You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.

John 1:6-9 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

John, one of Jesus’ Twelve Disciples, wrote this passage about John the Baptist. It identifies who sent him (God), gives his name and his God-given purpose in life: to bear witness to the light that was to come – Jesus Christ.

John is very emphatic with the use of the word light using it several times in this short passage. Jesus is our Light in every sense of the word. He gives light to our souls. He sheds light into our confusion so we can make the right choices (if we will take the time to seek His direction.) He makes our burdens lighter, using the word in a different sense.

Father God, increase our desire to dwell in Jesus’ light. Help us to give more time to basking in his light.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Luke 7:24-29 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Background for this passage: John the Baptist was imprisoned because he dared to confront the king in his sin. (see Luke 3) In his apparent discouragement he sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was truly the Messiah.

Jesus’ questions concerning John were rhetorical, designed to lead the thinking of the people. He was reminding them that John did not sway with the breezes of public opinion. Why else would he have ended up in prison? The people came to John for spiritual needs, not financial gain.  John was seen as a prophet, and Jesus affirmed their beliefs.

Verse 28 confuses me in my mortal wisdom. I know God will make it clear to me one day. I will venture a guess at its meaning, however. Jesus said that John the Baptist is the greatest of men born to women. He must surely be excluding himself in this statement, perhaps on the basis that Jesus is both man and God. But then he turns around and says that the one who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John. I can only wonder, but perhaps Jesus is speaking of John’s wavering in his faith that Jesus is the Messiah. To enter the Kingdom of God one must believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

Father God, increase our understanding of Your Word and forever increase our faith in Jesus as our Messiah and our Savior. May our love for You increase day by day.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Luke 3:1-20 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens. Better yet, read it in more than one translation.

Read this passage over and over to keep from missing the details. God speaks to our hearts through His Word if we will dwell there. I can only touch on a few highlights here.

As had been recorded in Isaiah hundreds of years earlier, John’s place in history was to prepare people’s hearts to accept Jesus. His message was repentance.

This message was not sugar coated. Speaking to the crowds who came to him in verse 7 he called them a “brood of vipers.” People weren’t attracted to him because of his smooth talk. They must have felt under conviction when they were in the presence of this holy man of God.

John challenged the people’s claim that Abraham was their father telling them that God could cut them down and bring up new children for Abraham out of the very stones that lay on the ground.

When the people asked, John gave them examples of what they should do. Give your extra coat to someone who doesn’t have a coat. Share your food with the poor. Tax collectors were to refrain from charging more taxes than were due. Soldiers were not to take advantage of their authority to get money from their subjects. The general people were told to be content with their pay.

These challenges are still appropriate for us today. We want more clothes and bigger closets to store them in, yet there are people around us who would be thrilled with only one of our dresses or coats. We stuff our cabinets with food and worry about some day in the future when we might not have enough. Yet there are people around us already with not enough to eat. Loan sharks greedily charge as much as they can get to make a profit off of those who have so little. What is legal isn’t always in agreement with what is ethical; yet we will use the law to justify our actions. And being content with our pay? Is anyone content? It appears that those at the bottom of the pay scale are the most likely to be content with their pay – they are the most likely to tithe.

As the people began to wonder if John was the Messiah that had been promised, he told them that he was not, and that he was not worthy to untie His sandals.

John had a following with many disciples, but because he would not compromise the truth, even to King Herod, he ended up in prison and was eventually beheaded at the King’s command.

Father God, help us to take your call to repentance seriously. Prepare our hearts so that we will have more room for you to dwell within us.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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John 5:39-40 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens. Better yet, read it in more than one translation.

In this passage Jesus is talking to the Jews who were critical of Him and who would not believe his message. He was talking to people who knew the Scriptures, people who were diligent in studying them. Yet He was still critical of them because they would not accept His testimony about who He was, the Son of God.

This passage applies equally well to us today. There are those who diligently read their Bibles and there are those who never read them. It is easy for the “readers” to get puffed up in their minds thinking they are superior to the non-readers or the every-now-and-then-readers. I know that I have often caught myself feeling a bit smug when the pastor reads the scripture for his sermon and I discover that is was a passage I had at some point in time highlighted it in my Bible. I have been guilty of taking pride in how fast I can locate a particular scripture passage during a worship service. And then a sense of conviction comes over me and I feel about one inch high.

The test of salvation has nothing to do with how many Bible verses I have read or can locate at the drop of a hat or can quote from memory. And even though the study of scripture is good and necessary for a healthy relationship with Jesus, it isn’t the first thing. The first thing is to accept Jesus into your heart, and the second is to apply His truths to your life.

Have you welcomed Jesus into your heart? Have you allowed Him to sit in the driver’s seat of your life? If not, He is waiting for you to invite Him in. Don’t worry about using the right words, it is your heart He is interested in, not words. He will pick up where you leave off and show you the way.

Jesus we love you and want to know you better. Help us to love you more. Grow us up in our faith and enable us to seek you with our whole hearts.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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The following blog inspired me to write this post:

James 5:13-18 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Verses 13-18 are about praying in faith. Books have been written on this subject, so I acknowledge that I am only able to touch a highlight or two today.

James is reminding us to pray in every circumstance, not just when we feel desperate. We are called to offer prayers of rejoicing and praise as well as our petitions for help.

We are especially encouraged to pray for healing. James encourages the sick to call for the elders of the church to annoint them with oil and pray in faith for them. In Bible times, oil was used as a healing remedy for many ailments. I have seen Christians take that little piece of information and run with it saying this means to go to the doctor. Other Christians will rebuke them and say to put all your confidence in the oil and the prayer. I don’t intend to straddle the fence here, I intend to take both sides seriously and say that God intends for us to do what makes sense. Yes, do what you know to do for healing – if it is to take an asprin for a headache or if it is to go to the doctor for open heart surgery. We have no excuse to throw away hundreds of years of medical advancements and take the lazy way out by expecting God to just do it. But, we don’t need to put all our confidence in our doctors either. After all, it is God who gets the last word.

So when we are sick, we are called on to use the healing expertise we have available to us, and we are to call upon God. I have often seen church elders (or deacons or other officials depending on the titles used by various denominations) anoint the sick with oil and pray for their healing. God is honored by this and desires to bless their efforts.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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2 Peter 3:8-10 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

When my daughter was very young I began reading Bible stories and children’s devotions to her at bedtime. I told her about heaven and that Jesus was going to come one day. I told her that there would be no pain and no tears in heaven. Due to the tension between her father and me, our home was not a happy one, and she often asked when Jesus was going to come. She was so eager for him to come.

In a similar way, many scoffers point out how many years Christians have been waiting for Jesus to come as an excuse to justify their disbelief. This passage speaks directly to this situation. God tells us He is not being slow. Rather, He is being patient. He wants to give us maximum opportunity to accept Him so we may enter His Kingdom according to His time. If a day is like a thousand years to God, we are about to enter the third day since his promise was given.

Likewise, it was approximately about 2,000 years from the time God promised that a Messiah would come until Jesus’ birth. God keeps his promises, but He does so in his own time frame. We have one instruction from him in light of this promise: He tells us to be ready.

Father God, keep fresh in our hearts the reality of Your promises. Help us to appreciate your faithfulness and generosity instead of becoming impatient or losing faith. Thank you for giving us the gift of your Son and for all the promises that He brought to us.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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1 Corinthians 1:3-9 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:4

Whenever I read this passage I think of those Christians who have led me to a relationship with Jesus Christ. This list includes a variety of people, but among the most influential of these was a small group of Christian women who began a Bible study group in which I participated for many years. These women knew Jesus in such a personal way and were able to relate to him in any and all circumstances. They ministered to me through a very painful marriage and gave me the courage to go on.

As I re-read these scriptures I recognized the reason they were able to minister to me so well. It was because the grace of Jesus was so visible in their daily lives. They put their full trust in Him. They spent time with Him daily in prayer and Bible study. And they lifted one another up in prayer on a daily basis. God blessed us all with a fullness of His Spirit that we never could have manufactured on our own.

Re-read the entire passage and you will find that it isn’t about how wonderful the Corinthians were. It is about how wonderfully faithful God was to enrich them in every way. In my Bible study group, it wasn’t how wonderful the women were (although they truly were wonderful to me). But the full picture is about how wonderfully God worked in and through their lives and enriched and blessed us all.

Father God, help us to seek You with all our hearts. And keep us from getting big heads over our own spirituality. May we always remember that is is not about us, but all about You.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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