Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Month: June 2018 (Page 1 of 7)

They Mock But God Is At work

July 1 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 4-6 and Psalms 1

How can there be such a message of hope inserted into such a letter of doom and destruction? Here, in these three chapters of Isaiah, we find one vision of the Messiah, one vision of heaven and one revelation of a prophetic calling sandwiched into an overall message of judgment.

“The Branch” in verse two of chapter four is referring to Jesus and how he will wash away our sin – covering us with the protection of “a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter…”

The vision of heaven found in chapter six verses 1-4 is still one of the most quoted references concerning heavenly activity around the throne of God. “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Finally, in the same chapter (verses 6-9) God calls the prophet into “ministry”. This is the same calling we all experience when we meet Jesus – “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Here, in these verses, we understand that we too are living in a culture that is ripe for destruction. The Lord will certainly judge nations for the incredible sinfulness they allow. Our country has multiplied it’s idols, murdered it’s babies, worshiped at the altar of sexual perversion, called evil “good” and good “evil” – they worship their own ideologies and mock God.

There will be a judgment – but “the Branch” is also alive and well – we too are getting holy visions of God and the throne – and God is still calling an army of believers to share the Good News in all nations (including ours).

My prayer today is for you not to despair concerning the evil around you but that you would lift up your eyes and see the harvest in the midst of all the thorns.

Questions:

1. Tell about when you first heard the “call of God” in your life. What did you feel Him calling you to?
2. Tell about an experience where you participated in “making disciples of all nations.”

Wise Creatures

June 30 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 1-3 and Proverbs 30 & 31

Two quick thoughts for you this morning –

The first comes from Proverbs 30:24-28, “Four things on earth are small yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength yet they store up their food in the summer; coneys are creatures of little power yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.”

The ant knows how to work and store up more than enough – the coney (probably a lot like the Canadian Pica) lives in the cleft of the rock – the locust knows how to advance in unity – and the lizard, though ugly and vulnerable, makes itself so useful catching bugs that it is welcome everywhere. These proverbs are of course not really about animals but about you and I. We would do well to get “wise” by taking on some of the behaviors and attributes of these little creatures!

Thought #2 comes from Isaiah 2:2-3: “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come; let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”

I find it exciting to note very specific prophecies that refer to “the last days”. Those are the days we are no doubt living in right now. The Lord’s return really could come any day because Jesus said it – and make no mistake, there will come “a last day” on this earth. What I find so exciting about this passage is that it speaks of a great harvest coming to Zion (the Church). People (nations) will stream to it. This is what we have to be constantly readying ourselves for – this is what we need to constantly be praying for. – “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” [John 4:35]

It’s the Lord’s harvest and it’s coming soon. “Lord Jesus, give us such a harvest that your Holy Name will be glorified!”

Questions:

1. Which attribute of the four creatures mentioned in Proverbs 30 would you like to focus on in the coming days? Why?
2. What adjustments need to be made in your life in preparation for the coming harvest of souls? – In preparation for the second coming of the Lord?

Paul’s List

June 29 – Today’s Readings – Romans 15-16 and Proverbs 29

Do you have “a list” of people for whom you are grateful in the Lord? Paul shares his “to greet” list in Romans 16 – “our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea” – “Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me.” – “my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia” – “Mary, who worked very hard for you” – “Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me” – “Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord” – “Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ” – “my dear friend Stachys” – “Apelles, tested and approved in Christ”- “the household of Aristobulus” – “Herodion, my relative” – “the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord” – “Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard” – “my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard” – “Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too”.

I often think of all the people I know who have been faithful in the Lord and faithful to me, whether it is in friendship or ministry or both. I think of those, who by steadfast work in the Lord have shown me an example of what it is to be devoted to Jesus – I think of family members who have supported me in good times and bad – I think of brothers and sisters in Christ who would never have been my friends if it were not for a shared passion for the Church of Christ and His vision for the world – I think of those Saints of God who are not half-hearted or half-baked in their desire to serve God. These are the people on my “living hero” list. When I need encouragement, these are the people I can count on to pray with me or for me or help me in more “natural” ways. These people are the real Church of Jesus Christ. I would rather have twelve of these Christians in my life than twelve thousand who were not “true blue”.

Paul had built a support system of people in his life that he could count on as friends, adoptive mothers, fellow-laborers, and disciples. We too function at our best when we can compile our “list” and meditate on the goodness God has shown us through their exemplary lives.

Go ahead – make your list – then pray for them all, that God would keep them and make them an even closer part of your shared relationship to Christ.

Questions:

1. Give an example of a still-living person who has become part of your personal hero list – tell why.
2. Give an example of people who became helping heroes in Scripture.

Who Judges Who?

June 28 – Today’s Readings – Romans 13-14 and Proverbs 28

Romans 14 contains a train of thought that is important for us in the 21st. Century. It has to do with not “offending” brothers and sisters in the Lord by our indiscrete behavior. It also involves not judging our brothers and sisters.

First of all, let’s talk about not offending one another. There are many behaviors that we could participate in as Christians, which have the potential of offending fellow “saints” in Christ. A brother could easily be offended if he saw you or I entering a bar for example – his past experiences with the “bar lifestyle” might have had everything to do with the destruction of his marriage, family and career. Perhaps my only past experience with alcohol had to do with a glass of beer at dinner with my family. Is it “wrong” to have a beer with your parents at dinner? Perhaps not – for you, it may simply part of wholesome fellowship. Is it “wrong” if you offend your brother in Christ while participating in this activity? Yes – because you have used your “Christian liberty” in a way that has caused another man to stumble. I use the example of “the bar”, not because it is the biggest or most pressing issue facing us in this discussion but because it is an easy one. Consider this however – “It is not for kings, O Lemuel – not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” (Proverbs 31:4-7)

With regards to not “judging” your brother in Christ – we see here the flip side of not offending your brother. If you know that a friend of yours is in the habit of having a glass of wine with his wife on special occasions, you should be mature enough in Christ to not judge him for his choice of behavior. You will notice that I have deliberately chosen a “grey area” like having a glass of wine – I have not chosen an obvious, blatant sin like drinking too much and thereby losing proper judgment.

Here’s a question for you however – If the Holy Spirit communicates with us through our minds, and we dull our minds with a prescription drug, alcohol, or some street drug, will this impair our ability to hear the voice of the Spirit? You see, some of these things are obviously wrong and when the Bible calls something a sin, we should too. Failing to do so is the equivalent of not looking out for our brothers’ interests. No, judging one another for “petty” things is wrong but judging ourselves for issues that lead to death or for things that distance us from God is a responsible, Christian thing to do.

Questions:

1. Give other examples of issues that could be “ok” for one person but might “offend” another.
2. Give an example of a time when the Holy Spirit instructed you to do or not to do something because of not “offending” a fellow Christian.

A 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.

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