37: 50 Days of 3:16

All too often, and I can attest to this, we work to strengthen ourselves up with earthly riches. The quote goes something like, ‘he who has the money has the power’. The strength we receive on earth from material things is very temporary. With the snap of a finger or the stroke on a keyboard, it can all be gone. We tend to put our trust in our earthly power and hope that is enough. Yet outside of God’s grace, this is all they have. It is all they know.

 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

Ephesians 3:16

 

I have fallen into a trap of the comfortable. It is not an easy trap to get out of when as a believer you want to do so much more. It is very easy to be complacent and just let life just move forward. This complacency leads to lazy believers who think only of their own faith and are not too interested in making waves and sharing it with those who may have an opposing viewpoint. To much work. Too much effort. We fill our lives with entertainment satisfying our earthly bodies desires drowning out the voice of the Holy Spirit that is calling us to so much more. We go to church on Sundays out of routine and cry out asking God why we cannot hear His voice during the week yet truly are we listening? If you were to chart out your time in a week what priority would God have? I know that sadly in my life God would not be number one. This breaks my heart to write yet pushes me to make it right.

 

On our own, we are going to fall over and over again. Unless we reconfigure our lives from the inside out we are bound to go through this life on a loop. Paul understood this, he says many of the new converts making the same mistakes and was writing to remind them that in their own strength they will keep failing. Until we draw on the strength given to us personally by Jesus through the Holy Spirit, only then can we break the loop that binds us to complacency.  Take some time today to read Ephesians 3:14-20, Paul knew that together we are strong. We build one another up and keep each other accountable for our actions. He saw the power the Jesus has for us when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. We must embrace the Holy Spirits power in our lives, only then will our inner being be strengthened and the power we desire given.

 

There is also a part we need to play. Turn off the distractions that are keeping us from hearing God. Set limits to your entertainment time if you cannot go cold turkey. Prioritize God in your life. Spend to much time watching TV? Video games? Sports? Hobbies? Whatever it may be God needs to be glorified, those things cannot be put ahead of His love. He wants to talk to you, empower you to do the mission of reaching the lost and we must get out of our homes to do it.

 

Father, forgive me for my complacency, I have fallen into the trap of lazy faith. I want so much more and willingly turn from those things that keep me from haring your voice. Holy Spirit I invite you to call me out on these things, push me to grow in my faith and let go of the things that hold me back. I trust that what you have to offer is much more valuable then what the world is offering. I pray that eyes are opened today to this and lives changed. Use me to be a vessel of love to those around me and witness to your grace. Let me be the salt and light to the world around me. Amen

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36: 50 Days of 3:16

Paul sees something in the Genesis story that many overlook. He saw that when God was speaking to Abraham and promising him the land he was offering the land not to Abrahams children but to the future King, Jesus. All too often we would read and take it as written, but the word used means seed and the seed that brings life is Jesus.

God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ.

 

Galatians 3:16

 

I am getting better, but I had a hard time actually studying the bible. I grew up hearing the old song ‘read your bible and pray every day and you will grow grow grow.’ But it was missing something. Reading the Bible is vitally important but just reading it without investigating how to apply it to your life is like buying IKEA furniture, reading the instructions, throwing them aside and then building it on your own. If we want to do things right, we need to apply the instructions to our lives. Reading the Bible is important but how will it impact you?

 

Paul before he met Jesus knew the scriptures, it said he was a devout scholar. He would have known the original verse here and more than likely he would have interpreted it to the descendants of Abraham. Here though we see that now that he knew and understood the truth about Christ he was able to understand what the scriptures and the promise of God were truly all about.  God reveals things to us when we read and study his word. He has left us messages of love, life and purpose in these pages. Does it matter which version you look to, I don’t really think so, for if you truly start to study the word of God, you will not stick to one version but see how it is interpreted by others. The subtle differences can open the truths and reveal God’s love in many ways. However you study the word combine it with a conversation with God allowing Him to speak through his text.

 

Father, help us to not just read your word, but study it and soak in the truth. Show us how we can apply these truths into our lives and impact our world with the light of Jesus. Do not let us waste our time with idle things but bringing glory to your name. Push us to love others how you love them, see them as you see them. Use us. Amen

 

34: 50 Days of 3:16

For many believer’s today’s verse has become the line in the sand about what we can and cannot do to our bodies. Should we have tattoos? better read 1 Corinthians 3:16. Drink? Look it up. Homosexuality, quick flip open the bible here. But what if we have for years been looking at this as a verse that focuses on the individual when maybe it was meant it be talking about the church. Keith Krell suggests that we should be talking about the church in this verse, not individuals. I tend to agree.

 

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

1 Corinthians 3:16

 

As believers, we are called to be part of the family. Groups of believers that gather are called churches but part of the global Church. So as God’s church (temple) we need to represent who God is to the world. All to often the church is filled with infighting and quarrels that the focus is on those things and not the mission of reaching the lost. They will say they are focused on the mission but there is no fruit, they have forgotten that they are God’s church and have become more of a club.

 

We see this as we are experiencing an expanding trend where believers are becoming part-time attendees. They may show up to church once a month. If something more important to them comes up they prioritize church as secondary and choose other activities. Participation in prayer meetings is at an all-time low, the faithful few showing up. Commitment to spiritual growth and discipline is being replaced with our own desires and wants. Membership in a local church is dwindling as those attending don’t see the importance of commitment. If this trend continues many churches as we know them will eventually close as they won’t have the people to run it.

 

The church needs to be reminded that they are part of God’s church. What they do in their communities, in the lives of those attending and those they support worldwide matters. God is using them if they will just open their lives and let him. When they join a group of believers each Sunday and throughout the week He is giving them vision and strength to go out and fulfil the mission they are called to. When they meet the Holy Spirit is stirring them up and giving them a renewed passion. Believers are stronger when united under the same mission. The enemy knows this and works very had to keep us away from joining in worship with others in the faith. He convinces us to stay up late on Saturday, so we are just too tired to go to church. We believe the lie and stay home.

 

Are you a part-time believer or participant in your church? Feel like God isn’t speaking to you and you don’t know anything about the plan he has for you? Take a good hard look at your habits and investments.  What has your heart? What do you love? Is it God or is it something else. What do you treasure most? Whatever that is will be what is most important to you and you will make a priority in your life. God wants to be what you treasure most. Can you honestly admit that he is?

 

Father God, thank you for everything you have done for us. Thank you for the church each of us belongs to, you use each one to bring others to know you. I pray for focus in the church that they will work to fulfil the mission and if there is any fighting among the family I pray for forgiveness and civility. Let the church rise up as one to preach redemption and hope. For those who are part-time believers, not committed, I pray as they have read this you have stirred their hearts and they have rededicated to you and the church you have placed them in. Let them impact their world through their commitment. You strengthen the church you will use us in amazing ways. Use us to change our world. Amen

30: 50 Days of 3:16

On day 28 we talked about Jesus receiving the baptism from John, how John did not feel worthy to provide this task, feeling it should be the other way around. Today we see how John felt about the coming Messiah and why he felt humbled in Jesus presence. John was a man like us, he had his doubts as well, even after making a strong statement like the one today or recognizing Jesus and baptising him we see that after he was imprisoned only months later, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he really was the Messiah. 

 

John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3:16

 

The baptism in water is an important step in any believer’s life. But John here tells the reader of another important baptism that is available through the Messiah. This part of being a Christ follower is often ignored because people do not take the time to understand the role of the Holy Spirit. Some groups of believers have taken this to far and place a higher importance on it to the point where those who do not agree are ostracized.  The Holy Spirit is God. Just the same as Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit has been given to meet with us where we are. Many put the Holy Spirit on another level just a little lower than Jesus, all because Jesus promised to send another to help us. The Holy Spirit is not like a worker who has been sent but as an ally sent to assist. He was there with Jesus empowering Him in miracles, giving Him strength on earth.

 

If we were already baptised in water why would Jesus come and there be a promise to baptize with fire? Fire consumes us, fire is used to refine us. Just like gold when found is unpure, refinement with fire removes impurities and creates something beautiful. This process is not always a fast one as we resist the process, afraid that we will lose who we are and become something else. God created you the way you are for a reason, your personality and talents are what He wants to use. Refinement will not destroy who you are but enhance you for the better removing the bad traits and solidify the positive ones. Holding on to the past and things of this world keep us from refinement. Many have been attributed to the statement ‘Let go and let God’, it is what we need to do to allow God through the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.

 

Maybe today you feel like I have in the past, a stale Christian faith that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Church on Sundays, maybe a study during the week, casual prayer and devotions. But life is just blah, you want to feel excited about your faith but you just don’t. When was the last time you let the Holy Spirit work in your life? When have you asked Him to baptise you with fire revealing things that need to be removed?  This can be done alone or in church. Many a Sunday I see the altar empty and people rushing out of the church as soon as the pastor says his closing prayer. What if the church was to take time praying for the Holy Spirit to refine them? Give them purpose? Praying for more than being a seat warmer, holding a place for entrance to heaven? We are called for so much more, but until we are ready to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire we wander through life. We can’t expect change to just happen, most times we have to make the first step, it may be that first step that carries you into a new chapter in your faith.

 

Father, I pray today that everyone who takes the time to read this knows you, if they don’t I ask that today you will show them the relationship you have for them and the forgiveness that Jesus has for them.  Use us to reach our families, neighbours, coworkers and our world. Holy Spirit refines us in your fire, not to burn us up but to remove impurities that hinder us from growing with God. Use our personalities and abilities to be effective in the mission of sharing the love of Jesus to this world. We need strength and wisdom to be effective, Holy Spirit we ask for these things. Use us. Amen

29: 50 Days of 3:16

Jesus now baptised, has begun his earthly ministry. His next task was to assemble a team of disciples to assist him in the mission. We don’t see Jesus signing up on Linkedin or starting a recruiting drive. He did not go to the temple and try to recruit the best and the brightest religious minds. We see Jesus travelling the countryside looking for those who could relate to the people that needed to meet Jesus the most.

 

These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter),

Mark 3:16

 

Jesus found men right where they were in their work environments. He requested that they just stop what they are doing and to follow him. This was a radical request, there must have been some authority in Jesus’ voice, or compassion, whatever it was it drew these twelve men to devote their lives to a cause they really knew nothing about. They left their livelihood behind trusting a man whom they did not know. Jesus never promised them fame, fortune or anything like that, if you recall he told Simon if he followed him that he would make him a fisher of men. No money in that, yet Simon saw something in Jesus character and his offer that was too good to pass up.

 

There are some who put the disciples on a pedestal and think that they had it all together. Maybe they try to compare themselves and never measure up. But the disciples were just like us, they had their failures, doubts, fears. They were not perfect by any standard. They would fight amongst themselves about which of them was the best. When trouble fell on Jesus they scattered. Some even doubted Jesus had risen from the dead. Even one betrayed him. So why did Jesus surround himself with twelve flawed people? I believe he did so to show future generations that he uses everyone to fulfil the mission. We see more flawed people being used in amazing ways from all sorts of backgrounds. Saul a religious zealot bound to destroy every believer for their faith met Jesus and he became one of the powerhouses of the faith. Timothy was a kid, but he impacted the church. Many more are layered throughout the NT. The disciples went on to change the known world with the message of salvation, each suffering for it yet never giving in to their fears of death.

 

So what does the fact Jesus found twelve disciples mean to us today? I feel it is a good example of how we need to surround ourselves with those who are on the same mission. Working together we can make an impact in our world, country, region, community and families. We were never meant to be solo believers. It may be hard to find a group of twelve people that you would call your core group of faith, but a church provides an opportunity to find a small group of believers who will stand by you in the mission. If you have given your heart to Jesus, I wonder if you have plugged into a network of believers and are working to grow in your faith. This will guide you in the mission of reaching the lost.

 

Father, thank you for the example of friendship we see with the disciples and Jesus. His choice was ordinary people with no extraordinary giftings, just those willing to follow and believed in the mission.  We often decided who we will share the faith with on our outward views, I pray that we will look past the outward and see that there are people all around who need to meet with Jesus. They may look tough, homely, tattooed, angry, dirty, smelly, professional, or they have it all together, remind us that they still need you. Give us wisdom in each situation to be effective in sharing your love with them. Use me to change my world. Amen

28: 50 Days of 3:16

Here in Matthew, we start the ministry of Jesus. The Old Testament prophets spoke of a man preparing the peoples hearts for the coming Messiah. We read in this chapter about a man named John. You may know him as John the Baptist, he was given that name as he has known for baptising people preparing them to meet God. John was teaching that people must repent of their sins and the baptism was an outward sign of an inward change of heart, very different from the sacrifices of old. Why then would Jesus who had no sin need to partake in such an activity?

 

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

Matthew 3:16

 

As we read we see that John recognized Jesus right away as the one who would save them. We know from reading Mary’s account of pregnancy that Jesus and John had met briefly when they were yet born, and Jesus had made an impression on him then. We know they were cousins, yet we have not record of any encounters between them after they were born. We know at some point in John’s life he departed into the desert to seek God and received his calling to teach repentance and baptism. But here on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, they meet once again. Jesus asking for the baptism that John has been performing.

 

John hesitates, asking why Jesus would need this baptism, instead John wants the baptism that Jesus will provide. We see here that John was hungry for more. He had received his calling and knew that he was only the foreshadowing of one to come, his whole life was about preparing the hearts of the people for Jesus. In essence, he was the preshow to the main headliner, he knew it and never once wanted to take his place. So, when the one who he has been preparing for asked him to baptise him, it took him by surprise. Jesus reassured John that this was needed to be done so that the calling could be fulfilled. John was once again obedient and did as Jesus asked.

 

Jesus went down into the water a sinless man, he was not being baptised to show and outward sign of an inward change, but as an act of obedience that each believer should follow. He came up from the waters in triumph as a symbol of what he would do in three years time. This moment when the Spirit of God descended on Jesus could very well be the kickstart to his early ministry. All his preparation and prayer leading to this point where God said ‘go’.

 

As believers in Christ, we have accepted Jesus into our lives, asking Him to forgive us of our sins. We go through our lives and as sinful beings we continue to sin, we must daily ask for forgiveness. Not as if the sin we do breaks our relationship with God, but that the sin hinders our walk with God and slows down growth. We also called to water baptism, to go under the waters as an outward sign of an inward change. In the early church believers did this almost immediately. Today we wait and wait and some never make this statement of faith. They wonder why things fall apart and their relationship with God is rocky. This is an important step for any believer and helps cement your heart. The baptism sprinkle as a child does not have anything to do with this event. This choice must be yours something you do freely to show others the change you have made and who you serve. If you are putting off water baptism or just never knew you needed to, I pray today that you don’t delay, talk to your Pastor or mentor and encourage them to help you.

 

Father, thank you for everything you do for us. You prepared the way for Jesus so perfectly. Sending John ahead to prepare the hearts of the people, instituting baptism as a symbol of repentance. I pray that we see hearts changed, lives transformed and people renewed in their faith. Let their lives be an example of your love in this world. Use us to share your love, let any fears that bind us be taken away and replaced with strength and wisdom. Give us opportunity after opportunity to reach the lost. Amen

 

 

26: 50 Days of 3:16

If you believe God does not care about what is happening here on earth you might want to take another read of your bible. God is always watching He does not sleep like a man does. As you read some of the minor prophets letters you may just decide to ignore them as they are small and not quite sure why they were even added. But the information and revelations about God and His character are undeniable. Here in Zephaniah we again read about God’s love and hope for His chosen people. He hears their cry of anguish and promises to punish their enemies for the actions.

 

 

On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.”

Zephaniah 3:16

 

Have you ever been so discouraged that you are just about ready to give up? Everything is not going your way. Someone told you that the Christian life would be easy and you believed them, now it feels like the world is against you, you must be doing something wrong. Many around us are discouraged, they have no one willing and able to build them up and encourage them. Here in this time in Israel’s history they were exhausted, defeated and ready to give up. God was sending them a battle cry to not give up. Keep working away, do not be discouraged. Letting their hands fall limp would be a sign of defeat, an outward sign of an inward change. If the people began falling into depression and giving up any of their enemies would take advantage and destroy them.

 

One of the issues we find is that Israel was unrepentant for their sinful actions. Earlier in this chapter, they are reminded of this and the importance of asking for Gods forgiveness for the actions of the people. They had dabbled in the rituals of their neighbours partaking in the worship of other god’s. This rightfully upset God who was leading them and showing them the direction they need to take to live a fulfilled life. Unrepentance puts up roadblocks to God’s blessings in our lives. This not only includes unrepentance towards God but towards our fellow man who has done offence to us. This is not easy for us as we have been taught that revenge is expected. For us to forgive without expectation of remuneration is not the norm but is what we as believers are called to. Society demands justice and remuneration, just look at the number of lawsuits out there over the littlest things. This all stems from greed where man has learned if you complain loud enough and play the right cards you can be compensated for being offended. The courts have played into their hands fueling this engine of greed.

As believers, we need to stand up over this system. Taking a hard stand on forgiveness. Loving our enemies, not letting our hands fall limp by our side in defeat, but ready to help our enemy in moving forward.  God will deal with those who do not accept our forgiveness and love, let Him deal with the justice, we must raise our hands in a show of love. We do not have time to worry about holding grudges and making things right in our own eyes. We are called to the mission of reaching the lost in which none are excluded, your enemies are part of your mission to be told the love of Jesus. You can do this in how you respond to their attacks. Many a story is told about persecuted believers overseas that love their captors and eventually their captors receive Christ. We may not have enemies as harsh but we can love those who are here in our midst. Will you rejoice and not be discouraged? God is ready willing and able to help you push through your fears and reach those around you. Will you let Him?

 

Father, many are discouraged in their faith. Maybe they have tried to share your love and have been laughed at or threaten if they continue. Strengthen them in your love and give them boldness to keep on. Let them not let their hands go limp in defeat but help them to raise them up in a show of love and determination to be a strong force for the kingdom. Help them experience a win by guiding them to lead someone to you. Give them the wisdom to speak directly to the heart of someone they know a friend, family or enemy, even today Jesus. If we are holding on to forgiveness show us how we need to let it go and love those who have hurt us. Use me today. Amen