Understanding God’s plan

One of the things I think it is vitally important for us all to do, is understand God’s plan for our salvation.

In the Bible reading plan below you will gain an understanding of how God’s heart has been to bring us all back to Himself right from the moment sin entered the world. It has 14 readings that can be done once per day. By the end of this time you should have an understanding of all God has done and all He wants to do….

Two weeks on God’s plan for our salvation

Day 1 – Genesis 3:1-24 – The first sin creates a need
Day 2 – Isaiah 52:1-15 – Salvation is prophesised
Day 3 – Isaiah 53:1-12 – The suffering servant
Day 4 – Luke 15:1-32 – Three stories about God’s love
Day 5 – John 3:1-36 – Jesus explains being born again
Day 6 – John 10:1-42 – The Good Shepherd
Day 7 – Acts 8:1-40 – Conversions spread outside the Jews
Day 8 – Acts 26:1-32 – Paul tells his life story to a king
Day 9 – Romans 3:1-31 – God’s provision for sin
Day 10 – Romans 5:1-21 – Peace with God
Day 11 – Galatians 3:1-29 – Salvation can’t be found in obeying the law
Day 12 – Ephesians 2:1-22 – The new life in Christ
Day 13- 1 Peter 1:1-25 – Future rewards of Salvation
Day 14 – 2 Peter 1:1-21 – Making sure of your salvation

Once you have completed these readings, I would encourage you to visit my “Finding Salvation” page.

Really, really forgiven

One of the great things I was reminded of afresh today is that as Christians we are really, really forgiven. When we come to Christ and confess our sins to God, God forgives us of all the wrongs we have done. Every single thing…no matter how bad.

I was reminded of this as my wife and I were listening to a Casting Crowns CD earlier today. One of the songs “East to west” talks about knowing that God castes our confessed sins as far as east is from west. It goes on to say that now we stand before God as though we never sinned.

This thought comes from Psalm 103:12 where it says, “…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us”. This is such a great thought to be able to walk in that freedom. Knowing all the wrong things you have done has been wiped clean!

Another verse that touches on this is Isaiah 1:18. It says, “”Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool”.

Though our sins are red as crimson, they will be like white, clean snow. That is absolutely amazing. God’s grace and favour towards us is incredible. I think this thought is worth dwelling on today.

No matter we have done, if we genuinely come to Christ and ask God’s forgiveness, He is faithful and just and will always forgive us. Really, really forgive us (1 John 1:9).

God Bless,

Dave

The Bible confronts me

One of the things the Bible does to me every now and then is it confronts me. It confronts my heart attitudes and thoughts about life and about others.

One verse that can be confronting is the one that was BibleGateway.com’s verse of the day yesterday. It says…

“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. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20-21)

It is pretty straight forward and to the point to say the least. It doesn’t send any mixed messages or you don’t need a Bible commentary to understand it!

For me, I am glad the Bible does have this confrontation aspect to it. It challenges me and my attitudes that I hold at times like it says in Hebrews 4:12.

I always try to remember though, that this challenge is for my own God and it is always about keeping me on track with God and right with those around me.

How about you? Have you found the Bible is confronting at times?

God Bless,

Dave

The Bible ties together

I love the way the Bible ties together prophetically. By this I mean that what a prophet said 600-800 years before actually takes place. This happens many times in the New Testament in relation to Jesus and the things that happened in His life.

I was reminded of this today as I read todays reading (Matthew 27:1-66) about Judas Iscariot and the thirty peices of silver he received from Chief Priests for betraying Jesus.

In verse 3 of chapter 27 we see that, “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders”.

It goes on to say in verses 6-7 that, “The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.”

Verses 9-10 tells us that “…what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me”.

I find it amazing that how much of the Bible ties in together. So many prophecies spoken hundreds of years before actually took place. There are 300 alone about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus!

For me, this prophetic tie in is just one of the reasons why I believe the Bible is the Word of God. There are just too many ocassions where what was said by God through a prophet actually came to pass many hundreds of years later.

God Bless,

Dave

People of the Bible book

One of the books I refer to quite often these days is the Essential Bible Reference booklet titled, “People of the Bible”.

It has 31 fully illustrated pages and looks at 230 people in total. It is divided in a number of major headings like the first families, Egypt, the Judges, the first Kings, the Prophets, people in the Gospels, Jesus’ friends and foes, the first Christians and Paul and his circle.

Some of the people have a simple one paragraph description about them and the Bible references where their full story is found. While others who would be considered major Bible characters might have three to four paragraphs and the Bible references.

I have found it very useful for when I want a quick overview of some of the major people of the Bible and where their story is found. And being only $2.95 at Koorong it is very cheap too! If you are interested, you can find it here.

God Bless,

Dave

Paul’s contrasts and living by the Spirit

I love the way Paul was easy to understand when talking about the way we should live as Christians. He often described how not to live and then described how we should desire to live. Galatians chapter five is a classic example of this. Paul talks about living by the sinful nature and contrasts this to someone living by the Spirit.

Paul says in verses 19-21, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like”.

Then is verses 22-23 he then describes the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”.
From these two examples we can see very easily the right way to live. It is very plain and simple to understand. So how do we live by the Spirit if we have been struggling with our sinful nature? There are two things we can introduce into our lives that will slowly change us.

1. Read about Jesus – I have found that when I read about Jesus in the Gospels (The Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) I am inspired by His life. Something happens to my heart when I read and reflect on His life. It softens and I start to see the world through His eyes and not my own. I see my life in light of eternity and not just the here and now. And I see people as God’s children whom He loves dearly. My life becomes more outward focussed.

2. Pray – when I pray and make my connection with God I become more in tune with the Holy Spirit. As I become more in tune with the Spirit good fruit starts to flow in my life. Things like selfish ambition, rage, jealousy, envy and hatred are slowly replaced by love, kindness, gentleness and self control. A transformation happens to me from inside out. Steams of living water pour out as it talks about in John 7:38.

Of course none of us are perfect and we all have times were we display the bad habits that Paul talked about in the first passage. But if we are growing closer to God and living by the Spirit over time, these should be slowly replaced and rear their ugly heads a lot less often.

God Bless,

Dave

Confirmations that Jesus was the Messiah part 2

In the third reading (Mark 1:1-45) of the “Two weeks in the life and Teachings of Jesus” Bible reading plan, we see that there was another confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for.

In verses 9-11 we see that Jesus has gone down to the Jordan to be baptised by John the Baptist. The passage says that as, “Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

God the Father spoke from heaven and gave approval to His Son Jesus. Combine this with the Angel’s announcement to the shepherds, the heavenly hosts singing praises, and two godly people Simeon and Anna in the Temple, we can conclude that Jesus was definitely the Messiah the Jews were expecting.

Confirmations that Jesus was the Messiah

I was just looking at the second reading (Luke 2:1-52) in the “Two weeks in the life and Teachings of Jesus” Bible reading plan I put on my website last week. In this reading we really see how God confirmed Jesus was the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for. There were a number of people and heavenly beings that were mentioned in this passage.

1. Angels and heavenly hosts – in verses 8 & 9 we see Angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields telling them about birth of the Messiah. Then they were joined by a heavenly host singing praises about Jesus. God used heavenly beings as part of the confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah.

2. Simeon – when Jesus was eight days old He was taken to the Temple (v21). The passage tells us that Simeon, who was a devout Jew who lived in Jerusalem, was told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he saw the Messiah (v26). When he saw Jesus in Mary’s arms, he recognised Him as the Messiah and sang his song of peace and joy which is still sung in many churches today.

3. Anna – Anna was an elderly prophetess who spent all of her time in the Temple praying to and praising God. As soon as she saw the baby Jesus she recognised who He was. The passage tells us that she told everyone about God’s coming salvation and redemption (v38). God used prophets to tell of Jesus’ coming and He used a prophet to confirm Jesus was the Messiah.

Zecheriah and Mary’s reactions

In Luke 1:1-80 we read about the news of the coming Messiah and of the one who would announce his arrival – John.

We see that an Angel appears to Zecheriah in the Temple to tell him about the birth of John and how he would be great in the sight of God. Then a number of months later we see an Angel appears to Mary to tell her she would carry the Messiah.

The thing that really jumped out at me in these passages is the reactions of Zecheriah and Mary.

In verse 18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” He questioned what was said, even though there was an Angel standing in front of him! His question seemed to have doubt attached to it. He wondered if it could really happen because it didn’t normally happen to people of their age.

Contrast this with Mary’s question in verse 34. “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” Mary’s question was more about the logistics of how it would happen. Not if it would happen. After the Angel explains it she says, “I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said.”

As the story unfolds we see that both things happened just as the Angel had told them they would. As the Angel told Mary in verse 37, “Nothing is impossible to God”.

For us as Christians today we can have similar responses to the things God speaks to us about doing. We can question and wonder if things will happen because we are looking to the natural like Zecheriah. Or we can question in faith asking how this will happen like Mary.

Let’s all purpose in our hearts today to respond in faith to the things God says He is going to do in our lives to be blessing to those around us.

God Bless,

Dave