Friday, December 1, 2017


Today’s Bible Reading:  Romans 5-8

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Reconciliation

SCRIPTURE:  Romans 5:6-11

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  (Rom 5:6-11 NIV)


In this passage the Apostle Paul points out that through Jesus Christ we may be reconciled to God—changed from being subject to God’s wrath to being saved from His wrath—changed from being enemies of God to friendship with God. The Greek word katallasso, or some variation of this root, is translated as reconciled or reconciliation in these verses. In its simplest form katallaso means to be made different, to be changed. In yesterday’s Bible reading in Romans 4 we find the Greek word logizomai employed to describe faith and belief in God being “credited” as righteousness. Generally speaking, logizomai is an accounting term. Abraham’s faith-filled belief in God was credited to his account that he was righteous.

It is interesting that Paul explains these very spiritual concepts in practical accounting terms to help the Romans and us understand. In bookkeeping, when both sides of a ledger do not balance there is a problem. However, if credits can be entered to offset expenditures, the ledger is reconciled. In the ledger of our lives the expense of sin is so vast that we can never earn enough righteousness to offset the debt. Only God can grant the credit (logizomai) needed to reconcile (katallaso) our books and bring us into right standing. It must be understood, however, that God is not saying that because men and women cannot produce enough good works to earn salvation on their own that He has accepted faith as an easier substitute. He is saying that salvation is credited freely and faith is the means whereby we receive that gift.     


Christ did not die for me because I was worthy, but because I was unworthy and powerless to save myself. While I was still a sinner (bad, worthless, not the kind of person that would be found worthwhile to save), Christ died for me (vv. 6-8).

This is still a concept that supposedly intelligent human beings find hard to grasp. I appreciate how Paul labors to help us understand and I am inspired to strive all the more to make God’s truths understandable to people as lost as I was before I was reconciled to God through Christ.  


Lord, I admit my frustration at times when trying to explain the truth of Your salvation to people who are either unable or unwilling to understand. Help me to be enabled by Your Holy Spirit to communicate for you in ways that pierce the darkness surrounding men’s souls and enable faith to be activated. Through Christ. Amen.  –AP

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Free Credit

Today’s Bible Reading:  Romans 1-4

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Justification

SCRIPTURE:  Romans 4:2-5, 23-25

2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about — but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. (Rom 4:2-5 NIV)

23 The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness — for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Rom 4:23-25 NIV)


From both biblical texts and the literature of the day we see that Abraham is a figure that looms large. His significance to the Hebrews cannot be understated. Because of this, Paul had to deal with those who insisted that the Gentiles’ accepting and receiving Christ was not enough. To be a true child of Abraham, they contended, one must fully endorse and live by the Torah (the Law). Paul fervently combated such ideology, insisting that Jews and Gentiles alike are saved only by grace through faith and not by works of the law. Paul here introduces a new way of seeing Abraham as an example of the contrast of faith versus works and quotes directly from the Torah, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6 NIV). Before this the Hebrew people and teachers of the Law had viewed Abraham’s faith and his works together, not separate. Paul points out that it was because Abraham believed God that it was accounted to him as righteousness. Thus, even father Abraham was justified by the grace of God through his faith, not his righteous works.  


What was true for Abraham is true for us (vv. 23-24): Christ’s death covers the death I should rightly suffer for my sins (see Romans 6:23), and because of Christ’s resurrection from death, I am justified (made to be in right standing) before God and thus the beneficiary of life eternal. Evangelical Christians generally understand this revealed truth. We are saved only by the grace of God through Christ Jesus, and not by our righteous behavior or acts of goodness no matter how benevolent they may be. Paul beats the drum for this truth repeatedly in his epistles. So how is it that so many evangelicals still are driven to the pursuit of works? “Well,” you might be thinking, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel, and go and be witnesses” are commands we are to do—that’s what evangelical means!” No argument about that from me except that I contend that these commands are to be lived out in our relationship with God using the gifts He has given us each individually and in the strength and leading of the Holy Spirit. If we are merely looking for and strategizing ways and means of doing these works, we are missing the major truth that we are to live in faith relationship With God in Christ. It is He who will bring the increase; it is He who will bring ministry opportunities; it is He who will direct our paths. These are very real opportunities to fulfill His commands out of relationship with Him, not just making ourselves do right things.   


Lord, thank You for illuminating the truth that the credit of righteousness conferred upon us is free, not earned. As a preacher and teacher called by You, may my encouragement to others lead them toward living in relationship with You more than driving them to fulfill commands.

Through Christ for our best and Your glory. Amen.  –AP

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Reach the Lost

Today’s Bible Reading:  Ezekiel 42-44; Revelation 22

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Second Coming

SCRIPTURE:  Revelation 22: 7, 12, 20

Jesus says repeatedly, “I am coming soon!”:

7 "Behold, I am coming soon!..."  (Rev 22:7 NIV)

12 "Behold, I am coming soon!...  (Rev 22:12 NIV)

20 … "Yes, I am coming soon."  (Rev 22:20 NIV)


What an exciting and energizing word this is from the Lord Jesus himself! Jesus IS coming again. This reality makes me think of two things:


First, the joyous actuality of Jesus physically coming to set this world right again is, in Shakespearean terms, “a consummation devoutly to be wished.” By receiving Christ as Savior and Lord the curse has already been lifted from my soul, but then it will finally be lifted from creation as well.

Secondly, it gives me a renewed sense of urgency to reach out to lost people before Jesus comes to finalize everything. Then it will be too late; for then will be the time for judgment.  


Lord Jesus, help me reach the lost for You. Show me the ways and means. In Your name. Amen  –AP

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Goal

Today’s Bible Reading:  Ezekiel 40-41; Psalm 128; Revelation 21

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Salvation

SCRIPTURE:  Revelation 21:1-8

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Rev 21:1-8 NKJV)


Verse 7 of this passage has to be the goal:

He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

John is talking about the new heaven and new earth (v.1)—life after this earthly life. This life is like a proving ground. Will I spend this life toiling and treading and never discovering the key? Will I spend this life selfishly pursuing the comforts of this life with no thought of the next? If I do, then this life will be a waste and I will be eternally lost.



If I overcome in this life—that is discovering the key is relationship with the Lord now and spending this life not for this lifetime but for the next—then God will be my God forevermore and I will be His son. That is the goal in this life!


Lord, thank You that in You I can be an overcomer no matter what comes my way in this life, and that I may eternally be Your son. Through Christ. Amen  –AP

Friday, September 15, 2017

My Name In Jesus’ Book

Today’s Bible Reading:  Ezekiel 38-39; Revelation 20

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Judgment

SCRIPTURE:  Revelation 20:15

11 …I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:11-15 NIV)


The “lake of fire” we are told, is the second death (v.14). The second death is the sentence given to those whose names are not recorded in the “Lamb’s (Jesus’) book of life” (Rev 21:27). This is the final judgment after Satan has been cast to the second death—the lake of fire (v. 10). It is of eternal importance to every human being to see to it that their name is written in Jesus’ book!  


Revelation 20 seems to indicate that everything I have ever done, good or bad, has been recorded in “books.” According to what I have done I will be judged. If this is the only way I am judged, then I am doomed, because I have certainly fallen short. My deeds prove me deserving of the second death! The only thing that will redeem me is if my name is recorded in the Lamb’s book of life. If my name is found there then either I will become exempt from the judgment of the other books, or else when the other books are opened, all of my indiscretions will be found to have been erased or blotted out. 


Hallelujah! Thank You Jesus, the Lamb! Amen.  –AP

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Don’t Take God’s Glory

Today’s Bible Reading:  Ezekiel 36-37; Revelation 19

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Worship

SCRIPTURE:  Revelation 19:10

At this I fell at his (the angel’s) feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! (Rev 19:10 NIV)


This is a strong word to worship God only! There are good men and good angels who bring good messages and may do great deeds. Praise God for them, but do not afford them honor that is due only to God. If they are truly servants of the Lord, they will shun that type of praise and worship.  


Do I crave the adulation of men? When I receive accolades, do I receive them for myself or do I truly direct all glory to God?


Father God I love You and worship You alone. My life—my joy—my fulfillment is to be Your servant. Forgive me when I covet the acclaim of people. May I ever be reminded to return all glory to You. All that I have, all that I do, all that I accomplish is due to Your graciousness. Help me remember that.
Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Warning! Warning!

Today’s Bible Reading:  Ezekiel 33-35; Revelation 18

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Responsibility

SCRIPTURE:  Ezekiel 33:8-9

7 "So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. 8 When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you shall surely die!' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.  (Ezekiel 33:7-9 NKJV)


This passage describes Ezekiel’s responsibility as one called by God to be a “watchman” over Israel. There is a double warning here. The wicked are warned to turn from their iniquity or face the consequences: “you shall surely die!” (v. 8). The watchman is warned to issue the warning to the wicked or face the consequences: “his blood I will require at your hand” (v. 8).


This admonition to “the watchman” is an admonition to me as a pastor. The Gospel message of Jesus Christ is life and fulfillment to those who will receive it, and a strong warning to all others. My job is to see that people I am charged to watch over hear the message and are warned. I am not responsible for the results, just the message. However, if I fail to deliver the message to those I am charged with, then I am responsible for their loss.


Lord, show me clearly the extent of my assignment as a watchman and pastor. Give me boldness with compassion to deliver your message. Holy Spirit, cause that message to be received and accepted. May not one be lost on my watch.
Through Christ. Amen.  -AP