Just men reading, memorizing and studying the bible together!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Acts 27–28
Old Testament Only: Ezekiel 16
New Testament Only: James 1
(Current Plan is Chronological)

How Are You Living

1 Thessalonians 1-5

DrunkI don’t know if you’ve noticed but because we are reading through the Bible chronologically we have read a bit in Acts then jumped to James and Galatians and then back to Acts and today we find ourselves in 1 Thessalonians. We’ll follow that with 2 Thessalonians and then back to Acts. The book of Acts is a book of history written by Luke and which relays to us the history of the early, early church. The books of the Bible to and from which we jump are letters written to individuals or early churches that were written during the time being described by Acts. What you should be seeing in this is what the Apostles are experiencing and teaching as the Gospel and time progress. I’m sorry I didn’t point that out earlier but do look for the connections that are to be made between these books.

I thought I would share with you part of what Dr. J. Vernon McGee had to say about 1 Thessalonians.

“The apostle obviously had emphasized the second coming of Christ for believers and had taught that the return of Christ was imminent; for during the period of time since Paul had left, some of the saints who had come to know and believe in Christ Jesus had died, and this had naturally raised the question in the minds of the Thessalonians as to whether these saints would be in the Rapture or not. Paul presents the second coming of Christ in relationship to believers as a comfort, and this forms the theme of the epistle. This emphasis is in sharp contrast to Christ’s catastrophic and cataclysmic coming in glory to establish His kingdom by putting down all unrighteousness, as seen in Revelation 19:11–16.

The epistle has a threefold purpose: (1) To confirm young converts in the elementary truth of the gospel; (2) to condition them to go on unto holy living; and (3) to comfort them regarding the return of Christ. Paul’s message offered a marked contrast to the paganism and heathenism which were present in Thessalonica. A heathen inscription in Thessalonica read: “After death no reviving, after the grave no meeting again.”

In 1 Thessalonians the emphasis is upon the Rapture of believers, the coming of Christ to take His church out of the world. The fact that the coming of Christ is a purifying hope should lead to sanctification in our lives. There are a lot of people today who want to argue prophecy, and there is a great deal of curiosity about it. But John tells us, “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). This hope should have a purifying effect in our lives. I am not interested in how enthusiastic and excited you get over the truth of the Rapture of the church; I want to know how you are living. Does this hope get right down to where you are living, and does it change your life?”

McGee, J. V. (1997). Thru the Bible commentary (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

If we have truly submitted our life to Christ then there should be evidence of that fact in our life; in how we are living. How are you living?

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Acts 24–26
Old Testament Only: Ezekiel 13–15
New Testament Only: Hebrews 13
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Know The Reasons For Your Faith

Acts 17:1-18:18

Studying ManI noticed in a couple of places where it was said that when Paul went into a new town he would go to the synagogue and “reason” with the people. Below is one of those instances in question.

Acts 17:1-4 ESV

“[1] Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. [2] And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, [3] explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” [4] And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.”

Many Christians are afraid to share their faith for fear of being ridiculed as someone who believes in fairytales. The implication is that we believe in something that can’t be proven; that it is something that has no basis in reality. This is unfortunate. Christians who have such a fear have allowed the Lost to define what is rational. Sometimes they don’t really have the rational answers they need to be able to defend themselves against such allegations.

The word the Bible uses to describe Paul’s interaction with the lost is “reasoned”. Verse 3 above says that Paul proved that it was necessary for Christ to suffer and rise from the dead. The only way Paul could reason with the Lost and to prove his case was by knowing the evidence. You can’t reason with someone if you don’t have the reasons. Far too many of us are ignorant of our faith. When cornered we cop out by saying things like “I can’t prove it I just have faith”, as if faith has nothing to do with reason.

Brother I have faith that when I go out to my car to drive to the church in a little bit that it will start and get me to the church and back without any mechanical difficulty. I have faith the car will do that because I know that car; I know how old it is, I know its track record, I know how it has been maintained. It is all that knowledge that gives me faith. My faith in God is not based on nothing. I don’t have faith because I don’t have reason. I have faith because I do have reason. My faith is based on what I know about God. My faith is not based on the unknown but on the known. God is knowable!

We are ambassadors for Christ. We are to engage our community and our culture but we must be prepared for that engagement. If you don’t know what you believe or why you believe it then start studying; get to know the God you worship and to whom you belong. You need to be able to reason with the Lost so get to know the reasons for your faith.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

No Reading Today

by | November 23, 2014 | In Daily Reading No Comments

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Acts 21–23
Old Testament Only: Ezekiel 10–12
New Testament Only: Hebrews 12:18–29
(Current Plan is Chronological)

No Reading Today

Sleeping ManOur current chronological reading plan has no reading for Sundays. Take this day to reflect on what God has said to you through His Holy Word this past week.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Acts 19–20
Old Testament Only: Ezekiel 7–9
New Testament Only: Hebrews 12:1–17
(Current Plan is Chronological)

The Founder And Finisher Of Our Faith

Acts 15-16

CarpenterI have the great and high honor to open Sunday morning worship at my church with prayer. It is a great joy for me to stand before my brothers and sisters in Christ and to cry out praise to our Lord and to pray that His will be done in the hearts and minds of those attending. I always ask that God open the heart and mind of any Lost person who might be attending as well. This request is based on the understanding that no one comes to God unless God Himself opens the heart of the Lost person in question. Now this is not some idea I made up out of whole cloth. The Bible tells us that this is the case, and one verse from today’s Scripture illustrates that claim. Take a look at the following verse.

Acts 16:14 ESV

“One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”

Paul spoke the truth to Lydia but she was able to comprehend the truth through the work of God’s Holy Spirit. God truly is the founder and finisher of our faith.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Acts 16–18
Old Testament Only: Ezekiel 4–6
New Testament Only: Hebrews 11:18–40
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Slavery

Galatians 4-6

Partners in CrimeIn today’s passage Paul refers repeatedly to slavery but these references are not all about the same thing. The first reference that caught my eye was this.

Galatians 4:1-3 ESV

“[1] I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, [2] but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. [3] In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.”

There are a couple of things going on in the passage above. In full, Paul is making a point about us being a slave to sin but being saved through Christ and therefore becoming a child of God, an heir. In these three verses you see the two ways Paul uses the imagery of a slave. Without Christ we are slaves to sin. Slavery in this sense is crushing; you labor hard and reap no reward but death. Once we become a child of the Living God, we become heirs of God but we are still under authority. This is the other kind of “slavery” to which Paul refers. Jesus used similar language. On the one hand He would call us servants of God, but on the other He would point out that we are more than servants, we are heirs.

Back in the day a slave and a son would work the fields of the father. For one the work was slavery, work for which there was no more recompense than room and board. For the other the work was work of ownership. While the son might labor as hard as the slave, the inheritance of the son is increased by his labor. It’s kind of like working in the family business. If you help your father build the family business, when you inherit the business you gain from the investment of labor you made. There is another point here as well. A slave works for fear of punishment. A son works for love of the father. A son recognizes the father’s authority, but he also recognizes that what is the father’s is also his.

Returning to the issue of slavery to sin, Paul reminds us that Christ has set us free so let us not return to slavery.

Galatians 5:1 ESV

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Stand firm. You and I, brothers in Christ, were set free from sin. Why would we willingly go back into slavery? Temptation is as slippery slope. If we take one step in the wrong direction we can find the earth falling away beneath our feet. We do need to stand firm. We should not allow the temptations of the world to draw us down to destruction. Here we have an exhortation to realize that what we left behind needs to be left behind. What we left behind was slavery to death; leave it where it belongs, in the past. As a reading earlier in the week said, “resist the Devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Tell him where to go!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Acts 14–15
Old Testament Only: Ezekiel 1–3
New Testament Only: Hebrews 11:1–17
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Opening The Mind To Truth

Galatians 1-3

Brain GearsI’d like to take a moment to comment upon the issue of predestination. Something from yesterday’s reading as well as a passage from today’s reading has brought this issue to mind. It is hard for us to balance the fact that we each must make a decision to accept Christ with the fact that God has decided before the foundation of the Earth who would be saved. How could it be decided before we were born that we would be saved if we have to make a decision during our lifetime in order to be saved? If God already has decided that we will be saved, how can our decision be a required part of the equation? Tough questions. First let’s look at the Scripture that brought all of this to my mind.

In yesterday’s passage I came across the following verses.

James 1:17-18 ESV

“[17] Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. [18] Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

Well, certainly the Son of God being sacrificed on the cross for the salvation of all mankind is a good gift which obviously comes from God, but when James says “of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth” we get a hint of predestination. Of God’s will we are saved; He decided to save and took action to save. You could not be saved were it not God’s will that you be saved.

Now look at the passage from Galatians.

Galatians 1:13-17 ESV

“[13] For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. [14] And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. [15] But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, [16] was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; [17] nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.”

Here Paul points out how in his own will he was not only separated from God but working at cross purposes to God’s will. Of course all of us work at cross purposes to God’s will prior to salvation. Paul notes that God had set him apart prior to his birth for salvation. That is a sovereign work of God. Paul knew who Jesus claimed to be but hadn’t accepted him as Savior. It was God who acted to open Paul’s mind to truth, helping him to understand his need for a savior and that Jesus was that Savior.

If you had a choice between living in joy for all of eternity or living in pain for all of eternity which would you choose? That isn’t really a choice is it? The choice is real but who in their right mind would choose pain? This is a no brainer as they say. And yet, for some reason most people are choosing pain. You see they, like Paul, are unable to see the truth. A decision has to be made but only those to whom God reveals the truth are able to make the no brainer decision. How can we take credit for making a no brainer decision when that decision depended completely upon God doing all the work, including opening our hearts and minds to be able to hear and respond to truth?

Salvation does depend upon a decision, but that decision is automatic once God opens your mind to the truth. God’s sovereign grace is indeed amazing.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!