Grapevines Don’t Produce Figs

Today’s reading is James 3.

Oh, I needed today’s reading in terrible ways. It is so easy to criticize and curse others. Certainly, there is always the place for constructive criticism, provoking others to love and good deeds. But it is so easy to move from constructive criticism to useless belittling, condescension, and cursing. Of course, I always believe I’m justified. That person I’m cursing did something stupid, annoying, and often sinful. They voted for the wrong person. They cut me off on the road. They ignored some rule of etiquette. They disagreed with me about some Bible principle. They betrayed me. And yet, am I without any of these faults and sins? Doesn’t that sword cut both ways. I claim to bless God, but then I want to curse His creatures because I want to think in some way they don’t measure up to me? Who do I really think I am? When I produce figs, I can’t claim to be a grapevine. In like manner, when I produce cursing, I can’t claim to be a blessing. If salt water springs from my heart, I can’t claim to be a fresh water spring. Bless God today. Bless your fellow man as well even the ones who don’t seem to deserve it.

Tomorrow’s reading is James 4.

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Read This Post, Cuz I’m So Spiritual

Today’s reading is Matthew 6.

“Beware of posting your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then your likes and retweets will be all the reward you get.”
Matthew 6:1–The Modern Application Bible

Okay, I admit it. I made up “The Modern Application Bible.” (At least, I Googled it and couldn’t find one.) But maybe that would be a good exercise for us. The desire to be authentic, real, and transparent in social media has really blinded us on this one.  Truly, nobody cares what we had for dessert last night, but honestly, we would be better off putting that picture or another cat video up than the selfie of our volunteering, the Instagram of our good deeds, or the blog post about what we learned in our family Bible study. And, to be blunt, the whole, “I want people to see what God is doing through me,” is some powerful, mind-bending, mental gymnastics from our adversary whispered in our ear to deceive us. If God really wants people to see what He is accomplishing through us, let Him post about it. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; if He needs PR, He probably won’t ask us (see Psalm 50:10-12). Trust me, when Jesus said not to let our left hand know what our right hand was doing, He didn’t mean to take your selfie one handed. Let’s do some soul-searching before we post. Maybe we should all ask, “If this post, tweet, snapshot is really about God, why is it so full of me?” Then, maybe we should delete and just wait for God to reward us in secret.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 7.

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The Battle Begins

Today’s reading is Matthew 2.

You’d think Satan might wait until Jesus had a chance to grow up a little before starting his all out assault. But no. The dragon takes on the woman and her child in His infancy. Herod is the adversary’s instrument who slaughters a city full of children in this first attack. However, Jesus escaped. Please understand, our enemy is ruthless. He doesn’t care who gets hurt or killed in the fight. He will do whatever it takes to conquer the offspring of the woman (yes, I’m mixing this with the imagery of Revelation 12). He will do whatever it takes to conquer you. However, God is on your side. God will win; God does win. Even if we are killed in the battle, we will still have the victory in Jesus because He not only survived this beginning battle, He won the war. No matter how Satan attacks, hang on to Jesus. That is the only place of victory.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 3.

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Pleasing God, Not Men

Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 2.

The hardest part of disciple making for me, besides just getting started, is wanting people to like me. I don’t quite understand why. I believe I have the greatest news I can give to others, and yet, I fear they will not like me when we’re done. That brings the temptation to cut corners, leave out bits I think might be unpopular. But Paul sets the example for us. He wasn’t teaching out of any desire for personal profit or pleasure. He wanted to please God who tests our hearts. At the end of our efforts to make disciples, may our goal be not to please men, but to please God. May our goal be not to benefit from the people we teach, but to benefit them with truth that truly saves. What a great opportunity we have. Thank You, God, for this opportunity.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 3.

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No Other Gospel

Today’s reading is Galatians 1.

There are numerous philosophies, doctrines, teachings parading as good news. However, there is only one truly good news. There is only one gospel. There is salvation in no one but Jesus Christ. There is salvation no other way but Christ’s. We need to see the people lost in bad news and those who are taking hope and solace in what is not really good news. Folks will only hear the good news if we share it. Otherwise, they have false hope and they will die in a hope that disappoints. Let us neither be moved from the good news nor moved from declaring it to those around us who need it.

Tomorrow’s reading is Galatians 2.

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Do the Impossible: Make Disciples

Today’s reading is Luke 18.

“What is impossible with men is possible with God!” Say it out loud. “What is impossible with men is possible with God!” Say it again. Again. Keep saying it until you believe it. I get it, it is impossible for you to make disciples. You aren’t knowledgeable enough, talented enough, confident enough, smooth enough. But then again, wasn’t that exactly what Moses said about himself and look how that ended up. “What is impossible with men is possible with God!” And you are with God. So go do the impossible–make disciples.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 19.

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