Archive of Daily Bible Lessons
May 11-18, 2004


God's Grace -- Manifested in YOU - grace for holy living


God's Power -- Manifested in YOU - power for holy living


The Abundant Power of God - power for holy living


God's Law Written on Your Heart - Law VERSUS Grace
  There were no Bible lessons on May 15 & 16, 2004


The Letter versus the Spirit - Law VERSUS Grace


"I Felt Her Infirmities" by marc weinstein - a gut-wrenching testimonial about sickness & suffering

Bible Lesson
May 11, 2004

God's Grace -- Manifested in YOU

And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)

You have been studying about four characteristics that God is developing in your life by His grace...

  • Triumphant living
  • A fragrance of Christ
  • Godly sincerity
  • Becoming a living epistle/letter of Christ.

These characteristics will grow within you to the extent that you humbly trust in God, and not in yourself. "And we have such trust through Christ toward God."

  • Your hope and confidence for obtaining these spiritual qualities in your life must be directed toward God, based upon the relationship that is available in Jesus Christ.
  • Your firm belief that God WILL bless and grow you is not self-confidence. It is God-confidence. It is God, and God alone, who can and will produce these characteristics within your heart.
  • There is no room for you to trust in yourself. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves."
  • You are not the source of any of these wonderful traits of godly living. They must all come from God at work in you. "Our sufficiency is from God."
  • When you live in humble dependency, the Lord's supply becomes your needed sufficiency. "Our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant."

As a *new covenant servant* you live by the grace of God. Consequently, your sufficiency is what the Lord Himself supplies! This is precisely what God promised of old through His prophets. "I will make a new covenant . . . I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts." (Jeremiah 31:31, 33)

God inscribes these spiritual traits upon your heart and mind by His grace. The result is that these characteristics of godliness WILL develop in your life.

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it,
Do not cease to pray for you,
And to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
That you may walk worthy of the Lord,
Fully pleasing Him,
Being fruitful in every good work
And increasing in the knowledge of God.
(Colossians 1.9-10)

O Holy Father, I long to grow in the knowledge, and love, and grace of my Lord Jesus. I am not sufficient to produce these characteristics by my resources. My greatest hope is to be changed by You from the inside out. I humbly bow before You. With confidence in You, I ask that You unleash Your grace upon my heart and mind, as I seek You in Your word. Through Christ my Lord, I pray, Amen.

Bible Lesson
May 12, 2004

God's Power
-- Manifested in YOU

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God . . . We have no confidence in the flesh . . . I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6; Philippians 3:3; 4:13)

You have been studying about the ways whereby God's grace develops traits of godliness in your life. Now you need to consider a very key question: HOW does God expect you to find the spiritual power that you need to live a godly life in this sinful world?

The Bible answers this question in a two-fold manner.

  • First, God wants you to realize that your own *power* is NOT sufficient.
  • Second, God wants you to understand that He is the source of everything that you need.

As you strive to live in a godly manner, be aware that God does not require you to go it alone.

  • In fact, God's Bible makes it quite clear that trying to stand alone against the world and the devil would be an act of prideful futility on your part. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves."
  • It is vitally important to recognize that you need God's daily help -- each step of the way. On your own, you do not have the resources to save a soul, transform a life, or cause the Lord's church to be edified.
  • This is a drastically different perspective than what the world teaches you. The world and your "old nature" together will insist that *you gotta do your own thing, no matter what.* God's word repeatedly warns you not to adopt this viewpoint. "Vain is the help of man . . . There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.." (Psalm 108:12; Proverbs 14.12)
  • Jesus elaborated on this theme: "Without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
  • Today's Bible passage teaches the same point: "...have no confidence in the flesh."

The fact that God's powerful assistance is available to you is the second matter that He wants to teach you. "Your sufficiency is from God."

  • Powerful enemies stand between you and spiritual victory. They are the world, the devil, and your old nature.
  • Although you cannot defeat those enemies totally on your own, God is fully prepared to *make up the difference* --"Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies." (Psalm 60.12)

{ God says: }
"Call upon Me in the day of trouble.
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."

(Psalm 50.15)
If God is your Co-Pilot, move over -- you're sitting in the wrong seat.

Holy Father, You and You alone are my sufficiency. Help me always to remember what your Bible has taught me today. I want to grow in Jesus, and to be all that You want me to be, but I need help -- Your help, Father. Please teach me to plug in to Your power for everything I need for godly living, in Jesus name, Amen.

Bible Lesson
May 13, 2004

The Exceedingly Abundant Power of God

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Today's Bible passage is a prayer of praise offered unto God.

Praise is a *sacrifice* that you should offer to God because He is the source of your spiritual power for daily living. "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." (Hebrews 13.15)

Today's praise-prayer exalts the most critical requirement for you to live the Christian life. That requirement is
the ability of God: "Now to Him who is able."

  • A legalistic viewpoint of serving God would say that your personal *strength of character* is the most vital element in developing a godly life.
  • If you adopted this viewpoint, you would end up striving to obey the law, attempting to live up to God's perfect standards by your own inadequate resources.
  • If you think you might succeed in doing that, consider what God says: "Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all . . . That no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for the just shall live by faith." (James 2.10; Galatians 3.11)

Praise be to God, you have a heavenly, effective option: relying upon God's ability.

  • Think of the immeasurable ability of the Lord. "Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You." (Jeremiah 32:17)
  • God created the entire universe. Certainly, by His power He is able to strengthen you. "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" (Jeremiah 32:27)
  • Your loving Father in Heaven is "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think."

The most amazing aspect of God exercising His ability on your behalf is that He unleashes His power within your life: "according to the power that works in us."

  • This is exactly how the Lord develops godliness in your life. He Himself works by the power of His grace deep within your heart. "For it is good that the heart be established by grace." (Hebrews 13:9)
  • Your sanctification in Christ is not achieved by mere works that you perform, in hopes of becoming "good enough" under your own steam. Rather, your sanctification is accomplished by a true change of character within you, done by God Himself.

God is working in your heart, not only to give you power to live a godly life, but to change your character. Why is this so?

  • Put it this way -- with God, it isn't merely WHAT you do that counts, but WHY you do it.
  • BOTTOM LINE: God wants you to live a godly life -- not as an act of law, but as an act of love.

Jesus said:
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word;
And My Father will love him,
And We will come to him
And make Our home with him.
(John 14.23)

Father God of exceeding abundance, I worship You as the one who is able to do all things well. Father, as I seek You in Your word, build my faith. Unleash the powerful life of Your Son within my heart, making me what You want me to be, through Christ I pray, Amen.

Bible Lesson
May 14, 2004

God's Law Written on Your Heart

You are manifestly an epistle of Christ . . . written . . . not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
(2 Corinthians 3:3)

The old covenant of law was written upon "tablets of stone." God's new covenant of grace is written upon "tablets . . . of the heart."

This is a BIG difference between the old and new covenants.

  • When it came to living a godly life, people under the old covenant of laws had nothing to rely upon except their own pitifully inadequate strength.
  • You, on the other hand, can call upon the power of the All-powerful God.
  • The old covenant message of God's law was written on stones. The old covenant law required people to achieve the same level of holiness as that of God Himself. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy." (Leviticus 19:2)

The law's message is magnificent. In terms of attaining holiness, however, the law-giver {God} intentionally limited the law's utility. Consequently, the law has no saving power for obtaining eternal life.

  • Nevertheless, the law has value and purpose. "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good." (Romans 7.12)
  • By God's design, the law's perfect standard served to reveal your unholiness, and to convince you that you needed the help that only Jesus Christ could offer. "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Galatians 3.24)

God wrote the new covenant message of His grace upon your heart: "on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart."

  • God's not only forgives your failure to perfectly obey His law, but He also goes to work to develop personal holiness at the very core of your being.
  • This was the promise that God made in the Old Testament. Namely, God promised that He would put His holy law into the very hearts of His people: "Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God." (Ezekiel 11.19-20)
  • The book of Hebrews applies this promise to all believers in Jesus Christ, including YOU: "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts." (Hebrews 10:16)

Now that you are a believer in Christ, God has written His law of holiness upon the *tablet of your heart*.

  • Thus it is that holy living is now part and parcel of who you are IN CHRIST.
  • Little by little, and day by day, God is developing holiness within you. Best of all, God has given you spiritual strength so that you will walk in more and more godliness.

Beloved, now we are children of God.
It has not yet been revealed what we shall be,
But we know that when Jesus is revealed,
We shall be like Him,
For we shall see Him as He is.
And everyone who has this hope in Him
Purifies himself,
Just as He is pure.
(1 John 3.2-3)

O Holy Father, thank You for bringing Your holy will inside of my life, thereby providing me with Your power to live holy, and grow in godliness. Lord, I look to You to transform me from the inside out, in Jesus name, Amen.

Bible Lesson
May 17, 2004

The Letter versus the Spirit

God also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. (Second Corinthians 3:6)

Today's Bible verse makes a sharp distinction between "the letter" VERSUS "the Spirit"...

  • The letter refers to the Law set forth in the Old Covenant, as stated in the Bible's Old Testament
  • The Spirit refers to God's Holy Spirit, who dwells within you: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (First Corinthians 3.16)
  • A person who is "of the letter" is seeking to earn righteousness, by his or her own works, in obedience to a set of rules and regulations.
  • But you are "of the Spirit." As such, your righteousness is not based on works that you do, but on the finished work that Jesus did on the cross, on your behalf: "God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5.21)

You did not become a child of God by rules. Instead, you were begotten into God's family by the power of God Himself: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (First Peter 1.3)

You cannot develop your life as God's child by regulations.

  • All rules and regulations (including God's law) come without resource. They tell you WHAT to do, but they do not ENABLE you to do it.
  • The Law is a list of requirements, but it provides no power to meet those requirements: "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do." (Romans 7.14-15)

Consider circumcision, which is required by the law of God for the Jews. "And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised." (Leviticus 12:3)

Circumcision has somewhat the same function as a wedding ring.

  • A wedding ring signifies that the person wearing it is married, but it doesn't cause that person actually to love his or her spouse.
  • Circumcision signifies that the person bearing that sign is a follower of God, but it doesn't cause him actually to love God.

Obeying the law of circumcision doesn't change a person's life.

  • Physical circumcision (that is, circumcision "by the letter") doesn't inherently change the life of any Jew.
  • It takes an inner working of God (that is, circumcision "by the Spirit") to produce a true Jew. "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter." (Romans 2:28-29)

The kingdom of heaven is "of the Spirit." It is not about external "do's and dont's" (such as, whether to follow the standard of God's law concerning certain foods). "For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17)

Your standing as God's child does not hinge on following various regulations. Rather, it is about the Holy Spirit supplying you with all that is needed to ensure that you SHALL be: "...kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (First Peter 1.5)

Your life with God is always "of the Spirit " (God's sufficiency), not "of the letter" (your sufficiency).

Father, I admit a tendency to reduce life with You to following regulations. Help me to live by the work of Your Spirit within my heart. Through Christ I pray, Amen.

I Felt Her Infirmities
by marc weinstein
May 18, 2004

that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses." (Matthew 8.17)

This evening, I experienced just a morsel of how God feels when He endures the pain of our infirmities. I called my wife, Janette, in the Philippines. We were divorced in 1998 after 8
years. We were soul mates, or so that was what I was initially looking for in my ‘Personals’ ad. Before that, I had met my first ‘soul mate’ but she died of cancer 6 months after we met. She was truly the first love of my life.

Janette was a paradox: sweet and full of life and laughter. But the other side was covered over -- “white washed” as I used to tell her. She had suffered so much in life before we met: daughter of a stern, mean military man who horsewhipped her if she disobeyed.

At 19, she was diagnosed with Hansen’s Disease [aka: leprosy] and endured a most horrifying ‘healing’ one could imagine. In order to be healed, she had to take a 3-drug regimen for 3 or 4 years. The “healing” took the form of having her skin turn black all over her body.

The shame of it was deeply etched into her psyche.

When taking her to the clinic, I got to see patients going through the treatment…and I always sensed their pain and shame as I pierced their soul when cautiously making eye contact.

She also had diabetes. In the end, this proved to be her unraveling. When we met and after going together for a number of months, she told me of her affliction with Hansen's Disease. It was in remission and there was no chance of me contracting it. When she dated guys before me and when the relationship turned serious, she would tell them. They all dropped her like a ‘hot potato.’ But, it didn’t faze me.

I loved her with the love of Jesus, just as He healed and embraced the lepers of His time. I felt it was my calling.

Well, it was difficult to get Janette to open up her true feelings when we argued and fought. It took on the cycle of a Psychodrama on a weekly basis. She could be vicious, angry, and ‘ram-rod stubborn.’ Then the next morning, she would cry like a baby wanting to make up. This cycle went on and on like a merry-go-round for the duration of our marriage.

Then I got ill with a cochlear rupture, rendering me deaf in one ear with a head full of noise called Tinnitus. That added more difficulties to the relationship. The noise was so severe; it drove me to attempt suicide. Her response? “What about me….didn’t you think of what this would do to me?”

A dose of cold comfort.

Janette got very stubborn and bitter when we divorced. She stayed with a friend in Texas for several months. Then Janette had a falling out with her friend, and returned to the family home in San Jose, California. She got deeply depressed and purposely neglected her diabetes.

Even after the divorce we always kept in touch, and she told me of her being ill. I begged her to get medical help. She stubbornly refused and eventually went into a diabetic coma and suffered a stroke, leaving her right side weakened.

Needing constant care, she returned to the Philippines to live with relatives. Before she left, I visited her for 4 days. It tore me up to see my baby in her condition. She was in good spirits in spite of her illness. I took care of Janette to relieve her mother so she could have time off.

We went to our favorite places and had a good time. And I still loved her in spite of our separation. That was the last I would see of her.

Now, it’s May, 2004 and I have found out that she had another stroke last year which she didn’t tell me about. I would call her every few months and sensed a downward progression. Then today I called. She cried and cried. Cried so deep and hard, she could hardly speak but only a deep groan. It tore me up inside. And then I spoke to her sister-in-law, Ahnee. She told me of the 2nd stroke and now kidney failure.

The stroke rendered Janette virtually paralyzed. She can only sit in a chair all day and watch TV. She is totally dependent on others. She sounded very ominous about her condition and I dared not ask if she was dying.

While we both cried, I too was suffering deeply. Lately, I’ve been very depressed about my own medical condition, which hasn't been getting any better, if not worse. Suddenly, like a revelation, I sensed all her pain and despair and realized I was myself feeling her pain because I, too, was in deep despair.

This is when I realized that God so loves us; He feels the same pain of our infirmities. But how does God feel our pains? Pain is such a subjective thing to understand.

We glibly say; “I understand how you feel” or “I feel your pain” but no one can ever truly say that unless they have had the same identical experience or illness. But to read of God’s feeling our infirmities, we often wonder how can this be? How can an omnipresent God feel our individual pain? We cannot fathom that in our human minds, let alone our spirits.

But I realized tonight that, because God loved His creation so much, He humbled Himself and became human flesh and took all the pain upon Himself -- not only the pain for our sins, but also the pain of what it’s like to be human. And when we pray, at times we can hardly utter adequate words to express the feelings of our infirmities.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities*
For we know not what we should pray for as we ought
But the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us,
With groanings which cannot be uttered.
(Romans 8.26)

*infirmities -- feebleness of body or mind


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