Daily Bible Reading

Debt of love

No one wants to be in debt. There are all sorts of companies that work to get people out of debt. So how would you feel if I told you that there is a debt that you can never repay for as long as you live? Gasp! For some reason, there are those who have made this unending debt seem like a weight, a trial, a burden we must all bear. It shouldn’t be. It should be a joy, an honour, a delight to any who seek to make continuous payments on it. What sort of debt am I talking about? The debt of love.

Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbour, you will fulfil all the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting—and any other commandment—are all summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to anyone. So love satisfies all of God’s requirements.

Romans 13:8-10 (NLT)

How quickly our world would change if, not even everyone, just the the Church would take these verses to heart! If just those who bear Christ’s name would also, in the same way, show Christ’s love, we’d change the world in an instant. This love I’m talking about is not what the world thinks Christian love should be, but what Jesus showed us Christian love is.

Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Romans 12:9-10 (NLT)

Our love should not be based on how we perceive the thoughts or actions of others, but on how Jesus sees them: a lost soul in need of salvation, a confused mind in need of clarity, or a searching heart in need of an answer.

There is that old saying, love the person, hate the sin. It’s true. But in what order are we abiding by this truth? Is our hate for the sin overshadowing our love for the person? I’ve found that most sinners don’t need to be told that they’re sinners. They already know it and they already feel enough condemnation for it. What they don’t know and feel is love.

It isn’t always easy to show love for our Christian brothers and sisters, let alone those whom we know live in the sin that we are instructed to hate. But, thank God, in giving the instruction, He also gave us a way.

But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don’t think of ways to indulge your evil desires.

Romans 13:14 (NLT)

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.

Romans 12:2a (NLT)

God wants us to allow Him to transform us so that, instead of thinking the thoughts of the world, we can think His thoughts. We don’t have to try to love with our own natural love, but we can be filled with a supernatural love. A love that we don’t have to work for. A love that comes easy.

Think of it this way: say you owed a great amount of money and had no way of paying it, then some stranger comes along and gives you far more than what you need to pay of the debt. Jesus paid a price that we could never pay for a debt that he did not owe. The only debt we are now required to pay is the debt of love—and we don’t even have to come up with the love to pay it because God has given that to us as well.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 99-102, Romans 13

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

Beam me up!

I’m not what one would consider a Trekkie, but I do enjoy Star Trek. I’ve always wanted to be teleported. To be able to say into your com, “Beam me up, Scottie!” and be lifted from one place to another in a matter of moments would be pretty sweet. But long before Kirk was captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, a man from Samaria was beamed from one place to another—without Scottie at the control panel.

The latter portion of Acts 8 gives us the account of Philip and a man we know as the Ethiopian. Philip had been leading a successful ministry in Samaria when an angel came and told him it was time to move along. Now. He needed to be on a certain road at a certain time. No time to waste! Philip didn’t hesitate. He went.

On his journey, he came across the treasurer of Ethiopia. A man of great power and authority. Philip was able to give witness of Jesus and even baptized the man. As soon as Philip had baptized this stranger, he was gone. He didn’t leave. He was just gone. The eunuch never saw Philip again, but still took the Good News with him.

Meanwhile, Philip found himself in another city altogether. He continued to preach the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea (Acts 8:40).

While the fact that Philip was able to minister to this high-ranking official from Ethiopia may seem insignificant, the entire account is not. I don’t believe the fact that the Ethiopian took the Good News with him was even the most important part of this story—I believe Philip’s obedience is.

Perhaps Philip was not the first person God had sent to speak to the eunuch. Maybe, on his journey, the man had come across many believers. But he had yet to hear and accept the Good News. God needed someone to reach him. Philip was maybe not the first one who was told to go, but he was the one who responded. Not only did he respond, but he went immediately. There was no waiting. No wrapping things up in Samaria. No setting up the next leader so that the ministry wouldn’t be without. He left. He needed to be on a certain road at a certain time or the call would have been for naught.

Once that first task was accomplished, God then took Philip to a completely different city. Philip had already proven himself faithful. He’d go where God needed him when God needed him to go.

I am quite certain that if the large majority of us suddenly disappeared from our lives and landed in a foreign city we wouldn’t just continue on our merry way. We’d call home. We’d try to get home. We would be quite livid at having been unexpectedly uprooted. We would have a hard time detaching ourselves from our former lives if at all.

Philip understood that, in ministry, his life was not his own. His life’s mission was to accomplish the will of God in whatever that capacity may be. His faithfulness to the call allowed God to move him from one place to another with no interruption in what Philip was able to accomplish. His preaching never stopped. He didn’t try to rush back to Samaria or send someone to make sure things were going okay. God moved him, so he kept preaching.

How confident are you in your Christian walk that, if God decided to beam you up, you’d just go with it?

Daily Bible reading: Job 13-15, Acts 8:26-40

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