You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2008.

Philippians 3:12-16 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

 Since the first verse in this passage reflects on the previous few verses, I’m adding an extra link here to keep us from taking anything out of context. When the author claims he hasn’t yet attained “all of this,” a reflection on these earler verses shows that he has been discussing the source of his righteousness and his desire to know Christ, to know the power of Christ’s resurrection, and the fellowship that comes from sharing in his sufferings, enabling us to become like him even in his death. What a tall order! The outcome of it all is that we too will be resurrected from the dead.

Fortunately for our consciences, Paul acknowledges that he has not already attained this, nor has he been made perfect, but it is his goal. He is committed to continue in that direction, not looking back, but straining as in a race toward his goal, the prize that God challenged him to attain through Christ Jesus.

Before we try to cop out on that last verse as if it had been an exclusive call for Paul, we need to consider verse 15 which says that all of us, if we are mature, should take this view of things. We can only expect that God will make it clear to us eventually if we beg to differ.  And verse 16 challenges us to live up to what we have already worked our way through in our faith journey, and not slip backwards when the going gets tough.

True Christianity is not an easy street. It is more than getting perfect attendance in Sunday school. It is taking everything we learn and making changes in our personal lifestyle, changes that reflect our faith in God. It is a faith that makes a difference, not mere lip service as if we were doing God a big favor by speaking well of him. Are you growing in your faith – growing at the pace of a runner striving to run a race? Or are you limping along just enough to get you by, enough so people will see you in church and know that you are a “good” person.

 Father God, pour the discipline of your love on us if it is needed to get our attention. Incline our hearts to draw so close to you that it will be obvious to us where we need to change our walk and our talk, and empower us to make those changes. Help us to get back into the race and out of the sidelines.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Hebrews 13:10-16  Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

Verse 10 opens the door to a question. Why did those who ministered at the tabernacle have no right to eat at Jesus’ altar? Verses 11 and 12 explain that Jesus’ blood was shed outside the tabernacle and not in the Most Holy Place. The high priests rejected Christ, and caused the shedding of his blood outside the city.

So if we are to come to Christ’s altar we must look outside the tabernacle of the Old Testament. We must meet Christ at the foot of the cross accepting his atoning blood sacrifice for our sins. We also look forward to the promised city that is to come, not to Jerusalem.

The writer of Hebrews urges us to continually offer our praises to God though Jesus by confessing his holy name, by doing good and by sharing with others. This is the kind of sacrifice that pleases God.

This passage was initially written to the early Christians, many of whom were converts from Judaism. So the concept of going outside the camp to worship Jesus meant that they were to leave their old forms of worship before they could worship the Living Christ. It may not be all that different for us. Once we gain a Biblical understanding of who Jesus is, we need to stand out from the crowd to begin a new life in him. We may also need to leave one church and find another if we have been worshiping with a group of people who don’t know Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Father, work in our hearts so that we will seek Jesus alone to cleanse us from our sins. Thank you for your unthinkable gift of your Son, that we might have a share in your inheritance.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Hebrews 13:7-9  Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

Who led you to faith in Jesus? What was it about him or her that made you want to know more? Verse 7 encourages us to imitate the faith of those who led us to faith.

Verse 8 reminds us that Jesus doesn’t change. We need to remember that when we are presented with some of the off-the-wall theology that we get thrown at us from every direction today. We have people in high places (on popular TV programs, running for office as President, the list goes on) who are coming up with some very creative ways to validate themselves as Christians, but their claims don’t hold up to the teachings in the Bible. Jesus isn’t changing to fit the needs of people today, we are simply getting bombarded with today’s people trying to justify themselves and the changes they want to bring about in our country. The sad part is that so few people know what the Bible says that they will swallow any theology thrown at them, unable to discern fact from fiction.

Verse 9 aptly follows verse 8. Don’t be so gullible as to buy into the most popular theology of the day. Satan is out to deceive all who will listen. The day of the Antichrist can’t be too far away.

Don’t be deceived. Take Bible study seriously. Read it for yourself. Don’t take my word for it or anyone else’s until you are willing to dig in and start reading it for yourself and applying what it says to your own life.

Dear Jesus, please shake us and wake us from our sleep. Stir our hearts to want to know you more, to hunger and thirst for your Holy Word, as it truly contains the wisdom that we need for our day. You haven’t changed. Wisdom isn’t new, nor has it changed. People have simply allowed their own lusts and desires to lead themselves down reckless paths that will lead them and all who follow them into destruction. Forgive us Lord, and restore our nation to the glory it once knew when it declared itself to be “one nation under God.”

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Hebrews 13:1-6  Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

Verses 1-3 remind us to look to the needs of others including strangers, people in prison, and people who are being mistreated. I am often intregued by verse 2 where it says to entertain strangers because in so doing we might be entertaining angels. I wonder how many times people have entertained angels without knowing it.

Verse 3 instructs us to remember those in prison as if we were in prison with them. I’ve heard people speak of this verse who add that there are many kinds of prisons – depression, despair, and abusive relationships are a few examples. These are good examples, but I wonder if they are sometimes used to ease our consciences for not doing anything for the prisoners in the more traditional sense of the word. We mustn’t neglect either.

The next time you or I are inconvenienced by a stranger or someone who doesn’t exactly measure up to our standards of who we would choose for a close friend, remember these verses and consider that this inconvenience just might be an appointment that was created especially for you by God in heaven.

Then on a more introspective level verses 4 and 5 command us to maintain sexual purity, reserving ourselves for our marriage partners alone. We are also instructed to free ourselves from the love of money and to be content with what we have, for God has promised never to leave us or to forsake us. We should never fear what man can do to us when we have the Almighty God as our helper.

Lord, work in our hearts freeing them to love as you love, and to serve others as you served. Help us to recognize those divinely appointed situations that come into our lives, and help us to be sensitive to their needs. Help us be your light to the world.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Colossians 1:15-20 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

 These verses shed much light on who Jesus is, yet unfortunately, this kind of thinking is are “outside the box” for many Christians. I suspect if these verses were made into a true-false test there would be many church-goers who would miss many of them. Let’s give it a try. Answer each of the following statements as true or false. 

_____ Jesus is the image of God who is invisible.
_____ Jesus is the firstborn of all of creation.
_____ Jesus created the heavens, the earth, and everything in it.
_____ Jesus created the powers and authorities in the spiritual realms.
_____ Jesus holds all of life and all of creation together.
_____ Jesus is the head of the body called the church.
_____ Jesus is the beginning and the firstborn from the dead.
_____ Jesus is supreme over everything.
_____ All of the fullness of God dwells in Jesus.
_____ All things in heaven and earth may be reconciled to Jesus through his blood shed on the cross.

Every one of the above statements are true according to Colossians 1:15-20. Doesn’t this stretch your mind in wonderful ways? The better we get our minds around what these verses are saying, the easier it should be for us to bubble over in praise to Jesus and to God the Father.

Jesus, how we stand in awe of who you are. There is nothing in this universe that you haven’t touched, in fact you hold it all together. Thank you for coming down to earth and putting up with the indignities that the people inflicted on you during your earthly lifetime, even death on the cross, that we might be joined with you in heaven. You are so awesome. Amen.

I encourage my readers to either copy the above questions or print out the attached file and give it to the members of your Sunday school class. Then come back and leave a comment on this post to share how they scored.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 118:5-9 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

 Is the Lord your refuge? When your financial security gets pulled out from under you do you feel secure? If you have experienced the rejection of divorce or alienation from a close friend, did you feel secure? There are many trials that may come across our path that test whether we are putting our confidence in people and relationships or whether we are putting our confidence in God.

I think this is one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. It isn’t that I don’t trust in God, I do. But when it gets down to facing the future with abandon knowing that my job will be terminated just before Christmas, I am filled with panic. It seems that this is a pattern that has followed me throughout my lifetime, and I have often given in to feelings of panic and fear. I cannot glorify God when I give in to these feelings.

It is time to step back and remember just who this awesome God is.

  • He is the creator of the Universe and everything in it. 
  • He died on a cross to give us eternal life.
  • He has walked this earth and knows our troubles from the inside out.
  • Death could not keep him in the tomb.
  • He uses sand to keep the ocean in its boundaries.
  • He knows the stars by name.

Read Psalm 139 and be reminded that God is with you in every circumstance.

Recount times in the past when God rescued you in times of trouble and know that he will do it again.

Re-read today’s passage, Psalm 118:5-9, and remember that David went through many desperate times himself, yet he was able to put his trust in God. Read it again with praise and celebration in your heart. If you don’t feel like praising on the second or third time, read it again and again until it finally sinks in. God is faithful and his Word will not return void. Use his Word to lift your spirits.

Father God, who knows me better than I know myself. Protect me from moments of despair by lifting me up and drawing me close to your heart. Help us to truly trust you in every circumstance.

One more note: as I was writing this prayer I had to pause and listen to a song that was playing on the radio that meant so much to me in a critical time in my past. Isn’t that just like God?

The song is He’s Been Faithful by Carol Cymbala.  I did a quick search online for a sound bite of the song. I found this on YouTube He’s Been Faithful by Vicki Yohe. I also found The words of the song on this website.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Philippians 2:5-11 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

Do you need an attitude adjustment? Before you answer that question, read Philippians 2:5-11. It is a rare person indeed whose attitude could pass this test.

Does that give us permission to sluff off this verse and excuse yourself because you aren’t as bad as ___________ (fill in the blank)? I doubt that Jesus looks at it this way. These verses are in the Bible to guide our Christian walk and we need to use them, not public opinion, as our guide.

So, how do we get from here (the place where my present attitude is sitting) to there (the place where it needs to be)? I don’t know any quick, simple fix. It needs to be a life goal that we must cultivate in our hearts. We must start by agreeing with God that we need to make the adjustment. We must write these verses on our hearts so that we will be mindful of them as we proceed through life on a day to day basis.

Jesus was humble to the point of death on a cross. He did not try to lord his divineness over people and boss them around. He let them know where they stood without taking their free will from them, and he let them decide for themselves how they would respond. He accepted their insults and even death on a cross for a cause that was higher than his earthly body. His cause was the salvation of those who were insulting him and taking his life, for you and for me.

Did Jesus ever stick up for anything? Of course he did. If he hadn’t, no one would have been upset enough to crucify him in the first place. He challenged those things that insulted God. He challenged everything that was satanic.

But he didn’t retaliate to defend himself. That was the dividing line, and we can use it as our dividing line as well. We don’t have to be doormats to anything and everything that comes along in the name of humility. It is reasonable to stand up against evils that hurt people around us. The problems come when we are quick to attack those who offend us personally. Whose honor are you ready to fight for? Is the offence based on the big “I” or is it based on an offense against God? If it is based on the big “I” then we need to be looking for the soft answer. If it is an offense against God, then we need to find Biblical guidelines for dealing with the problem.

Lord, help us to see our own attitudes through your eyes. Show us where we need to make changes so that our lives may reflect your light and your love to the world.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Philippians 2:1-4 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

What a list of “ifs”! If we claim to know Christ as our Savior and Lord we should score on at least one of them. Are you encouraged from being united with Christ? Are you comforted? Do you have fellowship with the Spirit? Do you feel his tenderness and compassion?

Before I assume that everyone answered yes to at least one of these questions, let me digress to consider that some may feel a serious barrenness as you read the questions. If so, you have a serious heart problem that needs to be taken to Jesus in prayer. You can’t follow through with the rest of this passage without a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Trying to do so will only cause burnout in your faith. Don’t allow this void in your life be a stumbling block. Become proactive about growing in your relationship with Christ. Read your Bible, pray, and find one or more Bible believing Christians who can encourage you in your quest.

If you answered yes to any of the “ifs” in verse 1, then verse 2 challenges you to be like-minded with Christ sharing that kind of love with others. At this point I feel the need to review the list again. How can I show encouragement to others? Is there someone I should be comforting? Who do I know who is in need of Christian fellowship? Do I know someone who needs to be shown tenderness and compassion? If we are honest with ourselves, we should have had several individuals come into mind as we considered these questions.

In verse 3 we are encouraged to check our motives. I have to swallow hard on this verse. How much easier it is to offer service to others when people know we are doing it. Do we read our Bibles more seriously if we are being called upon to share it with a groups of peers, than if we are whisking through a daily passage or morning devotion out of a sense of duty? We are reminded in this verse not do operate out of ambition or conceit, but through a sense of humility as we place others above ourselves.

Verse 4 reminds us to bring the needs of others into our daily “do list.” In this day and time most of us feel so overwhelmed with the tasks that are already on our plate that we feel we have no time to give. I doubt if Jesus accepts this excuse, and I am as guilty as anyone with being fully absorbed in my own agenda.

Jesus, you tell us your yoke is easy. Help us not to encumber our lives with “do lists” we can’t handle, with “do lists” that prevent us from being like-minded with you, so we can show you to others in need around us. Make us willing to have a burden for the hurting around us, and inspire us to be like-minded in showing our love and compassion to them.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Hebrews 12:12-13   Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens. 

This chapter in Hebrews is definitely a model for growth in our Christian walk. If you are going to stay with this writer, you have to move on and up.

These verses challenge us to get our act together, to strengthen our arms and knees, straighten our paths, so that we can be of service to others in Jesus’ name. We can’t serve God if we are determined to sit around in self pity. Wow! This has been a week of preaching to myself!

Father God, clear my foggy mind and lift me up. I know you are there for me, waiting for me to look up into your eyes so I can draw strength from them. But let me not draw strength for myself only, let me draw strength to serve you in whatever way you lead.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Hebrews 12:8-11 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

Are you hurting? Pour your heart out to God. He may be molding you into the person he wants you to be. Consider these verses before you shake your fist at God and blame him for your pain and suffering.

Perhaps you can remember a time when you were given a spanking or other punishment for something you had done. There was pain at the time, but there was healing and you learned something from the discipline that had been applied. Perhaps you will enjoy reading this little incident I wrote about once on another blog of mine. Click here.

The important thing to remember is that God disciplines those he loves. If you are hurting, thank him that he trusts you with the pain. Let this pain help you to grow. Fight to keep from letting your pain cause you to turn inward and putting all your focus on yourself. As I write this I realize I am writing to myself as I continue to wrestle with some struggles of my own.

Father God, thank you for loving me. Help me to give thanks in everything, and help me to grow and bloom in a way that brings glory to only you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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