Friday, December 14, 2018

Daily Bible Reading - December 14, 2018

Today's Reading:

Philippians 2:12-30

Ezekiel 21-22

Isaiah 50

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

Today is a particularly difficult day. My husband and I have an appointment that we have been praying about for weeks. It is an appointment to try to bring peace in a situation, where "disputings" against us have arisen. Such situations are difficult to say the least. Facing such an appointment, I was particularly blessed by Philippians 2 today. What a wonderful God we serve, who empowers us to face the day - whether easy or difficult - with praise to Him. And that, by His Grace, is how I face today :-) I am especially blessed by the following promise and reminder:

Philippians 2:13-15 - "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputingsThat ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."

To do all things without "disputings" means to live in peace with all, even when they aren't peaceful towards you. That's something we can do only through Yahweh's power. But having addressed bitterness already - and recently - I'd like to focus on the "murmurings" part. Here we find a reminder about being thankful - at all times living without complaint. Frankly, that's also something we can do only through Yahweh's power.

There is no denying that times are tough. Many people are out of work, cannot find a job and are struggling financially. The unemployment rate is still up and food stamps and unemployment benefits are being distributed at record levels. 

When times are good, it is easy to be grateful to Yahweh for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us. But during hard times, it is often difficult to be grateful to Yahweh. Whatever our personal circumstances, Yahweh is still God and He is still good.  So, when we feel like we have struggled enough or lost more than our fair share, how do we remain thankful and maintain a grateful spirit toward God?

The more thankful one is, the more there is to be thankful for. A person cannot be complaining and thankful at the same time, nor can they worry about money or health or anything while being thankful. Instead of complaining and viewing the glass half empty, we need to stop and praise Yahweh for His many blessings. Because Yahweh never fails, and because He works everything together for good, there is always something to be thankful for. Better a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

So how can you still be thankful if you are facing financial troubles and monetary setbacks?

Life is not all about accumulation of things. He who dies with the most money or the most toys, still dies. No one can take their friends or their collections with them to the grave. Job, in Job 1:21 said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away; Blessed be the Name of Yahweh.”)

A very well-grounded perspective. Solomon repeated the truth in Ecclesiastes 5:15. “As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand. 

Yahshua asked the rhetorical question, “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25) And Yahshua taught clearly in Luke 12:15 to “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Life for the Christian is about loving God and loving others, and introducing people to the Master Yahshua Messiah. People are to be loved and things are to be used, and never the opposite. All things considered, life is precious and fleeting and fragile, and it behooves believers to take time often and just be thankful. Make a list of things to be thankful for if necessary, but part of obeying God's Word is taking time for giving Him thanks.

So, I’d like to encourage you to seek contentment. Praise Yahweh for His many blessings. Dwell in continual praise and thanksgiving for His abundant goodness towards you. And walk in this pattern every day, whether easy or hard – this is true Thanks Living. 

By Yahweh's Grace, we can live in this blessing every day, no matter what the day may bring. For this I truly am thankful.

Daily Bible Reading - December 13, 2018

Today's Reading:

Philippians 2:1-11

Ezekiel 20

Isaiah 49

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

Many of my favorite Bible promises are found in the book of Philippians. So, having mostly over-looked it due to focusing on a short series, I would now like to pause and focus on Philippians a bit more closely. Where are we going in this book? What can we expect to find? What is the historical background that helps make the book come alive for us in living color as we read? To answer these questions, I'd like to share with you a short video overview of Philippians, by The Bible Project. Here it is:

Daily Bible Reading - December 12, 2018

Today's Reading:

Philippians 1:12-30

Ezekiel 19

Isaiah 48

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

It's time to finish the series of blogs on bitterness... We've already looked at the first four keys to overcoming bitterness. Let's continue with the fifth key, which is forgive your offenders.
Before we get into that, let's do a quick review. Overcoming bitterness is possible in Christ and it is a vital part of "good work" which Yahweh is doing in each of us is removing every root of bitterness.
Hebrews 12:14-15  "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see Yahweh. 

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."

Again, Yahshua gave us seven keys to conquering bitterness, which are contained in seven of His Commands. Exercising these keys (by His Grace) is wearing the Helmet and Breastplate effectively against becoming bitter.

So what are the seven keys to conquering bitterness? These keys (when appearing in the list) may seem strange and unrelated to overcoming bitterness, but as we look more deeply into them, we will see how living by these Commands of Messiah is effective against the soul-poison of bitterness:

Key #5: Forgive Your Offender

The Command of Christ regarding forgiving our offenders is found in Matthew 6:14-15. 

Forgiveness is a difficult and even scary concept. What about accountability? If we forgive someone for a betrayal or wrong, haven't we just opened ourselves up to be "hurt" again? Many people also worry that if they forgive someone, there is something unjust going on. But, forgiveness doesn’t remove the consequences, this is part of what takes place in pardon. What is the difference between forgiveness and pardon?

Forgiving someone doesn’t automatically imply pardon.  Forgiveness involves having a godly and loving attitude toward our offenders.  We desire what is best for them. Pardon, on the other hand, has to do with the consequences for a crime. To illustrate how these concepts are different, consider this illustration. If a man kills a member of your family, the Bible teaches that you must forgive him, but you cannot pardon him. He still (rightly) stands guilty before the law of the land. Pardon is the release from the legal penalties of the offense. Thus, our forgiveness toward our offenders does not involve lifting the consequences for the “crime.”

Also, forgiveness is not given because of merit. Forgiveness is given because Yahweh first forgave us for our offenses. Matthew 18:23-35 reminds of a parable about forgiveness and what happens if we fail to forgive our offenders.

Key #6: Await Messiah's Return with a focus on Eternity

This is our purifying hope. When Yahshua returns, we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2-3). Waiting for Yahshua to return means that we are in a continual state of readiness. We will be able to give Yahshua a full account of all the things that we have done, whether good or bad (Matthew 12:36) by having confessed our offenses to Him and asked for His forgiveness. We also will have forgiven blessed and done good to those who have offended us.

“Temporal values” relate to bitterness. The very presence of bitterness proves that we have temporal values. Temporal values involve being more concerned over things that last for a time than things which last for eternity.  “...We look (focus our attention) not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal,” 2 Corinthians 4:18.  

Temporal values are really a form of idolatry (Colossians 3:5). And idolatry is, by spiritual definition, “Expecting benefits from people or possessions which only God can give.”
Temporal values cause us to react to people out of fear, greed, covetousness, or defense of our “rights.” Such reactions reveal unsurrendered areas of the heart. These are things we prayerfully want to lay aside, as they are spiritual weights on the soul (Hebrews 12:1).

The final area of overcoming bitterness deals with our attitudes and behaviors towards children.

Key #7: Despise not Children or be angry at them

Children... they're wonderful - and yet challenging - all in one adorable-at-times-aggravating package. There's no one who seems to know how to push a parent's buttons, than his/her children. We can be "perfect" Christians outside the home, but when the doors are closed and the curtains are drawn, we are tempted to turn into screaming banshees chasing around small minions. 

If we fail to have God’s perspective on little children, we will tend to get angry or bitter when they misbehave. This is an offense with serious consequences. It would be better to have a millstone tied around our necks and to be drowned in the depths of the sea than to offend a little one (Matthew 18:6). What we do for a little one, we do for Yahshua (Matthew 18:1-5). 

Scripture states:  “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children (sons and daughters) to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of Yahweh,” Ephesians 6:4.

And those are the amazing and life-changing keys that Yahweh has given for overcoming bitterness - permanently!

1 Increase Your Faith – to see the benefits from past hurts

2 Be a Servant of all – give all expectations to 

3 Yahweh and embrace the character of a Servant

4 Deny yourself wrong desires and emotions of the soul

4 Love your neighbors – even when they wrong you – this conquers the source of bitterness

5 Forgive your offenders from the Heart

6 Await Christ’s Return by laying aside every weight and running in purity – view offenses from an eternal perspective

7 Despise not little ones – see your children through God’s Heart