Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

When Jesus Speaks

January 22. Today’s Readings – Matthew 9-10 and Psalms 22

When Jesus speaks in Scripture, you want to read it slowly or perhaps twice. Every time He opened His mouth to speak, He exposed God’s kingdom and God’s character. Here are three of my favorite thoughts from today’s reading:

  1. The kingdom of God is something so special that you “sell all you have” to get it. What exactly does this small statement mean to you and I? Think of the Jewish leader (Luke 18: 18-27) who came to Jesus wanting reassurance of his salvation. He had lived a good life and had obeyed the rules, but he hadn’t submitted everything to the Lord. When Jesus told him to sell all he had, he went away unhappy because Jesus had put His finger on the uncommitted part of this man’s life – the part he was “holding back”. So it is with us – we must not leave any areas of our life unturned when we come to Jesus. He must be Lord of all – and we too must sell “all we have” to buy the field that contains the treasure.
  2. The kingdom of God starts out fairly small in our lives – “like a mustard seed” – a simple prayer and act of faith – but it soon takes over our whole world in a wonderful way. We really don’t expect this when we walk into our first church service or our first gathering with Christian friends. We feel loved by God and deeply attracted to Jesus but it does not cross our minds that this Jesus will permeate every area of our lives.
  3. Matthew 12:50 says, For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother”. The same passage in The Message Bible reads, “Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys my heavenly Father’s will is my brother and sister and mother”. Here Jesus concentrates on the importance of the family of God. Becoming part of God’s family is a more a significant step than being born into a natural family at birth. In God’s family, we have relationships that will last for eternity. Natural families without God last only a short time and serve only a small purpose in comparison to the Lord’s plan for the Family of God – The Church. Here’s a thought – Do we treat each other with the love and respect deserving of a “spiritual brother or sister” – one who we will share eternity with – one with whom we share all the most precious values of life?

Questions:

  1. What does it mean for you personally to “sell all you have” in order to gain God’s treasure?
  2. In which way has the Kingdom of God started out like “a mustard seed” but developed into something very big in you?
  3. If our spiritual family is eternal – how should this fact affect our daily living?

 

 

The Lord’s Prayer

January 21. Today’s Readings – Matthew 7-8 and Psalms 21

I need to go back to Chapter 6 and review a common teaching on “Lord’s Prayer”. Even though it is quite old, I often still use this same pattern and it usually takes me from 15 minutes to a half hour if I pray in this manner. I am hoping this brief summary will encourage you pray the Word.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” – Here we begin with worship and acknowledging our Father-God. We then pray all the namesof the Lord and what they mean to us – Emmanuel (God with us and in us) – Protector – Strong Tower – Shield – Warrior – Prince of Peace – Counselor – The One Who Sees Me – The One Who Provides – Holy – Almighty – Creator – Judge of all the Earth – The Lamb – The Lion – The Dove – Healer – Owner of Everything – King of Kings – Lord of Lords – the One who sticks closer that a brother – the “I will never leave you” – the Lover of my Soul. Remember, for every need, there is a Name of God that meets that need.  It can take some time just to focus on who God is and all that this means to me.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – We now respond to God. We let Him know that we want Him to rule and reign in our lives, our jobs, our families, our church and our city. At this point in prayer you need to focus on things in your life and your world that are and are notpresently under His “Lordship”. You also need to declare heaven’s will over situations that are obviously negative in your world.

“Give us this day our daily bread” – This statement reaffirms that God is the one who supplies your needs – not your job, your clever investments or your inheritance. “Our Daily Bread” speaks to me of spiritual, emotional and physical needs. He is the one who can and will fill us spiritually every day. When our emotions are topsy-turvy, He is the one who brings peace in the middle of the storm. “Daily” is a key word in this prayer.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” – God puts tremendous “weight” on our human relationships and our relationship with Him. Consider the fact that all of the Ten Commandments have to do with right relationships! Remember, forgiveness is not an option. Consider this – forgiveness means setting people free – turning them over to God so He can deal with them the way He sees fit.

“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” – We do have a very real enemy who seeks to snare us in a thousand ways. We need God’s covering and deliverance from temptations that could attack us any time. We then end up by reaffirming our need to acknowledge that it’s all about Him – not about us.

Questions:

  1. Make a list of people you have not forgiven or “given to God”.
  2. Is there any area in your life you have not surrendered to God?

 

Your Righteousness

January 20 – Today’s Readings – Matthew 5-6 and Psalms 20

I would like to leave you with a simple thought today; “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20)

When Jesus was in His ministry years the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes were outwardly very righteous and disciplined people! Their “righteousness” – (that is their religious discipline) – probably put ours to shame at times. In the same way, a devout Muslim or Hindu’s “outwardly righteous” disciplines may also seem over-the-top. A Buddhist monk or a devout follower of Krishna may be extremely acsetic and disciplined in his religious ways.

In this passage, Jesus seems at first to be instituting some of the same extreme religious rules when he begins speaking about “plucking out our eyes” and “cutting off our hands” – the body parts that were causing sin!

Here then is the great mystery of our faith! This is why we call ourselves Christians! This is why we can be called “holy” and “saints”. It’s not because of all the great acts of righteousness that we accumulate to earn us “God points”. It really is about Christ living in us. This is the hope of glory. Unless the Lord builds my spiritual house, I build it in vain – unless I become as a little child and allow him to lead me by the hand, I will surely lose my way.

The truth is that our righteousness has already exceeded the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees because we didn’t come to God based on our own righteousness but on the righteousness of Christ. He became the righteousness of God in us when we came to Him with child-like faith. Let us be careful then of not using Matthew 5 and 6 to judge people as “ungodly” because of some issue in their life. Jesus “raised the bar” concerning all sin issues when He declared it was impossible for you and I to be righteous by doing religious things. This is why He could say to those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery, (John 8:7) “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. Staying soft and pliable in the hands of God is not an optional thing in our lives – it is the very essence of our salvation – our righteousness. God bless you this day – stay soft!

Questions:

1. If we’re not all about earning “God Points”, then why should we put the effort into basic spiritual disciplines like reading our Bibles, praying or attending Church?

2. What was Jesus really referring to when He spoke about “plucking out our eyes” or “cutting off our hands”?

Temptation

January 19 – Today’s Readings – Matthew 3-4 and Psalms 19

How can we read these passages without commenting about Jesus’ temptation in the desert?Here He was, almost dead from starvation and thirst – feeling only the most basic human need – to survive. It was at this low point that the Devil did his business. Have you ever noticed that when you are extremely tired, hungry or thirsty – maybe when you are feeling very sorry for yourself – this is when temptations and “soulish” or “fleshly” behaviours get the best of us? All you can think about is your physical or emotional need. The words of Hebrews 4:15 seem appropriate here; ”For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”

What are the major categories of temptation mentioned here?

1) Bread for a starving man – body first – perhaps even before the will of God. These needs and appetites are very powerful but as people allow “fleshly needs” to gain control, other temptations such as lust, greed, gluttony, substance abuse, escaping into a fantasy world begin to take over. Jesus recognized the difference between basic human need and the temptations of the Devil. We also need to pray and determine to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies.

2) “Throw yourself down” – (from the highest point of the temple). Here is the use and abuse of position or authority for personal gain. There seems to be a misguided “spirituality” here – twisted with wrong motive. I don’t think its a coincidence that all of this took place at the temple – the holy place. I think that God takes issue with false religion, false worship, hypocrisy and abuse of the Scripture. How does this relate to us? We too are tested regularly concerning genuine and sincere faith. I believe that one of the Devil’s most common temptations in our lives is that of “testing God” – that is – not being sincere and trying to lie to the Holy Spirit.

3) “All this I will give you” – This is the temptation to compromise our moral commitments in exchange for worldly power or promotion. We substitute a simple walk with Jesus for worldly authority, a prideful existence and possessions. Remember – just because a job or opportunity promises more money or more power – it does not necessarily follow that the plan has God’s approval.

Can you see how the our enemy, the Devil, is constantly lying so that he can re-order our spiritual lives? Wasn’t our calling simple? Didn’t Jesus say to us “follow me and I will make you fishers of men”? We must keep our eyes on Jesus, the “Word of God” if we are to overcome the Evil One in the day of temptation.

Questions:

1. Please comment on these 3 “types” of temptation – can you personally relate to any of them?

2. Can you find other examples in Scripture where people were tempted in these areas?

Why Certain Women Were Mentioned

Readings – Matthew 1-2 and Psalms 18

Did you notice that there are five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and that all of them were women who suffered from shame, gossip, disrepute, feeling like an outsider and being publicly accused of sinning! No other woman is specifically mentioned – only Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, and Mary.

You remember Tamar? (Genesis 38:25-30) She deliberately slept with her father-in- law, and her patriarch father-in-law Judah was more guilty than she was.

How about Rahab? (Joshua 6:17) She was the town prostitute who lived under the constant hateful eye of every woman within miles.

Then there was Ruth. (Ruth 4:13) She was a citizen of one of Israel’s most despised enemies, the Moabites. When she came to town, they couldn’t stop talking about “that foreigner”.

In second Samuel 11:27 we find Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. – She was the one who was unfaithful to her hero husband and indirectly caused his death.

Finally there is Mary who was engaged to a fine Jewish carpenter named Joseph. There was one problem, however, – she was pregnant – and not by him!

There were obviously a lot of other wonderful and godly “Jewish” women in the genealogy of Jesus, but God singled out those with questionable reputations – those who were real examples to us of having faced tremendous adversity or even death at the hands of their community because of their reputation. These wonderful women seem to have a very special place in God’s heart even though some were “sinners” who turned to God later in life and some were rejected and completely misunderstood.

This passage outlines a “truth” about God that is astounding. Why would God choose an ordinary disreputable woman to bear His son? Why would Jesus then choose run-of-the-mill men and “sinners” to be the twelve Apostles – ordinary guys who would turn the world upside down for God’s glory? Paul the Apostle says; “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27)

God seems to specialize in “ordinary” people – not superstars. He says, “Blessed are the poor in heart” because, it seems; only these kinds of people can really see God.

Questions:

1. If God chose “disreputable” men and women to accomplish great things for Him in the past, who do you suppose He wants to use now?

2. Comment on how your home church would change if all believers said “yes” to God the way these outcast women in the Bible did.

Page 1 of 74

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén