130 episodes

A life-changing experience through the New Testament one chapter at a time.

The 260 Journey The 260 Journey

    • Religion & Spirituality
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A life-changing experience through the New Testament one chapter at a time.

    Replacing Consequence with Motivation

    Replacing Consequence with Motivation

    Day 130



    Today’s Reading: Romans 13



    In No Bad Dogs, British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse claims that dogs understand love better than we do. She writes,



    "In a dog’s mind, a master or a mistress to love . . . is an absolute necessity. . . . Thousands of dogs appear to love their owners, they welcome them home with enthusiastic wagging of the tail and jumping up, they follow them about their houses happily and, to the normal person seeing the dog, the affection is true and deep. But to the experienced dog trainer this outward show is not enough. The true test of love takes place when the dog has got the opportunity to go out on its own as soon as the door is left open by mistake and it goes off and often doesn’t return home for hours. That dog loves only its home comforts. . . . True love in dogs is apparent when a door is left open and the dog still stays happily within earshot of its owner."



    The real test of our love for God isn’t seen in our activity or even in our theological purity. It’s found when we have an opportunity to wander away, to leave His presence, and we choose instead to stay close to Him.



    This is what makes our chapter today so powerful. It’s about love. That when we love, we do the right thing. Let’s read it together:



    "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:8-10)



    Verse 9 is the “You shall not” commandments. And then Paul gives the groundbreaking thought that Jesus talked about: you shall love your neighbor. Paul is saying that you won’t do the “you shall nots” when you love your neighbor. Love makes you do what’s right.



    This is so powerful. Paul starts with four negative commands:



    You shall not commit adultery.



    You shall not murder.



    You shall not steal.



    You shall not covet.



    And then Paul says to love your neighbor. He says when you love your neighbor, you will not steal, covet, commit adultery, or murder. That is not only powerful, it makes sense.



    Religion wants to legislate the “you shall nots.” Jesus wants to empower you to love. Remember in the gospels, Jesus condensed the 613 Old Testament commands into two commandments: Love God and love your neighbor. It’s so much easier to remember.



    But He had a reason for doing this. He was speaking to motive. When the motive is love, it automatically takes care of the things we should not do.



    Think about this in the relationship between a husband and a wife. The greatest protection against adultery in a marriage is “you shall not commit adultery” or there will be consequences. The greatest motivation to not commit adultery is by pursuing the first command husbands have for their wives: husbands love your wife as Christ loves the church. Not “don’t commit adultery.” So the best way to start making a healthy marriage is for husbands to pray each day, “Lord, help me to love my wife as Christ loves the church.”



    If you start with a “don’t” in any relationship, then you have to give the consequence to prevent the behavior—for a spouse who commits adultery, the consequences are hell with God and divorce with a spouse. But that is such a poor motivation to do what’s right. When you have a disobedience problem, it’s a love problem. If you say, “I can’t stop sinning,” then start loving God. When you love God, you are fighting sin. How do you fix the love issue? The best way to love God is to know God. And the best way to know God is by reading His Word. And love will grow.

    • 4 min
    The Twenty-Seven-Question Exhortation Test

    The Twenty-Seven-Question Exhortation Test

    Day 129



    Today’s Reading: Romans 12



    Romans 12:9-21 is some of the most powerful exhortations of the New Testament. I use the word exhort because it’s the right word to use with these verses. Exhort is a passionate urging to do something. Passion does not leave a lot of room for wordiness. Passionate words spill out of you because it has to come out of you. Paul starts the passionate pleas, and it seems he can’t stop once he starts.



    Each verse is packed with two or three exhortations that cut to the heart and that are so countercultural. Right after the challenge for us to use our gifts of prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading, and mercy, he goes into this long stretch of challenge for all of us. Though the gifts are limited to the gifted person, what comes next is about character traits to pursue and should be present in all of us:



    Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)



    Wow! Twenty-seven challenges he rattles off like a drill sergeant. You can’t even catch your breath and examine how you are doing with “persevering in tribulations” before “be devoted in prayer” hits you in the face. We could combine a few of these character traits and make it twenty-five. So what if we made it a twenty-five-question test in which you rate how you’re doing on each one? Let’s say each one was worth four points, which adds up to one hundred points total. What would your grade be? I’m afraid of my grade on the character test.



    The Christian devotional writer Oswald Chambers gives us insight into what character really is:



    Character is the whole trend of a man’s life, not isolated acts here and there. . . . Character is the sum total of a man’s actions. You cannot judge a man by the good things he does at times; you must take all the times together and if in the greater number of times he does bad things, he is a bad character; in spite of the noble things he does intermittently.



    One of the first-century Greek philosophers, Plutarch, summarizes those words like this: “Character is simply long habit continued.” 



    I know this will sound redundant, but I think it’s worth it to list Paul’s exhortations:



    Love without hypocrisy



    Abhor what is evil



    Cling to what is good



    Be devoted to one another in brotherly love



    Give preference to one another in honor



    Not lagging behind in diligence



    Fervent in spirit



    Serving the Lord



    Rejoicing in hope



    Persevering in tribulation



    Devoted in prayer



    Contributing to the needs of the saints



    Practicing hospitality



    Bless those who persecute you



    Bless and curse not



    Rejoice with those who rejoice



    Weep with those who weep



    Be of the same mind toward one another



    Do not be haughty in mind



    Associate with the lowly



    Do not be wise in your own estimate



    Never pay back evil for evil to anyone



    Respect what is right in the si

    • 5 min
    High Jumping or Pole Vaulting

    High Jumping or Pole Vaulting

    Day 128



    Today’s Reading: Romans 11



    There is a fundamental difference between a pole vaulter and a high jumper. A high jumper runs as fast as he can and leap as high as he can, and if he is good, he can get about seven-and-a-half feet. If he wants the world record, he aims for eight feet. His human effort and strength can only take him so far. The pole vaulter is different. He has to run too, but he does not trust his own two legs. He carries a pole and sticks that pole into a hole in the ground. He puts all of his trust in that pole not only to hold him but to raise him higher than what he could do on his own. He will go three times higher than the high jumper. The world record for a pole vaulter is more than twenty feet.



    You can try to leap on your own and do Christian high jumping, but you will only get so high. But when you run and then lean all of your weight on Jesus and His Word, He takes you higher and higher over things you could never get over on your own. That’s what we learn in Romans 11.



    This chapter opens with a story about Elijah who got caught high jumping when he should have been pole vaulting. He was depending on his own strength and insight instead of on God’s. Read how Paul tells the story in which Elijah is speaking at a tough time in his ministry:



    “Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” (Romans 11:3-4)



    I love how Paul frames Elijah’s story of negativity. Elijah tells the Lord, “They have killed Your prophets, torn down Your altars, and I alone am left.”



    What are the Lord’s strong words, the divine response?



    This is an important question we always need to ask over our tough situations. When we ask that, we go from high jumping to pole vaulting.



    “What is the divine response?” Or, “What does God have to say about this?”



    Is there something in God’s Word we can hold on to?



    God says to Elijah that what Elijah is seeing is not the reality of the situation: There is not one person but seven thousand who have not bowed their knees. That means, Elijah, there are people just as committed as you, others who are no nonsense and no compromise. You are not alone. When you look with your natural eyes (high jumping), you are the only one. When you ask Me for the divine response (pole vaulting), I know a lot of people who are sold out to Me.



    God was telling Elijah the high jumper that he was 6,999 off! That’s what happens when we try to assess situations with fear and anxiety and with what we perceive. We will always be 6,999 off.



    We have a pole that takes us higher. It’s the divine response. It is God’s opinion of our situations.



    I love this story about a woman who tracked her spiritual pole-vaulting legacy. D. L. Moody told of an old Christian woman who habitually wrote two letters in the margins of her Bible—a “T” and a “P,” which stood for “Tried and Proven.”



    This woman received the divine response for every trial. She received a pole vault.



    Hopefully Elijah received a T & P when he realized that God knew more people than he did, and that Elijah was not alone.



    Always ask for the divine response, you will go higher.

    • 3 min
    Don’t Change the Price of the Tickets— That’s Ticket Scalping

    Don’t Change the Price of the Tickets— That’s Ticket Scalping

    Day 127



    Today’s Reading: Romans 10



    Today’s chapter contains one of the most well-known passages that brings people to salvation.



    Recently I was rereading Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. It’s even better the second time. Lewis reminds us of the greatness of salvation. Consider his words:



    "Christ offers something for nothing: He even offers everything for nothing. In a sense, the whole Christian life consists in accepting that very remarkable offer. But the difficulty is to reach the point of recognizing that all we have done and can do is nothing."



    That is how amazing salvation is. And it was Jesus’ mission—why He came. Salvation is for humanity. Andy Stanley said it like this: “We are not mistakers in need of correction. We are sinners in need of a Savior. We need more than a second chance. We need a second birth.”



    Let’s read what Paul says about salvation, the second birth: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9-10).



    This is so simple, that’s what makes this incredible. The old Baptist pastor from Dallas, W. A. Criswell, said every time someone was speaking about salvation in the Bible, they could describe how to be saved in one sentence. Romans 10 is no exception. Here it is: Confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved.



    It doesn’t get simpler and clearer than that.



    This is the ticket price into the stadium. This is the ticket to eternity, to heaven. There are people who will try to change the ticket price. That’s called ticket scalping.



    These ticket scalpers will say, “You have to be water baptized.” It doesn’t say that.



    “You have to speak in tongues.” It doesn’t say that.



    “You have to take communion.” It doesn’t say that.



    The thief on the cross could never have gotten to heaven if he let people change the ticket price.



    Some say you have to stop doing certain things before you can become a Christian. That’s not what this verse says. You don’t get good and come to Jesus. You come to Jesus, and He makes you good. Some people then cry, “What about their bad habits? They can’t become a Christian if they’re cursing, smoking, gambling.” They sure can. We can’t change the ticket price.



    Remember this: “God loves you just the way you are, and because He loves you the way you are, He refuses to leave you the way you are.” That means God wants to get us in His family, baggage and everything, and then He will deal with the junk that hurts and hinders our lives. But the ticket in to salvation is simple.



    Confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord. “Lord” means He is the boss. He is in charge. He has veto power in your life. If you come to a point where what you believe and think is different from what God thinks, then God wins if He is Lord.



    And second, you must believe in your heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead. Paul is careful that this is not just saying the right words, but that you also believe it to the core of your being. So you are saying the words because you believe them in your heart.



    That’s how we get to heaven. Some may say, “I’m not sure this is the way.” Will Houghton said, “If you decide you want to go to heaven then you have to go God’s way because it is God’s heaven.”



    Listen closely, if you wanted to come to my house, I think I can give you the best directions to my house. Because it’s my house. Heaven is God’s home. And God knows how to get to His home. He knows the best directions. If you want to go to heaven, let God give you the directions.  And God did, and they are simple.

    • 3 min
    It’s Not Supposed to Happen Like That

    It’s Not Supposed to Happen Like That

    Day 126



    Today's Reading: Romans 9



    We now enter three of the most difficult chapters of the entire New Testament, Romans 9–11. We are venturing into, what we call in theology, election, predestination, and the Sovereignty of God. There is no way we can discuss with clarity all of these important words in detail in our brief time together, but we can at least introduce them. As we start today in Romans 9, let’s be challenged by the verses ahead. First, we need to brush up on our Old Testament stories to figure out what Paul is talking about.



    Paul starts with the Genesis story of Rebekah and Isaac’s children, Jacob and Esau, and something God did after they were born. That something had nothing to do with the children but with God’s character:



    There was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! (Romans 9:10-14)



    Remember the story of Jacob and Esau, the twins. Esau is the older and Jacob is the younger. Who is older is important. Why? The book of Genesis is a window into what cultures were like before the revelation of the Bible. One thing we see early on is the widespread practice of primogeniture—that’s when the eldest son inherited all the family’s wealth. That is how they ensured the family kept its status and place in society.



    The second or third son got nothing, or very little. And here is what I want you to see on the sovereignty of God.



    Pause for a moment first. What is the sovereignty of God? The sovereignty of God is God exercising His prerogative to do whatever He pleases with His creation because He created everything. He can do this because it belongs to Him. God does it by virtue of ownership. 



    For example, if you came into my home and said, “I don’t like the way you decorated this room. You should put furniture here against the wall.” 



    My response would be, “When you start buying the furniture you want to move and paying the mortgage, then we can consider your opinions and viewpoints. Right now your views mean nothing, because I am the owner.” God is in charge of this planet, so He can do whatever He wants.



    Daniel 4:35 puts it this way: “He does as he pleases” (NIV). That’s sovereignty.



    Why doesn’t that bother me? Because God is all wise, all loving, all powerful. I can trust His sovereignty. I don’t trust any man’s sovereignty, because they don’t have the character and nature to wield that kind of power. As Charles Spurgeon says, “Cheer up, Christian! Things are not left to chance: no blind fate rules the world. God hath purposes, and those purposes are fulfilled. God hath plans, and those plans are wise, and never can be dislocated.” Or Corrie ten Boom puts it simply, “God doesn’t have problems, only plans. There never is any panic in heaven.”



    So back to our verse: God chose not the oldest son to carry out His plans but the younger one. That is countercultural. We should be saying, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau,” not Jacob. Culture is not in charge of God.



    Throughout the Bible, when God chose someone to work through, He chose whomever He wanted, and in this case Paul reminds us that He chose the younger sibling in Genesis. Think for a moment of who else God chose. 



    He chose Abel over Cain.



    He chose Isaac over Ishmael.



    He chose David over all seven of his older brothers.



    Time after time He chose not the oldest, not the one the world expected and rewarded. Never the one from Jerusalem, as it were, but always the one from Nazareth.



    Then Paul finishes the sovereignty of God thought w

    • 5 min
    Bad News, Good News

    Bad News, Good News

    Day 125



    Today’s Reading: Romans 8



    Has anybody ever said to you, “I have good news and I have bad news, which do you want to hear first?” I always say, “The bad news first.” I want to finish on a high note. So that’s what we’re going to do today as we open Romans 8. Bad news and then good news:



    In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)



    Here’s the bad news, Paul tells us: we don’t know how to pray. The greatest Christian on the planet admits he does not know how to pray right. That’s why he said, “we.” He included himself.



    Those whom you think are amazing at prayer, all those intercessors . . . they don’t know how to pray. None of us do. Not your pastor, professor, church mother, or older Christian.



    There is good news: we have help in the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us.”



    How does He do that? Let’s jump over to Ephesians 3:20: “To Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” God takes our ask and makes it better and bigger than we can ever articulate in prayer.



    What a relief! We don’t have to be eloquent. We just have to ask and God will take that request, groan, or plea and make it bigger than what we just uttered.



    Paul is saying to us, "Say something, say anything, and God will get it right for you, because He goes beyond our ask." He takes our ask and goes further. God takes what we say and puts power to it. That takes the pressure off of you and me. We can be saved for ten minutes and still be powerful at prayer. Because it isn’t you, and it isn’t me. It’s God.



    Hymnwriter William Cowper’s words are true: “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.”



    Why? Indeed, we don’t know how to pray. It’s also true that we have the best help to pray. With that understanding, Brennan Manning’s words are an important truth for us to remember: “The only way to fail in prayer is to not show up.”



    God is committed to taking my simple, silly prayer words and adding power to them. The power depends on whose hands in which it rests. I read a poem by an unknown author that fits our purposes here perfectly. I’ve changed up a few bits to make it more contemporary.



    A basketball in my hands is worth about $19.
    A basketball in Keven Durant’s hands is worth about $75 million.
    It depends on whose hands it’s in.



    A baseball in my hands is worth about $6.
    A baseball in Mike Trout’s or Aaron Judge’s hands is worth $19 million.
    It depends on whose hands it’s in.



    A tennis racket is useless in my hands.
    A tennis racket in Serena Williams’s hands is a French Open or Wimbledon Championship.
    It depends on whose hands it’s in.



    A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal.
    A rod in Moses’ hands will part the mighty sea.
    It depends on whose hands it’s in.



    A slingshot in my hands is a kid’s toy.
    A slingshot in David’s hand is a mighty weapon.
    It depends on whose hands it’s in.



    Two fish and five loaves of bread in my hands are a couple of fish sandwiches.
    Two fish and five loaves of bread in God’s hands will feed thousands.
    It depends on whose hands it’s in.



    Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse.
    Nails in Jesus Christ’s hands will produce salvation for the entire world.
    It depends on whose hands it’s in.



    Your prayer is in good hands; it’s in God’s hands. The bad news is not that bad because the good news is really good.

    • 4 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
42 Ratings

42 Ratings

A.S,Love ,

Must listen

Such a blessing. helpful to keep me on track. Such a unique experience!

BarbinBend ,

Food for the soul

Daily we look forward to reading the scripture passage and hearing what Pastor Tim is going to point out that day. The truth is compelling and it’s changing us. Thank you so much!

kingdom beats ,

Powerful podcast/devotional

Pastor Tim poured his heart and soul into this Bible study and I am so grateful for it. He makes understanding many of the chapters so much easier. He is truly a man of God who knows how to Rightly Divide The Word of Truth.

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