Daily Bible Reading

The resistance

Have you ever had a non-believer tell you that you weren’t acting like a Christian? Somehow, the world has this idea that all Christians should be prim and proper pacifists, gracefully accepting of anything and everything the world would throw at us. And for some reason, the Church has often helped to perpetuate this falsehood. Paul closes off his first letter to the church at Corinth with some language that is anything but passive.

Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong. And everything you do must be done with love.

1 Corinthians  16:13-14 (NLT)

These verses, as is, are inspiring. We could all throw up a fist and shout a hearty amen, but let’s go deeper.

What does it mean to be on guard? Do we need armour? Weapons? Should we be behind a wall or shield?

GUARD: to watch by way of caution or defense; to secure against objection or the attacks of malevolence.

To be on guard is more than just standing around waiting. It is to be ready and prepared at all times.

What about standing? If guarding is more than standing, surely standing must mean more than just being on our feet. It would seem silly if Paul were instructing an entire church to never sit or lay down.

STAND: to be on its foundation; not to be overthrown or demolished; to be fixed or steady; to be in or maintain a posture of resistance or defense.

For a long time, much of the Church has been passive. We’ve somehow got it in our minds that resistance isn’t the “Christian” thing to do. Read your Bible. There is a whole lot of resistance going on. We are to resist the devil. We are to resist temptation. We are to resist against anything that would come against the knowledge of Christ. Why would God give us weapons if He didn’t want us to use them?

So, if we are to stand up to and resist, how do we know what to stand for?

TRUE: conformable to fact; being in accordance with the actual state of things; genuine; pure; real; not counterfeit, adulterated or false; faithful; loyal; honest; exact; straight; right.

We have a whole book full of truth in front of us. If we believe it, we are to guard it with our lives and stand up to anything that doesn’t line up with it.

And how should we go about doing all this?

COURAGEOUS: brave; bold; daring; intrepid; hardy to encounter difficulties and dangers; adventurous; enterprising.

STRONG: well fortified; able to sustain attacks; not easily subdued or taken.

Does any of this sound passive to you? Nothing here would indicate that the Church is supposed to be a bunch of pacifist pansies waiting to take anything and everything the world throws at us. I’m not saying that we literally take up weapons and go to war against the world, but we must know that we are in a spiritual battle. As soon as we forget that we’re in a fight, we’ve already lost.

We are human, but we don’t wage war with human plans and methods. We use God’s mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil’s strongholds. With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT)

It’s time to join the resistance.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 13-14, 1 Corinthians 16

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Daily Bible Reading

My place of safety

If you should ever find yourself in danger, what is your first response? Do you stand still calling out hoping for help? Do you wait and complain if help doesn’t come right away? Do you sit down and resign yourself to the situation? I hope not!

If you should ever find yourself in danger, your instinct would be to run. Find a safe place. Look for a refuge. Go there! Now!

Yet how often do we hear Christians say things like, I’ve been waiting on God, but nothing has happened. I guess He doesn’t want to help me. I have yet to discover scripture to back up any sort of statement that says God doesn’t want to help us. In Psalms, David writes over and over again of God’s unfailing love and the fact that He is a shelter, a refuge, a safe place.

You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me,
for you, O God, are my place of safety.

Psalm 59:9 (NLT)

O my Strength, to you I sing praises,
for you, O God, are my refuge,
the God who shows me unfailing love.

Psalm 59:17 (NLT)

Though David waits on God, that doesn’t mean he’s inactive. Look back at the times when he was in trouble, surrounded by his enemies. Never once did David just stand there in the middle of a battle field claiming to wait on God. There were times when he went into hiding for his own protection and there were times when he suited up and marched into battle. God was with him in hiding and fighting for him in the battle.

When you feel as though you’re surrounded by an enemy, that is not the time to sit down and give up on God. That is the time to look for your safe place. Your refuge.

REFUGE: Shelter or protection from danger or distress; a stronghold which protects by its strength or a sanctuary which secures safety by its sacredness; any place inaccessible to an enemy.

A refuge is not a moment in time. It’s a place. A place doesn’t come to you. You need to go to a place. Our safety and refuge is found in God. He has promised never to leave us, so when the enemy comes, we must go to Him. Don’t stand and wait. Run. Go to the place that is inaccessible to your enemy—God, your place of safety.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 59-61, Acts 28:16-31

Daily Bible Reading

Fight!

In an attempt to make Christianity sound better than the dark side, I’ve heard many a Christian tell people that everything is wonderful once you make a decision for Christ. The impression is given that all your troubles will dissolve and you’ll never have another need so long as you live if only you’ll give your life to Jesus. Anyone who’s lived the Christian life for any length of time at all knows this simply isn’t true! I’d like to meet that one person who has never had a bad day since their conversion. I’d like to know their secret. I’m sure we all would!

Christianity isn’t a romp through the tulips. It isn’t green meadows filled with wildflowers and birdsong. It isn’t a day at the beach. It isn’t a permanent vacation from the realities of life. It’s a fight.

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

Philippians 1:27 (NLT)

When share our faith with people, we’re not sending out party invitations. We’re recruiting to an army. Yes, God can and will provide for our needs. He can make our lives better. We can live in prosperity and happiness. God wants all of those things for us. But He also wants us to fight because enemies will come against us. And if we’re not prepared, we will be easily and quickly overcome.

David spoke of his battles in Psalm 18. He is known as the man after God’s own heart. If even he had to fight, we can’t expect to escape the battle. But God didn’t send David out unarmed and unprepared and neither will He send us out without equipping us.

God arms me with strength;
he has made my way safe.

Psalm 18:32 (NLT)

He prepares me for battle;
he strengthens me wo draw a bow of bronze.

Psalm 18: 34 (NLT)

You have armed me with strength for the battle;
You have subdued my enemies under my feet.

Psalm 18:39 (NLT)

Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we won’t have to fight. It means quite the opposite. But it also means that we can go into our battles knowing that, not only has God prepared us for it, but He has gone before us.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 17-18, Acts 19:1-20

Daily Bible Reading

Your God

Judah is getting ready for battle. Several other nations armies have joined forces and come up against them. King Jehoshaphat is giving the big rally speech.

Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm.

2 Chronicles 20:20b (NLT)

The Lord your God. Not the Lord my God.

This was a time when Judah enjoyed a renewed covenant with God. Jehoshaphat did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. The Levites spent time going throughout the land teaching people about the covenant they had with God. Call them the early itinerant ministers.

The people of Judah had personal relationship with the Lord. They weren’t dependent on the relationship that the priests or the king had. They knew God for themselves. Their God was going to save them. They put their trust in Him, not their leaders.

After consulting the leaders of the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:

“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:21 (NLT)

Their trust in their king and their faith in their God allowed them to go ahead of the battle signing praise to the Lord. Judah could stand and sing as though they’d won because they had enough of a relationship with God to know that His character was victorious. When God led His people into battle, they won. Judah didn’t have to hope for a good outcome. They knew that if they put their faith in God, He would fight the battle for them.

And that’s exactly what He did.

The song went forth and the opposing armies obliterated each other leaving the plunder for Judah to gather.

What kind of victory will you see when you believe in the Lord your God and go ahead with praise as though the battle has already been won?

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 20-22, John 16:1-15

Daily Bible Reading

No hesitation

David was just a kid when he took on Goliath. He was never supposed to be on the battlefield. He was only there because he was bringing supplies to his brothers and would be bringing a report back to his father. As the youngest of eight sons, David had no business being where he was at that time.

For forty days, Goliath stood before Israel’s army with an invitation to fight. For forty days, Israel’s army shuddered in fear at the thought of taking on the giant. In one instant, David heard the challenge and had heard more than enough. He was filled with righteous indignation when he heard the nerve that Goliath had to mock God’s people. This kid was the first person to man up.

As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.

1 Samuel 17:48 (NLT)

 

When the rest of the army hesitated, they made room for fear. Every minute they waited to slay the giant, was another minute fear was allowed to take root.

HES’ITATE, verb, to strop or pause respecting decision or action; to be doubtful as to fact, principle or determination; to be in suspense or uncertainty.

David didn’t hesitate. I believe that, the moment he heard the challenge, he accepted it—even before he said anything to anyone else.

How was David able to do what the rest of the army could not?

David shouted in reply, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you…

1 Samuel 17:45-46b (NLT)

With the Spirit of the Lord mightily upon him (1 Samuel 16:13), David knew exactly who he was and who was fighting not only with him, but for him.

“And everyone will know that the Lord does not need weapons to rescue his people. It is his battle, not ours. the Lord will give you to us!”

1 Samuel 17:47 (NLT)

With God’s Spirit living in us and God fighting our battles for us, why do we, like the Israelite army hesitate? Why do we pause long enough to allow fear into our lives? We should all be like David, running out to meet our giants head on.

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Romans 8:31b (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 17-18, Luke 15:1-10

Daily Bible Reading

His plan, His time

Do you ever get tired of waiting for God? Do you pray hoping for an answer right away, but it seems an awful long time coming? Do you need something now, but God needs you to wait?

Sometimes, I believe that God answers our prayers the way we want just to prove a point. That point being that our way isn’t necessarily the best way. Other times, God lets us go ahead on our own, again, to prove the same point. We don’t know best.

Israel tried their way over and over again. I shake my head in wonder at how they could have been so stupid. But then I have to wonder how many times I’ve done the exact same thing.

In Deuteronomy 1:42-26, we get a recap of a select group from the Israelite camp who figured they knew best. Moses had just told them that, because of their disobedience, they would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. I’d be a little peeved, too, if I were on the doorstep of something great and then was told I wouldn’t be able to take part in it. But these guys were going in. Not even a strong warning from Moses would keep them from their purpose. They marched on in. And they were chased right out.

It wasn’t God’s plan. It wasn’t God’s time.

But then, after nearly 40 years had passed, the time was right. God was giving Moses the final instructions on how everything was to go down. We get a recap of all that had happened since their departure from Egypt. The time to go in and fight would soon be at hand and this time there would be no tail-tucking or running involved.

Do not be afraid of the nations there, for the Lord your God will fight for you.

Deuteronomy 3:22 (NLT)

When the time is right and when the plan is the Lord’s, He goes ahead and sets the battle for us. Notice, though, that just because God was on their side, it didn’t mean that Israel was exempt from fighting. Men were still trained for battle. Blacksmiths still made strong, effective weapons. Armour was worn. Leaders were chosen. Battles were planned. Israel would have to fight for their promise.

God would do His part and deliver on His word, but His people still need to do their part to retrieve it.

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 3-4, Mark 11:20-33

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Peace

It is difficult these days to read the news and imagine peace of any sort. Over two thousand years ago, Jesus predicted this very thing. But he did more than that.

I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.

John 16:33 (NCV)

Jesus not only warned of impending trials, he took care of the situation already.

As the Church, we often think that we have to fight back. While we do have to maintain the fight of faith, Jesus already won. Not just the battle, but the entire war. He didn’t say that he will defeat the world. He already has.

So rest in this truth – if you are in Christ and he is in you, you can have peace. Remember that God has already gone ahead and fought your battles for you.

There’s an old song we used to sing in church that went like this:

If I hold my peace
Let the Lord fight my battles
Victory, oh victory shall be mine

What an odd concept that is. Hold your peace and you will win the war. Your peace is Jesus. Hold on to him. He’s already won.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 23-25; John 16:16-33