The scripture for August 31 is John 8:31fas found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, then the truth will set you free.’ “
Myriads of people call themselves believers in or disciples of Christ. What is Jesus’ definition of a believer or disciple? He explained, IF we hold to his TEACHINGS, then we are his disciples.
It’s not automatic? So being born into a Christian family doesn’t automatically make us a Christian? Being born in a Christian nation doesn’t automatically make us a Christian? Owning a Bible doesn’t automatically make us a Christian? Believing Jesus is the Son of God doesn’t automatically make us a Christian? (Demons believe that and aren’t Christians.)
“But, Jesus,” we might say, “I really feel like I’m a Christian.” And Jesus replies, “Hold to my teachings, then you are really my disciple.”
So if we learn Jesus’ teachings, then hold to them, THEN the truth will set us FREE.
The scripture for today, August 30, is Acts 8:30as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked.”
Our friends, family and neighbors will continue riding their chariots and understanding little of the Bible unless someone asks, “Do you understand?”.
“Do you understand why you are here?” “Do you understand why Jesus had to die?” “Do you understand that Jesus nailed the Old Law to the cross?” “Do you understand the Bible can be proven true?” “Do you understand how much God loves you?”
People are afraid to ask us questions because they think we will make fun of their ignorance. We’ll probably never know what they don’t understand unless we do the asking. Let us go up to their chariots and offer to help them so that they, too, can understand.
The scripture for today, August 29, is Matthew 8:29 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
” ‘What do you want with us, Son of God?’ they shouted. ‘Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?’ “
If you are not familiar with this passage, these are the words of a demon. If you have ever studied demons in the Bible, you will find that they never tried to spook or scare people. They never made dishes rattle or lamps fall over.
All they did was cause physical problems during the lifetime of Jesus and his apostles. There is no evidence of demons doing this in the Old Testament before Jesus, nor after his apostles died, either in the Bible or in the writings of the apostolic fathers. It is as though the demons were loosed for a season so Jesus could show his power over them also ~ Ephesians 1:20-21.
Notice, demons never said bad things. If they talked at all, it was out of fear and honesty. James 2:19 says all demons believe in Jesus. In the book of Matthew they knew who Jesus was. They called him the Son of God.
Jesus told them to be quiet. Why? He didn’t want evil beings telling people who he was; he wanted goodness to tell people who he was.
The movies have warped our understanding of demons. Let us search the scriptures to find out their true nature. Then we no longer have to guess. We can know.
The scripture for today, August 27, is Mark 8:27 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ “
Do we ask our family, our neighbors, our friends how they feel about God? We don’t know unless we ask. A lot of people are just waiting for someone to ask. Otherwise, they don’t know how or when to bring it up.
Whenever I meet someone who has gone through a tragedy, I ask them “How’s your faith.” Now this person may not have darkened the door of a church building for 20 years, but s/he always knows what I mean. Since I am sympathizing with them at the time, they are always honest and reply, “Not very good.”
Then I tell them, “You know, Satan causes bad to happen to people, not Jesus.” They always stare at me a moment, and then breathe a sigh of relief. They hadn’t wanted to blame God for their tragedy, but they had a need to blame someone. They’d forgotten Satan exists, and were grateful they could now put the blame where it belonged..
We must continually be on the watch for people who need help in understanding their relationship with God. Be brave. Go ahead and ask. You’ll be surprised at how many want to talk about it.
The scripture for today, August 26, is Romans 8:26 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
The Holy Spirit in the New Testament is always linked with communication between God and Man. Even the miracles, made possible by the Holy Spirit, were a guarantee that the words and teachings accompanying the miracles were from God. This was needed before the New Testament was written. But the Holy Spirit does more than this.
God speaks to us in his Word, the Bible. Then we speak to him in return in prayer. But sometimes all we can do is bow our head in silence and know that God understands ~ His Spirit communes with our spirit. How blessed we are.
The scripture for today, August 25, is John 8:25as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
” ‘Who are you?’ they asked. ‘Just what I have been claiming all long,’ Jesus replied.”
Jesus and his apostles tell us certain things in the Bible, we read them over and over, and we still don’t see the point. Perhaps we have been blinded by well-meaning religious leaders or family or friends who tell us over and over, “It doesn’t mean what it says.”
Let us read the teachings of Jesus and his apostles with open eyes and open hearts. When we read something, let us accept it. Our souls are at stake. These are the words of the God of the universe. Do we prefer that God fit our mold, or we fit God’s mold?
The scripture for today, August 24 is Romans 8:24f as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Sometimes we go through a period of our life in which it is difficult to have faith that God exists; or even if he does exist, that he cares what happens to us. During those times, we may not be able to have faith. But we can HOPE. We can hope that God exists, we can hope he cares what happens to us. Even the weakest person can hope. And hope holds us until we are strong enough to, once again, have faith.
So the next time your faith wavers (and it happens to everyone at some time in their life), remember, you can still hope.
The scripture for today, August 23, is 2nd Kings 8:23as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“As for the other events of Jehoram’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?”
All the years of this great king’s life were reduced to a few pages in a book. When you die, what will there be to write about? Will people list only the date and place of your birth, marriage and death ~ your statistics? What will you be remembered for? What will be in your obituary?
Better still, what is God writing about you in his books? “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne and books were opened. Another book was opened which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Revelation 12).
Will your book be thin with not a lot worth writing about? Will it be thick and full of all you’ve accomplished for good and God in this life?
The scripture for today, August 22, is Jeremiah 8:22as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?”
There is a very beautiful African-American spiritual of unknown origin that many of us have sung. You may be able to hear it sung a cappella here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6fRloOMBwg Here are the words to that spiritual:
There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin sick soul.
Some times I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.
If you can’t preach like Peter,
If you can’t pray like Paul,
Just tell the love of Jesus,
And say He died for all.
The scripture for today, August 21, is Ezra 8:21a as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God.”
In our modern society, does anyone fast any more? Not drinking our food (juice) for a day and calling that a fast, but a true fast where we drink only water to stay hydrated, but that’s all. And we turn off all computers, radios and televisions for the day.
Jesus said in his sermon on the mount, “When you fast….” (Matthew 6:16). He didn’t say, “If you fast….” No, he assumed his followers would fast. Do we?
If we do, do we do it as a group? Does anyone else know about it? They shouldn’t know, unless they are the reason for our fast. Fasting is an act of self-restraint. It belongs to the sphere of humble self-discipline. It is strictly a personal and private matter.
All moral and bodily restraint, all humbleness of body and spirit are represented by fasting, and it is a complete failure of self-restraint to want to show the world our self-restraint. An unknown author wrote this:
Let us keep our fast within,
Till heaven and we are quite alone;
Then let the grief, the shame, the sin,
Before the mercy-seat be thrown.
Fasting is a way of starving ourselves temporarily, a way of saying, “God, I would do this and more for you; I would die for you.” Or, “God, I would trade lives with this person I am fasting for to give them rest if it were possible. I would even die for this person.” It is a deep expression to God that goes beyond words.
Also, when we fast, our minds are freed from trying to digest food, so we can think clearer and deeper. And we can face ourselves more honestly. Just what are we deep down? Do we truly love God as much as we claim? Do we truly love our families as much as we claim? Our neighbors? Our fellow Christians? Our enemies? It is a time of self-reflection and self-honesty. And thereby we can grow closer to God.