Daily Bible Reading

Dependent

There is one company in particular (and probably many more) that has had no little amount of difficulty in filling an available position. Over the last five years, at least four different men have worked the job. They, like many other companies, want to hire people with experience. They want employees who require a little less training, and maybe have some education in the industry. They want a ready-made employee.

However, in all their hiring of guys with experience, they failed to look for the most important component of all—work ethic. Hire a guy with experience. Great. But how hard will he work for the company? Is the job just a paycheque so he can turn his phone off and hang out with his buddies on the weekend? Or is he a guy with not so much experience, but an eagerness to work and a wife and kids at home that depend on him?

As this company discovered, it’s not always the guys with the experience that turn out to be the best employees—it’s the guys who are willing to get down and get dirty and have dependents they must provide for.

DEPENDENT: One who is at the disposal of another; one who is sustained by another, or who relies on another for support or favor.

People tend work harder when they’re not just working for themselves, but for others who could not live without them.

Give me happiness, O Lord,
for my life depends on you.

Psalm 86:4 (NLT)

We are God’s children, His dependents. We literally cannot live without Him—a fact He knows very well.

As we’re reading through the Psalms, think about how many verses speak to God of needing rescue, life, sustenance. God, our Father, is like both the employee with experience and the one with dependents. He knows what He’s doing and He has a reason to work hard at it—us. He’s not lazy. He doesn’t turn His phone off on weekends. He’s not absent.

for your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death!

Psalm 86:13 (NLT)

For the Lord God is our light and protector.
He gives us grace and glory.
No good thing will the Lord withhold
from those who do what is right.
O Lord, Almighty,
happy are those who trust in you.

Psalm 84:11-12 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 85-87, Romans 9

Daily Bible Reading

JOY!

JOY: The gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exultation; exhilaration or spirits.

I believe that there are some, or even a lot, of Christians who are under the impression that joy is not something we should feel or express on a consistent basis. Maybe someone who is struggling will be offended by our joyful mood. We don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable by being happy all the time. It’s weird to always be in a good mood.

This is another occasion where I have not been able to find scripture to back up a pervasive idea that has invaded so many churches and Christians. There is nothing in God’s Word that would suggest that Christians must be a somber folk, not given to smiles our bouts of laughter. Everything I’ve discovered would indicate the exact opposite.

What joy for those you choose to bring near,
those who live in your holy courts.
What joy awaits us
inside your holy temple.

Psalm 65:4 (NLT)

We should be joyful because God has brought us near and that joy doesn’t even have to wait because we are His holy temple. Joy should be an overwhelming experience that saturates every day of our lives.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

Philippians 4:4 (NLT)

Joy isn’t just an experience or an emotion.

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

Joy is a byproduct of the Holy Spirit being active in our lives. According to Proverbs 17:22, a cheerful heart is good medicine. Nehemiah 8:10 tells you not to be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! Our joy should be contagious, infectious, making us stronger.

By allowing ourselves to experience a gift that God has given us, we not only strengthen ourselves, but we then have the opportunity to pass on that joy and strength to others. Google a video of a baby laughing and see how long you can keep a straight face. Joy is meant to be shared.

When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my father and remain in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

John 15:10-11 (NLT)

Joy is simply the overflow of the love of God in our lives. Try spreading a little joy today. Smile at a few strangers. Laugh with a friend. Take note of how you are affected. See if you can improve someone else’s day.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 65-67, Romans 2

Daily Bible Reading

The former generation

“You don’t understand.”

“These are different times.”

“It’s not the same as it was for you.”

As young people, we probably all said this to an older person or two. If you’re not so young anymore, you’ve probably heard a phrase or two like this. There are a great many things that change with each generation, but what young people never seem to realise is that there are also a great many things that never change.

To some extent, we all want to feel as though we’re the only person who’s ever gone through what we’re going through. We want to be special. We want to be alone in the situation. If we admit that someone else may have gone through it before, it would mean we’d have to listen to that person and, suddenly, we’re not as special and unique as we thought we were.

Job, in his great trouble and misery has spent a lot of time complaining—and justly so! A few of his buddies came to try and talk some sense into him.

Just ask the former generation. Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors. For we were born but yesterday and know so little. Our days on earth are as transient as a shadow. But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you from the wisdom of former generations.

Job 8:8-10 (NLT)

This is kind of slap in the face to Job hearing a friend tell him to suck it up because he’s not the only person who’s ever lost everything. There were others. Learn from them.

I get made fun of a lot because the majority of my social circles include people at least two decades older than me. Most of my friends are old enough to be my parents, if not grandparents. As much as it would be nice to hang out with people my own age, I wouldn’t trade my friends for anything. When I sit in a room full of ladies who have lived full lives, I am surrounded with centuries of life experience. Anything I could possibly go through, one of those women has probably gone through it. Their generosity in how they are willing to share from their experiences often astounds me. There is so much to learn. And I don’t understand those who don’t see the benefit of sitting with and learning from someone older than they.

Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was one of those young people who refused to listen to the advice of the older generation. He scorned the advice of his father’s advisors and listened to his young friends instead. His legacy was much less than that of his father’s.

But he was an evil king, for he did not seek the Lord with all his heart.

2 Chronicles 12:14 (NLT)

Don’t allow yourself to go through life believing that there is nothing to be learned from generations passed. If you are young, seek the wisdom of the old. If you are old, don’t be stingy with sharing your experience.

Times may change, but wise council does not. This world may be full of knowledge, but it is lacking in wisdom. We must all be willing to both seek and share wisdom if we are going to see change.

Daily Bible reading: Job 7-9, Acts 7:44-60

Daily Bible Reading

Evidence

Can you see God? You haven’t seen Him? I’ve never seen the wind. I see the effects of the wind, but I’ve never seen the wind.

Billy Graham

Today, in my part of the world, it’s windy. I’m looking out my big windows and I see snow blowing across the yard. In the moments when the wind takes a break, big white flakes swirl down and add themselves to the drifts already covering the yard. Then the wind picks up again and snow both from the sky and the ground and every other surface blasts my view.

I can see that it’s windy. I see evidence of the wind in the snow coming down as well as the drifts on the ground. But I can’t actually see the wind. If I dare to go outside for a few minutes and come back in, the evidence of the wind will be on me. I’d likely have snow stuck to one side of me and not the other. My hair would be standing on end and I’m quite certain I’d be shivering. You’d see the effects of the wind in my appearance, but neither you or I could say we’d actually seen the wind.

The quote above from Billy Graham is well known. If you listened to Christian music in the 90’s, you’d have heard a clip of it on dcTalk’s Jesus Freak album. You may have heard it used many times over the years, but have you really thought about it? Have you gone to the Word for scripture to back it up?

In Exodus, Moses is sent up Mount Sinai once more (he’d come down with tablets from God once already, but ended up smashing them upon realising Israel, in the forty days he’d been gone had reverted to worshipping a golden calf). God needed a word with Moses. And so, for another forty days and nights, Moses fasted and spoke with God face to face. When he finally came back down the mountain, the people of Israel couldn’t bear to look at him, so strong was the glory of God that shone from his face.

Oh, it was just that once, you may say. It wasn’t. Read on in Exodus 34, Moses had to come up with a veil in order to hide his face when he came out from being in the presence of God. Israel didn’t see God, but they saw the effects of His presence.

What do you look like after you’ve been in the presence of God? It’s a personal, spiritual experience, I don’t like to let people know. Why would you want to hide that kind of experience from others?  It’s just for me, no one else. If it was just for Moses, he could have kept to himself and not had to bother with covering his face. When I meet with God, it’s not like that. If you’re not at all changed, are you really meeting with God?

There are many excuses we can give, but in the end, it all comes down to the evidence. If you’ve experienced the presence of God in any way, it should show. You don’t have to literally light up the room with your face, but shouldn’t your countenance show that you’ve experienced something good? Should your attitude not reflect time spent in the presence of the Great I Am?

We might not be able to see the presence of God, but we should surely be able to see the effects of it.

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 34-36, Matthew 23:1-22

Daily Bible Reading

The secrets of the Kingdom

Do you ever feel as though, the more time you spend in the presence of God, the more you understand and want to experience the presence of God? But as soon as you stop taking the time, that feeling goes away and you forget what it’s like to truly experience God.

Jesus spoke to His disciples about this very thing.

Then he explained to them, “You have been permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have not. To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them…

Matthew 13:11-12 (NLT)

This is why continual study of the Word of God and regular church attendance is so important. The more you get, the more you will yet receive. But as soon as you close your fist, the gravy train ends and all that you had will be lost. Our faith, our relationship with God is a process, not a single event.

My dear friends, you have always obeyed God when I was with you. It is even more important that you obey now while I am away from you. Keep working to complete your salvation with fear and trembling because God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him.

Philippians 2:12-13 (NCV)

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 41, Matthew 13:1-32

Daily Bible Reading

This is a test

Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers. Examine yourselves [not me]! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves [by an ongoing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you faith the test and are rejected as counterfeit?

2 Corinthians 13:5 (AMP)

When was the last time you gave yourself a faith test? When was the last time you really looked at your Christian experience and verified that it is ongoing and wasn’t just a one-time thing?

I think we, as Christians, should think about this more often. It all comes in the same package as renewing our minds. Christianity is not a one-and-done experience, but rather a lifelong event.

If we all tested ourselves on a regular basis, we may – at the beginning – find ourselves wanting. But, as we continue to renew our minds and get better grades on our self-examinations, we may find our lives changing at a faster pace. If we truly live according to the faith as committed believers, our daily lives should reflect that.

Go ahead. Test yourself. Do you pass?

Daily Bible reading: Song of Solomon 4-5, 2 Corinthians 13