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James 5:19-20

Tuesday, April 23, 2019
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
1 Peter 4:8 tells us that “love covers a multitude of sins.” It is tremendous love for the immortal soul that prompts a Christian to try his best to turn a brother back when he “strays from the truth” (verse 19). What a tremendous challenge it is to help steer a fallen brother or sister back to the path of righteousness once they have chosen to deviate from it! The Hebrew writer wrote as much in Hebrews 6:4-6: “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”
 
To know the truth, to be enlightened by the living word of God, to have a foretaste of heaven itself, and then to abandon the Lord and all His present and future blessings is to crucify Christ all over again in your heart and condemn yourself. Chances are you can’t tell someone who is in a situation like that anything they don’t know already. But love demands that we must somehow try to persuade them to return to the Lord just the same. That person’s soul is dead spiritually, and eternity is too long and hell is too horrible just to sit idly by and leave them in such a horrid condition. Sometimes we must deliver a sinner over “to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5). But other times we have to try our best to snatch them out of the fire (Jude 1:23) and “save” their “soul from death” (verse 19).
 
Friend, there is no clearer statement in the Holy Scriptures that so plainly affirms that saved “brethren” in Christ can err from the truth and fall from God’s saving grace. To save a brother’s soul from death is to rescue him from eternal destruction. Satan accomplished one of his greatest schemes of all time with the lie that believers cannot possibly lose their eternal salvation no matter what they do. This doctrine can be found nowhere in the pages of the Bible. In fact, the opposite is true. If we have obeyed Jesus to acquire salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9), and then get caught up in some sin that we refuse to repent of, we are doomed to eternal death and destruction. God gives grace that is greater than all of our sins, but we must be willing to turn from them and beg forgiveness in order to receive it. Our merciful Lord stands ever ready to forgive!
 
Lord willing we will have a brief introduction to the book of Acts for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 5:16-18

Monday, April 22, 2019
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Confession and prayer are two of the most potent spiritual tools that we have at our disposal. Notice that James tells us to confess our sins “to one another” (verse 16). Not to a priest. Not to the elders. Not to a preacher. To one another. There is great liberating power in admitting to our brothers and sisters in Christ that we have sinned and that we need their help and their prayers for God’s help. This doesn’t mean that we have to stand before the congregation and confess every detail of every sin although sometimes a public confession is appropriate when the sin is of a public nature.
 
But, more times than not, it is helpful to talk to one or a few brethren in Christ about the sins that plague our lives and compromise our spiritual health. The power of sin is silence. As long as we persist in trying to hide our habitual sins we will continue to make excuses for them, live in denial of their destructive force, and we will not break the grip that sin has over us. But, when we break the silence we admit that we are in trouble and confess that we are not strong enough to defeat sin all by ourselves. Even though we may be embarrassed at first, there is actually great relief when we finally come clean and stop trying to shoulder the burden and weight of sin all alone. Automatically we will have good brethren praying for us, encouraging us to do right and holding us accountable to our covenant with Christ.
 
And, of course, “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” good in our lives and in the world (verse 16). “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours” (verse 17). Even though he was a mighty prophet of the Lord, he was just a man besought by human weakness and frailty as we are (1 Kings 19:1-10). It was not the power of the prophet that made his prayers potent and effective. It was God’s omnipotence and Elijah’s confession of dependence upon Him that dried up the skies and then poured forth the rain that produced the earth’s fruit (verse 18). Confession and prayer are both powerful expressions of humility and appeals to the Highest Power for strength and deliverance. Take frequent advantage of them!
 
Please read James 5:19-20 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 5:13-15

Sunday, April 21, 2019
“Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The appropriate response to suffering is worship. The appropriate response to delight is worship. When we are grieving or sorrowful we “must pray” to the One who has the greatest ability to make something positive come from our distress and anguish (verse 13). And listen—don’t merely cry out to the Lord in your despair and beg for relief. Please do that! But also thank Him and praise Him for all the wonderful things that He has done in the world and in your life! Our God is an awesome, powerful and loving God. We have much more to praise Him for than to petition Him for. Do both! And do “sing praises” to the Lord out of a heart of gratitude and joy!
 
Elders, oil and prayer for the sick (verses 14-15). It appears that James is referring to the serious illness of a Christian from which the Lord alone can “raise him up”. Surely our spiritual leaders are not to be burdened every time a member catches a cold or gets an ear infection. I don’t believe the “restoration” is anything of a miraculous nature either. James advises the use of “oil” which was “the most common medicine in biblical times” (The Expositors Bible Commentary). “Anointing” oils and “essential” oils are God’s therapeutic blessings from the natural world.
 
It is “prayer” that “will restore the one who is sick,” but only “the prayer offered in faith.” Remember that when we pray we must do so “in faith without any doubting” if we expect “to receive anything from the Lord” (1:6-7). This does not guarantee that the Lord will grant our request for healing and restoration if it is not His desire to do so. But we must pray with unwavering confidence that the Lord can and will do what we ask of Him, if it is according to His perfect and divine will. When we apply the best remedies and pray the right way (or the elders do) and we are healed; remember, it is the Lord who raises us up. Our God is a God of healing and forgiveness.
 
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” (Psalm 103:1-5)
 
Please read James 5:16-18 for tomorrow.
 
Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 5:12

Saturday, April 20, 2019
“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
“Above all,” it is of supreme importance that Christians be people of their word. We should not have to be the kind of people that feel like we need to swear on a stack of Bibles in order to get someone to believe us. I have not drawn out the parallels between the general epistle of James and the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount in order to keep the commentary to a minimum (relatively speaking), and because the letter stands on its own just fine. But this is one of the many common subjects covered by the Lord in His sermon and His brother in his letter.
 
Jesus said in Matthew 5:33-37 – “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.' But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of a great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil.”
 
Now, strictly speaking, there wasn’t anything wrong with taking solemn oaths. The Law allowed such vows, and, in certain cases required them. If anyone of us is required to appear before a court of civil law, we would be compelled to “swear” or “vow” or “promise” to tell the truth, and that would be completely appropriate. But that should be the exception and not the rule. If we continually speak truth in our hearts and truth with our lips most people will believe us at our word and God will accept us.
 
The Scribes of Jesus day thought they had found a loophole that got people around fulfilling the sacred vows that they had made. They taught that a person could “swear” and not be bound by his word as long as he did not invoke the name of the Lord. Jesus indicated such by stating the ancients said you must “fulfill your vows to the Lord.” But Jesus said, if you swear by heaven or earth or Jerusalem or a single hair on your head, you are still swearing by God and are bound to your vows. Every good thing that we could affirm an oath upon has been given by the Lord.
 
Friend, in the rare occasion we feel that we must make a vow unto the Lord, we had better be serious about dutifully and promptly fulfilling it. “When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6)
 
Please read James 5:13-15 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 5:7-11

Friday, April 19, 2019
"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful."
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
James encouraged his persecuted brethren to “be patient” (verse 7) as they endured suffering at the hands of the reprehensible rich. The Lord had not turned a blind eye to their suffering and He is fully aware of the trials and turbulence that we go through in our lives as well. We must be willing to “suffer long” (Greek, macrothumeo) and stay faithful knowing that the Lord will eventually make things right.
 
After a farmer has done his part in tilling the land and planting the seed, he must trust that God will send the necessary rains to produce a good harvest (verse 7). If we patiently do the Lord’s will through the storms and droughts of life and trust that He will keep His precious promises, “the precious fruit” He provides will be sweeter than honey and the gratifying drippings from the honeycomb.
 
Most of God’s prophets of old were persecuted for proclaiming His word, but they faithfully persevered until the (sometimes bitter) end in order to receive His eternal blessings (verse 11). We learn from Job that “the Lord is compassionate and merciful” to His loyal servants if they love and serve Him through all of life’s losses and catastrophes (verse 11; Job 42:9-17). Even if He doesn’t see fit to rectify things for us on this side of eternity, all that we faithfully endure will be more than worth it at “the coming of the Lord” (verse 7).
 
Neither James nor any of the other inspired writers predicted that the Lord’s Second Coming would occur in their lifetimes or in that of their readers. They didn’t know any better than Jesus did what the day and time of His return would be, but they exhorted and encouraged Christians to live their lives in such a way that they would be ready for it no matter when it happened (2 Peter 3:14). “What sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” (2 Peter 3:11-12)
 
“The coming of the Lord” is always “at hand” (verse 8)!
 
“Maranatha” (1 Corinthians 16:22)! “Come, O Lord!”
 
Please read James 5:12 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 5:1-6

Thursday, April 18, 2019
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
It is not impossible to be rich and righteous at the same time, but it is hard. Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom (Matthew 19:24), but every good thing is possible with God (Matthew 19:26). People who “want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). There are considerable challenges that deter a rich person from storing his treasures up in heaven, so if we are blessed with earthly wealth, let’s make certain that we are “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
 
James is not condemning affluent people per se, but the unscrupulously rich who abuse their wealth and power. Those who have the means to promptly and fully pay what they owe, and yet refuse to do so, have much to “weep and howl” over (verse 1). The “miseries which are coming” on the Judgment Day will be a brutal reality for them when “the Lord of Sabaoth” (Hosts) exacts justice and vengeance upon the oppressors of the helpless and vulnerable. People who live in lavish luxury and “wanton pleasure” and express no practical compassion for the needy and downtrodden are only fattening their own “hearts” for the “day of slaughter” that is to come (verse 5).
 
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
 
Please read James 5:7-11 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 4:13-17

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit’— you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, ‘If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.’ But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Friends, none of us knows what tomorrow might hold for us. We may be alive and healthy and prosperous, or we may not. It is important to make our plans as if life will go on because as long as it does there will be bills to pay, work to do and responsibilities to uphold. But, it is more important to make plans for the inevitability and certainty of death, Judgment and eternity. In the grand scheme of things our lives are just like a “vapor”—“a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears” (verse 14). Methuselah lived 969 years and yet his life is just a distant memory now like a mist that the wind blew away several thousand years ago.
 
I want us to understand the type of attitude that James condemns in this passage. It is “boasting” (verse 16) about all the business that will be done and the money that will be made in the year ahead (verse 13). Notice that the type of person he chastises is one that gives all his attention to the world and its affairs and none to what “the Lord wills” (verse 15). The perfect will of the Lord should be our main concern in this life because heaven awaits us if we are determined to do His bidding on earth. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are in control of the future. Our times on earth are in His hand (Proverbs 31:15).
 
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)
 
Please read James 5:1-6 for tomorrow.
 
Hope you have a wonderful day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 4:11-12

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Christians have no business running other people down, especially fellow soldiers of Christ (verse 11). The King James Version says to “speak not evil of one another.” When we habitually speak critically of other people to third parties (otherwise known as gossip, back-biting, slander) it belies a serious ailment of the heart. If we love our brethren (and fellow humans in general) we should express legitimate disapproval to them personally (in a constructive way), and praise them in the presence of others. It is sinful to turn people against one another with bitter words that spring forth from an unloving heart (Proverbs 16:28).
 
To speak evil against a brother or sister in Christ is to disparage (judge) the perfect law of liberty. Jesus tells us that one of the two greatest commandments of all is to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), therefore we should do goodness to them and speak kindness of them. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21)
 
“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge” (verse 12). Our brethren will never be required to stand before us in judgment so let’s determine to not hold them accountable to laws of our own making. “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4). Instead, let us resolve to be the best law-keepers we can possibly be because we will all stand before the Great Lawmaker to answer for our own thoughts, words and deeds.
 
By the way, God has enacted, revealed and codified His laws once and forever. There is only one Lawgiver and that is the Lord. It is blasphemous for denominations to assemble councils, conventions and synods to ratify “church law” that specifies what is right and wrong for their various members and congregations to do. That is “whittling on God’s end of the stick.” He alone makes laws that we will be judged by and adding to or taking away from His word brings swift condemnation.
 
Please read James 4:13-17 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 4:7-10

Monday, April 15, 2019
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
James uses military terminology in chapter 4 to impress upon us that we are in a war for the very survival of our souls. All of these exhortations are imperatives to stress a sense of enormity and urgency on our parts. To truly “submit…to God” is to subordinate ourselves to His command, forgo worldly lusts, forfeit our stubborn pride and give Him complete dominion over our lives.
 
The devil has a big bag of tricks (2 Corinthians 2:11). He is as cunning as a serpent and powerful as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), but he is no match for the omnipotence of God. If we put up a strong resistance against his attacks, he will retreat from the mighty hand of the Lord. Ephesians chapter 6 tells us what we need to do. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11) Gird your loins with truth, cover your breast with righteousness, prepare your feet with the Gospel, shield yourself with faith, wield the sword of the Spirit, pray at all times (Ephesians 6:14-18).
 
If we draw near to God by studying His word, praying without ceasing, and worshiping and serving Him, He will embrace and protect us (verse 8). If we will stand firmly against Satan’s assaults and resist his advances our adversary will flee. But we must be extra cautious because the devil is a master of “disguises” and often passes himself off as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). There are many false teachers parading as apostles of Christ in the world today (2 Corinthians 11:13).
 
We must purify our heart which is the source of all evil thoughts, words and actions (Matthew 15:19), and cleanse our hands which often perform our acts of sinfulness. We must learn to “mourn and weep” and feel “miserable” about our transgressions (verse 9). Sin it is not a “laughing matter”. It is not a thing to be excused our proud of but repented of. We should never be happy about disobeying the Lord and incurring His wrath. If we break our own hearts over our sins, turn from them and turn to the Lord in all humility, He will “exalt” us (verse 10).
 
Please read James 4:11-12 for tomorrow.
 
Blessings!!!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 4:1-6

Sunday, April 14, 2019
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
“The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (Hebrews 3:18). But “quarrels and conflicts” stem from the “war” that is waged on our willing spirits by our weak flesh (verses 1-2). “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits” (Hebrews 3:17). But the “wisdom” that ascends from “below” produces envy, strife and murder and every form of evil, even among brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
In the quest to gratify our “pleasures” (lusts) humans have the tendency to run roughshod over one another. If we lust after our brother’s possessions to the point that we love his “stuff” more than we do him, we are no better than murderers. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:15-16)
 
If we love the world and are swelling with its lusts and pride, we make ourselves the enemies of God (verse 4). It is no wonder that God refuses to hear and answer our prayers when our “motives” are driven by the things that He hates. When we love the world and hate our brethren we commit spiritual adultery and murder and meet, not merely with God’s displeasure, but His vigorous opposition (verse 6). God is the most powerful enemy we can ever make for ourselves, but thankfully all is not lost. If we humble ourselves before the mighty and merciful hand of God, He will more than willingly give His grace that is greater than all of our sins.
 
The Lord our God is a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24). He will not allow us to share our love with Him and the world. “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us” (verse 5). “If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in” us (Romans 8:11), we will serve Him and please Him and live eternally through Him. But if the spirit of “the prince of the power of the air” works in us (Ephesians 2:2), we are “dead in” our “trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), hostile towards God and separated from His saving grace.
 
Humble yourself before Him friend and He will lift you up and make you clean. Meet Him on His terms, obey His commandments and be a friend to Jesus. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (verse 6).
 
Please read James 4:7-10 for tomorrow.
 
Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 3:13-18

Saturday, April 13, 2019
“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The world sees “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” as signs of “wisdom” (verses 14-15). The Apostle Paul lists these two dispositions as “works of the flesh” that will exclude us from Christ’s kingdom in Galatians 5:20, but the kingdom of the world praises and envies people who exhibit these traits. The wisdom of the world is utter foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 3:13), and James tells us that it is “earthly, natural, demonic”. It is “earthly” (worldly) and “natural” (governed by man’s lower impulses), but it really originates from a much lower realm than the earth. It is “demonic” because we behave more like demons than humans when we are arrogant, selfish and divisive, and its ultimate source is the chief of all demons—Satan himself.
 
But “the wisdom from above is first pure” (verse 17). First and foremost, God-given wisdom emanates from a pure heart. Psalm 24:3-4 says, “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully.” The wisdom from above is untainted by jealousy and unmarred by selfish ambition. It is pure in heart, holy in thought and unselfish in purpose.
 
The wisdom from above is “peaceable” or “peace-loving”. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” These are the ones who seek harmony with all people and are “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). True wisdom is “gentle” and forgiving when wronged. It doesn’t always demand justice but extends mercy instead. This is a different word than that used in the term “the gentleness of wisdom” (verse 13) which means “meekness”. Gentleness cannot be divorced from wisdom or it ceases to be “the wisdom from above.”
 
True wisdom is also “reasonable” or “willing to yield”. A wise person is willing to listen to reason and is teachable. Godly wisdom is “full of mercy and good fruits.” It combines compassion with good deeds and does not just dabble in them but is chock “full” of kindness and generosity. The wisdom from above is “unwavering”. Truly wise people trust God and serve Him with undivided devotion and unswerving loyalty, and they do so “without hypocrisy,” but with all sincerity of heart. If the “soil” of our heart is right, we will produce righteous fruit for God (verse 18), and show by our “good behavior” the heavenly wisdom that blesses for an eternity.
 
Please read James 4:1-6 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 3:6-12

Friday, April 12, 2019
“See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The Lord’s brother paints a very unflattering picture of the human tongue in today’s verses. The tongue is a rudder that guides life’s ship along its way (verse 4). But within it lies the potential for “the very world of iniquity” that can defile “the entire body” and set “the course of our life” on fire and leave a path of destruction and devastation in its wake (verse 6). This conflagration proceeds from “hell” and will lead us to Satan’s domain eternally if we do not place Jesus at the helm of our lives and minds.
 
The human tongue must always be considered a savage beast that cannot be “tamed” or trusted. We frequently domesticate animals in order to harness their power and enjoy their companionship (verse 7). We work with them, ride them, show them, pet them, play with them and even trust them around our young, vulnerable children. But the tongue must constantly be subdued and restrained. Like a wild animal that paces back and forth in its cage desiring to spring forth and pounce upon its prey, the tongue is “a restless evil” (verse 8). Like the fangs of an adder it is “full of deadly poison” that is toxic and even fatal to the victims of its venomous attacks.
 
The tongue is the “world of iniquity” and also a world of inconsistency and incongruity. “With it we bless our Father, and with it we curse” the people that He created in His image (verse 9). How preposterous it must be to our Creator to hear sweet songs of worship and praise on the Lord’s Day, and then the malicious words of bitterness and hatred that pour forth from our lips as we interact with humanity throughout the week. It “ought not to be this way” with us brethren. Cage the beast. Bridle the tongue (James 2:26). Defang the viper. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 2:19). Let your words be a “fountain” of fresh flowing water that blesses and invigorates people’s lives.
 
Please read James 3:13-18 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 3:1-5

Thursday, April 11, 2019
“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
With great responsibility comes strict judgment (verse 1), so the warning is that we should not rush into teaching. The word of God is too pure, the truth too vital to salvation, and teachers wield influence that is too great to enter into teaching without the right motives and adequate preparation. It was common for unqualified men to aspire to the enviable status of public teacher for the prestige and authority they could wield. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:7 about men “wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.”
 
There comes a point in every Christian’s life when he/she should have the ability to teach others the truth (Hebrews 5:12), so James is not discouraging all forms of teaching. But, not everyone is cut out for publicly teaching the word of God, and that is certainly no disgrace. We all have important resources and talents to contribute to the Kingdom of Christ, and they are all vital to its prosperous functioning. Having said that, everyone who knows enough to be saved can teach others what they need to do to obey the Gospel and be added to the kingdom!
 
“We all stumble in many ways” (verse 2). But there is no other member like the tongue that can so readily trip us up and cause us to fall into sin. Teachers need to be especially careful with the words they choose, but this is a problem that “we all” struggle with. The bit is a small instrument in comparison to a horse and a rudder is a small instrument in comparison to a ship, but humans use them to control the animal and the vessel. If we can bridle our tongues, we demonstrate the ability to control “the whole body as well” (verse 2). Though, “the tongue is a small part of the body…it boasts of great things” (verse 5), both righteous and evil. We possess, with our tongues (words), the potential for great good and great harm.
 
When we learn to bridle that “pink devil” and allow it to steer us in paths of righteousness, we exhibit great self-control and demonstrate ourselves to be “perfect” (spiritually mature) (verse 2). But when our carnal minds direct that potent little demon, things can quickly get out of control. It takes just a small spark to set a whole forest of trees on fire (verse 5). Just so, a few thoughtless, vindictive, incendiary words can destroy friendships, relationships and congregations. Think twice before you speak once or you may set your world ablaze!
 
Much more to come on this subject…
 
Please read James 3:6-11 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 2:21-26

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead?”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Abraham believed when God promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens, and the Lord “reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:5-6). But James tells us that this “Scripture was fulfilled” (verse 23) when Abraham “offered up Isaac his son on the altar” (verse 21). All that Abraham could do at the time that God made His promises was have faith (believe) that He would fulfill them in the future, but when God later tested His faith, he proved that his was an active, working, obedient faith. Whenever God told Abraham to do something, his faith functioned with his works, “and as a result of the works” his “faith was perfected” (completed, consummated) (verse 23).
 
Neither faith (belief) nor works “alone” can justify a person (verse 24). When faith is divorced from works it is just as lifeless as a cold, dead body (verse 26). Faith and works “work together” (Greek, sunergei) synergistically to the attainment of God’s justification. Only God can “reckon” (impute) righteousness and grant justification, but He only does so when a person’s faith is wedded with works of obedience. And, once again, we see that God is not one to show “personal favoritism” (no respecter of persons) (Hebrews 2:1). God considers faithful people to be right in His sight whether they are lowly, impoverished, Canaanite women like Rahab (verse 24) or noble, wealthy, Hebrew men like Abraham.
 
When Abraham demonstrated his obedient faith, “he was called the friend of God” (verse 23). It should be no surprise to us when we read in John 15:14 that Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” Jesus is a very demanding friend and He has every right and reason to be. But when we follow Him in loving, trusting, working faith, He will do amazing things for us that no earthly BFF could ever think about doing!
 
Please read James 3:1-5 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 2:14-20

Tuesday, April 09, 2019
“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
A faith that has no works cannot bless anyone. A faith that is not accompanied and expressed by works is a useless faith (verse 20). It is useless to God, the possessor of the hollow faith, and the would-be recipients of the benefits that are produced by true, biblical faith. “If someone says he has faith but has no works” (verse 14) his faith is all talk and no substance. Only an effectual doer of the word extends and receives the blessings that are furnished by the hand of God (James 1:25).
 
A faith that has no works cannot save anyone. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Salvation is a free gift from God and there is no way to earn it, but it still requires works of obedience on our part (Hebrews 5:8-9). When we have done all that God commands us to do, we are still unprofitable servants because we have done our expected duty (Luke 17:10). But if we refuse to obey God we reject His saving grace being disobedient servants if servants at all.
 
“We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). If we see people in need and have the means to help them but refuse to do so, we do not fulfill one of the main purposes that God recreated us for. Words of comfort are warming and prayers are powerful, but if we “do not give them what is necessary for their body,” then we are useless to them and our faith “is dead” (verses 16-17).
 
May it never be said of any of us that we have a dead faith! That would place us squarely in the same category as Satan’s demons (verse 19)! Not good company to keep to say the least! Let’s try our best to do the good works that we were “created in Christ” to do. We have no greater example to follow after than that of our Savior Jesus who “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) the entirety of His life. Let’s get to work!
 
More on this subject tomorrow.
 
Please read James 2:21-26 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 2:8-13

Monday, April 08, 2019
“If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not commit murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (verse 8) is a timeless law that we must continually be “fulfilling,” otherwise we are “committing sin and…convicted by the law as transgressors” (verse 9). It is called the “royal law” because it is the chief commandment concerning our dealings with other human beings and ranks just under the command to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:29-31).
 
Our King Jesus kicked the royal law up a notch with His words in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Above and beyond loving our neighbor as we would love ourselves, we should even try to love other people as Jesus loves us. Jesus poured himself out completely in His love and service for the beings He created in His own image.
 
All the people you see on the street, at the store, at workplace, in the pews are all your brothers and sisters in the human race. It matters not what their skin color is, what part of town they live in, what language they speak, what kind of car they drive. They all struggle with similar challenges, problems, weaknesses and temptations to what we battle with. Instead of feeling contempt for any of them or expressing frustration or hatred toward them, we should try to love and help them and pray for God’s blessings in their lives.
 
When we look at other people, no matter what they look like, we should see the King who died for them. “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40).
 
Instead of judging our brothers and sisters in the human family, we should show mercy to them. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (verse 13). The mercy we show others will be returned to us by our Creator. But if we prove ourselves to be “merciless” our Judge will show us “no mercy,” only condemnation for our calloused and pitiless hearts. Remember, the “perfect law of liberty” mandates that we care for those less fortunate and weaker than ourselves, and that we keep ourselves “unstained by the world” (James 1:25-27).
 
Please read James 2:14-20 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 2:1-7

Sunday, April 07, 2019
“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
If we are going to “hold” our faith in Jesus Christ, we must learn to let go of our ungodly prejudices. It is impossible to be “Christ-like” and also show “personal favoritism” on the grounds of worldly wealth, social status or popular acclaim (verse 1). When Jesus walked the face of this earth He befriended the weak and impoverished in order to help them, and chastised the corrupted rich and powerful class of religious leaders. If “there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11), then it is sinful for us to give preferential treatment because of personal prestige. The only truly “glorious” person to ever live is Jesus, and He was humble and holy, meek and lowly.
 
It is impossible to impress God by riches, achievements and social or political status, and it is a rarity for the calling of Christ to appeal to a person possessing great worldly power and clout. It is much more likely for “the poor in this world to be rich in faith” (verse 5). “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
 
Christian beware of “an attitude of personal favoritism.” If God played favorites like we often do, very few of us would find ourselves in His good favor and saved by His grace.
 
Please read James 2:8-13 for tomorrow.
 
Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:26-27

Saturday, April 06, 2019
“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
In chapter 1 James lists three things that we can deceive ourselves about: that God is at fault when we are tempted to sin (verse 16), that God will bless us if we hear His word without doing it (verse 22), and that God will accept our worship when we refuse to control our tongues (verse 26). We may consider ourselves to be “religious” people who actively engage in outward expressions of reverence and homage toward God, but our language can belie the true inward condition of our hearts.
 
A sinful disposition of heart renders our “religion worthless” to God. The Lord chastised Israel through the prophet Isaiah because they rendered worthless worship unto God from evil hearts. “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly” (Isaiah 1:13). James tells us that our tongues can be “a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (James 3:6).
 
The corrective action that God demands is to “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16-17) Our worship will be a sweet-smelling savor to God when we purify our hearts, control our words and actions, and assist (visit) the poor and defenseless people within our sphere of influence with their needs.
 
“The world” is a very dirty and dangerous place for a Christian to live. We dwell in the midst of evil and immorality in this godless society, so we must be careful to remain “unstained by the world” (verse 27). The Apostle John explains to us what “the world” consists of in 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” Jesus prayed that His father would help His followers to not be “of” the world while we are forced to live “in” the world (John 17:14-16).
 
Please let us not deceive ourselves. If we speak like the world speaks, obey our lusts like the world does, are filled with pride and arrogance like the worldly are, then we are lost like the world is. Let us come before God with humble, obedient hearts, confessing our sins, begging His forgiveness, ready to worship and serve Him according to His perfect will.
 
Please read James 2:1-7 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:22-25

Friday, April 05, 2019
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
While we must be quick to hear the word of God (verse 19), let’s make certain we’re not “merely hearers” but also “doers of the word” (verse 22). It is illogical and delusional to think that we can hear, believe and even love God’s word, and yet refuse to obey it and still be blessed by it. Jesus said in Matthew 7:26-27: “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
 
The living word of God prompts us to take an honest look at ourselves and to make necessary and righteous changes. If we regularly read the Bible and refuse to do what it says, instead of blessing us it will convict us of sin and make us miserable, and prompt our conscience to forget what we’ve read. That’s about like looking in the mirror and seeing dirt in our hair and food on our face, and then shrugging our shoulders, walking away and just forgetting about it. To hear a Bible lesson and not have it pierce our hearts and transform our lives is about like taking a quick, meaningless glance at a mirror.
 
We are greatly blessed by God’s word when we “look intently” into it and “abide by” its principles and precepts (verse 25). Read the Bible with great interest, as if your life depends upon understanding and obeying the message, because it really does. The word of God (specifically the New Testament) is “the perfect law” (verse 25). Through it God perfectly reveals to us everything He wants us to know and do to make us spiritually complete and right in His sight. It is a “law” that we must obey but it gives us “liberty” from the bondage of the sin that enslaves us.
 
I am a “forgetful hearer” but not intentionally and rarely from negligence. I just forget things easily. That’s why it is particularly important for me to “look intently” and linger long in the word of truth. I want to make certain that I retain what I have read and that I am an “effectual doer” of the word so that I will “be blessed”. Remember the words of Jesus: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25).
 
Please read James 1:26-27 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:19-21

Thursday, April 04, 2019
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Since we have been “brought…forth by the word of truth” (verse 18), we must be “quick to hear” what God has to tell us in it (verse 19). God’s people should have a ready and attentive mind that is eager to listen to His will and obey His commands so that we can please Him and be in the best position to receive “every good thing” that He wants to shower down upon us (verse 17). The “word implanted” is only “able to save” our “souls” when we hear it, “receive” it and obey it (verse 21)!
 
Friends, we don’t learn a thing by talking. In all of our interactions with others we should be “quick to hear” what they have to say, and “slow to speak” in return. Most people have the skill of talking down to a science, but the ability to be a good listener has become pretty much a lost art. A godly heart tries to listen intently to what people say, and gives a good bit of thought and consideration to its words and responses before speaking its mind. We can apologize for the hurtful things we say but it is impossible to “un-say” anything and take the hurt away.
 
The more eager we are to listen and the less impulsive we are with our responses, the slower we will be to anger. I feel confident that every time I have reacted in wrathfulness I’ve greatly regretted it. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Answering in anger is like pouring gasoline on a fire that is already burning out of control. There is no way we can be right with God when we allow wrath to rule our lives. The best thing to do (usually) is to pause and pray when we are angry, and even walk away if necessary, and return and respond when we have calmed our spirit. Easier said than done right!?
 
Please read James 1:22-25 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:16-18

Wednesday, April 03, 2019
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Contrary to tempting us to do evil (verse 13), our Father in heaven actually blesses us with “every good thing” and “every perfect gift” (verse 17). To believe otherwise would be the height of deception (verse 16) and to have our minds led astray from the truth. The gifts are always good because the Giver is only good. He who spoke light into existence is always pure and good and faithful. Unlike the Sun and stars in the sky, there is no “variation” in the light He provides as He neither shifts positions nor casts shadows as they do.
 
Please take the time to give thanks to the Father of lights for all of the blessings in your life. As the blessings are continually “coming down” the prayers should be ever going up. To quote Guy N. Woods in his Gospel Advocate commentary on these verses, “There is no admixture of evil in the goodness which he bestows; no obscuring shadow ever falls over him, hiding His goodness.” Our God is never changing and ever blessing!
 
The greatest gift that the Father bestows is eternal life through the sacrifice of His Son. When God “brought us forth by the word of truth” He gave us new life by “the word implanted which is able to save” our “souls” (verse 21). The first century Christians, and particularly the Jewish converts, were “a kind of first fruits” which was God’s guarantee of a greater harvest to come. We are the beneficiaries and the spiritual fruition of God’s early planting and ingathering.
 
Please read James 1:19-21 for tomorrow.
 
Have a wonderful day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:12-15

Tuesday, April 02, 2019
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Verse 12 is one of the many “beatitudes” of the Bible. It may not seem like a “blessed” thing at all when we are stuck in the middle of a fiery ordeal, but if we endure to the end we will meet with God’s approval and “receive the crown of life.” Jesus warned about the dangers of a superficial faith in Luke 8:13: “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” A strong faith that endures under trials requires deep roots.
 
James moves from external trials to internal temptations in verse 13. The easy thing to do is blame God for the temptations that beset us because He created us and does not insulate us from them. But, while God certainly does test us (Genesis 22:1), He never tempts us to do evil because no evil resides in Him and He has no desire for it. God actually equips us with the means to resist temptations by telling us to “flee” from them (2 Timothy 2:22), and by providing “a means of escape” when they arise (1 Corinthians 10:13).
 
James outlines the process by which temptations ensnare and destroy us. First, we allow ourselves to be “carried away” or “drawn away” from places of safety and security (verse 14). When we go places where sins allurements abound or place ourselves in situations that appeal to our weaknesses we set ourselves up for a hard fall. Like a fish we are drawn away from the safety of the brush by a shiny, sparkly lure with a deadly hook in it! Furthermore, we are “enticed by” our “own lust” so we have no one to blame but ourselves when we cave in to the temptation to sin!
 
When we flirt with temptation and court Satan’s desires for us, that unholy union implants the seeds of “lust” deeply within us (verse 15). There is a gestation period for lust and if we refuse to eradicate our evil desires they will continue to grow until they “give birth to sin.” Notice please that to lust is not necessarily to sin, but will inevitably lead to it if we continue to linger in the Devil’s bedroom.
 
Friend, here is the true and stark reality about sin: it offers no other outcome but to “bring forth death”!!! As physical death is the separation of our spirits from our bodies (James 2:26), spiritual death is the separation of our spirits from the God who created them (Isaiah 59:1-2; Ephesians 2:1-2)! The few moments of pleasure that lust and sin provide are not worth the lost eternity that will ensue because of them!
 
Of course you can be forgiven of your sins so all is not lost. If you gladly meet God on His terms you will be saved and restored. You must repent and be baptized to initially have your sins forgiven (Acts 2:3), and be saved (Mark 16:16). You must in “godly sorrow” repent of any sins you commit from that time forward (2 Corinthians 7:10).
 
Please read James 1:16-18 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:9-11

Monday, April 01, 2019
“But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
There are at least a couple of different ways to look at today’s verses. Set within the greater context of enduring trials when our faith is tested, James may be talking about drastic changes in financial circumstances. It is a great challenge to remain faithful to the Lord if a rich disciple should suddenly lose everything that he has (“his humiliation”). Stock market crashes have plunged many a man into the depths of depression and to thoughts of suicide.
 
It is equally if not more of a test for a poor Christian to remain faithful after the sudden acquisition of a financial windfall (“his high position”). Jesus said it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom (Matthew 19:24). But, all things are possible with God so we should give “glory” to the Lord for whatever changes that take place, and learn to be content in every circumstance that we may find ourselves in (Philippians 4:11). If we have the Lord we have every good thing we could ever need!
 
Another way to look at this passage, and my preferred position, is that death is the great equalizer of all mankind therefore it matters not whether you are rich or poor or somewhere in between (Ecclesiastes 2:12-16). A “brother of humble circumstances” has much reason to glory if he is rich toward God in his faith. All the riches of heaven are at his disposal. A “rich man is to glory” when he humbles himself before the Lord and makes God his Master and not his money. “Not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Life is short and our lives, like our money, will soon “fade away” (verse 11). But if we are storing up treasures in heaven we will “obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Peter 1:4).
 
Please read James 1:12-15 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:5-8

Sunday, March 31, 2019
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
It takes a good bit of wisdom to “consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials” (verse 2). Fortunately for us, God is more than willing to bestow this wisdom upon us if we will only “ask of” Him (verse 5). Our God is the greatest and most generous giver of all good gifts (verse 17), and this is one requested gift that our Lord will not refuse. If we truly desire to obey His will in all righteousness, like Solomon, God will gladly bestow the blessing of wisdom upon us if we humbly appeal to Him for it (2 Chronicles 1:11).
 
Knowledge is the accumulation of facts and information, and wisdom is the ability to use that knowledge in prudent and sensible ways. This does place the burden of responsibility upon us to read and study His living word to obtain the required knowledge, but God will give us the gift of wisdom if we do the reading and make the request. God gives us all good things, and generously, but we “must ask in faith without any doubting” (verse 6) if we hope to have our prayers answered in the affirmative.
 
“A double-minded man” (verse 8) is a person who simultaneously tries to keep one foot in the kingdom and the other in the world. He endeavors to “serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24), but actually lacks the ability to adequately serve either. We must seek the Lord with single-minded focus if we expect to have a healthy relationship with Him that produces a beneficial prayer life. Otherwise we will always be dismayed by “doubts”, as unpredictable as storm-tossed waves (verse 6), and “unstable” as a drunk trying to walk a straight line (verse 8). It is utterly absurd for a doubting, double-minded man to think he will receive “anything” form the Lord, let alone wisdom!
 
Ask of God, in faith, without any doubting, and it will be given unto you. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8). Please do not deceive yourself. You must truly seek His will if you expect to find His favor. May the Lord’s will always be done!
 
Please read James 1:9-11 for tomorrow.
 
Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:1-4

Saturday, March 30, 2019
“James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
James wrote this letter to encourage the twelve tribes who were “dispersed” or “scattered” abroad. When persecution arose against the church because of Saul’s aggression, many Christians “who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4). These brethren obviously did not allow discouragement to render them miserable and useless to the Lord. They clearly considered it “all joy” when they encountered “various trials” because of their faith (verse 2). Like the Apostles who were persecuted before them, “they went on their way…rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). We can and should learn from the faith exhibited by the early disciples.
 
God’s children should understand that the trials in our lives are there to serve a purpose, and that much good can come from them if we will allow it. When we have our faith tested and we withstand the trail through God’s grace and our trust in Him, that actually “produces endurance” or “patience” or “steadfastness” (verse 3). “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
 
We must allow this “endurance” to “have its perfect result, so that” we “may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (verse 4). Trials are designed to produce endurance, and endurance is designed to produce “perfection” or “maturity”. It is said of the Lord that He was perfected through sufferings (Hebrews 2:10). Jesus was going to allow no amount of hardship, pain or persecution to keep Him from accomplishing His Father’s will and the mission He was sent to the earth to perform and fulfill. He endured until it was finished because of “the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2), to be the Author of our salvation, and to help us to see our journey through till the end as well (Hebrews 2:9-11). We cannot afford to let our defenses down if we desire endurance to the very end of the way. God will make certain that we are “lacking in nothing” that we need if we will determine to “be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
 
Please read James 1:5-8 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Introduction to the general epistle of James

Friday, March 29, 2019
There is no way to know with certainty who wrote the letter ascribed to “James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1), but it is reasonable to believe that it was “James, the Lord’s brother” (Matthew 13:55; Galatians 1:19). Of the three prominent men spoken of in the New Testament that bore this name, one was the Apostle James (the brother of John), and he was martyred well before this letter was written (Acts 12:2). James the son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3) was also an Apostle so he would have likely introduced himself as such. James, the half-brother of Jesus, was a “pillar” (Galatians 2:9) in the church at Jerusalem, and a significant contributor at the Jerusalem Council of Acts chapter 15.
 
This letter was written “To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” (1:1). This could be a literal reference to the ethnic Jews of the dispersion who were scattered about the Roman Empire, but more likely is a figurative allusion to God’s chosen people, much like when Paul referred to Christians as “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). There are some particularly Jewish references, such as to their “synagogues” (2:2), and to Old Testament characters (2:21, 24; 5:10), but the author appeals to converted believers in a general fashion and his exhortations are not aimed at any particular ethnicity but are universal in nature. The author wrote to encourage Christians, many of which were likely Jewish, to live faithfully in the midst of trials, temptations and persecutions.
 
This letter has been called “the Gospel of Common Sense” by some and “the Proverbs of the New Testament” by others because of the seemingly disconnected, sage bits of wisdom and moral directives. Two prominent themes of the epistle are the appropriate usage of “the tongue” (our mouths or our words), and the importance of having an active, working, obedient faith. From this exquisite letter we learn that we must prove ourselves to be “doers of the word and not merely hearers” if we want to please God and be blessed (James 1:22, 25). We must love our neighbor as ourselves in order to fulfill the “royal law” (James 2:8). If we can learn to control what we say we will be “perfect” or “complete” (James 3:2). “Friendship with the world is hostility toward God,” but if we “resist the devil he will flee from” us (James 4:7). If we serve the Lord with patience He will deal with us in compassion and mercy (James 5:10-11). Of course, prayer helps a lot (James 5:16)!!!
 
Please read James 1:1-4 for tomorrow.
 
Have a wonderful day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 13:20-25

Thursday, March 28, 2019
“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you. Greet all of your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you. Grace be with you all.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The Hebrews writer wraps up his “brief” (verse 22) letter with a beautiful prayer for God to assist his brethren with their faithfulness, to complete (equip) them on earth, and to save them for eternity. “Peace” is not merely the absence of conflict, but is actually also the result of it. God does not promise to shield us from all struggles and skirmishes, but the battle belongs to the Lord and He does promise us the ultimate victory and eternal rest. “The God of peace” fights our battles for us and will soon “crush Satan under” our “feet” (Romans 16:20) if we remain true and faithful to Him.
 
If God “brought up from the dead” Jesus, “the great Shepherd,” He will bring us into His holy presence as well when He sends Christ back to retrieve the sheep of His flock. It was “through the blood” of Jesus (through His death) that the Father brought the Son back to life, and it is through His Precious, shed blood that He has given us new life and purchased our eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12). God has gone to great lengths to secure our salvation and He will help us to keep the faith by “working in us” (verse 21), but we must do everything that is within our power to be “pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ” our Lord (verse 22).
 
The moral of the Hebrews letter is stay faithful to the Lord no matter what! There will be times when Satan tempts us to give up but don’t you dare do it! We shall not escape God’s wrath if we “neglect so great a salvation” as this (Hebrews 2:3). Be sure to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16), and He will help you with your weaknesses and temptations. Take “refuge” and “strong encouragement” in the hope we have as “an anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:18-19), and remember that God is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6)!
 
Introduction to the book of James tomorrow Lord willing.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 13:15-19

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Christians are to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God” (verse 15). Unlike the priests under God’s previous covenant who were restricted by the time and place and number of the sacrifices they offered, we can and should present our spiritual offerings before the Lord continually. “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). From a heart filled with gratitude we should submit our praises to the Lord in song and prayer, both publicly and privately, and ever be proclaiming His grace and glory to the people we know and meet.
 
Proper and pleasing praise to God is not only the kind that is “offered up” from our “lips” to Him, but also the type that is sacrificed by our hands to our needy brethren. Our acts of kindness must be consistent with our words of worship. We dishonor God when we heap praises and thanksgiving upon Him, but then neglect to honor Him with merciful displays of benevolence toward our needy brethren in Christ. “Doing good and sharing” are sacrifices that “God is pleased” with (verse 16).
 
In a local fold, both the sheep and the shepherds have responsibilities toward one another. God requires the members to “obey” their leaders and “submit to them” (verse 17). We must we willing to follow the lead of our shepherds as they guide us by wisdom and protect us by experience because they “keep watch over our souls.” Dangers and pitfalls and ravenous wolves abound which threaten our spiritual welfare so it “would be unprofitable” for us, to say the least, to ignore their righteous guidance.
 
It is the elders’ responsibility to “shepherd the flock of God among” them, “exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to” their “charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3). As the Hebrews writer needed the prayers of his brethren (verse 18), so the Lord’s elders need the prayers of the Lord’s people. They have the toughest and most important job in the universe!
 
Please read Hebrews 13:20-25.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 13:8-14

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
If we are not firmly anchored in the word of truth, we can “be carried away by varied and strange teachings” (verse 9). The philosophies and fads of this world are ever-changing, but Jesus Christ and His perfect doctrine is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (verse 8). Cling to the Truth and you will not be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14), even if you are the only one to not get swept away.
 
This is the final time the Hebrews writer emphasizes the superiority of our covenant in Christ over the Law of Moses. Many of these Jewish Christians were socially ostracized by their family and friends (including the eating of common meals) because of their stand for Christ and their break from the conditions of Judaism with its various animal sacrifices. But instead of being left out in the cold, the author flips the script and stresses that it is actually Christians that occupy the real place of privilege as “priests” (1 Peter 2:9) before the true “altar” of God, and the unbelievers are the ones who “have no right to eat” there or commune with the God of heaven (verse 10).
 
Fellow believers, if it comes down to a choice between the fellowship of family and friends or faithfully following Jesus, eternal life in Christ is the only wise choice. Even if we are banished from society because of our fidelity to our Lord, we “are seeking the city which is to come,” the “lasting” one that God promises to His faithful citizens (verse 14). As Jesus suffered a shameful death “outside the gate” of Jerusalem (verse 12), these Hebrew brethren were encouraged to follow “Him outside the camp” of their unbelieving Jewish companions and share in “His reproach” (verse 13). To suffer with Jesus is a badge of honor that has an eternal reward attached to it.
 
Please read Hebrews 13:15-19 for tomorrow.
 
Have a super day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 13:5-7

Monday, March 25, 2019
“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’ Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Being “content with what you have” is, in essence, being content with God. If all we have in this whole, wide world is a healthy relationship with the Great I Am, then we have everything that we could ever possibly need. I really love what the Lord said to Aaron in Numbers 18:20: “You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel.” When we have the Lord, we have all the blessings, peace and riches of heaven with us at all times.
 
God has promised if we seek Him first that He will provide everything that we truly need in life (Matthew 6:33; Hebrews 11:6). If we are filled with greed and “the love of money,” we place the focus of our future welfare upon our own abilities. When we are “content with what” we have, we place our trust in God and His ability and willingness to provide for us. With the Lord as our “Helper,” we will never be in want (Psalm 23:1), and we should never “be afraid” (verse 7).
 
We should always remember the faithful spiritual leaders “who spoke the word of God” to us (verse 7), and have now gone on to their eternal reward. We should honor their memory, but more importantly, we should “imitate their faith.” If we follow the godly examples of the men and women of faith who have gone on to join that “great cloud of witnesses” who are now cheering us on to the finish line (12:1), we will prove to be good examples to follow for those who come after us.
 
I am including verse 8 in today and tomorrow’s reading because it is a bridge between verse 7 and verse 9. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Our former spiritual leaders and teachers were rock-solidly consistent in their faith because they knew that Jesus and His word never changes. We can depend on our perfect Lord and His perfect revelation to always be reliable and true, therefore we must try our best to be reliable and true as well. We must not be “carried away by varied and strange teachings” (verse 9), but rather be steadfast and true to the Truth.
 
Please read Hebrews 13:8-14 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 13:1-4

Sunday, March 24, 2019
“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The author wraps up his letter with some exhortations that would have helped the struggling brethren stay faithful to Christ in their daily walk. He begins his list of “do’s and don’ts” by encouraging these Hebrew Christians (and us) to “let love of the brethren continue” toward one another (verse 1). Brotherly love is at the heart of every item on this list so it is not a coincidence that he begins with this appeal to the kind consideration of the needs and wellbeing of their (our) brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
“Hospitality” literally means “the love of strangers” or “friendship to strangers” (verse 2). It was very important and valued in this old, eastern culture to welcome travelers into a person’s house and provide them shelter, comfort and nourishment. It would be even more appropriate for Christians to accommodate their travelling brethren in Christ and show them the love of the Lord, and especially in this climate that was so hostile to believers, even if the visitor was a total stranger. Truth be known, there should be no strangers in the Lord’s church because we are all of the same “Spirit and blood” family.
 
Many brethren were wrongfully imprisoned for their forthright fidelity to Jesus Christ. People who suffer for the cause of Christ should be “remembered” (verse 3) in various and beneficial ways. Most importantly, we can and should pray for Christians who have fallen upon hard times because the fervent prayers of God’s beloved accomplishes much good (James 5:16). We should also set our prayers into motion with visits, calls, cards and assistance by using any resources that we have at our fingertips to help a needy brother or sister. If we just pray for them to “be warmed and to be filled, and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:16-17)
 
“Marriage is to be held in honor among all” (verse 4). Unfortunately in our current culture, the sanctity of the marriage vows has been reduced to the status of a “pinky-swear” made on a playground. Matrimony has become more like kids “playing house,” and when the children get tired of the game, they just quit. But Christians must remain loyal to the spouse of their covenant if they desire to please their Lord. If we choose to be unfaithful to our marriage vows then we cannot be faithful to the God who created the honorable union of marriage, and to cheat on our spouse is to cheat on Him. If we play the infidel or cast our spouse aside like yesterday’s news paper, God will “judge,” or literally, “condemn” us; and the Lord’s condemnation of “fornicators and adulterers” applies to “all” people whether they are Christians or not.
 
Please read Hebrews 13:5-7 for tomorrow.
 
Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 12:25-29

Saturday, March 23, 2019
“See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more, denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
God “is speaking” to us “from heaven” through His Son Jesus (Hebrews 1:2), and His living, sharp, powerful word (Hebrews 4:12). The word “Gospel” means “glad tidings” or “good news,” but it is also loaded with warnings for those who refuse to hear it and obey it, and for those who turn away “from Him who warns from heaven” (verse 25). If God’s chosen people of His previous, earthly kingdom suffered the penalty for disobedience, we are foolish to think that will escape the notice and the wrath of God if we reject His superior, spiritual, eternal kingdom.
 
Friend, when God “shakes the earth” one final time, all that will remain is the “kingdom which cannot be shaken” (verse 28). Jesus is God’s best and final offer to draw mankind close to Him, and the church of Christ is the only safe place for a person to be when the Lord returns to destroy the physical universe and judge all the people He created. When the Lord returns for the final time, it will be to deliver up the kingdom to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24). If you do not “receive” the kingdom which cannot be shaken, you will be destroyed along with everything that can.
 
The proper response to God’s gracious offer of salvation through His Son and His church kingdom is to “show gratitude” for His unparalleled gift (verse 28). How aggravated and offended does it make you feel when you give someone a very generous gift from the kindness of your heart, and then they just show no appreciation for it whatsoever? Friend, God is offering you the most generous gift that is worth more than the whole world and all that is contained within it. He is extending the gift of eternal life, in heaven, with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. This should fill your heart “with reverence and awe” and motivate you to dedicate your life to Him in “acceptable service” (verse 28). If you refuse, all you have to look forward to is the “consuming fire” of His wrath and indignation for having such an ungrateful heart.
 
Please read Hebrews 13:1-4 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 12:18-24

Friday, March 22, 2019
“For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, ‘If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.’ And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, ‘I am full of fear and trembling.’ But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The Hebrews writer brings his contrasts of the old, inferior law and covenant and God’s new and better way made available through Jesus to a grand and climactic conclusion at the end of chapter 12. Verses 18-21 condense the events recorded in Exodus 19 where God gave the old law at Mount Sinai into one, frightening and forbidding vignette by way of contrast to the beautiful and welcoming access that we have to the Father through the sacrifice of His Beloved Son in verses 22-24.
 
All of the sights and sounds associated with the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai relayed the message that the people must be careful to keep their distance! God’s appearance was accompanied by “thunder and lightning flashes” (Exodus 19:16) and the “gloom” of a dark cloud (verse 18). God called His assembly together with the blast of the ram’s horn, and the nearer the Lord approached, “the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder” (Exodus 18:19). The Lord descended upon the mountain “in fire” and “the whole mountain quaked violently” (Exodus 18:18). Everything about this momentous event was, in a word — “TERRIFYING!”.
 
But, through Jesus, God’s people have been granted a gracious entrance into the great spiritual city of “Zion,” “the heavenly Jerusalem” (verse 22). This is the city that Abraham was “looking for” and “which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (11:10). Through Jesus we have come to the gathering of “myriads” (10,000’s) of angels, the very ones who rejoice in heaven when sinners obey the Gospel (Luke 15:10), and who also surround God’s throne at the ready to welcome us into His presence.
 
Through Jesus we have come “to the general assembly of the church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (verse 23). Even though we live on earth, our citizenship is actually in heaven (Philippians 3:20) where we will dwell for eternity if we live our lives in obedient faith until death. In earthly families there is only one “firstborn” child, but the word is used in the plural in today’s passage. All of God’s spiritual children hold this special status of privilege and all eagerly await an equal, eternal inheritance.
 
And friend, if you live and die as a faithful Christian, you are not only promised a glorious inheritance in the heavenly city, you will actually come into the presence of “God” Himself! To literally dwell in intimate fellowship with the Lord who created us in His image is the ultimate satisfaction to the greatest longing of our immortal spirits. But, while this is meant to convey an image of great security and comfort, the author also emphasizes that God is “the Judge of all” (verse 23) and He is not one to be trifled with. We must have a healthy fear and respect for our Judge if we want to dwell with Him in familial companionship as our Father in heaven forever.
 
Please read Hebrews 12:25-29 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day.
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 12:12-17

Thursday, March 21, 2019
“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Sometimes we need to “reach back for something extra” as the old sports cliché goes. Every so often we feel spiritually “weak” and “feeble” (verse 12)—drained from the stresses of our perpetual endurance race. It is at times like these that we need to strengthen our resolve to push ourselves forward (with God’s help of course) along the course of truth and righteousness. During our weakest moments, we run a great risk of deviating from the “straight” and narrow “path” that leads to heaven above (verse 13). Giving up may seem like the easy thing to do, but seeking the path of least resistance will only take us from bad to worse. When we return to the world we go from weak to “lame,” but if we turn to the Lord we will “be healed”.
 
God expects us to “pursue peace with all men” (verse 14) even when they are determined to ridicule and mistreat us. It is only natural for us to feel resentment and become bitter because of rough treatment, disappointments and unmet expectations, but this will only cause us to fall “short of the grace of God” (verse 15). The Lord has redeemed us for our purification and “sanctification,” and we will not “see the Lord” if we become embittered instead. A bitter root only produces bitter fruit. When we grow distrustful and angry because of the difficulties associated with following God, our own bitterness can cause “many” to “be defiled”. Christian beware! Pessimism is a highly contagious spiritual disease!
 
Esau is a prime of example of what becomes of a worldly (“immoral”) person who is only concerned with his physical comfort and the satisfaction of his natural desires. He was so short-sighted that he willingly traded the long-term future benefits of his “own birthright for a single meal” (verse 16) that provided minimal, temporary gratification. This single episode was emblematic of his approach to life, and the fallout of this one, rash decision affected the course of his life for many years to come. Later, when he lost his father’s blessing as well as his birthright, he was filled with rage and bitterness toward his brother Jacob, but he had no one to blame but himself. When he begged for a blessing of his own, it was just too late to do anything about it.
 
Friends, be careful of rash, foolish decisions that can set you on a course of physical and spiritual destruction. Learn from the example of Esau that it is just not worth it. But, unlike Esau, please do not learn this lesson when it is too late.
 
Please read Hebrews 12:18-24 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 12:4-11

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.’ It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Things are seldom as bad as they seem. We often tend to think that our problems are of the severest magnitude until we consider things from their proper perspective. We may struggle with serious persecution, temptation, loss or pain, but we “have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood” as Jesus did (verse 4). Bloodshed may be required of us some day in the future in our striving against sin, but our struggles pale in comparison to the ordeals that Jesus went through in order to secure our salvation. Once again, look to the suffering and faithfulness of Jesus to keep the proper perspective on your life and your problems (verse 3).
 
We are in a perpetual state of training. God is conditioning us by our trials in order to further develop our spiritual endurance and stamina to deal with the next affliction that life throws our way. If “it is for discipline you endure” then “God deals with you as with sons” (verse 7). As much as it hurts us to see our children struggle in life, good parents do not remove all difficulties and obstacles from the path of their youngsters. A healthy dose of “tough love” is frequently tougher on the parents than the kiddos, and they prove their resiliency time and time again as they not only recover from setbacks but often flourish because of them. View life’s difficulties as the discipline (teaching, training) of a loving Father.
 
God is the Father of our spirits (verse 9). Our parents passed on our genetic makeup to us through the combination of their chromosomes, but God has created our “inner person” in His eternal, spiritual image. “The dust” that our flesh was formed from “will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). If we allow our trials to shape us closer to the form of “His holiness” (verse 10), He will produce the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” within us that will burgeon and blossom throughout our time on earth and into timeless eternity.
 
Please read Hebrews 12:12-17 for tomorrow.
 
Stay strong! It won’t be very long!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 12:1-3

Tuesday, March 19, 2019
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Faith is an endurance race that does not pay off in the end unless we finish what we start. What a shame and pity it is to see a faithful brother or sister in Christ run the race with endurance for years and even decades only to abandon the course late in life and so very near to the finish line. The race, the course, the finish line, the prize is ever “set before us” so we must keep looking forward to the good things that lie ahead and not the worldly foolishness that we have left in the dust. We must cast aside “every encumbrance and the sin” that weighs us down and trips us up as we pace the path to perfection (verse 1).
 
All the heroes of faith mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11 are set as “a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us” and encouraging us to finish the race. They are figuratively “cheering from the grandstand” as we run the course, but their stellar examples are also figures of accountability holding us responsible to keep following in their footsteps. The greatest and perfect example is, of course, Jesus—“the author and perfecter of faith” (verse 2). He ran the race perfectly from start to finish, and unlike the heroes of chapter 11, He has actually “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
 
Please, if you ever just feel like giving up and cashing out, look to Jesus through the eyes of faith. “Consider Him who has endured” more “hostility,” grief, pain and fatigue than you could ever possibly encounter (verse 3). Consider Him whose grit and determination to endure the cross and finish the race had everything to do with His undying love for you. As a matter of fact, don’t just consider Him during the periods of pain and strife. Keep your eyes fixed on Him always—through the good times and bad. Eyes straight ahead. Locked on Jesus. Keep looking, reaching, pushing forward!
 
Please read Hebrews 12:4-11 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 11:39-40

Monday, March 18, 2019
“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
We, like these forefathers and heroes, gain God’s approval by our faith. If they could remain faithful to God through all the trials, adversities and persecutions that they were exposed to, then we can live lives of obedient faith to the very end as well. What’s more is they knew that God had something better in store for His people, both through the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah and in eternity. “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance” they “confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (verse13).
 
God had better promises in the works and his faithful “welcomed them from a distance,” even though they did not have a complete (perfect) understanding of these things as we do after the fact (1 Peter 1:2). They would have loved to have lived in the position of privilege which we occupy in the kingdom of heaven here in these last days, but they knew that this earth was not their home and that God had a glorious eternity awaiting them just the same. It is often debated whether God’s children under His former covenants had an understanding of eternal life after death. It is obvious from the book of Hebrews that His loyal servants most certainly did, and that they will share the splendor of heaven with us when we are perfected with all His saints in glory on that great day.
 
Please read Hebrews 12:1-3 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 11:35-38

Sunday, March 17, 2019
“Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
God resurrected the sons of the widow of Zarephath through Elijah (1 Kings 17), and the Shunammite woman through Elisha (2 Kings 4). As remarkable as these resurrections to temporary life were, and the exemplary faith that accompanied them, all of God’s faithful children will “obtain a better resurrection” still (verse 35). The Hebrews writer cites some unnamed martyrs who “were tortured, not accepting their release” because they refused to renounce their obedient faith in the one, true God of Creation. We have no biblical record of situations such as this, but uninspired tradition says that the prophet Amos was tortured and killed for his faith.
 
“Many students of Hebrews have suggested that the author has in mind a story from the intertestamental period that is recorded in 2 Maccabees 6 and 7. As the story goes, the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes, who controlled Palestine at the time, decided to enforce Hellenization upon the Jews, outlawed Torah observances, and rededicated the Jerusalem temple to the Greek god Zeus. Local officials tried to force a man named Eleazar, a scribe, to eat pig meat. When he steadfastly refused, he was put on the ‘rack’ and beaten to death. Seven brothers and their mother were subjected to the same pressure. They were ‘arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and cords to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh’ (2 Macc 7:1 RSV). When the brothers indicated that they would rather die than eat unclean food, they were tortured to death one at a time, and then their mother. The last words of all eight of the characters are recorded, and the fourth brother said ‘One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him (7:14 RSV).” ("A Commentary on Hebrews" by David McClister, page 433, Florida College Press 2010)
 
Many of God’s faithful beloved “experienced mockings and scorgings…chains and imprisonment” (verse 36); “were stoned…tempted…put to death with the sword…destitute, afflicted, ill-treated” (verse 37); all in the name of faithfulness to the God who raises the dead to glorious, eternal life. Jewish tradition tells us that it was actually the prophet Isaiah who was “sawn in two” by the evil king Manasseh of Judah. Friends, if these men and women were willing to DIE for their faith in God, surely it is not too much to ask of us to LIVE for Him a life of faith, love, trust and obedience.
 
Please read Hebrews 11:39-40 for tomorrow.
 
We would love for you to come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a great Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 11:30-34

Saturday, March 16, 2019
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
What was the defining aspect of the faith that brought the walls of Jericho down? It was obedience. There was no logical connection between marching around a walled city for seven days and then having the walls fall down flat. Typically it took several months or even years of careful, methodic planning and execution of military strategy in order to defeat an ancient city fortified with sturdy walls. But Israel accomplished it in seven days because they did exactly what God told them to do. It was the power of God appropriated by the obedient faith of His people that conquered the city of Jericho. When we believe and do what God says, no matter how peculiar it may sound, amazing things can happen.
 
Faith saved “Rahab the harlot” alone out of all the inhabitants of Jericho because she believed that “the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11); and she acted on this conviction when she “welcomed the spies in peace” (verse 31). By faith kingdoms have been conquered, the mouths of lions have been shut (verse 33), armies have been put to flight, and death by fire and sword has been escaped (verse 34). But, as we will see in tomorrow’s reading, faith did not always provide rescue from physical torture and death. Some of faith’s greatest champions did not escape the edge of the sword, but it is precisely because of this that they “obtained promises” that are much more precious than life itself. Only faith can give us the strength to endure the unthinkable for the name of God.
 
Please read Hebrews 11:35-38 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 11:23-29

Friday, March 15, 2019
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The Hebrews writer had previously insisted that the word of Christ is greater than the Law of Moses (chapter 1), and that Jesus is to be greatly exalted over the old, Hebrew Law giver (chapter 3). But, lest someone think the author was disparaging arguably the greatest leader in Jewish history, he now shows us that the story of Moses was one of faithfulness from the very beginning. When Moses was just a baby, his godly parents risked their own lives by disobeying a direct edict from the most powerful lawgiver in Egypt in order to save their “beautiful” child (verse 23).
 
When Moses had “grown up” (verse 24) he came to the firm realization that the “passing pleasures of sin” were not a satisfactory substitute for a spiritual relationship with God (verse 25). Just think of all the wealth, privilege and power that Moses willingly chose to forfeit to be true to His Lord, and all the “ill-treatment” he was forced to endure to be loyal to his people. But Moses’ faith was forward-looking. He was “looking to the reward” (verse 26) of genuine, heavenly riches and not the kind that rusted and cankered in the king’s coffers in Egypt. He could “see” “Him who was unseen” (verse 27).
 
It takes real, spiritual maturity to choose to divorce yourself from the sinful culture in which you live, and it requires true, spiritual vision to see that sin’s pleasures are fleeting, physically harmful and eternally destructive. To be faithful like Moses, we must understand that we cannot serve wealth and God, self and God, sin and God simultaneously. We must make a choice every day of our lives. Choose wisely friends. Choose to be faithful to Jesus even if you must suffer “reproach” for doing so (verse 26). “If anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:16). If we endure with Him we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12).
 
Please read Hebrews 11:30-34 for tomorrow.
 
Hope you all have a wonderful day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 11:17-22

Thursday, March 14, 2019
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your descendants shall be called.’ He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
When our faith is being tested upon this earth, it may seem like God’s commands contradict or interfere with His promises, but they never do. Like father Abraham, we need to believe and know that no situation is too difficult for God to handle (Genesis 18:14), even though we may be powerless to work things out for ourselves. When the Lord commanded Abraham to offer up Isaac on the altar of sacrifice, Abraham did not falter or fail the test of his faith, even though all of God’s promised posterity rested upon Isaac’s prosperity.
 
When God tested him, Genesis 22:3 tells us that “Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey…and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” What empowered Abraham to obey this unthinkable command? By faith he was fully convinced that God was willing and able to keep all of His promises, even if it required raising Isaac from the dead in order to do so (verse 19).
 
Biblical faith is always forward-looking in nature. Complete trust and confidence in and commitment to God will empower us to look past the problematic present and into the fantastic future. This was true with Abraham, and also with Isaac (verse 20), Jacob (verse 21) and Joseph (verse 22). All of these men looked forward to the future fulfillment of God’s promises, even as they were stooped at death’s doorstep.
 
Isaac expressed faith in the future fulfillment of God’s promises as he blessed his sons, Jacob and Esau as an old man near death. The same is true with Jacob as he blessed Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh. And Joseph expressed complete faith in God and trust in the future exodus of Israel from Egypt and his participation in it by giving orders to bury his bones in the Promised Land. Faithful friends, God will cause all things to work together for your good if you will only love and trust and obey Him (Romans 8:28), no matter how tough things may seem.
 
Please read Hebrews 11:23-29 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 11:13-16

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”

---End of Scripture verses---

It has been appointed for all men (people) once to die, and then comes the Judgment (Hebrews 9:27). This is a very stark and startling reality, but not for the relatively few who have “died in faith” (verse 13). People who live in faith cling to God’s promises of a glorious eternity no matter how far off in the “distance” that may seem. When they come to the end of life’s way God transforms His precious promises into a marvelous reality. Taken in this context, we can understand the perplexing statement of Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.”

We are all “strangers and exiles on the earth” (verse 13) even though most people do not live their lives in a way that expresses this truth. Those who admit with their words and confess through obedience to God that they are just wayfaring strangers “make it clear that they are seeking” a much better “country of their own” (verse 14). Take great comfort and cheer in knowing that your dearly-departed, faithful loved ones have gone on ahead to dwell in the “city” that God has “prepared for them” (verse 16). They wouldn’t come back to this world of pain and suffering for all the money in the world, but they are eagerly waiting for you to come join them in the beautiful city of God.

Faith is the victory, friend, that overcomes the world. Loving, trusting, obedient faith in the God who makes the most magnificent promises, and who cannot possibly lie (Titus 1:2). See God’s promises through the eyes of faith and you will understand that they are as good as done. Put your hand to the plow and never give a consideration to looking back over your shoulder at what you left behind. Nothing in the false and fading glory of this world is worth giving up the eternal splendor of heaven for.

Please read Hebrews 11:17-22 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

Hebrews 11:8-12

Tuesday, March 12, 2019
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
When Abraham was called by God he obeyed (verse 8). He didn’t make any excuses or protests and he didn’t ask any questions. He just got up and went into a distant and foreign land as the Lord had directed him to do (Genesis12:4). People of faith understand that, as long as the Lord is with them, it doesn’t matter where they live or what may happen to them. As long as they live faithfully to God, He will take perfect care of them. As the old hymn tells us, anywhere with Jesus we can safely go.
 
Even though the Lord had promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and to his descendants, he lived his entire earthly life as a nomad “dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob” (verse 9). A tent is a temporary structure and is the perfect symbol for the transitory nature of our home and life on this terrestrial plane. Life is short and eternity is forever and it is best to fix our hopes completely upon God and His precious promises. People of faith understand that this world is not their home and they are just a passin’ through.
 
Father Abraham was “looking for the city which has foundations” (verse 10). He had no problem frequently pulling up stakes and moving his temporary shelter to a new locale because he had his sights set on a permanent dwelling in the heavenly realm. No matter where we may choose or be forced to live on earth, by faith we understand that our true citizenship and permanent address in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Our eternal inheritance and treasures are stored up somewhere beyond the blue as we march on to Zion the beautiful city of God.
 
God is faithful to all His promises (verse 11). He promises to reward us greatly if we follow Him faithfully. He promises to destroy us eternally if we are faithless and disobedient (Hebrews 10:27). God still calls His children to follow Him today as He did father Abraham. He calls us out of the world and into His kingdom through the Gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:14). He calls (commands) us to believe in His Son Jesus (John 3:16), and to confess our faith in Him (Matthew 10:32-33). He commands us to repent of our sins and be baptized to have them forgiven (Acts 2:38). If we live faithfully until death He promises us eternal life (Revelation 2:10).
 
Please read Hebrews 11:13-16 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 11:1-7

Monday, March 11, 2019
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Faith is assurance. Faith is conviction. Even though we cannot see the end result of what we hope for, by faith we know that God will do what He has promised, therefore we must do what He has commanded. Faith is not blind; in fact it is forward “looking”. We can firmly believe in God and His promises because He has made His existence, power, goodness and faithfulness “visible” by the things He has made and the good that He has done.
 
By faith we “understand” that God spoke the “worlds” into existence (verse 3). People of faith are keenly aware that there is much more within the vast realm of existence than meets the human eye. Biblical faith produces a clear and calm comprehension within our minds that an eternal, all-powerful Spirit is the best answer for the creation and existence of the physical universe. Some of the ancient patriarchs (“the men of old”) are set forth as models of faith which we are to emulate today if we want to gain God’s approval.
 
The author does not give us a comprehensive definition of what faith is but he does give us brief glimpses into what people of faith do (not just what they believe). People of faith, like Abel, offer the very best sacrifices they have to give to God (verse 4) and take His authorized forms of worship very seriously. People of faith, like Enoch, love the Lord with all their heart, mind and strength, therefore they put their very heart and soul into “pleasing God” (verse 5). People of faith, Like Noah, have “reverence” for the Lord and do His will no matter how difficult the task may seem (verse 7).
 
When people of faith serve God according to the dictates of inspired revelation they “condemn the world” and receive His reward. They condemn the world by their actions and not with harsh words of contempt and derision (verse 7), and they please their “Rewarder” (verse 6) by diligently seeking and giving priority to His kingdom and righteousness above all earthly endeavors. We can be faithful like righteous Abel, godly Enoch and steadfast Noah if we choose to be. Turning away from the Lord who owned them was not a consideration to these loyal servants. God’s people of faith do not quit.
 
Please read Hebrews 11:8-12 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 10:32-39

Sunday, March 10, 2019
“But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The Hebrews writer appealed to the past experiences of his struggling brethren to remind them that they could remain faithful to the Lord during times of trial and tribulation. Sometime after they were converted (“enlightened”) they “endured a great conflict of sufferings” (verse 32). They had been mocked and ridiculed and some of them had even been imprisoned and had their personal property confiscated because of their faith in Jesus Christ (verse 33).
 
The author wrote that they had “accepted” this persecution “joyfully” because of their strong trust in the Lord’s faithfulness and His “great reward” for their faithfulness (verse 35). Unfortunately they were growing weaker in their faith and not stronger with the passing of time. But, since they had withstood Satan’s ambushes in the past, that proved that they could do so again.
 
Discipleship in Christ Jesus is a lifelong “endurance” race (verse 36). We must keep stretching forward to the finish line to receive the “reward” that the Lord has “promised” those who persevere to very end. If we “shrink back” from the Lord and cower away out of fear and frustration that will only spell our eternal doom and “destruction” (verse 39). If we abandon our faith to escape suffering the relief will only be temporary and the pain will be everlasting.
 
We can learn from the prior good example left by these Hebrew brethren that “we have a better possession and a lasting one” when we suffer loss for the sake of Christ (verse 34). Let’s make sure that we are storing our treasures in the proper place with the best Keeper. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
 
Today’s verses are the perfect lead-in to the examples of those heroes who endured affliction for the highest and permanent riches of heaven in Faith’s Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11).
 
Please read Hebrews 11:1-7 for tomorrow.
 
We would love for you to come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a great Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 10:26-31

Saturday, March 09, 2019

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

---End of Scripture verses---

The Hebrew writer has belabored the point that everything involved in God’s previous covenant with Israel was just a copy, a pattern, a shadow, a flimsy precursor to the excellency and supremacy of His new covenant offered through His Beloved Son and inaugurated through His shed blood. If this is true with all the wonderful blessings that are available through the genuine, spiritual realities in Christ, the author emphasizes to us in today’s verses that it is equally true with punishment for rejecting the Son of His love.

The writer uses one of his typical “lesser to the greater” arguments to show us that, if punishment for violating the Law of Moses was severe (verse 28), then punishment for disobeying “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2) will be harsher still (verse 29). To be clear, faithful Christians who commit sins of ignorance or who sin in moments of weakness are not under consideration in this passage. The violators targeted here are those who “go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth” (verse 26). Those who blatantly and deliberately turn their backs on their Savior and His gracious sacrifice face the certainty of a “terrifying” eternity administered by the “vengeance” of “the hands of the living God” (verses 30-31).

The writer uses three vivid illustrations in verse 29 to describe what God’s covenant people do when they abandon their faith in Jesus and spurn God’s perfect and final sacrifice for the sins that defile them. (1) They “trample under foot the Son of God." To come to know and love Jesus and then cast Him aside is to treat Him as a piece of garbage that they would just throw on the ground and then walk over. (2) They “regard as unclean the blood of the covenant by which” they were “sanctified”. They treat the most precious blood that Jesus shed with contempt, dishonor and shame. (3) They “insult the Spirit of grace.” To reject God’s best and final offer of salvation is to offend and infuriate the Father who loved, the Son who saved, and the Spirit who revealed God’s loving plan of salvation. (Could this be the "unpardonable" sin of "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit"?)

 

Friend, there is no middle ground with God. You either stand with Him or against Him. You accept His offer of salvation and faithfully obey, or you refuse and suffer the eternal consequences. And the consequences are “terrifying”—a word the Holy Spirit uses twice (verses 27 and 30) to emphasize the horrific nature of the punishment. “The fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (verse 27). God is love. But God is also a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 2:29). All praise be to Him, however, because He gives us the choice to obey and live!!! God wants to be close to us, that’s why He sent His Son to die for us (verse 22). “Draw near!”

Please read Hebrews 10:32-39 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 10:19-25

Friday, March 08, 2019
“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
All of the confidence that a Christian possesses is supplied by “the blood of Jesus” (verse 19). That is to say, by what He accomplished for us by his self-sacrifice through the atoning work of His shed blood. We can confidently (boldly) enter “the holy place” and approach the very presence of God and have intimate fellowship with Him because our “great Priest” (verse 21) and Forerunner has opened (“inaugurated”) the way for us into heaven itself. This is the “new and living way”—not through a lifeless curtain with dead animal blood, but through the reviving sacrifice and eternal life of Jesus.
 
Under the old covenant “the veil” of the tabernacle (and afterward the temple) was a physical reminder of the barrier that existed between God and His people. Only the high priest could enter through that veil, and then only one time per year, in order to approach God in the most holy place. But Jesus grants all of God’s children access into the presence of the Father in heaven through the veil of “His flesh” (verse 20). Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life” and “no one comes to the Father but through” Him and the sacrifice of His body on the cross (John 14:6).
 
The only way we can “draw near” to God is to do so with a “sincere heart in the full assurance of faith” (verse 22). “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (11:6). And this dynamic faith must issue forth from an honest, sincere and pure heart. We must allow our whole person to be cleansed and purified by the blood of Christ so that we can be clean “inside and out” so to speak (heart, conscience and body), in order to have true communion with our God (verse 22).
 
This confidence we have to enter into the holy place through our faith and Christ’s blood prompts us to do three things: (1) Draw near (verse 22). (2) Hold fast (verse 23). (3) Stimulate one another (verse 24). At all times, but especially during times of stress and difficulty, we should draw near to the throne of grace from which we draw strength and help in our time of need. We should cling to our faith and our hope in our Lord and His promises ever so tightly and withstand the urge to let go of our lifeline. And we should “not forsake our own assembling together” (verse 25) where we find encouragement and stimulation for “love and good deeds” (verse 24).
 
Every day of our lives draws us closer to Judgment Day. As we “see the day drawing near,” we must give strong consideration to three vital truths: (1) We need the Lord and His strength. (2) We need strong conviction in our faith. (3) We need the stimulation and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Do not be so foolish as to abandon the Lord, your faith, and God’s people during times of trials and testing. These are the times you need them all the more urgently.
 
Please read Hebrews 10:26-31 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 10:11-18

Thursday, March 07, 2019
“Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, ‘THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,’ He then says, ‘AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.’ Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The Hebrew writer continues to argue from Hebrew Scripture for the superiority of Jesus our High Priest and perfect sacrifice and His new covenant over the old sacrificial system and covenant. Notice in verses 11 & 12 the contrast between how the old priests needed to “stand daily” and offer sacrifices, while Christ “sat down” after making “one sacrifice for sins for all time.” Jesus accomplished in His single self-sacrifice what the Levitical priests could not accomplish in their numerous, multiple, repetitive animal offerings. The fact that Jesus “sat down at the right hand of God” after His death emphasizes that He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah, and He finalized God’s plan of salvation. Even though His sacrificial work is finished, He “ever lives to make intercession” for us at the Father’s right hand (7:25).
 
By Jesus’ “one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (verse 14). We must be careful not to read too much into this statement, but to consider it within the overarching point the author is making. The emphasis is still on what Jesus was able to accomplish for us with just “one offering”. This verse does not teach that Jesus has made us perfectly sinless and perpetually sanctified. Christians are prone to stray from God’s will and we are in peril of falling from God’s grace if we refuse to repent and persevere faithfully to the end (Hebrews 3:12-14). We are “perfected” in the sacrifice and system of faith in Christ because all necessary requirements for forgiveness have been fulfilled and nothing has been left wanting as with the old sacrificial system. Jesus has provided genuine atonement, complete cleansing and personal access to the Father.
 
The author highlights two amazing benefits offered through Christ’s new covenant in verses 16-17. The fact that God writes His laws upon our hearts signifies the intimate, internal relationship that Christ provides for us with the Father. And, unlike the old sacrificial system that could not cleanse the conscience (verse 2), but actually served as a “reminder of sins year by year” (verse 3), through the shedding of Christ’s blood God “will remember no more” our “sins” and “lawless deeds”. Through the death of Jesus the debt for our sins has been paid in full. “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)!
 
Please read Hebrews 10:19-25 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 9:23-28

Tuesday, March 05, 2019
“Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Everything about God’s present and final covenant with mankind is “better” than the old one He had with Israel. The true tabernacle of heaven (Hebrews 9:11) in which our permanent High Priest (Hebrews 7:24) serves is better than the old “copies” that once existed on the earth. “The heavenly things” are the spiritual realities delivered in Christ that offer a “better hope” (Hebrews 7:19) and “better promises” (Hebrews 8:6) because they were enacted by a better sacrifice (Hebrews 9:23) that has truly “cleansed” us of our impurities and sanctified us for service in the Lord’s house.
 
“The consummation of the ages” spoken of in verse 26 is equivalent to these “last days” (Hebrews 1:2) in which we are living now. It is a reference to “today” (Hebrews 4:7), the final dispensation of time on earth that was consummated with the sacrifice of Christ’s blood and God’s final and best offer of a covenant relationship with Him. Christ “will appear a second time for salvation” for “those who eagerly await Him” (verse 28), and oh what a glorious time of celebration and rejoicing that will be!
 
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (2 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
 
But for those who have not been washed in the blood of the Lamb and do not belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, this will not be a time of comfort, celebration and rejoicing. “It will be a time of terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:27). “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (verse 27). This is an obligation that we all must keep and it is an impossibility for any one of us to cancel this appointment.
 
If you can honestly say that you are not ready to stand before the Lord in judgment, today is the day to make your life right with Him. You are not guaranteed another breath, another heartbeat, another minute of life on earth.
 
Please read Hebrews 10:1-10 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 9:15-22

Monday, March 04, 2019
“For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.’ And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
It is good to contemplate and appreciate the significance of the freedoms that we have been afforded in this great country of ours. Men and women have fought against tyrannical world leaders and have bled and died on fields of battle to help make and keep us the land of the free and the home of the brave. But the greatest freedom offered to mankind comes from the greatest power and is inspired by the greatest love. God offered up the blood and life of His Only Begotten Son to purchase our “redemption” from the cruel oppression of sin.
 
While our country’s forefathers envisioned and fought for an admirable freedom that could be passed on to the generations that succeeded them, it is a liberty that is only physical and temporary in nature. But our Father on high has promised and provided us an “eternal inheritance” in heaven through the sacrifice and love of Jesus if we will only learn and love and believe the truth and become His obedient disciple (John 8:31-34). “Without the shedding of blood” there can be no freedom. And without the shedding of the blood of Christ “there is no forgiveness” of sins (verse 22). Thank you Lord for the freedom that provides abiding peace and eternal reward.
 
The Hebrew writer draws our attention to the similarity that exists between God’s final covenant with mankind and the typical human “last will and testament” in today’s passage. Both go into effect after the death of the “testator” (verse 16-17). When my wife and I die, we plan and hope to leave an inheritance to bless our daughter with because we love her so much. But the greatest inheritance that we can pass on to her is the eternal one that God has promised to His faithful children through the blood of the Son of His love. God let freedom ring on the day that love placed and held Jesus on that old rugged cross. The day that you obey the Gospel and are baptized to have your sins forgiven (Acts 2:38) is your own, personal independence day.
 
Please read Hebrews 9:23-28 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- L

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