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The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of May 4 - May 10, 2014, is 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.The Corinth church had problems severing themselves from many of the pagan traditions surrounding them.It is a topic Paul wrote to them about frequently.The Corinthians were surrounded by unbelievers and a world that did not live in accordance to how a follower of Christ should live, just as we are today.

 

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.(2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, ESV)

 

We face many of the same challenges today.We are often surrounded, in school, at work, and through media and entertainment, of actions, images, and words that are not in harmony with a Christian lifestyle.Paul suggests that in order to remain pure for God, we should not be equally yoked with unbelievers.This phraseology harkens back to the Laws of Moses in the Old Testament, specifically Deuteronomy 22:10, where the Israelites are forbidden from yoking together and ox and a donkey.An ox is considered a clean animal, whereas a donkey is considered an unclean animal.

 

Paul is not suggesting we avoid unbelievers.Of course not!We are to minister to them, as commanded by Jesus, yet we should surround ourselves, through marriage and friendships, with believers to strengthen and support us.We are to avoid frequenting locations and events which could lead us away from the Lord.The Corinthians were to avoid pagan ceremonies because even though they knew and had faith in the One true God, attending such events could lead them to be defiled, which can be caused by outward activities, as well as inward thoughts.As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week's reading, consider the activities and friendships that may be contaminating your relationship with the Lord.

 

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of May 11 - May 17, 2014, is Luke 4:16-30.This week's reading focuses on the reaction of Jesus' hometown upon learning the truth.

 

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them,“Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” And he said to them, Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. (Luke 4:16-30 ESV)

 

People from Nazareth thought they knew Jesus.He was the son of Joseph, a carpenter, and Mary.He was no one special.How dare He come and claim to be fulfilling the scriptures!It was not an uncommon reaction.If your neighbor or childhood friend suddenly proclaimed to be the Christ, what would your reaction be?Would you demand proof, like the people of Nazareth?Even today, many people demand proof before being willing to believe.Our faith in Christ, our trust in the Lord, our relationship with Him is one of faith.We are to believe without seeing proof (John 20:29, 2 Corinthians 5:7).

 

Look outside.Do you see the sun?The clouds?The grass?The trees?Mountains?Oceans?That is our proof.That is the work of the Lord.As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week's verse, consider your relationship with the Lord?Are you demanding signs in order to strengthen your relationship or do you believe and considered miracles a gift?

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of May 18 - May 24, 2014, is Exodus 31:1-11.The Lord is providing instructions to Moses on how the tabernacle and all furnishings were to be constructed.Not only did the Lord provide exact measurements, He also provided the names of the individuals who were to construct the items.

 

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin and its stand, and the finely worked garments, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the Holy Place. According to all that I have commanded you, they shall do.” (Exodus 31:1-11, ESV)

 

If you ask someone to name a spiritual gift, what will they say?Prophecy?Speaking in tongues?Ministering?Healing?These are the ones often thought of, the envious ones.All too often, it is the common spiritual gifts that are overlooked.Do you think that Bezalel and Oholiab thought their ability to work with wood and stone was a gift from God?We fail to recognize spiritual gifts because we assume that we are the reason we excel at something, through our own hard work.And yes, perhaps you have worked hard to become good at what you do, but you will be amazed how much enhanced you will be if you allow God to direct your actions and rely on Him instead of yourself.As you meditate on, reflect over, and prayerfully consider this week's passage, consider what spiritual gifts, what talents you have.How can you use them for the Lord and allow His work to shine through you?

 

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of May 25-31, 2014, is Psalm 63:1-4.David is in the desert of Judah when he wrote this psalm. David was relying on the Lord to survive and to return him to Jerusalem.As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week's verse, consider your attitude towards worshipping the Lord.

 

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

(Psalm 63:1-4, ESV)

 

A desert is hot.It is dry.It is difficult to find water to drink.Having spent so much time in deserts, David knew what it was like to be thirsty, to look out on the land and see no water.He knew what it was like to find an oasis in the desert, to be given the gift of water.The majority of us have never experienced this type of thirst, or been cast out, longing to return to civilization.What David wanted even more, though, was to fellowship and worship the Lord.That was his top priority.Is it yours?

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of June 1-6, 2014, is Proverbs 2:6-15.The book of Proverbs is often attributed to King Solomon.Solomon was very wise, especially about earthly matters.His father, David, was a great king, but a not-so-great father.Evidence suggests that David was not present in much of Solomon's life.Solomon grew up in the women's palace and was a man of study and learning.David was a man of war and action.Solomon may have written the book of Proverbs as a way for his wisdom to be passed down, to help children become adults.Even as an adult, there is still much that can be gleaned from this book!

 

For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;
for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,
delivering you from the way of evil,
from men of perverted speech,
who forsake the paths of uprightness
to walk in the ways of darkness,
who rejoice in doing evil
and delight in the perverseness of evil,
men whose paths are crooked,
and who are devious in their ways.

(Proverbs 2:6-15, ESV)

 

We live in a world of sin.Many who think themselves wise, lack the wisdom of the Lord.They are fools.Examine the news, movies, television shows, and books.Sin, conduct and thought that separates us from God, is constantly being promoted as the lifestyle norm!Condoning sin as normal is being forced upon those who want to stand up and say "No!I will not support that!" through peer and legal pressure.More than ever we need to cling to the wisdom of the Lord.Let Him be your shield.As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week's Bible reading, consider from where you draw your wisdom.How strong is your shield?

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of June 15-21, 2014, is Ephesians 6:10-20.The Ephesians lived in the city of Ephesus, a wildly pagan city.Ephesus was an extremely wealthy city in the richest region of the Roman Empire.There were over 250,000 people in the city, the third largest city.It was an important trading and transport center for the Romans.The city housed many temples for pagan gods, including the legendary temple for Artemis, which was labeled as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.The people believed in magic and occult powers.They were superstitious and feared demons and evil spirits.It was difficult for some Ephesians to put aside their former beliefs and fears when they converted to Christianity.

 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20, ESV)

 

Paul wanted the Ephesians to be prepared to face whatever trials they may face in the world.When you prepare for battle, you do not simply roll out of bed ready to go!You put on your armor to protect you.Some may ask, what is good is armor, when it can fail?Armor has cracks where an arrow, or a bullet can strike.This is God's armor!It is not made by man.It will not fail!Is your armor securely fastened in the Lord, ready for the battles that will come your way?

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