Category: General epistles-BibleTrekToday

Dealing with partiality! (Discrimination)

Scripture reading for October 6th: James 2

Key Scriptures: James 2:1-4 “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinction among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

James now begins to deal with the sin of discrimination in the church. There were those who were showing partiality to people of higher social and economic status and elevating them while treating people of poorer economic and social status with deference. James calls them out and tells them that they are acting as judges and that this type of thinking is evil. We can apply this teaching in many ways in our culture and time. We may discriminate against people on the basis of their race or ethnic background. We may show partiality to people of like political persuasion and shun or treat as second class citizens those we disagree with. As James says, this is wrong and we are acting in pride and judging people. Times may change but the sins are the same! The remedy is allowing God’s love for all to flow.

James 2:8-9 “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for the royal law of loving my neighbor as myself. I thank You also that You are not partial and that you show perfect love and justice and are the only One capable of judging. Forgive me for showing partiality and help me to value each person as precious and love them as my neighbor and myself.

James 2:13 “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

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Trials and faithfulness

Scripture reading for October 5th: James 1

Key Scriptures: James 1: 2-8 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, Who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

James was the half-brother of Jesus and the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. He was a man of prayer and some commentators say had the nickname of “camel knees” from spending time in prayer. As he wrote this letter to the church, James encouraged the believers to embrace trials of various kinds. He knew that this was part of being a follower of Christ and that these trials, if properly embraced, would produce spiritual growth in faithfulness and patience. During these trials, believers were encouraged to pray to God for wisdom and to expect answers from a Father Who would give generously to those having faith. He warned them about doubting and being double-minded. This would not bring steadfastness, but instability and a tossing and turbulence to life liken to that of a wave of the sea in a strong wind. His Mentor was his brother, Jesus Christ!

James 1: 12 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, forgive me for not counting it all joy when life’s various trials come. Fill me with fresh wisdom to discern Your plan and purpose in each trial and to grow in faithfulness and Christ’s character. Thank You for Your generosity in giving wisdom to those who will humbly ask for it. I desire the crown of life for me and those I love!

James 1:19 “Know this, my beloved brothers (and sisters): be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

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Don’t let Jesus be ashamed!

Scripture reading for January 27th: Mark 8

Key Scriptures: Mark 8:34-38 “And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and for the Gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.””

Peter had just confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and Jesus began to teach the disciples about his coming death and resurrection. Peter began to rebuke Him and Jesus, looking at the other disciples, turned and rebuked Satan for tempting Him and Peter for having a carnal mind. Then Jesus called the crowd and His disciples to come to Him and stated the cost of following after Him. Each follower would have to take up a cross and be willing to lose their life! They would need to chose between gaining the world and following Jesus as He carried His cross. Following Jesus would bring shame from the world but would bring a bold profession by Jesus before the Father of acceptance and eternal life. Those ashamed of Him and His cross would suffer the ultimate shame of eternal damnation at Christ’s return.

1st John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I am willing to take up my cross and to follow You out of love for You and the Father. Deliver me from any love of the world and empower me do Your will and to make You smile on the Day of Your Glory!

Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”

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Live and preach the Word

Scripture reading for January 7th: 1st Timothy 4

Key Scriptures: 1st Timothy 4:7-12 “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness: for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for this present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially those who believe. Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”

Leadership in Christ’s Church requires discipline, focused living and preaching. First, there are the things to avoid: false teachers and false doctrine summed up by Paul as “silly myths”. Our heart is Christ’s home and there is constant vigilance needed to maintain purity of thinking, Then Paul lists things to cultivate: training and discipline in applying God’s Word to our own lives and families. This is made visible by how we live and act and speak in faith and love and purity. It has been said, we are the only “Bible” many people will read. A primary focus of public ministry is the public reading and declaration of Scripture. We use it to teach and exhort others to godly living and fruitfulness in Christ’s kingdom, hopefully while living it out in the Holy Spirit’s grace.

Psalm 119:105 Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, help me today by the Holy Spirit to first apply Your Word to my life and guide my feet in Your ways. I choose to serve the Lord and obey His Word. I will publicly declare the Word of God by reading Scripture, teaching it and living as a godly example.

Joshua 24:15 “And if it is evil in your sight to serve the Lord, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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Don’t be afraid of suffering!

Scripture reading for December 2nd: Esther 4-6, Revelation 2

Key Scriptures: Revelation 2:8-10 “”And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The Word of the First and the Last, Who died and came to life. “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

John was given dictation by the risen Jesus Christ to write down for the seven churches. Jesus identified Himself as the One Who died and came to life. He gave a Word of knowledge to this body of believers. Jesus wanted them to know that He knew about their tribulation and the poverty that also had beset them. He reminded them they were really rich! He also knew about the slander of the false teachers who claimed to be Jews but were really tools of Satan. Jesus told them not to be fearful about the coming trial of suffering and persecution. Satan was behind it but God would reward the faithful with a crown of life eternal!

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I am thankful You are alive from the dead and know all things. At Your Word, I will not be fearful about future suffering or even of death. I look forward to the crown of life eternal!

Esther 4:16 “”Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night of day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.””

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Fellow workers for the Truth

Scripture reading for November 30th: Ezra 5-6, Psalm 95, 3rd John

Key Scriptures: 3rd John 4-8 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.”

The Apostle John wrote his third epistle to an elder named Gaius. John was overjoyed that this leader in the church was walking in the truth and leading others in the church to walk that way as well. The believers there were also supportive of other Gospel workers who went out from the church to the Gentiles. They gave towards the work and John commended them. When believers give to support God’s workers, they become fellow workers with them, sharing in the reward.

Psalm 95:6-7 “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, You are my Lord and the One worthy of worship. Lead me to work for You each day reaching the lost and help me to support workers who are also working in the harvest of souls.

Ezra 6:22 “And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the King of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”

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Winning a full reward!

Scripture reading for November 27th: Zechariah 12-14; Psalm 94; 2nd John

Key Scriptures: 2nd John 6-9 “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. For everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”

Deception is a mark of the devil and his agents in this world. Lying is the antithesis of God the Father and Jesus the Truth and is the native language of the devil. John again mentions those false teachers and calls them ‘antichrist’ as well as deceivers. This word means ‘counterfeit’. They were in the visible church but really not believers in Jesus Christ, Son of God. They advocated false doctrines and were under a deceiving spirit trying to rob believers of their full reward. The true believers could stay safe by abiding in Jesus’ love and showing love for Him by obedience to all His commandments. These were summed up in two: love God and love your brothers and sisters.” This is our “work” of faith, to believe and follow Jesus’ teaching in His love. Watchfulness is needed over our own souls and those of other believers because the ‘antichrist’ is already here.

Psalm 94:12-13 “Blessed is the man whom You discipline, O Lord, and whom You teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, deliver me from the evil one! Fill me each day with Your Word and Spirit, and discipline me if needed. Give me the watchful eyes of an under-shepherd to help brothers and sisters live in Your love and abide in Your Word, receiving their full reward.

Zechariah 13:9 “And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon My Name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are My People’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.'”

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Do you have eternal life?

Scripture reading for November 26th: Zechariah 9-11; 1st John 5

Key Scriptures: 1st John 5:12-15 “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 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. And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.”

The devil always wants to get us into doubting our faith and our relationship with God. The aged Apostle John wrote to the early church to give them confidence. It is really quite simple: if you have Jesus Christ, God’s Son, you have life eternal. If you do not have Jesus Christ as Lord in your life, you abide in death. Having confidence in our relationship with Jesus Christ means knowing that what God’s Word says is true. Faith rests on God’s Word, not our feelings. We can now pray effectively and confidently to find the help we need to live victoriously by faith overcoming the devil!

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I am thankful for Your trustworthy Word and the confidence that comes as I believe that You are God’s Son and my Savior. I call on You daily to fill me with Your Holy Spirit and strength to do Your will.

Zechariah 10:1 “Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, from the Lord Who makes the storm clouds, and He will give them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation of the field.”

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Confidence on judgment day

Scripture reading for November 25th: Zechariah 6-8; 1 John 4

Key Scriptures: 1st John 4:14-18 “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

John did not want believers to live in fear, unsure of their salvation. In fact, if believers are living in fear of punishment on judgment day, they have not been perfected in Christ’s love. They have failed to lay hold of the truth of Jesus by faith. Jesus is God’s Son and Savior of the world. Jesus is “Love.” When we are able to freely confess that Jesus is God’s Son and our Savior, we know by God’s unfailing Word that God abides in us and we in Him. We can love God because He first loved us and demonstrated that love through Jesus Christ. His perfect love is a choice, not an emotion, based on Who He is: Love!

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for Jesus Christ, Your only Son and my Savior. I confess Jesus Christ as My Lord and Savior and receive His amazing love. Because of this, I can have confidence on judgment day.

Zechariah 8:16-17 “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord of Hosts.”

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Are you of God? Or Satan?

Scripture reading for November 24th: Zechariah 2-5; Psalm 93; 1 John 3

Key Scriptures: 1st John 3:7-10 “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s Seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this is it evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

John was concerned about deception in the church. False teachers came and spread the lie that it did not matter how you lived, receiving Christ in your spirit was all that was needed. John set the record straight by repeating the same thing several times and ways. If you practice sin, you are of the devil. If you practice righteousness and love your brothers and sisters, you are born of God and His “Seed” abides in you. We are not saved by works, but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. God’s “Seed”, His Word and Spirit, come to live in us and transform us into Christ’s image. Our fruit shows which one we belong to: either the devil or God.

Psalm 93:5: “Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits Your house, O Lord, forevermore.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I don’t ever want to be deceived. Thank You for the Holy Spirit and Your “Seed”, the Word given as grace gifts to form Christ’s holy character in me.

Zechariah 4:6 “Then he said to me, “This is the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.””

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