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« January 7th One Year Bible Readings | Main | January 9th One Year Bible Readings »

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Hi all. Lovin' your comments, so thought I'd join in!

Two things I want to share:
1. I liked Bob Deffinbaugh's comparison of Lot and Jesus: "While both our Lord and Lot lived in close proximity to sinners without participating in their sins, the difference between the two was that our Lord spoke clearly of sin and of salvation while Lot remained silent." Mike, I was encouraged to that you also struggle with sharing God's love/ evangelising, because I wish I had the boldness to do way more than I do! When I was able to, I used to put a Bible verse as my screen saver at work, and change it regularly as a subtle witness, so that I didn't actually have to publicly proclaim anything!

However, I had one little insight recently. I have recently started work at a new office, and so have been trying to suss out which of my collegues will be good targets for Jesus :)! One Friday I was casually invited to join 3 colleagues in their plans for a night out, which clearly included alcohol as a central point. My gut response was "No thanks", but a Little Voice whispered "Relationship" to me. I realised if I was going to earn the right to speak to any of these colleagues, I would really have to work on having meaningful friendships with them. So I joined them for the first half of the evening when they went out for supper. And lo and behold, in answer to the unexpected question "Well what did Jesus ever do for anyone? Look at the mess we're in now!", I could answer "No, you've got it all wrong! Jesus is the RESTORER of the mess. That's the whole point of Christmas!" I really thanked God for the comeback, because I'm usually really slow with that! There, wasn't much response besides a good-natured chuckle, but I hope it got them thinking. I also found out a bit about some of their dismal church histories. We'll see what other things happen...I do believe forming relationships has a lot to do with sharing God's love.

2. About Matt 7:3-4. One way I have learned to curb my critical self is through an exercise suggested by Trevor Hudson in "Signposts to Spirituality". Write down all the things that people do that you find irritating or don't like. Then look at how many of those attributes you see in yourself. SO OFTEN I am helped to shut my mouth before I criticise when I realise that what I'm about to criticize is actually something I see in myself!

Yours in Him
Caryn

How are you doing with the idea of being in the world, but not of it?

This is one area that I really struggle with, especially as I have become a parent in the last year. For many years I rode the proverbial fence - one foot firmly in the world; the other foot - no so fimrmly, I must confess - with Jesus. I reasoned that in order to be a witness for Christ, I had to be culturally relevant, which ofen entailed some not-so-Godly behaviors and lifestyles. Some witness, huh?

I have given up on my faulty and selfish reasoning, gotten off the fence and planted myself firmly with God and His plan for my life. And yet...I still struggle with what it looks like to be wholly committed to Jesus and still find that common ground to build friendships and relationships that may one day lead to bringing someone to Christ.

Does anyone have any thoughts or insight into this? Is this something that each of us must determine through prayer, study and conviction of our own hearts?

Many thanks to Mike for this study and to all the folks sharing their insights and Godly wisdom.

Amazing how both the Old Testament and the New Testament readings for the day give warnings about rebellion against God.

In Christ,
Randy

I suppose the comment about not giving what is holy to the unholy can help challenge us not to force our beliefs on other people. it is God that works in the hearts of our friends and family and thus we must always be sensitive to where they are on their journey with God.

I've heard holiness defined as that which belongs to God. I suppose if we find something we want to share with a-non Christian we have to make sure that perhaps it is not too close to God and too far from the world for them to be able to appreciate it. To put it another way, if holiness is like light, then if we give something that is too bright to someone who hasn't seen the light it will hurt and disorient them. We need to gradually build people up to faith in God.

I also believe this is also true with new believers. In the same way as the bible talks about not giving holy things to the unholy, it also speaks of how we as believers mature and how we should move from milk to meat. So we shouldn't hammer someone who has just entered into the faith with theologically intense material, but gradually shepherd them into the depths of Christian faith.

I have found evangelism to be a challenge also. I have found encouragement in the example of Christians who are just natural, just being themselves. The book by Rebecca Manley Pippert, "Out of the Saltshaker & into the World: Evangelism As a Way of Life" is one of the best at explaining how to show the love of God as a lifestyle to a broken world.

I believe everyones relationship to God is thier own responsibility.If you read the Bible everyday you can't help but open up at times.

There was a lot in these readings, but I think that what spoke to me the most was the part about having a significant relationship with the Lord is what allows our prayers to be effective - like Abraham's. I hope to re-connect with Christ by using your daily reading plan to deepen my relationship and my faith. Unfortunately for me, the "church" has been the tool that has worn me down with hurtful actions and words over the last many years. And betrayal by those closest to me. So...for 2009, I hope to grow closer to Christ and your Blog is an answer to specific prayer for me. So thanks for doing this. It is great!

Matt 7:1
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

The Greek word here for judge is "krino". It is the Greek word used when God judges. Jesus is saying 'do not play God' - it is not your role. It is hard not to do, and remember it was one of satan's ways of tempting Eve - "ye shall be as gods".

There are seven or eight different Greek words indicating different types of judgement and Paul in 1Corinthians and Romans does call on us to "judge". Is there a contradiction?

No, Jesus's "judge" says to never make Unrighteous and unmerciful judgement. To judge another person's motives (heart) or to curse to condemnation is to play God. Unless a person is teaching false doctrine or following standards that are clearly unscriptural we are never to judge a person's ministry, teaching, life/motives by a self-styled standard.

There are times to judge not a person's heart, but their fruit and the way to handle those times is discussed later in the Bible.

So what hapeens if you do judge in the manner that is only God's realm - well, you do not lose your salvation. But there is a judgement time in heaven where your fruits will be assessed and rewards given out. When you consistently judge harshly on other's - the standards you set up will be applied to you at that judgement.
======================================================
Matt 7:7

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." NIV

I realize that this works only in the English and not the original Greek - but take the First letter of each independant clause and you get:

A S K

I think this is so important!!!!!

When witnessing and discussing the bible with someone who does not believe, I often tell them:

'Don't believe me - go to the source. Talk to God and say you are confused - admit you do not know - and ASK Him to reveal the Truth to you. If you do that with a sincere heart, I believe when you pick up the bible you will see things differently (the veil or blinders will be removed from your eyes).'
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Matt 7:14

"But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

One of satan's greatest deceptions is not to deny Christ, but to use theology that acknowledges Christ, believes He came to save, but stops short of a the full deal. You can believe - but never talks about "receiving" Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Someone once said that the two biggest surprises he would get in heaven are the people who are there, and the people who are not there.

All we can do is pray. One should be sure about his own salvation, and by the fruits you can be sure of some others. And some people you just keep praying to God about. You cannot judge them, but you can pray for them. Keep it between you and God.

Genesis 18

Prayer is conversation with God. This is an example of effective prayer (petitioning) God by Abraham.

We can pray for anything we want. Jesus gave us the right to come before God and petition. However, I have come to believe truly effective prayer is praying in the Will of God. Seizing on a promise from His Word, reaction to a conviction in your heart (that is confirmed), or a warning in your heart (that is confirmed). Praying in the will of God gives you insight into the Father, and you "Know" hime better. Isn't that a goal outlined by Jesus for us?

Effective prayer always starts with God. Here God outlines His plan. Abraham intercedes calling on a characteristic of God - mercy. Also acknowledging our status vis a vis God - "dust and ashes" showing humility.

Abraham is not arguing God down in number, but asking for more and more mercy. Abraham is interceding for the possible righteous. Abraham is growing and becoming more like Christ. Christ is our perfect intercessor.

Why did he stop at ten? Commentators say it is because Lot's family and future in-laws equaled ten. Possibly?????

The session ended when God had finished speaking - not Abraham. Just as it is with us when the Holy Spirit finishes up for us perfectly after our imperfect prayers.

the Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings which we cannot express, but which are nevertheless there in the heart." (Romans 8:26c-27)

Genesis 19

Lot and Sodom

Peter says Lot was righteous:

...righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked (for by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds)... (2 Peter 2:7b-8 RSV)

So what was Lot doing in Sodom? Remember Lot chose by his eyes the fruitful plains and the big cities forsaking the tent and the altar. Perhaps Lot thought he could have the best of both worlds. The riches and big city life and he could have an impact on the morals of the plains people. Can we serve two masters? Peter seems to be saying Lot was miserable in his time in Sodom.

Sitting at the gate in that day was not idleness - it is where the leaders of the city sat to settle disputes and investigate newcomers. Lot was a leader in Sodom. What did it get him - again Peter says vexation.

Lot's influence on Sodom. Well, God says there cup was full of sin, Lot could not stop the men at his door (angels had to rescue him), Lot could not influence future family, and in the end had to be led out because even he hesitated.

What happened to his wealth? All gone with the destruction of the city.

What effect did your decision to go to Sodom have on your family? Well, Lot's wife clearly had longings for Sodom, and she died. Lot's daughters may have been virgins but their minds were corrupted by Sodom, and their actions led to the ancestors of two of the most evil tribes of the "ites".

Lot is righteous, but forever more he is considered a believer who led a wasted life. In the end we find him poor and living in a cave and it all began with choosing to serve two masters. Lot's choices not only affected him, but his family. Sobering thoughts for Christian youth today, and for parents in a Christian home, and for myself.

I am so enjoying the daily readings. I was using the PDF schedule, but have taken to just clicking the link to the readings & it is great. I also tried out the audio bible. We listened to it last night. The King James is wonderful when read. God is transforming my daily life with the readings. Peace to everyone on this journey.
In Him,
s

Thanks to Mike and to all who post your comments! I am blessed by you fellow sojourners belonging to another kingdom.

I wanted to point out that something new resounded in the dialogue between the Lord and Abraham. I was thinking while reading it that I myself would have perhaps become impatient and annoyed at so many appeals 40, then 30, then 20, etc... I was awestuck at how merciful Jehovah The Lord was and is and how He His mercies are new every morning and He is ready to show Himself mighty on behalf of those who love Him. Be blessed...

Hello Everyone,

I'm a day late here on this thread, but didn't have time to write it out yesterday, and the thoughts have been inside me patiently waiting to get out ; )

First, let me encourage you, Mike, that you ARE a very proficient evangelist! Your Bible Blog declares the glory of God in a mighty way to thousands of people every day. Just because your words are on the Internet and not "spoken" in person does not diminish their significance.

I think we have to be careful about what we perceive to be "effective evangelism" and for this reason, I really liked what Chuckles said about being sensitive to what the Lord is doing in the hearts of others. Before I became a Christian, I was not influenced by "quick words" from strangers and certainly not by what I perceived to be "judgmental" words by Christian family members. I WAS impressed gradually by quietly watching the lives of "authentic" Christians who made Him the center of their lives. I could see this by the fruit of their lives (like the Matthew 7:20 passage: "Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions."

I didn't expect these Christians to be perfect (in fact just the opposite...I was cynical), in fact, I was just amazed when they "walked the walk" and took notice. Over a period of time, I saw the fruit and peace of their walk with the Lord. And, I wanted that for myself even when I didn't understand it....

I also loved Caryn's post and her story about deciding to go out to dinner with her coworkers...how the Lord gave her an opportunity to speak a few words of truth into that situation. For me, it illustrates her heart to step into the lives of others and be open to what the Lord is doing there. Genuine relationship takes time and is gradual. It is built of little bits of conversation, "kindling" like this...a few minutes here and there, a question, a stray comment about something they may be struggling with in their lives....

My experience is that the "best" evangelism I've been involved with has been circumstantial, highly individual and relational in nature. It's been in unexpected conversations where God has opened a door and I can sense the Holy Spirit in the mix of things.

I think of that comment from Jesus to Nicodemus about how the Holy Spirit moves:

John 3:8 "The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit."

And I think that we need to remember that we are dependent upon that wind---we can set our sails to step into what God is doing, but we are NOT the wind! We can't produce the word or even control where the Holy Spirit will work, but we can harness and come alongside what He is doing.

And we also need to remember that evaluating our own efforts is problematic at best. It brings to mind Paul's comment:

"As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don't even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn't prove I'm right. It is the Lord Himself who will examine me and decide." 1 Corinthians 4:3-4

How DO we know what our words have accomplished in a heart? How do you weigh or measure such things? I'm certain that I've been profoundly affected by words of others and never told them as such. And I believe that we won't really know the whole fruit of things (or lack of fruit) until we get to heaven.

Having said that, I know I have also been guilty of being a "tract snob"--i.e., kind of sticking my nose up at impersonal methods of getting the gospel out there. Then the Lord brought a friend into my life who came to know Him through a flyer on her windshield. That fixed my fanny! ; )

I think we just have to be careful not to put the Lord (or ourselves) in a "box." If we pursue God and have a thirst for Him, He will be faithful to put people and circumstances into our lives where we have the privilege of sharing that joy. It's kind of like the lilies of the field thing...if we just take care of seeking Him, He'll bring the opportunities along...

I DO think it's a healthy sign to struggle with our efforts at evangelism. I am a co-struggler, and continually question and wrestle with myself in this area. I am not a "quick words" person either and admire those folks who can "stream" thoughts immediately that make sense and fit the situation.

But, then the Lord is faithful to give me other ways declare His glory that better suit the personality He's given me. That's the great thing about Him--He works through us uniquely and even despite ourselves at times! I Praise Him for that,

Mike thank you so much for your personal encouragement each day. Over 100 of us are using it each day on Facebook in a group entitled " Amazing Insights into God's Word - through the one year Bible " (Everyone on FB is welcome to join it). Starting the day this way has touched a lot of lives, including mine. I admit that many of your videos reduce me to tears of worship! Thanks again.

I have heard that we need to be counter-cultural in order to be in the world, but not of it. To be counter-cultural, we need to live out the gopsel in a way that is relational. I think that's also the essence of evangelism.

I think Matthew 6:34 is such an awesome and comforting word from the Lord, which also reminds me of another favourite verse of mine, Philippians 4:6, "do not worry about anything....."

Mike, thanks for sharing Dale's book, especially the concept of "day-tight compartments". I am sure it will be helpful for me, as I tend to think about a later compartment of the day while I was in an earlier one :)

It's true that people seeking God in all the wrong places, and God certainly call us to share the His love with people around us. I think sharing the gospel is contextual. I do pray for my not-yet Christian friends, and ask the Lord to open the doors and give me the wisdom to share His love in both words and deeds. I think the internet nowadays can be a very useful way to evangelise as well.

Tools like this blog and others, as well as facebook and online materials can be very effective.

Sam, thanks for recommending the facebook group "Amazing Insights into God's Word - through the one year Bible." I am going there to join you all now :)

Sam, I've just joined the FB group. :)

I fell off the 'wagon' for two days, guys and gals :( just couldn't bring myself to read. Even opened up the window on my Firefox and still didn't read.

but I'm back and determined to make this work. I keep reminding myself that I'm taking baby steps and its ok to 'fail' as long as I keep going.

Just one thought from today's readings... When I saw the Grand Canyon at the age of 7... it struck me deeply. There is no way 'erosion' could explain away one of the most beautiful, impactful sights I have ever seen. Since that day, I've never once doubted there was a God or that HE is great and powerful. Its just one of those things in Nature that leaves no room for any doubts. I can't wait to bring my kids there one day. (have to save enough money to travel 1/2 way round the world with three kisd though!)

tat's it from me for today. :)

My thoughts on Matthew 7:1 are in my blog entry for today.

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