Reading Through The Bible — Week 94
9/13 Sunday. We focus on the lessons for Pentecost 15 reminding us that the Church is a battle ground. First the cross, and only then the crown.
The Gospel Lesson, Matthew 16:21-26: Peter’s great confession from last Sunday’s Gospel showed the disciples understood who Jesus was. But though they understood His person, they still failed to understand His work. He had come to fulfill the redemptive mission for which He was anointed; He had not come to fulfill Israel’s earthbound views of Messiah. He couldn’t be the Messiah they wanted, and still be the Savior they needed. “He MUST go...” Cross and death were necessary first. When Jesus spoke most clearly about his cross, Peter spoke Satan’s words of compromise. Thanks be to God that our Savior saw the necessity of the cross before the crown! Now for Christian followers, cross comes before the crown as well. We die to self, but gain Christ, the Life.
The Old Testament Lesson, Jeremiah 15:15-21: The church is militant, and that means dying to self and the things of man. After a hard ministry, Jeremiah began to forget the things of God and concentrate too much on the things of man. The prophet Jeremiah struggled to carry the cross given him by his God. God’s Word was a joy and delight to his heart, but Jeremiah’s life had been anything but joy and delight. After bearing much persecution, God’s prophet finally tired of self-?denial. He wondered whether God’s promises amounted to nothing, but were as failed and fruitless as a dried-?up brook in times of drought. How does God respond? Does He remove the cross and persecution? No, He commands His prophet to repent and turn to God for mercy. Then, God will permit him again the privilege of carrying a cross in His name. God renews a promise that He had made at the beginning of Jeremiah’s ministry. He didn’t promise to remove the persecution, but to make Jeremiah strong enough to take it. May God make each of us bronze walls, certain of the fact that even as we follow the way of the cross—no, especially as we follow the way of the cross —our God is with us to rescue and save us, and redeem us from the grasp of the cruel. That knowledge renewed and restored Jeremiah to a ministry centered on the things of God as he served in the Church militant.
The Epistle Lesson, Romans 12:1-8: This is the fourteenth in a series of sixteen lessons that run through Pentecost 17. Jesus did notheed Satan’s temptation or Peter’s command. He denied himself and carried His cross to the hill of His death and our eternal life. Through that one act of righteousness, God gave justification that brings life to all mankind. St. Paul spends eleven chapters outlining the amazing nature of God’s plan for our salvation centered on our crucified Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Then in chapter 12, Paul begins, “Therefore...” He points back to the past eleven chapters and says, In view of all that—in view of everything God did to save you eternally… let death come before life for you. First the cross, then the crown. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices. This oxymoron only makes sense in the Christian response of life lived by dying to self and living for Christ
Reading Through The Bible — Week 95
9/14 Monday. Read 1 Timothy 3:1-16
· If time is short focus on v.1-13
· The “overseer” (also called elder) was roughly what we call a pastor today. One who shepherded the flock, teaching, preaching, guiding. The “deacon” took care of the physical needs of the congregation, helping the poor and widows etc. They might be something like lay workers or councilmen. The “wives” of v. is literally “women” and so could be wives of pastors and deacons, or deaconesses.
· How does God’s list of qualifications differ from what you think qualifies a man to be a pastor? … and does that tell you anything?
· In what ways is the list of qualifications for a pastor the same as a lay worker???... In what ways are they different? And does that tell you anything?
9/15 Tuesday. Read 1 Timothy 4:1-16
· If time is short, focus on v.1-10
· “Watch your doctrine and life closely,” thus Paul concludes this chapter. Both are very important for every Christian, but especially for the pastor… for his life and doctrine affect the lives of others more than that of any other.
· Think about doctrine. Paul here mentions those who forbid what God has permitted, old wives tales: Is doctrine important to you? Why or why not? It clearly is important to God, because doctrine is what God said… it is having God’s point of view that will affect life now and eternally.
· Think about life. Is there a different standard for your pastor than you? No, it Is the same. And the way you live will also affect the souls of others for better or for worse.
9/16 Wednesday. Read 1 Timothy 5:1-25
· If time is short, focus on v.1-10
· Young pastor Timothy is to teat the people of the congregation as if they were his own family.
Widows had few ways of honorably providing for themselves. Verse 8 is the general principle. A family should take care of each other, that is Faith in Action. It almost seems that the widows the church cared for were: 1) those who had no family 2) those who in some way helped in the ministry of the · church.
· The pastor was worthy of “double honor,” but also had greater responsibility so that if he fell into sin, his failure was made a public example to warn others. Wow! What a heavy responsibility!
9/17 Thursday. Read 1 Timothy 6:1-21
· If time is short, focus on v.3-19
· .Jesus changes everything! The Christian caught in the distasteful institution of slavery now see themselves as willing servants of a brother!
· Money is not an end in itself but a gift God gives so that we can serve one another.
· Preaching is not a way to wealth and prestige, but a battle against darkness and loving service to the Lord of lords and King of kings.
· How does Jesus change the way you look at the work you do??? The money you spend???
9/18 Friday. Read 2 Timothy 1: 1-18
· If time is short, focus on v.6-10
· Don’t be timid Timothy! There was plenty of reason to be timid. Christianity had been declared an illegal religion by Rome. Others had deserted Paul; he was now in prison with little hope of release… under the circumstances who wouldn’t be timid?
· Look for as many reasons as you can find why Timothy should not be timid… such as the example of others including Paul, Onesiphorus, Timothy’s own mother and grandmother, and does not the very Gospel itself with its eternal promises eliminate the temporary fears of what man may do to us?
· Do you have a “spirit of timidity?
9/19 Saturday. Read 2 Timothy 2:1-26
· If time is short, focus on v.1-3
· The ministry will not be easy; it involves hard work, total focus, like a soldier, runner or farmer.
· It also involves conflict: in every age there will be quarrels over words, and false teachers to lead souls astray. Thus the ministry's constant struggle be (v.18) to “correctly handle the Word of truth.” and to firmly gently guide into that truth.
· As you read this chapter pray for your pastor as he teaches and counsels and how about prayers also for our seminary professors, the gatekeepers of the truth as they prepare another generation of faithful Timothies.
9/20 Sunday. Our lessons for this 16th Sunday after the Pentecost teach us about being our “brother’s keeper.”
The Gospel Lesson, Matthew 18:15-20: “Matthew 18” has become shorthand for Christian discipline. The importance of Christian discipline lies in the fact that the keys have been placed into the hands of the Church and in no other. The Christian and the Church are a fallen sinner’s only life line. Satan tries to make Christian discipline seem like the height of hypocrisy or meddling. But his is a self-?interested motive: he wants the fallen brother’s sins bound like his for an eternity in hell. Only love could lead the Christian and the Church to go to a fallen brother. Only love led our Savior to command it. Even the manner Jesus prescribes shows great love for the fallen. First, privately, so that offense and embarrassment might be contained, and pardon and forgiveness might all the more readily flow. Then with two or three, that the matter might be underscored without making tongues wag throughout the congregation. Finally, also in love, the Church calls and, if necessary, shuns. Such a great privilege and power has Christ bestowed on us! It leads us to even greater reliance on prayer for guidance and the presence of our Savior among us.
The Old Testament Lesson, Ezekiel 33:7-11: Since the time of Cain, man has hated being his brother’s keeper. Are we any different today? Who but little Pharisees enjoy pointing out others’ sins? But God tells us the task is not optional. No one wants to wake up their next door neighbor at 6:00am on a Saturday. But if his house were burning, and you let him sleep, you are not just loveless and careless. You are a killer. In the same way God drops on us the heavy message of being a watchman for our brother. God’s judgment on fallen man is as clear as it is severe. If we fail to do the job God has assigned us, God promises to hold us accountable. With the Law driven deeply into our hearts, God then reminds us why He has given us this job: because of His grace and His desire for the salvation of all mankind. The responsibility of waking our neighbor asleep in a burning house becomes a joyful privilege when he emerges safely from the smoke. May our task of being our brother’s keeper always be one done with such responsibility and joy.
The Epistle Lesson, Romans 13:1-10: This is the fifteenth in a series of sixteen lessons that run through Pentecost 17. Paul takes up the issue of government and the Christian’s relationship to it. A Christian is a citizen of two kingdoms. The first part of this text is the definitive section of Scripture on our role as citizens of an earthly kingdom. Yet the latter part of this lesson best fits with the theme for the day. We owe our neighbor a debt of love. Keeping the commandments fulfills the law of love. “Love does no harm to its neighbor.” Today’s lessons point out that doing harm to our neighbor also means failing to do what God tells us in his regard: being his keeper.