Daily Bible Reading

Find the time

I recently had my father and two of my nephews in the car. We were heading out to watch another of my nephews (I have seven nephews) play football. We’d barely pulled off the street when I looked back to see the older of the two pull a video game out of his pocket. I asked my dad if he was supposed to have it. He’d been told to leave it at home.

“Hey, Kiddo,” I said reaching back. “You’re not supposed to have that. Hand it over.”

“Well, I guess I forgot I had it in my pocket.” (The flaw in this story was the speed in which he pulled it out of his pocket once we started driving.) He handed it over and I put in the console of the car. When it slipped out, I had my dad put it in his pocket.

When we got home later that evening, my nephew wouldn’t get out of the car. He was squishing himself between the front seats reaching for the console—where he’d last seen his video game. In a matter of minutes, he forgot that it was in his pocket, but over several hours, he didn’t forget where he’d seen me put it…

Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right.

Ecclesiastes 8:5b (NLT)

My nephew is eight years old. And he’s smart. Really smart. But still largely lacking in the wisdom department. He had a desired outcome—to have his game with him when we left the house. In order to get to that outcome, the cost was willful disobedience and a lie to try to cover it up.

Most of us would look at this situation and shake our heads. Yet, we’ve probably done something similar in our adult lives. There is an outcome we desire and we make some decisions to get there. A few people may get hurt or shunned along the way, but we plow ahead on the most direct route to get what we want. But what if there was a less direct way to get there? What if we didn’t have to hurt someone to get it? The wisest course of action isn’t always the most direct and, sometimes, it’s taking no action at all.

Wisdom takes the time looks at the outcome, determines whether it is necessary or not, then determines the best way to either go after it or avoid it altogether.

We must all make choices on a daily basis. It is wisdom that will lead us to do what is right. Wisdom finds right the time and the right way to do it.

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 7-9, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

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Daily Bible Reading

Hope anew

As humans, when left entirely to our own devices, we make poor choices.

left alone

Whether it be cereal or flour all over the kitchen, makeup all over the bathroom, or permanent marker all over the sibling, no kid ever had to be taught to make a bad decision. It all comes naturally. If we are never taught any different and are left to make our own choices, it is pretty much a guarantee that life will become a series of one bad decision after another.

People need to be free to make their own choices. Yes, they do, but they also need to be taught to make the right choices.

I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and know,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children
but we will tell the next generation about
the glorious deeds of the Lord.
We will tell of his power and the mighty
miracles he did.
For he issued his decree to Jacob;
he gave his law to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
that they might teach their children
So each generation can set its hope anew on God
remembering his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.
Then they will not be like their ancestors—
stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful,
refusing to give their hearts to God.

Psalm 78:2b-8 (NLT)

There are reasons why the Bible first, exists, and second, is full of verses about wisdom, knowledge, and instruction. These are not things that happen by chance. As you can see by the photos above, humans aren’t born wise. We are all prone to bad decision-making.

If you’ve been instructed to go somewhere you’ve never been before, but have not been given a map, how will you ever get there? Will chance lead you to that place? It’s doubtful.

Teach your child to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

Young or old, every person must be taught to make good choices—it’s never too late. Just like Israel passed on accounts of the miraculous things God did for their nation, so should we pass on accounts of the things God has done for, in, and through us. If the people around us are never given a map, how can we expect them to arrive at salvation?

…but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:60b (NIV)

PROCLAIM: to announce; to utter openly; to make public

Church, it is our mandate to publicly proclaim the Gospel, to utter it openly, to make it public, to know Christ and to make him known.

So you must never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:8a (NLT)

This generation and the ones to follow will not be able to remember God’s glorious miracles if they never heard about them in the first place. When God does something, talk about it! When He says something, tell someone else. Give the next generation the opportunity to set their hope anew on God.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 78, Romans 7

Daily Bible Reading

Don’t tempt me

I have a neurological condition which makes it better for myself—and everyone else around me—if I avoid eating gluten. I’m not allergic or anything, but I’m a happier person without it. But I love it. There is nothing like a giant bowl of fresh pasta dripping with butter and oozing with cheese. Thinking about this isn’t helpful. Especially when I’m hungry.

Now, before I go further, let me say that I am in no way trying to make a mockery of God’s Word, I’m just trying to simplify a few verses and, while this analogy may not be perfect, it does make sense.

We’re all able to be tempted. Jesus was tempted. He went out to the desert and fasted for the purpose of being tempted. In his life, I cannot imagine that anyone would have been tempted more. After all, if Satan could get Jesus to stumble, he’d win.

In our reading in Matthew, Jesus knows his time on earth is coming to a close. He knows the cross lies before him. He knows what is required of him. He knows it will be the most difficult thing any human being would ever have to endure in the entire history and future of mankind. He’s shared this with his disciples and Peter, tries to offer some encouragement.

But Peter took him aside and corrected him. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”

Matthew 16:22 (NLT)

First of all, I find it amusing that Peter pulls Jesus aside for correction. In my mind, that’s like me taking Billy Graham aside and telling him he’s preached the salvation message wrong.

Jesus’ response is immediate.

Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s.”

Matthew 16:23 (NLT)

I’m quite sure that the human side of Jesus would have loved nothing more than to accept Peter’s words. No, I’m Jesus. Of course this will never happen to me! But the God side of him knew exactly what was going on.

It’s like someone offering me that dripping, oozing bowl of pasta knowing I would truly enjoy it in the moment. But that’s all. The benefit is momentary. The negative effects last much longer than the initial pleasure. The intent was good. It was for my benefit and enjoyment, but the understanding of the full situation was lacking.

Jesus knew that he could have denied the cross, that he could have turned his back on all of humanity for his own comfort and pleasure. This is what Peter saw. He saw the momentary relief, but not the full picture.

Had Jesus fallen into this temptation, the lasting effects would have been eternal. There would be no re-do. No chance to try again. Did Jesus believe that Peter was Satan? Of course not In the previous verses, the Holy Spirit reveals to Peter exactly who Jesus is and Jesus goes on to commission Peter to build the Church. Peter was not of Satan, but the temptation was. Peter wasn’t able to see the bigger picture in that moment.

In all of this, what I’m trying to say is this: look at the grander scheme. Look beyond a single moment. Every decision we make has the potential for a lasting effect. Will you settle for momentary pleasure or will you deny yourself the small pleasure for a greater benefit?

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 4-6, Matthew 16