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Monthly Bible Reading Plan - January - A Word a Day in the Word

January 3, 2022:

💜 Bible Verse: Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. – Ephesians 4:24

💛 Let’s Dive Deeper: Some of us have not yet begun to delve deep into the Word and extrapolate the depth and richness of the original languages. Admittedly, I just began doing so last year, however, I include it as part of my study of the Word so much now, I thought it would be amazing to begin the New Year with a devotion with such a theme. For those who may not know, the original language of the New Testament is Greek and Old Testament is Hebrew. You will notice as we study the NT, we focus on the Greek meaning and when we study the OT, we will focus on Hebrew.

Today we are focusing on the new nature we each have due to our dependence on Christ and His atoning work on the Cross. How fitting with the new year we are stepping into, am I right?! Paul explains that we each have a new nature and that we were created to be like God in our verse today. Many of us don’t fully comprehend this new nature, and some of us may struggle to walk it in, and therefore, our transformation in Christ is not always evident to others. 

First of all, it is important to note that the literal translation of “new nature” is actually “new man”. However, because the Bible is referring to all those saved, not merely men, many modern translations use the dynamic translation of nature (rather than man) to encompass male and female. We understand this because the Greek word for “man” is “anthropos” (an-throh-pahs) and means mankind, not merely man. Anthropos also refers to the entirety of mankind as in every aspect of our nature, not just our flesh, or spirit, etc.

The Greek word for “new” is “kainos” (ky-nohs). The Greek language has multiple words used to express the thought of something being “new”. There is temporally new (think age – like a new baby), and there is qualitatively new (think condition of something – as in a new car that has never before been driven). Kainos refers to a newness of never before being used or impaired by time. 

Another meaning of “kainos” is “current or not before known”. An example of this type of “new” is when the Holy Spirit falls in Acts and people hear those who it fell upon speaking in “new” languages. Those languages weren’t necessarily new, but they were new to those hearing. Just as we are not literally new people with new features, we are new to the Kingdom of Heaven and we are new to enacting God’s will and hearing His voice. For some of us, it felt “new” hearing someone else speak in tongues for the first time. 

Finally, the last meaning for “kainos” is “new as opposed to old or former and hence also implying better because different.” As believers, Paul is referring to this last definition as it explains that those of us who are renewed and are changed from evil to good by the Spirit of God. Forgiven and free, we are seen by the Almighty Father as Christ Himself. His blood has washed our filthy rags white as snow.

If you find yourself falling into old habits or maybe your salvation is not apparent to others, I would encourage you to delve deeper into what Christ completed for you on the Cross. Our salvation is a gift. It cannot be earned. Those of us who walk in obedience for years have no more salvation than those who are freshly saved, as they say. We are free to be who we were created to be, like God, and usher the things of heaven here to earth. We are a kingdom of priests who serve a living God, and we have been made new. We are no longer held captive by our thoughts, our habits, our addiction…nothing. The price has been paid. 

The Good News, friend, is that the prison doors are open…you just have to be willing to walk out of the jail cell and shine the light of Christ!

January 4, 2022:

💜 Bible Verse: God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
☆ Ephesians 1:5 NLT

💛 Let’s Dive Deeper: In today’s devotional, we read about how God decided in advance to adopt those of us who believe in Christ. It may come to a surprise as some to realize you have been chosen by God Almighty to become one of His children; that during His creation of the universe, He thought of you and decided the world needed one of you and He would adopt you into His magnificent Kingdom. Now, if that isn’t good news, I don’t know what is!

As we dig deeper today, it is important for me to first tell you that this idea of adoption is one from Roman culture. The Jews would have known little about it from a cultural standpoint. It is a good thing, then, that the Apostle Paul was of both Roman and Jewish decent. It allowed him to take advantage of some of his Roman knowledge to help educate the newly converted Jews that began to follow the teachings of Christ Jesus.

We see the Greek word for adoption is “huiothesia” (hoo-yo-theh-see-ah). The literal translation of this word means “son placing”. See, in Roman culture, adoption didn’t just happen between a father and a child that wasn’t his; it also happened between a father and a child by birth.

Understand friend, the teenage years marked a change in position for the son in the family. Rather than be considered a child (having no responsibilities and no rights as well), the teen boy would become a son in an official sense, meaning he would now hold rights to the family estate if something were to happen to his father and also hold the responsibility in that regard as well.

It is this deep meaning that I want to focus on today. Yesterday, we spoke about those of us who struggle to walk in our new nature. Today, I want to dig a bit deeper so that those who do struggle in this sense have a greater understanding of who you are. Because you were adopted by Almighty God, you are now given certain rights. 

These rights are the same which Jesus Himself received. As believers, we are to preach the Gospel, cast out demons, heal the sick and hurting, and usher the Kingdom of God here to earth through prayer, song, dance, and worship. This is exactly what Jesus did, which is why He said, “the Kingdom of God is at hand” when He did the will of God (Matt. 4:17[ESV]).

The truth is, we were of our Father the devil (1 John 3:8-10) before we were saved. I understand this may be hard for some to grasp, but it is true, just as John explains. Once saved by the blood of Jesus, however, we become a child of God. We gain our Kingdom inheritance, and we also gain the responsibility to enact the will of God, not our own desires. In doing the will of God, others can see the fruit of the spirit alive and active in our life. Our life becomes a walking testimony for God. 

Lastly, let's look at the other meaning of adoption, between a man and child not his by birth. In Roman culture, once you were adopted, your debts were erased. This is because the adopted person literally became a new person (remember we too, have a new nature). This was good news because children who didn't have parents were usually slaves (similar to endentured servitude). Therefore, the adopted child would no longer be a slave. Sound familiar?

Because of what Christ did for us, and our believing that He paid the price on the Cross for our sins, we now have a new nature and are children of God, entitled to a Kingdom inheritance that comes with responsibilities on our part. We are no longer slaves, and our debt has been paid, PRAISE GOD!

January 5, 2022

💜 Bible Verse: “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.
☆ Matthew 6:1 NLT

💛 Let’s Dive Deeper: When studying the Word, I always begin with the New Living Translation. It is my favorite, and that's my starting point, usually. When I studied Matthew six, I noticed the word "Father" used 12 times. I found that ironic as the number 12 is known to signify the tribes (and therefore people) of Israel.

While the Jews certainly didn't walk in obedience, they had quite an encompassing view of God. They saw Him in terms of His begetting (as the Creator of all). The Jews also saw Him as near. They believed Him to be closer than any relative or friend. This is seen in many instances within the Book of Psalms. They also saw God in terms of His guidance. Jeremiah speaks the word of God in Jer. 31:9 saying, "with supplications I will lead them [NKJV]."

As stated previously, we can see that the Jews also saw God in terms of their obedience. Rather than appreciate what He did for them by following His laws (or rules), they rejected what was holy. Because of this rejection, the Jewish people (as a whole) missed out on intimacy with God. They treated God like a genie and only turned to Him when they were under judgement. This loss in intimacy is seen by the fact that by the time Jesus walked the earth it was considered blasphemy to say the name Yahweh.

The fact that the Jews were unwilling to use the personal name God gave Himself in order to communicate with His people shows there was little, if any, personal connection. Many believers who study the OT will notice the religious nature of the Jewish people.

While we understand we have intimacy with God, we are also to show Him reverence. We do this by respecting Him, and we respect Him by obeying Him and trusting that He means what He says and that it is the truth. Many of us don't have great examples of fathers here. Some have lied to us, others may have been neglected or abused by their dads, but our Father God, or "pater" (pah-tayr) in Greek, does no such thing.

The truth is, Father God only wants what is best for us. He doesn't want to merely watch us survive, but walk with us and help us to THRIVE! Just as a good parent would ensure their child was well taken care of, our Father is the same. This is why, even when we mess up, He can bring good from it (Rom. 8:28). We aren't screw-ups in His eyes. We are His children and He wants to give us every good and perfect thing He has for us (James 1:17), and those things are being stored for us by Him in heaven.

January 6, 2022:

❤ Bible Verse: He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

☆ Psalms 40:3 NLT

💚 Let’s Dive Deeper: It's quite fitting that as we start this new year, we read about David singing a new song. The Hebrew word for "new" is chadas (hah-dahs). This pronunciation begins with that throaty/phlemy sound heard in other Semitic languages like Arabic and means new as in "never seen or done before." It can also mean fresh. The Hebrew word for song is "shiyr" (sheer) and means a lyrical or religious song.

Interestingly, this phrase, "new song" occurs seven times in the Old Testament and in all the cases, someone is composing a new song based on what God has done. The truth is, those of us in Christ sing to a different song (or tune) than the rest of the world. And we have good reason to do so - because God's mercies are new every morning! Each new day is a new opportunity to sing a new song to our Father God and Savior Jesus Christ.

So, while the world is worried about the newest variant of the big "C", focus your attention on the One who deserves your praise. He is awesome in every way and certainly worthy to be praised! Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and sing Him a song that's never been sung before! Not only will He enjoy it, but it may help you realize a gift you didn't even know you had.💛 

January 7, 2022:

💙 Bible Verse: Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
☆ Psalms 30:4‭-‬5 NLT

🧡 Let’s Dive Deeper: Yesterday we focused on singing a new song. Today, I want us to dig a bit deeper into this Psalm before we discuss the Hebrew. We see in this Psalm that David is praying and thanking God for his health, but we also see him calling for others to join his song.

It is one thing for us to sing praises from the comfort of our own car, or home, or prayer closet, but it is another thing entirely when the saints come together to praise in one accord. There is power there because the Bible says that God inhabits the praise of His people [Psalm 22:3].

Today we are going to focus on the Hebrew word "mizmor" (miz-more). It is also a word that has to do with music and means "a praise song accompanied by a stringed musical instrument." This Hebrew word is confined to the Psalter so it denotes a religious song exclusive to the Israelite people. The Hebrew word for song (shiyr) is used outside the Psalter, so there is a slight difference between the two. These two words are used together in a couple instances (Ps. 40:1 & 65:1) and add emphasis when used together. It would be like us saying "the best church song" but since Hebrew doesn't have superlatives, it reads "a psalm song".

While God desires to hear our praise, He also loves to hear us worship as one with music. This is why church, or fellowship, is so important. There are times when some of us simply don't have a song to sing. As we grieve the loss of a loved one, we struggle to utter praise. However, we must remember verse 5. While weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning. It may not be the next morning. It may be a morning years from now, but it is coming. And because there is hope that at some point, even if not until heaven, we will no longer grieve, it gives us something to sing about.

The Psalms contain such deep theological truths, singing them is a reminder of what God has done and can do. What are you waiting on God to do? Maybe you should try singing about what He's already done and watch your faith rise as God takes His place in your praise. For those who may be grieving today, we are praying for you. May God wipe every tear from your eye.🙏

January 10, 2022:

💙 Bible Verse: However, I have let you live for this purpose: to show you My power and to make My name known in all the earth.
☆ Exodus 9:16 HCSB

🧡 Let’s Dive Deeper: Today I want to focus on the Hebrew word for "name". It is "shem". In today’s verse we see God explaining that the purpose of the chosen and called is to showcase His power and make his name known in all the earth. It is interesting then to see that when we look up the Hebrew meaning of "shem" it means more than "name." It also means "famous!"

A other interesting fact is that the root word for this is unknown. Many scholars believe it comes from the Aramaic root "wšm" which means "¹to mark or brand or ²an external mark to distinguish one thing or person from another."

Hebrew names carried much more significance than our names do today in western culture. For instance, Adam was the first created man and his name in Hebrew literally means "man". We perceive it as his name, but it was God calling him what he was...man.

Shem (Noah's son), his name literally means "name" and the Semites or Semitic (Israelite) people are his descendents. Another example would be Isaac. His name means "he laughs" and was significant because of the fact that Sarah laughed when she was told she would birth a son in her old age.

We may not have Hebrew names, but there is still significance contained within. I encourage you to look up what your name means, then meditate on the fact that God created you because He knew you would testify to His goodness and, in turn, make His name famous!

January 11, 2022:

💚 Bible Verse: Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens — Jesus the Son of God — let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.
☆ Hebrews 4:14‭-‬16 HCSB

💜 Let’s Dive Deeper: Prayer is something that is absolutely necessary for our faith as it is how we communicate with God. It is no wonder, then, why Paul feels it necessary to instruct the followers of Christ on how to approach prayer. As we see from today's verse, Paul says we can approach God with boldness. This does not mean we can blaspheme. The two are not the same.

The Greek word for "boldness" is "parresia" [pah-ray-see-ah (the r in ray is rolled as it would be in spanish)] and it means "freedom or frankness in speaking". It comes from the Greek word "pas" (meaning all, each or every) and "rhesis" (meaning a special form of speech). Again, while we can approach God with boldness in our communication, we should still have reverence for Him.

The gift that Christ gave us, the ability to be in communion with God once more and have relationship with Him is not to be taken lightly. We are only able to speak because of His great sacrifice, and therefore, we should still have reverence for God. I've seen some say you can speak to God any way you'd like, that He's a big God and he can take our cursing when we're upset. While that may be true to a certain extent, He didn't allow His son to be sacrificed so you can let the expletives fly when you're upset. He did so in order that we may come to Him with any and every problem, question, thought, etc.

We have the ability to ask God for anything and because He can do all things, we can expect that if it is His will, it will be done. This is not name it and claim it faith. This is an understanding of who God is. He is truth. He is love. And He is waiting to hear from you. So what are you waiting for? An invitation? Consider this it! It's time to RSVP, friend!❤

January 12, 2022:

💛 Bible Verse: For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
☆ Ephesians 2:14 NKJV

❤ Let’s Dive Deeper: As we look around today, we can see many are desperately seeking peace. Yet, they look in all the wrong places. I know because I used to do the same thing. The truth is, however, that peace can only come from one source because it is the same source for all that we see. Jesus, the Word of God, is more than just the giver of peace. He is peace.

First, if we dig into the original text here we see that a definite article is used before peace. It would literally read, "the peace", as in, Jesus is the peace. Peace in Greek is "eirēne" [eh-ray-nay (again, roll the "r")]. It means "a state of tranquility; the opposite of rage and war." The meaning of this word hasn't changed or varied over the years. The Hebrew equivalent is Shalom and is often used as a greeting ong Jewish brethren. It appears over 250 times in the Septuagint and doesn't mean so much the opposite of war as it means the opposite of any disturbance in the tranquility of God’s people.

Paul is stating that Christ is our peace, but the truth is much deeper than that. The truth is that because of Christ we believers now have harmony and tranquility. I understand it many not always feel that way, but that is reality. When we realize we don't fight our own battles the way others do, we appear to be resting when in war. What looks like lying prostrate in bed in actually prayer. What looks like hiding in a quiet room is actually prayer. What sounds like jibberish is actually prayer!

The flesh and this natural nature and order of things tries (and sometimes succeeds) in stealing our peace, but the truth is, Jesus is our peace because He IS peace. I hear people ask, 'when will we ever have peace?' The answer to that is...when you surrender your life to Christ and see that He is peace.

The Canadian Army Journal has some pretty startling facts and figures listed within. According to them, since 3600 BC, there have only been 292 years of peace. During this same time period, there were approximately 14,500 wars in which just over 3.6 billion people died. While there are many who have tried to be peacemakers, mankind doesn't usually get it right in the peacemaking department. This is due in large part to our prideful nature, more than likely.

Never the less, I hope you are "picking up what I'm laying down" as they say. You want peace? Find Christ, then you'll find peace!

January 13, 2022:

💛 Bible Verse: A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
☆ James 1:12 HCSB

❤ Let’s Dive Deeper: I'm not sure many of us feel blessed when we are in the midst of a trial or test, but the Bible says that is exactly what we are. James is known as one of the Pastoral Epistles. It is no wonder then, why he needs to remind others that there are blessings to be had, even in the midst of difficulty. Pastors go through SO MUCH, and much of it they face by themselves with no one but Jesus by their side.

While it doesn't have to be this way, I believe it is because of the fact that people hold leaders up to a higher level of expectation, and the truth is, so does God. His Word says teachers will be held to a higher standard of judgment as well (James 3:1). So it makes sense then, why God would choose to walk with leaders through the muck rather than expect them to cling to others. The truth is, that is what God wants for all of us, leaders or not.

So, what exactly does James mean by "blessed"? Well the Greek word James is using here is "makarios" [mah-kah-ree-ohs (emphasis on the second syllable)]. The NT Word study dictionary defines is as "blessed one; possessing the favor of God; that state of being marked by fullness from God", meaning since we have the Holy Spirit within us...the precious Spirit of God Himself...we should be content in all circumstances.

Blessed doesn't mean happy. It doesn't mean wealthy or rich. It doesn't mean joyful. The closest English word we have that encompasses the meaning of blessed in the way James is using it is "contentedness". If we can stay content, even in the midst of unforseen circumstances, we are TRULY blessed.

I have an example to share. A little over a year ago, we noticed our wood floors bowing nearing a dining room window. After the floor was ripped up and the home inspected, we saw that the roofers had not put the roof back on correctly when it was replaced after Irma. Because of this, water was going into the attic and leaking down the drywall into the dining room. Rather than moan and complain in despair, I immediately said "well, it looks like Jesus wants to give us new wood floors!" We did get new floors and while my dining room was out of commission for months, it was put back together in time for the holidays and a small Bible study we started hosting out of our home.

Because we have the Holy Spirit. We have the unique opportunity to see everything in a different light. Sometimes we can see what God is doing in the midst of a trial and sometimes we can't, but never the less, it is always for a precious reason. That season showed me how God could use any situation for the advantage of His called ones.

What are you facing today, friend? Would you consider yourself blessed because of it? Maybe it's time you took those lenses off your eyes and wiped the muck off them. Maybe then you can see the blessing God has for you in the midst of your test.

Allow me to encourage you to look at your trial as a new opportunity to see who God is. Maybe He's teaching you He is Jehovah Rapha, the God Who Heals, or perhaps He wants you to remember He is El Roi, the God Who Sees. Whatever the case may be remember, He is Jehovah Nissi, The Lord is our Banner, and He never loses...the train of His robe fills the temple (Isaiah 6:1)!

January 14, 2022:

🧡 Bible Verse: Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price [is] far above rubies.
☆ Proverbs 31:10 NMV

💙 Let’s Dive Deeper: As we study this verse today, we see the value of a virtuous woman being far more than rubies. First off, it is important to understand that rubies, natural rubies, are very rare, especially in today's day and age, but even back when this was written, too.

Interestingly, like many other gemstones, rubies are made from extreme heat and pressure under ground. However, they get their red hue from two distinct elements, chromium and corundum (a by product of aluminum and oxygen). Like all gemstones, rubies start from sand and begin to harden and crystallize over time, however, most rubies do not grow large enough to be mined as a fine jewels and crystallized gems. This is another reason for their rarity. In fact, by today's standards rubies are worth much more than diamonds, especially if they are large enough to create a piece of jewelry.

I could stop right here for today and believe our knowledge of rubies speaks to the rarity of a virtuous woman, however the word we are focusing on today is virtuous.

In Hebrew the word "chayil" (kah-yeel) is used as "virtuous" in this passage but it also means, "strength; force; wealth; an army; valor." Once we see the meaning in the Hebrew we can better understand a virtuous woman to be a woman of strong moral character who influences others by that strength. The best example we have for a virtuous woman in the Bible is Ruth. She left everything behind (her family, pagan land, and pagan gods) to serve her mother in law and the One True Living God. She was obedient, had a strong work ethic and was always willing to do what needed to be done. Laziness was not part of her vocabulary. The same is so for the virtuous women of today.

Finally, however, it is important to understand we are not talking about an independent woman. Today's culture celebrates such a thing, but it is opposite of virtuous because a virtuous woman cares for all and supports any and all she can. She is a comfort to other women and helps to train younger women in the ways of God (think of Titus 2). Independence cannot be associated with a virtuous woman because that woman knows she is totally dependent on God.

It is my hope today, women, that you see your value. In a world that makes us believe we must look a certain way, dress a certain way, and act a certain way, God has His standard too and they are not the same as the world's. You do matter, beautiful lady, not only to to those closest to you, but to God Almighty as well. You are loved, and cherished and today, virtuous women...you are celebrated!

January 17, 2022: 

🧡 Bible Verse: Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

☆ Psalms 1:1 NIV

💙 Let’s Dive Deeper: As we study the word blessed today, it is my hope that you would be just that. I think it's special that the first word of the book of Psalms (or songs) is blessed. In Hebrew "blessed" is ešer (eh-share) and means "a person's state of bliss; happiness." It comes from the root word ašer (ah-share) meaning "to go straight, walk, go on, advance, make progress." So, it means much more than simply happy or having favor from God.

It is used 44 times in the OT, mostly in the Books of Psalms and Proverbs, and while it is used to describe the state of humans, it is never used to describe God. The Greek Septuagint uses the word "makarios" (used 9 times in the Beatitudes) which is translated as happy, though the meaning is much deeper because happiness is circumstantial but being blessed is not. 

One can be blessed in the midst of turmoil if one is walking with the Lord. And that's just what this Psalm dives right into sharing. As one of the first theological truths put in song, we see that the writer of this Psalm wants us to recognize blessedness comes from walking a holy life, and this can only be done by accepting Christ. 

Sure, the Israelites had the Mosaic Law to follow, but that, as Paul explains repeatedly in his Epistles, falls short of relationship with Him (which we all have access to due to the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ). Living a holy life actually sounds much harder than it is. The truth is, it is turning away from sin. As God points something out in us that is sinful, we are to thank Him for that correction, turn away from it, and continue walking in obedience. We must have the Holy Spirit to accomplish this. Without Him, there is no direction.

The next thing the psalmist brings up in v.2 is the fact that the blessedness comes from a passion for scripture. As Joshua 1:8 suggests, there is a much deeper transformation if we meditate on God's Word. Psalm 1:1, in my opinion, is more than likely inspired by this exact verse.

Finally, blessedness comes from a prosperity dependent on God. In v.3 we read the vivid picture of a tree near a river, producing fruit in every season. It's allegorical as we are the tree and God is the River, or source of life and abundance. See, trees can live a dormant life, or a fruitful life. 

Every tree goes into phases of dormancy (kind of like bears go in to hibernation) for a season. While most do so during the winter, some fruit trees that produce during the colder months become dormant during the warmer months. It's truly a beautiful thing for the Kingdom as fruit is ALWAYS being produced! As some trees (believers) produce fruit, others go dormant, and those trees (believers) have a chance to rest and prepare for the coming fruitful season by focusing on replenishing from the River (God).

So, friend, what season are you in? Being aware of the times is important not just for the body of Christ but for you individually as well. If you are in a season of producing fruit, let it fall on fertile soil! If you are dormant right now, resting in the presence of God, replenishing your spirit and being filled with the refreshment only God can bring, enjoy the time you have with the King because soon, there will be a season of harvest!

January 18, 2022:

💜 Bible Verse: Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.

☆ Psalms 119:104 NLT

💚 Let’s Dive Deeper: As we study today, we are going to take a deeper look at the word "understanding". In Hebrew it is translated as "biyn" (bean) and means much more than understanding. It is translated as understand or understanding 94 times in the OT but when we consider it in all its derivatives it appears 247 times. Sometimes it is translated as "consider, perceive, discern" and has a wide range of uses. Additionally, it can mean "to discern, perceive, observe, understand, pay attention, be intelligent, and be discreet." Therefore, "biyn" means much more than gathering knowledge. It is about understanding that knowledge. 

For example, a non-English speaking tourist may hear you speak, but they won't understand what you say. There is a difference between hearing and listening just as there in a difference between knowing something and understanding how to apply that knowledge. As believers, it does us no good to read the Word if we don't apply it to our lives. 

In fact, this Psalm, 119, is David's (most likely the author) prayer for understanding. He knows that God is the giver of wisdom and without Him, there can be no true understanding, hence why he states the supremacy of God's Law, or ways. 

As Dr. J.D Watson says, "A consistent Christian life is absolutely impossible without constant learning and a growing understanding of what that knowledge will demand in one's Christian walk." We are expected to apply what we learn, friends, and the truth is, that is not always easy, especially if it goes against the mainstream culture of the day (which has been synonymous with Christianity from the beginning).

What is God asking you to understand in this season? How can you apply that understanding to your life?

January 19, 2022: 

❤ Bible Verse: Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
☆ Romans 15:13 HCSB

💛 Let’s Dive Deeper: In this verse, we see joy coupled with hope and peace. This is interesting because without the Holy Spirit, we have no hope and without hope we have no joy, and without hope or joy we certainly can't have peace. Those three aspects of our faith are all tied together.

For the longest time, I didn't understand what someone meant when they said "choose joy". It's not easy to "choose joy" when you're grieving the loss of a loved one, in the midst of an abusive relationship, or tormented my past trauma. Or is it? See, friend, many of us view joy as being synonymous with happiness as if they are inextricably connected, but the truth is, those are two different things entirely. As J. Sidlow Baxter explains, "When happenings happen to happen happily, you have happiness; when happenings happen to happen unhappily, you have unhappiness; happiness then is merely circumstantial happenness. But joy is independent of circumstances."

When we understand that choosing joy is choosing to remember the faithfulness of God, we understand we can choose to do it. I dare you to try. You cannot think about everything God has done for you and stay grieved, hurting, or traumatized, not in that moment anyhow. Anytime we take the focus off ourselves and place it on God, we get perspective. We see that there is so much more than this moment which allows us to look past our situation and forward towards the hope of that which is to come. That hope should stir some joy!

"Chara" (kah-rah) is Greek for joy. It means "gladness and rejoicing". Ironically Paul uses this word five times in Phillipians, which was written while he was imprisoned. It is truly a testament to the consequential aspect of joy to every believer!

January 20, 2022: 

💜 Bible Verse: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
☆ Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

❤ Let’s Dive Deeper: Most of the Epistles start with a preamble or introduction. However, as we can see from today's reading, it is quite a different story for Hebrews. It is an anonymous piece and rather than beginning with introductions, jumps right into its main teaching point. It is almost as if the author was so excited to exhault the Lord that they forgot to introduce themselves.

So, what is the author's point? Well, the subject matter of Hebrews, especially chapter 11, is faith. While some people understand faith and belief to be the same thing, that is not all together true. Let me explain. While faith and belief are synonymous in our language, it's a bit deeper in the Greek. "Faith" in Greek is "pisteuō" (pee-stee-woh). It's basic meaning is, "to have faith in, trust; particularly, to be firmly persuaded as to something." In this case then, all one would need to do to be saved is believe in Christ (exesistenially). However, understanding the existence of someone and knowing them are two different things. I know of LeBron James, but if I knock on his door, he's not inviting me in for dinner. 😜

As one Greek authority points out, "pisteuō" also very clearly carries the idea "to obey". So, we can't merely believe or have faith in Jesus, we must also walk in obedience. Faith and obedience are not different, they are one in the same. In fact, you could think about them as being two sides of the same coin. James explains that faith without works is dead. And while many a religious folk use this verse to justify salvation by works, that is not the case. As believers, we come to faith by obeying the word of God to believe in Christ. Then, we continue to obey His commands because we have faith God will do what He says, that He is a man of His word. We walk in submission to the Lordship of Christ because we know we will be reunited with Him for eternity in glory. Obedience is the evidence that we have faith and it is just as essential to this Christian walk as faith.

Each person contained within Hebrews 11 believed what God told them and then took action. God told Noah it would rain in a time where that had never been seen. Did Noah simply respond with, "ok, God." No, he got to work on building an ark!

So, friend, what are you believing God for? What has He told you? What steps are you currently taking to help bring that dream or goal to fruition? I encourage you today, brothers and sisters, let's be a people of fruitful faith!

January 21, 2022:

❤ Bible Verse: Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

☆ I Kings 3:9 NKJV

💙 Let’s Dive Deeper: Many people say Solomon asked God for wisdom, but that isn't all together true. The Hebrew word we are focusing on today is "biyn" (bean), and while is can mean understanding (as we studying previously), it can also mean discern, consider, perceive, teach, and prudent".

Understanding this, we can see Solomon isn't asking God for just any wisdom, but a discerning wisdom. He wants to be able to discern between the truth and lies in order to have a greater understanding or perception of what is really occurring or happening. 

Solomon wanted to be able to judge fairly and not be directed by his fleshly feelings, passions, perceptions, etc. While both (wisdom & discernment) come from God and walk hand in hand, discernment is something that cannot easily be perceived or explained. The main idea in this verse is that discernment brings proper, Godly, understanding.

Allow me to provide an example. While my son and I were at a theme park, we walked by a food stand. All of the sudden we saw a man jump up, grab his son by the arm and start hitting his back furiously. My son immediately said, "mom, that guy is beating his kid. Someone needs to do something." However, I could see the boy's lips turning blue. He was choking. As I watched and prayed in tongues quietly, the father scooped the child up turned him over and started hitting his back with a downward motion. Suddenly, a piece of churro came flying out. What my son saw as abuse, I recognized as a desperate attempt to save his son's life. 

We don't always see the full picture as humans. Because of our ignorance, fallen nature, and the sin stricken world, we don't always discern the truth. Additionally, many within the body do not seek this spiritual gift because they do not see the benefit. Because of such, many are involved in churches that supply false teaching, a prosperity Gospel, tolerance of other religions, and/or New Age doctrine. This is due in large part to leaders who are not operating in and with discernment.

So what exactly is discernment? Discernment is following the Word of God. Discernment doesn't go by whether something sounds good, makes us feel good, or tickles our ears. It is determined by whether it is right according to scripture. When we hear someone speak of Christ or God or the Holy Spirit or Scripture, we should pay close attention and test it against God's Word. Is what was taught in context or did the speaker merely find a verse to fit their message?

As I studied this, my heart was grieved to know that we live in a day and age when most people have access to the Word of God. There is an app with virtually every translation ever created contained within. Yet and still, many believers don't take the time to read it for themselves. Like sheep led to slaughter, they follow the sheep in front of them, without ever checking to see if what they are taught is actually true according to the Word of God, the Holy Bible. Some people risk their lives to get Bibles to people. Meanwhile, we have free access anytime and can't find time to open it.

Today, let's make a pledge to be a discerning people, not taken captive by false teaching or idolatry, but steadfast and reliant on the Word of God! It is absolutely necessary, friend! In a postmodern world that believes there is no truth, let's proclaim the truth with boldness, authority, and with a discerning understanding.🙏

January 24, 2022:

❤ Bible Verse: I cleave to Your testimonies; O Lord, put me not to shame!☆ Psalm 119:31 AMPC

💙 Let’s Dive Deeper: Psalm 119 is such an amazing chapter in my opinion. The author certainly understands their need and dependency on God. It is also filled with great theological truths, for instance, that God's laws are written on our hearts, and more. Today, however we are going to focus on the Word, "cleave".

Cleave in Hebrew is "dābaq". It is used 26 times in the OT with only six uses being from a different term. This word, "dābaq" means "to cling to; join with; stay with; follow closely". However, it is its figurative use that is relevant to every believer as it speaks to the closeness and loyalty of relationships.

The first use of the word is when the Bible speaks about marriage, that the two will leave their families and cleave to one another (Gen. 2:24). However, there is none that cleave like God cleaves. His love and faithfulness is seen throughout this chapter and throughout the entire Bible.

God doesn't just want to cleave to us, though. The truth is, He wants us to cleave to Him. He gives us many commands to do so as it demonstrates our love for Him (Deut. 30:20). His testimonies fill the Bible. This verse is saying figuratively, that when we cleave to God's Word we will not be disappointed (another definition of the word used for shame here).

Finally, I want to provide a final illustration. A carpenter uses glue to join or cleave two boards together. The bond, because they have been stuck together, is so strong the board will break in another spot before it will break on that joint. This is why we are to be glued to the Word of God. If we are, then, as this verse says, we will not be disappointed.

Is the Word of God a priority in your life, friend? If not, why not pray and ask God to give you a burning desire for His Word? I remember, years ago, I was looking to find time to read the Bible before work. After a few days of praying about it, I began to wake up at 4:30 each morning. It happened 3 days in a row.

On the third day I asked, why are you getting me up so early, Lord? That's when He brought my prayer to mind. Since then, I spend time with the Lord each morning, before anyone else is up and everything is all quiet. I say all that to say, if you can't do it in your strength, ask God to give you some of His. After all, He is faithful!🙌

January 25, 2022:

💚 Bible Verse: Since we are now joined to Christ, we have been given the treasures of redemption by his blood—the total cancellation of our sins—all because of the cascading riches of his grace.
☆ Ephesians 1:7 TPT

💛 Let’s Dive Deeper: In the verse for today we see Paul is praying that the church in Ephesus (and us) would understand God's revealed truth. The word used in Greek for "reveal" is apokalupsis (ah-pock-ah-loop-sis). It is derived from the Greek words "kaluptō" which means to veil and "apo" which means from and literally means to remove the veil.

I've heard many say God is revealing something new, and while I understand they may not mean new but new to me, we must be careful. God's Word, or the Bible, is God's truth revealed. We don't need a revelation because we have layer upon layer of information ready to be revealed upon reading and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are you looking for a new revelation? Then I encourage you to dig in to God's Word! Try reading from some of the forefathers of our faith like John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, among others. They can help you see that which you may not notice by yourself.

Let's learn from Saul and quit seeking the advice of mediums, psychics, and false prophets. Rather, let's look to God and His Word to bring revelation and truth to our lives!

January 26, 2022: 

💜 Bible Verse: and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength
☆ Ephesians 1:19 NIV

💚 Let’s Dive Deeper: Did you catch that? Paul didn't just call God's power "power" but called it "incomparably great power". That's some power, there, y'all! Incomparably means there is nothing else like it and great can mean vast, large, above average, important, and even distinguished. It is no mistake Paul used those words then because the power of God is all of those things!

Today, if you haven't guessed already, we will be talking about power - God's incomparably great power! In Greek, "power" is "dunamis" (doo-nah-miss). It's actually where we get our words dynamic and dynamite from. Those too, in my opinion, can describe God's power. "Dunamis" is used over 100 times in the NT and speaks of inherent or raw power, the ability to do wonders, and that which overcomes any resistance.

So what is Paul telling us here, exactly? He's explaining that we have access to a power that can overcome any obstruction to our Christian walk. We need not walk around feeble. Meekness is humility, not inability. As believers, we really have no excuse for living in defeat because the power of God is at our disposal. He gave us access through Jesus Christ!

What is it you may be afraid of accomplishing? What in your life is God asking you to do that you are timid about? You have the King of Kings on your side and all of heaven is watching. I say, light the match....in God's perfect timing you'll bursting forth, shining the light of Christ!

January 27, 2022: 

💜 Bible Verse: For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

☆ Romans 3:23 NLT

💚 Let’s Dive Deeper: We are talking about a touchy subject today; probably THE touches subject we can discuss...sin! Most teachers shy away from this subject because it does divide and cause division. But such is the case when pride is put in its place.

Some believe sin to be an accident, indiscretion, or mistake. Other liberal scholars say sin is due to a lack of self esteem. I do not personally support this view. If anything, we have WAY too much esteem especially in today's day and age as we idolize ourselves. 

In order to understand sin as God sees it, however, we must understand that there are two words we have to look at; "paratōma" (pah-rah-toh-mah) which means "to fall along side of" in Greek and "hamartia" (hah-mar-tee-ah) which means "to miss the mark". Paratoma expresses a sense of deviation whereas hamartia expresses falling short of a purpose or standard.

So, sin therefore, isn't just missing the mark; it is missing the mark and deviating from God's instruction. Wow! No wonder we all fall short. We are not a perfect being, yet God is, and therefore His instructions are perfect. ANY deviation from perfect is not perfect and therefore sin.

What an amazing gift then, that those who believe in Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose from the dead are covered in His perfect blood! The Bible says that those who are truly saved don't continue sinning. This is because when you truly love someone, you don't go against their will but do everything they ask, just as they ask, not because you must but because you want to please them and make them happy.

Married folk know what I'm talking about! How many men have been sent to the grocery store to get something for their wife, only to come back with the wrong thing? Many! It happens. Men and women are wired differently. There is a natural deviation in the way each set thinks. Because of this, this type of thing happens. 

She asked for Hershey chocolate and he brought nestle. She's not happy because even though it's chocolate, it's not the EXACT kind she requested. Never the less, most husbands do not intentionally go get the wrong thing, and we should not intentionally do things we know God has asked us not to.

How are we to know what we can and can't do? Read the Word! It is the only way to know what is expected of you. It is not enough to merely get taught in church on Sunday. You have to be willing to read and learn and communicate with God (which He does through His written Word) on your own, daily. 

You don't look at your GPS before taking a road trip. You turn it on and keep it on for the duration of your trip. We are on a "road trip" right now and we need to keep the GPS (Bible) on for the duration if we expect to make it to our destination (heaven)!

January 28, 2022: 

💜 Bible Verse: But everyone has wandered astray, walking stubbornly toward evil. Not one is good; he can’t even find one.

☆ Psalms 14:3 TPT

💚 Let’s Dive Deeper: Yesterday we looked at a couple different Greek words for sin, and today we are going to focus on the Hebrew words for sin. There are four of them and they are used over 900 times in the OT. If you remember, one of the Greek words for sin is hamartia and its Hebrew equivalent is "chātā" (kah-tah). It too means "to miss the mark."

We are going to focus mainly on the other three Hebrew words for sin. There is "šagāh" (sah-gah) which means "to go astray, deceive, wander, make a mistake, swerving, meandering, and reeling in drunkeness." It is translated as "sin" in Leviticus and denotes sin through ignorance.

Next, we have "āwāh" (ah-wah) which means "to bend or twist" and is used to express a distortion or perversion of truth. It is used over 230 times in the Old Testament and is used to signify sin in 1 Kings 17 when a women thinks she may have sinned by distorting some requirement.

Lastly, the word "peša" (peh-sah) appears 90 times and means "willful deviation from, and therefore rebellion against, the path of godly living." Therefore, we can see that God has spent much of His time trying to teach and educate His people about sin. This is because it causes separation in our relationship with Him. 

Because of that, it is important that we include a teaching on sin when ministering the Gospel message. If people don't understand the bad news (that they live in sin), they won't see a need to respond to the Good News. It is instrumental in sharing the Gospel to explain how EVERYONE falls short. If we choose not to, we are not sharing the true Gospel of Christ and we will be held accountable.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to face the consequences of not sharing the full Gospel. Jesus died so that every person has the opportunity to hear and respond, but it is up to those of us who are already children of God to share Christ's sacrifice honestly and fully. If we don't, we do a disservice to Him. 

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