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Bible Minute

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#121
nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Aug 29, 2013
Topic: Other

Witness You Can Trust

The jury had been out for two days, so the judge was pleased when the foreman returned to the chamber and said, "Your Honor, we have just one question to ask before we make our decision."

"Good. What is it?" the judge replied.

The foreman hesitated, then said "We're wondering--can you tell us what the words plaintiff and defendant mean?"

If the right decision is going to be made, it's important to understand the words used. As a follower of Christ, here's a good legal word for you to be clear about--the word witness.

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Simply put, a witness is "someone who sees an event and gives a report of what happened." You will find that the Bible speaks of people who witness about Christ and what He did. You will also see that Christ Himself is a witness; and how, as a Christian, you ought to be a witness for Him as well.

Read the following verses in your Bible and answer the questions.

Consider some of the witnesses who testified to the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ:

    John 5:37. Who is the witness to Christ's genuineness in this verse?
    John 1:29-34. Who is Christ's witness in these verses? What does the witness call Him?
    John 5:36. What are the witnesses to Christ's truthfulness in this verse? What do they tell about Him?
    Acts 10:43. Who are the witnesses in this verse? What do they testify to?

Next, look at some of the things Christ witnessed to about Himself:

    John 8:14. What did Jesus say was proof that His testimony about Himself was true?
    John 18:37. What does Jesus say His purpose was for coming into the world?

And finally, look at the witnessing responsibility Christ gives to all believers:

    Acts 1:8. Where does Jesus send us to be His witnesses?

Reflect

Witnesses must be trustworthy since the life of a person standing trial often hangs in the balance, based on the truthfulness of what the witness claims to have seen. Therefore, it is not surprising that God holds witnesses personally responsible for their testimony.

He says in Exodus 23:1-2 (ESV): "You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice."

In Revelation 3:14 (ESV), Jesus tells the apostle John, "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: 'The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.'"

    He is the "Amen," the all-sufficient one, everything that is necessary.
    He is the "faithful and true witness," the one who reports exactly what God wants us to know.
    He is the "beginning of God's creation." He is not created; He is the One who began all creation. He has witnessed the very beginning of all things.

Respond

All you need to know about the Lord Jesus Christ is recorded for you in the Bible, which was inspired by another true witness, the Holy Spirit (John15:26).

Imagine that someone asks you, "What truths do you know about Jesus Christ?" Then write down as many things as you can that the Bible witnesses to about Him. Think how you can put into your own words the truths that you want to tell others about Him.


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#122
nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Aug 30, 2013
Topic: Jesus, Worship/Praise/Worthiness

The Worship Experience

What's the greatest worship experience you've ever had? What was so powerful, so holy and so celebratory that it drove you to your knees? Or had you shouting and singing and praising God in ways you'd never imagined? Fix that picture in your mind--and then multiply it by a thousand. And you'll begin to have a sense of what worship will be like when we gather before Jesus, the Lamb of God.

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Revelation is filled with those moments. Let's start with Revelation 5:8-10: "And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

'Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth'" (ESV).

The key to worship is in that first word of the song: "Worthy." It means "ascribing or expressing the worth of someone or something." In true worship, that someone is Jesus.

Why is He worthy? Well, as the song tells us, because He was slain; He ransomed us with His blood and He makes us a kingdom of priests. Throughout Scripture, we learn Jesus is worthy of our worship because He is the Son of God; He is perfect, holy, righteous, loving, merciful, just, faithful, etc. Everything about Him, all that He is, is worth our attention, our devotion, our praise and our worship. No other can compare.

Pick two or three of these worship scenes in Revelation to examine more closely.

Revelation 4:8-11
Revelation 5:11-13
Revelation 7:9-12
Revelation 11:15-19
Revelation 19:1-9

    Where is the focus placed?
    What are the words of worship? The actions of worship?
    What attitude is common among those who are worshiping?

Reflect

    How did your view of Jesus change as you read the preceding worship scenes?

    How might you apply the expressions of worship you read about in Revelation to your worship?

When we begin to grasp the awesome spectrum of His worthiness, then our worship grows beyond music or services or ritual. It becomes the response of a heart that acknowledges and embraces the immense treasure wrapped up in Christ the Lamb. It's not about us, what we have or even what or how we can give back to God; it's all about Him. That's what drives the creatures and elders of Revelation 5 to the ground before Him.

Respond

Worship is not limited to singing or prayer or even our actions when we're gathered with other believers. It can be private and personal or public and shared. But the focus is always the same: Jesus Christ.

    What do you currently do as worship?
    What can you change based on the examples found in Revelation?
    How will you share your experience of worship with other believers?

Look over your schedule for the next two or three days and see if you can make a time for focused worship on Christ. Borrow words from Scripture (like Psalm 145); use music; get on your knees or even face down, whatever will help you to recognize the Lamb as worthy of your worship. Don't make it about you and what you need or want but bring your praise and express the worthiness of Christ back to Him.


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#123
nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Sep 2, 2013
Topic: Forgiveness/Unforgiveness

Forgiveness That Frees

In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the ghost of Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge's departed business partner, comes to him in the dark of night, rattling the chains that bind him. Dickens writes:

"'You are fettered,' said Scrooge, trembling.'Tell me why?'"

"'I wear the chain I forged in life,' replied the Ghost. 'I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?'"

Marley's ghost is fiction, but Marley's statement is miserably true for many Christians who choose not to forgive persons who have wronged them. Rather than enjoying the freedom that Christ promised--"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36, ESV)--they choose to continue forging the links of an unforgiving spirit that embitters their lives and binds them from building biblical relationships.

Do you have a problem with forgiving others when they have hurt you? Let's look at some biblical teaching on this subject today.

Receive

Here are some Scripture references that relate to forgiveness:

Mark 11:25

    If you are to forgive a person while you are praying, to whom would you first be expressing your forgiveness?

Colossians 3:12-17

    What example are you to follow in forgiving others? How does forgiving or not forgiving others affect the various relationships spoken of in verses 14-17?

Reflect

If a person wrongs you, which of the following actions would be true forgiveness on your part?

    Just ask God to forgive them for their wrong and let Him do the forgiving.
    Don't do anything about it. Bear the pain.
    Let the offender know that you are hurt and that he or she needs to ask your forgiveness.
    Forget it. Put it out of your mind entirely. "Forgive and forget."

Answer? None of the above is biblical forgiveness and none of those actions or inactions will release you from the pain caused by the offense.

Then, how should you forgive those who have hurt you? Look at Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV) "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

That passage gives you a pattern for how you are to forgive someone. Whose forgiveness is your model? How does God forgive? An example of how He forgives can be seen in Psalm 32:5 (NASB), where David confesses his sin to God. The last part of the verse says, "You forgave the guilt of my sin." It does not say God forgot the event of David's transgression, but that He forgave the guilt. In Christ, God forgives your sins and no longer charges them against you. He does not forget the events, but He puts away the guilt.

You are to forgive others in the same manner that God has forgiven you--canceling the debt, giving up any claim you may have to get even and by an act of your will, releasing them. You can do that at any time, without waiting for an apology that you may never get. Forgiveness is your choice. You may not forget the event, but you will be free from the bondage of unforgiveness and even the event may begin to fade from your mind.

Respond

Are you struggling in your spiritual life because you are not forgiving someone? You can handle that problem right now. Go to the Lord and tell Him that you forgive the offender--that from this moment on you are setting the person or persons free from the debts they owe you and that you are making the choice to give up any claim to punish or get even with them. You are not asking God to forgive them; you are telling God that you have determined to forgive them.

As the old saying goes, "Why be a drudge to a grudge, when you can forgive and live."


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#124
nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Sep 3, 2013
Topic: Forgiveness/Unforgiveness

The Value of Forgiving

As the cemetery workers began to shovel dirt over the coffin, Jake stood by the grave, realizing that this would be the last remembrance he would have of his brother.

Remorse clouded Jake's thoughts while he walked to his car. Words of forgiveness that he had been unwilling to speak over the past 23 years would now have to remain unspoken. He had never forgiven his brother for causing the accident that had taken their mother. Jake asked himself, Why? Why did I remain silent?

Yes. Why? Why do you and I find it so difficult to forgive? And is forgiving others really necessary?

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There are several potential roadblocks on the path to forgiving someone who has wronged you.

    Pride is one. When someone injures your pride by putting you down or embarrassing you, it is often difficult for you to forgive that person. Having your pride hurt, however, is never a valid excuse for not forgiving the offender. Read Proverbs 11:2. What follows pride? What follows humility?
    Fear is another. The necessity for you to forgive a person usually arises out of a situation that is uncomfortable to talk about. That makes it somewhat scary to even bring up the subject. But God can take care of that fear as you go in faith to tell the person that you forgive him or her. Read Psalm 56:3-4,11. How should a believer face fear?
    Anger may prevent you from forgiving. The offense made you angry and you keep on nursing your anger instead of choosing the freedom forgiveness gives you. What does the Bible say in Ephesians 4:26 about harboring anger? What does Ecclesiastes 7:9 tell you about anger?
    Doubt that it will do any good to forgive the offender. What's the use? He'll just do the same thing again. Forgiving doesn't mean that the other person will change or that you approve of his or her actions. Read Matthew 18:21-22. Does Jesus say your forgiveness depends on the attitude of the offender? What do you think Jesus intended by saying "seventy times seven"?

Reflect

If there are excuses for not forgiving, the Bible gives plenty of reasons you should forgive. In the following verses, what reasons can you find?

    Colossians 3:13
    Ephesians 4:32
    Mark 11:25
    Matthew 6:14

Forgiveness is an act of kindness. It is Christ-like. It keeps the lines open for communion with God and is a condition for your fellowship with Him. It sets you free. Forgiveness is necessary for right relationships with others. It is wise!

Respond

Do you need to forgive someone? Ask God to bring them to your mind right now. What has blocked you from forgiving them? Make a choice today to take care of the matter in the proper way. Pray that God will give you the courage and strength to take your forgiveness to the one who has hurt you.


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#125
nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Sep 4, 2013
Topic: Forgiveness/Unforgiveness

No More Excuses

Someone defined an excuse as "The skin of a truth stuffed with a lie." That is, an excuse has the outward appearance of being true, but behind that appearance is nothing but a falsehood.

This holds true when we make excuses about forgiveness. And one of the most common ones is this: That happened before I was saved. Does God hold you responsible for the actions you committed before you were saved? Let's see what His Word says.

Receive

He entered Jericho and was passing through.

And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich.

Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.

So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.

When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house."

 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.

 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner."

Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much."

And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham." (Luke 19:1-9 NASB).

    What three facts are we told about Zaccheus?
    What demonstrated Zaccheus' interest in Jesus?
    How did the crowds respond?
    How did Zaccheus demonstrate his sincerity?

Reflect

The Romans gave the job of tax collecting to the highest bidder. The tax collector was then free to recoup his expenses plus as much over that as he could. As a tax collector (and a chief tax collector to boot) Zaccheus probably had cut more than his fair share of shady deals. And more than once, he probably collected more than was legitimately owed.

It would have been easy for Zaccheus to say, "I'm a changed man. I'm not the same man I used to be." (Which was true.) "I'm not liable for anything wrong I did in the past." But he didn't. Instead he took responsibility for his past actions and offered to make restitution for them.

But what about 2 Corinthians 5:17? This verse says, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (NASB) Doesn't this release me from the sins of the past? While it releases you from the penalty of past sins, your transformation doesn't release you from the responsibilities created by those actions. Our new relationship with Christ changes the future, but it doesn't change the past.

Respond

Is there a past sin that needs to be made right? Maybe it's something you did before you became a Christian. While it's understandable that your moral standards were different back then, you still need to take responsibility for your actions. Ask God how you can make restitution for the things you've done wrong--then do it.


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#126
nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Sep 5, 2013
Topic: Forgiveness/Unforgiveness

Asking for Forgiveness

Asking for forgiveness is difficult. But if you've wronged someone, then it's necessary. In fact, in Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus tells us that seeking forgiveness ought to be a priority. "If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (ESV).

So, what's the correct way to go about seeking forgiveness? Here are seven steps to guide you.

Receive

1) Start with God and confess your sin to Him. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (ESV). Start by seeking forgiveness from God.

2) Get a right perspective. Forgiveness is about canceling a debt. If your friend or neighbor chooses not to forgive, that's their business. But it starts with you.

3) Take responsibility. Forgiveness is never one-sided. Never expect the other person to share in the blame. This is about dealing with your own guilt.

4) Keep short accounts. I can say from personal experience that the longer you let a matter stand, the harder it is to confront it. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger" (4:26, ESV). In other words, keep short accounts. Deal with all of the little things every day, so the little things don't become big things.

5) Maintain small circles. The scope of your sin should determine the scope of your confession. If it's a private sin between you and God, keep the confession between you and God. If you've wronged your spouse, confess your sin to God and to your spouse. No one else needs to be involved.

6) Make confession personal. Phone calls and emails are no substitute for an honest, heartfelt, face-to-face apology.

7) Finally, make amends. If you've taken something from someone, return it. If it can't be returned, provide the equivalent.

Reflect

Has anything popped into your mind as you've read this?

Have you remembered any situation that you need to set right?

Are you waiting for the other person involved to make the first move, or are you willing to make that move?

Respond

Are there any unresolved issues in your life? Make a plan this week to set things right. It might seem like a small and insignificant matter, but if it's big enough to weigh on your mind, it's big enough to set right. Remember, first confess to God and trust Him for the strength and the grace you need as you seek reconciliation.


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#127
nChrist

nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Sep 6, 2013
Topic: Forgiveness/Unforgiveness

Benefits of Forgiveness

So, you know you're supposed to forgive others, but do you ever wonder what's in it for you? How will you benefit, if and when, you forgive? Let's look at seven benefits of forgiveness.

Receive

First, forgiveness puts you in a right relationship with God. First John 4:20 tells us, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen" (ESV). You can't have it both ways; loving God means loving others which includes granting and seeking forgiveness.

Second, forgiving others removes any roadblocks to your prayers. "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses" (Mark 11:25, ESV).

Third, it ensures that God forgives you. In Matthew 6, Jesus taught forgiveness as part of prayer, " and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors....For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (6:12, 14-15, ESV). When God has forgiven you of so much, why shouldn't He expect you to forgive others as generously?

A fourth benefit is found indirectly in 1 Timothy 1:5, "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (ESV). Real love comes from a good conscience; it means you've taken care of business with God. There is no barrier between you and Him. Nothing makes you feel guilty or ashamed to approach Him. Having real love means you forgive when you should and ask Him for forgiveness when it's necessary to do that.

Several of these benefits affect your relationship with others.

First, you experience reconciliation. You're at peace with others. "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother" (Matthew 18:15, ESV).

Secondly, it removes the bitterness which develops when you hold onto hurt or anger and refuse to forgive. "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32, ESV).

Lastly, forgiveness leads to personal spiritual revival; it energizes your spiritual walk. And it can do the same in your church too. This is why the New Testament instructions to the churches and believers emphasize forgiving others.

Reflect

    Which of these benefits have you experienced?
    Where do you struggle with forgiveness?
    How has a lack of forgiveness impacted your relationship with God lately? With other people?
    Has bitterness set in? What are you doing about it?
    Which of the benefits discussed above do you find motivates you the most to do something about unforgiveness in your life?

Respond

It's nice to know you'll get something good out of becoming a person who forgives and seeks forgiveness. But it'll take more than knowledge. What steps can you take today to become that person?

Maybe you need to pick up the phone and call a friend to seek reconciliation. Or maybe you need to have a conversation with God first. Maybe it'll mean releasing the hurt and anger you carry; ask Him to handle it instead of holding onto it yourself and letting it become bitterness. Think it through; jot down the steps you need to take...then start with the first one and keep going. Ask for the Holy Spirit's help and the grace to enjoy the benefits of forgiveness.


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#128
nChrist

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Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Bible Minute in the format we've been used to has been discontinued and incorporated into a radio program by Back to the Bible. The email subscriptions to Bible Minute have also been discontinued. If you wish to read the transcript or listen to the radio program, use the below link:

http://www.bibleminute.org/


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