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Love Letters

Do you remember when you were in school and you got one of these from someone you liked? Every day you would wait in anticipation to receive that love letter from that special someone. I remember getting them in middle school and high school. And I know this may sound a little sentimental, but I used to keep them all and put them in a binder. Hey, you know you probably did the same thing too. Today we get these kinds of letters through Facebook, an email or a text message. As I would read each letter, I got to know the person who wrote it and it was almost as if that person was right there, speaking to me. Did you know that God speaks to us through the Bible today? They are His collection of love letters written for us. The Holy Scriptures are 66 books written over a period of 1500 years. They are inspired by the Holy Spirit and through it God, Himself speaks directly to us. How do I know this? Because every morning I spend quality time with God listening to Him speak to me as I read the Bible. In these sacred love letters I get to know what God is like. I see in them His character of love and I discover the story of His wonderful plan of salvation. But the best thing of all about the Bible, God’s Love Letters, is I have come to know Jesus Christ personally. And friend, my prayer is that you will read the Bible and get to know Him too.

Balanced Christ-centeredness

It has warmed my heart to see a greater emphasis on Christ-centered preaching, teaching, evangelism and ministry methodology. Quite frankly, that is what my ministry is all about. Yet there has been something that has concerned me in some of the conversations that I have had with people that share this same passion. For some, it seems, a greater emphasis on Jesus (His grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, etc.) means to neglect or somehow de-emphasize justice, prophecy, the latter-day gift of prophecy, end-time events and/or the transforming nature of the gospel in one's life. This is not biblically healthy and can be dangerous to ones relationship with God. The centrality of Christ is to permeate every doctrine, biblical subject and Christian experience. Jesus is to be emphasized, lifted up and celebrated in all the previously stated subjects. Jesus, Himself dealt with those subjects. The beauty of Jesus is that He preached the truth in love. Anyone that knows me understands that I am not the fear-based, conspiracy theory, evangelistic preacher. Yet I find that, as Christians, we stryggle with being balanced in our biblical emphasis. Being Christ-centered doesn't mean avoiding certain biblical subjects. Rather, it gives them their proper emphasis. Let us deepen our relationship with Jesus and make Him the focus of every subject.

June 12: John 20; Ezra 3-5

Today’s Bible Reading: John 20, Ezra 3-5

1. What aspect of God's character of love do you see in today's reading?

Today I see the love of God revealed in how Jesus treated weeping Mary Magdelene (John 20:11-18), and how He gently dealt with a doubting Thomas.

2. In today’s reading where do I see the theme of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ?

In John 20:31, John tells us that his gospel was written that we might believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God and have life in His name.

3. What words or verses are really speaking to you today?

John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 

4. In light of #3, what is God saying directly to you in today’s reading? Write as though He were writing you a message.

 

Supplemental Reading:

Desire of Ages pgs 788 - 794, 802-808

Prophets and Kings pgs 567 - 581

June 13: John 21, Ezra 6-8

Today’s Bible Reading: John 21, Ezra 6-8

1. What aspect of God's character of love do you see in today's reading?

In John 21 I see the beauty of God's love in how Jesus treats Peter, who denied Him 3 times. Jesus restores him 3 times. He makes the basis of Peter's recommissioning his love for his Lord.

In Ezra I see God's love for His people is in bringing them back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, causing the king to be favorable to them and making them joyful during their feast days. His hand was upon them is a recurring theme in these chapters.

2. In today’s reading where do I see the theme of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ?

One of the beautiful features of the gospel is God's desire to restore us to Himself through Jesus. This is demonstrated by Jesus forgiving and restoring Peter as one of His disciples. Then He commissions him to "feed His sheep" with the good news of the gospel. In Ezra I see the sacrifice of Jesus for humanity in the sacrificial offerings and especially the Passover sacrifices. The king describes it as "sacrifices as sweet aroma to the God of heaven." How often do I think of the sacrifice of Christ as a swet smelling aroma?

3. What words or verses are really speaking to you today? Memorize them throughout the day.

John 21:19 "Follow Me." Ezra 8:21 "I proclaimed a fast...that we might humble ourselves before God, to seek from Him the right way for us..."

4. In light of #3, what is God saying directly to you in today’s reading? Write as though He were writing you a message.

 Follow My example, fast and humble yourself before Me and I will show you the right way to go.

 

Supplemental Reading:

Desire of Ages pgs  809 - 817    

Prophets and Kings pgs  593 - 597, 607-617

June 14: Acts 1; Ezra 9,10

Toady's Bible Reading: Acts 1; Ezra 9,10

Today I saw God's love in Acts in Jesus' spending 40 days with His disciples to instruct them and remind them of the "Promise of the Father." They were given the assurance of the Holy Spirit being with them and empowering their witness and then, after Jesus ascends, God's love is seen again in the promise that Jesus will come again the same way that He ascended. He will not leave them alone. he will not leave us alone. Jesus ascends, then the Spirit descends and will be with us to the end when Jesus returns to bring us to the Father. The who Trinity/Godhead is involved.

The good news of the Gospel is seen today in the reality of the risen Lord who "presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs." Then "He was taken up" into heaven to intercede for us. Jesus death would be meaningless without the resurrection. I serve a risen Savior!

Acts 1:8 was especially meaningful to me today: "But you shall recieve power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

In Ezra I saw God's love in the "extended mercy" He showed the returned captives/remnant, the favor they recieved from kings and the measure of revival they experienced from the Lord.

The Gospel is also seen in the prayer of Ezra were he says, "grace has been shown from the Lord our God." Christ is also revealed again in the evening sacrifice.

Ezra 9:1 was meaningful to me today: "The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not seperated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations..."

Based on Acts 1:8 & Ezra 9:1 I hear God saying to me: The same Holy Spirit that I am baptizing you with to give you power for witness I have also given to you to live a holy and seperate life in the midst of the ways of the world.

Supplimental Reading: Acts of the Apostles pgs 25 - 34; Prophets and Kings pgs pgs 618 - 627
    

June 15: Acts 2:1-21; Nehemiah 1-3

Today's Bible Reading Acts 2:1-21; Nehemiah 1-3

God's love is revealed in His disciples in Acts 1:1, when it says "they were all with one accord in one place." The time that they spent in the upper room praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit brought them together. The love of God in His people always brings about unity and oneness. This is because the Godead, Himself, is One, therefore we are called to be one.

The gospel is expressed today in Acts 2:21, "And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Salvation is offered freely to all those who call on the name of Jesus. This is especially in the context of the last days...now.

I hear God speaking to me today in Acts 1:1, "They were all with one accord in one place." The church that I serve at is called One Place, based on this text. I believe that God wants His church, me included, to draw together in oneness and unity, and to seek the Holy Spirit. It seems like this is done will in homes, like the church in Acts.

The prayer of Nehemiah today reveals God's love and care for His people, when it says,"You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments." 

The good news of the gospel is also seen in Nehemiah's prayer in 1:10, when it says, "Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand." We can have confidence that our God is mighty to save and redeem.

Nehemiah 2:8 was very meaningful to me today. "And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

Based on Acts 1:1 and Nehemiah 2:8, I hear God saying to me today: Seek oneness and unity in the bond of love in the church. If you walk in My ways, then My good hand of favor will prosper you in the way.

Supplimental Reading: Acts of the Apostles pgs  35 - 46; Prophets and Kings pgspgs 628 - 634

June 16: Acts 2:22-47; Nehemiah 4-6

Today's Bible Reading Acts 2:22-47; Nehemiah 4-6

I'm seeing God's love today in Peter's sermon to the people in Jerusalem, when he quoted David concerning the resurrection of Jesus. Typically when i read this portion of scripture I focus in on the fact that Peter was showing from the Psalms that Jesus was prophecied as rising from the dead, which they do. But I was suprised by what David wrote about the surety of the Lords presence with him. God's presence caused his heart to rejoice, his tongue to be glad, his flesh to rest in hope, to know the ways of life and to be made full of joy in His presence. Knowing God, experiencing His presence and love brings joy! I also see God's love in the counsel of Nehemiah, in face of intimidation from the enemies of Israel, to "not be afraid of them. Remeber the Lord, great and awesome..." and in his words, "Our God will fight for us." Because of God's watchful care we do not have to be afraid or intimidated by the enemy. Because of His great love for us He fights our battles for us.

The good news of Jesus Christ runs throught todays reading in Acts. Peter highlights His death, burial and resurrection and what our response should be all in today's reading. In Nehemiah, I see the good news about what Jesus does for us in the fact that He, Jesus, fights our battles. Jesus fights and wins our battles with sin and the enemy/Satan.

The verses that spoke to me directly in Acts were: Acts 2:28, "You will make me full of joy in Your presence." and Acts 2:38, "you shall recieve the gift of the Holy Spirit." In Nehemiah, 4:6, "The people had a mind to work." 4:14, "Do not be afraid of them." and 4:20, "Our God will fight for us."

I hear God saying to me today: I will make you full of joy in My presence. You shall recieve the gift of the Holy Spirit. Do not be afraid of the Enemy who seeks to distract, intimidate or make you afraid. Have a mind to work on what I've given you to do. I will fight for you.

Supplimental Reading: Acts of the Apostles pgs 47-56; Prophets and Kings pgs 635-660

June 17: Acts 3; Nehemiah 7-9

Today's Bible Reading: Acts 3; Nehemiah 7-9

In Acts, God's love is reaveled in marked way through the healing of the lame man who was lame from birth. His healing got the attention of the people so Peter could preach the good news to them and so they could repent and be healed from the sickness of sin. In Nehemiah, I also see a beautiful picture of God's love in Nehemiah's prayer. While recounting God's faithfulness to the people of Israel and recounting their unfaithfulness, he prays "You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them." Nehemiah 9:17 What a beautiful picture of what God is like. It echos Moses encounter with God in Exodus 34.

Peter's sermon in Acts 3 is soaked witht the gospel of Jesus Christ! It is beautifully express in this part of his sermon, "But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Crist would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3:18,19 I also saw te good news of the gospel in Nehemiah 9:28 "many times You delivered them according to Your mercies." Jesus, our Great Deliverer, has delivered us from the condemnation of sin according to His mercies.

Acts 3:19 was very meaningful to me today:"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Nehemiah 8:8 also spoke directly to me: "So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and help them to understand the reading."

Today, in Acts & Nehemiah, I hear God saying to me: "Live what you are preaching.When you preach the gospel, call the people to repentence that their sins may be blotted out. Also explain the scriptures to them that may get the sense of it." 

Supplimental Reading: Acts of the Apostles pgs 57 - 69; Prophets and Kings pgs 661 - 668

June 18: Acts 4:1-22; Nehemiah 10,11

Today's Bible Reading: Acts 4:1-22; Nehemiah 10,11

Today, in Acts 4, I sensed God's love and desire to reach the Sanhedrin through the miracle of the healed lame man and the disciples bold witness. God was still trying to reach their hearts even after they killed Jesus! They said, "For indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it." In Nehemiah, the people entered into a solem covenant to seperate themselves and keep the "Law of God" and "do all the commandments." This Law and commandments are reflections of God's character of love. There seems to be a strong connection between the holiness of God and His love.

Again, in Acts 4, Peter's address to the Sanhedrin boldy conveyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. He said, "let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.""Nor is there salvation in any other..." The "sin offerings to make atonement for Israel" in Nehemiah also points to Jesus, our Sin Bearer, who would come and make atonement for all.

These verses were very meaningful to me in Acts: "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said..." "when they saw the boldness of Peter and John...they realized that they had been with Jesus." Acts 4:8,13 These verses were very meaningful to me in Nehemiah: "seperated themselves" and "if the people of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day..."

Today I hear the Holy Spirit saying: I long to so fill your life that people will take note that you have been with Jesus. Your witness will have boldness. Through Me I desire for you to live a holy life, even keeping My special day, the Sabbath holy. You can do better in preparing for it and keeping it special and set apart.

Supplimental Reading: Acts of the Apostles pgs 57 - 69; Prophets and Kings pgs 661 - 668

June 19: Acts 4:23-37; Nehemiah 12,13

Today's Bible Reading: Acts 4:23-37; Nehemiah 12,13

Being filled with the Hoy Spirit brings unity and love among the people of God and that is where I see God's love in the book of Acts today. I also see His character of love when Nehemiah says about God, "according to the greatness of Your mercy." He appeals to His loving character which is great in mercy.

In Acts Jesus is preached with boldness and is described as God's "holy Servant" whom He annointed. This is a reference to Jesus being annointed by the Holy Spirit at His baptism, thus He is the Christ or Messiah, meaning the Annointed One. I see the good news in the fact that in spite of Solomon's sin it says in Nehemiah that he "was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel." Also in spite of David's sin, he is called a "man of God." This is a result of their repentence and recieving the grace of God. It also says in Nehemah that they offered great sacrifices at the dedication ceremony "and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy..." These sacrifices were pointing to the great sacrifice of Jesus who would come and die on the cross.

I was impressed by the Holy Spirit with these verses today: "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." Acts 4:31. "...I cleansed them of everything pagan." Nehemiah 13:30

Based on today's reading I hear God saying to me today: Be cleansed of everything that is not of Me in your life and I will fill you with My Spirit and you will speak the word with boldness.

Supplimental Reading: Acts of the Apostles pgs 70 - 76; Prophets and Kings pgs 669 - 678