Daily In The Word – February 15 – Nothing But the Blood

Date: 15 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Today’s thoughts come from the Old Testament and in a book that I have honestly struggled to read. The book of Leviticus has some great information but much of it is mixed in with laws that we struggle to grasp in the modern world. It is actually from these items that I found something that resonated with me and indicated something from God’s word in the past that was fulfilled by Jesus. When I was in Sunday School at a young age, we would often sing the song “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus” which is a great way to think about the purification of Jesus’ blood on all of our sin. It is not as popular as it used to be…perhaps because children thinking about being covered with physical blood (rather than the blood shed to free us) is a bit difficult for some people. However, blood is a very critical thing in the old cultures and even now you hear versions of it (“Blood is thicker than water”). Trust me, Leviticus goes into great detail about what blood is used for in sacrifices to God in the Israelite world. However, one verse was very notable today: “for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible” (Leviticus 17:11, NLT). It seems only fitting that the New Testament portion of my reading (there is always an OT reading, an NT reading, and a Proverb or Psalm) was from Matthew 27 where it talks about Jesus being beaten by the soldiers then crucified. So, if ever I worry about my sin stains running too deep, I can remember that Jesus’ blood made purification possible so I am right with the Lord.

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 14 – Crowd Control

Date: 14 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Thoughts or today’s reading is a bit more detailed than yesterday but the focus is centralized. There are always news stories about a person or small group of people somewhere who get together around an idea, they then build excitement for that idea that rises to a fever pitch. It’s easy to see how a crowd, say, in Mardi Gras, can get caught up in the excitement and maybe do something they wouldn’t do, just like a crowd in the streets of an oppressed city can build their anger and overthrow police. In some cases, we can do good things as a people together but likewise we can do bad things as a people together. When you associate with (or are drawn into) a crowd, you may find that you do things you normally do or you may end up letting the emotions (especially anger) impact your thinking. That seems to be exactly what happened when Jesus was presented to Pilate. “Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!” (Matthew 27:24-25, NLT). So this crowd was so caught up with the events and goings on that they pushed to have Jesus crucified even though the leader saw no wrong in him. One must ask if the people were drawn up in the moment. The Proverbs even argues why this is a dangerous situation: “The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence. Short-tempered people do foolish things, and schemers are hated.” (Proverbs 14:16-17, NLT). So I urge you to look at the crowd you are in. Is it making you do what you shouldn’t do? Are you letting your decisions be compromised by those who you associate with? If your crowd is making you do wrong, you need to find a new crew.

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 13 – Your Tongue of Fire

Date: 13 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Here are my thoughts from today’s reading, this one is about how we use our mouth. I think that this is so telling because just this morning, I had some tough issues controlling my temper because of the behaviors of some of my children. It’s very easy for us to see a situation, be it with children or otherwise, where we want to shout and scream about something. I am a recovering screamer, I want to be fully transparent about that. The less sleep I have and the more challenges that compound on me, the more likely I am to yell or say something I regret. There is no more humbling thing in the world than to hear your children say something with a curse word, only to realize that they heard you say that exact phrase yesterday. It’s great that they are copying their parents, but horrible that they are copying the worst part of what we have to say. This is only fitting when the Scripture discusses this in Proverbs: “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” (Proverbs 13:3, NLT). It is so very true how we can open our mouths and instantly cause more pain or trouble than we ever intended. I used to joke that I once heard an ancient Chinese proverb that says: “Closed mouth, gathers no foot.” and although I’m not sure if such a real proverb exists, this scripture seems to be as close to it as we can get. Guard your tongue friends, for much good and bad can come from it.

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Daily in The Word – Feb. 12 – I Get Weak

Date: 12 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Now for the thoughts on my final reading (aka today’s reading). When we think of Jesus and his time on Earth. His ministry, his life, his temptation, etc. We easily think of Jesus as being stoic and still, he seems to be calm and collected all the time. However, it is clear that during the time leading to his crucifixion, especially in the hours right before the betrayal, Jesus shows the human side of his humanity as he knows what is about to happen to him. “Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”” (Matthew 26:40-41, NLT). Yet, even in that moment of very real fear, Jesus makes a critical statement that we all have to pay attention to: The spirit is willing but the body is weak. I admit that I have plenty of bouts with anxiety (both real and imagined) throughout my life. Sometimes, I have actually let my own fear prevent me from doing something I was determined to do. For a perfect example, when I was doing the medical tasks to prepare for the IVF for the twins, I was about to leave and found out that I was supposed to give a blood test so that they could make sure that the baby(ies) would be healthy. I refused and even walked all the way out… 4 floors down and halfway to the car before I realized that I was so anxious that I had forgotten the sacrifice my wife was making (daily bloodwork, countless shots, etc.) just to do her part and I couldn’t even give a blood test? Of course, I did take the blood test and all is well.. but in that time, I was so weak that I almost gave up on an amazing gift in my life.

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Daily In The Word – February 11 – Watch Where You Walk

Date: 12 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Now for the second thought from my lesson. I know that I have been talking a lot about verses from Proverbs, but so many great things can be found there. I have also talked about how I used the adage ‘If you lay down with dogs, you will wake up with fleas’ to explain to my daughter how other bad habits can impact us. Along that same vein, we must ask ourselves, what kinds of activities do we seek in our lives? For instance, if a man is a drunkard, he should probably not be in a bar. Likewise, if a man is obsessed with online pornography, he should be kept off the internet. If we seek out these negative and self-destructive activities, they will do incredible damage. So you need to ask yourself, do you seek things that are good and right? Or do you look for bad things? The Proverbs has a great statement that is so true… “If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you!” (Proverbs 11:27, NLT). The more we engage ourselves in positive and good behavior, the higher chance we will learn to see the good in people. But when you make a bad choice or do something evil, the situation can go from bad to worse very quickly. Be careful what you seek!

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 10 – Righteous Wages

Date: 12 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Once again, I am running a bit behind on my daily readings. Weekends tend to be tricky for having time to sit still and read. Today I want to talk about how we let wealth be our security. I have been blessed with a good job that provides well for my family. It may have its own share of frustrations, and there have certainly been tough times on occasion. However, one thing is constant. I earned this money by performing honest work. Despite the many challenges it brings, I have always operated at my work as a man of integrity. In fact, I have occasionally left employers because I couldn’t morally accept what they were doing. I have also turned down many jobs that I think could potentially be compromising. It’s made things interesting, but as the 90’s country song “I Got It Honest” by Aaron Tippin says: “Every single penny I’m paid, I got it honest.” It’s no doubt that people have many criminal means with which to earn their money and people may do jobs that go against their moral code because ‘the money is too good’ but the Scripture makes it clear that if we find our safety in money that is earned in an unrighteous way, it will not end well. “Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life.The Lord will not let the godly go hungry, but he refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.” (Proverbs 10:2-3, NLT). Make sure all your business dealings are done in a way that is righteous and God will not let you suffer.

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 9th – Your Gifts and How to Use Them

Date: 9 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Well my reading for today did not take as long as I thought. That means you get the joy of seeing the second set of thoughts from my readings. Anyone who knows me well and has known me longer than a few weeks will tell you that I tend to be doing lots of things, all the time. I work multiple jobs to support my family, I teach English classes, I try to help people in many ways (such as teaching a few people how to skate at my son’s birthday party last night) and it brings me great joy. Why would someone who has so much going on feel so happy? Well, that’s because I feel that God has gifted me with a few skills: the ability to teach, a desire to learn, sound judgement, an analytical mind, a love for children and really just people in general. In the various things I do with my time, I am constantly using those talents to serve those around me. If I have a skill that can be used for the betterment of others, I try my best to do so because I feel that is how God would like me to be. According to the parable of the Three Servants, this is a very true statement. As you recall, the parable goes that a man gave one servant 5 bags of silver, one 3 bags and one a single bag. He left on a long journey and came back. The one who had 5 bags delighted his master by showing 5 more bags he’d earned. The one with three also pleased his master by showing him three additional bags he’d earned. Then… the last one, he didn’t use his silver, he just buried it and the master had him thrown out. It ends with the ultimate closure: “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. ” (Matthew 25:28-29, NLT). In this case, the servants who doubled their money were loved more by their master and the one who did nothing was scorned. Now, I have used this parable to teach my daughter the importance of being trusted even with small things. Pastors have used this to teach us about money. However, I am going to approach it like this… if God has given you any kind of talent (any bags of silver), do your best to use whatever he has given you to grow his kingdom more. I have found that when I use these gifts naturally, God blesses me with even more.

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 8th – On Wisdom

Date: 9 Feb 2018 Comments:0

I am running a day behind on my readings, too much going on during yesterday’s meetings. So I am going to give you my first thoughts from yesterday’s reading and hopefully my thoughts from today’s reading a little later. The topic is wisdom. It’s often easy for our modern language to confuse the topics of wisdom and intelligence. These two things are not mutually inclusive. It is easy for someone to be intelligent… meaning they have a lot of information and can actively accept, process and reintegrate it into their life. Likewise, there are many people who are quite wise in that they have lived life and have learned many lessons about how to deal with the ebb and flow of life as a whole. Can someone be very intelligent and also wise? Certainly! Can someone be very wise and not very intelligent? Sure… I have many ancestors who, though they may not be able to explain Physics or Linguistics, have much knowledge to share with those around them. The best equipped people, of course, are those who can carry equal amounts of wisdom and intelligence in a graceful way. The wisest ones have much to be excited about according to the bible as the Proverbs state in this little section about Wisdom: “I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me. I have riches and honor, as well as enduring wealth and justice. My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver!” (Proverbs 8:17-19, NLT). It’s important to understand context here. Though one could easily say “oh! The Bible must be talking about having the Holy Spirit in their lives” While it’s no doubt that having the Holy Spirit is critical to our lives, this particular tidbit is simply talking about having wisdom in life. May we all search after wisdom so as to enjoy it’s blessings!

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 7th

Date: 9 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Here are some thoughts from today’s reading. I hear people all over the place trying to ‘predict the end times’ or trying to look at the events happening in our world and try to link them with some kind of biblical eschatology. I don’t think less of them for this, but my thought is always that the moment someone thinks they know when the end will come, they will be proven wrong. We are not supposed to know when God is coming… wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of Jesus coming to offer everyone the chance for grace before the end? If we all knew Jesus would come back on a certain day, sure, people would likely try to go into atonement mode ASAP, but would they be trying to do better because of their love for Jesus? Or because they fear death and don’t want to die the final death? I think it would be much more the latter. Be careful when people tell you that ‘the end times are coming’ because the scripture tells us why that is not the case: Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.” (Matthew 24:23-24, NLT). Instead of trying to plan for the end times and get right with God then… we should all be focusing on doing the right thing now so that we do not fear the end.

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 6th

Date: 9 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Here are my thoughts from today’s reading. It’s obvious by reading the Gospels that Jesus had no patience with the stubbornness of the Pharisees. Furthermore, the Pharisees obviously did not like Jesus. The final stages of Jesus’ life before crucifixion were spent battling with Pharisees. However, when I look at how I sometimes act as a Christian, and how I see others act, there are not as many distinctions as I would like between the two. Many Christians feel that engaging in modern Pharisee like behavior shows they are holy and better but they are basically trying to ‘earn salvation’ through their actions. But God’s word makes it clear that offering the ‘appearance’ of holy, does not make one holy. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.” (Matthew 23:25-26, NLT). This also links back to my previous post about how Jesus’ work in our hearts when he takes over will change who we are. Therefore, let God do what he must to clean your heart so that you are clean on the inside and out.

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