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)

2017-08-05 15.17.05
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

Valuable

What determines the value of your life? Is it how much money you make or how much stuff you have? Is it the quality of your education and the job you have? Is it how much you give to the poor and needy? What is it that makes life worth something if it is even worthy anything at all?

But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.

Acts 20:24 (NLT)

Paul considered all but three years of his life to be worthless—the only years that held value were the ones he used to obey the call of God on his life.

Like Paul, we’ve all been given the same assignment—the Great Commission as described in Mark 16:15. But what about everything else? Not everyone can (or should) go into full time ministry. How do we know what else to do with our lives to make them worthwhile? How do we know what to do to give our lives worth?

Who else can we get advice from than the man after God’s heart? David certainly knew where guidance came from.

Who are those who fear the Lord?
He will show them the path they should choose.

Psalm 25:12 (NLT)

God’s call on our lives doesn’t simply appear out of thin air the moment we accept Christ as Savior. It takes time. It takes a relationship. It takes trust.

Our value and worth in life are derived from our relationship with God and our obedience to His leading. My call isn’t your call and your call isn’t your sister’s call. While we’ve all been given certain instructions as Christians, the how, when, and where may vary. Determining those factors can only come through your own personal relationship with Jesus. This is where trust and dependence on God comes in.

The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all those who keep his covenant and obey his decrees.

Psalm 25:10 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 25-27, Acts 20:17-38

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

Daily Bible Reading

Proof

Life is all about proof. We all need to prove ourselves. When you’re looking for a job, you need to prove that you’re qualified. When you want to buy a house, you need to prove you can make the mortgage payments. When you want to cross a border, you need to prove who you are.

When he [Abraham] had proven himself faithful, he [God] made a covenant with him…

Nehemiah 9:8a (NLT)

Abraham had to prove himself worthy before God would cut a covenant with him. God wanted proof that this guy was going to be faithful before He bestowed blessings on him.

Many Christians are still acting like Abraham, trying to prove themselves worthy of a covenant with God. While Abraham was required to offer proof of faithfulness, God cut a covenant with us knowing full well we were all unfaithful. He knew when He sent Jesus to the cross that He was making a covenant with generation after generation of unfaithful people.

There is nothing that we can do to prove ourselves worthy of the covenant God has made with us. Our worth comes when we accept the gift God has so freely given to us.

Under the old covenant, the priest stands before the altar day after day, making sacrifices that can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time. For by that one offering he perfected forever all those whom he is making holy.

Hebrews 10:11-12, 14 (NLT)

Our proof is in Jesus’ sacrifice. In his blood. It is the only proof of worth we need when we come to stand before the throne of God. Works will not make us more or less worthy of the covenant, because by that one offering Jesus perfected forever all of us whom the Father is making holy.

There’s your proof.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 9-11, Acts 4:1-22

Daily Bible Reading

Shine a light

Have you ever been camping in a place where there are no lights? Have you been so far away from the city that the lights can no longer be seen on the horizon? On nights when the moon is just a sliver and clouds obstruct the stars, it’s dark. Really dark. Just one flashlight can go a long way on a night light that. One light can prevent an entire group of people from stumbling. With every light that’s added, more people can safely traverse an area.

Now imagine your campground away from the city is the world. Christians are the light. If there are no Christians—those who reflect the light of Christ—people are left to stumble. But the more people there are who reflect Jesus, the brighter the path becomes.

Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. As long as it is light, people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. Only at night is there danger of stumbling because there is no light.”

John 11:9-10 (NLT)

Instead of complaining about how dark the world is, why not do something about it? Why not go out there and shine a light for those whom you see stumbling along in the darkness. The more the Church pulls back from the world, not wanting to associate with it, the darker it becomes. The more we get out there into the world, the brighter it will be.

If you’re the one in the dark with a flashlight, you aren’t going to keep it hidden and let your friends trip and fall. Let’s all shine a light and remove the danger of stumbling.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 23-25, John 11:1-17

Daily Bible Reading

Different

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

John 13:35 (NLT)

When you’re not with other Christians, do you act differently from everyone else? Is there something about you that separates you from them?

Yesterday we talked about God leaving His mark on us—the evidence of His mark is love.

If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he solemnly promised to do. Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you.

Deuteronomy 28:9-10 (NLT)

Israel wasn’t different just because they were a different nation. Their actions and traditions made them stand out over every other nation in the area. They didn’t have to tell people they were set apart, they really were set apart.

The Church should be the same. We shouldn’t have to go around telling everyone we’re Christians, it should be plainly evident in the way we act. If we have to tell people we’re different, are we really different?

If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging symbol.

1 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT)

I’m going to challenge you today—when you go about your daily business, love. Don’t be stingy with it. Be audacious with it. Greet people warmly (without being awkward about it), give generously, smile at the person who scowls at you. Act differently and see if anyone takes notice. The responses you get might even surprise you.

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 28, Mark 15:27-47

Daily Bible Reading

Turn

In the last year or so, Christianity has come under severe attack in the western world. While I don’t make little of those who have given their lives for the Gospel in other countries, in many ways, the attack on Christianity in North America is far worse than in the countries where people die for their faith.

The attack in many eastern countries is overt – Christians know they’re under attack. What makes it worse in North America is that the attack is often coming from within and we don’t even see it.

There is epidemic in the Church of Christians modifying their beliefs because the Truth of the Bible makes them – and others – uncomfortable. We’ve turned Christianity into gourmet coffee and warm, fuzzy feelings.

Jesus didn’t preach comfort. In fact, in Matthew 4:1, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil. We comfortable Christians like to look at temptation itself as a sin. It’s not. It’s a test. It’s a challenge. It’s a place to prove your faith. To believe that walk with God is a walk free of temptation is ignorant as well as fatal to your faith.

Of course we can pray that God will help us to avoid temptation (Matthew 6:13), but if you’re never tempted, you’ll never be tried and never have the opportunity to strengthen your faith.

We embrace sin with the mantra, “I was born this way.” Of course you were! We all were! But that doesn’t mean we have to live that way.

From then on, Jesus began to preach, “Turn from you sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Matthew 4:17 (NLT)

How can we, as the Church, help to save a world from sin when we ourselves embrace it?

This year, I’d love to see the Church stand up and speak the Truth and speak it loudly. Like, the disciples when Jesus called them, we need to drop what we’re doing and follow the only One who can lead us from temptation. We need to stop making room for excuses and start preaching the Good News about the Kingdom. Jesus’ example is rather simple – preach the Good News and heal all the sick. Crowds followed.

Turn from you sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 9-11, Matthew 4