In Heavenly Places

Today’s reading is Ephesians 1.

As we read¬†Ephesians,¬†stay tuned to “power.” It’s a competition. There are powers attacking us. But there is Power for us. The attacking powers were demonstrated when Jesus was hung on the cross and executed. But God’s power was demonstrated when He raised Jesus from the dead and enthroned Him in the heavenly places far above every other rule and power. Whatever comes at us, remember the Power that is for us. He is the one who provides blessings in the heavenly places.

Monday’s reading is Ephesians 2.

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Blessing, Harmony, Peace, and Honor

Today’s reading is Romans 12.

I imagine you are reading this on the same device you access social media. When you move from this post to Facebook (or you may be reading it there), Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other platform you socialize virtually on, please remember today’s reading. Bless those who persecute and curse you. Don’t curse them in return. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but at least communicate with harmony. Don’t repay evil for evil, give good instead. Honor others and do what is honorable. Be at peace as much as it depends on you. Sure, there are plenty of people who are going to do bad, evil things. Don’t respond in kind. Overcome evil with good. One of the true life-changing differences the gospel makes is not how we treat the people most like us and whom we most like. It is in how we treat people who don’t like us, are not like us, and whom we don’t like all that much. And what better place to start that gospel life change than right now while you are online? After all, Jesus didn’t die for a bunch of people who were nice to Him.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 13.

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Blessed are the Poor

Today’s reading is Luke 6.

One of the big mistakes we make when we get to the Beatitudes in Luke’s account of the gospel is to immediately jump back to Matthew’s version of them, decide what they mean there, and then just read it into Luke. Whether these are records of two different teaching events where Jesus said something similar or whether they are two versions of the same event, Jesus clearly didn’t mean contradictory things. However, Matthew and Luke are using them to make distinct, but complementary, points. Matthew focuses on spiritual humility, but Luke really is focusing on financial poverty. However, notice Luke’s good news for the poor, the hungry, the mourning, the despised. His good news is not, as so many try to make it today, a better life now. His good news is not, “Turn to me and I will give you sumptuous meals, fine clothes, the house on the hill, and leisurely retirements.” Rather, it is “Turn to me and I will give you the kingdom of God and your reward in heaven will be great.” In fact, the very thing many today make out to be the reward is what Jesus says the rich, well-fed, merry, honored people have now, and it is all the reward they are going to get. That is not a good thing. Why would we want to make that the great blessing of turning to Jesus. No, this doesn’t mean we ignore helping those around us in need. That is covered when Jesus teaches us to do good and give expecting nothing in return. However, let’s understand what the good news really is. It is so much better than social justice, benevolence, and equity. It is eternal life. It is the kingdom. It is the very presence of God throughout all eternity. The true good news is unsurpassed. And I am unashamed. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 7.

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Blessed

Today’s reading is Revelation 14.

Here is why the enemy can’t win. What is the worst He can do to us? He attacks, he harms, he torments, he persecutes, and ultimately he kills. And all that does is bring us face to face with our greatest blessing. Never lose sight of that. In the darkest days, when the enemy martyrs and executes, he does nothing more than allow us to die in the Lord which is actually a great blessing and leads us to a great blessing. It brings us fully into the presence of the One we want to be with most. No matter how dark it gets, hang on to the Lord. Whether He delivers us from persecution or through persecution, we will be with Him forever. Even dying with and for Him is a blessing. Hang on to Jesus. He always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 15.

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Hang On for God’s Blessing

Today’s reading is Matthew 15.

Jesus’s interaction with the Canaanite woman continues to amaze me. Even though I’ve read it dozens of times, it shocks me. And yet, it mirrors how many people feel God is treating them. Many believe God is ignoring them, forgetting them, even ill treating them. Yet, how does this Canaanite woman react? Does she decide Jesus must not exist because He isn’t responding the way she wants? Does she decide He isn’t worth her time because His first response is negative, even harsh? No. She knows He is the source of blessing. There is no other. She hangs on. And she receives the blessing. I don’t know what you are going through. I don’t know how Satan is using it to try to turn you away from God. But may I remind you Yahweh God, through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit, is the only source of blessing. Don’t abandon Him because He isn’t responding the way you want. Hang on to Him, you will receive His blessing when it is best and most blessed.

Monday’s reading is Matthew 16.

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Blessed to Bless

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 9.

We all seek blessing from God. We long to be blessed. Some even proclaim how blessed they are at every turn. “How are you doing today?” “Too blessed to be stressed!” Or just, “I’m blessed.” But why has God blessed us? Is it simply to let us know He likes us? No. God has blessed us to be a blessing to others. Whether resources or opportunities or relationships, God showers us with blessing so those blessings may overflow to others. Sometimes it works the other way, He blesses others that they may overflow to us. But when we all see ourselves as channels of God’s blessing, allowing the overflow to flow freely, we fulfill God’s plan for us. I pray that you may be blessed, but even more so that you may be a blessing.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 10.

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Blessed are the Rescuers

Today’s reading is Luke 17.

Temptations are sure to come. Jesus pronounces woe on those who tempt others to sin. When we tempt others to sin, we would be better off to be drowned. But stop and think. What is the opposite of all this? If temptation to sin is a woe, what is rescuing others from sin? It is blessed. Let’s cease to be tempters. In fact, lets cease just leaving people in their sins. Let us grow to be rescuers. Then we will be blessed.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 18.

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