Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Correction From The Pulpit

July 24 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 5-7 and Psalms 24

Talk about meddling! This book is certainly an indicator of how “straight-up” Paul was in his teaching and direction to the churches he had planted. He exposed specific sins publicly, corrected the Christians on issues from their private lives (lawsuits), told them to clean up their act in the area of sexuality, let them know that they weren’t really saved if they continued in sin (1Corinthians 6:6-99) – then dove right into the very private affairs of marriage, celibacy, and how the Corinthian people should view these things. His philosophy was simple enough, “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are.” (1Corinthians 5:6-7)

The analogy of yeast is profound because it is the same “illustration” God gave to the Israelites when they celebrated Passover. Everything about this feast, including not using yeast for their bread, was a reminder to the Jewish people that they needed to get rid of sin and be without impurities in their lives.

It is obvious to me that Paul was very serious about HOW these believers were living their private lives. We, on the other hand, live in an age where Pastors are “not allowed” to speak about certain things for fear of offending. This ought not be the case. I’m not suggesting that Pastors “bully” people towards Godliness, or that we should be disrespectful towards people’s private lives – but it is clear that Paul had a vision of the Holy Church of Jesus Christ. It was to be a Church, functioning in godly ways. For Paul, this meant that he needed to keep challenging people to live right. He didn’t wait for them to respond to the “promptings of the Spirit” – if there was sin in the Church then he dealt with it in a very straightforward manner. This seems to have been a pattern in the New Testament Church – whether it was Peter confronting Ananias and Sapphira, or Paul confronting Peter. Nothing seemed too private to be kept quiet if it was going to harm the Church.

How does this all boil down for you and I? I believe that we should not “let things slide” in our lives. We need to be accountable to the Holy Spirit so that the Church can be victorious. There is no victory where sin runs rampant. Revelation 3:14-19 reads, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”

Questions:

1. What is the “balance” between Pastors being respectful of Church members yet challenging the Church to live right?
2. Paul is clearly “judging” the Church in these chapters – how does this approach fit with his teaching in Romans 14:4-13, where Paul forbids judging our brothers?

Not Ordinary

July 23 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 3-4 and Psalms 23

Look out! The Corinthian Church is getting a disciplinary lecture from Paul! Why? – Because of immaturity – they should have known better by now, and they were not doing it right. How could Paul tell they were acting immaturely? Simple – “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?” (1Corinthians 3:3)

Do you want a real lesson in Christian maturity? Go to 1Corinthians 4:5 where Paul instructs, “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

It’s the “motives” of my heart that God takes interest in. Think of what Jesus taught:

– Matthew 5:22 “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”

– Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

– Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

– Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

– Matthew 6:3 “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,”

– Matthew 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”

– Matthew 6:17 “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,”

– Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life”

– Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

– Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

All the important moral teachings of Jesus focus on heart issues – motive issues. God wants our hearts – He wants to write His Law of Love on them – He wants to squeeze our hearts – He wants to put His very nature there – He wants us to become like Christ in our hearts and in our motives. What room is there for petty things like jealousy and quarrelling and gossip? None! – for we have been made new. As Children of God, and not “mere men”, we have to get past our petty, worldly mindset. Yet, Church after Church suffers serious hurt because of worldly attitudes. If we have been purchased of God – if we have been washed – if we have received the Holy Spirit – if we understand the nature of Christ and His Holy Gospel, our faith WILL grow enough so that we start doing what Paul taught in this passage.

Questions:

1. Examine yourself and see if there is any jealousy, quarrelling or gossip in your relationships.
2. How have quarrels in the Church affected you in times past?

Full Of Life but Full Of Problems

July 22 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 1-2 and Psalms 22

If you get a chance, re-read Psalm 22 and highlight all the references to Jesus’ suffering on the cross – His prayer for himself and for the people – and His heart for God’s purposes. It’s amazing to realize that, so many years before Christ, this Prophet/Psalmist had “Messianic” insight by the Holy Spirit. Here are some “Jesus” portions of this great Psalm:

Vs.1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Vs.3, “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One”

Vs.6, “Scorned by men and despised by the people”

Vs.7&8, “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him”

Vs.14, “My bones are out of joint”

Vs.15, “My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth”

Vs.16, “They have pierced my hands and my feet”

Vs.18, “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing”

Vs.30 “Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord”

We also begin the book of 1 Corinthians today. This Church at Corinth was a fascinating place. It was “blue-collar”, born out of Paul, Silas and Timothy’s second missionary journey. It had been influenced by several good preacher-leaders and grounded in many ways with a clear understanding of salvation by grace. However, this was also a Church that hadn’t developed so well spiritually. As you read through the book, check out how many times Paul corrects and instructs them in order to bring them to maturity.

The first thing I noticed was the importance Paul placed on unity and “getting along” in a Church. I personally believe that in an active and “alive” Church, there are very few things that are harder to keep a handle on than unity. Everyone is a preacher. Everyone is praying and seeking God. Everyone is in ministry. Everyone has strong opinions. Don’t get me wrong – this is the way a Church ought to be – alive and kicking. This “revival atmosphere” does require maturity though, and a strong sense of submission to one another. Each person must learn flexibility and honor towards others. This is one of the primary lessons the Corinthian Church was learning. “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.” (1Corinthians 1:10-11)

Here’s a thought for you – someone is going to have to “grow up” and be submissive!

Questions:

1. Give another example from Scripture where a lack of maturity and unity caused problems in the people of God.
2. Give an example of how “submission” to one another promotes God’s plan for the Church.

In His Hands

July 21 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 64-66 and Psalms 21

Isaiah 64:8 reads, “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Here then is one of the most wonderful images in the whole of the Bible. Not only does Isaiah identify God as “Father”, which is a New Testament term for God, but he sees the Father as a potter at his wheel, shaping a lump of clay – shaping a person – building a people of God. I’ve tried making pottery at the wheel a couple of times in my life, and have discovered that it’s not nearly as easy as it looks. When things are not turning out the way the potter wants, he scrapes the clay off the wheel, adds a bit of water, mashes it up and slams the clay back on the spinning wheel to start over. He uses his hands, sometimes firmly and other times in the most delicate way to encourage certain shapes and characteristics out of the clay. If there is a pebble in the project, he picks it out and begins again. I don’t know about you but at times I can really relate to the clay. The phrase “God’s not finished with me yet” seems very appropriate when you feel yourself being dumped on His “wheel” once again.

Isaiah also gives us glimpses of the end-times in these verses – “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17) See how well this passage dovetails with New Testament prophecy:

– Matthew 24:35 – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

– 2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”

– Revelation 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”

Let there be no doubt in our minds – the present world and heavens will disappear – all that mankind has pinned its hopes on will disappear, because God alone is the One who sustains all things. I’m sometimes very concerned about the numbers of films that are produced, depicting an invasion of some sort from another world. Inevitably, the invaders are hideous, evil beings or machines that mankind has to rally heroically to defeat. The trouble I have with all this is that the only “other worldly thing” that’s going to invade the earth is Our Lord Jesus Christ! – He is returning to Earth as a conquering King – the nations WILL gather together to fight against Him and you and I will be on the Kings side! Then, in due time, the present heavens and Earth will be destroyed, making room for the new. Keep in mind – this is not something we need to fear – it’s something we need to fully embrace. Do you see how Earth’s inhabitants are already being programmed to fight the great Armageddon? – Against Christ?

Questions:

1. Tell about a time when God “the potter” had to start over with you while molding some area of your life.
2. Reflect on what daily activities we should be involved in to keep us ready for the second coming of the Lord.

Who – Me?

July 20 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 61-63 and Psalms 20

As I was reading Chapter 61, I began to personalize it, reading as if I (AND YOU) were the people the passage was referring to.

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on (YOU), because the LORD has anointed (YOU) to preach good news to the poor. He has sent (YOU) to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

Isaiah 61:2 (HE IS SENDING YOU) to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,

Isaiah 61:3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion — (HE IS SENDING YOU) to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. (BECAUSE YOU INVESTED IN THEM)

Isaiah 61:4 They (YOU) will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they (YOU) will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

Isaiah 61:5 Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.

Isaiah 61:6 And you (YES YOU) will be called priests of the LORD, YOU will be named ministers of our God. YOU will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.

Isaiah 61:7 Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, (THIS INCLUDES YOU) and instead of disgrace they (YOU) will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they (YOU) will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs (YOURS).

WOW! – Does this not give you a sense of purpose and direction? Does it not make you feel as though there is a big job to be done and you have a part to play? Does it not lend meaning to your existence on this planet? Does it not do wonders for your self-worth? Does it not send you scurrying to your prayer closet, asking for the strength to follow and accomplish The Father’s will?

There is nothing like spending your life accomplishing the plan of God. It is what we were meant to do – what we were created for.

Question:

1. What does the Scripture mean when it say says you have been sent “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair”?

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