1 John 2:1-17 In these last days before the Lord returns, it seems the world is increasing in evil. The Bible tells us this will happen. Timothy tells us that in the last days seducing spirits will be everywhere. We have this hopeful word in God's Word that says where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Sometimes my husband and I sit at our peaceful dinner table and remark to one another, "Things are really getting bad out there." One only has to watch the news to see the corruption in our world and the steady descent into more darkness. Sometimes after watching the news I want to say, "Stop the world! I want to get off!!" Today's reading gives us the reason the world is such a mess. We cannot blame it on God or even the devil. We only have to look at ourselves to find the answer to our predicament. Listen to what John says: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (vv. 15-17, KJV).
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God has set goals for each of our lives. In fact, He recorded them in a book before time began.
1 John 1:1-10 Fellowship is a Christian buzz word, but what does it mean? I heard one definition: "Fellowship is fellows in the same ship on the sea of life." This is not a bad definition, because we usually fellowship with people who are going on the same journey we are. There is nothing sweeter than Christian fellowship. If we miss fellowship with those in the body of Christ, we are risking falling away from the faith. As we learned in Hebrews, we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. So often when people leave a Christian fellowship or church, they do not attach themselves to another. When asked where they are going to church now, too often the response is, "I'm having church at home now." If we cut ourselves off from the body of Christ, our Lord soon has nothing to direct in our lives. Jesus is the head of the body and if we detach ourselves from the body, we will be cut off from the wisdom and the mind of Christ. We will not be able to see how the body can function together under the headship of Jesus.
Psalm 119:132-155 David says several times in this psalm that his hope is in God's Word. Faith is the evidence of things not seen, the substance of things hoped for as we learned earlier in our study of Hebrews. The substance that gives us hope is the Word of God.
Psalm 119:113-131 David in this psalm reveals the secret of getting through trying circumstances. He says, "You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word" (v. 114). Corrie ten Boom wrote the story of her experience in the concentration camps where she lost all of her family. She titled the book The Hiding Place. She was arrested for hiding Jewish people during the war, but she was able to get through those trying times because she hid herself in the Lord.
2 Peter 1:1-21 Often when our family is gathered at the dinner table, someone will say, "Things are really getting tough out there." The world is definitely waxing worse and worse, but the good news is those who walk uprightly will get better and better.
1 Peter 4:7-5:14 As Peter wrote this letter he had a sense of urgency. He felt the Lord's return was imminent, and he wanted his fellow believers to be ready for His return. He says, "But the end of all things is at hand: therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers" (1 Pet. 4:7). It is interesting that his End-Time exhortations were exactly what Jesus told us to do as the day of His return drew near. He told us to watch and pray. None of us know the exact time of the Lord's return, but we all need to be ready. Each of us will have our appointed day to die, and Peter's day came shortly after he wrote this letter. We should all, however, live every day of our lives as if it might be our last day on earth.
1 Peter 3:10-4:6 So many people in the world are almost hyper about adding days to their lives. They go from one health fad to another, hoping against hope that their longevity will be increased. We see the fitness freaks, the joggers, dieters, vitaholics, weight lifters all trying to beat old Father Time.
Proverbs 28:12-13 In recent years we have seen in our own country what happens when we try to cover up our sins. There was Watergate, and then the unfaithfulness of a president. There is a verse in the Bible that says that everything done in darkness will be brought to light.
We can't do one thing to make God love us any more than He already loves us, and we can't do anything to make Him love us any less. However, we are responsible for how pleased God is with us.
1 Peter 1:14-2:10 Peter compares believers in Jesus Christ to living stones that are built into a spiritual house. So many people come for a season to our church and then move on to another church. Such people never have the beautiful experience of forming a spiritual house. I have heard some refer to such people as rolling stones instead of living stones. If we are always hopping from one church to another simply because things just do not suit us, we run the risk of never maturing in our walk with the Lord. It takes living stones rubbing other living stones even the wrong way for a season to bring each stone into the position where they fit into the building of a spiritual house. If we leave one fellowship before we have found our place of service there, chances are we will never fit into any other spiritual house or body of believers as the Lord wants us to do. Love is not easily offended, and if we run away every time we are offended without dealing with the situation, love will never be perfected (matured) in our lives. As living stones we have to learn to fit together and work together to build a spiritual house.
1 Peter 1:1-13 My mother died last year, and I received a small inheritance of $1,000. This inheritance has already been spent. Imagine having an inheritance that never disappears. I had a friend who wanted to leave her precious antiques to her daughter. Some of these antiques dated back to before the Revolution. They were priceless. Her daughter, however, said she did not want these pieces of furniture. I have heard stories where people received the contents of their mother or father's home, and in the process of cleaning the homes to sell them, they found thousands of dollars tucked in mattresses and cracks in walls. I have seen items given to sons and daughters by their beloved departed that have been allowed to mildew, dry rot and become worthless. If these people had taken care of those things they inherited, they probably could have sold them for a good price.
James 5:1-20 Much research is being done to find cures for diseases like AIDS and cancer. These are diseases that so far have no cure-all. These are also diseases that are affected by the strength of our immune system. This passage in James gives a cure-all for ill health, but few avail themselves of this cure. James lists four things in this passage that will help bring healing to our bodies:
1. Call for the elders.
2. Let them anoint you with oil and pray with faith for you.
3. Confess your faults one to another so you may be healed.
4. Pray for one another that you may be healed.
Psalm 118:19-29 No matter what each day holds for us, we can rejoice in it. But you may say, "I don't feel like rejoicing." Often when a new day dawns, our bodies don't want to get up and greet the day with cheerfulness because we just simply may not feel good. Our souls, however, can always rejoice in the Lord. When we greet the day with gratefulness instead of grumbling, we will set the sails of the ship of our lives to receive the wind of the Holy Spirit.
James 2:18-3:18 There are two kinds of wisdom we can experience here on earth. We can experience the wisdom of this world or heavenly wisdom. Earlier in this letter James tells us that if any man lack wisdom, he should ask God, and God will grant him wisdom. The kind of wisdom God gives is described as follows: "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (James 3:17).
James 1:19-2:17 This passage in James talks about the speed we need to set to cruise in the Spirit. We have a cruise setting on our car. When we set it at the right speed, we are able to take our foot off the gas peddle and the car will continue at the right speed. James tells us exactly what speed we should set our hearing, speaking and anger to allow the Spirit to go forward at a great cruise level as we travel the road of life. He says, "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20).
James 1:1-18 I saw a bumper sticker that said "Good God; Bad Devil." This is a statement most Christians should understand, but often we give God credit for doing bad things in our lives. We have to recognize that God is not evil, neither can He tempt us with evil. Whatever God does or allows in our lives will always be good. The author of sickness, confusion, disease, misery and strife is the devil. James makes it very clear in his letter that God cannot tempt us with evil. Only the devil tempts us with evil. James says, "Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (vv. 16-17, KJV).
You probably know that by God's grace you're forgiven and saved, but do you know there is so much more that grace gives us?
Hebrews 13:1-25 This chapter begins with an interesting two verses: "Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels."
Hebrews 11:32-12:13 These heroes of the faith pressed forward to the goal, and they received the gold. As we see by the lives mentioned in this passage of Hebrews 11, many were martyred and tortured for their faith. How did they get through these great trials of faith, which are even more precious to the Lord than gold? The answer is simple: They kept their focus on the Provider, not the problem. We read in Hebrews 12:2, "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
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