Did You Know?

Sixteen men and no women have been

executed in the United States in 2017.

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of March 26-April 1, 2017, is Jeremiah 1:4-10.  This passage records Jeremiah’s calling by the Lord.  As you read this week’s passage, study Jeremiah’s reaction to his calling.  Have you ever acted in a similar manner?

 

Then the word of the Lord came to me [Jeremiah], saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  Then said I, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am only a youth.”  But the Lord said to me, “Say not, I am only a youth; for you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  Be not afraid of them [their faces], for I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord.  Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.  See, I have this day appointed you to the oversight of the nations and of the kingdoms to root out and pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”  (Jeremiah 1:4-10, AMP)

 

Jeremiah’s reaction is one shared by many prophets and individuals whom the Lord has called into His service: believing they are unfit to serve.  Moses was scared of public speaking.  Joshua needed frequent assurance and encouragement.  Saul, after prophesying with prophets, felt unqualified and inadequate and attempted to hide!  Solomon sought wisdom above all else, perhaps feeling he was too young to become king.  Do you feel inadequate, unqualified, unsure, and/or scared for the purpose the Lord has called you?  Take comfort!  You are in good company.

  

God has called us all to serve Him in some manner.  Very few approach the task with no reservations.  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this weeks verse, consider what task the Lord has set before you.  What excuse are you using to evade serving?    

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of March 19-25, 2017, is Mark 4:30-34.  Have you ever heard someone describe something technical and think, or even say, “Just speak plainly!”  That is exactly what Jesus is doing in this passage!  Speaking plainly, through a parable.

 

And He said, With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use to illustrate and explain it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all seeds upon the earth; Yet after it is sown, it grows up and becomes the greatest of all garden herbs and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air are able to make nests and dwell in its shade.  With many such parables [Jesus] spoke the Word to them, as they were able to hear and to comprehend and understand.  He did not tell them anything without a parable; but privately to His disciples (those who were peculiarly His own) He explained everything [fully].  (Mark 4:30-34, AMP)

  

What must it have been like, learning that the feet of Jesus?  Being part of the intimate conversations that He had with His disciples?  Through the recordings in the New Testament, we are offered a glimpse of that experience.  Jesus spoke in parables, stories that were easy to understand, yet required meditation, prayer, and reflection to grasp the full teaching.  This week’s passage shows that the kingdom of God may start out small, tiny even, yet will grow to become the largest and greatest of all the seeds planted in the garden.  What a kingdom of which we are a part!  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this weeks verse, consider your part in God’s kingdom.

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of March 12-18, 2017, is I Corinthians 6:13b-20.  This week's passage confronts sexual immorality among the church at Corinth.  Paul had already rebuked the church once for not only allowing, but pridefully accepting sexual immoral individuals into the congregation!  A chapter later, Paul returns to the topic of sexual immorality, nor will it be the last time Paul addresses the topic.  Spend some time this week meditating on, praying over, and reflecting on I Corinthians 6:13b-20.

 

The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body [to save, sanctify, and raise it again because of the sacrifice of the cross]. And God has not only raised the Lord [to life], but will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Am I therefore to take the members of Christ and make them part of a prostitute? Certainly not! Do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall be one flesh.” But the one who is united and joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Run away from sexual immorality [in any form, whether thought or behavior, whether visual or written]. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the one who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.  (I Corinthians 6:13b-20, AMP)

 

What does Paul define as sexual immorality?  Adultery (Exodus 20:14, 1 Corinthians 5:1).  Incest (1 Corinthians 5:1).  Lust (Romans 2:26).  Sexual relations between the unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:2).  Lasciviousness or lewdness (Galatians 5:19, 2 Corinthians 12:21).  Homosexuality (Romans 2:26-27).  Pornography (1 Corinthians 6:18).  This list which Paul shares was not created by him, it came from the Lord.

 

The Corinth church prided themselves on being tolerant, tolerant to sin!  Tolerance is a popular word today, with an ever increasing list of topics - abortion, removal of prayer, religion, sexual life and preference, gender identity - of which people are told they need to be tolerant.  But what is tolerance?  The progressive interpretation of tolerance is acceptance.  This is incorrect.  Tolerance is nothing more than peaceful co-existence with an idea or people with whom you disagree.  Progressive thinking, today as in Corinth, requires Christians to accept sin as the norm.  As Christians, we must reject this.  Although sinners, we are to live our lives in a way that honors and glorifies the Lord.  Acceptance of sin never honors or glorifies the Lord.

  

To live or not to live in sin?  It is a choice we all make.  We know the consequences of choosing to live in sin: exchanging a few, brief years of self satisfaction for eternal punishment.  Paul told the Corinthians to flee from sexual immorality and glorify God.  Will you chose to live for God and glorify Him?  Spend some time this week meditating on, praying over, and reflecting upon I Corinthians 6:13b-20.  It is something you really should consider.

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of March 5-11, 2017, is Matthew 26:36-46.  In this passage, we see that although Jesus is the Son of God, He is also very much the Son of Man.  He is human!  With emotions and weaknesses that we all have!  Can you imagine how you would be acting if you knew that you were to soon die a horrible and excruciating death?

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, “Sit down here while I go over yonder and pray.” And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed.  Then He said to them, “My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me.”  And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying,“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire.”  And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter,“What! Are you so utterly unable to stay awake and keep watch with Me for one hour?  All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Again a second time He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass by unless I drink it, Your will be done.”  And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were weighed down with sleep.  So, leaving them again, He went away and prayed for the third time, using the same words.  Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of especially wicked sinners [whose way or nature it is to act in opposition to God].  Get up, let us be going! See, My betrayer is at hand!”  (Matthew 26:26-46, AMP)

 

Have you ever questioned this passage?  It seems abrupt and how could the disciples fall asleep that fast?!  This passage is not a short as it first seems.  Jesus’ prayer went on all night!  We are only given a brief overview of His prayer.  Jesus was continually praying that night; asking His Father for another way!  Jesus was struggling!  He loved His Father, our Father, and wanted to honor Him.  He loved us deeply and wanted to save us.  Jesus’ prayer that night would be worthy of its own book!  We can learn from His brief, but powerfully recorded prayer.  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s passage, honestly evaluate your prayer life. 

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of February 26-March 4, 2017, is 1 Corinthians 1:4-17.  Paul begins with a message of thanksgiving.  Paul is thankful to know the church of Corinth.  Any believer would welcome receiving a message of thanksgiving such as this.  Building upon the message of thanksgiving, Paul addresses a troubling issue that has come to his attention, division within the church.

I thank my God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, so that in everything you were [exceedingly] enriched in Him, in all speech [empowered by the spiritual gifts] and in all knowledge [with insight into the faith]. In this way our testimony about Christ was confirmed and established in you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift [which comes from the Holy Spirit], as you eagerly wait [with confident trust] for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ [when He returns]. And He will also confirm you to the end [keeping you strong and free of any accusation, so that you will be] blameless and beyond reproach in the day [of the return] of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful [He is reliable, trustworthy and ever true to His promise—He can be depended on], and through Him you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

But I urge you, believers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in full agreement in what you say, and that there be no divisions or factions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your way of thinking and in your judgment [about matters of the faith]. For I have been informed about you, my brothers and sisters, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are quarrels and factions among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you says, “I am [a disciple] of Paul,” or “I am [a disciple] of Apollos,” or “I am [a disciple] of Cephas (Peter),” or “I am [a disciple] of Christ.” Has Christ been divided [into different parts]? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul? [Certainly not!] I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say that you were baptized into my name. Now I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know if I baptized anyone else. For Christ did not send me [as an apostle] to baptize, but [commissioned and empowered me] to preach the good news [of salvation]—not with clever and eloquent speech [as an orator], so that the cross of Christ would not be made ineffective [deprived of its saving power]. (1 Corinthians 1:4-17, AMP)

 

There once was a small, local church.  Its members were like a family.  They diligently studied and taught from Bible, letting it be their guide in all that they did.  The members grew their spiritual gifts, and used those gifts to expand the church, to reach into the community and share the Word of God with more and more individuals.  The church grew until it had thousands of members, with a variety of different spiritual gifts to contribute to and administer their different programs.  But something happened, the members of the church began fighting amongst themselves about who should lead programs and how money should be spent.  The Bible was no longer their guide in all that they did.  The church fractured, until it was a shadow of what it once was.  Unfortunately, this story is all to common.  It is also far from a new occurrence.   Paul recognized that if he did not act, a fracture could and would happen to the church in Corinth.

  

Baptist.  Catholic.  Lutheran.  Nondenominational.  Orthodox.  Evangelicals.  We may differ on meanings of Biblical passages.  We may not agree on how to structure a worship service.  But we all believe in that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, defeated death on the third day, and rose again. We are united in our faith.  This week, we ask that you pray for Christian unity.  As you mediate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s passage, consider who or what is leading your life.

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