Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

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My Spiritual Act Of Worship

June 27 – Today’s Readings – Romans 11-12 and Proverbs 28

In the first 2 verses of Chapter 12 we find the New Testament equivalent of burned offerings (sacrifices of worship) from the Old Testament; “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Instead of a lamb or a bull on the altar – it’s me! I offer myself to God day by day. I do what Jesus did but in a much smaller way – “sacrificing” my body, my mind, my energy, my pocket book, my relationships, my future, etc. to the Lord. This is my spiritual act of worship – my “worship” is not just about the songs I sing on Sunday!

Part two of the formula is equally important though – the Spirit of God is very busy – renewing my mind. This is where “the rubber hits the road”. What goes on in my mind is of utmost importance in my life and is to be an offering of worship to the Lord. My pastor often says, “We need to hang new pictures in the gallery of our minds”. How do we end up in trouble with our attitudes, our words and our actions? It all starts in the mind. God’s work in us must include our thinking processes and the way we allow our thoughts to roam.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:6-8)

This “thinking about” is an active process. If we focus our minds on the right things, then out the abundance of our minds, our mouths will speak and our actions will be guided. This is one of the great adventures of the Christian life. It has everything to do with my daily surrender to the Lord. If I want a gauge of how I’m doing today, then I need to check out my active, mindful submission to Jesus. Your mind will be renewed and you will be a New Testament worshipper as you offer yourself to Him!

Finally, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:3-5)

Questions:

1.Tell of an experience in your Christian life, where the Holy Spirit “reprogrammed” your mind.
2. Tell of an example in Scripture where God was at work changing the way people thought.

Called, Predestined, Chosen

June 26 – Today’s Readings – Romans 9-10 and Proverbs 26

Today I would like to discuss the subject of “predestination” – what is it? – and – how does this doctrine impact our lives?

Chapters 8, 9 & 10 of Romans have several things to say concerning this teaching. Chapter 8:28-30 reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

The thinking here is that God chose us before we chose Him. He then called us, gave us the gift of repentance, drew us to Himself and filled us with the Holy Spirit. Now that ought to make you feel pretty special! He personally selected you! If this “truth” doesn’t make you hold your head up high then nothing will. You really didn’t have to work hard to be saved. Jesus did it all. You simply repented and said “yes”.

Is there a down side to this kind of thinking? Yes, even the marvelous message of God’s Grace can be misinterpreted or misapplied.

Follow me here in some misguided logic – if God predestines, then we don’t have anything to do with it. If God calls whom He wants to call, then what’s the use in sharing the Good News with people? All the people that should be saved will automatically get saved because its all God’s doing.

Do you see the error in this line of thought? Yes God called, but WE had to say yes. God called, but HOW did He call? Was it not through people sharing The Message? – And did He call only a few? 1Timothy 2:3-6 reads; “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men (women and children) to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men”

Now here is the thing. There are many Christians who never share their faith because they think it’s all up to God. Be careful not to fall into this trap for God has appointed YOU to be His mouthpiece and the vehicle by which He calls people to Himself. Romans 10:13-15 reads, “for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Predestined? – Yes!     Called? – Yes!

Responsible to share and obey the Gospel? – Yes! Responsible to pray for peoples’ salvation? – Yes! I can’t just live it, I have to say it!

Questions:

1. Find other verses of Scripture that speak about “predestination”.
2. Are there other pitfalls we could fall into by overemphasizing this doctrine?

Victory Over Sin

June 25 – Today’s Readings – Romans 7-8 and Proverbs 25

Romans 7:15-25 reads, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

Here is one of the most misunderstood passages of Scripture. For the most part whenever I hear people quote partial sections of these verses they are used to make excuse for the sin that continues to control their lives – or conversely to somehow come to a conclusion that they will never again sin. Check it out – read it again in context and you will soon discover that Paul is mostly speaking of a “before receiving the Holy Spirit” existence. Once we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives – becoming children of the Father – we are set free from the “law” of sin and death. We were “wretched” because there was no way to be set free from this dominion of sin outside of the great atoning sacrifice of Christ. Once Jesus’ blood was shed and the Holy Spirit was poured out into our lives, our very inner nature (and citizenship) changed; “Thanks be unto God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Vs. 25)

Continue on with me to Chapter 8:1-2 & 8-9: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. – Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.”

How clear all of this becomes when you consider it in context. We truly are able and empowered to live our lives in obedience to the Holy Spirit – no longer captive to all the slavery of sin resident in the “old nature”. Let this Scripture breath victory into your soul and give you resistance and victory over areas that used to hold you captive.

Do these verses mean you will never sin? Absolutely not but you are definitely set free from the slavery to sin once you believe and trust this Gospel. It is now your nature to love all that is good and Godly – and to hate sin! If and when you sin, you are up on your feet again, in the arms of the Father, confessing and being forgiven. You don’t get “saved” over and over again but you run to Father as a child of God and clothed once again in His righteousness.

Questions:

1. Think of some very victorious people in the New Testament – how do you suppose they gained victory over sin’s grip?
2. What “voices” are holding you back from complete victory in Christ?

“No” To Sin!

June 24 – Today’s Readings – Romans 5-6 and Proverbs 24

Having a problem with sin? Does some niggley thing have a grip on you and you can’t seem to shake it? Take out some recipe cards RIGHT NOW and hand-write Romans Chapter 6 on them. Carry these cards around with you and read them in a time of temptation – read at lunch – read before bed – memorize it! This is the “recipe” I’ve used for years when encouraging anyone who is battling a “stronghold” in his or her life. Why? – Because it focuses on God’s marvelous grace and our decision to receive that grace.

Consider this prayer based on Romans 6 – “Lord, I will not go on sinning because I have died to sin! I have been baptized into Your death – crucified with You – united with You – buried with You in baptism – and You have given me resurrection life! I will no longer be a slave to this sin and I will no longer let this sin rule in my mortal body. Neither will I allow my body to be ruled by wrong choices but I will offer my body to You as an instrument of righteousness. Sin shall no longer be my master! You will be my master Lord and I will be victorious over sin. You have set me free from the deeds that lead to death and have given me the grace to live in a manner that leads to life. For “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus my Lord”

I challenge you to follow this recipe and be set free. This not a “mind over matter” scheme – neither is it a “positive thinking” exercise. Rather, this is all about what Christ really did for us when we received Him and were baptized. Think of all the Old Testament accounts of God’s people gaining great victory over an enemy – all these victories point directly to our great conquest over sin. Against insurmountable odds, we watch the “enemy” fall before us. Is it because we are so powerful? Is it because we have read the right self-help book? Hardly. This victory is ours because of God and God alone. All we do is tag along for the ride – all we do is get into the vehicle with God as the driver. Our very nature has been transformed and we love righteousness! – We are children on God!

1 John 5:2-5 reads, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” Our job is to believe – God’s job is to give us the victory. “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2)

Questions:

1. In prayer, name the area of “growth” God is putting His finger on in your life. Pray the prayer assigned and do the written assignment prescribed. Watch what happens!!
2. Name another situation in Scripture where this “formula” was at work.

To Believe Is To Act

June 23 – Today’s Readings – Romans 3-4 and Proverbs 23

Father Abraham – the name brings to mind children’s songs and one of the major Biblical covenants between God and mankind. Here in Romans 4:17-22, Paul outlines the reason Abraham is still considered the father of all believers – it’s because he believed and trusted God! Here’s the thing – God told Abraham he would have a son even though he was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was well past childbearing years. This was, of course, an impossible situation but Abraham believed. Later on God told him to sacrifice his very son and Abraham trusted that God was well able to raise the dead. An interesting point about Abraham though is that he not only trusted but he acted on what he believed. The old guy approached his wife to have relations with her even though they probably hadn’t engaged in such activity for some time! He also later raised his knife to sacrifice his promised son even though every fiber of his being was screaming at him to stop what he was doing.

There are two key Biblical phrases here. The first is found in verse 17 – “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they are”. Abraham did not only give mental ascent to this thought but acted on it. He (figuratively) did the same thing Peter did when he stepped out of the boat and onto the water.

The other key phrase comes from verse 21 – “being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised”. On these 2 principles of faith lay the foundations of all the miracles of Scripture. In order for a miracle to take place we have to act on a God-thought. If we never lay hands on the sick, we will never see healing. If we never make investments into peoples lives, we will never see lives changed. If we never share the Good News, no one will have the miracle of rebirth. Miracles require that we “call things that are not as though they were”. (vs.17)

Are you ready for an adventure in God? Then listen to the voice of God and become convinced of God’s will and purposes according to His Word – then act on it! I’m reminded of the man in Matthew 25:24-25, who had been given an assignment from the Lord; “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.” This guy was not an Abraham. He failed to see God’s character as it truly is, and this affected what he believed about God so that what he believed directly affected his actions. His faith and his deeds were in sync, but they lacked the revelation of who God was. Do we want to be known as children of Abraham? Then we must see God as our loving Father and Friend. Only then will we be able to live Godly lives and do the works He has called us to do.

Questions:

1. Name an instance where you came to believe something and acted on it despite some rational as to why you should not.
2. Name another instance from Scripture where someone believed, then acted with amazing results.

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