Saturday, March 17, 2012

Is Salvation Enough, or Do We Also Need Good Works?; Letting the Lord Shine Through

Today's Reading:
  • Matthew 25:31 - 26:13
  • Psalm 31:9 - 18
Read Bible Passages Online

Matthew 25:31 - 26:13
Jesus told the story of the sheep and the goats.  He says that when he returns the people will gather together like sheep and goats.  Jesus will act as a shepherd and separate the two, seating the sheep on the right and the goats on the left. 

The sheep were the ones that fed the hungry, helped those in sickness, visited those in prison, and welcomed strangers into their homes.  Jesus says that those who do those things for his brothers and sisters are doing those things for Jesus himself. 

The goats were the ones who did not do those things.  The sheep were to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and the goats were sentenced to be cast into the eternal fire.

The thing I take away from this is that we must both be saved and do good works to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  I do not believe that there is any way that our good works can save us without the blood of Jesus.

What I think is that those who are saved are truly transformed and as a result they begin to live their lives differently.  With the love of Jesus in our hearts, how can we not have compassion for others?  How can we not help those in need?  How can we walk past a person who needs help and just ignore them? 

Jesus is in us and he truly transforms us and the way we interpret the world.  That feeling swallows us when we are first called to be saved but it doesn't always last.  We need to constantly evaluate ourselves to determine if we are letting Jesus shine through us, or are we shutting Him back -- little by little -- until He disappears from us entirely? 

Psalm 31:9 - 18
This is a continuation of David's plea to the Lord to protect him.  I found verse 8:10 to be particularly interesting:
I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness.  Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within.
Here we are told that not only does sin create a chasm between us and the Lord, it zaps our livelihood.  It shortness our lives.  It creates sadness.  On this earth, in this life, we will know constant sorrow, grief, pain, anger, and be wronged.  That is a condition of the sin of mankind. 

But we can control what we do to our own bodies.  We don't have to further add to our own sorrows by continuing to sin.  Of course we are going to sin, we are painfully human.  But we can control ourselves and try to live righteously.  We can control what we do onto ourselves.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Quality of Being Wise

    Today’s Reading:
  • Proverbs 7:24 - 27
  • Proverbs 8:1 - 11
Read Bible Passages Online

Proverbs 7:24 - 8:11


  1. The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.
  2. The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of such experience, knowledge, and good judgment
Once again in Proverbs we are told of the importance of having Wisdom.  Simple people can still show good judgement, foolish people need to show understanding.  There is nothing devious or malicious when Wisdom speaks.  Wisdom comes from a place of understanding and application of life's experiences.

Wisdom is more valuable than rubies (8:11).  When I think of Wisdom I think of listening to our elders.  So often we think that we know more than they do, when in fact it is ourselves who are deceived and foolish. 

Every life experience; everything you learn; all that you learn from your own mistakes and from the mistakes of those around you; all those things help you to gain Wisdom.  Proverbs speaks very strongly of the importance of Wisdom.  I'm only on the 8th Proverb and already I have seen this spoken over and over again. 

So I will take heed and try to take in all the Wisdom I can and share it out.  I will try to make good decisions based on this Wisdom and I will try to be understanding of others as they gain Wisdom of their own.  All of this is easier said than done but I will take the teachings to heart.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Price of the Lampstand -- More than 2 Million Dollars

    Today’s Reading:
  • Exodus 23:14 - 25:40
  • Exodus 26:1 - 27:21
Read Bible Passages Online

Exodus 23:14 - 27:21
Today I read all of God's instructions for the building of the tabernacle, the ark and the robes of the priests.  I will say right now that I am really bad at visualizing these things even though very good descriptions were given throughout the entire reading. 

So instead I did some googling to see some models of what the tabernacle might have looked like.  Of course those are just man made suggestions and not a single one of them could capture the splendor of the tabernacle.  After all it was a place built for God to actually converse with His people.  That alone makes it a glorious place.

I can't imagine all the work that went into building the tabernacle.  Verse 25:39 says that it would take 75 pounds of gold just for the lamp stand and its accessories.  75 pounds!  Let's do some math:
Current price of gold at 2:30 PM CT on Feb 28, 2012:  $1,722.93 / Ounce
Price per pound of gold @ $1,722.93:  $27,566.88
Price for 75 pounds of gold @ $27,566.58 per pound:  $2,067,516
Two million, sixty-seven thousand, five hundred and sixteen dollars worth of gold.  For a lamp stand.  In case you're wondering I did not round or omit the change.  Using the numbers given for the current price of gold at the time I wrote this it came to a completely even number without any change.

I simply cannot imagine how beautiful that place would have been.  Simply amazing.  Now of course I wonder what happened to the tabernacle and to the ark?  I think the answer to the ark is an age old question that many people wonder about.  The rest I will just have to wait and see what else I learn.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ready Yourself for the Return of Jesus, Multiply Your Blessings

Today's Reading:
  • Matthew 25:1 - 30
  • Psalm 31: 1-8
Read Bible Passages Online

Matthew 25:1 - 30
Two parables are told in this reading of Matthew.  The first is the Parable of Ten Bridesmaids.  All ten bridesmaids went together to meet their bridegroom but they didn't know precisely when he would show. 

Half of the bridesmaids brought extra oil in their lamps in case it was needed and the other half did not.  While half of the bridesmaids ran out of oil and left to find more, the bridegroom showed up. It was midnight. The five that were ready were taken with the bridegroom to the wedding feast while the other five were locked out.

It's not hard to see how this parable relates to the second coming of Christ.  The moral of the story is that we must be prepared at all times.  We do not know when Christ will return, and when Christ does return we will not have the option of readying ourselves for him. 

The second parable is the Parable of the Three Servants.  A master left each of three servants in charge of a sum of money.  The first servant was given ten bags of silver, the second was given two and the third was given one. 

The first two servants each managed the money well and doubled it.  The third hid it away in the ground.  When the master returned he was proud of the first two and told them that because they had managed those amounts well, they would be given an abundance more.  But the third did not even earn interest with the master's money and therefore what he had would be taken from him and given to others who would do better with it.

I guess the moral of the story is not to waste the blessings of the Lord.  Whatever the Lord has given to you, take that and multiply it further.  The further you multiply the blessings of the Lord, the more blessings you will receive until you have an abundance of blessings.  It's a powerful promise.  Learn to recognize your blessings and to multiply them and they will be multiplied upon you.

Psalm 31: 1-8 
Here is another Psalm where David cries out to the Lord for protection.  The one thing that is true of all psalms like this that I have read before is that David never turns from the Lord.  No matter how great his suffering, no matter how many enemies at his doorstep, no matter what people manage to do to him, he never gives up hope in the Lord. 

I imagine that utter faith in the Lord no matter what is going on in their lives is something many people struggle with.  I know that many people turn away from the Lord when they have suffered a great loss.  These psalms of David are beautiful because he never does turn away from the Lord.  It's a shining example for all of us to follow.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fair Practices for God's People

Today's Reading:
  • Exodus 21:22 - 23:13
  • Proverbs 7:6 - 23
Read Bible Passages Online

Exodus 21:22 - 23:13
Today's reading consisted of a list of laws and fair practices for God's people to follow.  I'd say that these laws and practices are pretty much what we would think of as fair practices.  I like verses 21:23-25:
The punishment must match the injury: a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.
I don't know what I liked so much about that verse except how it narrows the retribution down even to bruises.  There are many passages about how to handle disputes about property, both borrowed and stolen. 

One thing that really stuck out to me was verse 22:19, where it says that anyone who takes part in bestiality must be put to death.  I know it's a really sick thing to do but I guess it really is an abomination to the Lord.  I don't know why that stuck out, I guess just because it obviously needed to be accounted for in the laws. 

Everyone always says how bad the world is getting -- it's not the same place it used to be and the people are worse than they used to be -- but with all my reading so far I'm not sure that's really the truth of the matter. 

The world has suffered the same problems and the same types of crimes since the fall of Adam and Eve.  The Lord has already destroyed the world once and has destroyed towns and populations on numerous occasions.  I think there's just more people to go around than there used to be and that we have more of a global awareness then we ever have before.  The world is a harsh place, but the Lord is just and fair.  Thank God I have God on my side!

Proverbs 7:6 - 23
Here there are more strong warnings about immorality.  This one tells the story of a man who was seduced by a woman and it led to his death.  We can steal and live (as long as we pay retribution), we can hurt another and live (as long as we don't purposely kill them) but there are really strong warnings on the sexual sins. 

From what I have read so far, nothing else will destroy and shame your entire life the way an affair would.  And that's the truth, right?  Some of the biggest scandals are sexual in nature, from public affairs to molestation cases to prostitution.  Don't fall victim to pleasure that is only temporary.

Monday, March 12, 2012

How Can People be so Fickle Towards God?

Today's Reading:
  • Exodus 15:19 - 17:7
  • Proverbs 6:20 - 26
Looks like I missed posting this reading from Exodus.  Oops, here you go!
Exodus 15:19 - 17:7
The people of Israel continued to celebrate the deliverance of their people from the Egyptians.  This didn't last long because soon enough the people were lacking for water in the desert and complaining to Moses for bringing them out into the wilderness to die of thirst.  The Lord then told Moses to throw a piece of wood into a water hole to make the water drinkable.  

Not long after the Lord provided the Israelites with drinking water, the people were once again complaining to Moses, this time about hunger.  That is when the Lord began to send down the manna in the morning and meat in the evening. As a side note, my bible says that manna means "what is it?" in Hebrew, which I thought was pretty humorous. 

After 40 years of being provided for with manna and meat, the Israelites moved out of the desert.  Soon enough they were complaining again, this time about water.  So Moses followed God's instructions and struck a rock and this brought forward water.

I have to say that the group of people Moses had to deal with were a whiny, faithless bunch!  I know that the Lord will not let me starve to death or die of thirst as long as I have faith in Him.  Even if the Israelites were scared and didn't quite know the Lord, they did at least know that Lord went to great lengths to free them from the Egyptians.

The Lord led these people straight through the Red Sea as if it were dry land and then swallowed all of the Egyptians that were pursuing them!  He rained plague after plague down upon the Egyptians while excluding the Hebrews from those same plagues.  And okay, so the first time they ran out of water they were frightened.  But then the Lord fed them from the heavens every single day for 40 full years!  

How can people be so fickle?  It's one thing to think that God has excluded you from His protection, like you're wondering around by yourself.  It's quite another to see miracle after miracle performed and then still lose your faith so easily.  Could you imagine being the leader of that group of people?  How disheartening and frustrating it would be?  It certainly wasn't easy being Moses.

Proverbs 6:20 - 26
These verses in Proverbs caution us to take heed of our parent's instructions.  Doing so will keep us safe and on a straight path.

As I raise my own children I see how all the things I do for my children -- advice, love, discipline -- are all aimed at the same set of goals.  I want them to grow well, have faith in the Lord, become well rounded adults, find happiness and keep them safe.

I can't be there every single step to stop them, but I can hope that they will remember and keep to heart all that I try to instill upon them.  So listen to your parents, they want what is best for you.  And always listen to the Lord, for no one has your welfare more in mind than He does.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I am Nothing Without God -- Giving the Lord Credit

    Today’s Reading:
  • Psalm 29:1 - 11
  • Psalm 30:1 - 12
Read Bible Passages Online

Psalms 29 and 30
These two glorious Psalms fit very well together.  They are both pure praise for the Lord as David was exalted over his enemies.  In Psalm 30 David talks of how he was prosperous because he was in the Lord's favor, but then the Lord turned away from David because David thought nothing could stop him then. 

That's a very strong warning, especially for me.  My life is prosperous and I can have a hard time giving credit where credit is due.  It's hard because I want to say I did this.  I worked so hard, I am so motivated, I pulled myself out of extreme poverty, I made a life for myself. 

Well I know that I didn't do this alone.  I have called on God to be there for me every step of the way.  And God has been there for me the entire time even when I wasn't as faithful as I should have been.  God has been there for me and God has made me the way He made me, and God has blessed me and God has helped me.  I am nothing without God no matter how much work I put into it.  Because I was never alone.

I will try to always remember that because it is hard to hold back the pride sometimes.  I am strong because the Lord has made me that way and He stands with me.