Daily Devotion Text

August 23, 2017

Hebrews 4

  • Journal & Pray  
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

Click HERE for the commentary and Bible Project sketch notes for the Book of Hebrews.

Please refer to HERE for “A Guide to Self-Reflection,” HERE is a chart to help you articulate your feelings.

Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”

 

 

August 22, 2017

Hebrews 3

  • Journal & Pray  
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

Click HERE for the commentary and Bible Project sketch notes for the Book of Hebrews.

Please refer to HERE for “A Guide to Self-Reflection,” HERE is a chart to help you articulate your feelings.

Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”

 

 

August 21, 2017

Hebrews 2

  • Journal & Pray  
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

Click HERE for the commentary and Bible Project sketch notes for the Book of Hebrews.

Please refer to HERE for “A Guide to Self-Reflection,” HERE is a chart to help you articulate your feelings.

Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”

 

 

August 20, 2017

Journal and Pray

Journal & Pray 

Please refer HERE for “A Guide to Self-Reflection,” HERE is a chart to help you articulate your feelings.

Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”

August 19, 2017

Hebrews 1

  • Journal & Pray  
    • Please refer to HERE for “A Guide to Self-Reflection.”
    • Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer.”
    • HERE is a chart to help you articulate your feelings.
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

A Study Through the Book of Hebrews

The author of Hebrews neither names himself nor clearly designates his audience. The traditional title “to the Hebrews” reflects the ancient assumption that the original recipients were Jewish Christians.

The author’s identity has been a matter of significant conjecture throughout church history. In antiquity, authorship was attributed to figures such as Barnabas or especially Paul. However, several of the most astute church fathers recognized considerable differences in style and method of argument between this book and Paul’s named writings. Scholars have suggested other possible authors, such as Clement, Luke, or Apollos. However, most today concede that this author remains anonymous. It seems that the judgment expressed by Origen (d. c. A.D. 254) remains correct: “Who actually wrote the epistle, only God knows” (cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.25.14).

The author clearly knew his recipients and longed to be reunited with them (Heb. 13:19). They had a mutual friend in Timothy (13:23), and probably this was the same Timothy who ministered alongside Paul. The author was presumably male, since he refers to himself using a masculine participle (see 11:32: “would fail me to tell”). Since “us” included the author in 2:3 (the salvation “attested to us by those who heard”; also 2:1), it appears that he was not an eyewitness of Jesus. The author passed on the greetings of those “from Italy” (13:24). Scholars debate whether he was in Italy writing to the church elsewhere or was outside Italy (though accompanied by Italians) and writing back to an audience in Italy (possibly at Rome).

The audience’s social situation can be inferred from commands to “remember those who are in prison” and who are “mistreated” (13:3). Timothy himself had just been set free (13:23). Indeed, the author of Hebrews commended his audience for their former endurance of persecution, for their compassion on those in prison, and for having “joyfully accepted the plundering of your property” (10:32–34).

The author warned against “strange teachings” in the church (13:9), and these teachings may have been related to the use of ritual foods (13:9–10). Moreover, he repeatedly called his audience to persevere in the faith and cautioned them about the danger of leaving the Christian communion, as he sought to show the superiority of Christ to Mosaic sacrifices and rituals (chs. 3–10). Hence the early church was likely correct to assert that Jewish Christians (as well as Gentiles who had previously been drawn to the Jewish religion) were the intended audience for this book (see “our fathers,” 1:1). Furthermore, such an audience would have well understood the book’s many citations and allusions to the OT (and would have shared in the writer’s frequent use of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the OT).[1]

Hebrews is a long, sustained argument, in which the author moves back and forth between an argument (based on Scripture) and exhortation. What drives the argument from beginning to end is the absolute superiority of the Son of God to everything that has gone before; this is what his exposition of Scripture is all about. What concerns the author is the possibility that some believers under present distress will let go of Christ and thus lose out on the Son’s saving work and high priestly intercession, and thus their own experience of God’s presence; this is what the interspersed exhortations are all about.

The introduction (1:1-3) sets the pattern with a sevenfold description of the Son and his work that makes him God’s last word. This is followed by a series of two major arguments (1:4-4:13; 4:14-10:18), each with several subsets, and a final major application and exhortation (10:19-13:21), in this case interlaced with some further biblical arguments.

Part 1 is all about the Son—his superiority to angels despite (and because of!) his humanity (1:4-2:18), to Moses (3:1-19), and to Joshua (4:13). Here the author also sets the stage for part 2: Christ’s effective high priestly ministry is made possible through the preexistent and now exalted Son’s having become incarnate. And the failure of the first exodus lay not with Moses and Joshua, but with the people’s failure to faithfully persevere; the readers are urged not to follow in their footsteps.

Part 2 is all about the Son as the perfect high priest. After a transitional exhortation (4:14-16), the author then introduces Jesus as high priest (5:1-10), followed by a series of two warnings and an encouragement (5:11-6:3 [slacking off]; 6:4-8 [apostasy]; 6:9-20 [God’s sure promises]). Then, drawing on the royal messianic Psalm 110, he uses Melchizedek as a pattern for a priesthood of a higher order (7:1-28). Based on a new, thus superior, covenant, the perfect priest offered the perfect (once-for-all) sacrifice in the perfect sanctuary (8:1-10:18).

Part 3 is all about faithful perseverance. It begins with an appeal—in light of all this, “let us…” (10:19-25)—followed by warning (10:26-31), encouragement (10:32-39), example (11:1-12:3), instruction (12:4-13), and another warning (12:14-17). Finally, using marvelous imagery that contrasts Mount Sinai with the heavenly Mount Zion, the author affirms their future certainty (12:18-29), then concludes with very practical exhortations about life in the present (13:1-25).

You will want to watch how the author makes this work—by a series of seven expositions of key Old Testament texts, while making the transition between each by way of exhortation: (1) Psalm 8:4-6 in Hebrews 2:5-18; (2) Psalm 95:7-11 in 3:7-4:13; (3) Psalm 110:4 in 4:16-7:28; (4) Jeremiah 31:31-34 in 8:1-10:18; (5) Habakkuk 2:3-4 in 10:32-12:3; (6) Proverbs 3:11-12 in 12:4-13; and (7) the Sinai theophany (Exod 19) in 12:18-29. [2]

[1] ESV: Study Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles, 2008. 2357.

[2] Fee, Gordon D, and Douglas K. Stuart. How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2002. 391-392.

August 18, 2017

Philemon

  • Journal & Pray  
    • Please refer to HERE for “A Guide to Self-Reflection.”
    • Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer.”
    • HERE is a chart to help you articulate your feelings.
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

A Study Through the Book of Philemon

Paul and Timothy are explicitly named as the authors in verse 1. It becomes apparent, however, that the apostle Paul is the principal author when the first person singular (“I”) is used from verse 4 throughout the rest of the letter. The title indicates that it is a personal letter to a man named Philemon. Nevertheless, Paul intends it to be read to the entire church that meets in Philemon’s home (v. 2).

The letter was probably written c. A.D. 62. Paul may have written it at roughly the same time that he wrote Colossians and Ephesians. All three letters were sent with Tychicus and Onesimus. This date assumes that the imprisonment Paul refers to (see vv. 1, 9, 10, 13, 23) is his imprisonment in Rome (Acts 27–28). [1]

This, the shortest of Paul’s letters, was an extremely delicate letter to write. Paul is explicitly asking forgiveness for a crime that deserved punishment (Onesimus’s crime)—and implicitly for another crime that could have been brought before the proper authorities (Paul’s harboring a runaway slave). You will want to observe how carefully Paul puts all of this into gospel perspective, beginning with the prayer and thanksgiving (vv. 4-7), where he praises God for the way the gospel has already been at work in Philemon’s life. Note especially that Paul refuses to lean on his apostolic authority (see vv. 1, 8-10, 17, 21); rather, he appeals on the basis of the gospel of love (vv. 8-11). He also reminds Philemon that he, too, is one of Paul’s converts (v. 19), whom he regards now as a “partner” in the gospel (v. 17).

Verses 12-16 are the coup. Onesimus has really been in the service of Philemon without his knowing it, and his having been a runaway may finally serve the greater interests of all, especially the gospel. Even though Onesimus is returning as a repentant slave, the first relationship between slave and master, Paul reminds Philemon, is that of brother in Christ. [2]

[1] ESV: Study Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles, 2008. 2353.

[2] Fee, Gordon D, and Douglas K. Stuart. How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2002. 387-388.

 

 

 

 

August 17, 2017

Titus 3

  • Journal & Pray  
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

Click HERE for the commentary and Bible Project sketch notes for the Book of Titus.

Please refer to HERE for “A Guide to Self-Reflection,” HERE is a chart to help you articulate your feelings.

Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”

 

 

August 16, 2017

Titus 2

  • Journal & Pray  
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

Click HERE for the commentary and Bible Project sketch notes for the Book of Titus.

Please refer HERE for “A Guide to Self-Reflection,” HERE is a chart to help you articulate your feelings.

Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”

 

 

August 15, 2017

Titus 1

  • Journal & Pray  
    • Please refer to HERE for “A Guide to Self-Reflection.”
    • Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer.”
    • HERE is a chart to help you articulate your feelings.
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

A Study Through the Book of Titus

As the first verse states, this letter was written by the apostle Paul to his coworker Titus. In the last two centuries the Pauline authorship of Titus (as well as 1 and 2 Timothy) has been called into question. However, the criticisms in the end cannot disprove Pauline authorship, and the arguments for the authenticity of 1 and 2 Timothy also apply to Titus, providing a good basis for affirming the straightforward claim that the book of Titus was written by Paul. The text clearly claims to be from Paul, its theology aligns with Paul’s other letters, and the difference in style is certainly conceivable given the difference in situation.

As with 1 Timothy, critics of Pauline authorship point out that the letter to Titus does not seem to fit into the narrative of Acts. There are no accounts in Acts or Paul’s other letters of Paul doing mission work in Crete (Titus 1:5). However, neither Paul’s letters nor Acts claim to be comprehensive in their account of Paul’s ministry. The traditional understanding has been that Titus, like 1 Timothy, was written in the time between Paul’s first imprisonment (Acts 28) and a second imprisonment which led to his death (see Introduction to 1 Timothy: Date). In this case, Titus would have been written in the mid-60s A.D., around the same time as 1 Timothy. This is plausible in light of the strong similarities between the letters. [1]

In some ways Titus appears to be a smaller version of 1 Timothy, where false teaching prompted instruction on qualifications for church leadership; at the same time Paul addresses other matters that the false teachers have triggered. Hence, both the qualifications for elders and the indictment of the false teachers have some striking similarities to what is said about them in 1 Timothy.

But there are also some significant differences. The most noteworthy is the fact that Timothy was left in a situation where the church had been in existence for nearly twelve years, and he had to deal with elders who were leading the church astray. Titus has been left in Crete to set new churches in order. Thus, in this case, Paul begins with the qualifications for church leaders (1:5-9), before taking on the false teachers (1:10-16). This is followed by general instructions on how to deal with older and younger men and women and with slaves, with emphasis on doing good (2:1-10), which looks like an expansion of 1 Timothy 5:1-2 and 6:1-2. The rest of the letter then emphasizes, in light of the grace of God, their “doing good” in the world (2:11-3:8), which is again set in contrast to the false teachers (3:9-11). [2]

[1] ESV: Study Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles, 2008. 2345.

[2]  Fee, Gordon D, and Douglas K. Stuart. How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2002. 383-384..

 

 

 

August 14, 2017

A Guide to Self-Reflection

From Course 201 Chapter 1, Holiness of God: Habits to Form. 

Self-reflection is one of the habits we need to form as a way to locate ourselves accurately against the backdrop of God’s holiness.

But a Christian is a man who has seen himself and seen what he has done. He has seen his transgression, his iniquity, his sin. He realizes the meaning of his actions. He realizes he has sinned against God; and he has seen that his actual nature is itself sinful. I would call that “the sinner awakening,” facing himself and realizing the initial truths about himself. [1]

– Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Out of the Depths (emphasis added)

As soon as we are alone, …inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distraction manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. …

This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important. [2]

– Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New

Self-reflection should be a written record of a period of disciplined thinking about some incident, or even a passing moment, that seems significant.

Some Tips to Help Observe and Reflect Upon the Self

Step #1 – LIST THE FACTS

Go through facts utilizing the 5W’s – Who, What, When, Where, Why

This is where you want to review what happened with as much accuracy as possible. You can list out basic facts of the situation in chronological order. Focusing on facts halts rationalizing and self-justifying emotions.  For example, rather than saying, “I felt like he was attacking me with his words so I responded in this way,” just state the objective facts: “I yelled at my roommate.”

Step #2 – EXPLORE

Based on some facts, you can begin to explore some questions to help you think, such as:

  • Why did I say that? Why did I do that?
  • What was I feeling when I did that?
  • What was going through my mind?
  • What were some events leading up to this incident?

Step #3 – ASK, WHAT DOES THIS REVEAL ABOUT ME?

After reviewing the facts and exploring why you reacted or felt as you did, now you can ask yourself the question, “What does this reveal about me?” Here are some questions that might be helpful:

  • What does this show about what drives me?
  • What does this show about what’s going on inside of me?
  • What does this show about my view towards…(others, God, myself)?
  • What does this reveal about what is important to me?

Don’t use a lot of jargon and try not to be overly dramatic in language. For example, “I feel like I don’t deserve the cross of Jesus!” Try to use plain speech as much as possible.

Step #4 – WORD OF GOD

  • What about the gospel addresses me at this point?
  • What is true and real according to God’s word?
  • How does the word of God bring reproof and correction (2 Timothy 3:16) to you regarding this situation?

Often, people either go into a downward spiral of self-flagellation, or they might be satisfied with merely identifying what they did wrong and end there. If you don’t go through this step, you can leave God entirely out of your struggle. Sometimes in people’s reflections and repentance, they commit to never doing something again in a very self-driven way, without going through the full process of seeing themselves and their own sinfulness in light of who God is. They end up missing out on God’s grace and his forgiveness pronounced through his words.

Truth may hurt, but it is always best to face the truth. God’s word will be relevant and powerful when there is proper admission of and discovery of truth. By default, we have layers of self-deception, denial, rationalization, justification, etc.  Writing self-reflections can slice through all of that and help you get to the truth of who you are.  And of course what we want is the truth about ourselves!  It’s something many people do not have, nor treasure.

Above all, be honest. God wants to dialogue with us.

Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)

18Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:

though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red like crimson,

they shall become like wool.

 

Ultimately God wants to dialogue in truth so that we can be healed and so we can be as white as snow.

There is freedom when you know you have properly acknowledged, repented of and fully processed the junk inside. There is self-knowledge and, with it, a growing appreciation of the holy love and grace of God.

Let me ask a simple question at this point: “Have you faced yourself?” Forget everybody else. Hold up a mirror before yourself, look back across your life, look at the things you have thought and done and said, look at the kind of life you are living…The first call to man by God is to be honest, to stop arguing and to face himself.  Let him examine himself…There is no hope for a man who does not do that, and the truth about the modern world is that people are running away from just this…[doing] anything to fill up their lives and keep them from thinking.  I say that you have to fight for your life and you have to fight for your soul.  The world will do everything to prevent you facing yourself.  My dear friend, let me appeal to you.  Look at yourself.  Forget everybody and everything else. It is the first step in the knowledge of God and in the experience of His glorious salvation. [3]

– Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Out of the Depths (emphasis added)

[1] Lloyd-Jones, David Martin. Out of the Depths: Restoring Fellowship with God. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books. 1995. p.49.

[2] Nouwen, Henri. Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life. New York, New York: HarperSanFrancisco. 1981. pp. 70-71.

[3] Lloyd-Jones, David Martin. Out of the Depths: Restoring Fellowship with God. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books. 1995.  pp.24-25.

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