Paul’s concluding exhortations

One of the things I have really noticed while reading the Bible this year is the amount of good teaching and reminders that it has in the closing chapters of each book of the Bible.

In Hebrews chapter 13 the writer has some great advice to the Hebrew people and for us today.

v1 – Keep on loving each other as brothers.

v2 – Don’t forget to keep entertaining strangers.

v3 – Remember those who are in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners.

v4 –  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure.

v5 – Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.

v6 – The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.

v7 – Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

v8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

In these eight short verses there is some great reminders for us today. It is about loving and caring for each other, living right, being content, trusting God, remembering your leaders and the great truth that Jesus never changes.

There is some great stuff in there to ponder as we go about our lives today!

God Bless,
Dave

The Roman Soldiers faith

In Matthew 8:5-13 there is an interesting passage that looks at the faith displayed by a Roman soldier or the centurion as he is sometimes known.

I find there are two things really interesting in this passage.

1. The Centurion understands the authority of Jesus – as a soldier under command we see that he knew and understood authority and the power of the order. He knew that just as a General doesn’t have to be present for the order to be accepted, Jesus didn’t have to be present for his servant to be healed. He knew Jesus had the power to heal his servant and that he would be made well by Jesus’ command from a distance.

2. Jesus included him in the Kingdom because of his faith – up until this point in time the Jewish nation of people (or Israelites) thought they were the only ones who would eat at the great feast in heaven. However Jesus says that many will come from all ends of the earth who are Gentiles (non Jews) and eat. He goes on to say that some in the House of Israel will miss out. No longer is the issue about birth or race, it becomes about faith in Christ and believing in who He is.

In this passage Jesus opens it up for all to come in to Him in faith. It doesn’t matter where you were born, it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter if your family is a family of faith. You can come to Him, find salvation and eat at the great feast in heaven that is promised to all those who believe.

God Bless,
Dave

Transformation by Word & Spirit

In my morning devotions this morning I was reflecting on the way that God changes our lives over time. Our old habits and attitudes slowly fall away and good deeds start to flow. As I was thinking about this I was thinking of two ways this process happens.

1. The Word of God – the Bible has a way of transforming our thinking. As Hebrews 4:12 says it cuts to the heart of things and shows us where we are wrong. But it doesn’t leave us all condemned, it gives hope and forgiveness and shows us the right way to think and live. Time spent reflectively in God’s Word brings godly change.

2. The Spirit of God – God’s Holy Spirit helps to transform us inwardly. When we come to Christ the Holy Spirit resides in us (Romans 8:11, 1 Corinthians 6:19, John 14:16-17) and He helps us to change. Day by day we are transformed inwardly (2 Corinthians 4:16) and we are changed into the likeness of Christ.

So the Word of God and the Spirit of God work hand in hand. As we spend time in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit teaches, changes and strengthens us to become the people God intended us to be all along.

Let’s purpose to spend time in God’s Word and allow the Holy Spirit to bring change to our hearts and minds today. Let’s be a transformed people!

God Bless,

Dave

Listen to Him

I was re-reading the story of the Transfiguration from Matthew 17 recently. The Transfiguration is where Jesus went up the mountain with Peter, James and John and He was changed before them.

Verse two tells us that “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light”. And verse three says that the great Old Testament characters Moses and Elijah appeared.

As I read though, one verse really jumped out at me. Verse five says, “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

This is God the Father approving of His Son Jesus. Just like He did in Matthew 3:17 after Jesus had been baptised by John. Only this time the Father added the words “Listen to Him” at the end.

It is interesting to note that in the following chapters after this Jesus gave another block of teaching. He touched on things like paying taxes, divorce, being merciful, the parable of the lost sheep, the conversation with the rich young man, the Kingdom of Heaven and more.

I had never noticed the extra words “Listen to Him” before. It makes me want to re-read the following chapters and see what pearls of wisdom from God are in there. From the headings you can see they are some of the big issues of life that we need wisdom for!

Perhaps you could do it too? You can find it here on BibleGateway.com.

God Bless,
Dave

Living by the Spirit’s power

In Galatians 5:16-26 there is an interesting passage that is titled, “Living by the Spirit’s power”. In verse 16 Paul sets the scene when he advises us to “let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves”.

Paul then goes on to explain in verse 17 that our sinful nature loves to do evil and that is exactly opposite to what the Holy Spirit wants us to do. He reiterates this thought when he adds that the Spirit’s leadings are opposite to the sinful nature and that there is a constant choice we have to make to do what is right.

In verses 19-23 Paul gives us some examples of both the fruit of the sinful nature and the Fruit of the Spirit. This helps us to see clearly that if we follow the sinful nature we will be involved in sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,  idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,  envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Conversely if we live by the Spirit’s power we will display good fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The thing I like about this passage is Paul makes it very clear which fruit belongs to which nature. This makes it easy to honestly assess how we are going and to see if we are reaping the fruit of our sinful nature or if we are living by the Spirit’s power.

How are you going in your walk with the Lord? Are you walking and living by the Spirit’s power or are you living according to the sinful nature? If you find that you have gotten off track, remember God is always ready to welcome you home, just like He welcomed the Prodigal son home, He ran towards the wayward son and restored Him to the family (Luke 15:11-27).

God Bless,
Dave

When the Trumpet sounds

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

These verses talk about a time when Jesus returns to earth. A loud trumpet will sound that will be heard all over the earth and we will be taken up to be with Jesus forever. In the same way He was taken up to heaven.

Sometimes I try to picture what this event will be like in my mind. Suddenly hearing a trumpet and then rising upwards. Leaving this world behind with all of its troubles and chaos. Sometimes it sounds appealing and I long for it…then I think of those I know who don’t know Christ.

The reality is at any time the trumpet of God could sound. We could be sleeping, driving in our cars, playing sport or typing on a computer like I am now! It could happen today? It could happen in five minutes? It could be years away?

My thought today is are you ready? Do you know Jesus? Do you know when the trumpet sounds that you will be with Him forever? My hope and prayer is that today is the day you will make sure of this.

Please visit my finding salvation page for more information. You can find it here.

God Bless,

Dave