Daily Scripture Series – October 4th

“This man…heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:3-4)

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was one of the church’s most celebrated defenders of the faith. Yet just three months before his death, something caused him to leave unfinished his Summa Theologica, the massive legacy of his life’s work. While reflecting on the broken body and shed blood of his Savior, Aquinas claimed to see a vision that left him without words. He said, “I can write no more. I have seen things that make my writings seem like straw.”

Before Aquinas, Paul too had a vsion. In 2 Corinthians, he described the experience “(1)-whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things” (12:3-4).

Paul and Aquinas left us to reflect on an ocean of goodness that neither words nor reason can express. The implications of what Aquinas saw left him without hope of finishing his work in a way that would do justice to a God who sent His Son to be crucified for us. By contrast, Paul continued to write, but he did so in the awareness of what he couldn’t express or finish in his own strength.

In all the troubles Paul encountered in service to Christ, he could look back and see, in his weakness, a grace and goodness beyond words and wonder.

Daily Questions

  1. What problems have you had that seemed like a curse?
  2. How have you seen God show Himself good to you in ways you can’t describe?

Daily Thoughts

Father in heaven, please give us the courage today to look for an inexpressible sense of your presence and strength in our weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know-God knows. And I know that this man-whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Bonus Information

In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul continued his reluctant “boasting” he began in the previous chapter to counteract the claims of the “super apostles,” false teachers who were misleading the Corinthians by preaching “a Jesus other than the Jesus Paul preached”. In chapter 12, he tells of a time years earlier when he’d been “caught up to the third heaven”, or paradise, the place of God’s throne. According to ancient Jewish belief, there were three heavens. The first heaven was the earth’s atmosphere (winds and clouds) and the second consisted of the sun, moon, and stars.

 

 

We Must Hang Onto Our Faith

 

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you. Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God…..” “Followthe pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.” (2 Timothy 1:5-8, 13-14)

Faith, keep the faith, hang onto your faith, we hear it over and over again. In fact all scripture that was chosen for this Sunday in the back of my Bible, ALL revolved around faith. In the Old Testament it was a reading from the prophet  Habakkuk who was questioning his own faith and why was it that God seemed to be turning a deaf ear to all the suffering. Then there’s 2 Timothy, that I’ve chosen to take a closer look at, talks about faith, courage and not being ashamed, and then of course in Luke where Jesus talks about all you need is faith just the size of a mustard seed. All three of these are so relatable to what’s happening in today’s world. In fact, they couldn’t be chosen to be read at any better time when it seems there is so little faith to be found anywhere.

It can be so very difficult to talk about faith in times such as these. Just look at everything going on around us:

  • War in Ukraine
  • The devastation left behind from Hurricane Ian
  • The attack on our individual liberties
  • Our children under attack from all directions
  • Things we know to be true, because God claims them to be true, are under attack
  • Things that we know to be immoral are being advertised as “normal behavior” or “acceptable behavior”
  • The economy in total shambles, prices going beyond reasonable price hikes, food and energy shortages on the near horizon, in our very own country
  • Innocent people being persecuted simply for having dissenting voices while those who have committed real crimes are never held accountable

Just that alone makes it easy to understand why so many would be losing faith and struggling with the question, “Why God?” Just as the prophet Habakkuk asked why and felt he was losing his faith and asked God to help him make his faith stronger. It was OK with God that Habakkuk had faith that was faltering, because God can work with any amount of faith.

Jesus further emphasizes this same sentiment when His disciples are asking Jesus to help their strength to become stronger because, they too found it difficult to maintain their faith, with all that was happening around them, at their time. Jesus reassured them, and it should also reassure us, that even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, God can work with even faith as small as that. It’s a reminder to us all, that we cannot allow ourselves to believe that if our faith is faltering that there’s no hope. That’s playing right into the hands of Satan if we allow ourselves to get to that point of hopelessness.

Paul reminds Timothy and all of us in 2 Timothy that we need to rekindle our faith always because faith is a gift that comes directly from God Himself. It’s also important to note that the gift of faith was never meant to be timid. After all, look at Paul, those letters he wrote Timothy and to many of the churches Paul had started, were all from prison. And why was he in prison? Was it because he was timid in his faith? No way, instead it was just the opposite, it was because he was given the courage and power of God to stand up for his beliefs and his faith, knowing very well that it could result in his death, which of course that’s exactly what the outcome was.

Yet, during all of Paul’s persecution he wrote letters of encouragement to people like Timothy to stress the importance of holding onto that faith, no matter how weak or strong it might be, because God did not give any of us the spirit of cowardice, instead He gives us the spirit of power and love so that we can rise above persecution and the evil that might surround us.

There are so many battles that are in need of fighting right now and yes, it can make us want to run the other direction and bury our heads in the sand, hoping that it will all go away. But, when we do that, it makes us look as if we are ashamed of our Lord and that we are afraid to stand up against the forces of evil that wants nothing more than for us to take a knee to that evil and not God.

No matter how weak that we might think our faith is, it’s never too weak for God to work with for His good. This is vital for all believers to understand and hold onto. It’s our faith and especially our collective faith that’s going to help us fight the battles that lie ahead of us.

As Christians we must never be afraid to follow in the footsteps and the pattern of behavior that Jesus has provided for us. What’s extremely important here is that in order to fight against all that’s wrong in our country we must understand that God is asking for us to be unashamed of the truth and it is our duty to Him to be His warriors in guarding this truth, because He has entrusted us with His truth through His Holy Spirit.

It’s not going to be easy, but we need to band together as one united front in our faith to stop the continuing evil that is encroaching upon our individual liberties and the threat that it has to not just our country but to the lives of our loved ones and especially the children of this country. If we can’t stand as warriors together to guard and protect His truth, what future are we giving our children?

Remember, God has more faith in us than we tend to have in Him, and He will give us the victory over evil, if and only if, we are willing to stand with Him in the battle!

Daily Scripture Series – September 30th

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Although unspoken, some of us might ask the question “If I make a mistake, will you still love me?”, of God. This is especially true if we feel we’ve disappointed God: “Will You still love me?” We know that as long as we live in this world, we’ll fail and sin at times. And we wonder, “Do my mistakes affect God’s love for me?”

John 3:16 assures us of God’s love. He gave His Son, Jesus, to die on our behalf so that if we believe in Him, we’ll receive eternal life. But what if we fail Him even after we place our trust in Him? That’s when we need to remember that “Christ died for us” even when we were still sinners. If He could love us at our worst, how can we doubt His love today when we’re His children?

When we sin, our Father lovingly corrects and disciplines us. That’s not rejection; that’s love. Let’s live as God’s beloved children, resting in the blessed assurance that His love for us is steadfast and everlasting.

Daily Questions

  1. How does understanding God’s love for you strengthen you to obey Him?
  2. How does it impact your view of sin?

Daily Thoughts

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your steadfast and unchanging love.

Romans 5:6-11

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Bonus Information

In Romans 5, the apostle Paul sets up one of the most beautiful pictures of Jesus’ work on the cross. Shortly after saying that God proved His love for humanity through Christ’s death, Paul turns his attention to our death. Death, he says, became a plague over all humanity because the first Adam chose rebellion over obedience. As a result, every human dies. But Jesus-the last Adam-chose obedience to the Father. As a result, He opened the path through death to eternal life for everyone who will believe in Him.

We were God’s enemies when He sent Jesus. We were doomed to die because of Adam’s and our rebellion. But God didn’t give up on us. Instead, He showed us love through Jesus. And His faithfulness broke both the power of sin and death, leading us back to life.

Daily Scripture Series – September 29th

“A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by.” (Psalm 90:4)

The psalmist writes, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endues” (Psalm 90:10)). This is a figurative way of saying that whatever age we live to, our lives on earth are indeed limited. our lifetimes are in the sovereign hands of a loving God. In the spiritual realm, however, we’re reminded of what “God time” really is: “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by.”

And in the person of Jesus Christ “life expectancy’ has been given a whole new meaning: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3;36). “Has” is in the present tense right now, in our current physical moment of trouble and tears, our future is blessed, and our lifespan is limitless.

In this we rejoice and with the psalmist pray, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).

Daily Questions

  1. What worries do you have about your life and its limits?
  2. How are you comforted by the presence of Jesus?

Daily Thoughts

Loving God, sometimes this life is hard, but-even so-we sing for joy in Your provision for us. Satisfy us today with Your unfailing love.

Psalm 90:1-14

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death-they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.

We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures, yet the best o them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. If only we knew the power of your anger! your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Relent, Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Bonus Information

Moses’ authorship of Psalm 90, based on the superscription, makes it the oldest of the psalms whose authorship we know. In addition to this psalm, Moses is ascribed authorship of the first five books of the Bible-the Pentateuch or Torah-making him the most prolific Old Testament writer. Some scholars believe that the background to the writing of this psalm may have been Israel’s failure at Kadesh Barnea (Numbers 13-14), where they rejected the land of promise despite Joshua and Caleb’s glowing account of the magnificent new homeland God had promised them. That rejection resulted in the forty years of wilderness wanderings the Israelites endured.