Ecclesiastes 4:12 2/24/16

IBS

2/24/16

Ecclesiastes 4:12

“Though, one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Give me insight Lord. Reveal to me the secrets of your Word. I want to be intimate in my relationship with you.

“There is strength in numbers” comes to mind as I read this verse. If you think about it logically, it makes sense. Is it easier to defend yourself alone, or with an ally? Obviously with an ally. Why would I go into battle alone if I have someone who can aid me? The next part of the verse gives a great illustration. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. What does that look like? So a cord, like a rope or string, is only as strong as it weakest strand. Now if it is only made up of one strand, there lies the problem. But, if the cord is made up of three, than it is much stronger. The pressure or weight is evenly distributed among the three as apposed to the one taking the whole of the pressure. I see this in my own life, with God and with people in my life. In my own life, if I operate in my own strength, it doesn’t work. The Lord has made that evident many a times. When I align myself with the Lord, that is when I cannot break. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are my three-strand cord. If I hold only onto my self, a one-strand cord, I am sure to break. But, holding onto the Lord, a three-strand cord, I will not break. That is the vertical aspect of it. For the horizontal, I have been blessed with a slew of incredible Godly people in my life who care deeply for me. I have been extremely blessed with the two people I can call my parents. They have helped me in countless ways, spiritually and physically. When I have cut them out of my life is when I have gone south. That is when I have handled situations wrongly and veered of the straight and narrow path. It is when I allow them into the deepest parts of life that the enemy cannot shake me. Because in using them to add strands to my cord, they have the Lord in theirs so I am even stronger than before! Another cord that adds strength to my strand is my best friend Sean. I was reunited with my brother about 8 months ago. Sean and me were inseparable growing up but after 7th grade, Sean left Calvary and homeschooled while I continued going to school at Calvary. We slowly lost touch and no longer were in each other’s lives. I had and still have great buddies from high school, but I wanted a brother. Someone I knew I could go to for anything. Someone I knew was seeking the Lord. Someone I trusted to give good advice. A brother that I never had. (I love my sister more than any human on this earth, but I’m not going to go to her with every little struggle I have) So, about the end of June, before I went to Montana for the summer, I got an Instagram message from Sean. It said, “Bro if you ever want to hang out or something, I got a lot of free time. Just text me.” And he gave me his number. I still have the screenshot of the Instagram message. Little did I know the brother that I wanted, was always in my life. The Lord gave me Sean at the perfect time. He is a strand that strengthens my cord. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Sean, whether he knows it or not, constantly spurs me on to get deeper in the Lord.

Thank you Lord for the strands in my life that strengthen my chord.

How: Today, I will pray for the friends in my life that I know do not have strands in their life to strengthen their cord. I will ask the Lord to bring those into their life to get them on the right path and strengthen them in the Lord.

Galatians 5:13 2/22/16

IBS

2/22/16

Galatians 5:13

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love.

Lord help me see deeper than the overt meaning of this verse.

As a Christian, I am called to a life of freedom in Christ, instead of a life in bondage to sin and self. Now, freedom in Christ is more liberating than today’s average understanding of freedom. When most people think of freedom, they think freedom means they can do whatever they want. The freedom I am talking about is to see what is right, and have the ability to do it, rejecting the wrong. I have the capability, in Christ, to not do the wrong thing. I am literally free from the clutches of sin. The verse continues saying, “… do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love.” Why would this verse contrast indulging the flesh to serving one another humbly in love. Well, when I do indulge my flesh, self consumes me and I am only thinking about myself. I am literally doing the opposite of serving others humbly in love. You don’t serve others when you are self-centered, you can’t love others when you are only thinking of your self. So when I use my freedom in Christ as a tool in His hands to help me defeat my flesh, only then can I serve others humbly in love. What does it mean to serve humbly in love? For me it’s really easy to serve others, but it is more difficult to do it with the right heart. It’s easy to serve people when others are watching because people will see. There is recognition. But that is the farthest thing from humble loving service. Its not Godly love to only serve when recognition is eminent. To serve others humbly in love is not just an act I can commit. It is a lifestyle I should strive to be living daily. Only through the Lord is this possible, as I have already explained it is way too easy to get wrapped up in my flesh.

Jesus, take my self-first attitude and throw it into the depths of the sea. I want to serve others humbly in love, even when it’s hard and there is no recognition, because that’s what you did.

Hebrews 13:17 2/19/16

IBS

2/19/16

Hebrews 13:17

“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

The author of Hebrews is exhorting the Hebrews in this last chapter of his letter. He encourages them to be obedient to their authority because those in authority will one day have to give an account for those they had been entrusted with. He goes on to tell them to make their leader’s work a joy and not a burden. For what benefit is it to you if you make their work a burden? I’m going to go ahead and say this exhortation applies to everyone. Everyone has someone over them at some point in time, and if we’re being honest, it’s not always easy to submit to their authority. I have been hurt by a few leaders in my past and have a bit more of a trust issue in leadership than I would like to admit. I have seen the Lord working it out but its still been tough. Sometimes I have trouble listening to authority, not necessarily in the realm of obedience, but accepting what they have to say. Are they actually practicing what they preach? Are they doing what they tell me to do? Regardless, they are in authority in my life, and what does the Bible say about authority? God has placed them there. So, I am call to make their work a joy not a burden and trust that the Lord will take care of those in leadership positions. I shouldn’t worry about those in authority over me because what does this verse say? They will have to give an account! The Lord has entrusted me into their hands, so I should let God be God and take care of the treatment of those leaders instead of rejecting or refusing to follow in step with them.

Thank you Lord for those you have placed in authority in my life. Please give them wisdom and discernment on how to lead in a manner pleasing to you. And if you decide to place me in a place of leadership, help me do the same, for it is you who give and take away when you see fit.

How: Today I will thank Austin for his leadership in Ignite and follow him doing what he tells me purposefully with joy.

Ephesians 6:1/ Colossians 3:20 2/18/16

IBS

2/18/16

Ephesians 6:1

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

Colossians 3:20

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord”

Two verses, one theme. Obey your parents, for this is right, as well as pleasing to the Lord. Pretty self-explanatory if you ask me. I have been extremely blessed with the two people I am privileged to call mom and dad. Its ridiculous. How did I get them as my parents? I have two God-fearing parents. They are married and love my sister and me unconditionally. I realize that this is very rare and to say I am thankful is an overwhelming understatement. They are two of the three human beings that I love most on this earth. More than ever, this time away from them has made me even more thankful for them! I honestly don’t know what else to say but thank you. They leave me speechless. Thankfully they make obeying them relatively easy. I know, because of the way they have brought me up, that they love me and when they tell to do things its because they love me. Unfortunately I have chosen to realize this too late in certain areas of my life. The area that sticks out to me is “girls”. I was disobedient when it came to girls in high school. I wasn’t supposed to date. That was my parents ruling. I decided, that would be fine, I’ll just do everything I would with a girl as if I’m dating her and tell people we’re not dating. Good idea Sam, that worked out well. I made this mistake a couple times. Now in acting in this way, I was living in disobedience against my parents. Anyone who has lived in disobedience to their parents knows that this never turns out well. Of course it was awkward between my parents and I. They would bring it up and I would play it off as less than it was. They did what they could to help me, but I liked “my way” better. But, eventually I came to place where it was unhealthy to the point of where I just couldn’t handle it any more. But I was scared to come to parents. I thought they would be mad. I thought they would condemn me. Granted they have never acted in those manners in the past it was just a lie from the enemy. But finally, after I laid it all out on the table my parents were the greatest help in the situations I got my self into with the females. My relationships with the both of them grew exponentially. It was so foolish to think, number one, that I could live in direct disobedience to my parents and have it work out, and two, that they would allow anger to eliminate me from their help. My parents have done what they have, and continue to do what they do because they love me. They are my biggest fans! Because they seek the Lord in the ways they have raised me, it has always paid off to obey them. Thank you Lord for reminders in your Word to obey my mom and day. Please continue to soften my heart and help me honor my parents by being obedient to them.

How: It’s hard because my parents deserve a freaking island, but I obviously can’t give them an island. However, I believe that I can thank them just as effectively by sharing these feelings with them. I will write my parents a letter of thanks and appreciation doing my best to reciprocate the love they have given me all my life.

Romans 6:16 2/17/16

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Romans 6:16 – 2/17/16

“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slave of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

I really don’t feel like doing this right now. I’ve heard this countless times. Soften my heart Lord to hear what you have to say.

So, I’m a slave either way huh? I don’t know why I would want to be a slave to anyone. I want to do my own thing, do me. But most of the time, if I’m honest that doesn’t match up with what God wants. I am a sinful human being, made by a perfect eternal God. So if I’m not obedient to the Lord, who am I obeying? My flesh! And what does this verse say? Whoever you offer yourself obedient to, you are its slave. I am a slave to my flesh.

God why do I do what I don’t want to do and the things which I want to do I don’t do? Give me a heart for the things that you desire Lord. I’m sick of rendering myself useful in the hands of my flesh instead of your hands. Why is it so easy to say something and go live forgetting what was just expressed. It’s not what’s taught, it’s what’s caught. God help me catch what you’re trying to teach me. Help me grasp on and never let go. I want to be obedient to only you.

Father,

You know what I want
But it’s a struggle to follow
The precepts of your Word
Because my heart is hollow

I want Your filling
But, I’m filled with self
It’s hard to put what I want
Away up on the shelf

To fill myself with You
To become your slave
Seems impossible sometimes
But I want to praise Your name

If I’m not obedient to you
Who am I hearing?
The voice of my flesh
Sometimes is over bearing

What I want to do I don’t
But what I hate I do
What is this sickness?
Who should I listen to?

It’s easy to do me
It’s hard to do God
But one leads to death
And the other to the Father

Slave to sin
Brings only death
Slave to God
He gives life breath

God,
I need Your help I’m not grown
I want to follow Your will
And not live on my own

I want to be Your bond slave
Listen to Your words of life
I’m sick of relying on me
Self only brings strife

Give me strength, Father
Though the storm is raging
Though a struggle daily
Still you are unhanging

You say,
Instead of trying to fix yourself
Fix your gaze on me,
The lover of your soul

God wants my heart
And that means change
Change means pruning
And pruning means pain

I give me to you
Obedience vs. strife
Flesh vs. You
God, take my life.

How: Tomorrow, I will wake up at 6, to spend time with the Lord instead of obeying my flesh and rolling back over to fall asleep again.

 

Acts 5:29-32 2/17/16

IBS

Acts 5:29-32 – 2/16/16

“Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead – whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.””

Observation/Interpretation: To give some backstory to better understand the context of these verses, the apostles had been healing all those who were sick and demon possessed in Jerusalem. Crowds were gathering all around the town so that even just Peter’s shadow might fall on them as he passed by. The religious leaders became very jealous of the apostles. Verse 17 says they “were filled with jealousy.” So, they arrested the apostles and had them put in the public jail. But during the night and angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought the apostles out. The angel told them to go into the temple courts and tell the people about a life with Christ. The apostles were then brought in to appear before the Sanhedrin, the religious leaders. The leaders confronted the apostles reminding them that they strictly instructed them not to teach in Jesus’ name. Now, come to our study verses, they are the apostles reply. The apostles go on to say that they must serve God rather than man. That when it comes down to contradicting orders from God and, in this instance the religious leaders, that God has priority. They then go on to describe the greatness of God. How he raised Jesus from the dead. How he exalted Jesus to “his own” right hand as Prince and Savior bringing forgiveness of sins. The apostles go on to say how they are witnesses of all that they have just expressed. Its not just some story or thing that they heard and now believe, no! They themselves are witnesses of Jesus and his ministry. His death and resurrection.

Application: After hearing the apostle’s statement, even if I had no idea bout Jesus or Christianity, I would still rather listen to God than a bunch of self-righteous leaders who think they have it right. I need to make sure I am listening to the Lord and Him alone.

How: I will wake up at 6 tomorrow to spend time with the Lord instead of listening to my flesh and falling back asleep.

Hebrews 5:8 2/15/16

IBS

Hebrews 5:8 – 2/15/16

“Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered…”

Observation/Interpretation: This verse is in succession with a group of verses talking about Jesus Christ. It starts out saying, “Son though he was.” Who is son? Jesus. Son of whom? God. So, Jesus, son of the Most High God, learned obedience from what he suffered. What did he suffer? Jesus went to the cross. He endured a most gruesome death. He was obedient to the Father. He counted it Joy the Bible says. Why joy? Well not because it would be easy or fun, but because he was thinking of you and me. He was glorifying the Father. By being obedient to God and going to the cross for every one of our sins, He brought God great glory and honor. He learned obedience from what he suffered, just like the verse says. I know he wanted to die for the world’s sins but it definitely couldn’t have been an easy decision given all the pain and suffering he would have to endure. But, obedient, he did it anyways thinking of you and me the whole way through.

Application: Sometimes if I’m “suffering” in whatever it may be; I’m uncomfortable in ministry or I’m discouraged. I have the tendency to question. Is it worth it? Am I doing the right thing? Is this even what the Lord wants me to be doing? I’m reading a book right now called “On being a Servant” and it talks about this exact concept. It says “… being miserable in your place of Christian service doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’re in the wrong place, so don’t be too quick to back out. God may have put you there for your good as well as for the good of the work. Maybe he has some unfinished business to accomplish in your life.” Just because I am “uncomfortable” in what I’m doing doesn’t mean I should stop, by no means! What if Jesus stopped when the going got tuff? I sure as hell wouldn’t be going to heaven I know that is true. Thank the Lord Jesus didn’t stop but instead was obedient! When I am going through a tough time, instead of asking the Lord why, I need to be asking what. What are you trying to show me Lord? What are you trying to teach me? What are you trying to do through me? When things are painful, physically or mentally, I need to give them to God, and keep on keeping on. He won’t give me more than I can handle.

How: Today whenever my feet hurt, because I have severely flat feet, I will stop, thank the Lord I have feet, and then pray for my sisters foot. She tore her fhl tendon a while back and it has been a long painful recovery.

Philippians 4:11 2/11/16

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Philippians 4:11 – 2/11/16

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Observation/Interpretation/Application: This verse is pretty self-explanatory. Paul is talking to the Philippians in regards to their being concerned for him and not being able to show it. He proceeds in telling them how he has learned to be content in whatever the situation. Ok that sounds nice to an on-looker, but we have to realize who’s talking here. This is the man who, as it says in 2 Corinthians 12, was thrown in prison many times, received 39 lashes 5 times, was beaten with rods 3 times, was pelted with stones, was shipwrecked 3 times, and the list goes on. This man has been in more ridiculous situations than I could even imagine, and all for the sake of the gospel. This man has all the authority to speak on being content. How many times am I complaining about menial every day things? That is convicting.

How: Today, if any of you hear me complaining I want you to call me out.

 

Luke 3:14 2/9/16

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Luke 3:14 – 2/9/16

“Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay””

 

Observation/Interpretation/Application: In Luke chapter 3, John the Baptist is preparing the way for the coming messiah, Jesus. He goes on to exhort those listening to produce good fruit and not lean on the excuse that Abraham is their father. John replies to that excuse by saying “For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” John lays the hammer down here basically telling the people that it doesn’t matter if their descendants of Abraham or not. God can do what ever he wants with whoever’s descendants he wants. That regardless, if there is no good fruit to been seen in their lives, the wrath of God awaits them. After hearing this, the people first ask John what they must do. He replies saying, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.” Then the tax collectors ask John what they should do. He replies telling them not to take more money than they’re required to. This brings us to the study verse, verse 14. The soldiers ask John what they must do. John then replies telling them not to extort money and falsely accuse people. I at first looked at this like, “ok, I shouldn’t take money by force and wrongly accuse people.” While this is true, I looked at this verse in the chapter as a whole. The people hear of the messiah and desire to bear good fruit. They want to change their ways and do what’s right. If a tax collector, and a soldier, can hear the compelling news of the savior coming and desire to change their ways, than how much more should I?!

Jesus is coming again. He lived a perfect life for me. He died for me. And then he raised Himself from the dead for me. And he is coming back for me! I need to be busy about the works of the Lord. I need to stop operating in my own strength thinking I’m doing it right. I think of Isaiah 26:12, it says, “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” It isn’t me. Realize that Sam, it isn’t you. Lord, help me be busy about your work.

 

How: Today I will fast breakfast, and thank the Lord for the Work he has done for me.

Hebrews 6:12 2/5/16

IBS

Hebrews 6:12

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”

Observation/Interpretation: This verse is encompassed in an exhortation to not fall away from the love of Jesus Christ. This verse opens with “We do not want you to become lazy.”

The writer of Hebrews is encouraging the Hebrews to take a proactive stance in life. In order to imitate those he is encouraging the Hebrews to imitate, those “who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised,” the Hebrews CANNOT just sit back in hopes that that will be enough to attain what has been promised. The verse before the writer of Hebrews writes, “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.” He is very proactive minded, which as a lazy procrastinator, I appreciate the emphasis. For if I am lazy, I will NOT inherit what has been promised. What has been promised? I continued reading to see if the writer shed any more light on this “what has been promised business.” He goes on to talk about Abraham and how he was promised blessings and decedents like the stars. So Abraham got what HE was promised. I love it; verses 13-20 go on to talk about the certainty of God’s promises. This part of chapter 6 has always got me good. The reassurance once again that God WILL fulfill his promises is always comforting to me. Hebrews 6:19 I have held onto. It is a verse that a lot of people love to put on their body along with t-shirts and memorabilia accompanied by a sick looking anchor. The first half of the verse says “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul firm and secure.” People like to say, “Yes Hope is the anchor for our soul.” But the truth is its much more than just hope. It is the hope in the certainty of God’s promises. That what he promises YOU and ME WILL come true. The second half of the verse continues in saying “It enters into the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,” continuing into verse 20, “ where our forerunner, Jesus has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Jesus is our high priest. He is the one who intercedes on my behalf. He already has with His sacrifice for my life! He WILL fulfill what he has promised? So what has he promised me? I feel I have had many experiences with the Lord in which I can say he promised me things, but I don’t want to just say one. I want to reflect, take time to think and ponder and remember the times in which I have felt the Lord give me promises.

Application: Now to do what I have just expressed, I need to be proactive and seek the Lord and ask Him to reassure and remind me of those promises. I can’t just sit there and hope for it to be done. Unfortunately I have an innate ability to lazy really well. Waking up in the morning is a serious struggle I deal with on the daily. The alarm rings, I hit snooze, I realize how comfortable I am, the gravity around my bed is 10 times stronger, I want nothing more than to roll over and fall back asleep. As a result of this, many times I have to rush through my devotions and time with the Lord to fulfill the tasks of every day. I am unable to wait with patience to hear from the Lord.

How: So tomorrow I will wake up at 5:30, and actually wake up, not hitting the snooze button even once, so that I will have more than enough time to seek the Lord and through faith and patience so that I may be reminded of and inherit what the Lord has Promised me.