Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Month: February 2018 (Page 1 of 6)

In Prayer At All Times

March 1 – Today’s Readings – Luke 7-8 and Psalms 61

Good morning. Do you ever wonder about all the violent words the Psalmists prayed concerning their enemies? It hardly seems Christian! When I re-read these words however, I begin to imagine my real enemies – my spiritual enemies – all Satan’s forces of evil – enemies that attempt to hold me back or pull me down – the enemies of my soul. “O God, break their teeth!”

It’s easy to bear my soul and speak frankly to God about the devil’s attacks – “They lie in wait for me!” What a great way to approach problems. Opening your heart before God, and praying down fire on the devil’s schemes!

In Psalm 59 David twice addresses God with the words “O my Strength”. We don’t normally think of Him as “My Strength” but it certainly is a title that fits. If we learn to find our emotional strength in Him, we will become easier to live with – and if we lean on Him when our physical strength is failing us, we will find that our energy comes from a different source – and that our spiritual strength emanates from the Holy Spirit within us. “O God Our Strength – push back the enemy’s schemes, that we may lead lives the way we were designed to. Amen.”

In Luke today we see Jesus reversing the natural laws continually at work in our sin-sick world. He performed “miracles” so that people might see the Glory of God – so that they would believe in Him – the Christ – the Messiah of God. He did miracles because He had compassion on all kinds of people – enemy soldiers – widowed and destitute women – chronically sick people – rich people who humbled themselves – religious people who trusted Him – Jews and Gentiles – people with “great faith” – people with only desperation – and people so full of demons that it made Hollywood horror movies look mild! He even commanded the forces of weather so that the disciples could be safe and believe.

Let’s keep the subject of miracles simple because God hasn’t changed. He still wants to reveal Christ and show forth His Glory so that people are drawn to His kingdom. He still has compassion on all kinds of people and delivers those under the power of the Devil. Our faith doesn’t have to be special, it just needs to be regular faith because faith is one of the gifts that come from the Spirit. We trust in God who loves us and cares for us. A sincere, compassionate request is all that is needed with God – then we must rest and trust in His provision. We should never put God in a box, thinking that He “doesn’t do that stuff anymore” nor should we ever presume that all things will go the way we want them too. The Holy Spirit gives miracles to people in the same way as he gives wisdom or salvation – its by faith and God’s gracious compassion.

Questions:

1. Name some situations where it would be appropriate to pray a “violent” prayer.

2. Name a situation in your life today where you should be praying for a miracle. (I hope all readers will join their prayers to yours!)

Some People Just Hate Jesus

February 28 – Today’s Readings – Luke 5-6 and Psalms 58-60

As you read in the Gospels, have you noticed how many times Jesus went off by himself to pray? Prayer really does require time ALONE or SHUT IN with God. It’s very difficult to focus spiritually when people, work, and responsibilities all clamor for our time and attention. Somehow we need to carve out some intimate prayer time with Jesus! Aside from going to Sunday morning church my very best prayer and times take place when when I get a an hour or two of uninterrupted time with the Lord in a prayer service. These moments give me opportunity to really talk to the Lord about everything and listen as He speaks to my heart.

Today I was thinking about verses 24-26 of Chapter 6. It seems, on the surface, that Jesus was pronouncing doom and gloom on anyone who had money, ate a good diet, enjoyed life, and had a good reputation. Wait a minute – that’s me! Maybe He was actually talking about those who were rich in themselves, having no regard for the poor or for the Church and not surrendering any wealth to God for His purposes. Could it be that He was referring to those who perceive themselves as having no need, having no thirst for the things of God and not wanting to partake fully in Jesus?

I believe that those who want to “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” are completely different from those who have been forgiven, have the joy of the Lord and who live abundantly every day in His goodness. Jesus was obviously referring to those who seek worldly popularity – the worldly – the shallow “movie star” – but – have not made peace with God and have not been “born again”. Outsiders should be able to observe our lives then glorify God because of our good works and lifestyle. They should acknowledge the good reputation of an upright Christian. Will they always speak well of us? Of course not – some people just plain hate Jesus.

Scripture says “Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8) – sing, shout, dance for joy in the Lord – seek to live such good lives so that sinners would see you as a living gospel. There is nothing wrong with enjoying ourselves as saints of God. Do we really believe that heaven will be a sad place? The Lord’s admonition and rebuke in this passage has nothing to do with our joy – joy is a fruit of God’s presence. It has nothing to do with wealth – God distributes wealth without measure. It is also not about people speaking well of us because if the Spirit of God is drawing them, they will be very attracted to us. No, Jesus’ harsh words has everything to do with whether we have received the forgiveness of God and whether we have been made new in the power of the Holy Spirit. Once we belong to Christ we will have ups and downs in this world but life abundant is our mainstay in the Lord.

Questions:

1. Have you ever felt wrongly condemned just because you had more “abundance” than some other person you know?

2. Is there any instance where we should be concerned about our “abundance”?

John The Baptist

February 27 – Today’s Readings – Luke 3-4 and Psalms 57

Luke 3: 2-6 reads, “during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.”

John had a very “rough edge” to his preaching, calling some people a “brood of vipers!” – He challenged them to “produce fruits in keeping with repentance”. We must conclude therefore, that if people were going to be prepared for Jesus, the Christ of God, they needed first to have their hearts softened by John the Baptist. This is just as true today as it was then. The Holy Spirit draws people to Christ by informing them that they are sinners, that God is righteous and that He alone is able to give them life. With the help of willing Christians, God reveals the good news of salvation by faith in Jesus. These “seekers” then are given the gift of repentance as they turn their hearts to God.

John had a unique ministry in that he was an Old Testament guy who saw God’s salvation (Jesus) yet never did minister a New Testament message. He called people to repent and do good works – not to receive Jesus as Saviour and Lord. When the Apostle Paul first arrived at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7) he found a group of disciples there who believed on Jesus but didn’t even know about the gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s logical question to them was, “Then what baptism did you receive?” They replied that they had received John’s baptism. After having explained the Messiah to them more thoroughly, they were baptized in the name of Jesus and when Paul laid hands on them they were filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues and prophesied.

Do you see the difference? Repentance is what we do, but salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit is what God does. The power to live an over-coming life does not come from us wanting to be holy but from the Holy Spirit being holy within us. No longer do we need to “prepare the way of the Lord”, we are now walking with the Lord in “the way”. Matthew 11:11 reads, “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” You are greater than John for you have received the Holy Spirit who guides you into all truth and gives you power to get the job done!

Questions:

1. Are you still trying to “prepare the way” for the Lord in your life or are you living in the light of the Spirit.

2. Is there still a place for us believers to “prepare the way” for the Lord in our lives?

3. What place does repentance play in our lives now that we have Jesus?

Keeping In Step

February 26 – Today’s Readings – Luke 1-2 and Psalms 56

Welcome to the book of Luke. The writer (Luke) is the same man who wrote the book of Acts. He was a physician, travelled extensively with the Apostle Paul and seemingly became his long-term helper and scribe. He obviously did a lot of first hand research before he wrote this account because he includes things in his Gospel that other writers skip over. For example, the first two chapters of the book would probably have come from extensive interviews with Mary (Jesus’ mother) and perhaps Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mom).

Here is a thought for you. At the age of twelve, Jesus stayed behind at the temple and spent three or four days speaking with and listening to the teachers of the Law. When His behaviour was questioned by His parents He simply replied, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” So, at the age of twelve, Jesus was already keenly aware of who His Father was. He was also very comfortable being in the Temple where the Law was taught and discussed. His parents, on the other hand, didn’t understand much of what He was saying – so it wasn’t Mary and Joseph who had been “planting Messiah ideas” in Jesus’ young mind. No, He already had divine revelation of who He was – yet He went back home with His parents and was subject to them till He began His public ministry at the age of thirty! Imagine, eighteen years of knowing who you are and what your mission will be – yet not doing anything about it till The Father said, “go”.

There is a lesson here for us. We must continually strive to do and say things when the Spirit tells us to and not before. If we keep in step with the Spirit, we will find ourselves working alongside God – not out of step and on our own like Moses was when, at an early age he took matters into his own hands and killed an Egyptian. There are divine appointments for us in life – a divine schedule for us to keep in step with – divine opportunities that require patience on our part – and open doors that require faith and boldness to step through. But consider this – Jesus accomplished more in three years of Holy Spirit led ministry than anyone else has ever achieved in a lifetime. Be patient and pray – wait on the Lord – but as He speaks to you, be working in step with the Spirit – ready to run!

On an unrelated note – did you notice the link between faith in God and victory over fear in our lives? (Psalm 56: 3,4&11). Into what kinds of situations does the Devil bring fear? – Your finances? – Your future? – Your relationships? – Imaginary situations like movies? Only in Christ is our life safe from fear, both present and future. Only in Christ are we secure, knowing that our lives are “hid” in Him and that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Even death itself has been defeated and becomes a welcome thing where we can meet the Lord face to face. Remember John 4:18 says that “perfect love drives out fear”. I wonder if the opposite is also true – that perfect fear drives out love? Enjoy a “fearless” day.

Questions:

1. Give an example of a Spirit-led appointment you have had this week.

2. In which areas of your life do you feel that you are still in “God’s waiting room” the way Jesus was till the age of 30?

3. Make some further observations on the link between “faith” and “victory over fear”.

Jubilee

February 25 – Today’s Readings – Leviticus 25-27 and Psalms 55

When I was young, I remember that my three uncles, who were farmers, would routinely let a field “rest” every 7 years. In those days this practice was considered proper management of the land. I spoke to a farmer not long ago and he informed me that “the old thinking has been replaced by better fertilizers” etcetera. It’s interesting to me that even back in the days of Moses, God was instituting proper and scientific farming practices.

And – how about the “Year of Jubilee” concept! Wow, what an economic equalizer this practice was! One of the greatest problems that societies face and have faced historically is that the rich continually get richer and the poor continually get poorer. If you study the great economies that have “fallen” from within, the two greatest causes for the collapse were:

1) Great sin and moral decay

2) An uprising amongst the poor people wanting justice in the midst of economic oppression and political corruption.

Whether we think these laws of Moses were strange or not, they sure took care of a lot of destructive behaviour and injustice in ancient Israel’s society. Just imagine if every 50 years we instituted a “Jubilee” of sorts where all debt would be forgiven. You would obviously still have economic classes of people but the disparity gap would be greatly diminished and people would be forced to do a lot more saving and non-debt purchases.

I firmly believe that God wants to incorporate the concepts of “Sabbath” and “Jubilee” into our spiritual lives today. This is not to say that we need to return to the Law of Moses but that we set time aside to be with the Lord, with family and with spiritual family on an ongoing basis. It means that we program our lives to make room for those relationships that mean so much to us. Remember what Jesus said – “man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man”. This simply means that if we ignore the Sabbath rest of God, we do so to the tearing down of the relationships God has called us to cultivate.

The New Testament Church addressed the Jubilee in a different way. First off, New Covenant believers are to live perpetually in the Jubilee of the Lord in that all “sin debt” has been forgiven and must be forgiven by us too. We forgive each other of offence and live in the constant Jubilee of God towards others. Second, when people get in trouble, the Church tries to help that individual or group of people – all the while encouraging children of God to work hard and get out of debt so that they can help others. (1 Thessalonians 4:11 & 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11) (Romans 13:8)

Questions:

1. What does it mean for you and I to live in “financial jubilee” with the Lord?

2. How do you cultivate a New Testament “Sabbath” in your life?

3. Name some modern-day revolutions or uprisings that have been caused by financial inequity or moral decay?

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