Tag Archives: eternal life

Zechariah 9-11; 1 John 5

Periodically I hear people criticize Christianity because they say it’s just a bunch of rules you have to follow. And the Apostle John sort of agrees with them in this passage. And yet in the middle of these verses you find an astounding statement. See if you can find it.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—sour faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5 [ESV])

Did you find it? I think the second sentence in verse three is astounding, “And his commandments are not burdensome.” I am reminded of some of the world class athletes we know. Michael Jordan never complained about the rules in basketball. He never complained because the basket rim was at 10 feet. He never complained about the 3 second rule or the length of the court. He was world class while playing within those constraints and excelled.

The rules and commands we find in the Bible are for our good. They protect us and give us freedom. They are not there to control but to bring freedom to our lives. They are not oppressive but freeing.

How bout you? What command are you having trouble with? Have you thought about the fact that obeying that command will bring you freedom. Try it and see if it works.

Oh and by the way. By keeping these commands in no way gets us into heaven. The Apostle John addresses that later in the chapter and takes all the guess work out about the heaven thing. Read below:

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13 [ESV])

So he gives us that answer right there in the statement. We enter into an eternal relationship with God by putting our trust in Him alone for our salvation. Simple believe in what He has done for us on the cross.

So where are you in all this today? Are you believing in Jesus alone for your salvation? Do you understand that it isn’t a bunch of rule keeping that gets us there? But on the other hand do you realize how freeing it is to live by the rules and commands God has given us? Think on these things today.

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Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized, Zechariah

Numbers 8-11; Colossians 1

Dallas Willard has made a comment that it may be best to stay in one verse or chapter in the Bible and go deep there for a year instead of a cursory tree top reading of the entire work in that time frame. If he is right about that, this chapter is one that a person could spend a whole year in and still not plumb the depths of its meaning or applications in one’s life.

Just Friday I read Colossians through in one sitting. The leadership team from our church was away at a retreat and one of our core values is Valuing the Word of God.  So our pastor had us read this letter from the Apostle Paul through in one setting and then we discussed it as a team. We read it by ourselves and then came back and shared our thoughts together. Looking at my notes two things from chapter one really hit me.

First Paul shares that he is an apostle by the will of God. What are you? Who are you? What do you do each day in and day out? Is that God’s will for you? Do you look at your work as a sacred calling? I don’t think only apostles are in that role by the will of God. Certainly they are, but all of us have been called to where we are in this life through the will of God. Are you taking your job, responsibilities each day as the will of God? What changes if you keep that important truth in mind?

Second, Paul shares an interesting truth:

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven (Colossians 1:3-5a [ESV])

The Colossians were given excellent marks for the love they showed to other believers. And it was a result of the hope that was laid up for them in heaven. What a concept. Our love comes from the fact that our future — now and for all eternity — is secure in Christ. We are freed to love others because we no longer worry about our futures. We are safe in Jesus. When was the last time you meditated on that truth? Do it today!

Spend time thinking of and thanking God for your secure future that will go on for ever and ever. Then find a fellow believer to love on.

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Ezekiel 16-18; John 6

He came so that we could have life.

Old Testament reading of a nation’s beauty, nurtured and tended, turned prostitute. God says of sin:

For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die. Ezekiel 18:4, NLT.

The warnings whisper through time, woven in example after example. Sin kills.

30 “Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live! Ezekiel 18:30-32, NLT.

God speaks and HE is judge. It is not for me to sit back and tally offenses (help me, God, help me). He looks at it all, he is judge.

I was thinking on a New Testament story of a man who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” And then wondered to myself, “Who is my enemy?” God says to bless our enemies, to pray for those who persecute–and I read these verses and think of his heart: Turn back and live. Whether I or another falls into sin, it grieves his heart and he wants something better–will not forsake me and speaks over me: turn back and live.

Sin kills. It breaks apart families and friendships. It snares a heart and squeezes tightly. Lord, you came so that we could have life, and not just eternal life, but life TODAY.

Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

“Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” John 6:27b, NLT.

Where do I spend my energy? Is my time spent clinging to sin that strangles–ensnared in a trap? Lord, I seek and pursue you–you are my peace and my freedom.

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:32-40, NLT.

Lord, give me that bread every day. This is me: seeking, reaching, grasping, praying–and there you are: looking at me and not past me, never rejecting or losing me; life giving, heart changing, bread of life.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 21-22; John 3:1-21

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18

For God SO loved me that He gave His only Son for me so that I will have eternal life because I believe in Him. He offered me salvation. He offered me new life.

When sin entered into the world twisting and corrupting it, God already had a plan in motion to set things right again. His plan was to become the ultimate sacrifice, the required blood sacrifice for redemption. He did not want his creation to be condemned because of sin; He wanted to buy back freedom, to pay off debts owed.

And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.” 1 Kings 21:2-29

In the Old Testament times, before Jesus came to earth, people paid penance when they realized they did something wrong. Like Ahab, who tore his clothes, wore sackcloth and fasted. He did these things to show his sorrow, to show his humbleness before God. God responded to these supplicant actions, because, at the time, there was no other way to be delivered.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:3-6

But now there is another way, an eternal way, to be redeemed.

BELIEVE…

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth. He was a man faced with temptation, yet He resisted and overcame. He brought heaven to earth, healing the bodies and hearts of the multitude. He was wrongly accused, beaten, crucified. He died, was buried, and then rose again into life on the third day, a perfect form bearing the marks of His sacrifice. He ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of His Father, to intercede on behalf of those who trust in Him; He will sit there until God sets the time for Him to return to His people.

The Bible says that when I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I will be saved. And when I am saved, I have been born again, born of the Spirit, born into everlasting life. I am adopted into God’s family as a daughter. I become a co-heir with Christ; I become His faultless bride.

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3: 20-21

Now, when I fall into sin, instead of paying penance, I ask Jesus for forgiveness, repent before Him, turning away from my iniquity. He stands in the gap for me, covers me with His blood and washes me white as snow, taking away my shame, my guilt. I no longer cower in the dark, but I stand in the light. I am a reflection of God’s glory.

Yesappa, Thank You for loving me SO much…

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Leviticus 15-17; Matthew 27:1-31

“… for the life of the body is in its blood.” Leviticus 17:11a NLT.

Leviticus 17 speaks against consuming blood, and instructs the way to offer a sacrifice.

“I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.” Leviticus 17:11b NLT.

Instructions for the native Israelite and the foreigner living among them who goes hunting and kills an animal or bird that is approved for eating, he must drain its blood and cover it with earth. 14 The life of every creature is in its blood. That is why I have said to the people of Israel, ‘You must never eat or drink blood, for the life of any creature is in its blood.’” Leviticus 17:13-14 NLT.

This is the image, blood poured out upon a field, that stays with me when I read Matthew.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”

“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”

 

Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.

 

The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,

“They took the thirty pieces of silver—
    the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,
10 and purchased the potter’s field,
    as the Lord directed.” Matthew 27:3-10 NLT

Judas is weighted down with remorse at the realization of his betrayal. It is a guilt he cannot carry, and a pardon no man can issue. The leading priests and elders had no desire to help him.

“What do we care?” they say.

“That’s your problem,” they say.

The money purchases a cemetery for foreigners, this field of blood, blood where life is found. With the distinction of native and foreigner in Leviticus, and the cemetery for foreigners purchased with blood money in Matthew, the way is laid out–a way for everyone who believes that Jesus died for their sins.

Father, no ordinary man can take away the guilt or shame of my sin. Left with this burden, I would also be weighted to hopelessness. Even in my beginning years as a Christian, I couldn’t grasp freedom from the burden, just a growing shame of my humanity. How I recognized my need for a savior. Only the blood of your son could take away my sin, make a way for life (now and eternally), and make purification possible. It is time in your word that tells me again and again of your great love. When the world is quick to condemn and leave me weighted down by my imperfections, mistakes and sins–you don’t give up on me, your mercies new every day, your faithful love unending. I am grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ex. 39; John 18; Prov. 15; Phil. 2

Filigrees and gems. Rich color and finery. Garments beautifully made. Names engraved like a seal. Holy to the Lord. This is Exodus 39.

Jesus is betrayed and he is questioned about his teaching. Pilate asks,

“So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” John 18:37 NLT.

In Proverbs 15, it’s a view of a walking path splintered at choice–on the one side, the things God detests, and fools belching, trash feasts, trouble, and crushed spirits. The other side, understanding, gentleness, a hunger for knowledge, a continual feast, life.

  • A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers, but the path of the upright is an open highway. Proverbs 15:19 NLT
  • Foolishness brings joy to those with no sense; a sensible person stays on the right path. Proverbs 15:21 NLT
  • The path of life leads upward for the wise; they leave the grave behind. Proverbs 15:24 NLT

There was a time I never thought about the path I was on. I followed the map that was handed to me, until Jesus redirected my steps.

In Exodus, the priests wore garments with the names of the tribes of Israel engraved upon the gems. And in the New Testament, Jesus, my high priest, bears my name engraved upon his hands.

Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8 NLT

A phone call this past weekend showed me how a path can seem so far, and yet so close at the same time. That map I once held is really only a choice away from me.

Oh, God, help me to always seek and choose truth.

12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. Philippians 2:12-18 NLT, emphasis mine.

Hold firmly to the word of life.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Philippians, Proverbs

Gen. 40; Mark 10; Job 6; Rom. 10

God’s way of doing things.

Joseph in prison, where God wanted him. He interprets dreams.

Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” he says to the cup-bearer and baker. Joseph interprets their dreams and he requests–remember me  to Pharaoh when you’re set free, I’m imprisoned, but I did nothing to deserve it.

The rich man in Mark, letter keeper of the law, what must he do for eternal life?

21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Mark 10:21-22 NLT.

I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. Romans 10:2-3 NLT.

I wonder how it looks to refuse to accept God’s way. The rich man didn’t reject God’s law–he kept it. And perhaps he didn’t want to reject Jesus, but he was saddened by the way he would have to follow Jesus.

Joseph is imprisoned for nothing he had done wrong. He didn’t want to be there, didn’t think it was right. But he continued to serve in the way God made for him. A servant, who would later lead.

Job is pierced with arrows of grief–this is no light matter, when he lost everything. Everything. He works through waves of emotion, and his friends offer insight to make sense of it–they don’t understand God’s way.

Disciples shooing away little, bothersome children. A rich man with a flawless track record. Brothers who want to be seated beside the King in his kingdom. They didn’t understand: Jesus blessing children; treasure in heaven; the least being greatest.

Maybe my circumstances are God’s way too of getting me right with him. Certainly Jesus did all that I could not do, and he died for my sins and made me righteous and clean before God. God still works on my heart–and maybe things I don’t understand (sibling rivalry, a work-related stress, a busy kindergartener, and even a move to a new zip code) are all also God’s way of making me right with him–a sanctification of heart.

I don’t always understand. I can also refuse to accept it. Or I can lean into God on stormy days, and serve him–like Joseph–right where I am.

Lord, I often get caught up in details that I don’t see how they fit into a bigger picture. It is in hindsight, and walking through trials, that I see your great mercy upon me–you’ve saved me from things that I thought were good for me, but truly weren’t. I hope to keep you and your kingdom in focus and serve you where you have me–in my community, in my activities, and in my relationships.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, New Testament, Romans