Daily Bible Reading

Identify

One of the greatest struggles of our culture today is identity. We all want—need—to know who we are and who everyone else is. There are infinite ways to identify ourselves, but we make our greatest mistake when we determine our identity by what we do rather than who we are.

One mistake or misstep can change the course of your life when you become identified by that one action. In a negative context, if a person kills someone, that person is forever known as a murderer. That person could become the world’s greatest philanthropist, yet that single action determines how they are perceived for the rest of their life. In a less drastic context, if a singer has one hit song, they are forever known as the person who sang that particular song. It may not matter that they’ve sung a hundred other songs, that one song becomes their identity.

There is so much more to us than what we do. By making a determination of who we are based on just one portion of our lives, we reject our true identity.

You are among those who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:6 (NLT)

What better way to discover your identity than looking toward the One who created you? My true identity, your true identity, is in Christ. You don’t need to go find yourself if you know Christ because who we are is found in him. The trouble comes when we reject our Creator.

From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools.

Romans 1:20-22 (NLT)

When we reject our true identity—as belonging to Jesus—darkness and confusion set it. It is no wonder that, in a culture who has rejected the very idea of God, people have so much difficulty finding their identity. With no light to guide their way, their path can only lead to darkness and death.

Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to live.”

John 8:12 (NLT)

Our journey of self-discovery should only ever lead us to one place—Jesus. We have all we need to know how we should identify ourselves in the Word of God. We are called to belong to Jesus Christ. When you identify as a child of God, you need look no further.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!

1 John 3:1a (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 62-64, Romans 1

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Daily Bible Reading

The great pursuit

Psalm 23 is one of my favourite passages in the entire Bible. I attribute this to my mother. While she was pregnant with me, she took up a project to cross stitch the entire chapter. She completed it in the hospital right before I was born. It’s now framed and hangs on the wall in my bedroom and is one of the last things I see before I go to bed every night.

Psalm 23

There is so much packed into these six verses. I can barely begin to scratch the surface, but I want to give you a little bit from each verse.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.

Psalm 23:1 (NLT)

If we follow Jesus like sheep do a shepherd, our needs will be fulfilled. God isn’t a magic genie to see to our needs and whims when we feel like rubbing the lamp. He is there to lead us and guide us. It’s under His guidance that our needs our met.

He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.

Psalm 23:2 (NLT)

Turmoil and stress don’t have to be a part of our daily lives. Like being under God’s guidance allows for our needs to be met, if we follow His lead, we will be drawn to rest and peace.

He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.

Psalm 23:3 (NLT)

Strength is required to walk God’s path. There is nothing that says walking with God will be easy, but He does give us the strength to do it. And, if we’re not bringing honour to His name, we’re probably not on His path.

Even when I walk
through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.

Psalm 23:4 (NLT)

When, not if. We will go through dark times. That’s pretty much a guarantee. But even in those times, God has promised that He will be with us—guiding us, protecting us, comforting us.

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest,
anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

Psalm 23:5 (NLT)

Our enemies will not suddenly decide to leave us alone because we decide to put our trust in God. We will still have enemies. They may still surround us. Yet God is there, providing for us in the middle of the battleground. And there, we can even find blessings!

Surely your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me.
all the days of my life,
And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:6 (NLT)

We make a grave mistake when we believe we have to chase after God’s love. His love comes after us. His love is there in peaceful rest. His love is there in the dark valley of death. His love is there in the presence of our enemies. His love is there in His house.

It’s time to stop chasing after God’s love. If we’d only just slow down for a moment, it will catch up to us and overtake us. In His love, we will find peace, rest, strength, guidance, provision, anointing, blessing, and goodness.

We don’t have to pursue God’s love because He is always pursuing us.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 22-24, Acts 20:1-16

Daily Bible Reading

Wormtongue

Afterward they preached from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. he had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, a man of considerable insight and understanding. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the Word of God. But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Saul and Barnabas said. He was trying to turn the governor away from the Christian faith.

Acts 13:6-8 (NLT)

As I read this passage, my mind immediately went to a scene from J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Two Towers. It’s one of my favourite scenes in the movies when Gandalf (newly turned from the Grey to the White) arrives in Rohan with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. Instead of finding a bustling, prosperous land, they find a king poisoned by the whispering lies of Grima Wormtongue. Théoden has so long been subject to the lies that he is even unaware of the death of his son.

Gandalf has quickly assessed the situation and silences Grima before he has the chance to speak. “Be silent! Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth.”

Théoden’s mind has been captured by the evil Saruman, but Gandalf approaches saying, “I will draw you, Saruman, as poison is drawn from a wound.” Saruman, speaking through Théoden believes he has the upper hand until Gandalf reveals the white cloak beneath the grey. Saruman is stripped of his power and cast out from Théoden.

Though I have no proof, I wouldn’t be surprised if this passage in Acts inspired Tolkien to write the scene as he did. It is a powerful moment when the light overcomes the darkness and the truth casts out the lies.

We cannot allow ourselves to make the mistake of believing that we are safe from people like Elymas and characters like Wormtongue. They truly do exist. There are those who would whisper lies until they take root in our hearts and seem to be truth. This is why we are instructed to guard out hearts.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

If we guard our hearts and continue to fill them with God’s Word, we leave no room for those evil whispers that would choke out the truth. Those words will have no effect on us. We will be able to see them for what they are and banish them before they are ever allowed to settle. So fill your heart with good things to protect it from the bad things.

I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Job 31-32, Acts 13:1-23 

 

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

Overshadow

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”

Luke 1:35a (NLT)

Here’s another word for you to think about: overshadow. It sounds ominous. And, in a way, it is.

OVERSHADOW: To cover with shade; to cover with anything that causes darkness; to render dark or gloomy.

Uh… hold on. This is the angel speaking to Mary, the girl who was to become the mother of Jesus. She was supposed to become dark and gloomy?

Look at it this way:

I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I life my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 (NLT)

When Mary said to the angel, I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants, this is what she meant. She was willing to sacrifice herself—her own will, her own desire, her own ambition—to do what God had chosen her to do. Had she not been willing to take a back seat to her own life, the Holy Spirit would not have been able to come upon her.

Here was a young girl preparing herself for marriage. No property of her own. No education (that was reserved for males). Yet, when the angel of the Lord came to her, without question she chose to put her own life aside and take on the life that God had prepared for her.

Could I so easily set myself aside to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit? Could you?

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 33-34, Luke 1:24-56

Daily Bible Reading

Preparation

First off, if you’re an email follower of this blog, please excuse the multiple posts in a day while I play catch up. I have good reason for missing a few days, but now I’m back and we’ll continue on while catching up at the same time.

In some ways, I like to prepare. In other ways, I hate it. When I’m heading out on a long trip across the country or overseas, I have a standard spreadsheet for everything I always bring with me and extra worksheets for each type of trip I go on. My list is very different for a one week cross-Canada road trip than it is for a two week trip down the Amazon. I prepare for my expected journey.

But there are some journeys that are more difficult to prepare for. And some yet that are nearly impossible to prepare for.

In Exodus, God is preparing Israel for a big trip. A really big trip. They’d been occupying and enslaved in a foreign country for 430 years and now it was time to go home. Their numbers had increased greatly along with their belongings and livestock. An open invitation and blessing had become oppression.

Every time Moses approached Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go” while Pharaoh responded, “no” was preparation.

For every negative response, God was preparing Israel for a greater miracle.

Every time they were turned away, God was working in the heart of the king toward a greater show of His might.

The darker the situation became for Israel, the greater the potential for a miracle became—and that’s exactly what happened.

Not only was Egypt destroyed and Israel allowed to leave, but they were encouraged to leave and blessed in their going out. They were blessed in and they were blessed going out.

In what may seem to be a great time of anger and frustration, God may be preparing for an even greater miracle.

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 11-12, Matthew 18:21-35

Daily Bible Reading

Light

Have you ever seen a believer fall into sin? If you haven’t, chances are you’re not a very observant person. Even un-churched, non-believers see Christians stumble on a regular basis.

Have you ever seen followers of that person then also fall into sin? Unfortunately, it happens all too often. So-and-so did it, so I can, too.

I believe that people are drawn into darkness by the sin of others often because it is not the Light they are following, but the person from which the light shines. They’ve failed to differentiate the two and, when the light dims, rather than continuing to follow the Light, they continue to follow the person.

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:5-6 (ESV)

It is not our job to promote ourselves, but to promote Jesus in us. If we are true stewards of the Gospel, we will direct people to Jesus and away from ourselves. Not only are we showing others how to be stewards of the Light, but we remove ourselves from the equation should we happen to stumble.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 21-22, 2 Corinthians 4