Daily Bible Reading

Proclaim

I have a difficult time watching or reading the news these days. Gone are the days of unbiased news reports and, just as George Orwell predicted when he wrote his book 1984 (in 1949), everything we do and say is under scrutiny. Social justice warriors demand that everyone fall into line with their opinions and the Church has become one of their largest targets. Much to the dismay of Christians around the globe, there are many churches that have given in to these ludicrous demands. They are allowing the world to change their way of thinking in hopes that they can change the world’s way of thinking. That’s now how this works.

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)

If the Church keeps watering down its message, soon there won’t even be a message worth sharing. Our message is not one of tolerance nor is it a message of condemnation. But it is is one of joy, peace, and love everlasting. Our message should be as the psalmist wrote thousands of years ago. I leave you to meditate on these words.

Sing a new song to the Lord!
Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Sing to the Lord; bless his name.
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise
He is to be revered above all the gods.
The gods of other nations are merely idols,
but the Lord made the heavens!
Honor and majesty surround him;
Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

O nations of the world, recognize the Lord;
recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.
Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!
Bring your offering and come to worship him.
Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.
Let all the earth tremble before him.
Tell all the nations that the Lord is king.
The world is firmly established and cannot be shaken.
He will judge all peoples fairly.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice!
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the fields and their crops burst forth with joy!
Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise before the Lord!
For the Lord is coming!
He is coming to judge the earth.
He will just the world with righteousness
and all the nations with his truth.

Psalm 96 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 96-98, Romans 12

Daily Bible Reading

Disappointed?

It’s a horrible thing to say, but disappointment is pretty much a part of life. I’m not sure anyone can get through life without someone letting them down, expectations not being met, or hopes fading. To think about it very long can become a disappointment in itself.

As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believe in him will not be disappointed.”

Romans 10:11 (NLT)

Paul’s message to the Romans takes those thoughts of being let down and gives hope to the discouraged. Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed. That’s not to say that life will become a bed of roses, but rather that God Himself will not be a let down to us. He will not disappoint those who truly believe and trust in Him.

Salvation comes from trusting in Christ—which is the message we preach—is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, “The message is close at hand; it is on you lips and in you heart.”

Romans 10:8 (NLT)

Salvation, a relationship with God though Jesus, is not some vague, unattainable idea. It is here and now and it is for everyone—not just a select few.

For “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:13 (NLT)

And if what God said was true thousands of years ago, it still stands true today.

No, I will not break my covenant;
I will not take back a single word I said.

Psalm 89:34 (NLT)

Faithfulness is your very character.

Psalm 89:8b (NLT)

For someone whose very character is faithfulness, it would be pretty difficult to be a disappointment. Even if life has let you down, God will not. He cannot. It is not in His nature to do so.

Your unfailing love will last forever.
Your faithfulness is as unending as the heavens.

Psalm 89:2 (NLT)

If disappointment has you down, take some time to focus on God’s unfailing love and unending faithfulness, the gift of salvation He has so freely given us. He is close. He is never far. Never failing. Never disappointing.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 88-89, Romans 10

Daily Bible Reading

Free gift

Like many of the Jews in Paul’s time, there are a lot of people now who are still under the impression that God won’t hand out His grace unless we work for it. If I can just do this one thing, then God will love me or if I can accomplish that, then I’ll be worthy. That’s not how this faith thing works.

So that’s why faith is the key! God’s promise is given to us as a free gift. And we are certain to receive it, whether or not we follow Jewish customs, if we have faith like Abraham’s.

Romans 4:16 (NLT)

God’s promise—salvation—is given to us as a free gift. All we need is faith like Abraham. So what did Abraham’s faith look like?

Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised. And because of Abraham’s faith, God declared him to be righteous.

Romans 4:20-22 (NLT)

All Abraham did was believe that whatever God said was true—whether he could see it immediately or not. In fact, the longer Abraham believed without seeing, the more he brought glory to God! God didn’t tell Abraham His promise would be fulfilled if only Abraham did A, B, and C. He simply made the promise.

But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work.

Romans 4:5 (NLT)

The law is impossible to fulfill. God knew that when He gave it to Israel. The fact that we cannot fulfill the law on our own makes our need for a covenant with God obvious. That is why Jesus was sent to be the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17).

It takes all the pressure off of us when we come to the realisation that Jesus came and did what we could never do on our own. The only price we must pay to receive the free gift of salvation is our humility—admitting that we cannot do enough works to make ourselves worthy, but need to accept what Jesus did for us on the cross in order to be made righteous. I once heard a pastor say that the greatest fight to our faith is learning not to fight. Abraham simply believed and was made righteous. The more he believed, the more he brought glory to God.

…you are faithful to your promises, O God.

Psalm 71:22b (NLT)

Let’s stop complicating righteousness. It’s one of the easiest things in the world to receive. I was born into this world with a sinful nature. I cannot do anything to make myself worthy of God’s call. God made a way for me and it’s free. All I need to do is hold out my hand and accept it. It’s a free gift.

And really, who doesn’t want to accept a free gift?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 70-72, Romans 4

Daily Bible Reading

Know Go(o)d

Ask anyone what good is. Then ask them what wicked is. Just about everyone will have a response. While responses to those questions may vary, the amazing thing is that nearly everyone can agree that good and wicked both exist. Not many people could tell you where the ideas come from or how we form our own opinions of what they are, but they exist nonetheless.

Does it really matter what we believe is good and what we believe is wicked? Does it matter if we all agree or disagree? Yes, it does.

But first, let’s take a look at Webster’s 1828 definitions of good and wicked:

GOOD: Having moral qualities best adapted to its design and use, or the qualities which God’s law required; virtuous, pious, religious; applied to persons, and opposed to bad, vitious, wicked, evil.

WICKED: Evil in principle or practice; deviating from the divine law; addicted to vice; sinful; immoral.

To know what wicked is, we simply have to know what it isn’t. It isn’t good. The more we know what good is, the more we are able to recognise wicked.

Who cares? Why do we need to know the difference? Didn’t God tell Adam and Eve to stay away from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? If Adam and Eve didn’t need to know, why do we?

Well, because Adam and Eve didn’t stay away from that tree. Before they ate the forbidden fruit, evil didn’t exist to them. They only knew good. They only knew God. As soon as they disobeyed God’s command and ate that fruit, evil entered their world. Now they knew the difference. We need to know the difference, too.

Oh, the joys of those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with scoffers.

Psalm 1:1 (NLT)

There are joys to be had in avoiding the wicked. What else?

But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants;
day and night they think about his law.

Psalm 1:2 (NLT)

Why would anyone want to do everything someone else wants? Remember that God is good. He only wants good things for us. Why wouldn’t we want to do what He wants?

They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season without fail.
Their leaves never wither,
and in all they do, they prosper.

Psalm 1:3 (NLT)

Now we get to the good part. The more we meditate on God’s Word, the more we understand who He is and the more we understand what good is. When we understand what good is, we recognise what wicked is. Then we can stay away from the wicked. When we stay away from wicked people and things, we become fruitful and prosperous.

Does this all make sense now? Know good. Stay away from wicked. Prosper.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 1-3, Acts 16:1-15

Daily Bible Reading

Get out of the way!

I’ve been to a lot of church services. I grew up in the day when we went to church twice on Sundays, once on Wednesdays, and attended extra services when a guest speaker was in town. We had youth group on Fridays and maybe even a mid-week Bible study. When I say I grew up at church, I mean that I actually spent the majority of my time at the church. Not much has changed.

In all of those church services, I saw a lot of ministry lines, altar calls, hands go up for prayer. But I rarely saw a pastor or speaker interrupt his or her sermon to do so. They weren’t wrong, but in recent studies and conversations, I’ve begun to wonder if they were always right.

While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was listening as Paul preached, and Paul noticed him and realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.

Acts 14:8-10 (NLT)

As far as I can tell, this is the first the crippled man had heard the Good News.  It was Paul and Barnabas’ first trip to the area and they were bringing a new message to the people there. Churches and training centres hadn’t been set up yet. The apostles were setting up the groundwork for future ministry.

Then this crippled man shows up. He hears a message of miracles and salvation and his faith is stirred. What do we do now?

In some churches, he’d be required to spend several weeks in studies on faith and healing before someone may or may not lay hands on him.

In other churches, he’d be told that healing isn’t for today, God made him crippled for a reason.

Yet in other churches, he might have to wait for the end of the message for a call to the altar to be offered and hope that someone could help him to the front before the altar closes to new arrivals.

But what did Paul do? The moment he recognized that this man had faith, he stopped what he was doing and called out to him to stand. He didn’t pause to teach on how healing works. He didn’t have to explain what faith is. He didn’t fall to his knees to petition God with pleading groans so the man could be set free from his affliction. In fact, I haven’t found anywhere in the Gospels where this was the case.

Miracles happened when faith was present and the men of God acted on their recognition of it. Long, flowery prayers not needed. Explanations unnecessary. A simple command was all that was required to activate the faith that was already there.

If God says He’ll do something, it’s up to us to believe and proclaim that He will do it. And when the gift of faith shows up, get out of the way! Shut up and let God show off. This message we preach is not about us. It’s about the God who came to give us abundant life. What we have to say is far less important than what God came to do.

Start looking for faith and then practice acting on it immediately. It may require retraining our minds and our spirits to respond in a different way, but if the result is seeing the crippled walk, the blind seeing, and the sick healed, it’s worth it. Isn’t it?

Daily Bible reading: Job 35-37, Acts 14

Daily Bible Reading

He controls my destiny

So he will do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny.

Job 23:14 (NLT)

For those who are in Christ and have surrendered themselves to the will of God, this is a comforting statement. For those who may see God as a big bully in the sky, this can be a frightening thought. Since I’m not one to see this as a scary idea, let’s pursue the comfort in this verse a little more.

We know that we are created in God’s image. He didn’t create the world, fill it with animals, populate it with humans, and then walk away from it all to see what would happen. God is very interested in what happens—especially with us,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Many are tempted to and even do lose hope when things don’t go the way they expected. They forget that God has a good plan for them and give in to the lies the enemy would have them believe that God cares nothing for them. That God wants to punish them. Nothing could be further from the truth!

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)

The good things that God has planned for us come when we are walking in His will, not our own will. Will it all be easy? No. Will it all seem good when it’s happening? Probably not. But is the end goal worth it? Yes! A thousand times, yes!

Who do you think has the better plan, you with your limited knowledge and experience? Or God, with His infinite knowledge—the one who knew the end at the beginning?

So I will let Him to do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny. Thank God for that!

Daily Bible reading: Job 23-25, Acts 10:24-48 

Daily Bible Reading

Power to the people

As a church leader, it always surprises me when I hear Christians say that they have no need of the local church. They’re good to worship God alone in the privacy of their own home. I don’t disagree with private and personal worship, but I strongly disagree with individuals distancing themselves from the group that Jesus himself ordained.

Reading through the Book of Acts, I am more and more convinced of the benefit as well as the need for Christians to be a part of a local body. In an article titled 4 Reasons Christians Need the Church, the following reasons are given:

  • We need other Christians. If you want to know what you believe, listen to what your friends say. The more time we spend around people who ridicule God, the more we allow their attitudes to affect our thoughts and attitudes. The more time we spend with God’s people and in His presence, the more like Jesus we become.

  • We need opportunities to discover our spiritual gifts, Every one of us has a skill God wants to use to help others know Him and follow Him. We will never uncover what God has equipped and called us to do if we don’t get involved.

  • We need authority. We don’t have to believe anything anyone tells us about God. He appointed men and women in the church to lead us and to teach us. God gave us the Bible and the church so we can know what’s from Him. Through the church’s authority structure, we can test and see what’s of God and what isn’t when we can’t tell on our own. When we’ve prayed, read the Bible and still aren’t sure what to do, the church is where we go for advice.

  • We never stop needing grace. Church people are not perfect people. No matter how long we’ve been following Jesus, we are going to screw up, fall short and sin. And when we do, we need a place where we can come to be healed, restored and renewed. That place is the church.

I believe there are a few other reasons why Christians need the church.

  • We need to see signs and wonders. That I can find, the Bible has no record of a single person going around performing miracles with absolutely no support system. Miracles, signs and wonders are always tied to a group of people serving God. When we see God move, our faith is stirred to see Him move in more and greater ways.
  • We need accountability. Try driving your car down road a dark night with no moon or stars, and no headlights to light your path. How long are you able to stay on the road? Our church family is there to help keep us on the road. Do we always like to be corrected? Certainly not! But it doesn’t mean we don’t need it. By walking out our faith together, we keep each other on the right path. Alone, people have the tendency to wander and get lost.

And finally:

  • There is great strength in numbers. Study revivals. Study the great evangelists of the modern era. When people gather with a common purpose, God moves in mighty ways. When God moves mightily, people will come to watch. Soon those people have been added to the Church and more people will come to see what’s happening. Yes, the church can grow by individuals discipling individuals. In fact, we need mentors. But we also need numbers. The Great Commission is not a solo project. It is a global project.

Meanwhile, the apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people… And more and more people were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women. As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came in from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.

Acts 5:12-16 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Esther 1-3, Acts 5:1-16