Bible Reading Blog
BIBLE READING: Colossians 1
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…” (Colossians 1.3)
Praying for one another is a powerful and necessary activity we should do for one another in Christ. Paul would describe it as a struggle he has in his efforts to bring other believers to maturity through his ministry (Colossians 2.1)
In Christ, I grow when we grow. God is glorified as we become closer knit together as a single body, working in harmony and love (Ephesians 3.10, 4.11-16; Colossians 2.2). We need to constantly pray for one another towards this end (Colossians 1.9).
How can you pray for others in the body of Christ? We sometimes relegate these prayers to physical needs (health, reprieve from physical challenges) as they are evident; but we must remember that we are bound together as spiritual people. While needed, Paul reminds us of specific things we need to pray for one another:
- “That you may be filled with the knowledge of his will” (1.9). We sometimes grope for direction and meaning in life. For the body to grow and my faith to be strengthened, we all must grow in our knowledge of God’s will. It changes us in hope (1.5-6) and continues to alter us, ultimately directing us to please God (1.10). When I pray this for others, it benefits them and opens my heart to ways I can serve them (2.1-2).
- “[that you are] strengthened with all power… for all endurance and patience with joy” (1.11). The struggle between the Spirit and flesh bombards the life of every believer (Galatians 5.16-26). Conforming to Christ causes struggle, leading many to doubt, despair and even to leave their faith. But “we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and preserve [our] souls” (Hebrews 10.39). “We can do all things through the strength of Christ” (Philippians 4.13). Those in the body need prayers to “patiently endure tribulation (Romans 12.2) as we “to press on towards the goal” (Philippians 3.12). “You have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised” (Hebrews 10.36).
When we pray for others, we become more aware of God’s will. We learn more about his desire for all people to be saved and come to repentance (2 Peter 3.9). We recognize the need for his people to grow into maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4.15; Colossians 1.28). We begin to see the brokenness of the world through his eyes and develop desires that are aligned with our God and Father; who loved me, even when I was an enemy of his, and gave himself for me (Romans 5.8; Galatians 2.20; 1 John 3.1).
Have you prayed for others today?
“…from the day we heard [of your love in the Spirit], we have not ceased to pray for you…” (Colossians 1.9)
BIBLE READING: Romans 12
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” (Romans 12.9)
Love it patient and kind. It is not jealous, and it does not brag. Love does not seek its own way. Love believes, hopes and endures all things. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13.4-8, paraphrased). The attributes and actions of love are pure. There is nothing more powerful than genuine love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” (John 3.16). “God shows his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5.8). From God we learn that love transcends personal feelings and past hurts for the good of others. It is pursued and practiced.
Romans 12 reminds us that love is displayed in the context of others. As spiritual people, it dictates every area of our spiritual service: in serving, giving, teaching and leading (Romans 12.6-8). In Christ, it defines our attitude towards one another. Is there anything more critical than to operate with an attitude of love? “If I have not love… I am nothing [and] I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13.1-3).
In our church relationships, we must let love be genuine. We shouldn’t be motivated by rivalry, pride or any sort of agenda. We must be humble and kind, giving preference and consideration to one another (Romans 12.3-5; Philippians 2.1-4). We must speak the truth in love. We must appreciate the gifts of others and look for ways to build them up (Ephesians 4.15-16).
In our families, we must let love be genuine. Parents mustn’t wield authority in an oppressive way but with patience and longsuffering, as God does with his children (Ephesians 6.4). We must teach and train our families to know God with compassion and grace.
In our marriages, we must let love be genuine. We cannot set limits and boundaries on our kindness or service to one another. “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her” (Ephesians 5.25-27). Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5.22).
In every situation, we must let love be genuine. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12.14-18)
There is nothing more powerful than genuine love. It reflects the selfless giving of God, and, in turn, reconciles, redeems and restores. Is your love genuine?
“The aim of our charge is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1.5).
BIBLE READING: Romans 6
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6.12-14)
Whether or not we choose to believe it, something controls every one of us. Paul defines this simply: It is either sin or God. Very few would admit when sin reigns in their life, but one’s obedience is a clear indicator. “We are slaves to whatever we obey” (Romans 6.14).
What do you allow to dictate your choices? Maybe you don’t succumb to evident sins, but…
- Do you fight the temptation to respond quickly to someone who said something rude?
- Do you divert your eyes and change the channel when you see something inappropriate?
- Do you show kindness to someone who has a bad attitude towards you?
- Do you obey what you know God has said?
Most of us know God’s expectations in these situations. So, we either choose to let sin reign or let God reign. There is no middle ground. I cannot make excuses for bad attitudes and outbursts of anger. I cannot accept lazy behavior and ambivalence. I cannot belittle God’s power by succumbing to my weaknesses, anxieties and fears.
If I belong to Christ, I will not let my passions dictate my actions. Snapping at someone for their snide remarks is not an excusable offense. Indulging in a guilty pleasure is not consistent with a life of holiness. Getting my way does not reflect God’s nature and will not produce happiness in my marriage.
These things are not only wrong but unfulfilling and eternally destructive (Romans 6.23). On our own power we will fail in these moments to please God. But in Christ, we have been shown the way we ought to live. God’s standard of teaching controls us to not only think but act differently (Romans 6.17). In Christ, we are more than conquerors, able to do all things, when we conform to God’s word in obedience. It is not merely a matter of outward show, but inward commitment. In moments of passion, I must deeply trust that I will only find satisfaction if I choose to let God control me.
Something controls every one of us. What controls you?
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6.22-23)
BIBLE READING: Romans 1
“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (Romans 1.28)
A struggling company hired an analyst to get them back on track. He spent months evaluating their data and considering their pain points. He carefully observed and charted the business’s performance using the information they had given him. Finally, he presented his findings.
“I’ve identified several areas you’re well below the industry average,” he said, as he pointed to the raw data. “If you don’t improve here, your business will not make it.”
The CEO considered the information for a moment and responded, “I feel like we are doing just fine in these areas. This can’t be the problem. What else did you find?”
“There is nothing else,” the analyst exclaimed. “And this is the problem! Based on the information you provided me, these are the facts.”
“Don’t confuse me with the facts!” the CEO exclaimed, and stormed out of the room.
It seems ridiculous someone would cling to a belief in the face of incontrovertible evidence. And yet, we see this play out on every day in our world. Many people rely so heavily on their feelings and opinions they are convinced facts are nothing more than an alternative opinion.
The people Paul describes in Romans 1 had rejected a fundamental fact of life: God is the Creator. It is plain and evident and leaves them without an excuse (Romans 1.19-10). And yet these people overruled this fact in favor of their feelings. In turn, they had elevated their thinking over what God had revealed.
This is a dangerous habit to form. Not simply because it dishonors God, but because God will let us do it (Romans 1.24, 26, 28). As we share the gospel, we must remember that sometimes people will not listen, even to the best arguments. But we also need to remember that even we can "turn away [our] ears from the truth" (2 Timothy 4.4) and become just as stubborn and prejudiced as those in the world (See, 1 Timothy 4.1-3; 2 Timothy 4.1-4; Titus 1.13-16). If there is anything worse than a person of the world with their fingers in their ears, it’s a professed Christian with their fingers in their ears.
The proper attitude for the Christian is to "Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good," (1 Thessalonians 5.21), studying to show ourselves approved, (2 Timothy 2.15), and "examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things [are] so" (Acts 17.11). It is an attitude that "thinks no evil; doesn’t rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13.5-7). The Christian with the proper attitude towards others and the truth has his fingers turning the pages of his Bible instead of stuck in his ears!
"He will render to each on according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth... there will be wrath and fury." (Romans 2.6-8)
BIBLE READING: 2 John
“And now I ask you dear lady… that we love one another.” (2 John 1.5)
This seems to be an odd request. The basis for John’s relationship with this woman was their common knowledge and acceptance of the truth. It seems logical that love would exist in their relationship. As John would say, the command to love was not a new commandment (1.5; cf. John 13.34)
However, given this request, it appears a natural tension may have existed between John and this woman. Perhaps she was a Gentile and they had wrestled with harmonizing their relationship together in Christ (consider Ephesians 2.11-22). Whatever the case, it appears they had worked hard to establish this loving relationship (2 John 1.8).
Both were committed to not just know Jesus, but to let his words direct their behaviors. They would not get swept up in doctrinal error or compromise on the teaching of Jesus (2 John 1.7, 10). But they also could not let their natural leanings affect how they behaved towards one another.
For this to happen, John emphasized the need for both truth and love. It wasn’t as though one were more significant, but rather they worked together. Truth guided the exercise of love (2 John 1.6). Love was proven by the test of truth (2 John 1.1).
We don’t always balance these two well. In fact, we sometimes emphasize one, at the expense of the other. Some have emphasized truth and stood for doctrinal matters in a way that is cold and judgmental, sometimes even to the point of cruelty. On the other hand, some have made the mistake of emphasizing love at the expense of truth. They behave as though we should accept everyone and everything, being tolerant in all directions. While both extremes begin with an approriate premise, neither rightly assumes the nature of Jesus.
He came to seek and save the lost. He came to reconcile people to God, together in his body. The gospel affects not just what we believe but how we treat others. We must learn to conform to both truth and love without compromise, recognizing their purpose. The truth grounds our thinking and love reminds us that faith is more theory. It is a practical book that reforms how we treat people.
John is known as the apostle of love, but he makes sure we know that love is work. It requires that we are informed, determined and Christ-centered. But most importantly that we practically apply that knowledge in service towards others.
“Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.” (2 John 1.8)