2 Corinthians 3:Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! 2 The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our[your] hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. 3 Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. NLT
Stone is so enduringly permanent it’s surprising the truth of those letters carved on tablets of stone is lost. But is it?
The recent pandemic has tragically highlighted just how vulnerable life can be. That makes it equally surprising that God has now chosen to write the permanence of His truth in human hearts. The letters of eternity and permanence no longer lie in impenetrable stone. God has rewritten His own truth in our/your heart. That truth rewrites the story of a stubborn, stony hearta being replaced with a tender, responsive one able to feel, think, grow and replicate God’s own heart one to another. “Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.”
aAnd I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. [Ezekiel 36:26]
2 Peter 1:12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. NIV
Reminders are familiar to us. Now they often come to us as notifications with banners and alert tones on computer, smart phone or tablet screens. God can use something as simple as a Verse of the Day banner on a screen to remind us of His truth and how much it still matters to Him.
God knows we need those reminders! We need His truth to matter as much to us as it does to Him! The many versions of the Word that populate our digital library remind us we have opportunity at our fingertips to read and understand God’s truth more clearly than ever before. These are God’s reminders to you of what matters to Him in June of 2020 through Peter’s Word.
Support: I will
Purpose: remind you of these things.
Faith: You know them and are firmly established in the
truth you now have.
Commitment: I think it is right to refresh your memory
Durability: after my departure.
Encouragement: You will always be able to remember these things:
Add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection,
It’s resurrection day! I’m remembering this very special week in Jesus’s life thru the filter of coronavirus today. Holy Week this year began very differently than most of us would have expected. Coronavirus moved us from participation to isolation and gave us a conscious awareness of the reality of our need to be safe.
Our senses have been bombarded all week with grim truths that describe the endless march of a viral enemy beyond our control. But there is another truth that has become the glimmer of “good” hope during this week. It’s hope that reaches beyond the stress of physical distancing, fears for our safety, illness, ventilators, and death…into the future.
The hope of the future of humanity has been revealed through the conscious, sacrificial and persistent service of ordinary people despite personal risk to themselves. That hope is a reality because of this truth; God has intentionally intervened in the hearts of those ordinary people to equip them to surpass even the best of human motives.
people have shown us a Holy
love that saves, in real time,
to make God’s divine
to all of
In the year of our Lord 2020
Jesus Christ lives to be a part of our future and our hope.
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
[Matthew 28:6 NIV]
John 15:26 “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. ESV
The titles the Bible uses for the Holy Spirit range from Advocate to Intercessor and Companion to Friend. All titles have the same implied message; Jesus has provided 24/7 personal support for those who abide with Him. Your commitment is involved and your mind is involved but the bedrock of your personal faith is formed by what the Holy Spirit reveals to God about you, and to you about God.
The Advocate recognizes, and targets, our needs through the transformative stories we read and hear as part of our personal devotion. Those stories become the seeds of His purpose – to direct our personal growth. The Advocate is the Intercessor between all involved parties – God, Himself, Jesus and you. He is the one Companion you have that can speak absolute truth to God on your behalf, fully aware of your needs. Only a Friend with the absolute knowledge of God’s truth is able to testify this encouragement back to you: “Christ’s anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught.”a
The bedrock of personal faith, devotion and growth is the testimony of the Holy Spirit that teaches you to “live deeply” in what you are still being taught.
a I John 2:27 [MSG]
NIV Hebrews 9: 1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary…23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.
Truth: God is Sovereign and human’s are willful. I don’t know where I found this quotation but it’s inserted itself into my thinking about Hebrews 9. “Circumstances are where God begins.” Those three sentences led me back to the very beginning. I’m going to assume the fall of Adam and Eve was not a surprise to God. Right from the beginning He desired to be present in their lives. I think it’s possible those first two people were created to be God’s dwelling place but instead temptation and circumstances resulted in the first broken relationships. Those circumstances were where God set into motion the plan He’d always had to save His relationship with the people he loved. Jesus was NOT plan B.
Right from the beginning God desired to be present with us because of love. Right from the beginning when our circumstances might have denied that truth, God began to work within us. The same lives that could be broken by temptation and circumstance could now become His earthly sanctuary and a dwelling place for His own Spirit through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. “For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.”
2 Peter 2
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken
2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
4 For if God did not spare angels
5 if he did not spare the ancient world
6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah
7 and if he rescued Lot
9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.
This is a convicting chapter filled with evidence of the reality of humanity. It’s undeniable evidence that makes it easy to jump to the wrong conclusion. It’s not about “them vs us. It’s about the undeniable separation between God and man. Anything else is a wrong comparison.
I felt a little twinge of mean-spirited satisfaction that I’m not “them” as I read. Having to admit to a mean-spirited attitude at all is bad enough but I read on to discover I have another issue; a kind of holier-than-thou satisfaction that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment” and God “rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless.” That’s the “us” I identified with. I liked it but then I realized I missed the point entirely.
The grim evidence of this chapter is only a reminder we aren’t rescued and renewed by the separation of “them vs us” but by this undeniable truth: God’s Divine justice is absolute, unlimited, unrestricted, unrestrained, unbounded, boundless, infinite, ultimate, total and unconditional.
2 Corinthians 3:7 The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 8 Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? 9 If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! [NLT]
God’s law was chiseled into those tablets of stone. What could be more permanent than stone? Those tablets were “new” then but they are lost today. God had something even more permanent in mind; the same truth reproducible in the hearts of transformed people. Truth that would be new not only in point of time, but also new in quality…for all time.
Etched in stone or etched in life is the difference between the law versus the Spirit and the bottom line of the new way. Now “the Holy Spirit is giving life.” God’s truth is not new but the “new” quality is truth being chiseled into our hearts. No wonder it sometimes hurts but it’s truth that will last for all eternity. We are the tablets the world sees today.
4. Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray:…12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
• debt: something that is owed or due, a feeling of gratitude for a service or favor, obligation
• obligation: an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound;
A dictionary definition can bring up a less commonly used word like “obligation” as part of “debt.” It’s a tool that helps me think about what I’m reading in a broader way. That one word “obligation” reminded me of Romans 8:12: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.” That’s truth, right?
The terms of a debt are usually not ours to set but once agreed upon they are a contract. We owe…we pay…”we have an obligation.” What I’m pondering is why that truth is obviously grace when we pray Jesus’s words “forgive US our debts” but becomes an obligation to repay it when we add “as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
We recognize our indebtedness. We want his forgiveness. Our debt is too big to pay without it, but it’s easy to forget we’ve agreed to all the clauses of that contact. That obligation is where Jesus’s prayer model meshes together with Romans to become the confession he meant it to be for us. Lord help us to recognize your forgiveness of our debt has such an important relationship to our struggle to recognize our obligation to forgive.
Ephesians 2:3-5 NIV All of us also lived among them [our transgressions and sins] at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
I’m fascinated with the uniqueness of the Greek language to distinguish subtleties of words and meanings. In this scripture there is one word [hamartia] translated “sin” and another [paraptoma] the NIV translates as “transgressions.” What makes it interesting is not the way we might differentiate between those two words but how the Greeks did. These are my edited notes from William Barlclay’s study of Ephesians.
•Hamartia (Greek #266) is a shooting word that means to miss the target completely.
•Paraptoma (Greek #3900)…means taking the wrong road when we knew enough to take the right one.
Sin is a loaded word even for those of us who believe we are sinners saved by grace. The Greek definitions don’t impact the reality of the scripture but they do influence my courage to recognize and confess the truth of it.
What if I read this Scripture as:
I have also lived with missing the target completely and choosing the wrong road at one time, gratifying the cravings of flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like so many, I was by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for me, God, who is rich in mercy, made me alive with Christ when he saw the road I’d chosen was going nowhere—it is by grace I have been saved.