughts...
The believers James wrote to were having problems with their tongues (1:26; 2:12; 4:1, 11–12). Of course, the tongue is not the problem; it is the heart (v. 14; Matt. 12:35–37). But before you say anything, ask yourself some questions.

Who is in control (1–4)? If your tongue is under God’s control, you will take what you say seriously (v. 1), and your whole body will be under His discipline (v. 2). Just as a horse needs a rider holding the reins, and a ship needs a pilot at the rudder, so your tongue needs a master; and God is the only one who can do the job. Psalm 141:1–4 is a good prayer if you need help in this area.

What will the consequences be (5–12)? Are you starting a fire that may get out of control and do a lot of damage? Are you turning loose a dangerous beast or poisoning a refreshing spring? Once your words are spoken, you cannot take them back, so look ahead.

What are my motives (13–18)? Is there bitterness in your heart or envy? Are you speaking from God’s wisdom or the wisdom of the world? Are you a peacemaker or a troublemaker? If your heart is right before God (Heb. 4:12), He will use your words to produce the right kind of fruit.
--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, January 2, 2019

James 2

Today's reading...
James 2:1–26 (NLT)
1My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
2For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes.
3If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well,
4doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
5Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?
6But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court?
7Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?
8Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
9But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.
10For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.
11For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.
12So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free.
13There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
14What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?
15Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,
16and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
18Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
19You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.
20How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
21Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.
23And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.
24So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
25Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road.

26Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.

Thoughts...
If you have true saving faith, you will practice impartiality (vv. 1–13) and see people in terms of character and not clothing. You will not cater to the rich or ignore the poor, but you will love each person for the sake of Jesus Christ. Christian love simply means treating others the way the Lord treats you and doing it in the power of the Spirit.

True saving faith is also seen in activity (vv. 14–26). Faith is not something you only talk about; it is something that motivates your life so that you think of others and serve them. Abraham was saved by faith (Gen. 15:6), but he proved that faith by obeying God and offering his son (Gen. 22). Rahab was saved by trusting God (Heb. 11:31), but she showed the reality of her faith by protecting the spies (Josh. 2; 6:17–27).

James and Paul do not contradict each other (Rom. 4:1–5; 5:1); they complement each other. We are justified (declared righteous) before God by faith, but we are justified before men by works. God can see our faith, but men can see only our works.
--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, January 1, 2019

James 1 (Happy New Year!)

Today's reading...
James 1:1–27 (NLT)
1This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!
2Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
3For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
4So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
5If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
6But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.
7Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
8Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
9Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them.
10And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field.
11The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.
12God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
13And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.
14Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.
15These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
16So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
17Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
18He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
19Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
20Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
21So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
22But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
23For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.
24You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.
25But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
26If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

27Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.


Thoughts...
Note some essentials for mature living.

The wisdom of God (1–11). You need wisdom in trials so you will not waste your suffering and miss the spiritual growth that should result. When you trust God, trials work for you and not against you; but be sure your heart is wholly yielded to Him. If your heart and mind are divided, trials will tear you apart.

The goodness of God (12–20). When you realize how good God is to you, you will have no interest in the temptations the enemy puts before you. When you are tempted, count your blessings; and you will soon have strength to say no.

The Word of God (21–27). The Word gives us spiritual birth (v. 18; 1 Pet. 1:22–23). It is like seed planted in the heart that produces spiritual fruit (v. 21). It is a mirror that helps us examine ourselves (vv. 23–25) and cleanse our lives. We must do the Word of God, not just read it or study it; the blessing is in the doing.
--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. :)