Sorry – Falling Behind

Yeah. So, remind me of my goal. A Bible Study every week, right? Ok. So, what had happened was….

Missed you guys last week. And why? Because I just didn’t get it done. Do I have an excuse? Nope. Have I been writing? Yes I have, but the Bible Study is stuck in my head. I can’t seem to get it out onto the paper. (Yes, I mean paper. I do my first draft long hand.) 

There’s been so much going on in my head, and in the world, and in life, and everything. It’s like I just can’t seem to keep up with all the thoughts, feelings, and Word I feel I need to speak or write out. 

This morning produced the beginnings of what I believe will be a very good story. The plan had been to come home after church and work on the Bible Study until it was time to meet with my small group. But God intervened during a conversation in the parking lot when I was trying to leave church. While we were conversing with the young man who has questions about who he is as a child of God and a young African American make, a young woman drove up, got out of her car and said, “Y’all prayin’? Can I get some?”

It was a beautiful thing as real church happened in the parking lot for nearly two hours after “church” ended. And that’s what it’s supposed to be about. You go on Sunday in order to get refilled and refreshed, and then you take it outside the walls, into the community. We are called to seek and save the list. And if you get filled enough, and refreshed enough, if you are in tune enough to be hearing His voice, you don’t even need to seek the list because they will walk right up to you and start asking questions. Yes, it was a truly beautiful thing.

There is so much more in my head, I just can’t seem to get it out right now. If I tried to get it all down, well, perhaps in November when I do NaNoWriMo again, (National Novel Writing Month for those of you who don’t know), at be that will be enough time to get it done. So for this post, I’m going to let it go. Though this might be a little shorter than most, I feel like you need to have your own conversation with the LORD. It’s like the meme I mentioned a few weeks ago. We tend to listen in order to respond, not to hear. So I ask you, please, talk with Him. And then listen. Listen for the things H wants to speak TO YOU. He is speaking. But you have to listen. Listen to God. Focus on Him and He will talk to you. 
Sorry if this is a bit rambling, but that’s just the way things are in my head right now. Have a blessed week, and we’ll see you next week.

1 Timothy 1:12-16

“I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our LORD, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our LORD overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 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. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Tim 1:12-16 ESV)

Yep. This would be me, and every sinner, saved by His grace and mercy. We all think we are the “foremost.” But He does judge us faithful and appoint each and every one of us to His service.

Yes, as I said a couple weeks ago, it’s easy to say “Yes” to Jesus. But there is a cost to discipleship. When we turn our lives around, start walking with Jesus instead of away from Him, there is a price to be paid, a job to be done. It’s not a free ride or a government handout. We have work to do. We have been called into His service.

And what is this service, you ask? While there will be some variation, mostly it is to live your life for Jesus.When I was a new Christian, I heard someone scythe the Christian’s life is sometimes the only Bible a non-believer sees. People are watching you, more than you may ever know. When Jesus comes into your life and you make that 180 degree turn, and people start noticing that you are different, they will ask. “What happened? What’s changed?” And that’s when you have the opportunity to tell them, “Well, Jesus became the LORD of my life. And with His help I have given up cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs with no withdrawal symptoms, no cravings, no real problems whatsoever. The desire for Jesus just drove out the desire for all the other things.” (Yes. This is what happened to me. Over the course of about one month, I went from smoking nearly 3 packs of cigarettes a day, drinking at least a quart of bourbon a day (Yes, every day), and smoking about an ounce of pot a week, to clean and sober. I gave it all up, cold turkey. I walked away from it all, straight into the arms of Jesus.)

Before I let Jesus in, I called myself”Spiritual.” I believed there was some sort of superior being, god, if you will, but I didn’t see god as God. And I certainly didn’t get the whole Trinity thing, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I didn’t get the religion thing, the you have to believe this way, or that way, or whatever way. I was very much an individualist. One friend from high school recalls me saying, “All this religion crap is bunk,” or words to that effect. She, a very devoted Christian, (who prayed for my salvation for about 28 years – Thanks Deb – Love you!), was debating with another student, from Iran, about Jesus vs. Allah. Not only do I remember the debate, we were waiting for the start of geometry class, but I also remember telling them that I thought they were both “cracked.”

Those who knew me in my days BC (Before Christ), and who know me now, know what a great transformation God did in my life. And that, my friends, is the point to the last line in this passage, that “I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to this who were to believe in Him for eternal life.” He waited, patiently, (even more patiently than Debbie’s 28 years) for me to come to the point in my life that I could say yes to Him, let Him redeem my life from the pit of hell and become an example of His great love, patience, mercy, grace, forgiveness, all of the above and even more so.

He turned my life around, and now I serve Him. Everything I do is for His glory. I work for Him, I rest for Him, I even play for Him. It’s all for Him. Thank You Jesus. His patience is for you too. He will wait for you. His mercy and His grace is for you. He will extend it to you whenever you ask. So I ask you, what are you waiting for? Just open your heart to Him, say, “LORD, I’m sorry for all I’ve done against You and Your Word. I do believe in You, Jesus, and I want You in my life. I ask for your forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Please come into my life to rule and reign. Thank You.” It’s that simple.

And when You have done this, please, let me know. It’s not required that you let anyone know, in fact, in some countries it’s safer if you do keep it to yourself. But, for the most part, it’s easier in community. God will lead you if you’re on your own, but having someone pray for you, guide you, point the way and direct you around the pitfalls, just helps.

For this week’s Scripture memory verse let’s stick with today’s theme, 1 Timothy 1:16, “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.”

READING PLAN

Day 36 Exodus 15-16 Psalm 33 Mark 12

Day 37 Exodus 17-19 Psalm 34 Mark 13

Day 38 Exodus 20-21 Psalm 35 Mark 14

Day 39 Exodus 22-23 Psalm 36 Mark 15

Day 40 Exodus 24-25 Psalm 37:1-22 Mark 16

Day 41 Exodus 26-27 Psalm 37:23-40 Luke 1

Day 42 Exodus 28 Psalm 38 Luke 2

 

Psalm 28:1- 5

To You, LORD, I call; You are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if You remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help, as I lift up my hands toward Your Most Holy Place. Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve. Because they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD and what His hands have done, He will tear them down and never build them up again.  Psalm 28:1- 5 (NIV)

Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10 (ESV) 

These are the two Scriptures that have been on my heart today. There is so much polarization in the country right now, and I just don’t know what to do about it. My prayer is that I be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem. 

In Psalm 28, David, the author, tells God that if He remains silent in the situation, then he will sink down into the pit with the evil doers. Basically saying, LORD, if You don’t help me out, I’m gonna go off on someone. And I think there are a lot of people in America who feel that way right now. But not all of them have a relationship with God, not all have Holy Spirit inside to help them make Godly decisions. So we who are Christian, who do have Holy Spirit inside of us, need to be especially attached to God in prayer during this time. And we, as His representatives on earth, have to do what He would do.

We, as the LORD’S representatives,  cannot remain silent. We cannot sit here and just watch any more. We need to lead the way to change. And the only thing that can bring the degree of change that is needed is love. “And they will know we are Christians by our LOVE.” 

I was discussing some of the perceived differences between the races last night. We started out somewsomewhat heated, but as we both persisted, explained what we meant, and listened respectfully to each other, we made some progress. We have a ways to go, but we took a step. What it mostly comes down to, I believe, is misunderstanding. And I don’t mean this in any sort of cavalier way, but I mean a deep misunderstanding of thoughts, feelings, emotions, and even words. We need to sit down and talk, define words, what we mean when we say, whatever. We need to find the common ground and walk into the future together or we will all be destroyed.

This will still take some time, so we need to be patient with each other. I wish we could change everyone in the blink of an eye, but we can’t, so we need to keep taking the baby steps now. But we can’t stop. We need to keep moving with those steps. And just as a child learning to walk, if we fall, we can’t just sit there and cry, we have to get back up and try again. “Let us run with endurance the race set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

This week’s Scripture memory verse is going to be Psalm 51:10, and let it become your prayer, not just for this week, but forevermore. “Create in ME a clean heart and renew a right spirit within ME.” Let the change begin with YOUR love!

READING PLAN 

Day 29  Exodus 2- 3 Psalm 26 Mark 5

Day 30 Exodus 4- 5 Psalm 27 Mark 6

Day 31 Exodus 6- 7 Psalm 28 Mark 7

Day 32 Exodus 8- 9 Psalm 29 Mark 8

Day 33 Exodus  10- 11 Psalm 30 Mark 9

Day 34 Exodus 12 Psalm 31 Mark 10

Day 35 Exodus 13- 14 Psalm 32 Mark 11

1 Timothy 1:1- 11 Part 3

The last section of this passage speaks of the law. It tells for whom the law is established. 

“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for this who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslaved, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted,” (1 Timothy 1:8- 11).

I work at a job where contact with the public is continuous. Many are in violation of the law when they come to my place of employment. Many are contrite, apologetic, and requesting mercy and grace. I’m not law enforcement, so there’s no problem with me.  We get their business done, and they move on. But the next year they are back, contrite again, apologetic again, asking for mercy again. And so the next year and the year after that and the year after that….

Some really don’t seem to even notice that they have been in violation of the law and just move on with their lives in the oblivion they’ve created for themselves. And then, there are those who flaunt their defiance of the law. They seem almost proud that they have gone for lengths of time without being caught. Some who have been caught are outraged that they are being punished. 

These are the groups for which the law is established. For those who feel bad for what they’ve done, yet never change, for those who are so focused on themselves that they pay no attention to anything or anyone, and those who flaunt their lawlessness, brazenly defying anyone who tells them they are wrong. 

Some may think there is a difference in the scale or measure of wrongness between these groups.  They think that those who are oblivious or ignorant of their wrongness are less seriously wrong than those who are openly defiant, and those who recognize their wrongness, admit it, and apologize, paying the penalty willingly,  even less so. But Jesus says that it doesn’t matter, wrong is wrong, whether done knowingly or unknowingly, admitted or not. And wrong deserves punishment. All sin is sin.

In Psalm 14, David says,  “There is none who does good, not even one,” (Psalm 14:3b). In the first verse of this Psalm he talks about the flaunter when he says, “The fool in his heart says “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” (Emphasis added) We are all in the same boat. We all fall into one of these groups, probably even all of them at one time or another. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).

The 1 Timothy passage we are looking at has quite a list of wrong doings, from what we would consider little things to great big, honkin’ huge sins, from “simple” disobedience to homosexuality, immorality, murder, and “WHATEVER else is contrary to sound doctrine,” (Emphasis added). All that and more is sin. And any and all sin disqualifies us to be in the presence of God. Yes, the law of God is that harsh. And that’s what a lot of non- believers react to when they say that God is an angry God or a mean or cruel God.

But those who believe that God is mean, angry, or cruel, missed the last part of the sentence, verse 11, “in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.” The gospel, the good news, that God, though He will punish by eternal separation from Himself, with NO chance of reprieve after out physical body dies, (a fate worse than physical death), anyone who does not accept His free gift, will grant forgiveness, grace, and mercy to anyone and EVERYONE who does accept the free gift. 

That’s a really long sentence. There’s a lot going on in it. And it’s really hard to believe. REALLY? No matter what I’ve done, all I have to do is accept the gift and God forgives me? I didn’t believe it for decades, preferring instead to try to devise my own way to get to God. I believed there was a God, but I didn’t believe that the only way to God was through Jesus. I believed that as long as I was mostly a good person and tried not to hurt others, I could still get to Heaven. OH, how wrong I was. 

The funny thing is, what I believed, (and probably nearly all non- believers think as well), that what is perceived as the hard way, saying yes to Jesus, is SO MUCH easier than trying  (and failing) to do it on your own. The perceived difficulty is deception from the devil. He doesn’t want people to know the truth. His mission is to kill, steal, and destroy, and he stops at nothing to do that. 

So, if you want grace, mercy, and forgiveness, all you have to say is, “YES.” Tell Jesus that you believe in Him, that you’re tired of trying to do it all on your own, and you want Him to come into your life and be your LORD and Savior. It’s NOT giving up control, as many believe, but finally taking control and moving in the right direction. Repenting of sin is simply turning around and moving in the opposite direction from where you’ve been going.

If you take advantage of this incredible free gift, PLEASE contact me and I’ll help you with your next steps. The reward is worth the journey.

This week’s Scripture memory verse is the most famous, John 3:16 and the less famous verse that follows it.

“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.” John 3:16- 17

READING PLAN

Day 22  Gen 39- 40  Psalm 20 Matt 25

Day 23  Gen 41 Psalm 21  Matt 26

Day 24 Gen 42- 43 Psalm 22:1- 18 Matt 27

Day 25 Gen 44- 45 Psalm 22:19- 31 Matt 28- Mark 1

Day 26 Gen 46- 47 Psalm 23 Mark 2

Day 27 Gen 48- 49 Psalm 24 Mark 3

Day 28 Gen 50- Exodus 1 Psalm 25 Mark 4