Our Redeemer

Our RedeemerWeek 4 of Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is nearly over. This week’s reading was Matthew 21-26. These chapters speak mainly of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, signs of the end times, more of His parables, the last supper, His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His arrest.

During the last supper that Jesus shared with His disciples, the first communion took place. Communion is something that we as Christians still participate in today. Why do we do so? What is its meaning?

The purpose of communion is simply to provide a tangible reminder of what Christ has done for us. The cup represents His blood, which was poured out for our forgiveness (Matthew 26:28). The bread represents His body, which was broken for us.  When we drink from the cup, it reminds us that it is by His blood that we are justified (Romans 5:9). John 6:51 says that His flesh was given for the life of the world. When we partake of the bread, we are reminded that we are healed by His wounds (Isaiah 53:5).

Jesus paid the price to redeem us. The punishment that should have been ours was upon Him. In Matthew 26, we catch a glimpse of the beginning of His sufferings. Verses 67- 68 say that He was slapped, spit on, and mocked. He went through this and more, ending with His death at the cross. Considering the price that He paid, how can we ever doubt that we have been forgiven, or question our acceptance before God, as long as we have received and believed in Him (John 1:14)? Let’s give thanks to our wonderful Redeemer!

Reconciled To Our Heavenly Father

Reconciled To Our Heavenly Father“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

We have been reconciled to our Heavenly Father! Though we, at one time, were without hope and and without Him (Ephesians 2:12), because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5). All of those who have received and believed in Jesus have been given the right to become God’s children (John 1:14)! We are invited to engage in a personal relationship with Him, free from fear on account of our wrongdoings, for the price for them has already been paid in full.

It is our privilege to share the good news of God’s amazing grace with others. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. We are to spread the word not that He is mad at us, ready and waiting to judge, but that at the cross, our sins were already judged, and that because of what Christ has done for us, we can be reconciled to God. This is the news that the world needs to hear – that God is no longer holding our sins against us, and that He offers free forgiveness for us to receive.

Through Moses the law was given, but through Christ came grace and truth (John 1:17). We are Christ’s ambassadors – His representatives in this world, to share the good news of His grace. Imagine if this was the message we shared – that our God is good and forgiving, possessing an abundance of love for all who call to Him (Psalm 86:5). What do you think would happen? Let’s ask God reveal the good news of the gospel to us in a fresh way, and share it with others!

“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.” 

Special To Him

Special to HimEach winter, millions of snowflakes fall, carpeting everything with a blanket of white. Each snowflake is unique, differing from those around it. In the same, way each of us are one-of-a-kind, unique individuals, created and loved by our Heavenly Father. Each of us are special to Him. He cares for us individually. His affection for us is so great that it prompted Him to send His Son to redeem us, paying the price for our sins.  He desires for each of us to engage in relationship with Him, growing daily in our understanding of His goodness and love.

Here are some verses that speak of how we are special to God – cared for and loved by Him:

  • He knows all of our ways (Psalm 139:3).
  • He numbers the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7).
  • He rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).
  • While we were still sinners, He sent His Son to give His life for us (Romans 5:8).
  • We are His chosen people, dearly loved by Him (Colossians 3:12).

Next time you see the snow fall, remember that just as each snowflake is one-of-a-kind, so are you unique, individually loved, and special to your Heavenly Father!

Above All Else

Above All ElseBible Reading and Memorization Plan memory verse switch – This week’s verse will be Proverbs 4:23 instead of Joshua 1:9.

Proverbs 4:23 bids us to guard our hearts above all else, for everything we do – all the issues of life – flows from it.

Our hearts determine our life’s course. What is inside of us – what we truly believe, and our perception and perspective – directly influences all that we do and say. Our mindsets impact our actions greatly, and our mouths speak out of the abundance of what’s in our hearts (Luke 6:45).

Because of this, it is exceedingly important that we are on guard as to what we let into our hearts. What goes in will come out in our lives at some point, and in some way. The people we surround ourselves with, and that which we consistently spend time on, have a tendency to greatly affect our viewpoints and values, and in turn, our lives. For example, if those who are closest to us place a high importance on something, we will be more likely to do so as well. If they adopt a certain habit or custom, there’s a greater chance that we will adopt it too. That which we are constantly hearing and seeing will often get into our hearts, and become what we fixate on and accept as the norm.

Considering how greatly what we surround ourselves with impacts our mindset and focus, and how often it finds its way into our hearts, it behooves us to spend time in God’s Word, and around people who value what He has to say. As we fill our hearts with the words of our Heavenly Father, they will become what comes out of our mouths, and what we act upon. They will begin to produce fruit in our lives.

Above all else, remember to guard your heart, for what is found within it directly impacts the rest of your life.

Rejoice in His Finished Work

Rejoice in His Finished WorkIsaiah 53:5 states that Jesus was wounded for our wrongdoings, upon Him was the chastisement for our peace, and that we are healed by His stripes. He took our sins upon Himself, bearing the punishment that we deserved, that we might be forgiven. Because of His work at the cross, we – through faith in Him – have been made righteous (Romans 3:22). We can be at peace, knowing that the price for our sins has been paid in full. Jesus’ body was broken, that we might be made whole. It is by His stripes that we are healed. Through Him, we have been qualified to receive all of God’s blessings, including healing. Let’s give thanks for all that Christ has accomplished for us! Let’s rejoice in His finished work!

What Do You Want Him To Do For You?

What Do You Want Him To Do For You?Week Three of Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is approaching its end. This week’s reading was Matthew 15-20. In these chapters, Jesus addressed the Pharisees, performed miracles of healing and the feeding of multitudes, and informed His disciples of His upcoming death. These chapters also relate some of Jesus’ conversations with His disciples, a few of His parables, and an account of His transfiguration.

In Matthew 20:29-34, we read of two blind men who desired for Jesus to heal them. They called out to Him to have mercy on them. Though the crowd told them to be quiet, Jesus stopped and asked them what they wanted Him to do for them. They told Him they wished to receive their sight. Jesus had compassion on them, and healed them.

If Jesus asked you what you wanted Him to do for you, what would your answer be? Would you respond readily, confident that your request would be granted? Or would you hesitate, unsure of whether or not you would receive what you asked for?

In Matthew 7:8, we learned that those who ask receive, those who seek find, and that the door will be opened to the one who knocks. Our Savior went about doing good, healing ALL whom the devil oppressed (Acts 10:38). Never once in Scripture do we read of Jesus turning away someone who came to Him. Rather, all who sought Him received what they were in need of. What do you want Him to do for you? Request that which you lack, confident that you will receive!

In the Son

In the SonWhat a difference sunlight makes in the appearance of a blanket of snow! When light touches it, it the millions of tiny flakes sparkle as if they were glitter, turning frozen scenery into a winter wonderland. On an overcast day, however, apart from the rays of the sun that made it shine, the snow takes on a more somber and lackluster air, losing its brilliant sparkle.

Christ is the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2). His light shines on us and through us, making us shine like the sparkling snow on a sunny day. We reflect His brilliance and majesty to a world that is desperately in need of Him. Just like the snow gets its glisten from the rays of the sun, so does our light come from Christ. He is the source of our shine. Through us, others get a glimpse of who He is.

Just as the snow does not sparkle on its own, our light does not come from us. In and of ourselves, we are like the snow on an overcast day – lacking in glisten and brilliance. No matter what we do or how good we try to be, we can never produce on our own the same shine as when the Light of the World (John 8:12) shines through us.

Does the snow struggle to glisten? Does it strive to sparkle? No – it is the light hitting it that gives it its brilliance. In the same way, it is not by our own striving and struggling that we shine. By simply being in the presence of Son of God, we reflect a brilliance that we can never achieve on our own. The closer we draw to Him, the brighter we shine. Let’s spend time in the presence of the Sun of Righteousness, and shine forth His glory!

5 Tips for Reading and Memorizing God’s Word

5 Tips for Reading and Memorizing God's WordSpending time in God’s Word is a vital part of growing in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. It helps us get to know Him better, and learn more about His amazing love and grace. When going about reading and memorizing Scripture, it helps to have a plan. For direction and guidance in diving into the Word of God, check out Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan.

Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan was designed keeping in the mind the fact that sometimes life just happens, and there are days when flexibility is needed. It was meant to provide a readily practicable plan of action for reading through the New Testament in a year, and memorizing key verses from God’s Word. 1-2 chapters are suggested for reading each weekday – leaving time on the weekends either to catch up on missed chapters, or review favorite verses from throughout the week  – and one scripture memory passage is given per week.

Even with the best of plans, however, there are still some days that don’t turn out the way we thought they would. What do you do on the days when nothing goes as planned? Here are 5 tips for fitting Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan to your everyday life:

  1. Keep going – If you fall behind schedule, don’t throw in the towel! Keep on following the plan, and catch up a little bit at a time. (As mentioned above, the weekends are a great time to catch up on missed chapters. If you skip a memory verse, add it to a week when the original memory verse is easier.)
  2. Finish later – If you want to spend time in God’s Word in the morning, but don’t have time for the entire day’s reading, simply read a few verses when you wake up, and finish the rest later on.
  3. Set a reminder – Set a reminder on your phone – or another electronic device – to help you remember to do your scripture reading and memorization.
  4. Take a moment – For an easy way to memorize the week’s memory verse, write it out on an index card, and place it somewhere where you will see it often. Every time you pass by it, take a moment to repeat the verse to yourself. Pretty soon you will have it memorized!
  5. Write it out – Write out the memory verse for the week once each day with pen and paper. It doesn’t take long to do so, and it will help you commit it to memory.

Do you have any ideas or tips on making time to read and memorize the Word of God on a daily basis? To share, comment below.

Wherever You Go

Wherever You GoThis week’s memory verse from Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is Joshua 1:9. It bids us to be strong and courageous. It informs us that God is with us wherever we go, and therefore we need be neither afraid nor dismayed.

Our Heavenly Father is always with us. He will never leave nor forsake us
(Deuteronomy 31:6). He is always there for us. In times of trouble, He is our ever-present help (Psalm 46:1). The faithfulness of our God endures forever (Psalm 117:2). He is totally trustworthy, and completely reliable. Because He is with us, we are never truly alone.

If God is for you, who can be against you (Romans 8:31)? With Him on your side, what have you to fear? God is with you, and He is mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17). Why need you be discouraged? Whatever point you are at in life, rest in the fact that you have a Daddy in heaven who cares for you deeply, and with whom all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Your Heavenly Father is always there for you. He is able to do far more than you could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Be strong and courageous, confident in the knowledge that He is with you wherever you go!

Bible Reading and Memorization Plan Journal

Bible Reading and Memorization Plan JournalCalled and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is off to a great start! Over the past few weeks, God has revealed to me so much through the chapters of Scripture that I have been reading. How wonderful it is to spend time getting to know our Heavenly Father better by diving into His Word!

To view Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan, visit the Bible Reading and Memorization Plan tab of the site’s navigation bar, or follow this link: http://calledandcreated.com/bible-reading-and-memorization-plan/. By clicking on the highlighted “Bible Reading and Memorization Plan” text near the top of the page, you can also view and download the plan as a pdf file. Included in the download are two additional journal pages, intended for use along with the plan. (See last Monday’s post for more info.)

Once you have downloaded the pdf file, you can print out the pages and make your own Bible Reading and Memorization Plan journal! You can store the pages in a folder, or punch them and put them in a binder. I chose to use a binder for my Bible Reading and Memorization Plan journal. Here are some pics of the finished result:

Bible Reading and memorization plan journal title page

 

Bible Reading and Memorization Plan journal bible reading and memorization plan

Bible reading and memorization plan journal scripture memory page

 

bible reading and memorization plan journal daily bible reading

Download the pdf file of Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan and create your own Bible Reading and Memorization Plan journal today!