Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Month: October 2018 (Page 1 of 7)

I don’t like discipline!

October 31 – Today’s Readings – Hebrews 12-13

As usual, I have to limit myself to a very small portion of these two chapters. My head is swimming with all the amazing teaching this book provides. Let’s focus on chapter 12:5-11; “‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

This is a topic rarely spoken of in a society that does not tolerate discomfort well. We have “Tylenol” – and other products to take away even the mildest of physical pains. We have counselors and psychiatrists who do their best to sooth our souls. We have sleeping pills and comfy massage chairs to help our bodies feel great. We go to spas and make sure we only buy “specialty” coffees. Pain? Discomfort? Hardship? NO THANKS! Yet these verses send a clear message – God uses hardship to “discipline us for our good, that we may share in his holiness…It produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Do we want holiness, righteousness and peace in our lives? Of course we do. Yet any time hardship comes along we want to rebuke the Devil instead of looking for a growth opportunity with Jesus. Don’t misunderstand me – some kinds of difficulties are not from God and some are most definitely caused because we live in a “sick” world. Other times however – [you will know by the Spirit] – the difficulties are there to help you grow in holiness. God gets our attention through “discipline” at times. Scripture says if He didn’t discipline us we would not be His kids. Hardship and discipline are not pleasant but they do help us grow if we don’t get bitter.

I’m going to keep taking Tylenol when I have an ache but I’m also going to have an ear tuned to the Father whenever I’m faced with something that requires discomfort on my part. Sometimes it’s His voice that will make me uncomfortable and sometimes it will be a circumstance I find myself in. If it causes me to grow in God then good for me! It means I’m a son.

Questions:

1. Give an example from your life when God used a difficult situation to help you grow.
2. Give a Bible example of someone who went through hardship but grew in the Lord because of it.

Sinners And Saints

October 30 – Today’s Readings Hebrews 10-11 and Psalms 120

I would like to outline a theological point for you this morning. Have you ever thought of yourself as “perfect”? If the answer is yes, then I venture other people would consider you deluded, conceited and very much deceived. Consider this however – according to the author of Hebrews – you ARE perfect!

Hebrews 10:14 reads, “Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”

The “sacrifice” being referred to is of course the sacrifice of Jesus. It was He who made us faultless in God’s sight. When we trusted in His sacrifice for our sins, we became “holy” – perfect in His sight. Now we know that in heaven there is no sin and we also understand that no human can enter God’s presence if they have sin in their lives. It’s sin that separates us from God. When we remain “in the faith” however, we are deemed to be “clean” in His sight.

Here is the difficulty. Theologically speaking we now know that we are made perfect in Christ but from a human perspective we have all kinds of shortcomings in our lives. How do we reconcile these two realities?

1 John 1:8-10 says; “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

So – I am both “a sinner” and “a saint”. I have hundreds of shortcomings in my life – yet because I am “clothed in Christ” I am holy and without sin. How does this work itself out in a practical fashion? As I walk in The Holy Spirit, He speaks to me hour by hour – minute by minute. He convicts me of sin – I confess my sin to Him – and turn from it. This is a constant activity because I am being conformed into the image of Christ. Hour by hour and day by day I am constantly returning to holiness. All of this happens, however, under the covering of Christ who allows me to be a Son of God and who allows me access to the presence of Almighty God.

Does all this still not make sense? Then relax and know that Holy Scripture is full of “circular” thinking. God is full of grace yet full of justice. God is going to judge the world yet He loves the world. You know that salvation all depends on God yet we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”. None of these things are in conflict when you read and begin to understand “God thought”. So – You are Holy – Perfect – Righteous – A saint in God’s sight!!

Questions:

1. God’s character is incredibly complex! Give other examples of how God has one attribute, yet also possesses “the other side of the coin”.
2. Give an example from Scripture where God said one thing then ended up doing another – [think Jonah, Abraham etc.]

Living According To The Word

October 29 – Today’s Reading – Psalms 119

Previously, on April 28, I sent out an overview of all that the Word of God actively accomplishes in our lives – the way it keeps us on track and the power it brings to the life of a believer. Today I want to focus in on a small portion of Psalm 119. Verses: 9-11; “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Here is a secret that many Christians have not tapped into. This psalmist had a desire to live for God. He didn’t want anything to get in the way, so he implemented a “spiritual discipline” in his life. It takes effort to read and meditate on the Word of God so that it gets into your heart. It also takes spiritual discipline to set time aside to pray consistently. I have found that I do some of my best daily praying when I walk or ride my bike by the river because my mind and lips are free of distractions and I can focus on worship and intercession along with exercise and experiencing closeness to God. Having said that, there is also a need for extended “intimacy” times with the Lord – time set aside purposefully to do nothing else but wait on God. Extended Church worship and prayer encounters are excellent venues for this kind of prayer. Quiet meditative times, reading and praying are also a marvellous way to draw near to Him once again.

We can’t expect to know the Word if we only listen to a sermon every two weeks, nor can we expect to know God’s voice if we never stop and listen to Him. It’s amazing how God’s Word is “hidden in our hearts” when we make it a priority – when we invest the time to know it and understand it. I never worry too much about the things I don’t fully understand from the Word. It’s the things I really do understand and don’t put into practice that concern me. This is where seeking the Lord with all my heart comes into play. Reading the Word without seeking God, the Holy Spirit, for proper application in our lives is like hiring a researcher to tell me all about my wife without ever speaking to her directly. I could know where she works, her family background, what her income is, where she goes to church, how many children she has…etc. All of this information would not matter a hill of beans if I never spoke to her and discovered her HEART. This is where reading, meditating on the Word and speaking with Him is a combination that will keep us from wandering and will help to keep our way pure.

I know I’m preaching to the choir when I challenge you to read to Word but I need to encourage you – “You are on the right track!” Remember, however that the Word without the Spirit won’t spark the life in you that you desire. Keep praying over the Word and you will see things that will change your life. You will receive strength and anointing to stand up and say, “enough is enough” – and to live the way The Lord directs you.

“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.”

Questions:

1. Tell of an instance in the Word of God where someone read the It, applied It and had a transforming experience.
2. Tell of a time when God clearly spoke to you from the pages of the Bible.

The “Will And Testament” of God

October 28 – Today’s Readings – Hebrews 7-9 and Psalms 118

A “will” – a “covenant” – a “testament” – a “bequest” – all these words are interrelated and have great meaning for our lives. We are living in the days of the New Testament. We are in the New Covenant. Jesus has written His Will and you’re in it! God the Father has bequeathed great things to you!

Years ago Linda and I went to the lawyer and asked him to write up our will. When we received it from him, it was titled “The Last Will and Testament”. My portion of this document consisted of a one-way covenant with my wife, my children and others – telling them, in part, what I wished to bequeath to them. This document concerned the disbursement of all my earthly goods, which were to be allocated to people or charities in a certain manner. The “testament” of my “will” would not come into effect till after my death.

Jesus, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, also wrote up a “last will and testament”. We routinely call it the New Testament. It is God’s covenant with us, and for the most part it is a one-way contract. The only part we have to play in receiving all that there is in “the will” is to believe it to be true and to remain in good relationship with the Author of that will. In other words, God does not bequeath all He has to someone who does not have a relationship with Him.

There is one thing – God also expects us to not hoard His incredible inheritance to ourselves. We are required to give it away! Do you ever wonder why Jesus was willing to die? It was because the New Covenant (His Will) could not come into effect till after He died. When He returns in glory, the entire covenant He made with us will be brought to fulfillment. At this moment we are named heirs to a wonderful inheritance that we can do nothing to earn. Furthermore, this covenant is to be “preached” in the entire world so that many can enjoy the limitless blessings of God. This is the greatest news mankind could ever receive – that people can be children of God – at peace with their maker – and inheritors of the greatest treasure of all.

“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:10-12)

As an aside – do you ever wonder whether “tithing” [giving 10% of our income] is a New Testament practice? Re-read and meditate on Hebrews 6:20 – 7:16 and see what the Spirit speaks to you about – I dare you!

Questions:

1. What things are in our heavenly Father’s “will”?
2. Which of these things can we access right away?
3. Which of these things will we have to wait on till we see Him face to face?
4. Did you re-read Hebrews 6:20-7:16? What does this say about tithing?

The Fourth Commandment

October 27 – Today’s Readings – Hebrews 4-6 and Psalms 117

Hebrews 4:1 & 3 read, “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it…Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, ‘So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.”

This teaching puts a New Testament spin on the fourth Commandment found in Deuteronomy 5:12-15 -“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”

Now, skip back to Hebrews 4:3 with me – “Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, ‘So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.”

Here in Hebrews we find a much broader and deeper meaning of the Sabbath of God. It is linked directly to faith and obedience for us who believe. We keep the Sabbath by being at peace with God, not by following a rule that may become only a source of guilt or legalism. When we have been forgiven and receive the grace of God we obey only one master – the Lord whom we follow. Is it still a good thing to take a day off? Is it still wise to regularly gather as one body to worship? Is it still advisable to unwind and have time for family and friends? Of course it is, because these things are all essential and should be the habits of mentally balanced and spiritually healthy Christians. Let us never become so “free” in Jesus that we ignore the wisdom of time management and “Sabbath” in our lives.

This is of special importance when it comes to living in a region where it is possible to work seven days a week – twelve hours a day on some jobs. Of course you can do it but you will destroy all that is most precious to you along the way! Concerning the Sabbath however – there is nothing on earth like being at peace and at rest with God. To live for Him and to do your best with human relationships – this is what the Sabbath is really made of.

“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” [Matthew 12:8]

Questions:

1. Give a simple definition of the New Testament “Sabbath”.
2. Tell how you can incorporate some positive Old Testament aspect of the Sabbath to your life in order to live a healthy and spiritually focused life.

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