Daily Bible Reading

Share

We’re told all our lives that we need to share. Share your toys. Share your snacks. Share your room. Share the car. Share your office. Share, share, share. We’re told so often as we grow up that we have to share that when we’re all grown our response is often, oh good, I don’t have to share anymore. Sharing is something that we did because we had to not because we wanted to.

I believe that an attitude of generosity is something we could all use a little more of. I don’t necessarily mean in the way of finances, either. Money isn’t necessarily what someone in need actually needs.

The very first church in the Book of Acts grew by leaps and bounds in its first days. Was it because of the stellar preaching? I don’t think so. Many of those who joined up with the apostles had already seen and heard Jesus speak. I’m not sure anyone could teach better than Jesus. Was it because of the incredibly modern and up-to-date facilities? What facilities? They started with 120 people crammed in someone’s upper room. There was no church building to meet in.

Peter has just finished speaking his first message to the new church and here’s how the people responded:

Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church—about three thousand in all. They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer.

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. they worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.

Acts 2:41-47 (NLT)

Note that they didn’t start all sorts of programs. There was no men’s ministry or women’s ministry or kid’s ministry. There were no outreach programs or missions teams. The church worked and lived together as a community and God did mighty things in their midst. Notice that nothing they did specifically added to their numbers. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved. The church did their thing and God did His thing.

There have been moments in my Christian life when church looked like this description in Acts. We did all sorts of things with other church members. We did life together. We saw the miraculous and we saw our church grow. But that seems to be the exception, not the rule. I long to see my church as well as the Global Church live and grow together—without division and without selfishness.

Whether you attend a small church or a large church, this example in Acts can serve as something to strive for. They started with a modest 120 and grew by three thousand that first day! And from there their generosity grew along with their numbers.

The world is looking for community, what better way to find it than in the church?

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 4-6, Acts 2:14-47

Daily Bible Reading

Fire insurance

Have you ever heard a Christian use the term fire insurance? If a churchy person says it, they’re not actually talking about getting a payout after a fire. They’re talking about people who accept salvation just so they don’t have to spend eternity in hell—they’ve said a prayer of salvation and they truly believe in Jesus, that he is the Son of God and that he died to save us all from our own sin, but that’s it. There’s no more to their faith than that. They’ve either made the choice to live that way or no one has taught them any different.

You’ve probably also heard the term discipleship. Discipleship is a more mature Christian leading a newer or less mature Christian in the ways of Christ. People who’ve lived and learned teaching others from the Word of God and from their own experience.

The large number of Christians just carrying fire insurance is largely due to a lack of discipleship. No one has ever taught these new believers that there is more to faith than just a single prayer. There are a great many benefits to a Christian walk and there are even some expectations.

Jesus last words to his disciples were to tell them to go out and make more disciples. We call it The Great Commission (Mark 16:15). This is our duty as Christians whether we’re in vocational ministry or not. We are all called to be disciples and we are all called to make disciples.

We have been given the same authority that Jesus had on earth and the Holy Spirit has been sent to help us along. Since the veil of the temple was torn and God’s Spirit dispersed over the whole earth, we are the new generation of priests.

And you have cause them to become God’s kingdom and his priests. And they will reign on the earth.

Revelation 5:10 (NLT)

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)

Back in the day, King Hezekiah was restoring faithfulness to Judah and Jerusalem. He called out to the priests words we can still use as a reminder today:

My dear Levites, do not neglect your duties any longer! The Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship and make offerings to him.

2 Chronicles 29:11 (NLT)

Sounds a lot like what we’ve been reading in the New Testament, doesn’t it?

Fire insurance is great, but it’s only a very small part of what Christianity is. We’ve been called to so much more. In the Old Testament, the priests reaped the benefits of acting upon their duties. We can do the same. What can be more rewarding than being close to God ourselves and helping others to achieve the same thing?

Let’s not neglect our duties any longer!

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 29-31, John 18:1-23

Daily Bible Reading

Bonus post: Already passed

When you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, did you feel any different? Did you feel invincible? As though you could take on anything and triumph? Did you feel as though you’d live forever? If you felt any of that, how long did it last?

Ask anyone who’s been a Christian for more than ten years. Odds are that they do not feel invincible. I can guarantee they’ve aged since their conversion. And they’ve probably failed at more than a few things.

After being in the faith for a while, verses that claim we are more than conquerors can become challenging to truly believe. We may even begin to doubt what the Bible says about us, yet wait for the day when we can claim eternal life.

But did you know that, if you’ve accepted the incredible gift of salvation, you are already alive? As in alive forever? Never to die. I don’t mean physically. I’m not sure I’d even want to live forever. But that moment when your spirit cries out to the Holy Spirit a miracle takes place. That dry, dead spirit is brought to life.

I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

John 4:24 (NLT)

Already passed. As in it’s happened. Done. Not something we need to wait for. Our eternal life doesn’t begin when we die. It begins when we come alive in Christ. Hey Church, let’s stop acting like dead people who have no life! We have the Way, the Truth, and the Life living inside of us! Because Jesus is alive, we’re alive.

Daily Bible Reading

Success!

Growing up in the church, I never ceased to be amazed at the excuses Christians will come up with for their own sin. I’m probably guilty of it myself. You hear things like, “we’re no longer under the law” or “I’m covered by grace”. While those are both true, they are not free passes for us to sin. Many believers are under the impression that, because Jesus came to fulfill the law of Moses, that we have no code to live by.

So then that was Jesus’ ministry for?

We read in the Old Testament of King Hezekiah. Finally, there’s a good one in the bunch.

He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did.

1 Kings 18:6-7a (NLT)

Don’t you think we could learn a thing or two from this guy? We can simply believe in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and basically use our salvation as a Get Out of Hell Free card so we can continue to live our lives however we want or we, like Hezekiah, can obey the Lord and see success in our lives. Shouldn’t the choice be easy?

Rather than the entire book of the law (which is pretty much impossible to follow to the letter), Jesus centred his entire ministry on two commands:

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 22:37, 39 (NLT)

Love. That’s it. No more excuses! We don’t have a free pass to do what we want when we want. If we dare to call ourselves by the name of Christ, we should strive every moment of every day to live worthy of the name. Jesus is love. We should be love. I believe that the greatest success we can achieve on this side of heaven is to live as Christ. So I will leave you with the words of the apostle Paul:

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ…

Philippians 1:20-22 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 18-19, John 6:22-44

Daily Bible Reading

Pilate project

I don’t like reading the account of Jesus’ death. I find it difficult to take every time I read it. Perhaps that’s a good thing. If I could breeze through the crucifixion of Christ, I don’t believe I would have the right to call myself by his name.

I don’t believe there was a person Jesus came across that did not have, at the very least, the opportunity to change. Even knowing his death was near, Jesus’ ministry was still active. Following his betrayal by Judas, Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate—the Roman leader in Jerusalem at the time.

Pilate was a hard and cruel man. Luke 13:1 speaks of how Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. Strike one against Jesus—he was from Galilee. Pilate also had symbols that would offend the Jews imprinted on the coins he sent into circulation. Strike two—Jesus was a Jew. When he found out that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod as Galilee was under his jurisdiction. Pilate and Herod were enemies. Strike three. Pilate’s tenure in Jerusalem ended when he was called back to Rome after massacring a group of Samaritans. He was just plain mean. There was nothing in this situation that would benefit Jesus.

And yet.

Herod could find no fault in Jesus so he sent him back to Pilate. Again, Pilate could not find Jesus guilty of any crime that would merit punishment by death. To try to appease the people, he offered to have Jesus flogged. But that wasn’t enough for the crowd. Three times Pilate told the crowd there was no reason to sentence Jesus to death. Three. That number sounds familiar…

…poetical for the moment when something is finished, completed, and perfected.

(N. Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, 1950, p. 384, n. 4)

After denying the crowd’s request three times (someone else had recently denied something three times… [Luke 22:54-62]), Pilate gave in. By waiting as long as he did to sentence Jesus, he went against his own track record. I’m sure that those who brought Jesus to him thought it would be an easy task to convince Pilate to kill a Jew from Galilee.

Having spent just hours in Jesus’ presence, it could be concluded that Pilate was changed. Not only did he go against his own history of violence and cruelty, but he befriended his enemy, Herod.

For the rest of his life, I wonder how much Pilate was haunted by his actions against Jesus that day. Did he think about it often or did he try to wipe it from his memory? Was there any remorse? Did he ever understand the role he played in the greatest plan of all time? Did he know that his command to have Jesus killed would work to finish, complete, and perfect salvation for all?

If God could use even the hardest man to accomplish His will, surely there is hope for the rest of us.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 3-5, Luke 23:1-26

Daily Bible Reading

Changelings

I had a conversation with my dad the other day. We were theorising about whether or not there is change in our bodies when we become Christians that science would be able to, in some way, detect. After all, the Bible is pretty clear that, when we accept salvation, we are no longer the same.

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)

Did you know that, when the human genome was first discovered (and for a significant amount of time following) up to 97% of the information found in our DNA was considered junk? Junk! Pfft! How could anything that complex be junk! With our bodies so intricately designed, why would only 3% of the information held in our cells be worthwhile?

Some scientists hypothesize that up to 50% of our DNA holds information valuable to who we are. Who’s to say that in some of that leftover is or isn’t proof of the change that is so clearly stated in the Bible? I’m no scientist and I am in no way claiming that junk DNA holds the evidence of our salvation. It’s just a thought. But it would be super cool if it were true!

Back in the day when Israel was on the cusp of becoming a kingdom, the man God had chosen to lead needed to change. Saul was a little hesitant to take on such an important role. He was from the smallest tribe and one of the lowliest families of said tribe. He couldn’t lead if he couldn’t see himself as a leader. Samuel, the prophet had a few words for him.

At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you with power, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person.

1 Samuel 10:6 (NLT)

Never once, when the Spirit of God came upon anyone, was there no evident change. Every single time the Holy Spirit shows up, there is change!

As Saul turned and started to leave, God changed his heart, and all Samuel’s sign were fulfilled that day.

1 Samuel 10:9 (NLT)

The fact of the matter is, that once we accept the gift of salvation, we change. The old really is gone and the new really has begun! You cannot experience the Spirit of God without experiencing change.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 10-12, Luke 13:22-35

Daily Bible Reading

Get dressed

Much to the dismay of my mother, I’m a sports fan. Not all sports, mind you. I’m a baseball and football kind of girl (though I’ll watch hockey if the occasion calls for it). When February rolls around, I get excited because that means that Major League Baseball spring training begins and the long winter without my favourite team is over. I park my comfy chair in front of the big screen and watch to see how my players worked on their game over the winter months.

You can tell who spent the off-season on the beach and who spent it at the gym or with trainers. Some guys aren’t as quick to get around the bases or catch that fly ball to left field. Other guys have trimmed down and come up with some new strategies to improve their game. And then there are the minor league players—the guys who have previously impressed the team scouts and have been invited to join the big boys for the spring. They get a chance to try to prove their worth and maybe even earn a spot in the starting line up.

Be dressed for service and well-prepared.

Luke 12:35 (NLT)

MLB spring training can be full of surprises. Those guys who spent their time off on the beach may find themselves quickly replaced by the young pitcher who spent his off-season perfecting his curve ball. The tried and true second baseman may be bumped for the kid who shows up to the diamond early every day dressed for action. The biggest characteristic that will define the team going into the first weeks of the schedule is preparation. If a player waits until spring to try to get himself into shape, he may find himself bumped down a few levels.

But I’m not an athlete, how is this supposed to apply to me?

Every Christian—no matter what they may or may not feel called to do—should be like the players who spend the winter training hard and getting better. The Bible is not a textbook just for teachers, but a guidebook for life—your life.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV)

While Paul may be writing to Timothy, this is for all of us. Ministry is not just for pastors, teachers, preachers, apostles, and evangelists. It’s for all of us.

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)

If you wait to be called up to prepare, you’ll never get the call. But, if you work on preparation daily, you’ll be ready at any moment to respond with words of hope, love, and truth. In sports, natural ability will only get you so far. Often, it’s the lesser talented guys who work the hardest that get the job. The same works for us. Those who are prepared get the call and are rewarded for it.

Don’t wait. Get up. Get dressed. Be prepared.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 4-6, Luke 12:35-59