Daily Bible Reading

Control freak

Nobody likes to hear the S word. Sin isn’t something anyone wants to or enjoys talking about. Even sinners don’t like their actions to be referred to as sin. It’s a dirty word. And so it should be. But just because sin is dirty, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address it or even talk about it. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. So how do we deal with it?

We don’t.

He [Jesus] died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God.

Romans 6:10 (NLT)

Jesus already dealt with sin. He defeated it. There is no maybe about it. There were no little stragglers that escaped. Jesus got it all. He didn’t just win the battle, he won the war.

What does this mean for us?

Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Romans 6:6 (NLT)

There are days where sin feels mighty powerful in my life. I struggle with the temptation to give in—and often do. But if it’s lost its power, why is the struggle still there?

Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval.

Romans 6:16 (NLT)

Perhaps our struggle isn’t so much with sin as it is with control. Until the day we leave this earth, sin will always be an option. But just because it’s there doesn’t mean we have to allow it to control us. We should aim for the exact opposite.

So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11 (NLT)

Romans 6 goes on to talk about how we should be using our bodies as tools to bring glory to God. A tool is something to be used, controlled by the one using it. Our bodies should not control us, but we rather, should control our bodies. When we give ourselves over to sin, we give up control. Likewise, when we give ourselves over to God, we give Him control. The less control we hold for ourselves—the more we give to God, the less likely we are to give it up to sin. In a culture where control is everything, this is a difficult thing to comprehend or even accept. Yet the benefits in giving all control to God far outweigh the disadvantages (because there are no disadvantages).

For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

Romans 6:7 (NLT)

Sin doesn’t have to control us. We don’t have to try to control sin. We must simply give all control over to God. Easy in words, not so much in action. But I believe that the more we strive to give God complete control and ask for His grace in doing so, the more freedom we will find.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 75-77, Romans 6

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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

Daily Bible Reading

Fulfilled

When I make a promise, to the best of my ability, I try to keep it. When someone else makes a promise for me, depending on what it is, I try to keep that, too. If a complete stranger says I’m going to do something, I’m not likely to do it—unless I want to or already planned on doing so.

Jesus came to earth and fulfilled every promise made about him—whether he’d met the person who made it or not. Some things just happened the way they’d been foretold centuries before.

So they said, “Let’s not tear it but throw dice to see who gets it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my clothes among themselves and threw dice for my robe.” So that is what they did.

John 19:24 (NLT)

Others made sure to record fulfilled prophecies so that we would know and recognise what had taken place.

This report is from and eye-witness giving and accurate account; it is presented so that you can also believe.

John 19:35 (NLT)

And yet others, Jesus made sure he fulfilled. Even on the cross after being whipped and beaten and nailed to a tree, Jesus knew there were a few things he still had to do so that things strangers had said about him would come to pass.

Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures, he said, “I am thirsty.”

John 19:28 (NLT)

That is the Jesus we know. The Jesus we serve. The Jesus we love. The man who, while hanging on the cross near the point of death, would make a request in order to fulfill words that had been spoken centuries before. All so that we would know who he truly was.

There was no benefit to Jesus in stating his thirst. All he got for it was a taste of vinegar. But what we get is one more prophecy fulfilled amongst hundreds of others that only Jesus could fulfill. We get to see the impossibility of one man fulfilling all those words become possible. Jesus not only fulfilled prophecy in his words and action, he is the fulfillment of promise.

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 1-2, John 19:23-42

Daily Bible Reading

Big, fat liar

But if I do his work, believe in what I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will realize that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.

John 10:38 (NLT)

There are a lot of people who believe that Jesus was a prophet and a great man yet they do not believe that he is the Son of God. These people accept that he had an incredible ministry for several years, gathered many followers and then, at the height of his fame, was put to death. They believe that Jesus was a good teacher and charismatic enough to amass disciples, but he was nothing more than that.

This raises one big question: if you believe that Jesus was a great man and that his teachings hold great truth and wisdom, but all that stuff about being the Son of God was just a bunch of crazy talk, doesn’t that make Jesus a big, fat liar? And if Jesus was a big, fat liar about the one thing that he based his entire ministry on, how can you possibly believe anything else he had to say?

Jesus said it himself, if you don’t believe in him, believe in what he did. But if you believe in what he did, you would have to admit that he truly is the Son of God.

Either Jesus really is the Son of God, brought to earth, lived, died, and was raised to life or he was one heck of a con man.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 20-22, John 10:22-42

Daily Bible Reading

I lay it down

We always talk about how Jesus was killed. He was murdered. He was put to death. But was he really?

When Jesus was finally sentenced to being flogged and crucified, the religious leaders thought they got the last laugh. They got what they wanted. The man who threatened their entire way of life would die. They would have him killed.

Read the scriptures again. Yes, Jesus was sentenced to death. Yes, Jesus was flogged. He was crucified. But was he actually murdered? Was he really put to death?

Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46 (NLT)

He shouted. As he hung on the cross in unbearable pain for crimes he did not commit, he shouted. He raised his voice so every ear in the vicinity could hear that he would not be put to death. He gave his life of his own volition.

How angry the Jewish leaders must have been. In the moment when they expected to finally be able to breathe that sigh of relief, the man they wanted to have killed made sure everyone knew his life was given willingly. And Jesus had to do so.

The Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may have it back again. No one can take my life from me. I lay it down voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it up again. For my Father has given me this command.

John 10:17-18 (NLT)

By proclaiming with his last breath that he was giving up his life into God’s hands, Jesus was fulfilling his own words. Those words took all power away from the men who put him on the cross. Little did they know that, in their anger and indignance, they played right into the plan of God. By putting Jesus on the cross, they fulfilled prophecy and gave the plan of salvation another big push toward fulfillment.

The next time you consider the account of the cross, keep in mind that, while Jesus died, he was not put to death. He laid down his life voluntarily. For me. For you.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 8-9, Luke 23:39-56 

Daily Bible Reading

They don’t know

If you were sentenced to death for a crime that you didn’t commit, how would you be acting? Would you go gracefully to the gallows or electric chair or, with every breath, scream out your innocence? Would you blame the system and your captors or would you calmly accept your fate?

It’s difficult to accept any sort of punishment or retribution for wrongdoing when you know you’re innocent of the crime. Even more so to do it with grace and dignity. Yet that is exactly what Jesus did.

He’d already been flogged and was carrying the beam of the cross where he would soon be nailed. People were yelling at him, calling out to him, and crying over him. He stops and tells them not to cry for him. When he finally makes it to The Skull, his hands and feet are pierced through and the cross is dropped into place.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34a (NLT)

Forgive them. Forgive them. Forgive them?! Even as he neared his final moments, Jesus somehow managed to keep his eyes on the prize. He knew he was innocent. He knew that the soldiers had been forced to do this to him. He knew that they, though not entirely innocent, deserved grace and forgiveness.

They may have known that they were putting an innocent man to death, but what they didn’t know is that they had a literal hand in the plan of salvation. The hands that wielded the hammers that pounded the nails through Jesus’ flesh were God-ordained. Without the callous men who held no qualms over killing an innocent man, Jesus never would have died. Never would have overcome death. Never would have risen. Never would be able to save the world.

Just because someone doesn’t know God or know what they’re doing doesn’t mean that their actions cannot be used of Him.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 6-7, Luke 23:27-38