Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31, 2012 … 8760 Hours in 2013: Starting Over

A “Happy New Year” Devotional - Day 366

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Ecclesiastes 3 [Please use the link above to reflect on Solomon’s reflections.] : [NLT] … {The entire book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s chronicle of recognition and the realization that in all of his life, with all the human wisdom he had received from God, he had still blown it when it came to the way he was a steward of the time God had given him. In this passage Solomon reflects on the time he was given in life; and he laments, in reflection, the reality that he could have done so much more with the time God had given him to use it for God’s glory.}

Reference Passage: Psalms 90: 12 : [NLT] … {On this last day of the year, looking ahead for the next year God may or may not give us, is there some desire to “Start Over” and do life in a better way for God’s glory this year.}  
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. 

My Journal for Today: Yesterday was day “365” in the completion of the Chronological Bible Reading discipline, published by online to help any seeker after truth to read through the entire Bible chronologically in a year. The online reading ended yesterday because it was leap year; and the program didn’t take today into account – DAY 366, Dec. 31, in 2012. So, I have no lesson from to rely upon to close out the year as I blog my journal entry today.

But every year on December 31st my computer schedule program reminds me to go to this link  and meditate on a poem, written by Bible Teacher, Woodrow Kroll, a number of years ago. And so again this year, I did so. I hope you do too!

And then yesterday one of our teaching pastors at our church preached a great sermon from the segment of Scripture I’ve cited/linked above for your study on this last day of 2012. The passage is Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11; and any disciple of Christ who reads that passage, as well as the poem to which I’ve linked you, would very likely be reflecting on the prayer/question, …  

“Lord, did I use my time wisely and for your purposes in 2012; and if I were to “START OVER” in 2013, how could I use the 8760 hours in 2013, if You grant them to me, more effectively and for Your glory?”

The wonderful truth is, my fellow Christian, …WE CAN START OVER!!

A lot of us are going to want to make “New Year’s Resolutions” going into the New Year. And like Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3, we recognize that in our past use of the time God has given us, we could have done better in many areas of life. Yesterday, our preacher expounded on the reality that there are two demonic first cousins, PROCRASTINATION and PRESUMPTION, which, if we let them, can rob us of how we use our time, trying to lure us to use God’s time for our own selfish pursuits rather than for Savior pursuits.

 But when we read the poem, and taking up Paul’s banner of truth from Ephesians 5: 15-16 [I’ll let you dig that one out for yourself], we are charged by our Lord to use our God-given time circumspectly and wisely; and if/when we do, it will be for God’s glory. And my friend, if you read that poem to which I’ve linked you above, you will realize, as I have today, that we can START OVER; and we can use – if God grants them – the 8760 hours in 2013 much more wisely and with much more Spirit-led power than we would in selfish pursuits. However, this will happen only if we choose (and it’s always our God-granted choice) to use those hours in obedience to God’s will.

My Prayer for Today Lord, help me to START OVER for your glory in 2013. … Amen

A blogger’s PS - HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30, 2012 … God’s Final Victory … The New Jerusalem !!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 365

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Revelation, Chapters 19-22 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passages: Revelation 19 - 22 [Please use the link above to read/study these final chapters of the book of The Revelation]: [NLT] … {As the Apostle John writes the vision God gave him of Christ’s defeat final victory in the New Jerusalem, my Parsons commentary summarizes this section of the Prophetic writings in this way:  
“After the defeat of Babylon (18:1-24), a great multitude in heaven shouts praise to God for his mighty victory (19:1-10). The final three chapters of the book of Revelation catalog the events that finalize Christ's victory over the enemy: Satan's 1,000-year imprisonment (20:1-10), the final judgment (20:11-15), and the creation of a new earth and a new Jerusalem (21:1–22:6). An angel then gives John final instructions concerning the visions John has seen and what to do once he has written them all down (22:7-11 ). Revelation concludes with the promise of Christ's soon return, an offer to drink of the water of life that flows through the great street of the new Jerusalem, and a warning to those who read the book (22:12-21). May we pray with John, "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" (22:20). The Bible ends with a message of warning and hope for men and women of every generation. Christ is victorious, and all evil has been done away with. As you read the book of Revelation, marvel at God's grace in the salvation of the saints and his power over the evil forces of Satan, and remember the hope of this victory to come.”

Highlight Passage: Revelation 21: 1-4 : [NLT] … {John’s vision helps Christians see what awaits us in the New Jerusalem}...  
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband. 3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.”  

Highlight Passage: Revelation 22: 8: 11; … 20: [NLT] … {And I feel compelled to quote from the last chapter of this last book of the Bible in my last journal entry from this chronological study through God’s word this year.}...   
8 I, John, am the one who saw and heard all these things. And when I saw and heard these things, I fell down to worship the angel who showed them to me. 9 But again he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this scroll. Worship God!” 10 Then he instructed me, “Do not seal up the prophetic words you have written, for the time is near. 11 Let the one who is doing wrong continue to do wrong; the one who is vile, continue to be vile; the one who is good, continue to do good; and the one who is holy, continue in holiness.” … 20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

Reference Passage: 1st Corinthians 15: 51-58 : [NLT] … {Please use this link to meditate on this wonderful passage of truth from the Apostle Paul, telling of the truth of God’s Kingdom to come and the hope of that Kingdom in the here-and-now.} … 

My Journal for Today: Oh; … oh how appropriate it is to read about and meditate on our future days in glory as I close out my year in this chronological read through Scripture this year. Yes, it’s my last day to enter a blog in 2012, summarizing and trying to capture my reading through the Bible with one last journal entry. And all I seem to be able to come up with is a restatement of the Apostle John’s last words when He heard Jesus say to him, ”Yes, I am coming soon!” … to which John replied, Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

Whom among us, especially you who might be reading here with me, would not second those thoughts?!

I certainly am one Christian who desperately wants to see my Lord, Jesus, which is expressed in the glorious song to which I link you below, sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. I want to have that new body declared by Paul in 1Cor. 15: 51-58, linked for your study above. I want to see what the Apostle John wrote about in The Revelation; … don’t you? So, really all I can say on this last day of entries in 2012, is … AMEN! COME SOON, LORD JESUS!

My Prayer for Today Oh, Lord, I will remain and do all I can to follow Your will in this life; but I do so desire to be with You in the New Jerusalem; … SOON, is my prayer! … Amen

Blogger’s Note on Day 365 of my trek through Scripture in 2012: Take this link to a wonderful song on You Tube performed by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir which seems to capture my joy and desire to be with My Lord in glory one day. I pray that I will see you there one day.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29, 2012 … Babylon Defeated

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 364

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Revelation, Chapters 12-18 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: Revelation 12 - 18 [Please use the link above to read/study these chapters of The Revelation]: [NLT] … {As the Apostle John unfolds and writes the vision gave him of Christ’s defeat of His arch enemy Satan and the final judgment, my Parsons commentary summarizes this section of the Prophetic writings in this way: “ Finally, the seventh trumpet sounds, calling the rival forces of good and evil to the final battle. On one side is Satan and his forces; on the other side stands Jesus Christ with his forces (11:15–13:18). In the midst of this call to battle, John sees three angels announcing the final judgment (14:6-13). Two angels begin to reap this harvest of judgment on the earth (14:14-20). Following on the heels of these two angels are seven more angels, who pour out God's judgment on the earth from seven bowls (15:1–16:21 ). One of these angels from the group of seven reveals to John a vision of a "great prostitute" called Babylon (symbolizing the Roman Empire), riding a scarlet beast (17:1-18). After the defeat of Babylon (18:1-24), a great multitude in heaven shouts praise to God for his mighty victory (19:1-10).” }

Reference Passage: Romans 8 [yes, … the entire chapter] : [NLT] … {Please use this link to meditate on this wonderful passage of truth from the later-day Apostle, Paul, telling of the truth of God’s Kingdom to come and the reality of that Kingdom in the here-and-now.} … 

My Journal for Today: In the last chapter of the Bible in my chronological read during this year; … only one more day to go. And as was reading the getting help from my Parsons Commentary – some of which is copied above, somewhat befuddled and in awe of the Eschatological imagery from John’s writings – I was led (I believe by God’s Spirit) to remember a passage in Romans 8, to which I link you above, which describes the truth of the New Jerusalem to come and the hope it gives for living in the here-and-now. Yes, the KINGDOM OF GOD is to be fully realized in heaven for believers in Christ; but it is also to be experienced in our lives as we live them out now. It is true, as Paul wrote it in Romans 8: 38-39: ...  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John was writing about God’s vision of what was to come. Paul was writing about how the hope of that reality plays out in our lives in the here and now. My fellow seeker of truth, If you, like yours truly, don’t have the clear biblical discernment when we read or study the chapters of The Revelation, which we were charged to study today, I maintain that all we need to have in this life is faith in the reality and truth of Paul’s passage in Romans 8 copied above. Because, in this life, no matter what we clearly understand or interpret about the eschatological writings in The Revelation, if the truth is, as Paul writes, that NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD, we’re going to be okay in this life. 

My Prayer for Today Lord, I believe, in Your love in the New Jerusalem; but I live in that love now! … Amen

Blogger’s Note: To help you revel in the belief of what I’ve written about above, go to this God Tube link; and hearing this wondrous song, performed by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, I pray that God’s grace is – for you as it is for me - "deeper, wider, and stronger than anything our eyes can see!"

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 28, 2012 … The New Jerusalem

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 363

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Revelation, Chapters 6-11 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: Revelation 6 - 11 [Please use the link above to read/study these chapters of The Revelation]: [NLT] … {As the Apostle John unfolds and writes the vision gave him of the New Jerusalem, my Parsons commentary summarizes this section of the Prophetic writings in this way:  
“As the first four seals are opened, riders appear on horses of different colors: war, famine, disease, and death are in their path (6:1-8). As the fifth seal is opened, John sees those in heaven who have been martyred for their faith in Christ (6:9-11). A set of contrasting images appears at the opening of the sixth seal. On one side, there is a great earthquake, stars fall from the sky, and the sky rolls up like a scroll (6:12-17). On the other side, multitudes are before the throne, worshiping and praising God and the Lamb (7:1-17). Finally, the seventh seal is opened (8:1-5), unveiling a series of God's judgments announced by seven angels with seven trumpets. The first four angels bring hail, fire, a mountain of fire, and a falling star—the sun and moon are darkened (8:6-13). The fifth trumpet announces the coming of locusts with the power to sting (9:1-12). The sixth trumpet heralds the coming of an army of warriors on horses (9:13-21). In 10:1-11, John is given a small scroll to eat. Following this, John is commanded to measure the Temple of God (11:1, 2). He sees two witnesses, who proclaim God's judgment on the earth for three and a half years (11:3-14). Finally, the seventh trumpet sounds, calling the rival forces of good and evil to the final battle. On one side is Satan and his forces; on the other side stands Jesus Christ with his forces (11:15–13:18).”

My Journal for Today: When I look at the difficult paths through life, I often use the word picture of life being a minefield; and any rational Christian would not want to be a Lone Ranger, trying to wander through that dangerous minefield without being able to follow One Who knew where all the mines were placed. And so, I do all I can to follow Jesus through the minefields of life, using His “GPS,” … “God’s Positioning System,” i.e., His word, to guide me through life, … doing all I can, using the Holy Spirit’s “GPS,” to avoid the mines in this minefield we call life.

But as I get into God’s word, I see my search more like a search through a treasure laden mine, trying to find God’s fine gems and treasured minerals. As was pictured by the Author of Job, Chapter 28, seeking after the mind of God, i.e., His wisdom, is like mining for God’s treasures. However, to find the treasures, it can be hard work at times, even risky digging into God’s truth. But we’ve got to be willing to discipline ourselves to dig deep and keep picking away until we find the pure gold or valuable jewels God has waiting for those who’re willing to dig deeply into His mine of truth for His treasures.

Digging into The Revelation is difficult mining; but do you remember the promise in the opening Chapter – in Revelation 1: 3? It reads: God blesses the one who reads this prophecy to the church, and He blesses all who listen to it and obey what it says. For the time is near when these things will happen. So, I hope you’re willing to use the links I provided yesterday, today, and closing out December in my blog to read and obey what you glean from God’s mine of truth, given through the writing of this Prophetic book. I’m blessed to have a reliable and effective commentary as I read and try to interpret this richly laden book of prophesy.

And perhaps you have a good study Bible or well-regarded Bible commentary on The Revelation to help you do your mining on this treasure chest in God’s word. It may be difficult work; but with God’s promise above in Rev. 1: 3, it’s worth it!

My Prayer for Today Lord, thank You for the mine of truth which is Your Word; and I’m so grateful to be led to work a portion of that mine so filled with your treasures as The Revelation. … Amen

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 27, 2012 … <'KOKO>< = "Keep On Keeping On In Christ!"

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 362

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Revelation, Chapters 1-5 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: Revelation 1: 1-3: 9-11 : [NLT] … {The Apostle John, exiled by Rome from Ephesus to Patmos in about 95AD (about 60 years after Jesus’ death/resurrection) is writing about a revelation from Christ Himself, given through John to seven churches in Asia Minor and to any Christian who might read these prophetic writings. And for the one who might be tempted to ask why should we read/study Revelation because of its imagery, see verse 3 of Chapter 1 underlined below, which is from God and certainly reason enough to read and do all we can to interpret this challenging book of the Bible. } ...  
1 This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him concerning the events that will happen soon. An angel was sent to God’s servant John so that John could share the revelation with God’s other servants. 2 John faithfully reported the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ — everything he saw. … 3 God blesses the one who reads this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to it and obey what it says. For the time is near when these things will happen. … 
9 I am John, your brother. In Jesus we are partners in suffering and in the Kingdom and in patient endurance. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and speaking about Jesus. 10 It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard a loud voice behind me, a voice that sounded like a trumpet blast. 11 It said, “Write down what you see, and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”  
Highlight Passages: Revelation 2 [Please use the link above to read/study through the letters to four of the churches] : [NLT] … {Chapter 2 begins four of the seven letters to the churches in/around Asia Minor, where John had been living prior to being exiled to Patmos. And these seven churches represent types of churches in the world today, which makes these letters pertinent/powerful warning to the Kingdom of God in the here and now. In each instance, save one in Chapter 3, the Lord has a warning to repent and return to the ways of Christ. } … ============
Highlight Passages: Revelation 3: 10-13 : [NLT] … {The last three of the seven letters are in Chapter 3; and I’m quoting the one church, in Philadelphia, which received only affirmation and kudos from Christ for their Kingdom living the faithfulness. Hence I’m quoting below from that letter; but please take the time to read through all seven letters.} …
{To the Church in Philadelphia} 10 “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. 11 Look, I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. 12 All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write my God’s name on them, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And they will have my new name inscribed upon them. 13 Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”  
Highlight Passages: Revelation 4: 1-3 : [NLT] … {In Chapter 4 of The Revelation, John moves from the pragmatics of kingdom living in the previous three chapters to prophesy about living forever in the New Jerusalem. }...   
1 Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast. The voice said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after these things.” 2 And instantly I was in the Spirit,£ and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it! 3 The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow.
Highlight Passages: Revelation 5: 6-8 : [NLT] … {And John unfolds more of his vision of heaven for all who believed in Christ as their Messiah and LORD.}...   
6 I looked and I saw a Lamb that had been killed but was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God that are sent out into every part of the earth. 7 He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. 8 And as he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense—the prayers of God’s people! 

My Journal for Today: Okay … after 362 days in my chronological trek through the Bible with online, and using my Parsons Commentary CD Rom to help me, I’ve arrived at that oft dreaded Book of The Revelation to close out my year; and this book of the Bible has always been imposing to me; but I will do what the title of my journal entry today proclaims.

I will “KEEP ON KEEPING ON IN CHRIST” and complete this work of discipleship for 2012.

 And I’ve titled this blog entry as stated because, in many respects, that is the theme entry of The Revelation, where God first gives to His Church letters addressed to there-and-then churches near where John had spent the last years of his life near Ephesus in Asia-Minor. And as The Revelation opens, Christ is practically dictating, through John, the Lord’s challenge and charge to His Bride to get it together, repent, and return to His will and His ways, … i.e., to return to Kingdom Living and avoiding fleshly or worldly living.

I hope you have, as I have, gone back and studied through those seven letters in the first three chapters of The Revelation; and if you have, I think you’ll agree that my title today, “Keep On Keeping On In Christ,” is an appropriate summary of what the Lord was trying to communicate to the Church through John. For example, He wanted the Ephesians to return to their first love (i.e., the Lord); and really that was the main message for all the other churches, save the church in Philadelphia, who had remained true and faithful in their Kingdom living.

And then John, through the vision God gave him of heaven, launches (today in Chapters 4-5) into that Revelation of our LORD ruling in The New Jerusalem. And we’ll close out 2012, looking at this vision, realizing that all who’ve come to faith in YESHUA HA MASHIAH will be worshipping and praising the Lion of Judah and sharing His Heaven with the Lamb of God forever.

WORTHY IS THE LAMB, Who sits His throne of grace!!!

My Prayer for Today Praise You, My Lord … forever and ever !!! … Amen

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 26, 2012 … For the Love of Christ!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 361

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: 2nd John, Chapter 1 To study this letter, go to this link
Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: 3rd John, Chapter 1 To study this letter go to this link

Highlight Passages: 2nd John, Chapter 1: 6 : [NLT] … {2nd John was a letter written late in his life to an unknown “lady,” which may have been a person or code for a church, with “her children” referring to the body of Christ. Parsons Commentary writes: “The apostle John had seen Truth and Love firsthand—he had been with Jesus. So affected was this disciple that all of his writings, from the Gospel to the book of Revelation, are filled with this theme: Truth and love are vital to the Christian and are inseparable in the Christian life. Second John, his brief letter to a dear friend, is no different. John says to live in the truth and obey God (1:4), watch out for deceivers (1:7), and love God and each other (1:6).” } … As we read 2nd John, can we imagine that the Apostle is writing the letter to you, me, or our church? And are we living in the truth and love personified by Christ? …  
6 Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. 7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world. They do not believe that Jesus Christ came to earth in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Watch out, so that you do not lose the prize for which we have been working so hard. Be diligent so that you will receive your full reward.  

Highlight Passages: 3rd John, Chapter 1: : [NLT] … {3rd John was also a letter written to another friend, this one named (Gaius), who was commended by John for the way he treated fellow Christians. Parsons Commentary writes: “For Gaius, hospitality was a habit, and his reputation for friendship and generosity, especially to traveling teachers and missionaries (1:5), had spread. To affirm and thank Gaius for his Christian life–style, and to encourage him in his faith, John wrote this personal note.” … Once again, ... if you or I were a close friend of John living in about 90AD, would he have written such a letter to us.}  
5 Dear friend, you are doing a good work for God when you take care of the traveling teachers who are passing through, even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church here of your friendship and your loving deeds. You do well to send them on their way in a manner that pleases God. 

Reference Passage: John 13: 33-34 : [NLT] … {John’s Gospel was written about 4-5 year before the two letters above; but the message on love was eternally to reflect Christ, who was the personification of truth/love, in Christians. Here John reflects and remembers the love command of Christ just before He went to the cross.} … Jesus said, …  
34 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” 

My Journal for Today: I know my blog title today sounds, when read aloud, almost profane; but it reflects these two little letters, which are reflecting some bigtime truths. They were written to Christians from the Apostle John later in his life to encourage any Christians in and around Ephesus in Christian living and to help them be vigilant of false teachers or teachings. When I read these letters, I ask myself … if John were around today, would he have considered writing such things to me? And I think, in general, I would answer “YES” to that question.

I’m not bragging here. I’m only reflecting on the reality that – even today … more that 2000 years after these letters were written – I share John’s hyper-vigilant attitude and stance against false teachings, which are still so very prevalent and leading many misguided and lost souls into hell. But I don’t know whether I could live up to the affirmation offered by John to his friend Gaius. Since I became a Christian almost 30 years ago, I’m certainly much more driven to love others, especially other Christians, in the encouragement of our Lord, Jesus, in John 13: 34-35, quoted above as a reference passage. However, not having the Spirit-empowered gift of hospitality, as I believe Gaius had, I still could using some maturing in helping our reaching out to others in Christ’s Name.

But most certainly the truths espoused in these two short letters should be internalized and pursued by all Christians in this world today just as much as John was trying to exhort Christians to live like Christ in truth and love during the times of Nero. But the question still resounds for all us – as Christians – can we live as Christ commanded; … can we love as Christ commanded?!!

My Prayer for Today Lord, I do so desire to live as the Apostle wrote in these letters. Help me to live and love in You … and for You. … Amen

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25, 2012 … Do You KNOW You’re Saved?

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 360

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: 1st John, Chapters 1-5 ... To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: 1st John, Chapter 1: : [NLT] … {Continuing with Parsons Commentary: “John opens this letter by giving his credentials as an eyewitness of the Incarnation and by stating his reason for writing (1:1-4). He then presents God as “light,” symbolizing absolute purity and holiness (1:5-7), and he explains how believers can walk in the light and have fellowship with God (1:8-10).”}
Highlight Passages: 1st John, Chapter 2: : [NLT] … {The Apostle John goes on as as the Parsons Commentary continues: “If [Christians] do sin, Christ is their defender (2:1, 2). John urges them to obey Christ fully and to love all the members of God’s family (2:3-17). He warns his readers of “antichrists” and the Antichrist who will try to lead them away from the truth (2:18-29).” }
Highlight Passages: 1st John, Chapter 3: : [NLT] … {Parsons: “In the next section, John presents God as “love”—giving, dying, forgiving, and blessing (3:1–4:21). God is love, and because God loves us, he calls us his children and makes us like Christ (3:1, 2). This truth should motivate us to live close to him (3:3-6). We can be sure of our family relationship with God when our life is filled with good deeds and love for others (3:7-24).” }
Highlight Passages: 1st John, Chapter 4: : [NLT] … {Parsons: “Again, John warns of false teachers who twist the truth. We should reject these false teachers (4:1-6) as we continue to live in God’s love (4:7-21).”}
Highlight Passages: 1st John, Chapter 5 – the key chapter in this letter, written late in John’s life. Note the theme verse in 1John 5: 13 [copied below] : [NLT] … {Parsons: “In the last section, John presents God as “life” (5:1-21). God’s life is in his Son. To have his Son is to have eternal life. … Do you know God? Do you know Christ? Do you know that you have eternal life? First John was written to help you know the reality of God in your life through faith in Christ, to assure you that you have eternal life, and to encourage you to remain in fellowship with the God who is light and love.” }
13 I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. 14 And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. 15 And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for. 

My Journal for Today: Shortly after I began meeting with my mentor years ago, he pointedly asked me, “Bill, are you saved?” … Rather taken aback, I answered, rather meekly, “Well, yeah, I think so.” And this provoked a series of questions from my discipler, Dr. Bob, to help me KNOW that I was securely in a personal relationship with Christ.

Today I am into the letter the Apostle John wrote late in his life to Christians to help them KNOW that they KNOW that they KNOW that they were saved. You can go right to the theme verse for this epistle in 1st John 5: 13 to confirm this intent on the part of the old Apostle. And in the book of 1st John, we probably have the best place for any Christian, doubting their salvation, to go do an inventory of their faith (much as Paul wrote about in 2nd Cor. 13: 5), and to build assurance of that Christian’s salvation.

When you read this letter, as I pray you’ve done by using the link above, you’ll see that John has written eleven specific arguments to help any Christian KNOW that he/she is saved. Here are those eleven points, summarized below; and you can check out these truths for yourself to bolster your own confidence in your relationship with Christ …

1. Communion with God – A deep and abiding relationship with Christ as expressed and experienced by fruitfulness in the Spirit [1 John 1: 3 – see also Gal. 5: 22, 23]
2. Sensitivity to sin – Conviction when/if sin occurs and a serious move toward the surrender of self to God’s Spirit. [1 John 1: 6-10]
3. Decreasing pattern of sin – Small sins become bigger in consciousness; and there is a growing intentional commitment to eradicate selfish/sinful living. [1 John 3: 6, 9]
4. Obedience to God’s commandments – An obvious drive – a conscious pursuit - in one’s spirit to surrender to God’s will [1 John 2: 3-6]
5. A love for Godliness and an antipathy with the world – A purposeful desire to please God rather than the world [1 John 2: 15-17]
6. A longing for and a preparation for Christ’s return - Awaiting the return of The Bridegroom by pursuing righteous living [1 John 3: 2-3 – see also Rev. 19: 7-8]
7. A love for other Christians – One is drawn to close fellowship and a drive to be vulnerable, especially in empathy with other believers [1 John 2: 10]
8. Answer to prayer – A growing realization of the power of prayer and the outcomes of humble/thankful prayer [1 John 3: 22-23; 5: 14]
9. Experiencing the sanctifying ministry of the Holy Spirit – The reality of the fruit of the Spirit becoming mature and being lived out in the experiences/circumstances of life. [1 John 4: 13]
10. Ability to discern false doctrine/spirits – A maturing sensitivity to false teaching and doctrine that is counter to God’s word as the likeness of Christ grows in us [1 John 4: 4-6]
11. Rejected by the world – A reality that the world will shun a growing, professing Christian [1st John 3: 13]

Well, how did you do? And if you honestly went through these apologetic points of truth from John’s first epistle and you seriously doubt your salvation, I invite you – no, I exhort you - to contact me via email or phone - which can be found at this link  – and I’ll do my best to help you clarify those doubts or prayerfully be used by God’s Spirit to shepherd you into the Family of God.

But if you came through this inventory, KNOWING THAT YOU KNOW that you are saved, now is the time to do what Jesus has charged all Christians to do in Matthew 28: 19-20 & Acts 1:8.

And so, … my fellow Christian, … let’s go do it!!

My Prayer for Today Heavenly Father, now that I know You have saved me on this day to celebrate Your Son’s birth into this world to do just that, may I launch myself into the New Year, seeking to follow You more closely than ever as my LORD. … Amen

And a Blogger’s PS - MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24, 2012 … We fight on!!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 359

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: 2nd Peter, Chapters 1-3 To study these chapters, go to this link -
Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Jude, Chapter 1 To study this one short letter, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: 2nd Peter, Chapter 1: : [NLT] … {As with my Scripture summary earlier, I quote the Parsons Commentary I use for my chronological Bible study concerning 2nd Peter, Chapter 1: “After a brief greeting (1:1), Peter gives the antidote for stagnancy and shortsightedness in the Christian life (1:2-11). Then he explains that his days are numbered (1:12-15) and that the believers should listen to his messages and the words of Scripture (1:16-21).”}  
3 As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness! 4 And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his divine nature. 5 So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. 6 Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. … 
20 But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith. And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit. 21 Live in such a way that God’s love can bless you as you wait for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you. 22 Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. There are still others to whom you need to show mercy, but be careful that you aren’t contaminated by their sins. 

Highlight Passages: 2nd Peter, Chapter 2 : [NLT] … {Parsons Commentary: “ Peter gives a blunt warning about false teachers (2:1-22). They will become prevalent in the last days (2:1, 2), they will do or say anything for money (2:3), they will spurn the things of God (2:2, 10, 11), they will do whatever they feel like doing (2:12-17), they will be proud and boastful (2:18, 19), and they will be judged and punished by God (2:3-10, 20-22).” } …

Highlight Passages: 2nd Peter, Chapter 3: 8-9; 14 : [NLT] … {Parsons Commentary: “Peter concludes his brief letter by explaining why he has written it (3:1-18): to remind them of the words of the prophets and apostles that predicted the coming of false teachers, to give the reasons for the delay in Christ’s return (3:1-13), to encourage them to beware of heresies, and to grow in their faith (3:14-18).”}  
8 But you must not forget, dear friends, that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent. … 14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to live a pure and blameless life. And be at peace with God. 

Highlight Passages: Jude, Chapter 1: [NLT] … {Parsons Commentary: “This was Jude’s message to Christians everywhere. Opposition would come and godless teachers would arise, but Christians should “defend the truth of the Good News” (1:3) by rejecting all falsehood and immorality (1:4-19), remembering God’s mighty acts of rescue and punishment (1:5-11, 14-16) and the warnings of the apostles (1:17-19). His readers are to build up their own faith through prayer (1:20), keeping close to Christ (1:21), helping others (1:22, 23), and hating sin (1:23).” } … 

My Journal for Today: Coming down the stretch for this year in my chronological read of the Bible from; and today I was led into the books of 2nd Peter and Jude.

It’s the second letter from Peter to the churches in Asia-Minor, written a few years after 1st Peter, during Nero’s deathly reign. And, … there’s brief, but powerful, letter to the church from one of the half-brothers of Jesus, … Jude. Both are letters of warning to the church, to watch out for purveyors of false doctrine as well as the temptation to fall prey to selfish desires which can lead our Christian sensibilities and morays astray.

I certainly identify with both of these warnings, leading a ministry to help Christian men who’ve become self-ensnared in sexual sin, doing all we can in our ministry to help such men break free and to return to a walk of purity in Christ. In the truth of these two letters from two of Jesus’ Apostles are many truths to help Christians beware and avoid our tendency to go astray in the world, following the wrong path and especially the path of selfish misdirection. But there is also much hope in these letters for the Christian who is warring against our spiritual enemies.

I think of a passage early in the first chapter of 2nd Peter (2 Peter 1: 3-5, copied and underlined above), which is most uplifting for Christians who are deeply engaged in spiritual warfare. It tells us forthrightly that God gives us (through His enabling/empowering grace) everything we need to live lives of moral/spiritual excellence which glorify our Lord. And all Christians, especially called leaders in the Church, according to 2 Pet. 1: 20-23, are called to use every effort to use God’s grace to reach out in humility and rescue others, especially fellow believers, who’re floundering in their faith and their walk of freedom in Christ. That’s what Peter, and Jude and Paul and other leaders in the early Christian church were trying to do.

And that’s the day battles in which I find myself embroiled over 2000 years later in today’s world. I guess some things never change; … and PRAISE GOD, our Lord never changes!! For here, … in this life, over 2000 years after Peter and Jude wrote these letters, we are vying to glorify God with our lives just as these co-warriors in Christ did soon after their Lord had died on the cross.

My Prayer for Today So, Lord, we fight on!! … Amen

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 23, 2012 … “Famous Last Words”

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 358

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Hebrews, Chapters 1-6 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passages: 2nd Timothy, Chapter 1 : [NLT] … {2nd Timothy, written by Paul from a 2nd imprisonment in Rome during the reign of Nero, is considered to be the Apostle’s last will and testament and a letter of loving concern to his “son in Christ,” Timothy, whom he wanted to grow in leadership and influence as a Pastor of the church in Ephesus. My Parsons Commentary reviews Chapter 1 of the letter in this way:  
“Paul’s introduction is tender, and every phrase exudes the love he has for Timothy (1:1-5). He then reminds Timothy of the qualities necessary for a faithful minister of Jesus Christ (1:6–2:13). Timothy should remember his call and use his gifts with boldness (1:6-12), and keep to the truth (1:13-18).” } …  

Highlight Passages: 2nd Timothy, Chapter 2: [NLT] … {The Parsons Commentary summarized the points in Chapter 2, writing that Paul felt …  
“Timothy should remember his call and … prepare others to follow him in the ministry (2:1, 2), be disciplined and ready to endure suffering (2:3-7), and keep his eyes and mind focused on Christ (2:8-13). Paul challenges Timothy to hold to sound doctrine, reject error and avoid godless chatter, correctly handle the word of truth (2:14-19), and keep his life pure (2:20-26).” } …  

Highlight Passages: 2nd Timothy Chapter 3 : [NLT] … {Next, according to the Parsons Commentary, the Apostle Paul in Chapter 3 ... 
“... warns Timothy of the opposition that he and other believers would face in the last days from self-centered people who use the church for their own gain and teach false doctrines (3:1-9). Paul tells Timothy to be prepared for these unfaithful people by remembering his example (3:10, 11), understanding the real source of the opposition (3:12, 13), and finding strength and power in the Word of God (3:14-17).” 
And those exhortations from God’s word, especially about the truth which became God’s word are cogently pertinent for all Christians today.}  

Highlight Passages: 2nd Timothy, Chapter 4: [NLT] … {Finally the Parsons Commentary reviews the last chapter of the letter, writing:  
“Then Paul gives Timothy a stirring charge: to preach the Word (4:1-4) and to fulfill his ministry until the end (4:5-8). And Paul concludes with personal requests and items of information. In these final words, he reveals his loneliness and his strong love for his brothers and sisters in Christ (4:9-22).” } … 

My Journal for Today: I don’t know about you, but this humble warrior – yes, yours truly - is wrapped in the throws of attempting to be an effective “pastor” and leader myself in a ministry calling from God; and I really identify with the “famous last words” from the Apostle Paul to his mentee, Timothy, a young pastor who was doing all he could in Ephesus to be a church leader during the times of Nero’s attack on Christianity in the 1st Century.

Paul knew that he very likely would not be around very much longer in this world, being imprisoned and under threat of execution by Rome; and so, caring deeply for the young pastor he called “his son in Christ,” Paul was allowed to write this 2nd letter to Timothy, which we know now was his “last will and testament.” And there are many things in this letter, which I hope you’ve read by the link above, which any Christian should take to heart because, in reality, we’re all “ministers” of the Gospel, under Christ’s GREAT COMMISSION, aren’t we?

So, as Paul writes his ”famous last words,” we all should take his exhortations in 2nd Timothy to heart and let God’s truth in this letter apply it to our lives as we live as ministers of the Great Commission [see Matt. 28: 19-20 and Acts 1: 8, witnessing to the Name of Christ and sharing God’s truth with a world starving for God’s love and truth.

My Prayer for Today Lord, You have charged us as Christians just as Paul charged Timothy in this 2nd letter; … so, Holy Spirit, help us to make it happen in Christ’s Name.… Amen

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 22, 2012 … Christ – Our Everything!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 357

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Hebrews, Chapters 1-6 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passages: Hebrews 11: 1-3: 6 : [NLT] … {After you’ve used the link above to study Hebrews, Chapter 11, which is called the “Great Hall of Faith,” I link you here to a You Tube rendering of a wonderful song written by Keith Getty and performed by Krystyn Getty, entitled By Faith; and the Gettys have captured the essence of this great biblical exhortation to faith in Christ, our Messiah, … our Redeemer, … our everything! … Chapter 11 is saying that one can only have all Christ has to offer mankind by living by faith in His finished work on the cross; and that was the message of this chapter by the Author of Hebrews, detailing a litany of those who had come to faith in Jesus, those whom the Jews, to whom Hebrews was written, would know and in whom they could identify. And so can we! } …  
1 What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. 2 God gave his approval to people in days of old because of their faith. … 3 By 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. … 6 So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Highlight Passages: Hebrews 12: 1-2 : [NLT] … {And in Chapter 12 the Author of Hebrews launches into a strong and direct exhortation as to what LIVING IN CHRIST is all about. It is the fulfillment of what Jesus Himself commanded about discipleship in Luke 9: 23 and what Paul strongly exhorted about our faith in Ephesians 2: 8-10 [see copied below], both passages I pray you have hidden in your heart. Hebrews 12 only accentuates these truths; and calls us to open ourselves to all God has for us to overcome our sin nature through our faith in His sanctifying grace.} …  
1 Therefore, 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 hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. 3 Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Highlight Passages: Hebrews 13: 7-9; 20-21 : [NLT] … {Chapter 13 continues with more instruction in Christian living; and we are undergirded by one great truth … (see Verse 8) … that our Christ, who is in all, above all, and for all who believe in Him is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And our faith in Him opens up all He has done, is doing, and will do for any who believe in Him. Faith conquers all. Hence, we follow those who follow Christ and we do not succumb to false teachings which try to woo us away from Christ. He is our everything!} …  
7 Remember your leaders who first taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and trust the Lord as they do. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 So, do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your spiritual strength comes from God’s special favor, not from ceremonial rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them. … 
20-21 And now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to Him. Jesus is the great Shepherd of the sheep by an everlasting covenant, signed with his blood. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.  

Reference Passage: Ephesians 2: 8-9 : [NLT] … {Paul’s great exhortation to faith in Christ, which opens up God’s heart and His grace to save the lost, then building them (prayerfully you and me) into His image to be Christ’s light in the world.}  
8 God saved you by His special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. 

My Journal for Today: Finishing out in the letter written to Jewish Christians by the Author of the Book of Hebrews, I hope, if you’ve been reading along with me the past few days as I’ve been journaling on this letter, that CHRIST IS EVERYTHING for us; and faith in Him is our key which opens up His treasure chest of grace for us in this life.

And in these final three chapters, our Spirit-led author of Hebrews, gives his Christian readership a long list of those who came to faith in Christ (Chapter 11); and then their lives were transformed into Christians who could live in Christlikeness in this world, becoming the outcome of what Paul wrote about in Ephesians 2: 8-10, which I’ve copied above for your meditation today.

 As Christians we serve an immutable Lord (see Heb. 13: 8 underlined in bold above) and when we receive His grace, through our faith, He pours Himself into our lives and we become His workmanship, living for and in Him in this world in preparation for our eternal life with Him in Glory.

Do we get it?! I hope so.

It is all I live for, even when I’m falling short in selfishness and my sin nature. But I know, as Paul wrote about in Philippians 1: 6, my Lord is doing His work to completely transform me into His image; and He will continue to do so until I join Him in Heaven, where His work will be competed.

My Prayer for Today … I say again, Lord, You are my everything; and to You I give my all. … Amen

Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21, 2012 … The Bestest of All !!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 356

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Hebrews, Chapters 1-6 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: Hebrews 7: 15-20 : [NLT] … {The Author of Hebrews is illustrating with God’s truth the superiority of the New Covenant in Christ over the Old Covenant the Jews had been under. In establishing this intent, the author [remember WHOM the Author of Scripture truly is!], shows Christ’s superiority over even the Angels or over great Jewish leaders like Abraham or Moses. In Chapter 7 we read of the Author’s apologetic that Jesus, The Christ, is mankind’s eternal High Priest, in the line of Melchizedek, the mysterious eternal high priest of faith whom God brought to Abram for God’s blessing (see Gen. 4 and Psalm 110: 4). } …  
15 The change in God’s law is even more evident from the fact that a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has now come. 16 He became a priest, not by meeting the old requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. 17 And the psalmist pointed this out when he said of Christ, … “You are a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek.” [Ps. 110: 4]  18 Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. 19For the law made nothing perfect, and now a better hope has taken its place. And that is how we draw near to God. … 20 God took an oath that Christ would always be a priest, but He never did this for any other priest. 

Highlight Passages: Hebrews 8: 13 : [NLT] … {Using the link above to read all of Chapter 8 , the author of Hebrews goes on to posit the High Priesthood of Christ by using Old Testament prophesy [see Jer. 31: 31-34 copied below] to establish the apologetic truth of Christ’s eternal and heavenly High Priesthood for all mankind in the New Covenant.} … And as my title to today’s journal entry declares, the New Covenant is “the bestest of all” of God’s covenant promises. ... 
13 When God speaks of a new covenant, it means He has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and ready to be put aside.  

Highlight Passages: Hebrews 9: 27-28 : [NLT] … {Again reading from the link above, … in Chapter 9, our Author takes his Jewish readers [and all believers] back into a description of the Tabernacle, where the high priest of the Old Covenant would offer the blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb in atonement for sin; and in this description, Christ was shown to be THE PERFECT SACRIFICE, the Lamb of God, Whose shed blood atoned for the sins of all mankind … i.e., Jesus was/is the BESTEST of all sacrifices for sin. And in our faith in Christ our sins are covered by the blood of the Lamb.} …  
27 And just as it is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment, 28 so also Christ died only once as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again but not to deal with our sins again. This time he will bring salvation to all those who are eagerly waiting for him. 

Highlight Passages: Hebrews 10: 1-3; 19-23 : [NLT] … {Chapter 10 reminds believers that the old system of atonement – the blood sacrifice in the Tabernacle – only reminded sinners of their sin and their inability to be forgiven without the faith in what the sacrifice represented. In Christ’s blood sacrifice, the Lamb of God took upon Himself the propitiation for all sin. Henceforth, therefore, in the New Covenant, there is no need for the old system of sacrifice. And as we know, since Christ’s death on the cross, there have never been anymore blood sacrifices on the Day of Atonement in the Jewish calendar. And there never will be; because Jesus said it from the Cross: “It is finished!”} …  
1 The old system in the law of Moses was only a shadow of the things to come, not the reality of the good things Christ has done for us. The sacrifices under the old system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. 2 If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. …  
And now, we who believe in Christ’s Lordship and His eternal High Priesthood, can enter the Holy of Holies, which is now in our hearts, to become God’s living sacrifice (see Romans 12: 1). ... Yes, dear fellow Christian, in Christ we truly have the BESTEST OF ALL covenants which we’ll realize when Christ returns for us to be with Him forever. ... 
19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 This is the new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us through the sacred curtain, by means of his death for us. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s people, 22 let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. 23 Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 

Reference Passage: Jeremiah 31: 31-34 : [NLT] … {The Prophet foretold the New Covenant.} 31 “The day will come,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD. 33 “But 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. 34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their family, saying, ‘You should know the LORD.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will already know me,” says the LORD. “And I will forgive their wickedness and will never again remember their sins.” 

My Journal for Today: I may seem lazy today with my journal entry. But if you’ve read Chapters 7-10 from the link provided above, as well as my journal comments in bold above, I really don’t need to add any additional verbosity here. The Author of Hebrews nailed it. … Christ is quite simply … THE BESTEST LORD OF ALL !!!

And so let me summarize my feelings about the truth in Hebrews by linking you to this You Tube piece, which tells you that Jesus is my EVERYTHING:

My Prayer for Today … My faith in Your Lordship as the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle of my heart, is all I need for eternal life with You, … my Lord. Jesus, You are THE BESTEST OF ALL !! Amen

Blogger's PS:  Today is the last day on the Mayan calendar; or as some New Ageists believe is the beginning of a new era of humankind.   But the only way that can happen - for me - is for Jesus to come back for us today.  We'll see; ... but if not, everyday for Christians in the beginning of a new era, isn't it?!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 20, 2012 … Jesus: The Bestest Lord of All !!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 355

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Hebrews, Chapters 1-6 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passages: Hebrews 1: 1-3 : [NLT] … {This book, author unknown, was written prior to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD. It was written to/for Jewish Christians to assert the pre-eminence of Jesus as the Son of God, … superior to the Angels, … one with God, the Father… and the fulfillment of the Old Covenant, … establishing the New Covenant forever.} … 1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 But now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he made the universe and everything in it. 3 The Son reflects God’s own glory, and everything about him represents God exactly. He sustains the universe by the mighty power of his command. After he died to cleanse us from the stain of sin, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God of heaven

Highlight Passages: Hebrews, Chapters 2-6 … please use the link above to read, study, and meditate on these chapters of this powerful letter of truth : [NLT] 

My Journal for Today: Today my chronological reading takes me to the letter from an unknown author to the Jewish Christians in an around Jerusalem about 65-69 AD; and it was a letter, likely written by an associate of the Apostle Paul, who desired to help Jewish believers avoid falling back into the legalistic traditions of the Old Covenant and to help them to avoid falling prey to the Judaizers of the day, who were preaching a hybrid religion of Jewish Christianity, requiring those following Christ to be “converted” into the religious rituals of the Old Covenant before becoming fully “christian” [with a small “c”]. The Author of Hebrews wanted his readers to KNOW the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant … as well as the sovereignty of Jesus, who was one with Yahweh and, as my title for today’s blog intimates, THE BESTEST LORD of all !!

Remember, in Romans 12: 1-2 Paul wrote that now, in Christ, our lives are to be 24/7 living sacrifices, avoiding the ways of the world and allowing Christ, through His Spirit, to renew us into the image of the One Who came to save us, … The Messiah, … The Christ, … JESUS! But the first century Jews tended to fall back on their Jewish Traditions. And every time I think of that, I can’t help but recall that great scene from the Broadway Play (and movie), where the main character tells the audience of the TRADITIONS which dictate the life of orthodox Jews – those who rejected the superiority of Jesus as the NEW way, the NEW truth, and the NEW life. This link will take you to a You Tube piece to let you see that wonderful scene. 

It is quite easy for us humans to fall back into patterns of life which become more important than the reason for those patterns. That’s “legalism;” and the Author of Hebrews was trying to awaken 1st Century Jewish Christians to the reality of Christ as their Messiah and the Redeemer of all mankind. And this Author exhorted his Jewish readers to recognize and worship JESUS as one with Yahweh, with the primary message being that Jesus is all we need for our lives, … a message which is beautifully sung and presented by the group Hillsong in this You Tube piece.  …

So take in that link and song as the summary of my blog of these six chapters of Hebrews today.

My Prayer for Today Yeshua, … You are all I need!!! … Amen

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19, 2012 … A Walk in the Park!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 354

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: 1st Timothy 1-6 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: 1st Peter 1: 7; 23-25 : [NLT] … {Please use the link above to read this letter, written by the Apostle Peter at about the time Paul was writing to Timothy and Titus. It was likely written from Rome where Peter, like other Christians, was being oppressed, threatened, and tortured under the reign of Nero. Peter wrote this to churches in Asia Minor who were likewise under horrible oppression. In Chapter 1, Peter reminds Christians of their (our) blessing of salvation in Christ and charges oppressed believers to stand firm in the faith, … that the oppression will refine their (our) faith. And Peter issues a call to holy, Christlike, living no matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves.} …  
7 These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So, if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. … 
23 For you have been born again. Your new life did not come from your earthly parents because the life they gave you will end in death. But this new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 24 As the prophet says, “People are like grass that dies away; their beauty fades as quickly as the beauty of wildflowers. The grass withers, and the flowers fall away. 25But the word of the Lord will last forever.” [quoting Isaiah 40: 6-8]And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. 

Highlight Passages: 1st Peter 2: 11-12 : [NLT] … {In Chapter 2 Paul repeatedly reminds Christians that we need to build our lives in/through obedience to Christ, also reminding them (us) that Christians are not permanent residents of this world, but only sojourners, heading home to heaven. Hence, in preparation for our home going we need to live as Christ-like lights in a very dark world.} …  
11 Dear brothers and sisters, you are foreigners and aliens here. So I warn you to keep away from evil desires because they fight against your very souls. 12 Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world.

Highlight Passages: 1st Peter 3: 8-9; 13-15 : [NLT] … {Chapter 3 hammers home the “What Would Jesus Do?” campaign theme, hitting again the exhortation to Christ-like living. Peter, like Paul, knew that Christians, especially in the days of Nero, were being oppressed to deny their faith and worship Caesar; but he is reminding believers of their allegiance to Christ. And in that faith we need to be ready, even under oppression, to give an answer for our faith.} …  
8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it. … 
13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t be afraid and don’t worry. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.  

Highlight Passages: 1st Peter 4: 1-3; 19 : [NLT] … {Chapter 4 is an example of the adage, “Redundancy teaches!” Peter keeps hammering home the principle of living for/in Christ NO MATTER WHAT! … Are we getting the message?!!} …  
1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you are willing to suffer for Christ, you have decided to stop sinning. 2And you won’t spend the rest of your life chasing after evil desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. 3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. … 
19 So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.  

Highlight Passages: 1st Peter 5: 5-7 : [NLT] … {Chapter 5 bring some practical ways for the body of oppressed Christians (and us) to live in community and commitment to Christ in the church setting. And the essence of these teachings referred to individual and corporate HUMILITY – in other words, CHRISTLIKENESS – for all Christians in the body of Christ, … yes, for all in the Church, but especially the leaders.} …  
5 You younger men, accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.” [quoting from Prov. 3: 34] …  6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. 

My Journal for Today: Today in our Christian circles we feel like the world is at war with Christianity … with retailers trying to eliminate “Christ” from their holiday marketing. And we see atheists aggressively trying to use law and judicial activism to support ungodliness like abortion on demand or pornography available even to kiddies. Then, there are horrors occurring … like of a bunch of children being gunned down by a madman in an elementary school.

And we say, “What is the world coming to?”

But my fellow Christians reading along with me, what we’re going through is a walk-in-the-park with the flowers blooming in the spring compared with the oppression and horrors which were going on when Paul wrote his letters to his protégés, Timothy or Titus, or when Peter wrote this letter we’re reading today to Christians up in Asia Minor who were being slaughtered and oppressed under the campaign of the Roman Emperor, Nero, who was trying to eradicate Christianity from the face of the earth.

Sure, ... there is increased oppression in our world by the secularists and the liberal media to downplay and even put down Christian moral values … and then, to go on trying to erase the concepts of “God” or “Christ” from the culture. However, the oppression we face now is child’s-play compared with what Christians in Nero’s day were undergoing.

 And Peter wrote his first letter to address Christian living in the face of oppression. And if I read and interpret Scripture correctly, the oppression we’re now facing is going to get much worse before Jesus returns; and so the letter Peter wrote to Christians in Nero’s day is going to become more and more relevant to Christians now, both individually and collectively for the Church. So, I hope you’ve read and meditated on the truths in this letter, as well as a few of my comments above, to help us to see that we must KEEP ON, KEEPING ON in our persistence to stand fast in our faith and to live, as much as we can, in Christlikeness..

 My Prayer Today: … Lord, help me to humbly follow Your anointed Christian leaders into battle in our times daily and to humbly lead others as You would call me to do so in my life. Amen

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18, 2012 … Mentoring for the Ages Continued

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 353

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Titus, Chapters 1-3 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: Titus 1 [Please read the entire chapter] : [NLT] … {Like Paul’s letter to Timothy (i.e., 1st Timothy), Paul writes to another of the young Christian disciples, who had become mentees of Paul; and Paul gives Titus instructions to help him become a lead Pastor in the church which had been established on the Greek island of Crete. Titus was a young, converted Greek, whom Paul mentored to become a leader in the New Testament church. And in Chapter 1, using the link above to study, you’ll see that Paul gives Titus instructions, as he did for Timothy in 1st Tim. 3, on how to select church leaders (Elders and Deacons); and Paul compares the right/righteous qualities of such leaders with the false teachers and worldly leaders Titus would encounter as he became a Pastor or Bishop in God’s Church on Crete.} …

Highlight Passages: Titus 2 - 3 : [NLT] … {Again using the link above and reading through Chapters 2 and 3 of the letter to Titus, you will find what my Parsons Commentary wrote about these two chapters:
”Paul emphasizes the importance of good deeds in the life of the Christian, telling Titus how to relate to the various age groups in the church (2:2-6). He urges Titus to be a good example of a mature believer (2:7, 8) and to teach with courage and conviction (2:9-15). He then discusses the general responsibilities of Christians in society: Titus should remind the people of these (3:1-8), and he should avoid divisive arguments (3:9-11). Paul concludes with a few matters of itinerary and personal greetings (3:12-15).” … 
 I’ll leave it to you to see how God – through Paul’s letters to Timothy – and Titus in today’s study – promoted the “how to” of discipleship and church building for all eras to come in the Kingdom building which we know of as the “church age” (which is the age we live in now).}

My Journal for Today: If you’ve followed my chronological trek through the Bible this year, you’ve probably gotten tired of me referring us back to Jesus’ teaching about discipleship from Luke 9: 23 as well as your boredom with me charging you to have this passage memorized. I do so because it’s probably Jesus’ most concise and powerful exhortation to the essence of Christian living or discipleship. As DISCIPLES of Christ, we are to (what?) … yes, … we are to deny ourselves, … and to take up our crosses daily (i.e., handle the circumstances of life) by following Christ. That’s Jesus-led discipleship; but what does that look like in the New Testament Church; and more importantly what should it look like today?

Well, when we read Paul’s instructions to his protégés, Timothy and Titus, we get some answers to those very practical discipleship questions; because God, through Paul, gives these two men many cogent and practical insights into the “how to” of Christian living and Christian leadership in the then growing body of Christ, … i.e., the early 1st Century Church. But the principles taught by Paul to these two young mentees are general principles which Christ’s Church in 2012 is still (or should be) using to live in this world and to establish Godly Christian leadership in the church.

For example, if a church, is establishing leaders (i.e., Pastors, Elders, or Bishops), it will look to the passages in 1st Timothy 3: 1-7 and Titus 1: 6-9; and being an Elder in my Church in Collierville, TN, in 2012, I look at these standards as daunting, but doable, standards which my local, body of Christ used to select me as an Elder; and they are standards of Christian living and leadership to which I must aspire as a leader in God’s Church during my life. We at Central Church, here in TN, in 2012, take God’s standards of Church building and leadership directly from God’s word when we select a new Pastor or Elder; and that’s what God was trying to help Titus do with his instructions to this young Christian leader, probably around 64 AD. But these instructions in Christian living and church building are timeless and remain the gold standard for Church leadership and Christian living to this very day.

I pray that we all live as Paul was instructing his young protégés to live; and I pray that the churches where we worship are built on the principles Paul gave to these two young Christians to use in being Pastors and leaders in the churches where God had led them to lead.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, help me be a Timothy or a Titus in shining Your light of leadership in our body of believers here in Central Church; and bless those churches who are built on your gold standard of church leadership, which you gave, through Paul, to these two young Pastors. Amen

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012 … Mentoring for the Ages

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 352

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: 1st Timothy 1-6 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passages: 1st Timothy 1: 5; 18-19 : [NLT] … {Paul, writing to Timothy, who had become a “Pastor” in Ephesus, tries to help his young mentee stand strong in what he’d learned from Paul; and he would give many specific pastoral instructions to help Timothy lead in the body of Christ in Ephesus.} …  
5 The purpose of my instruction is that all the Christians there would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith. … 18 Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they give you the confidence to fight well in the Lord’s battles. 19 Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.
Highlight Passages: 1st Timothy 2: 1-5 : [NLT] … {Paul’s first strategy for Timothy was pray, pray, pray! And he reminds his protégée that God wants all to be saved, knowing “the Truth.”} …  1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God’s mercy upon them, and give thanks. 2 Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 for he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus.
Highlight Passages: 1st Timothy 3 : [NLT] … {Using the link above, you can read in this chapter of Paul’s instructions concerning the very clear criteria for selecting leadership in the church – pastors, elders, or deacons. These instructions are still helping churches today to select or develop Godly leadership in God’s church; and unfortunately it’s being ignored by many denominations and churches in today’s world. } …
Highlight Passages: 1st Timothy 4: 1-3; 11-13 : [NLT] … {As Paul writes to Timothy and the church in 64 AD, one would think he is warning Pastors today about the false teachers and teachings as well as the evil which we observe on our world today. … Also Paul exhorts Timothy to ignore critics of Timothy’s young age and that his priorities as a Pastor should be conveying God’s truth through the Scriptures.} …  
1 Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe; they will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons. 2 These teachers are hypocrites and liars. They pretend to be religious, but their consciences are dead. … 11 Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. 12 Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 13 Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. 
Highlight Passages: 1st Timothy 5: 21-22 [NLT] … {Paul gives Timothy and the church some vital instruction in Christian living, especially how the church should deal with such issues as widows, marriage, and controversies and conduct involving church leadership.} …  
21 I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the holy angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing special favor to anyone. 22 Never be in a hurry about appointing an elder. Do not participate in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.  
Highlight Passages: 1st Timothy 6: 11-13 : [NLT] … {And Paul closes his letter to his mentee with strong exhortations in Christian living, “commanding” Timothy and his fellow Christians in Ephesus to live in obedience and purity until Christ returns.} …  
11 But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for what we believe. Hold tightly to the eternal life that God has given you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. 13 And I command you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you obey his commands with all purity. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 

My Journal for Today: Have you ever had a mentor whom God used to reshape your life? I have; and 1st Timothy is a letter from Paul with which I identify closely. Timothy in the New Testament was a traveling protégé of the Apostle Paul’s during some of Paul’s long, arduous missionary journeys; and Paul looked on himself as a spiritual father of this young man, who was half Jew and half Greek.

Timothy was apparently a somewhat timid young man; and Paul perceived, as God led Timothy to become a Pastoral leader in the church established in Ephesus, that the young man needed some Christian undergirding; and so Paul wrote the letter we know of as 1st Timothy, the book of my chronological reading assignment today. I hope you’ve read or reread the letter as you read my journal entry here today; and as you do, I also hope you’re thinking of at least one significant Spiritual guide in your life who helped you to grow in Christ for the God’s purposes (or maybe it was more than one person for you).

 For me the mentor who made a difference was “Dr. Bob.” He was a retired physician; and I was led to Him by God’s prevenient grace when I was a very immature Christian, trying to find my way to a more intimate relationship with Christ. And as I read 1st Timothy today, I couldn’t help but think of the twelve years that I met regularly with my mentor, Dr. Bob. Like Paul was for Timothy, Dr. Bob was one who led me to see Christ’s light in a very foggy world.

 [Praising God] I’m now an Elder in my church; and I was led to be the co-founder, along with my wife, of a ministry which has helped many, many men come out and walk in freedom from the bondage of habitual sexual sin into a productive relationship with Christ. Like Timothy did with Paul, I’ve become a “Pastor” or leader for many Christian men; and they look to me for Christian leadership. And when God was calling me to this position in ministry, I felt totally inadequate to the task. So, I empathize with what Timothy must’ve felt like when he received Paul’s mentoring letter.

Timothy was then a Pastor/leader in the church in Ephesus during the time of Nero’s reign of terror in Rome; and Paul had become His Spirit-led mentor. And 1st Timothy is a great example in Scripture of the role one, more mature Christian leader, can play in the life of a lesser mature Christian who is teachable and desires to grow in his/her relationship with Christ.

 If Dr. Bob had not been my Spirit-led guide about five years into my Christian walk, I don’t think I would have been able to undertake the role of “Pastor” in what is now Battle Plan Ministry, which you can read about by using this link. And I’m sure Timothy must’ve felt much the same way about the mentorship of the Apostle Paul. If you’ve needed such a guide to grow in Christ, I hope you’ve had a “Paul” in your life; and if you need such a mentor, I’d encourage you to pray for and seek diligently to find a human light, such as Paul was for Timothy, … one whom God can use to help you find your way to the purposes God has for your life.

 I’m sure that Timothy must’ve been incredibly grateful that God led him to Paul. I know that I am so humbled and honored that He led me to my mentor, Dr. Bob. And now I pray that the men God has led me to mentor have been helped to find their walk strengthened in Christ.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, I thank You that the torch of leadership, brought into my life from my mentor, Dr. Bob, is now being passed to others. I pray that I can continue to help young men who know You, as Lord, to become mentors for others. Amen

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 16, 2012 … Joy, Joy, Joy!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 351

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Acts, Chapters 24-26 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passages: Philippians 1: 3-6 : [NLT] … {This is another of Paul’s prison epistles, this one to a church Paul had helped establish in Macedonia about 11 years earlier, a body of believers who meant a lot to Paul. And this has been called Paul’s “joy letter,” because 16 times, beginning in Phil. 1:4, the imprisoned Apostle speaks of how the Philippians evoked joy in Paul’s countenance. Note also in Verse 6 below how Paul is trying to remind the Philippians how Christ will always work to reform and complete the life of believers who choose to pursue their relationship with Christ.} …  
3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 I always pray for you, and I make my requests with a heart full of joy 5 because you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again. … 23 I’m torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me, 24 but it is better for you that I live. 25 I am convinced of this, so I will continue with you so that you will grow and experience the joy of your faith

Highlight Passages: Philippians 2: 3-6 : [NLT] … {In Phil. 2: 5-11 is found my favorite passage about the incarnation; and I often say it’s my favorite Christmas passage, because it summarizes for Christians how Christ came to be with us in humility, as a servant. He will return to us as a KING, having been re-crowned in Glory by our Heavenly Father. And we, as Christians will only be able to find true joy when we pursue Christlikeness, no matter what circumstances our lives present, … yes, even like prison, from whence Paul was writing this joy-filled letter.} …  
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. 4 Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. 
5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. 7 He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.  

Highlight Passages: Philippians 3: 8; 13-14 : [NLT] … {So, given all that life presents to what end do we strive as Christians, a question answered in this chapter for the Philippians (and us). And we can choose joy because we have Christ and that the pursuit of that relationship is what moves us toward “the prize,” which Paul writes about in Verse 14 below.} …  
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ … 
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

Highlight Passages: Philippians 4: 4-8 : [NLT] … {The joy we can choose in the Christian life is explained and exhorted in this theologically pregnant chapter. So often, we humans worry about life, pursuing happiness rather than choosing to pursue the joy and peace which can be ours if we pray for and pursue what Christ has for us in this life. } …  
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  

Reference Passage: James 1: 2-4 : [NLT] … {James, Jesus’ brother, recognized that our pursuit of joy is found only in our relational pursuit of his Brother, … The Christ.}  
2 Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. 3 For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. 

My Journal for Today: When I was growing up, my mother taught me to write “bread and butter” letters of thankfulness when we had visited someone who had extended themselves to take us in or when anyone had reached out to help us in some way. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, written from prison about 11 years after he had been taken in and helped by the Christians who were part of the church Paul helped establish in Philippi, was a “bread and butter letter.” And it is filled with expressions of joy and love from Paul to these brothers and sisters in Christ.

When I read this epistle, as I did again this morning, I’m taken by the reality that Paul could express such joy to his fellow Christians even though he was imprisoned and his life was under threat of death. And Paul wanted his beloved Christian brothers and sisters in Philippi to know how to experience the joy that can only come from the pursuit of knowing Christ and building our relationship with the Lord.

I think of the passage in Phil. 1: 6, where Paul reminds the Philippians (and us) that Christ will continue to work a work of completion in all who pursue knowing Him as their Lord. So, I ask myself, “Do I really (seriously!) want all Christ has to give me as His disciple?” And strongly answering that one in the affirmative, Philippians 1 helps me realize that I need to do all I can –which is much more – to get to know my LORD.

Philippians 2 reminds me that Christ humbled himself for me; and the only way I’m ever going to find the joy in my relationship with my Lord is to choose to be like Him … HUMBLE. Ouch!! But that’s where the conscious action is in the Christian life, isn’t it? It’s choosing to be – or rather choosing to become - as much like Jesus as we can.

Philippians 3 helps me see that I will only find contentment – that “prize” Paul writes about, when I keep my focus on the pursuit of building my relationship with Christ. And then Philippians 4 is pregnant with truth about how this is accomplished – i.e., fixing my focus on Christ and getting to know Him as intimately as possible … by choosing to pour Christlike thoughts into my mind, filling my heart with Christ’s Spirit.

And when this happens, as Paul writes to the Philippians, we can find the joy of the Christian life. Oh, how Paul wanted that for his beloved Christian brothers and sisters in Philippi to experience that joy; and … OH, … how Christ wants that for you and me, as He states in John 10: 10, “… My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” 

My Prayer Today: … Lord, I coming after Your prize. Amen