Daily Bible Reading

Find the time

I recently had my father and two of my nephews in the car. We were heading out to watch another of my nephews (I have seven nephews) play football. We’d barely pulled off the street when I looked back to see the older of the two pull a video game out of his pocket. I asked my dad if he was supposed to have it. He’d been told to leave it at home.

“Hey, Kiddo,” I said reaching back. “You’re not supposed to have that. Hand it over.”

“Well, I guess I forgot I had it in my pocket.” (The flaw in this story was the speed in which he pulled it out of his pocket once we started driving.) He handed it over and I put in the console of the car. When it slipped out, I had my dad put it in his pocket.

When we got home later that evening, my nephew wouldn’t get out of the car. He was squishing himself between the front seats reaching for the console—where he’d last seen his video game. In a matter of minutes, he forgot that it was in his pocket, but over several hours, he didn’t forget where he’d seen me put it…

Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right.

Ecclesiastes 8:5b (NLT)

My nephew is eight years old. And he’s smart. Really smart. But still largely lacking in the wisdom department. He had a desired outcome—to have his game with him when we left the house. In order to get to that outcome, the cost was willful disobedience and a lie to try to cover it up.

Most of us would look at this situation and shake our heads. Yet, we’ve probably done something similar in our adult lives. There is an outcome we desire and we make some decisions to get there. A few people may get hurt or shunned along the way, but we plow ahead on the most direct route to get what we want. But what if there was a less direct way to get there? What if we didn’t have to hurt someone to get it? The wisest course of action isn’t always the most direct and, sometimes, it’s taking no action at all.

Wisdom takes the time looks at the outcome, determines whether it is necessary or not, then determines the best way to either go after it or avoid it altogether.

We must all make choices on a daily basis. It is wisdom that will lead us to do what is right. Wisdom finds right the time and the right way to do it.

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 7-9, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

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Daily Bible Reading

Your lot in life

There are people I refer to as Eeyore Christians. You know, always depressed, pessimistic, gloomy. Glass half empty kind of people. These are the sort of people who may say that they’ve just accepted their lot in life. And they believe themselves to be of great piety as they say it.

But, guess what? These people are sorely mistaken! Too many Christians have taken that one small phrase from a larger portion of scripture and have used it to justify the fact that they refuse to work harder or find any joy at all right where they are. Accepting your lot in life has absolutely nothing to do with settling for a sub-par existence.

And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NLT)

Have you ever heard someone say that they just had to accept their lot in life and say it with joy? I doubt it. It’s usually with that Eeyore drone as though they are meant to go through life alone, unhappy, sick, and poor.

But there is nothing in this portion of Ecclesiastes that would indicate all of those things are our lot in life. It points to the opposite.

Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work—whatever they do under the sun—for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (NLT)

Is poverty a gift from God? No! Is pain a gift from God? No! Is sorrow a gift from God? No!

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.

John 10:10 (NLT)

To accept your lot in life is to accept a life of fullness no matter where you find yourself. Life may not be what you thought or planned it would be, but that doesn’t mean that you have to slog through it accepting all the junk life may throw at you. To accept your lot in life means to trust that God still has a good plan for you. It means to look for the joy in the things you see and do every day. It means be thankful and grateful for today and all that comes with it. And, above all, it means enjoying life.

So go ahead, accept your lot.

Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have.

Ecclesiastes 6:9a (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 4-6, 2 Corinthians 10

Daily Bible Reading

Worship

WORSHIP: To respect; to honor; to treat with civil reverence.

Worship isn’t just what we do when we sing on Sunday mornings. It’s what we have the opportunity to do every day of our lives. Our generosity, when done in the name of the Lord, is both an act of worship as well as the inspiration for worship.

Yes, you will be enriched so that you can give even more generously. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out into thanksgiving to God.

2 Corinthians 9:11 (NLT)

God gives us opportunities all the time—if we have a mind to look for them. There are infinite ways that we can show generosity to those around us. We need only pay attention and act when we see a need.

For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will give you many opportunities to do good, and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

2 Corinthians 9:10 (NLT)

God has not blessed us so that we can hoard our blessings. He has blessed us so that we can in turn bless others. The more we strive to worship God by blessing others, the more room we make in our own lives to receive a blessing. The Church should be producing a perpetual harvest of generosity. We should be drawing good out of each other so that we can draw more people into the Kingdom.

Look for opportunities to worship God through your actions this week. Allow Him to produce a harvest of generosity in you.

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 1-3, 2 Corinthians 9

Daily Bible Reading

Excel

If you call yourself a Christian, you are called to ministry. First, to minister to the world—whether it be your own small corner or abroad in a foreign nation. We are all called to be ministers of the Gospel. Also, we are called to the ministry of giving.

…now I want you to excel also in the gracious ministry of giving.

2 Corinthians 8:7b (NLT)

I can guarantee that God has put it on your heart to give. If you don’t believe so, you haven’t been listening.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

James 1:17 (NKJV)

If God gives us good gifts and we are to become more and more like Him every day, should we not also be giving good gifts?

If you are really eager to give, it isn’t important how much you are able to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you don’t have.

2 Corinthians 8:12 (NLT)

God doesn’t intend for us to give so much that we become destitute. He wants us to give not only to bless others, but to make more room in our lives.

Blow up a balloon, but don’t tie it off. Let all the air out. Blow it up again. Let the air out. Each time you let the air out, the balloon will appear larger. You’re stretching it. Making more room. There are things that God wants to give us that won’t fit into our lives the way they are. The balloon would pop. But let the air out, and you’ve made room for more the next time you fill it.

God wants to do the same with us. Giving may deflate us a bit, but God will fill us to capacity again and again, increasing our limit every time. If you tie off a balloon, no air can get in or out. The supply is cut off.

Don’t cut yourself off from God’ generous supply by being stingy. Instead, become a part of His supply chain and allow Him to bless others through the blessings He gives you.

Learn to excel at the ministry of giving.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 30-31, 2 Corinthians 8

Daily Bible Reading

Apply Jesus

Do you ever read through the Bible and skip over all the verses that refer to the law? We know that Jesus came as the one perfect sacrifice, the only person ever to follow the law in its entirety. He then fulfilled the law so that we would no longer have to strive for something we could never attain. So why should we bother reading verses about the law that no longer apply to us?

If Jesus came to replace the law, what if we replaced the law with Jesus? Literally. In Proverbs, for example, let’s look at a few verses. We’ll take out the law and replace it with Jesus.

To reject [Jesus] is to praise the wicked; to obey [Jesus] is to fight them.

Proverbs 28:4 (NLT)

Kind of crazy how it still makes sense, isn’t it?

Young people who obey [Jesus] are wise; those who seek out worthless companions bring shame to their parents.

Proverbs 28:7 (NLT)

The prayers of a person who ignore [Jesus] are despised.

Proverbs 28:9 (NLT)

We see entirely  new meaning in scriptures we may have previously passed over believing they have nothing to do with us today. They have everything to do with us today if we look at them in the light of the new covenant we have with God through Jesus.

So the next time you’re about to skip over the law, apply Jesus instead.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 28-29, 2 Corinthians 7

Daily Bible Reading

Team player

Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live in darkness?

2 Corinthians 6:14 (NLT)

I am well-aware that this portion of scripture is talking about believers and unbelievers. We usually take this to mean those who call themselves Christians and those who don’t. The New King James Version tells us not to be unequally yoked together. But, did you know that you can also be unequally yoked with believers?

I will admit that, as soon as I saw the word team, my mind drifted to sports. Last year, my favourite football team went through a rebuilding. That’s putting it nicely. The new head coach managed to break a league record for the highest number of different starters fielded by a single team in a season. In addition to talent, the coaching staff were looking for chemistry. In order to win, you need a team of men who have the same drive, mindset, vision, and work ethic. One person on the field who doesn’t share those qualities with the rest of the team can spoil a game or even a season. A year and a half and well over one hundred players in, we’ve started winning again. There’s hope for a spot in the playoffs.

Let’s take this to the realm of the local church. Replace players with leaders, volunteers, or regular church-goers. When we all share a vision and work together with similar ethic and effort, we win. The church grows. Plans come together. God moves. But one person applying a different set of ideals can spoil the whole thing. Ask any church leader.

Every denomination and even every church within a denomination (or outside of a denomination) has their own way of doing things. We trust that the leadership is hearing from God and are presenting that vision down the line to the rest of the body. We have several options:

  1. We can get into line. We can be those players who are on the team to win. We’ll follow every instruction passed down from the coaching staff and do everything in our power to win. In church words, so long as the pastor is in line with the Word of God, we come into line with the pastor.
  2. If you don’t agree with the coach/pastor, a few more options may present themselves. You can work to come into agreement with the leadership—so long as the vision and methods are biblically sound. Pray about it. Ask God to change your heart and your mind. If you still cannot come into agreement, a word of advice—leave. Don’t be that one person that spoils it for everyone else. If you’re the one that doesn’t agree, be quiet about it and exit gracefully without making an attempt to bring the whole thing down. If it’s not of God, it’ll come down on its own anyway.

If you are a believer, I hope that you’ve found yourself a winning team, er, church. I pray that you are in a place where you can get on board with the vision and are invited to help that ministry become all God has called it to be. If you haven’t yet found your team, I pray that you soon will or that God will do a work in you so that you can grow right where you are.

God created us with so much variety. There is no one single way to go about accomplishing His work, yet He never called anyone to go about it alone. So find those with whom you can team up. Work with them. Grow with them. Win with them. Be a team player.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 23-24, 2 Corinthians 6

Daily Bible Reading

Dumpster diving

You’ve spent hours getting ready. Your hair is done. Your makeup is perfect. Your gown has been perfectly tailored and pressed. Shoes. Jewelry. It’s all there. You walk down the street so proud of the new you. Everything has changed.

You come upon a dark alley and take a few tentative steps in. Before too long, you’re standing in front of a dumpster. The smell is revolting, but you plunge ahead anyway. An old crate serves as a step. You flip the lid open and dive right in.

Disgusting. Right? Yet we do it all the time.

What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

The moment we invite Jesus to be a part of our lives, we’re that person who’s all dressed up. Everything is new. Everything is different. And every time we return to our old ways, it’s like launching ourselves into that dank, depressing dumpster full of the old things that God already removed from our lives.

Is it difficult to leave those things behind? Of course it is. To start any sort of new life is rarely easy. It’s why Paul told the Romans to constantly be renewing their minds. Just because our spirits were made instantly new doesn’t mean that our minds don’t have to catch up. The renewal process there is continual.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.

Romans 12:2 (NLT)

To embrace a new life means to let an old one go. That old you stinks. It belongs in the dumpster. The new you has no business chasing after the things that made you who you used to be. We should be chasing after the new things God has placed before us—the things that are becoming of our new selves.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

Jesus came in his tuxedo and pulled us out of the dumpster when we were stinking of sin and shame. He came to us so we wouldn’t have to return to that old life. In order to maintain our miraculously new lives, we need to turn away from the past that weighs us down and look ahead.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends on from start to finish.

Hebrews 12:2a (NLT)

So brush the dirt and stench off of your new self and quit your dumpster diving. It’s time to live a new life, leaving the old behind.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 23-24, 2 Corinthians 5