All posts by JT

Christian. Husband. Dad. 911 dispatcher. Baseball fan. Horror nut. Music nerd. Bookworm. Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 113/260: Read Hebrews 13

There is so much practical power packed into just the first five verses of this chapter. Love, hospitality, ministering to the disadvantaged, marriage, and contentment.

“Let brotherly love continue.” Take care of your local church family, and, as opportunities arise, take care of the larger community of believers that you have yet to meet.

“Remembers the prisoners as if chained with them.” The writer does not specify if these prisoners were guilty of some illegal activity, or if they were being “mistreated” because of their devotion to the gospel. In either case, an imprisoned brother should not be neglected. Consider the inspired words of Galatians 6:1, and the Lord’s admonition in Matthew 25:34-40.

“Marriage is honorable among all.” Was that the case in the first century among non-Christians? Is that the case today, even among some in the Lord’s church? The immorality of the culture has sadly affected some in the Lord’s body so that they have become too “conformed to this world” and not “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

Contentment is another issue that causes a struggle for many Christians. We get enamored with things, and it is a difficult impulse to control. Inspiration reminds us, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

These are good, simple, and practical reminders that wrap up the epistle to the Hebrews. “Grace be with you all. Amen.”

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Hebrews 11:6. But without __________ it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must __________ that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Pray

Pray for each other in daily struggles.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 112/260: Read Hebrews 12

The Hebrews, tempted to revert to the Mosaic statutes, were encouraged to look at the suffering of the Lord. He “endured such hostility from sinners,” even to the point of death in the most degrading way. How did He view His suffering? With a view past it: the cross represented shame, but Jesus focused on the joy of sitting “down at the right hand of the throne of God” that would come as a result.

These readers “have not yet resisted to bloodshed,” and should not be discouraged but encouraged by the love and faith and humility of Jesus. Too often we, much like the first century recipients of this letter, view our sufferings with weariness rather than joy, looking only to the temporary pain.

We have “forgotten the exhortation” regarding the chastening of God revealed in Proverbs 3:11-12. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”

It is through the discipline of God that we are made better. Without His guidance, which may come through discipline, we are lost. We cannot save ourselves; only He has that power. Thus we must “not refuse Him who speaks” but endure suffering and at times chastening, for “we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken.”

Memory (Copy into a notebook 5-10 times)

Hebrews 11:6. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Pray

Pray for strength to endure suffering and wisdom to seek correction when disciplined.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 111/260: Read Hebrews 11

Moses’ faith started with his parents, who “were not afraid of the king’s command.” How important is it to raise our children in a godly, righteous, faithful home? Proverbs 22:6 instructs, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Paul commended the genuine faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5), who undoubtedly played a role in Timothy’s knowledge of God’s Word “from childhood” (2 Timothy 3:15).

Moses chose a life of hardship rather than pleasure. Is sin pleasurable? Yes, but as the Scriptures teach here sin is “passing pleasure,” and as inspiration teaches elsewhere, sin leads to an eternal separation from God.

God, through Moses, commanded the Israelites to do a very strange thing in Exodus 12. They must have had some degree of faith as they followed the decree to sprinkle blood on their doorposts to avoid the death wrought upon the firstborn in every family in Egypt. The faith of Moses and the faith of all Israelites who humbled themselves in obedience to that command were spared; still today, those who humble themselves in obedience to the gospel will be saved.

Even if we do not understand the reasons for His commands in the New Testament, by faith we must obey those commands to please Him.

Memory (Read aloud 5-10 times)

Hebrews 11:6. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Pray

Pray for increased faith as you seek to do the will of God as revealed in the Scriptures.

Love Your Enemies (Luke 6:27-36)

Love Your Enemies

Luke 6:27-36

I. A principle of submission

    A. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27; Matthew 5:16)
    B. “Bless those that curse you” (Luke 6:28a)
    C. “Pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:28b; 1 Timothy 2:1-4)

II. The principle applied

    A. “Offer your other [cheek] also” (Luke 6:29a; Romans 12:17-21)
    B. “Give to everyone who asks of you” (Luke 6:29b-30)
    C. The Golden Rule: “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:31; Matthew 7:12)

III. “What credit is that to you?”

    A. Step outside your comfort zone (Luke 6:32-34; Proverbs 25:21-22)
    B. “Your reward will be great” (Luke 6:35; James 4:10)
    C. “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” – show compassion toward those who mistreat you, as they do not yet know the love of God (Luke 6:36; Romans 5:6-11)

Stay Positive

Stay Positive

Philippians 2:14-16

I. Stop trying to please everyone

    A. We must please God (Psalm 147:11; Hebrews 13:15-16; Romans 12:1-2)
    B. This will upset some people (Galatians 1:10)

II. Give up the fear of change

    A. Paul’s attitude toward change (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
    B. The early church’s response to change (Acts 8)

III. Don’t live in the past

    A. Have you been forgiven? (Philippians 3:13-14; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 Peter 2:1-3)
    B. Forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15)

IV. Stop over-thinking and worrying

    A. Seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness (Matthew 6:25-34)
    B. Turn to Him when you struggle (Philippians 4:6-7)

V. Don’t doubt yourself and put yourself down

    A. You are: chosen, royal, and holy! (1 Peter 2:9)
    B. He has given us power, love, and a sound mind! (2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 1:16-17; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:7; Ephesians 3:4; 2 Peter 1:3)

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 110/260: Read Hebrews 10

Based on everything the Hebrews writer revealed, because of the boldness that Christ’s blood provides, by the new and living way, because He is our High Priest, he says, “Let us draw near.” Don’t shrink back, don’t turn to the left or the right, don’t look for salvation anywhere else. “Let us draw near.”

The boldness we have to approach God’s throne is not based on our goodness, or our ability to walk perfectly, though we should strive to please Him in everything we do. Rather, our boldness comes “by the blood of Jesus.” It is His blood that was “shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). It is His blood that “wash(es) away your sins” (Acts 22:16). It is His blood by which “the church of God…He purchased” (Acts 20:28).

Without His blood, we are without forgiveness. Paul wrote that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). If we were forced to compare our actual righteousness to what God has revealed, and we did not have access to the blood of Jesus to cover our shortcomings, any boldness or confidence we might have would be replaced by absolute terror.

Yet, we have the opportunity to approach Him because of the blood of Jesus. “Let us draw near with a true heart.” What a blessing His mercy truly is.

Memory (Recite to a friend without looking)

Hebrews 8:13. In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Pray

Pray with boldness and confidence a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus’ sacrifice, and pray for forgiveness.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 109/260: Read Hebrews 9

Why were the Christian recipients of the Hebrews epistle so intent on going back to the old covenant which had been made obsolete by Christ? Why do so many still today try to run back to a time before the cross to find their doctrine?

We are living under the new covenant, established by Christ at His death (Matthew 26:28). At the time of His death, and not before, that new covenant went into effect. “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.”

While we can learn principles from the incidents recorded from the lives of Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist, and even the thief on the cross, they all died before the new covenant went into effect. We cannot turn to them as examples of specific acts that God expects of us today. Their mindsets serve as an example, but their actions belonged under a different law, a different covenant.

“So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.” He is a “better sacrifice.” We live under a new, better covenant than did Abraham, Moses, David, John, and the thief. Let us turn to His new covenant to learn what He commands of us today.

Hear (Romans 10:17). Believe (John 3:16). Repent (Acts 3:19). Confess (Romans 10:9-10). Be immersed (Acts 2:38). Be faithful (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Hebrews 8:13. In that He says, “A new ___________,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing ___________ is ready to vanish away.

Pray

Pray for wisdom in discerning between the old and new covenants and the present expectations of God.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 108/260: Read Hebrews 8

We do not live under the laws of the Old Testament today. This includes the Ten Commandments as they were given to Moses and the Israelites. That Old Law is now obsolete; it has vanished away. However, that does not leave us without obligation.

Nine of the Ten Commandments were repeated in the new covenant established by Christ, and we obey them because He issued them. The Old Law accomplished its intended function: “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:24-25).

We now serve God under a different law, “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25). Make no mistake, it is still a law and we are obligated to follow His commands! But those who love the Lord are happy to obey Him (John 14:15).

Jesus, as our High Priest, “has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.”

We do not look forward to physical blessings such as a land of Canaan. “But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16). Jesus promised His apostles, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Hebrews 8:13. In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first ___________. Now what is becoming ___________ and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Pray

Pray for faith in troubled times, looking forward to that heavenly reward.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 107/260: Read Hebrews 7

“Change for the sake of change.” That is a phrase that causes us to shrink back. Generally speaking, there are reasons for change. The problem comes when the consequences are not considered. Change is not inherently a bad thing, as long as you thoroughly research and think about your new direction.

God wants you to change. He wants you to be better than you were yesterday, and He wants you to be better tomorrow than you are today. Isn’t that change?

What happens to you when you become a Christian? Paul says you are “renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24). You change!

Under the Old Law, that change was not possible. You were either born a Jew or a Gentile, and while there was a process of proselytization, the Jews didn’t really encourage it much. So God made a change. (Side note: He always intended for this change to take place; it wasn’t an alternate plan that He developed on the spur of the moment).

He changed the Old Law, which was full of “weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect.” His change was not just for the sake of change, but to bring forth something better: “a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”

Aren’t you glad He made that change?

Memory (Copy into a notebook 5-10 times)

Hebrews 8:13. In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Pray

Pray a prayer of thanks for God’s wisdom in making change that matters.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 106/260: Read Hebrews 6

In this reading, verses 4 through 6 can be troubling when taken out of context. The writer says that those who have been “enlightened” and “Have tasted the heavenly gift” are in danger “if they fall away.” Certainly, we understand the danger of sin and leaving the fellowship of God.

The difficulty comes with the idea that it is “impossible…to renew them again to repentance.” Does this mean that when a Christian sins, he no longer has any hope in the blood of Christ to cleanse him?

We must always keep the context of a passage in mind. This letter is written to a group of Christians who were considering leaving Christ and returning to the Old Law. If they were to do that, and in so doing “fall away,” then they had no future hope. There was no other Messiah coming, no other Christ to expect. They had made it “impossible,” not God.

The fact is that when a Christian stumbles into sin, he still has hope in the saving blood of Christ. John writes, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

Don’t lose hope. Don’t leave Christ. Confess, repent, trust, and obey.

Memory (Read aloud 5-10 times)

Hebrews 8:13. In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Pray

Pray for forgiveness, knowing that God is faithful to forgive.