DI Bible Reading

A regular Bible discussion at Discipleship International that encourages participation for mutual encouragement.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

1 John 4 - Nathanael

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 
1 John 4:1
In Christian circles I've seen two common patterns 1) they are cessationist in view, believing that God doesn't speak propheticly any longer so there is no reason to test the spirits in this way or 2) they believe that if a person is a believer and they prophesy that what they say is true. 
Both of these lacking in what God had for us. We are not to treat prophesy with contempt and we are not to believe everything, but test what we hear.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us. 
1 John 4:18-19
God's love works in us to remove fear. We learn to trust him because of his love for us. 

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
1 John 4:20 NIV
This is an important principle. We often think that we are more advanced spiritually than we actually are. The real test is that our lives on the natural side are a barometer for the spiritual side. We are not more advanced on the spiritual than what is demonstrated on the natural. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

1 John 3 - Nathanael

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
1 John 3:6 NIV
When John makes these statements it sounds like he is talking about sinless perfection in believers. But I believe he is talking about continued sin in a given area. God usually works on one area of our lives at a time. We could not handle more. It would overwhelm and discourage us. So God often points out a sin area in our lives and then begins the process of changing and healing us. Sometimes he makes a change quickly and in a dramatic supernatural way. For instance, when I gave my life to Christ he immediately changed me so that I stopped using curse words. I've seen people who were immediately freed from smoking and other addictive sins. And then at times he has us work through these sin issues over time. 
Thus reminds me of the battles the Israelites faced when coming into the promised land.  Some were quick and supernatural, while others happened over years. 

The key here is that when God starts working on an area in or lives that we yield to his hands. Our natural response is defensiveness (we don't like to be told we are doing something wrong), blameshifting (my upbringing made me do it), minimizing (everyone does this), hopelessness (I can't change this) and/ or condemnation  (I'm evil and God hates me). The fact is that God loves us so much that he doesn't want to leave us as we are and that he is the one who will enable and make the changes if we surrender to him. 

So our proper response is one of humble submission where we acknowledge our sin, confess it to God and ask him to change us. It is also helpful and important to have Christian leaders who walk with us and we can confess to and find support from as described in James 5.

God is good and he is working in our lives to make us like him! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

1 John 1 - Nathanael

John takes on sin head on - we all still sin, Jesus will forgive us if we confess to him, everyone in the world had sinned. 

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 
1 John 1:8‭
If we think we have stopped sinning we are deceived. 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 
1 John 1:9
The great need is that there is a remedy for sin - forgiveness from Jesus! 

If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:10 NIV
If we claim to have noir sinned, not only are we deceived but we are calling God a liar. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

2 Peter 2 - Nathanael

This chapter deals with false teachers, false prophets and false believers. It is instructive first to know that they will be present and second to see what some of the characteristics are. This serves to protect us both from those in the outside and as a mirror to test ourselves. 

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 
2 Peter 2:1‭-‬2
Introduce heresies
Deny Jesus 
Depraved conduct

This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; 
2 Peter 2:1‭0
Follow corrupt desire of flesh
Despise authority
Heap abuse on celestial beings

With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood!
2 Peter 2:1‭4
Continuing in sin
Seduce unstable 

 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.
2 Peter 2:18 NIV
Empty, Boastful words 
Appeal to lustful desires

Sunday, November 12, 2017

1 Peter 5 - Nathanael

Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not Lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 
1 Peter 5:2‭-‬3‭
Elders are called to serve, not master; to care for, not take from; to be a good example, not a stumbling block. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 
1 Peter 5:6
Humility is another chief virtue, trait and action in the kingdom of God. 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  
1 Peter 5:7
We need not fear because the very God off the universe loves us and is watching over us for our good! 

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:‬8 NIV
We must know that there is also an enemy wanting to destroy us. We must remain alert, but God is watching over us! 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

1 Peter 4 - Nathanael

Some powerful statements from Peter! 

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 
1 Peter 4:1
We avoid suffering but we see here a huge value of it 

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 
1 Peter 4:8
Love us the ultimate action and character quality. 

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10 NIV
God has called us to serve not become famous or great. He gives us gifts so that we can serve others just as Christ served us and have his life for us. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

James 5 - Nathanael

Good reminders from James about prayer for healing and forgiveness. 

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 
James 5:13‭-‬14‭
I thank you Lord that you give instructions and wisdom for good times and bad. You know our lives, our thoughts, our days and our struggles. You love us and lead us into life! 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 NIV
There is a strong connection between healing, confession and forgiveness in the context of the elders prayer. Sometimes I feel too embarrassed to ask about sin but it is for the benefit and healing of the requestor so it should be done. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

James 4 - Nathanael

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 
James 4:4
This is a convicting passage. The world is constantly calling to me/ us - like a siren song. It entices, blinds and deceives us saying that happiness is found here. 
There is a careful balance we need to be in the world and not of it. 
I think that l/ we get to comfortable with the world. 

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 
James 4:4
We are not to judge horizontally - our brothers and sisters. 

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.
James 4:‬17 NIV
When we try to justify ourselves, this truth comes in and we are left without excuse or hope in ourselves. Our only hope is Christ alone! 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

James 3 - Nathanael

We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.  
James 3:2
Our tongue and what we say are crucial barometers of our inner spiritual health. As Jesus said from the mouth flows the things of the heart that defile us. 

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 
James 3:13
A key indicator of wisdom is humility. 

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:17‭-‬18 NIV
More indicators off wisdom:
Pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

James 2 - Nathanael

James continues to speak powerfully and concisely into my life.

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.
James 2:1
In culture and society in general there is a tendency to show favoritism to those in authority or those with wealth.  In God's kingdom, we are not to do that.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
James 2:10
We like to think ourselves innocent, better or "good" because we haven't, say, murdered someone.  But it is clear that all sin makes us a lawbreaker and guilty, whether lying or murder.  Thanks be to God that he is merciful and loving and has made a way for us to be forgiven and set free!

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:12-13
Amen! Thank you God for your mercy! This verse always reminds me to be merciful to my kids and to others.  I both want to be like God and I want to continue to receive his mercy!

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
James 2:26
This verse tells us something about physical death - it comes as a result of the spirit leaving the body - and about real faith - it must and will produce deeds.  A faith that doesn't produce good deeds reflective of God's love and nature, isn't a real faith. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

James 1 - Nathanael

James its such an interesting and concisely powerful book. In just chapter 1 he covers a lot of topics and gives important instructions and principles. 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 
James 1:2‭-‬5
James, Paul, Peter, and Hebrews all describe the benefits of trials and suffering. Jesus was clear tuary persecutions would be there if we follow him. Each of these writers encourages those going through the difficulty to endure because of the very positive benefits in changes in ite character. 

but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  
James 1:14-15
A very graphic picture of the temptation and sin process. A key takeaway is that it all begins with evil desires within us. That is what God works on and changes within us if we allow him to. 

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 
James 1:19-20
This is an important lesson that I've applied to parenting and leadership. My anger crushes others, not helping them. God had taught and is teaching me his better way! 

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James 1:25 NIV
God wants us to change. He loves us too much to stay in our hurtful and destructive ways. We cannot change ourselves and God will not force changes on us. God begins the work by setting us free to do right and giving us strength and the will to change. We must then ask God for help and make choices to follow him. God then does the work of changing us on the inside. It is a partnership of change that begins and ends with God's work but requires our participation as well. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hebrews 13 - Nathanael

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."   So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?"   
Hebrews 13:5‭-‬6
Our hope is not in money because it cannot save us. But God can! In him we cam be confident and secure. 

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.
Hebrews 13:‬17 NIV
A command to submit to church leader authority. Most men do not live like this. They want their wives to submit to them but they are unwilling to submit to others. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Hebrews 11 - Nathanael

There is so much in this chapter tuary speaks to me, it is difficult to choose only a few. 

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. 
Hebrews 12:7
We all face hardships of many kinds. We are told to view those as God's work in our lives to train and form us into all that we can be. 

For what children are not disciplined by their father? Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 
Hebrews 12:9-10
God's goal is not for us to have difficult lives but to improve us and enable us to share in God's holiness. 

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 NIV
That is true - discipline is hard. But the long term benefits are amazingly good! 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hebrews 11 - Nathanael

The faith chapter! 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 
Hebrews 11:1
A good definition of faith: a certainty of what we don't yet have - based on God's promise and word.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  
Hebrews 11:3
An example based on the Scripture. We didn't see it happen but we believe God's word.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6
Relating to our relationship with God, it is clear that faith - believing and trusting God is essential.

Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  
Hebrews 11:16
Looking forward to the promise of heaven is part of faith.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Hebrews 11:39‭-‬40 NIV
An interesting statement since clearly some of the promises they did receive such as Abraham having a son. And yet each one had promises that were not fulfilled during their life - the primary being related to the salvation found in Jesus. Together with us now we experience the salvation of Christ at the fullness of time. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hebrews 10 - Nathanael

Wow! Such powerful descriptions of God's mercy and salvation and the hope and privilege we have in Christ! 

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 
Hebrews 10:11
Religion is powerless to change our help us. 

let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 
Hebrews 10:22
A command really - draw near to God with confidence because of Christ's work and us trusting in him. 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 
Hebrews 10:23
Again an urging command: persevere

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  
Hebrews 10:24-25
More commands: spur one another on, don't stop meeting together

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 
Hebrews 10:26-27
A sober warning against deliberate sin.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
Hebrews 10:‬36 NIV
A call to stay strong in following God! 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Hebrews 9 - Nathanael

 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!  
Hebrews 9:14
Thank you Jesus for giving yourself for us that we may be forgiven! 

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Hebrews 9:‬27‭-‬28 NIV
There is no reincarnation, but in Christ Jesus we do get a second chance in this life. By ourselves we cannot make ourselves better or without sin. But praise be to God who has given us forgiveness and salvation on Jesus. We have been rescued from death to have new and real life in Jesus! 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hebrews 5 - Nathanael

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 
Hebrews 5:7
This is such a powerful verse! First we learn more about how Jesus prayed: with fervent cries and tears. Next we see the importance of submission. Powerful! 

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 
Hebrews 5:11
This is such a striking accusation: you no longer try to understand! Wow! Lord, let that not be true of me! Help me to always ask and always seek! 

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
Hebrews 5:13 NIV
Advanced teaching is about righteousness! May we all attain to this! 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hebrews 4 - Nathanael

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.  
Hebrews 4:11
There are positive and negative examples for us in life and laid out in the scripture. We would do well to avoid the negative examples and follow the positive ones. We can go through life and just learn by our own experience but that is foolish since there are so many wrong paths and one true one. 

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 
Hebrews 4:12
God's word uncovers the foolishness and hiddenness and deceitfulness of sin in our lives and brings us to the truth. We should listen and then obey, submitting ourselves to God's word. 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 
Hebrews 4:15
Thank you Jesus for being so merciful, for walking in our shoes and knowing our weakness in a very personal way. Thank you that you are righteous and holy as well. 

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 NIV
Thank you that you have made a way so that we can come to God's throne with confidence! That is amazing! 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Hebrews 3 - Nathanael

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 
Hebrews 3:12‭
Unbelief is a sin. It is based in rebellion and fear.  In times of doubt and difficulty we need to turn toward God, not away from him. 

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. 
Hebrews 3:13
Sin is deceitful. It tricks us into thinking it is ok and not a big deal. It lies and says it is good and normal and that we need it and that this is how God made us. It can be hard to recognized by ourselves at times.  That is why we need to encourage one another daily. 

So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
Hebrews 3:19 NIV
Unbelief is a very serious thing! It keeps is from God and his goodness and love for us. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Titus 3 - Nathanael

Some really great instruction in very concise form: 

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.  
Titus 3:1‭-‬2
Very concise summary of how  we should live. 

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 
Titus 3:3‭-‬5
We must remember where we came from and how God had undeserved mercy on us. This helps us to live in humility and to reach out to others. 

This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.  
Titus 3:8
Devote to doing good. A life focus. 

Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 
Titus 3:1‭0
The three strike rule  existed before baseball. 

Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.
Titus 3:14 NIV
Doing good, providing for others, productive lives. Nice summary!