Daily Bible Reading

One voice

I was recently in a meeting with my pastor when he was asked about the local ministers’ group—pastors who regularly get together to discuss local church-related issues (in theory). My pastor laughed at the comment. He stopped going to those meetings a long time ago. He never even attended enough to be considered a regular. Do you want to know why? At one of these pastor’s meetings—where a group of pastors from the same city should be getting together to discuss strategies on how to help the lost in their city—a pastor stood up and said that he saw no reason for the churches in our town to work together. They’re all doing their own thing and that’s just fine.

Is it?

May God, who give this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other—each with the attitude of Christ toward the other. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.

Romans 15:5-7 (NLT)

Everything I’ve ever read in the Bible, especially in reference to the Church, has always been that we should work together. That we are one body. A part of one mission. One family.

What should be a family business has become a rather serious case of sibling rivalry. I’ve heard many praise the fact that the city I live in is considered to be one of the most churched cities in the country (approximately one church per 1,000 residents). I beg to differ. I ask the question, how many United churches are there? Reform? Pentecostal? Mennonite? Non-denominational? There are multiples of each of these and many more. And very few, if any, were an intentional plant from another. It is a testament of split after split after split.

Don’t get me wrong, I get that there are different ways of doing things. Different denominations appeal to different people. I have no issue with that. What I take issue with is the fact that these people don’t see the need to work together, to speak with one voice.

The city is filled with people who have been exposed to and hurt by the local church. Instead of effectively working together toward a common goal, one church spurns another, creating more animosity than converts. How can God be glorified in that?

I long for the day when the Mennonite church can approach the Catholic church and join with the non-denominational church and they can all work together to proclaim the only message we’ve been called to proclaim:

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 (NLT)

I leave you with a prayer from Paul.

So I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 105-106, Romans 15:1-20

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Daily Bible Reading

Act like it!

Christians should be the happiest, most joyful people on the plant. There are some who call themselves Christians that may balk at that statement, but it’s the truth. There are no scriptures in the Bible that would indicate that Christians must be a solemn people, prone to frowns and fits of self-deprecation.

So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him “Father, dear Father.”

Romans 8:15 (NLT)

Everything that I’ve found in scripture that speaks of how we should act as children of God indicates that we should stand out from the crowd—not because we are miserable, but because we have something that everyone else does not. Our faces, our actions, our attitudes, our responses should reflect the Spirit of God that lives on the inside of us.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them are not Christians at all.)

Romans 8:9 (NLT)

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Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver #89, Duron Carter, tossing a pass to my nephew.

I was recently at a CFL football game with my sister and her two boys. We had passes that allowed us down on the field before the game while the players were warming up. Even though our team doesn’t win nearly as often as we would like them to, we’re still big fans and cheer them on. So there we were cheering on some warm-up catches when one of the best receivers in the league tossed a pass to my nephew. My nephew (who plays football) managed to throw back a decent spiral, got a smile and a wave from the player. It was a special moment. We made sure everyone knew he’d caught the only pass from that player that day. Both our words and our actions indicated that this kid was something special.

If a single pass from a professional football player can make our day, how much more should the fact that we have been made heirs with Christ reflect in our lives?

With all the noise and distraction around us, it can get difficult to remember who we really are. That’s why it is so important to take the time to listen to the voice of the Spirit within us.

For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children.

Romans 8:16 (NLT)

God hasn’t left us on our own. Just like your last name is a perpetual reminder of who you are, who you belong to, and where you came from, the Holy Spirit within us is there to also remind us of who we are, who we belong to, and where we came from.

Listen to that voice that God put in you. You are a child of God. A child of the King. Brothers and sister of Christ. Heirs of the Promise and so much more. And it’s okay to act like it. Our membership in the Kingdom of God is something to be celebrated and shared.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 78-81, Romans 8:1-18

Daily Bible Reading

Abundant rain

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This is what I woke up to this morning. This photo was taken around 7:00am Pacific Standard Time. This is my street. This is my mountain. It’s hard to see. It’s difficult to breathe.

Hundreds of kilometres away, wildfires are eating up thousands of hectares of forest forcing thousands of people out of their homes looking for safety. Weather conditions have pushed vast quantities of smoke towards the west coast from the interior of British Columbia as well as north from our American neighbouring Washington State. The province has been in a state of emergency for weeks now.

There is no rain, only dry heat, in the near weather forecast.

forecast

As I sat outside in the haze this morning to read my Bible, this is the verse that jumped off the page:

You send abundant rain, O God,
to refresh the weary Promised Land.

Psalm 68:9 (NLT)

God not only provides for our spiritual needs, but also for our physical. Right now, we need rain. Lots of it—and without the lightning that has been sparking additional fires. This morning, I’m praying that God would send spiritual rain to His people and put a burden on their hearts to pray for natural rain.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 68-69, Romans 3

Daily Bible Reading

Continually

There are few things in life anyone does continually. We all breathe. That’s a given. Most will work continually until retirement. Some talk continually. Some sleep continually. But all of these things can, and most often do, required breaks of some sort or another. There is one thing, though, that the Bible tells us to do continually.

Pray.

Never stop praying.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

Many in the western church probably couldn’t tell you the last time they started praying let alone the last time they prayed without stopping.

One of the greatest needs of the present day is men and women who will not only start out to pray for things but pray on and on and on until they obtain that which they seek from the Lord.

R.A. Torrey (1956-1928)

We all want to see God move in church on Sunday, but who is really willing to pray on Monday? For most of us, the Great Awakenings of the last century are so far gone (and often forgotten), that we don’t realise how effective prayer can really be. I make a point (though not often enough) to go back and read of the great revivals that brought North America to its knees. You cannot learn about a great move of God without being stirred to see one yourself.

But who is willing to pray for a move of God? Who even knows what that kind of prayer looks like?

True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God. It is not the utterance of words, it is not alone the feeling of desires, but it is the advance of the desires to God, the spiritual approach of our nature toward the Lord our God. True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that—it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of heaven and earth.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Acts 1:14 says that they all met together continually for prayer. Do you think the Holy Spirit would have shown up with tongues of fire if the group hadn’t waited? If they hadn’t been praying while they waited?

It is time that the Church look again toward prayer. Not just programs and growth strategies. I believe those things will come as the result of effective prayer.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

James 5:16b (NLT)

We all have a decision to make regarding prayer. We can go on with our daily lives and offer up a prayer every once in a while when we feel like it or need heavenly help out of a jam—but what’s the point of our faith at all if that’s the case? Or we can pray continually. Continual prayer will require sacrifice on our part, but the reward is great power and wonderful results.

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 9-10, Acts 1

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Catching up

I’ve been back at home for a couple of days now getting back into the groove of normal life after an eye-opening missionary journey to Ensenada, Mexico. The team schedule was so full I didn’t get the time to get through all my daily reading let alone find a chance to post my thoughts.

Please bear with me over the next week or so as I endeavor to catch up on the days I missed posting while I was gone. It’s no use going through a daily Bible reading program if you skip a bunch! I’ll get back on track and we can continue on this journey together!

Daily Bible Reading

Light

The first chapter of the Gospel of John may well be my favourite in all the Bible. I can read it over and over again and still be greatly humbled by those few words.

In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. the light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:1-5 (NLT)

We’ve looked at the parallels between these verses and those in Genesis 1 before, but it never hurts to go back. Both books start with the same three words, in the beginning. The beginning as we know it to be. we know that God is timeless. John said that the Word already existed. So when God created the heavens and the earth, Jesus—the Word—was there. We also know from Genesis 1:2 that the Spirit was there, hovering over the surface of the void.

Then there was light. Not the sun, mind you, but Light. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. The sun doesn’t appear until verse 14.

Jesus is Light. Jesus is the Word. When God spoke His Word over the void earth, He spoke Jesus. Jesus went out and accomplished all that God spoke. In my head, Jesus is always the man with the well-coiffed hair, white robes, and a lamb draped around his shoulders. But he is so much more than that.

He is the Good Shepherd, but he is also the Word that created the earth. He is the friend of sinners, but he is also the Light that pushes back the darkness. He is the healer, but he is also in the seed that produces after their own kind.

If we only ever see the Jesus of the Gospels, we will never understand the Jesus that existed prior to his short stint on earth. He was there in the beginning. He literally was the Word that went out when God the Father spoke. He created everything there is. Jesus did that. The same Jesus that went to the cross and gave up his life for us is life itself. He is light.

Science lesson: The only reason we see anything at all is because of light. Of course! Our eyes receive signals of light reflecting off surfaces and our brains translate that into objects. What we perceive as colour is certain wavelengths of light. Light is a type of energy.

Now swap out light for Jesus.

I’m not going to explain that any further. Just think about it for a while.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 14-15, John 1:1-28