OYB: January 8

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 18:20-33, Genesis 19
NT: Matthew 6:25-34, Matthew 7:1-14
Ps: Psalm 8
Pr: Proverbs 2:6-15

Today´s notable verse:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:11 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

And I do think this is an important point before we read about Abraham's intercessory prayer to God - that for intercessory prayer really to have any standing before God, we need to be in right relationship with God. If we are being disobedient to God or being unrepentant of sins or bad habits that God wants us to give up, then I think our intercessory prayer for others loses its effectiveness. Check out James 5:16 (MSG) for this point - "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." Abraham was credited as righteous because of his faith (Genesis 15:6). Hence, his intercessory prayer was powerful and effective.

We have to be very careful how we word this point. I don't think that we can take James to mean that our disobedience or acts of unrighteousness make us unrighteous in God's sight, if we are truly credited as righteousness because of our faith. I think Scripture does support the point that if we are being disobedient or unrepentant, or are harboring unforgiveness, then our prayers will not be effecteve; however, they do not somehow nullify our righteousness, for it is found in faith in Christ, alone - not by works, lest any should boast.

I don't think Jesus is calling for us to walk around blissfully thinking everyone is perfect... but he is saying don't "condemn" others for their actions. God is the only true judge of anyone's actions. But, I think it is still okay for us to take note of how people act or behave. Remember that 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to - "Test everything." So, I do think it is okay (and even wise) to evaluate a person's character. Let me know your thoughts on this one in the Comments section below.

Good distinction. While we are commanded not to judge others - neither with respect to one's salvation nor his moral standing - we are also commanded to discern others' character. The key to the ability to walk this seemingly fine line is humility: Romans 12:3, Philippians 2:3. Consider also from today's reading: Matthew 7:3-5 - we are to be more concerned with our own sin ever to worry about the sin of others. Yet, we are still to recognize good and evil, and to distinguish between them. Perhaps this is the root of the old adage: Love the sinner, hate the sin?

In reference to Psalm 8:

Have you ever had the experience of nature, God’s creation, evangelizing you? When you are out in nature, do you offer up praise and thanks to God for his amazingly beautiful creation?

I am never closer to God, nor more at peace, than when I am alone, communing with God in His creation. It is at such times that I am awe-struck by the splendor, majesty, and beauty of His creation, and humbled by my own insignificance. I am reminded of my mission trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, this past summer. Each day, we spent time alone with God, and the pictures below are the view I had one morning during this devotional time:2005oaxaca_0782005oaxaca_077Roca Blanca Missions Base, Cacalote, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Destiny Church of St. Louis summer 2005 mission trip.
Photos © Chip Bennett; all rights reserved

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Back to Matthew chapter 7 verse 6 - "Don't give what is holy to unholy people. Don't give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you." I understand what is being said here - and I can think of specific instances in my life where this type of thing has happened. My question though for each of us is this - how do we show our friends, family, neighbors the love of God? Honestly, I have an evangelistic heart - but I don't think I really openly evangelize much. I love God so much - and it bums me out when I see my friends struggling with addictions - when it seems like they are seeking God. So - I don't think this verse 6 is referring to these types of situations - people seeking God in all the wrong places. I think we are called to somehow share the love of God with our hurting friends - with a hurting world. But - how do you do this? Do you pray for others? Do you give others books or Bibles? Do you send them spiritual emails? Do you invite them to church? Do you "preach the gospel at all times, and use words when only necessary?"

I think the way to show the lost the love of God is to love them the way that God loves them. The way to reach the lost is not merely to preach the Gospel, but to live the Gospel. Witness is not something we do as much is it is what we are. We are to live our lives in such a way that others recognize the difference, and praise God because of it (I Peter 2:12). To love others as God loves means taking an other-centered perspective, rather than a self-centered one. To live the Gospel means walking out I Corinthians 13 - no easy task, to be sure! In fact, without the working of the Spirit in our lives, it is impossible - which is why, I think, seeing it in our lives is exceptional.

New Year’s Eve Party

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

Anna, the baby, and I at the New Year's Eve party with several friends from church:NewYearsEveChip, Anna, and baby at New Year's Eve party, December 31, 2005
Photo © Maria Joslyn. Used with permission
I even splurged, and drank the whole glass of sparkling grape juice. Anna made me do it!

This picture reminds me of another blogger in much the same situation, and who had this to say:

For all you single guys, let me say this. If you ever find a woman who can juggle a baby, a bottle, and a glass of champagne, and look this good doing it - you marry her.

For the record, Anna managed all three (except it was sparkling grape juice, not champagne) - and as for marrying her now that I've found her: I intend to!