Mark 3

Vs. 13, “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him...”  Again, we see Jesus on the Sabbath healing a person (vs. 1-6)…I’ll expound on this passage in the application.  Many crowds would naturally flock to Jesus who was preaching, teaching and healing (vs. 7-12).  We also see Jesus call the twelve apostles (one who is sent with a commission)…when Jesus calls, we better be ready to come (vs. 13-19).  We see a great sin from the teachers of the law as they accuse Jesus of being Beelzebub (another name for Satan) (vs. 20-30).  And lasty, we are reminded that family isn’t dictated by bloodline, it is dictated by faith (vs. 31-34).

 

Regarding application….Stubborn Hearts.  Vs. 5, ”He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts…”  How sad.  The people were more concerned about the letter of the law than they were for someone who needed help.  Question: How does that look today?  There are many in the chuch that love to criticize the way churches do things.  They go to church with a critical eye rather than see the hurting people around them.  Open your heart and look inside.  Be honest to Jesus and when you go to church this week, let’s reach out an encouraging hand and help heal the hearts of others!

Lamentations 3

Vs. 1, “I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.”  This was a very difficult time for Jeremiah.  In the midst of all this devestation, Jeremiah is grieving…but we also see him have some hope.  Jeremiah in an incredilbe example for all of us.  I really don’t know how he was able to keep such faith in the midst of tragedy.  This is faith.  He took his eyes off the horizontal world and looked up veritically to God as his lament continued.  Noticed as the chapter continues, he then calls upon his people to turn back to the Lord because of their sin.

 

Regarding application…God’s Compassion.  Vs. 22, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”  Perspective.  That must be what it is.  Jeremiah had a bigger perspective.  All those years that God’s people had a chance to turn back, they didn’t care.  Consequences came, but God would promise Jeremiah that He would restore the very people He is disciplining.  God wasn’t just keeping a covenant, He had compassion.  So many of us want to blame God when bad things happen.  Yet, we should be thanking Him for His compassion that we even have air in our lungs.  Thank you Lord!  This is the God of Jeremiah and this is the of God today!

Matthew 3

Vs. 3, “This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”  For over four hundred years, God’s people had not heard a prophet…now God would raise up John the Baptist.  What a character and what a man that we see in John.  Don’t forget that God’s people were going through a spiritual desert of life, so John being out in the desert was no coincidence.  John’s message was one of bold repentance.  The Israelites had been putting their faith in rituals and that Abraham was their father. They were doing all the right things on the outside, but their hearts were far from God.  Sound familiar?  It should, for the same dangers exist in the church today.  And then finally, we see Jesus come into the picture of a man now.  As Jesus is being baptized, we get a glimpse of the Holy Triinity as God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all making their presence known with the event of the baptism.

 

Regarding application…Jesus Revealed.  Vs. 17, “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  God the Father proudly reveals His son!  Throiugh baptism, Jesus is identifying himself with us as being human, though not a sinner.  It also revealed what Jesus would do on the cross.  Brothers and sisters…Jesus came to reveal himself to us.  Question: What does that mean?  Now that many of us have seen Jesus and put our faith in Him….it’s time to start doing what John the Baptist did.  It’s time to start revealing who Jesus is in our lives!  It’s time to start boldly letting the world know without shame!  Let it be known in your life, in your words, in your family, in your actions.  Everyday you have an opportunity to reveal who Jesus is!  Let’s do this!

Jeremiah 3

Vs. 6, “During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there.”  Jeremiah would team with Judah’s king Josiah to try to clean up the idolatry.  Israel had turned from God and now God is warning Judah of the same path they were headed down.  The Lord’s judgment would be stronger on Judah for they had Israel’s mistake to learn from and still didn’t turn to God (vs. 10).  If they would just acknowledge their guit & sin and turn back to God, He would graciously forgive them.

Regarding application…Backsliding.  Vs. 22, “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.”  In other versions of the Bible, the word backsliding is used seven times in this chapter alone.  Backsliding is a refusal to go God’s way, a refusal to listen to Him.  God would liken backsliding to a young cow unwilling to obey (Hosea 4:16).  Judah became like an unfaithful wife, faithless & disloyal.  It is choosing to leave your first love & going out to fill the appetites of the flesh.  Notice how Jeremiah states backsliding is like a disease that must be cured.  I know in my life I have gone down the road of backsliding.  The further you backslide the more you isolate yourself from the very person who can bring you back….Jesus.  Find encouragement from Jesus as He tell us, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matt 26:41)  Come back to Jesus, He loves you so very much…

Revelation 3

Sardis

.”  Sardis was a dying church.  But, even in a dying church there were still a few who remained faithful.  Vs. 5 has been a controversial passage in which some people like to use this verse to support the fact that a Christian can lose their salvation.  However, this book of life has all the names born in it…but those who turn to the Lord have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life and those who do not have their names blotted out of the original book of life.  I know it’s confusing but take a look at Revelations 13:8, 20:12, 20:15, 21:27. Vs. 1, “…

Philadelphia

.”  This is one of the strongest passages to support the fact that we will be raptured (taken to Heaven) before the 7 years of tribulation!Ahhh…the city of brotherly love.  It was a smaller church and here we see Jesus doesn’t have words of rebuke, but rather words of encouragement.  We see that though they were small, they were faithful!  Small churches have their places in this world =)  Vs. 10, “Laodicea

.”  A well known passage to stop our complacency…but also a note to remember that “Hot” & “Cold” are both good connotations by our Lord Jesus.  Jesus isn’t saying He would rather see us withcold hearts.  The “cold” here would be like a refreshing cold spring or glass of water.This was the wealthiest church of the seven.  When I think of the churches today…I can’t help but see the churches in the United States represent the modern day Laodicea.  In fact the word Laodicea means “The rule of the people”.  Perhaps they were a church who no longer followed the spiritual leaders, but rather tried to rule on their own.   Vs. 15, ”

Regarding application…Which church do we represent?  Upon completion of the seven churches….We must be open & honest before our Lord and see what diagnosis is needed for our church…for our individual lives.  None of us are beyond rebuke or admonishment.  Let us not forget our first love (Ephesus) and become lukewarm ( Laodicea ) churches.  While vs. 20 is used for many evangelistic messages…this really is a message for the body of Christ.  Jesus wants to fellowship with his church…are we inviting Him in?  Are you inviting Him in your QT’s?

1 John 3

Vs. 1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are…”  What an appropriate verse to remind us of Father’s Day!   Love is indeed is one of the greatest motivations in this world!  If we love & understand God’s love for us…then we cannot help but desire to obey.  One day Jesus will return, and that is all the more reason we should live as if He will today (Vs. 2-3).  As Christans we have the “new nature”, the Holy Spirit guiding us in our lives.  Jesus set the perfect example and as He died for us, we ought to be willing to die for others too (Vs. 16)…what a powerful verse!  But our hearts and the Holy Spirit can and does condemn us (Vs. 19-20) when we have failed to love others.  We can come before God with confidence (Vs. 21), God is able to show the full extent of His love in our lives because of the Holy Spirit He gave us (Vs. 24).

Regarding application…Deliberately Sinning.  Vs. 9, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”  When we abide in Christ, we will not consciencely make an effor to deliberately sin.  Of course we fall short of the glory of God…and we sometimes choose to willingly disobey the Lord.  But what John is getting at is this: No true Christan will continue to repeatedly time and time again deliberately sin on and on with no remorse.  This is a very serious topic and one that is not easy to discuss.  Take the prodigal son…He did repeatedly sin, but in his heart of hearts…he was still a son.  He realized he did not belong with the pigs…he belonged with his Father.  Deep down in the deepest recesses of our hearts is the desire to please the Lord.  We only have that because when the Holy Spirit came into our lives, a new nature formed in our hardened hearts.

Question: Is it possible to deliberately sin and still go to Heaven?  Yes, because perhaps you are a procrastinator and in your heart of hearts, you meant to turn back to the Lord but maybe you died before you had the chance in a car wreck.  For the prodigal son, if he had died before turning back to his father, he still would have been a part of that family.  But, sadly…it is not and should not ever be our desire to deliberately sin.  It is like saying, “God, I have no remorse about what I am doing and I don’t care if it hurts you and others.”  Many times, we as children of God will disobey Him, but we do it with guilt and remorse.  However, it is God’s will that we turn from the sinful nature and strive to live holy all the days of our lives.

II Peter 3

Vs. 8, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”  It was not an easy time for the Christians during Peter’s letter.  You can see Peter’s strong admonition to stay true to God’s Word (Vs. 2).  We should never be ignorant (not knowing) of God’s Word…we know that Jesus will return, therefore we should never forget it and live like He could return today.  I love Vs. 9 and how it reminds us that God has chosen not to come back yet because of His desire for us to make sure we are doing our job to go out and bear witness of Him!  We must be diligent in our walks & always be alert of the traps & mines that can come along our path.  We must grow both in the knowledge (His Word) & the grace (Walking with Him) of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Regarding application…Make Every Effort!  Vs.14, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”  In other translations “dear friends” = Beloved.  Think about this…  Question: What really matters in this life?  There are many worthwhile things to pursue in this life…Godly friendships, good grades in school, good career to support a family one day, find a good church…etc.  But, the heart of the matter…what really matters is asking yourself…what is true object of my life?  My goals or God’s goals?  God’s Goals or My Goals?  You cannot choose both.  You must choose one.

I loved the child book story of the “Little Engine That Could.”  The whole premise is this little “choo choo” train having to go up this enourmous mountain.  It is a daunting task and it seem impossible by all human standards.  Yet the “little engine that could” had this mantra (saying)…rather than feels sorry for itself or say, “I can’t do it”…the “little engine that could” kept on repeating these words…”I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, etc…”  It’s a wonderful story to show not only children but all of us a illustration about life.  But for the Christian…”I think I can” should really translate to “I know God can, I know God can, I know God can….”  When we “Make Every Effort” to die to ourselves, God can do anything His will desires in our life.  Amen!

I Peter 3

Vs. 15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”  AMEN!  This is one of the many reasons why we read His Word…so that we always have a response to give with love & gentleness.  Christian women should remember that beauty comes from the inside, not the exterior (Vs. 2-4).  Christian men should treat their wives with gentle love and honor (Vs. 7).  We also are reminded of the word we don’t like to hear, but it is one all Christians must come to grip with…”suffering.”  Anybody can suffer for doing wrong, but Christians must learn to suffer for doing what is right. Of course, Jesus is the example for us to follow.

Regarding application…Responding To Insults.  Vs. 9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”  Peter encourages Christians to act and respond like Jesus.  He endured suffering and ridicule without a vindicative response.  There is a contrast between our natural tendency as human beings, to get even when we are offended versus with the way we should act as believers.  Now…for a little “context” lesson…who are those whom Peter is admonishing us not to repay evil with evil?  Look no further than Vs. 8…Peter was not addressing some evil Roman pagan empire or the false prophets and teachers…Peter was addressing those who belonged to the family of God.  Christians were paying evil for evil towards each other…the ramifications are obvious.  If the outside world saw Christians treating each other like this…than what would be the point of church if they act just like the rest of the world?  Unfortunately, this same exhortation exists for us today.  Most of us have probably been a part of a church split or seeing congregations get rid of Pastors etc…  It’s moments like these that we see the church not practicing true love from Christ.  Let us throw off that attitude like we deserve something and remember that if Jesus the very Son of God could humble himself before His own creation…than we could surely humble ourselves with each other.

James 3

Vs. 1, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”  It is a privelidge to teach but also a very great responsibility.  I hope & pray all of you would one day be teachers of His word…most importantly to your children one day and hopefully in the church too!  James goes on to mention the power of the words and what we say.  The Book of Proverbs gives us much wisdom on this topic and we see the life of Peter who goes from a man who often spoke before he thought to the leader of the first church.  We also see the importance of Wisdom (Vs. 13-18).  Not only are we called to know His word, we are also called to make wise choices (applying God’s word).  There are two wisdom’s…the wisdom from below (earthly, unspiritual, of the devil) and the wisdom from above (pure, peace-loving, etc.).  People who follow the wisdom of the world…you will usually find jealousy, division & much confusion in their lives.  True wisdom are people who live it in their lives and the gentle words they use.

Regarding application…Taming the Tongue.  Vs. 9, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.”  We are reminded the Tongue is compared to a bit in a horse’s mouth, a ship’s rudder, and a simple flame of fire in a forest…all small, but all very effective in what they can do.  But notice this truth in Vs. 8, “but no man can tame the tongue…”  Question: Do you know what this means?  It means, without God…there is absolutely NO WAY we can learn to tame our tongue…there is NO WAY we can stop cussing, or stop gossiping, slandering, saying things that can hurt others, etc.  When we allow God to takeover our lives and control the words we say, we will find the words we use will be far different than what we used to speak.  The words will have gentleness, patience, self control & love mixed with them.

A careless word may kindle strife;

A cruel word may wreck a life.

A bitter word may hate instill;

A brutal word may smite and kill.

A gracious word may smooth the way;

A joyous word may light the day.

A timely word may lessen stress;

A loving word may heal and bless.

—Author unknown

 

Brothers & Sisters in Christ…think before you speak and let God change the words that come out of your mouth.

Hebrews 3

Vs. 1, “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.” There were still people who were focused on Moses having hierarchy in their faith. Moses was faithful in the house of God…But Jesus is the one who built it (vs. 3-6). Also, Moses was a servant in God’s house while Jesus was a son. History has sense of repeating itself and just as the people in Moses’ time turned from God…there was the danger of this happening again. The danger in this is that we too are rescued from our own captivity (like Egypt)…but we are not crossing in the Promised Land (Canaan). It was/is unbelief (vs. 12) that kept them/us from receiving what God truly desires to give to His people.

Regarding application…Encourage Daily. Vs. 13, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Question: What helps to keep us from unbelief? Daily encouragement…daily reading His word, daily praying, daily encouraging others. This is not rocket science we are talking about here…there is no magic formula that is hidden in Scripture to walk in victory with Jesus. Jesus would also exhort us to take the cross up daily (Luke 9:23). I think there is always the danger when we are not daily walking with Him to feel satisfied with where we are. I remember during my Bible College years that I felt I was I was at a satifactory place in my life with God. I was serving as a Youth Pastor and attending Bible & theology classes every week day. But when I look back, I was not avidly seeking God through His daily Word. I justified it by studying His word…but that is not the same.  That is why we need to be encouraged each day of our lives because we are a sinful & forgetful people.