Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tuesday, December 6th: Philippians 1-4 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Philippians 1-4

Are we happy or are we joyful?

Happiness is dependent on our circumstances but joy is based on the quiet, confident assurance of God’s love & work in our lives.

Reading through the book of Philippians, it is evident the joy that Paul had in his life. If we consider his circumstances (the time he spent in prison, beaten, starving, shipwrecked & the list goes on) we would wonder how anyone could go through that & still be happy. I can't imagine that he really was at those times, but he found joy in every situation knowing that he was where God needed him to be & that God was with him. He learned to be content, focusing his energy on Christ & obeying him.

Verses like “For me, to live is Christ & to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) & “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20) speak of his focus. He had a single purpose here (to spread the word of God), but he had an eternal goal (heaven) which he longed for with all his heart. He couldn't be affected by what happened to him on earth because he was so confident in Christ.

To be so in tune with God, that no matter what is going on around us, we have peace, contentment & even joy.

Philippians 4:12-13
I know what it is to be in need, & I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any & every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

We can face every situation in life & know peace & even joy during those times.

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer & petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts & your minds in Christ Jesus.

In everything, with thanksgiving, go to God. God is in control.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  1 Timothy 1-3

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday, December 5,2016: Ephesians 4-6

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ephesians 4-6

A few things jumped out for me from today's readings:

from verse 4:15

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

We are, as Christians,  to speak the truth. If we believe what the Bible says, then some things that society has professed as true are not true. However, I think the key words in this verse are "in love". I think too often Christians come across as judgemental and thinking/acting that they are above someone just because they sin differently. We are to grow to be like Christ and to encourage others to do likewise but admitting our own faults and shortcomings and show compassion and love as Christ does to us.

from verse 4:24

 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

We become a new creation in Christ. When I read this verse, it made me think of the renovation Conrad and I are doing. As we work we put on old clothes and are not really worried about them getting ripped or stained as we work. However, we don't wear those clothes in public. We put on new clothes and clean clothes and we don't want those clothes to get wrecked. Likewise, our lives and our actions should change too and we should try not to "stain" our lives after we receive a new one.

from verse 5: 1-2

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I've been following this company's instagram page for quite some time now. Their mission is: Walk in love. is dedicated to selling well-designed, high quality t-shirts with a positive and inspiring message. That message is a reminder to imitate God by loving others every chance we get - no strings attached. We believe that Jesus came and showed us how to be that message.  We want you to walk in love.

How we live our lives IS a reflection of who we are in Christ. I know I don't always walk in love. I like also how it says WALK in love. It doesn't say stand still in love, or lie down in love, or even run in love. We are told to walk...not to miss anything and show love as we go along our lives.

from verse 5: 18
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

Kaden's hockey team had a parent's party this weekend. Conrad and I made an appearance at the beginning of the party but have little interest in all of the alcohol consumption that goes on during these kinds of events. Neither of us grew up in homes that drank at all and we just don't feel the need to participate in behaviour that could have such disastrous consequences. Many of Kaden's friends have already been drinking and that kind of lifestyle is just not one we are very familiar with. When people can't remember what happened the night before or choose to drive after drinking or a whole host of bad choices that come from alcohol clouding good judgement it's no surprise that the bible warns us about getting drunk.

from verse 5: 22 - 25

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

So many people have such a difficult time with these verses. This is how God designed marriage. It is counter cultural to what society thinks about how husbands and wives should be. Marriage by design is a partnership with each partner having their own unique roles.

from verse 6: 1 & 4

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 
 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Everyone seems to know verse 1 but I think verse 4 is just as important. As parents we should be consistent and set out clear expectations and consequences so that kids know what they need to do and what will happen if they don't do it.

from verse 6: 10-17

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 

We can't go into battle without the right equipment. God has given us everything we needed.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Philipians 1-4

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday, December 4th: Ephesians 1-3~ Jay

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is; Ephesians 1-3

A few of the key thoughts that struck me from today's passage. It provides a clear perspective on salvation and so much more.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
This is one of those passages that causes much theological debate and discussion....sorry to disappoint but I will not try to grapple with the theologians on this one- but rather I look at this from a personal perspective. How impactful is it when I think about the fact that God foresaw some purpose in me....to chose me to be His son.  This causes me to pause and ask several key questions. Do I believe I am set apart and chosen for a special purpose / calling? Am I open to God's leading- when He directs me towards the actions required to fulfill this special purpose? Am I daily asking Him to reveal opportunities to be used by Him? 

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f]of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
Imagine if we truly knew and understood how powerful our God is? Powerful enough to raise Christ from the dead, well after he was sealed away physically in a tomb.  Just as Paul prayed for the believers that they would be enlightened, we too should follow this same example and not only ask that God reveal himself to us, but also pray for wisdom and understanding for our children and fellow believers. In my mind, it should not stop at simply requesting this through prayer, but I must take action and invest time in order to better know Him. 

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins...For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Many people get caught up in looking at their neighbor and comparing the "good" they do vs the relative evil of everyone else.  Somehow thinking that on the heavenly "grading bell curve" they will make it to heaven. This passage makes it very clear. No individuals "goodness" is good enough! It is only by God's grace that we have the gift of salvation...it was accomplished at the cross but we still must accept the gift. Once we have accepted the gift, our motivation for doing good for others should come from a heart that has been transformed...always with a focus on the giver of the gift (God) and not on our own ambitions.

Continued thankfulness for the gift of salvation along with the openness of mind to be utilized for God's special calling / purpose are key take-aways for me from this passage.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Ephesians 4-6

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday, December 3rd: Philemon 1, Colossians 1-4 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Philemon 1, Colossians 1-4

I feel like we're flying through some of these NT passages and that there are so many verses that jumped out at me or made me want to dig a little deeper.

The one that hit me the most today was Colossians 4:5-6
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

"make the most of every opportunity"

This phrase in particular jumped out at me.  So often, we pray for God to give us opportunities to use us to spread the gospel to those around us.  But I think the reality is that He's giving us plenty of opportunities - we're just not making the most of them!

Do we really want those opportunities?  Because I think they're around us every day, we just don't really want to notice.

Maybe we're afraid to speak up.
Maybe we think we don't have enough Bible knowledge to be able to answer questions they might ask if we steer the conversation in a spiritual direction.
Maybe we don't want to be labelled a "Jesus freak".
Maybe we're too busy and don't have time.
Maybe we just don't feel like it.

Quite frankly, maybe we're making excuses instead of making the most of the opportunities God's putting right in front of us.

I think I need to change my prayer to.....
Lord, thank you for the opportunities you give me every day to bring glory to Your name and to share the Good News with those around me.  Give me the eyes to see those opportunities, Your heart for the lost around me, the courage and willingness to take the time to make the most of those opportunities, and the determination to live my life so that my walk matches my talk, relying on Your power to do so.  Amen.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Ephesians 1-3

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday, December 2nd: Acts 27-28 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Acts 27-28

"He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!" Acts 28:30

Our journey through the book of Acts has illustrated for us how the gospel message was spread; beginning in Jerusalem and eventually making its way to Rome.  The Jews were the first recipients of the Good News, but the message of salvation was also extended to the Gentiles.  The Holy Spirit directed the worldwide mission of the church through this journey, and today the Holy spirit still uses men and women to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.

"The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land."
Acts 27:42-43

This reminded me of a Survivor episode.  Just when someone is on the verge of being voted off the island, somehow they find a crack in the top alliance and live for a few more days.  Paul's future looked gloomy, but because God needed Paul around to spread the gospel, his life was spared.   

Paul placed his faith in God, and received courage when it was needed.  Paul recognized what God had done, and thanked Him for how He protected and provided for him.  This passage was a good reminder for me to remember to place my trust in God, and to let Him direct my paths.  If I want to be on God's ship, I need to give Him control of the sail and to listen to Him so I know what direction to head, or to know if it's time to let the anchor down.  

God is in charge of His church, and despite the evil forces that are attempting to destroy it, He will prevail!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Philemon 1, Colossians 1-4

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thursday, December 1st: Acts 24-26 ~ Jeannine

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Acts 24-26

Paul shows incredible patience and endurance in these chapters. Can you imagine being accused of something because a group of people takes offense to the things you are preaching? They accused him of all kinds of things and Paul's response is to calmly speak the truth of what he had done. Then he's thrown in jail and kept there without proper trial or reason for 2 years because he doesn't offer a bribe and the leader wants to win some seats at the election. After two years of sitting in prison waiting for a trial the accusers are still out to get him. Then a new leader comes to the throne and he sees this situation as quite perplexing and is unsure of what to do.

"When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in. When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. I was at a loss how to investigate such matters." Act 25:17-20a

Can you feel his confusion? Here is a man that has been held for 2 years in prison and when Festus finds out what Paul's being accused of he can't understand why this man has been kept here for so long and has no idea of how to investigate any of these accusations.

So he involves King Agrippa and proceeds to tell the court of his confusion.

"The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. I found he had done nothing deserving of death." Acts 25:24b

King Agrippa then asks Paul to speak for himself. And Paul takes this opportunity to witness to the King and his court. He speaks freely and boldly, challenging them very directly. And I love King Agrippa's question at the end of chapter 26 and Paul's response.

Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" Paul replied, "Short time or long-I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains." Acts 26:28-29

"Short or long" Paul says. His heart is truly shown here. Paul is more worried about the salvation of these people than he was about his own freedom.

And then in the final verse I can just picture Agrippa leaning over and whispering to Festus that Paul was innocent of the charges.

Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar." Act. 26:32

Paul had spent all of this time in prison on bogus charges, falsely accused and what does he spend his time doing? Evangelizing.

Have you ever been wrongly accused? I have and I didn't find it easy to let go. I wanted people to know the truth and believe me. It took a long time for me to get past it and realize that people will believe what they want to believe about me no matter how much I protest. It's a waste of our time and energy trying to prove ourselves right or innocent. Paul took his chances to speak the truth of the accusations but his focus and concern was only for the salvation of others and not his reputation and freedom. We can learn a lot from his example.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Acts 27-28

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday, November 30th: Acts 21 - 23 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Acts 21-23

Acts 21:30
The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut.

Obviously the people of Jerusalem were wrong in how they treated Paul, in the passion they showed against him, they ran from all directions to get at and seize Paul.

But what if we had the same passion the people of Jerusalem had, but in an opposite way, in a way for God and His will? Would I be willing to leave my job, or what I'm doing, and run over to help someone who needs help, because I love God, and want to see His kingdom grow?

As we read further on, the people of Jerusalem had a hard time with a man like Paul coming in and teaching a "new way", they preferred to keep going with their old traditions, even though they were flawed in many ways.

Acts 23:20-21
He said: “Some Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. [21] Don’t give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.”

God protected Paul, by using his nephew to deliver this message to the commander, who then transferred Paul safely away, and to be dealt with by the governor. Paul wasn't free and clear at this point, but was saved from the immediate danger. In a sense he lived to fight another day.

Sometimes we need help to get through a tough time, this won't mean there won't be more tough times ahead, but we need to be happy and give thanks that we were helped to get through the immediate danger in front of us. Praying and trusting in God is the only way. Trusting in people only, will lead to ruin.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Acts 24-26

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday, November 29th: Romans 15-16, Acts 20:4-38 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Romans 15-16, Acts 20:4-38

“…be wise about what is good, & innocent about what is evil.” – Romans 16:19

This is something that has been a part of conversations with the girls in a Bible study that I'm doing. We have been reading a book/study that we don't completely agree with, some of us more than others. That being said, it has definitely brought about some interesting discussions.

We have discussed not putting God “into a box” in our ideas of who he is & being open to considering others’ views. While I agree with this, we do have to continually check these views against what the Bible says.

Romans 16:17-18
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions & put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk & flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.

One of the biggest concerns that I have for myself & my children is that we will recognize God’s truth. It can be a difficult thing, especially when we are even warned in the Bible that deception will come from within (2 Corinthians 11:13-For such men are false prophets, deceitful workman, masquerading as apostles of Christ) & that many can take a couple verses of the Bible to twist them in a way to satisfy their own fleshy desires while make convincing arguments .

I was wrestling with this & wondering how someone like me (not a deep intellect, not a seminary student; just the average person) can determine if something is really God’s truth or not.  And then it hit me, “faith like a child.”  God didn't make the Bible hard to understand & if I or anyone needs to spend days/months/years trying to find the right verses & the right translation from Greek or Hebrew to prove a point, it's probably pretty far off base.

Along with that, where's my heart at.  Do I search the Bible to find the answer that satisfies me or am I seeking God's way?

Lord Jesus, thank you for your word that you have given us to follow. Even more than that, I thank you for your Spirit within us that will guide our way.  Help us to truly hear you & seek you; to not twist your words to but to recognize your truth. We live in a time where there is so much division even within Christians & churches & we need to seek you more than ever. Give us a clarity & understanding of what is right in this mixed up, deceiving world.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Acts 21-23

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday, November 28th: Romans 12-14 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Romans 12-14

It didn't take me long to hit a "stand out" verse in our passage today.

12:1-2 And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b] 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Why do we submit our bodies to God, striving to live in a way that honours and glorifies Him?  Out of thankfulness for what He has done for us.  As an act of worship.  As an outflow of a heart that has been miraculously changed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  We will be different than the world.  We must be.  If we are not, it is time for some serious self-reflection!

Then I made it all the way to v3.... Because of the privilege and authority[c] God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

We need to take stock of our lives, but if we're being honest about that and we're continuing to grow in the knowledge of God and His holiness - we will always be humble enough to know that no matter how far we've come, we still have so far to go!

I feel like I could highlight all of chapter 12!

We are to use the gifts God has given us for His glory, no matter what those gifts are.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection,[e] and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.[f] 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
Is anyone else feeling convicted while reading this chapter?!  What a reminder that I still have so far to go!

Chapter 14 is quite pertinent to the subject of alcohol and the believer.  I actually just re-read an article by Tim Challies about this very subject today - if you have time, check it out.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Romans 15-16, Acts 20:4-38

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday, November 27th - Romans 8 - 11 - Kelora

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Romans 8-11

Out of the 3 chapters that I read Romans 8 stood out the most for me.  I will mention a few things that I learned while reading this particular chapter.

The verses in Romans 8 gives us hope.  Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins in order that we might have eternal life.  By accepting Jesus as our Saviour we receive the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit is in work in us we will want to serve God and do His Will.  In Romans 8:16-17 "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."  I love the part that says we are God's children.  What a wonderful verse.  Being God's children, God has shared some of his treasures with us like His Son, forgiveness and eternal life.  Knowing that God loves us that much is so amazing.  

Another 2 verses that stood out for me is  Romans 8:26-27.  "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."  I love the fact that when I don't always know what to say when praying or how to ask for help that Jesus will still understand our needs and know our hearts as the Spirit will intercede for us.  

While reading verse 28 in Romans 8 I looked at the notes in my Life Application Bible to see what it had to say and it reminded me that God works for our good but this doesn't necessarily mean that everything happens to us is good.  It is hard sometimes to think that God works for our good when something bad happens but when looking back, these circumstances can be seen as God fulfilling His plan.  It's not easy in the moment to remember that God is in control.

Finally, in verses 38 & 29 we are given a wonderful promise that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  No matter what happens we can always know that God loves us and that nothing can take that away from us.  

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Romans 12-14