Category Archives: Sunday

Psalm 119:9-16 – Beth

Each of the 8 verses in all 22 sections of Psalm 119 [I used the ESV version] begins with the next sequential letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  It wasn’t until I decided to visually verify that for myself that I realized Hebrew is read from right to left.  God’s truth is worth thinking about and His Word is more than historical documentation.  The Word has survived all these centuries because it’s proved to be application beyond time for followers of Jesus Christ. 

>§§§>

Beth
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word.
9 You word is the guard that can keep a young man’s way pure
10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
10 Your commandments keep me from wandering so with my whole heart I will seek you
11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you
11 My heart might not sin against you because your word is stored there.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!
12 Your statues teach me how blessed you are, O Lord
13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
13 The rules of your mouth are all l will with declare with my lips
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
14 I delight as much as in all riches in the way of your testimonies
15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
15 Fix my eyes on your ways so I will meditate on your precepts
16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word
16 I will not forget your word and I will delight in your statutes!

This link is to a previous devotional post using the Hebrew meaning of Beth

 

The Last Third Chapter – Revelation

I found the Word of the New Living Translation helpful to my thoughts about this last, third chapter.  The verses about each of the three churches of Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea are arranged in that same sequence under each of my headings, what Jesus knows, what Jesus asks and what Jesus vows.  It is one way to understand how this revelation of their history impacts our future and confirms Scripture is still living Word that challenges the church of Jesus Christ and His people today.

What Jesus knows: 
• 1 “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead… your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. 
• 8 “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.
• 15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!

What Jesus asks:
• 3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again.
• 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.
• 19 So be diligent and turn from your indifference.

What Jesus vows:
• 5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. 
• 12 All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.
• 20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. 

The Third Chapter – 2 Peter

2 Peter 3:8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  [ESV]

>§§§>

“Man ceases to be in any sense a pilgrim [if] there is nowhere to which he can make pilgrimage. He must simply drift in a kind of lostness, coming from nowhere and on the way to nowhere.”a

The Day of the Lord is an unspecified period of time that stretches between two well defined points; creation and a new heaven and a new earth.  Those are the boundaries of the time of pilgrimage for everyone, believer or nonbeliever. The difference is where you begin and where you end. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient…not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”  

The pilgrimage of a follower of Jesus Christ begins at the point of becoming a new “creation.” The unspecified period of time is the life of faith that weaves the pilgrim into the strength of a cord that is “not easily broken.” The reward of the pilgrimage is found in the Day of the Lord – a new heaven and a new earth.

a William Barclay

The Third Chapter – James

James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. [ESV]

>§§§>

GK Chesterton said “A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.”  I don’t know if he had meekness in mind when he penned that sentence but it seems like the reality that explains the “meekness of wisdom.”  My heart longs for absolutes based on God’s Word but I am not immune to the paradox Chesterton referenced.  My absolutes are just that – “my” absolutes.  They comfort me in a world of division, and hostility where even another believer’s faith can feel like a weapon of attack unless I agree with their absolutes.  That’s when the “meekness of wisdom” reminds me “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” 

I’ve learned a lot over 40+ years as a believer in Jesus Christ but my faith is still just a small glimpse into the mind of God.  That glimpse has only become faith because of my confidence in Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  I don’t know it all, but the grace of Jesus has made certain that what I don’t know will not separate me from the Sovereign God who really does.  Some may doubt everything else I know but I have no doubt about that at all!

Remember Matthew 5:5? “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  The “meekness of wisdom” for today might read ‘Blessed are those who don’t know it all but know the one who does, for the promises of their inheritance begin right here where they live now. Absolutely!’

The Third Chapter – Titus

Titus 3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. [ESV]

>§§§>

3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [ESV]

The Third Chapter – 1 Timothy

I Timothy 3:14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He[God] was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. [ESV]

1 Timothy 3:14 I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, 15 so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16 Without question, this is the great mystery of our faithChrist was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations.  He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory. [NLT]

1 Timothy 3:14 I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, 15 so that if I don’t come for a while, you will know what kind of men you should choose as officers for the church of the living God, which contains and holds high the truth of God.  16 It is quite true that the way to live a godly life is not an easy matter.  But the answer lies in Christ, who came to earth as a man, was proved spotless and pure in his Spirit, was served by angels, was preached among the nations, was accepted by men everywhere, and was received up again to his glory in heaven. [TLB]

>§§§>

I am writing these things so you will know how people ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.  Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness and faith.  The way to live a godly life is not an easy matter, but the answer lies in Christ.a

a The “read and ponder” method of personal study: read multiple versions of Scripture, highlight words and phrases from each, look up definitions of words as needed, ponder which mean the most to you and let the Word combined strengthen itself to become your personal truth.

The Third Chapter – Philippians

Philippians 3:1 ESV Finally, my brothers,[or brothers and sisters] rejoice in the Lord.  3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—…9…found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—…12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

>§§§>

These are my highlights of words and phrases that caught my attention from the first 12 verses of Philippians 3 in the English Standard Version. Then, over multiple days I decided to take devotional reading a step further and highlight those same words or phrases in a couple other Bible versions that interested me. The object was to finally compare those highlighted phrases from each version side by side and see how they might enhance my response to what I’d read.  This is a long post but I wanted you to be able to see the process in its entirety.  It’s one “devoted” way the Word finds its “life” within you.

KJV 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord…3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh…9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith…12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

NIV 3:1 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord!…3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—…9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith…Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 

* Rejoice in the Lord [x2], rejoice in the Lord!
[note the emphasis of the “!”]
* We who are the circumcision [x2], we are the circumcision
[note the inclusive “we”]
* Worship by the Spirit of God, worship God in the spirit, serve God by his Spirit. [note the impact of “by/in” on “worship/serve“]
* Glory in Christ Jesus, rejoice in Christ Jesus, boast in Christ Jesus
[note how “in Christ” impacts response: “glory, rejoice and boast“]
* Put no confidence in the flesh [x2], have no confidence in the flesh
[note consider the difference between “put/have“]
* not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law [x2], not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law
[note consider difference between “from/of” law on righteousness]
* through faith in Christ [x2], through the faith of Christ
[note the impact “of Christ” and “in Christ” on our faith]
* righteousness from God that depends on faith, righteousness which is of God by faith, righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith
[note “righteousness” “depends on/is of/comes from” God]
* I press on [x2], I follow after
[note the need to “press on” to order to submit and “follow after“]
* because Christ Jesus has made me his own, I am apprehended of
Christ Jesus, Christ Jesus took hold of me
[note who Christ Jesus has made his own/apprehended/took hold of]
ME!

The Third Chapter – Galatians

Galatians 3:23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.  24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. 26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. NLT

>§§§>

“Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law…until the way of faith was revealed.” Protective custody comes with a handy list of rules that are both restraint and relief.  Sometimes it’s a relief to have that list to check your spiritual position and at other times those rules only feel like a prison sentence.  

The way of faith has been revealed.  Restraint served it’s purpose and obeying rules did provide some relief and comfort, but…  We’ve been released!  Released from that protective custody for a greater purpose: to be “united with Christ,” and each other! 

Christ alone is our promise of blessing and redemption from a life sentence “under guard” to this sentence of life: “I have been crucified with Christ.a

a https://readandponder.com/2015/06/29/to-life-2/

The Third Chapter – 1 Corinthians

I Corinthians 3:7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9 For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building….21 So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.  NLT

>§§§> 


This image of how seeds sprout is a visual object lesson of the truth of this passage.  Growth begins with a small kernel of life locked within a hard outer shell.  You could be forgiven if you looked at that unsprouted seed and thought it was just a small pebble.  That would be a sensible conclusion because there are some things only life can confirm.  Without planting and water that is all that seed could ever be.

Paul describes the growth of life: “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” Growth reveals what was hidden in that hard shell is the power of life only God can release.  That broken shell will ultimately fall away as the “spout” grows but will always be the primary evidence that confirms God can produce new life from hard cases.

“And you are God’s field. You are God’s building…So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.”  

The Third Chapter – Acts

Acts 3:18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. ESV

>§§§>

These Third Chapters have each provided a golden thread to be woven into the fabric of daily life.  Long before there was a New Testament there was a golden thread woven into garments for ministering in the Holy Place.  “They hammered out thin sheets of gold and cut strands to be worked into the blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen—the work of skilled hands.a  Today’s golden thread is the Good News of repentance: “that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.”   

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?b” You are now that Holy Place!  Who could imagine the tarnish of sin could not only be blotted out through contact with Jesus, but that repentance might become the golden thread that turns daily life into your garment of ministry?  

a Exodus 39:3 NIV.
b I Cor 6:19 NLT