Verse of the Day – 02/25/19

Matthew 22:37-39

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

I’m just going to pass this one along.  I think Jesus said it all … and He is a lot less verbose than I am….

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 02/24/19

Jeremiah 29:11-13

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.

This passage has always been a favorite of mine – and I am sure many of you are quite familiar with it as well.  Like the “series” of verses we have reviewed the past few weeks, this one also reveals the great love of God for you and His concern for your life as well.  He knows YOU!  He knows the desires of your heart!  AND He longs for you…. Yes, God longs for a close relationship with you … a deep, personal relationship …  and He promises that you WILL find Him when you seek Him with all your heart.  God is delighted when you and I seek Him … when we call on Him … when we pray to Him.   AND God promises to listen to you.

This verse reminded me of a speech that the Apostle Paul made before the men of Athens when he spoke at the Areopagus (Mars Hill) near the Acropolis.  It is recorded in the Book of Acts, and I will share it here for your contemplation.  For indeed, Paul confirms that God desires us to seek Him … to reach out to Him … and to find Him … though He is ever present with us:

Acts 17:22-31 (NIV)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, God Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man (Adam) God made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us28 ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ (Here Paul is quoting the Cretan philosopher Epimenides) As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’ (Here Paul is quoting the Cilician Stoic philosopher Aratus) 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For God has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed (the man Christ Jesus).  God has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him (Jesus) from the dead.”

I observed here how Paul used the cerebral contemplations of contemporary or well-known (well-read) philosophers to bring “Truth” into the forefront of his apologetics.  He implies that there is truth to be discovered even within the “ignorance” of these purveyors of human wisdom.  But Paul brings the wisdom of God into view … revealing how God desires us … how He longs for us … how He wants us to seek Him and find Him!  He is not an “unknown” God; rather, He is the Creator who has revealed Himself through His Word … and in these last days made Himself known through His Son!  (Cf. Hebrews 1:2) Jesus is the picture … the “selfie” of the love of God!  And He has brought you and I into the world at this time in history … at this place in history … in this specific community … in your specific family … for one purpose.  That purpose is to seek God … to reach out to Him … and to find Him.  EVERY CONTEXT in which you and I live and move and have our being – home, work, family, friends, church, community, etc. – has only one goal in the mind of God – that you and I would seek Him above all else.  Everything else in this life pales in comparison to abiding in God and He in us!  And everything else … outside of the body He gave you … is simply the context which He designed for us – and woven into the tapestry of plans He has for us – to accomplish this one goal – TO BRING YOU AND ME TO HIMSELF!

Why would God save us from darkness and bring us into His marvelous light (Cf. 1 Peter 2:9) if He did not love us and want a personal relationship with His created beings?  And if He loves us (and He does), why would He not have your best and my best life in His mind.  Yes, Father God has a plan and a purpose for each of us!.  And God has ordained His best life for each of us according to His own counsel, wisdom, and will … even if we cannot envision what He sees for our lives.  Paul reminds us in Romans 8:28 that we can readily and confidently know that God causes all things to work for the good of those who love Him, to those who have been called according to His purpose.” And in Romans 8:31 Paul asserts: “If God is FOR us, who can be against us?”  This is what faith is all about!  This is faith in its purest expression … that no matter what befalls us in this life … we place our full and complete trust in the living God.

O, how I pray that we will trust and rely on the love that God has for us. (Cf. 1 John 4:16) Help us to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that we might be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Cf. Ephesians 3:19).  Yes, I pray that God will fill us with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. (Cf. Colossians 1:9) O Lord, increase our faith! Amen.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 02/17/19

Romans 8:35,37

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

When I first read this Verse of the Day, I just had to smile….  This is one of my “go-to” passages when I need affirmation … when I need to be reminded that the love of God in Christ Jesus is unconditional and everlasting.  In fact, to me, all of Romans Chapter 8 is uplifting.  It is here that I am told there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  It is here that God affirms His Son met the righteous requirement of law for me and sent His Holy Spirit to live in me.  It is here that I come to understand how a life lived in the Spirit sets me free from the bondage of sin and unites me to God … and confirms to me that I am His child.  It is here that I find trust in the hand of God over my life … that He works all things for my good because I love Him and have been called according to His purpose.  Yes, it is here that God affirms that He is for me … that He loves me with an inseparable, unfailing love because He gave me to His Son….  I’m overwhelmed!

In Verse 35, Paul asks “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”  Well, another question might be, “Who joined us … who united us to His love?”  We have to understand that our relationship with God through His Son is totally 100% HIS work.  He is the initiator!  God loved us first! This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (Cf. 1 John 4:10) His love was not a response to our goodness or righteousness.  His love was not merited or earned by any of us.  We were dead in our trespasses and sins! But God made us alive in Christ! He resurrected us in Christ! (Cf. Ephesians 2:1-10; Colossians 2:13-14) Why?  Because God, in Christ, was reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses against them. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:19) So if God has the will and power to join us to Himself; then the answer to the question of who can separate us from Him is ‘No one!”.  No one can separate us from His love!

Paul then moves on to the question: “What can separate us from the love of Christ?” “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”  In other words, we as Christians will have problems in this world.  But these troubles, trials, sufferings, nor afflictions of evil cannot separate us from God.  It is not possible.  Jesus affirms that promise:

John 10:27-30 (NKJV)

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand30 I and My Father are one.”

So what is the implication of these assertions communicated to us through Paul?  Well, let’s read the conclusion Paul brings to us:

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Is this not the greatest news you could hear today?  God commends His love to us … He demonstrates His love in this:

Romans 5:6-8 (NKJV)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I pray you will never question the love that God has for you.  His love is not dependent upon your performance. It is not given based upon your perfection. His love is given because of your imperfection!  God simply wants you and me to come to Him through the way He has prepared for us to come to Him: Christ Jesus His Son!  And NOTHING can ever separate you from His love! Amen!

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 02/07/19

Psalm 97:10

Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. (NIV)

You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. (NKJV)

I thought our Verse of the Day had some great key points for us to consider … and embrace.  As disciples of Christ Jesus, we have been called to love Him and to keep His commands.  We have been chosen by God to receive salvation through His Son.  He has promised us the inheritance of eternal life.  He has empowered us to walk in step with His indwelling Holy Spirit.  And God has enjoined us to love one another just as He in Christ demonstrated His loved toward us.  Wow! And yet, here we have another response to the love of God to consider: HATE EVIL. Look at the text.  If you love the Lord … you will HATE evil!  This is very strong language….

Now, perhaps we think that the “ability” to hate evil should be inherent in the hearts and lives of those who have received Jesus as Lord and been born again of the Spirit.  Yet, how many of us as Christians continue to struggle with temptation and fall short … fail … sin?  The Apostles James and John both addressed this spiritual challenge:

James 1:12-16 (ESV)

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my dear friends. 

John 1:5-10 (ESV)

This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

So my thought is that our “struggle” becomes complicated because we simply do not HATE evil.  We still allow evil thoughts within our hearts (Cf.  Genesis 6:5) to drive the desires and behaviors that lead us into sin….  The Psalmist indicates that if you love God … you should HATE evil.  But he states that the Lord “guards” the lives (souls) of His faithful ones (saints) and delivers them from evil.  Likewise, James assures us that God will bless those who remain steadfast (faithful) under temptation with the “crown of life” which He has promised to give those who love Him.   And John advises us that if we walk in darkness … we cannot have fellowship with God.  But praise God, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness if we CONFESS our sins to Him….

Yes, we need to recognize and realize that evil is ever present around us.  It is hostile to our souls whether inflicted from within or experienced from without.  Oh, we readily hate the sins of others and the evil their sin inflicts upon us and others.  But do we truly hate our own sin … in all of its variant forms, subtleties, and deception?  Jesus warned us to examine ourselves – to see if we sincerely hate all evil:

Matthew 23:25-28 (ESV)

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

I gather from the tone of this passage, Jesus was quite passionate in His delivery of this message to the religious hypocrites.  The deception of hypocrisy is that it is truly darkness. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  So it is with hidden sin(s) … which is not ever hidden from God.  We are all exposed before Him … and He knows the truth.  He knows whether we truly hate evil … or if we are merely pretending … especially in front of others.

But I would like to revisit the assurance found in our Verse of the Day that I believe we need to embrace: “He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”  This message reminded me of another verse we have studied that offers a similar message of hope:

1 Corinthians 10:12-14 (ESV)

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability (what you can bear), but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

Well, I hope this Verse will challenge each of us to sincerely examine ourselves … our inner thoughts and convictions … to determine if we truly HATE evil in every form of darkness it manifests itself.  You who love the Lord – hate evil!  It is something that you must expressly and intently do in your thought life before it will ever manifest in your personal conduct or manner of life. Remember, God sees and knows the truth.  But know this: God is for us on this one!  He will guard our souls and delivers us from the evil one…. What a wonderful promise for those who love Him! Amen.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 02/05/19

Psalm 33:4-5

For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.

Sometimes we just need a reminder….

His Word is right and true … it is most trustworthy!  He is faithful in all that He does … even when we are not faithful.  He loves righteousness and justice … and calls us to follow Him to administer the same to one another.  The earth is full of His unfailing love … His deep, passionate, and everlasting love! I pray we will all meditate on these things….

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!