August 1, 2016
Scripture contains two streams. One stream flows tortuous and muddy through a valley, filled with real stories of human sin, violence and judgment. Seeing its filthy flow, we are overwhelmed and often disgusted. We wonder why a loving God would allow for such. Why would this stream of stories even be in the Bible? The second stream falls down from the mountains cool and clean, it sparkles in the sun as it gushes down rocky heights with revelations of God’s righteousness, forgiveness and love. Observing this dangerous torrent and hearing its mighty roar, we are filled with a fearful longing. We have a deep desire to dive into its crystal clear depths, yet one inward glance at our fragile fallen selves reminds us that we would be destroyed beneath its crashing flow. Then, as we follow the two streams passing from the Old Testament to the New, we see them converge. The two streams of Scripture crash together at the cross of Christ. We finally understand. Seen through the lens of the cross it all makes sense. Our sin and God’s righteousness collide in Christ. He took our sin, separation and death, that we might have His righteousness, sonship and life. The two streams of Scripture were written for our “instruction,” both for our endurance and encouragement, that we might have hope in Christ.
July 31, 2016
In Romans 14, the apostle Paul addresses how Christians should treat one another concerning matters of liberty and conscience. Specifically, he mentions diet, drink and holidays as areas that should be left up to conscience, but not to let our freedom in these areas cause another brother to stumble. Paul is clearly not speaking of doctrinal matters here. Certainly such things as lying, stealing and immorality are sin. He is speaking of disputable matters, like whether eating meat or being a vegetarian is preferable for a believer. This was an especially relevant topic during Paul’s day as Jewish background believers with their kosher diets were now breaking bread with Gentile background believers who had no such dietary restrictions. What is the timeless principle for us today? Isn’t it to put your brother’s welfare ahead of your own?
July 28, 2016
After Paul described the mystery of God’s salvation for Israel and the fulness of time for the Gentiles, he concluded with an exaltation of God’s wisdom and knowledge. Paul recognized that he was only scratching the surface of understanding God’s plans. He was only able to describe that which the Spirit had revealed to him. Yet, there remains a depth of God’s wisdom and knowledge that would take eternity to plumb, and still not reach its limit. How foolish are those creatures who would question the Creator’s judgments and ways. Their finite perceptions and understanding are so limited that they do not even know themselves, much less their Maker. How wonderful it is for those who have received God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. We have believed that which God has revealed, so that we might trust Him with that which remains a mystery.
July 27, 2016
After quoting Joel 2:32 (also in Acts 2:21), “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” Paul asked a series of questions to draw out the implications of this statement for those who have yet to believe. His logic is clear: People need to hear the gospel before they can believe it. If faith comes by hearing the Word, then we must be busy about declaring it. If they do not believe after hearing the gospel, it is on them. But if they do not believe because they have not heard, is it not on us?
July 26, 2016
Paul continued to express his desire that the Jewish people believe in Christ for their salvation. This was his constant prayer. Do you know someone that needs the Lord for which you are moved in such a way? Have you considered praying for an unreached people group that has never heard the gospel? You can find a list here: https://joshuaproject.net
July 25, 2016
The apostle Paul was continually filled with sorrow and anguish because of the Jews rejection of Christ. His grief moved him even to the point of wishing that he could switch places with them, so that they were accepted and he accursed. Everywhere he carried the gospel, he always started with the Jew and then the Greek, preaching first in the synagogues and then the marketplace. Paul burned with passion for the souls of his people. Yet, only a few believed. Is there someone in your family that is far from God? Are you in sorrow and anguish for them as you pray for them and share the gospel with them? Have you ever felt as Paul did about your loved ones who have not received Christ?