Monday, October 31, 2016

don't worry about your life

We live in a tremendously materialistic culture.

It seems the focus is all about the accumulation of wealth.

iow, getting more things & acquiring the most stuff.

It drives us to distraction.

We are called upon to be & do things that can be overwhelminf & contrary to the nature of God.

Jesus spoke about all that.

He basically said that if we trust God, He will take care of us.

How many of us REALLY believe that?

And how many of us spend foolish amounts of time “taking care of ourselves”?

I know I do.

But here in Matthew 6, the 2nd chapter in His towering teaching called the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus addresses all that.

What would our lives look like if we really believed what He says in these few verses?

Matthew 6

19 "Don't store up treasures here on earth,

where moths eat them and rust destroys them,

and where thieves break in and steal.

20 Store your treasures in heaven,

where moths and rust cannot destroy,

and thieves do not break in and steal.

21 Wherever your treasure is,

there the desires of your heart will also be.

  22 "Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body.

When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.

23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.

And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

  24 "No one can serve two masters.

For you will hate one and love the other;

you will be devoted to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve both God and money.

  25 "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life;

whether you have enough food and drink,

or enough clothes to wear.

Isn't life more than food,

and your body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds.

They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns,

for your heavenly Father feeds them.

And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?

27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

  28 "And why worry about your clothing?

Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.

They don't work or make their clothing,

29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.

Why do you have so little faith?

  31 "So don't worry about these things, saying,

'What will we eat?

What will we drink?

What will we wear?'

32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers,

but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,

and live righteously,

and he will give you everything you need.

  34 "So don't worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will bring its own worries.

Today's trouble is enough for today.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

love your enemies

Matthew 5, 6, & 7 are the 3 chapters we have come to call The Sermon on the Mount.

It's called that because it is Matthew's account of a long period of teaching that Jesus had t a large crowd sitting on the side of a mountain.

It is a teaching that is FILLED with all kinds of great stuff – it could be said that those 3 chapters covering Jesus teachings could be some of the most pivotal words in the New Testament.

If you've never read those 3 chapters, you really ought to. It is just an incredible collection of stupendous, revolutionary thinking & truth.

I'd like to share the last few verses in chapter 5.

After you read it, ask yourself the question...

What would our lives & world look like if we did what Jesus says to be & do here.”

Matthew 5

43 "You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy.

44 But I say,

love your enemies!

Pray for those who persecute you!

45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.

For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good,

and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?

Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.

47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?

Even pagans do that.

48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

one thing leads t another

2 Peter 1

3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.

(dan note: power statement – that's pretty unequivocal – “God has given us everything we need for living a godly life”. )

We have received all of this by coming to know him,

the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.

4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises.

These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature

and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires.

(dan note: this next section is the “one thing leads to another” section.)

  5 In view of all this, make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises in your life.

Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence.

A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better.

Knowing God better leads to self control.

Self control leads to patient endurance,

and patient endurance leads to godliness.

Godliness leads to love for other Christians,

and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone.

  8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind,

forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

(dan note: Peter doesn't mess around – if we don't pursue this godly life, things become problematic for us.)

  10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen.

Do these things, and you will never stumble or fall away.

11 And God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the etermal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

One thing is for sure – we are called to a holy life.

Believing in Jesus isn't all there is.

We must allow God to make us into a new person, a person who is life Jesus, & that means recreating our thinking & behavior – iow, a holy life.

There seems to be a paucity of this kind of thinking.

While there certainly is an importance in believing who Jesus is & what His life & death mean for us, there seems to be a lack of understanding that not only are we “save by grace” but our behavior & attitudes have to change.

We don't just “believe in Jesus” - we also have to let God change us.

And most of those changes are not easy or comfortable.

As followers of Jesus, God isn't interested in making us “better persons”.

He's interested in making us like Him – people who think like Him, live like Him, connect with other people like He does, & love people as He does.

Iow, He wants to “make all things new”.

(I hope that all made some sense – at this hour of the morning, it's hard for me to tell sometimes! ;-) LOL)

Friday, October 28, 2016

pivotal stuff

This chapter holds 4 of the 11 passages I feel God gave me to hold on to during 2016, especially the cornerstone verse of verse 7.

Yeah, I know, I know – 11 passages seems a little overkill.

Hey, whatever it takes – I've needed every one of them to face down the year! ;-)

1 Peter 5

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.

7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you. (2016)

(dan note: what if we all lived this & really, REALLY believed what verse 7 says? What would our lives look like? What would our stress levels be? And how would be live & what would our self concept be if we REALLY believed that the God of the universes cares about us, who are less than nanospecks in the cosmos?)

  8 Stay alert!

Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.

He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (2016)

9 Stand firm against him,

and be strong in your faith.

Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

(dan note: Do you get the feeling that Peter is kinda sorta telling the people he's writing to to quit whining about attacks by the devil & realize that what they're experiencing is typical for most folks who were following Jesus?)

  10 In His kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus.

So after you have suffered a little while,

He will restore,


and strengthen you,

and He will place you on a firm foundation. (2016)

11 All power to him forever! Amen.

12 I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother.

My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that

the grace of God is with you no matter what happens. (2016)

(dan note: And how would we be, think, act, & live if we embraced the promise of God in those 4 simple words at the end of that sentence - “no matter what happens” ?)

  13 Your sister church here in Rome sends you greetings,

and so does my son Mark.

(dan note: As young adult man, Mark was one of Jesus' disciples & the Mark who wrote the Gospel account of Jesus' life. He traveled with Peter. Evidently, Peter had taken him into his life to the point where he considered Mark his son.)

14 Greet each other with Christian love.
  Peace be with all of you who are in Christ.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

living for God

Here is what Peter wrote in regards to living for God in the Roman world over 2000 years ago.

How does what he wrote speak to us today?

What does he say to you & to your circumstances as well as how we should all live our lives?

Take a look & think about what he says, & maybe tell me what he says that speaks to you...

For me, there were things he says here that stand out to me & my situation & life – they make me go “hmmmmmmmmm...” (I've underlined them).

1 Peter 4

1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too.

For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.

2 You won't spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires,

but you will be anxious to do the will of God.

3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy;

their immorality and lust,

their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties,

and their terrible worship of idols.

  4 Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do.

So they slander you.

5 But remember that they will have to face God,

who will judge everyone,

both the living and the dead.

6 That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead;

so although they were destined to die like all people,

they now live forever with God in the Spirit.

  7 The end of the world is coming soon.

Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.

8 Most important of all,

continue to show deep love for each other,

for love covers a multitude of sins.

9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.

  10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.

Use them well to serve one another.

11 Do you have the gift of speaking?

Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you.

Do you have the gift of helping others?

Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies.

Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ.

All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

12 Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through,

as if something strange were happening to you.

13 Instead, be very glad;

for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering,

so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

  14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian,

for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.

15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder,


making trouble,

or prying into other people's affairs.

16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian.

Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!

17 For the time has come for judgment,

and it must begin with God's household.

And if judgment begins with us,

what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God's Good News?

18 And also,

"If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?"

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God,

keep on doing what is right,

and trust your lives to the God who created you,

for he will never fail you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

practical living

Here's another passage from Peter, giving us practical skills for living.

I wonder what our world would be like if we modeled more the behavior in the verses I've underlined today?

1 Peter 3

8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind.

Sympathize with each other.

Love each other as brothers and sisters.

Be tenderhearted,

and keep a humble attitude.

9 Don't repay evil for evil.

Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you.

Instead, pay them back with a blessing.

That is what God has called you to do,

and he will bless you for it.

10 For the Scriptures say,

"If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days,

keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
  Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
  and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
  against those who do evil."

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

sheep among wolves

Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors.

Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, the will see your honorable behavior,

& they will believe & give honor to God when He comes to judge the world.

1 Peter 2:12 (1st edition)

I had to shake my head this morning when I read this.

Are we careful about our behavior, the way we treat unbelieving people?

Or are we harsh, judgmental, Bible banging, consigning to hell, intolerant, & unloving?

I think in general we probably live out is behind the latter, not the former.

Where would we be if, when we were searching for God & testing the water for ourselves, if we ran into people like us, who condemned them, made us “tow the line” on some things, & in general, get our act together before we allow ourselves o be accepted into the fold of God.


We probably would be who we are – some of us would be dead,

We need to watch how we live. Sometimes, we the only person some persons associate with Jesus,

And they suppose that if we claim to be followers, then we should exemplify how we should live & move.

We are all capable to live the life we need to live.

It's just the humble attitude that however God wants to use me, He has free reign to.

I'm not just saying I'm just letting Him have His way in my life – I'm expecting it to look reallty crazy.

I expect it to be a tough way to live.

And, sometimes, it is.

Monday, October 24, 2016

2 verses, for you, maybe?

This morning I read in 1 Kings 17, Psalms 93, John 20, & 1 Peter 1.

There was a LOT of good stuff in those books.

But while looking through the verses I feel like God has given me to hold on to, these 2 verses stood out, & I couldn't get away from them.

I don't know where most of y'all are in your lives. Maybe these verses will speak to your situation & to your needs.

They're good words in general, maybe God will use them to speak to you in the specific.

Jeremiah 17 (NLT, 1st ed.)

7 "But blessed are those who trust in the LORD

  and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.

8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
  with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
  or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,

  and they go right on producing delicious fruit.