Category: Pauline epistles–BibleTrekToday

“Today, in Paradise!”

Scripture reading for April 2nd: Luke 23

Key Scriptures: Luke 23:38-43 “There was also an inscription over Him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

In our calendar, today, this Friday, is “Good Friday.” We call it that because our “Good” Savior and King, Jesus Christ, willingly gave His life on the cross of Calvary to atone for the sins of all mankind. He was crucified between two known criminals. His “crime” was claiming to be God’s Son and a King with a kingdom. Pilate had placed on His cross, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals, along with the crowd and the soldiers, mocked Jesus for His claims. The other criminal had heard the same taunts but evidently had heard Jesus’ prayer for those who were crucifying Him: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He rebuked the first criminal and asked Jesus humbly for mercy, confessing that he believed Jesus was innocent and a King with a kingdom. Jesus’ response brought joy to the suffering sinner and brings joy to all in desperate need of God’s grace! “Today, with Me, in Paradise!” Make that your daily prayer, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

1st Timothy 1:15 “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, my Savior and King, thank You for Your amazing gift of salvation for sinners like me. What “Good News” for the hopelessly lost that You hear the faintest of cry from the dying and condemned. May You empower me and others to proclaim this powerful truth! Today, with Jesus in Paradise!

Luke 23:50-53 “Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid Him in a tomb cut in stone where no one had yet been laid.”

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Pray for strength to stand!

Scripture reading for March 31st: Luke 21

Key Scriptures: Luke 21:33-36 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away. But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.” And every day He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. And early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.”

Jesus was plain in warning His disciples and those who would follow their message concerning the final judgment before the Son of Man. This world has many attractions and diversions that capture men and hold them in a state of unpreparedness for this judgment. Man operates from his heart–the inner man and God sees each heart. When hearts are weighed down and hardened by sins and even the cares and troubles of life, preparations for this judgment are put off and those so burdened are lulled into a dangerous lack of perception. They neglect to remember that life here is short and that following this life, all must give an account before God. Jesus urgently pleaded with all who would listen to stay awake and guard their hearts through prayer and faith. He wanted all to stand and none to be caught in the sudden trap of a heavy heart! He was also warning these disciples of the coming battle in the Garden of Gethsemane where they would sleep while He wrestled in prayer, sweating great drops of blood.

Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your loving warning of future accounting. I want to stand without shame or condemnation. Give me wisdom today to fulfil Your Word and will and avoid the traps of this world. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit empowering me to pray and stand as evil increases in these last days.

Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

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Thanks be to God!

Scripture reading for February 17th: Romans 7

Key Scriptures: Romans 7:21-25 “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

Most commentators agree that Paul is here reflecting on his life as a strict Pharisee who loved God’s law and tried hard to apply it to his life. He wanted to obey and please God, but found within another law, that of sin and death, at work in his members. He ended up in a wretched condition feeling enslaved by the law of sin at work in spite of his desire to live in obedience to God. But thanks be to God Who by grace provided the remedy through Jesus Christ our Lord! Paul understood at last how to be free from the condemnation that trying to keep God’s law through human effort brought. By faith through grace He was set free! Thanks be to God!

Psalm 103:2-4 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, . .”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your gift of grace to me and all who will believe. Thank you for delivering me from the law of sin and death and my flesh. Help me to live in the power of the Holy Spirit today in joy and freedom.

Galatians 5:16-18 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

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Sins terrible consequences

Scripture reading for January 28th: Mark 9

Key Scriptures: Mark 9:42-48 “”Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for your to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. For everyone will be salted with fire.””

Sin is destructive and terrible. Because of sin, man is destined to eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire made for the devil and his angels. Jesus wanted all who followed Him to know the terrible reality of hell and the seriousness of sin that will bring that judgment. Sin is offense against God and God’s law defining sinful acts and attitudes. At its core, sin is selfishness–the desire to be God placed in the human heart because of Adam’s sinfulness and disobedience. The members of our body can lead us into sin so Jesus used radical amputation of hands, feet, and eyes as illustrations of the violent means we should take to avoid sinning. The first step to deliverance is admitting the problem–confession. The next is repentance–a change of mind and direction away from the sinful acts.

Romans 3:23 “. . .for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I am again struck by the destructiveness of sin and its terrible affects on the sinner and their family and friends. Forgive me and have mercy on my family and friends. Thank You for taking the judgment for my sins. Hallelujah! You are so worthy of praise!

Romans 3:24-26 “and we are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins.”

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Dirty on the inside!

Scripture reading for January 26th: Mark 7

Key Scriptures: Mark 7:17-23 “And when He had entered the house and left the people, His disciples asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart, but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.””

After a discourse with the Pharisees concerning Jesus and His disciples not holding to the traditions of the elders, Jesus made the statement that nothing from outside a person can defile him. This challenged the Pharisees rules about washing and eating certain foods that were unclean. The disciples also struggled to understand what Jesus had meant and asked Him privately to explain. He explained that food enters the stomach and is eliminated. Food is not a source of inner contamination. But evil resides in the heart and comes out of the mouth and heart through sinful attitudes, judgements, immorality and pride and slander. These all come from inside the heart and render all men unclean. Only God can remedy the inner state. No rules or laws can make one clean or righteous.

Romans 3:20 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes the knowledge of sin.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I am thankful for Your inner cleansing by the blood of my Savior through faith by grace. Help me daily through the Holy Spirit to walk in my redeemed identity, a child of God. Give me discernment of any legalism or attempts to earn Your favor.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

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Reward from the Lord!

Scripture reading for January 15th: 2nd Timothy 4

Key Scriptures: 2nd Timothy 4:5-8, 22 “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.” . . . .”The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”

Paul’s final words to his son in ministry calls him to a reminder of the eternal reward that will come on the Day of Christ when at the Judgment Seat of Christ we will all be rewarded for the deeds done in the body. Paul knew his race was at the end here on earth. He was soon to be beheaded–poured out as a ‘drink offering’! He had maintained his faith and fought a good fight to stay true to Jesus Christ, suffering for the Gospel but anticipating the reward! This reward would also be for Timothy and all others who faithfully followed and endured! God is with us and His grace will bring us through to reward! We will cast our crowns at Christ’s feet!

Daniel 12:18 “But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the promise of reward from You for faithfulness and endurance through the trials here on earth. Help me to maintain my testimony and finish the good fight in Your grace filled with Your Holy Spirit.

1st Corinthians 3:13-15 “. . .each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

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Profit from Scripture!

Scripture reading for January 14th: 2nd Timothy 3

Key Scriptures: 2nd Timothy 3:12-17 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Paul reminded Timothy over and over that those following Jesus and applying God’s Word to their lives would not be universally loved and accepted. The world was full of evil and people under evil’s influence and deception. This would increase as the world population increased but should not affect how believers lived. They must hold on firmly to the basic truths of Scripture. God breathed out the Scriptures and through them man can become wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Scripture is profitable for reproof–addressing wrong-doing and sin, for correction–changing course, and for illumination of our path through this increasingly evil world. God’s Word will equip believers for every good work and brings eternal profit!

Psalm 119:14-15 In the way of Your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for enduring suffering and teaching Your followers that suffering would come to them in an increasingly evil world. I will study Your Word and faithfully remind my brothers and sisters how profitable it is to become equipped and complete. Help me to rejoice when persecutions come.

Luke 6:22-23 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”

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A workman approved!

Scripture reading for January 13th: 2nd Timothy 2
Key Scriptures: 2nd Timothy 2:8-10;14-15 “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my Gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the Word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” . . .”Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of truth.”

Paul’s reminder to Timothy continues as he wrote to him from prison in Rome and would soon suffer martyrdom. He calls to his remembrance Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, son of David, Son of God. Paul had unashamedly preached Jesus Christ and was now suffering and bound by chains. But Paul reminded Timothy not to be ashamed of his imprisonment or to fear his own. The Word of God was not chained and was producing the fruit of salvation and eternal glory in those who would receive. Paul encouraged Timothy to preach clearly the Word of God to his hearers and to continually present himself to God as His workman. God’s grace would enable him to rightly preach the whole truth and not be ashamed at Christ’s appearing. He wanted Timothy to hear “Well done, faithful servant!”

Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy. He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I will endure suffering for the sake of sharing the Seed of Your Word bringing salvation and eternal glory to those lost and in darkness. Keep my mind and heart focused on You alone! May the “unchained” Word go forth from me turning many to You!

Daniel 12:3 “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

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Fanning the flame!

Scripture reading for January 12th: 2nd Timothy 1

Key Scriptures: 2nd Timothy 1:6-10 “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in the suffering for the Gospel by the power of God, Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the world began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, . . .”

In his last letter before leaving this world, Paul affectionately addressed his son in the faith, Timothy with a reminder. Timothy had come from a line of people who were marked by their faith in God. Timothy also had come to faith and had been ordained by Paul through the laying on of his hands and had received the gift of the Holy Spirit and a holy calling to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit enabled Timothy to be bold and powerful in loving God and sharing God’s love with a hurting and sometimes hateful world. Paul reminded him of this Gift and encouraged him to fan the flames of God’s passionate love and power through the exercise of this Gift. Suffering would result, but life and immortality would flow for Timothy and those who received the Gospel message and God’s purpose would be fulfilled.

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, Thank You for the Gift of Your Holy Spirit to give me boldness, power, and passionate love for You and for Your people. I want to fan into flames the Gift You have provided and that is in me. Give me more grace and power to live a holy life and reach the lost!

Leviticus 19:18 “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

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Holding fast to Life Eternal

Scripture reading for January 11th: 1st Timothy 6

Key Scriptures: 1st Timothy 6:12-16 “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, Who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, Who in His testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will display at the proper time–He Who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who alone has immortality, Who dwells in unapproachable light, Whom no one has ever seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”

Paul ends his letter to Timothy where it began in the first chapter. He encouraged Timothy to hold fast to eternal life by living by faith. He encouraged him to live a holy life in expectation of Jesus’ promised return and ended with worship of the King of kings and Lord of lords! Honor and eternal dominion are found in Him alone! He dwells in unapproachable light and is without beginning or end! What a blessed Lord we serve!

Leviticus 11:44 “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy for I am holy.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God, crucified for my sins, buried in a tomb, raised on the third day to eternal glory at God’s right hand. I praise and worship You as King and Lord! Give me grace to hold fast to eternal Life and enjoy eternal pleasure with You!

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

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