Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Month: March 2018 (Page 1 of 7)

The Things He Gives Me

April 1 – Today’s Readings – Deuteronomy 1-3 and Psalms 91

Happy Reusrection Morning! – – – Don’t you go April-fooling people today! – Unless of course it’s your wife or kids!

Seeing that our Deuteronomy reading today is a review – [a great review I might add, with some juicy details omitted elsewhere] – I decided to focus on one of the great Psalms of Scripture. In Psalm 91 you will find a fantastic portrait of the heart of God towards us. Here we find:

“Dwelling” in place of vagrancy

“Rest” not strife

“Refuge” in a storm

“Trust” to overcome doubt

“Salvation” instead of the slavery of sin

“Covering” for nakedness and shame

His “faithfulness” instead of disloyalty

Peace and faith to drown out fear

Health instead of pestilence and plague

Standing instead of falling

“No harm” instead of disaster

“Angels” not demons

“Lifting up” instead of putting down

“Love” instead of selfishness

“Long life” instead of slow death

Wow – what a God we serve! These are His attributes – even when things are not going so well for us, we can always look back to this Psalm and know God’s heart. We live in a sin-sick world, but we have a heavenly Father who watches over us. His purpose in our lives is sure.

Here is a selection of related verses found in Isaiah 61:

1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to…”(fill in your own blanks)
3 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…” (the clothing of beauty, gladness and praise)
7 “Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs”.
This is The One we serve – this is good news for us and for the entire world. This is the message we need to be sharing with people. This is what people hunger after spiritually. You’ve got friends who need to hear this!

Questions:

1. How do we deal with things like misplaced shame or despair?

2. How do we appropriate some of these marvelous blessings in our lives?

I’m Going Fishing!

March 31 – Today’s Readings – John 19-21

In Chapter 21 of John, Jesus’ restorative conversation with Peter is both wonderful and fascinating. As a backdrop to this story, we need to emphasize that Peter had been present at the empty tomb with John (Chapter 20: 8-9) – He was probably there in verses 19-21 when Jesus stood among them and addressed them – and – no doubt he was there again in verse 27 when Jesus addressed Thomas.

Here they were – Jesus and Peter – out for a walk after breakfast. Remember, Peter was the one who had said “I’m going fishing” and the Lord had appeared to them in the morning with fish roasting on the fire for breakfast. (By the way – not once after the resurrection did the disciples recognize Him by His physical appearance) Along the walk, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him “more than these”. I think he was talking to Peter about the fish and Peter’s fishing career, but others think that Jesus was talking to him about the other disciples.

Any which way – Jesus asked him once, then a second time if he loved Him. Even then He didn’t seem satisfied and asked him a third time. Peter’s feelings were hurt because Jesus had asked him a third time and he said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” This interchange seems to support the supposition that God “feels” things very personally and was deliberately trying to make Peter understand the depth of the pain He had felt at Peter’s denial. Why shouldn’t God have emotional thoughts? Why shouldn’t He feel pain when people sin against Him or betray Him, breaking His heart in some way or another? God hurts! – Hurts so badly that He would deliberately ask Peter three times – once for each denial – if he loved Him.

Sometimes we as Christians speak of “the heavens being brass” because God seems distant. I’m wondering if we shouldn’t check our hearts to see if we haven’t hurt His feelings. Perhaps He is quietly asking us if we truly love Him more than the activity or person that is drawing us away. If we have “gone fishing” things will feel distant between the Lord and us.

The good news in all of this is that God’s probing questions are asked in order to restore our love relationship with Him. He wants us close to Him at all times not off in some other pursuit.

There is another problem that arises when we “go fishing” for a while. Our friends end up saying, “We’ll go with you” (Chapter 21:3), and our problems are multiplied. Not only are we adrift spiritually, but our friends go there too. Do you see the value of living consistent lives? If we go “fishing” too often, it will affect the lives of those around us. God is faithful however, and you too will see Jesus on the shore preparing bread and fish for you, telling you how you can be a real fisherman – one who brings people into God’s net of love.

Questions:

1. In practical terms – how do we end up “going fishing” and feeling far from God?

2. Relate an example of when Jesus “took you for a walk” like He did with Peter.

King Jesus

March 30 – Today’s Readings – John 17-18 and Psalms 90

Two thoughts struck me today in our Gospel of John reading.

1) In John 17, Jesus makes a direct link between the unity of believers and the world “believing” in Him. In other words – we have a direct role to play – even without saying a word. Our responsibility is to be one, united in one purpose, in our love for God and for each other. Aside from this, we must also be united in our love for the lost and in “showing” God to the world.

2) From John 18 – verse 37 there is an exchange between Pilate and Jesus – “You are a king then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”…

We often overlook a simple but weighty matter. Jesus is King. In fact, He is the King of all kings – but more importantly He is MY King. Here on Earth, there is no such thing as a “benevolent dictatorship” style of government. A good monarchy could come close if the king or queen were all-powerful, yet full of wisdom and unfailing in their love for the citizens of the nation. The king’s word in an old-style monarchy was absolute and final. Once the king made a decision, that judgment was binding. Here’s the kicker – my King’s choices and decisions concerning MY LIFE are absolute – His will becomes my focus and my desire. What Jesus says goes – so when Jesus tells me to forgive those who trespass against me or tells me to do good to those who despitefully use me – or He tells me to love my brother – I’ve only got one option and I go there enthusiastically.

How do we marry this thought with another teaching of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-29? – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In this passage, we see The King of Kings telling us that it’s not burdensome to follow Him and to be His servant. How can this be? – There seems to be so many things we should be doing if we are to be “good Christians”. The answer of course lies in the person of the Holy Spirit. He makes it so easy – we listen and follow – we keep in step with Holy Spirit – we pray and obey. Too little is made of the marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit. When God decided it was time to change the world (and save the world) He sent Jesus Christ – AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, the work of Jesus would have gone nowhere. The Apostles would have never preached the Gospel with authority or worked miracles – and you would not be a Christian today. Walking with the Spirit is what makes the yoke easy and the burden light.

Questions:

1. What is your role regarding “unity” in the Church?

2. If Jesus is “absolute monarch” in your life, what role does your will and decision making play in your life?

The Heart Of God

March 29 – John 15-16 and Psalms 89

It’s amazing to me how Jesus could so easily simplify concepts – and yet use such rich language doing so. Twice in this reading He insists that His simple command is; “love each other”. Seemingly, in these three words, Jesus sums up all the Commandments, the Law of Moses, all the other ceremonial laws – in fact the entire Bible. Think of it – the Spirit of the Book is “love each other” – the heart of God is to “love each other” – God’s heart for the world is “love each other” – God’s will for family and spouses is “love each other” – God’s desire within His church is “love each other” – God’s command in the workplace is “love one another”! How simple. How profound. How IMPOSSIBLE without God’s Holy Spirit!

To love is to invest in – to love is to die for – to love is to serve – to love is to be kind to – to love is to obey – to love is to cling to – to love is to be respectful of – to love is to be patient with – to love is to forgive. The list can go on and on but the heart emotion we feel from all this is that Biblical love is a far cry from what is portrayed so often in the world around us. I truly believe that it is impossible to love like God loves unless you have God in you.

He is the one who dwells in you by the Holy Spirit through whom you have a new capacity to love – not only those who are naturally close to you but also to love those who are more “unlovely”. It is God’s love that leads us to engage people in conversation in order to lead them to the Lord. It is God’s love that leads us to invest our lives in the cause of the Kingdom of God – and – it is God’s love that keeps us doing the right thing when it would be very convenient not to. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:17-20 reads, “In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

Here is the secret then. We were made agents of love when we were born again – not the shallow kind of love that the world knows, but the God kind of love that put Jesus Christ on the cross – love that comes from an eternal understanding of things – love that comes from the depths of God’s heart towards His children as well as the lost and dying world.

Questions:

1. Which part of the “love on another” command is the hardest for you to follow – and why?

2. How does “love one another” affect your personal evangelism?

What Did Jesus Mean?

March 28 – Today’s Readings – John 13-14 and Psalms 88

Talk about two lessons in one! First Jesus teaches the disciples that they should be humble servants to one another – to the point of washing one another’s feet – but then He also instructs us about how to remain “clean”.

Verses 6-10 of Chapter 13 gives the account of a verbal exchange between Peter and Jesus – Peter unwilling to let Jesus wash his feet and Jesus replying that if He didn’t wash his feet, Peter would have no part in Him. In typical Peter style, he then insisted that Jesus should wash his whole body. Jesus uses the opportunity to teach a very important lesson – vs.10 – “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.”

What could Jesus have possibly meant? The answer is a spiritual one – when we receive Christ as Lord and Saviour, welcoming salvation, we are made clean – completely washed. Our spirits are united with God’s Spirit and we who were once “dead” are made alive in Christ – we who were once slaves of sin have become slaves of righteousness. One way or another however, we will get our feet “dirty” as we go about our daily lives and we need Jesus to wash them regularly so that our whole body can be clean. We don’t need to get “saved” over and over again, but we certainly need forgiveness every time we fall short and end up with mud on our feet. It is inevitable that saints will sin – but it also inevitable that Holy Spirit will correct us, sit us down, and bring us to the place of greatest humility when He once again “washes our feet”. What a wonderful illustration of our living relationship with the Lord. If He’s going to wash our feet, then He’s also going to continue an intimate relationship with us. How is He supposed to wash our feet if we never draw near enough to let Him do so? – and – as Jesus said to Peter – if He doesn’t wash our feet we have no part of Him. If Jesus so forgives us on a daily basis, should we not be forgiving others in the same way? Imagine all the Churches of the world practicing spiritual foot washing. As friends sin against us, we forgive – as enemies sin against us, we forgive – as family members sin against us, we forgive.

During the same account Jesus also taught the disciples; “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Vs. 34&35) This “love” business is amazingly simple, yet so powerful that it becomes a great tool of evangelism. How can the world receive Christ if His disciples don’t get along with one another? How can the people of the world know we are Christ’s disciples if we do not love and forgive one another? This is the strongest evidence of Jesus in our lives – that we actually get along – that our relationships are strong.

Questions:

1. Give an example of how we can wash one another’s feet.

2. Give an example of how genuine love between Christians led to someone trusting in the Lord.

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