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Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength - Nehemiah 8:11

Why the Joy of the Lord is Our Strength - Nehemiah 8:1-11
The Jewish people returned to Jerusalem after 70 years of Persian exile. When Ezra read the law to them (Nehemiah 8:1-11), it was the first time many had heard it. 

Realizing they fell short of God’s desires, they begin to weep. And Nehemiah said: “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” 

We often hear the phrase “the joy of the Lord is your strength!” 

But knowing the background brings even more joy. 

Can you imagine hearing God-breathed truth for the first time? 

I can. That’s what happened when I gave my life to Christ. 

I’d heard many of these Bible truths before, but they came to life when I followed Christ. They brought tears of sorrow, knowing I fell short (Romans 3:23), and tears of joy, knowing I was forgiven and now had God’s Spirit to change and restore my heart (Romans 10:10; Philippians 2:13). 

Do you remember? 

Take a moment today to thank God for the Joy you experience in Him. The joy of the Lord is your strength!
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Check out Bible Love Note's archive of 1-minute devotions on Joy and Laughter and bookmark it so you can read several whenever you need a boost of joy in the Lord.


Bible Study

1. Below are excerpts from Nehemiah 8:1-11 as well as some New Testament passages. What similarities and what differences are there between this Old Covenant hearing of God’s Word and our New Covenant hearing? 

Why the Joy of the Lord is Our Strength - Nehemiah 8:1-11
Nehemiah 8 excerpts: Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion…Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground…The Levites…instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read…Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

John 16:13: When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

John 14:16-17: I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 

2. How important is joy in the life of the believer?

Philippians 4:4: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

1 Peter 4:12-13: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 

Philippians 3:1: Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith. 
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, September 10, 2017

3 Common Errors About Judging Others Biblically

3 Excuses for Not Judging Others - All of which Contradict Scripture
I hear it daily: "The Bible teaches us not to judge."

It’s not true, but it effectively confuses and silences Christians. 

Here are three reasons people claim we shouldn't judge:

1. Because we're all sinners.
True - we're all sinners, but Scripture only prohibits one type of sinner from judging - hypocritical sinners who refuse to deal honestly with their own sins.(1) 

2. Judging is God’s job, not ours.
God commands individuals and churches to judge sin and sinners for various reasons. If God says it's our job, it's our job.(2)

3. Judging is hateful.
When we judge as the Bible commands - speaking the truth in love and gentleness (Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:15), it is the most loving thing we can do.(3)

We lose our salt and hide our light when we refuse to judge and warn people as God commands (Matthew 5:13-15). 

Silence makes us popular with our culture, but not with God
(Luke 9:26).

If you still feel it's not your place to judge others, at least be honest about it. You have no Biblical reason unless you're a hypocrite.
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Notes: 
Please see the Misunderstandings About Judgement archive of 1-minute devotions
(1) Matthew 7:1-5  
(2) A variation of this argument is "Jesus didn't judge anyone, and neither should we." See "Did Jesus Come to Judge?" and these passages which command Christians to judge: 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; Galatians 6:1;Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.
(3) This doesn't mean people will always respond in a positive way, but we still must be faithful to do what God commands us to do.

Bible Study

1. One important aspect of judging involves our duty to warn people of coming danger. This Old Testament passage has New Testament application:

3 Excuses for Not Judging Others - All of which Contradict Scripture
Ezekiel 33:1-11: The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. 5 Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’ 7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved. 10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’  

2. Note that the Apostle Paul judges the Corinthians and sends Timothy to carry out his warnings.

1 Corinthians 4:14-21: I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children.15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit? 

3. Whether teaching Christians or sharing the Gospel, sin is always a key element.

2 Corinthians 5:10-11: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 

1 Thessalonians 5:14: And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

2 Thessalonians 3:14-15: Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed.15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.

Jude 1:22-23: Be merciful to those who doubt;23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Galatians 6:1:"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently." 

Ephesians 5:8-17: "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them."

1 Corinthians 5:11: I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

Matthew 18:15: If your brother sins against you, go and confront him privately. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  
copyright 2017 Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBible.com

Sunday, September 3, 2017

That's Not Works. It's Love

That's Not Works. It's Love
If someone told a woman it was foolish to try to please her husband because he already loved her, you’d probably roll your eyes. 

But I’ve heard a good number of Christians say it’s foolish to try to please God because He already loves us. 

Our current Christian culture is so afraid of “works salvation” that we’ve thrown the good out with the bad. 

The bad: thinking good works save us. They don't. We come to the Lord based solely on His mercy.

The good: we work out our salvation (our continuing walk with the Lord) with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13) and we “find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10).

If a man marries but continues to live like a single man, he’s a bad husband. 

If we come to Christ but continue to live like unsaved people, we’re bad Christians. 

Christ says those who love Him obey Him (John 14:23). 

We cannot earn God's mercy and grace. But we can seek to live lives that are obedient and purposeful. That’s not “works” – it’s love. 

Bible Study 

That's Not Works. It's Love
1. How can we please the Lord according to these passages?

Colossians 1:9-14: For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 

Hebrews 13:16: Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. 

2. Notice that our sanctification is a process of renewal, transformation, and knowledge.

Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

Colossians 1:9-10: And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com