Today’s readings are II Peter 1 – 3 and John 1. We are reading from the New Living Translation.
Maybe it’s because John the Baptist didn’t have much more to say, than what needed to be said. And that was simply:
Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn 1:29 NLT)
What else needed to be said? Let’s look at him. Let’s behold the One who has come and given us everything.
Today’s reading is I Peter. We are reading from the New Living Translation.
This letter ends with a kiss. Christ offers us all a kiss today, even in the reading of his Word. We can receive a kiss of love, an embrace – we can receive the kindness he offers us. That’s what we have in Christ. And our story will end like this letter ends, with a kiss and an embrace from Him.
Judas offered Jesus a kiss, but it was a kiss of betrayal. All of us, apart from God, have offered God that same kiss of betrayal. We once were enemies of God, opposed to him. But Christ, in his great love, doesn’t offer us what we have given him. He offers us love in exchange for our betrayal. He doesn’t pay us back in kind. He gives us his kiss of love, and that love cost him. The price was paid, not in silver and gold, but with His precious blood that he shed for us – the sinless spotless lamb of God.
Because Christ gave us a kiss of love for our kiss of betrayal, I Peter 1:22 says, we can and must show sincere love to each other, as brothers and sisters.
You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.
This letter ends with a kiss. He has exchanged our kiss of betrayal for his kiss of love. It’s a kiss of acceptance, an embrace. And we now, being loved, can and must offer each other that same love.
Receive the embrace that Jesus offers – all of Him. And offer that to others. We all need it.
Today’s reading is James 1 – 5. We are reading from the New Living Translation.
James 5:19 – 20 says
My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
Back from wandering – That’s the story of all who know God and have experienced his grace. Isaiah 53:6 (NET Bible) says,
All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path,
God uses his Word and he uses brothers and sisters in Christ, to bring back the wanderer. James is talking about repeat wanderers, and I count myself as one of them. That’s been my story. The Great Shepherd found me but I have been found again – not saved again. That happened once for all time. But I have been found again. And it was God’s people with the message of Life, that found me. And that’s the story of so many of us. In fact, the once-found, in my experience, are really the exception. I know that there are those out there like that, but for the majority of us sheep, we are repeat wanderers. Our hearts are prone to wander, as the old hymn says. But our hearts can be trained and discipled. And God is gracious and patient with us in that journey. And he has called us to have a loving and wise eye out for our brothers and sisters. He calls us to be ready to do what Jesus has done for us – go and find them and bring them home, reminding them of God’s love.
Be reminded today that, though you may be a repeat wanderer, God is good and strong and faithful. He will use his people to bring back people like you and me and those who might come to mind as you read this. He can bring them and us back home. He might be asking you to go with Him, to bring someone back home. Respond. Train your heart to follow God wherever he leads.
Today’s readings are Hebrews 12 – 13 and Jude 1. We are reading from the New Living Translation.
Homeward. We are going home. That’s what the writer of Hebrews reminds us.
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. (Heb 13:14 NLT)
We’re making our migration home, through the seasons of life. This week I’ve watched some Sandhill cranes out in a nearby harvested corn field. These migratory birds have a homing device built right into their being and it leads them back home. Our journey, like theirs, can be perilous. In our great soul migration we will experience disgrace from the world and discipline from a loving father, and we have to endure. We have to demonstrate endurance in order to get home. But if we are in Christ there is something in each and every one of us that is drawing us Home.
Those cranes sometimes migrate all the way across the Bering Strait to Siberia, to their mating grounds, where it all began. When the Winter ends they’ll make their journey back. These days in December are some of the longest nights and coldest days of the year, but starting December 21st the days will slowly grow longer and the nights shorter. These amazing cranes will begin to make their way home, drawn by an inexplicable call, some kind of life within them, drawing them back home. And so it is with us.
You may be in a winter season where the nights are long and the days are too short but don’t forget that you are on a journey home.
The writer of Hebrews wants to remind all of us that this world is not our permanent home.
So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. (Heb 13:13-15 NLT)
Let’s keep going forward, setting our focus and heart on our permanent home.
Today’s reading is Hebrews 9 – 11. We are reading from the New Living Translation.
Religion works at earning your salvation. But people of faith work at earning a good reputation. And there’s a lot of difference between those two things. Hebrews 11:2 says
Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
They earned a reputation, they didn’t earn their salvation. Religion wants you to try and earn God’s approval by performing well enough for God. But Hebrews 11:6 tells us:
And it is impossible to please God without faith.
Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
It is faith that pleases God, not our good works
People of faith understand that all the universe is created by God, that he is a good God and that he rewards those that seek after him.
People of faith hope, not in their own performance, but in the performance of God. They hope, not in the works of their own hands but rather, in the hands of God. He is good and kind and rewards those who turn their hearts to him and acknowledge their need of him.
People of faith recognize their need for God, in this life and in the life to come. Their reputation here, in this world, is rarely recognized. But they have a reputation somewhere else. They have a reputation with God, as those who know and love him and are known and loved by him. They’ve walked with him and they know that He has a reward for them.
Let’s live among those who have earned a good reputation. Let’s not try and earn our salvation. That’s already been earned for us. But let’s work to earn a good reputation by coming to the God who is good, who rewards. He has shown his great love to us on the cross and now abides in us through his Spirit.
Today’s reading is Hebrews 5 -8. We are reading from the New Living Translation.
He is an anchor for your soul. The most real and essential part of your identity is your soul. Our flesh and our bodies will fail and be no more, as they are. But our soul will remain. Our soul is eternal. Hebrews 6:19 says
This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.
It’s so easy to lose ourselves in this storm-filled world. Today our identities are coming more and more into question – Identity politics. The world tells us that the truest thing about ourselves is ___________ – fill in the blank: our sex, our sexual preference, our gender, our race, etc….
But God anchors our truest self in deeper waters than sex, gender, or race. Christian, the truest thing about your soul is found and anchored in your union with Christ. This anchor is held fast, in the most secure, private, and intimate of places with God – the Holy of Holies. Hebrews 6:19-20 goes on to say:
It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. Heb 6:19-20 NLT)
The anchor of our soul leads us through the curtain into the inner sanctuary – that intimate, private, secure, safe place. The truest thing about you is found, and at rest, in God’s sanctuary. A safe, private, set-aside place. And God has set aside this place to reveal Himself to you and to reveal you to you. He wants you to know who you really are and you will only find it there, with Him.
So don’t let the world determine the truest thing about you. As you walk with God and spend time in his presence, He will reveal your soul to you.
Come to him, recognizing that you are anchored in him. Allow him to lead you into that inner sanctuary, so that you can see Him and see who you are in Him. There you will find the life, hope, courage, and strength to move forward in joy, and be empowered to extend his love to others.
Today’s readings are Philemon and Hebrews 4. We are reading from the New Living Translation.
Hold firmly. Come boldly. These are the last two instructions given in this reading.
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. (Heb 4:14 NLT)
What is it you believe? Do you believe that you have to perform for God in order to find life and favor with God? This is the cornerstone of all religion. You do this and God will do that. Quid pro quo – this for that. But the writer wants you to hold firmly to something altogether different. He’s not telling you to hold firmly to religion. He wants you to hold firmly to what you believe.
And what we believe is the Gospel. We believe in Jesus! The Gospel is not about our performance. It’s about what Christ has done for us. It’s resting in his performance, and life and work, for us – seen ultimately, on the Cross. When we hold firmly to this, we can come boldly to the throne of grace.
You can come boldly because you are not coming on the basis of you own merit, but on His. It is there that you will find grace and help in your time of need. And that time is now.
We are always in need of the Gospel in our lives. We are always in need of grace and help. We are always in need of Him. So hold firmly to the Gospel, and come boldly to the throne of grace.
Today’s reading is II Timothy 1 – 4. We are reading from the New Living Translation.
We’re in the coach’s corner and Paul is giving us a perspective from the finish line, someone who has already won his race. In II Timothy 4:7 Paul says,
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.
He’s standing at the finish line and looking back at his protege, Timothy, and at you and me. And Coach Paul wants to give us some perspective. He has a few things he wants to share with us.
Stay focussed. There’s no off season. Do what you’re called to do. Preach the Word of God and offer the Gospel of Christ. Correct, rebuke and encourage people, into and with the Gospel. Keep a clear mind,. Renew your mind by staying focussed on the Gospel. Don’t be afraid. You’ll have to suffer in this life. But the suffering will pass. You must keep focussed and stay in the fight. The race has an end point. I know. I’m standing on the other side. I’ve run the race. I’ve finished it. I’ve won the prize. And my brothers and sisters, there’s a prize that awaits us. There’s a crown of righteousness – absolute wholeness, absolute healing, absolute joy.
Having already finished his race and looking back from that finish line, Coach Paul has us in the coaches corner, and is shouting out some courage, wisdom and perspective. Receive it well, take it to heart. Stay focussed and don’t be afraid. Keep fighting the fight, keeping your mind clear, and run til the end.
Today’s readings are I Timothy 5 – 6 and Titus 1 – 3. We are reading from the New Living Translation.
Do you want to have a productive life? Here’s the secret. Focus on others. Paul says, in Titus 3:14
Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.
Ironically, the opposite is true. If you want to have an unproductive and unfruitful life, then focus only on yourself. Zig Ziglar says,
You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.
In John 12:24 Jesus says:
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.
A truly productive and fulfilling life comes when we take the focus of our lives off of ourselves, and plant ourselves in the service of others and God. When we die to making this life about us – then we will have all that we want and could have ever have imagined, now and in the life to come.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mk 10:45 NLT)
Do you want to have a productive life in 2018? Then focus on serving others. Reflect on this past year and think about the upcoming year. If you want to have a productive life than you’ll have to focus on others.
Today’s reading is I Timothy 1 – 4. We are reading from the New Living Translation.
How godly are you? Strange question isn’t it? Even the word – ‘godly’. It seems like such an old-fashioned idea. But Paul tells us to train ourselves to be godly. The measure of how godly we are is linked to our training. Apparently we can train ourselves to be godly. That’s quite a thought.
One of the things Paul encourages Timothy to do in his training in godliness, is to read the Word of God, – publicly, for him. But for all of us, reading the Word of God is part of our training regimen in godliness. This is so elemental. As we train ourselves by spending time in the Word of God, we’re washed clean and our minds are renewed.
How’s the training going? Are you out of shape? Do you need a coach? Well, that’s what we’re here for. That’s what the church, Christian community and Christian friends offer each other. That’s what this podcast is here for, and why I’m here. We want to coach you and encourage you in your training in godliness – your life in Christ.
Paul says, Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (I Tim 4:7-8 NLT)
So, as your friend and coach, let’s keep training and never give up on it. There are great benefits from it in this life and in the life to come. The Daily Radio Bible community has been a great encouragement to me, to stay in the Word. It has been training me in godliness. The accountability for me, of being here with you each day, has been an enormous benefit to me in my life, and I trust that it has been of benefit to you, too. Let’s keep training!