Daily Bible Reading

Harmony

It doesn’t take a musical genius to know when an instrument is out of tune or someone in the orchestra hits a wrong note. It’s obvious. It stands out. It’s not right. But when it all works together—every instrument in tune, in harmony—it’s a beautiful thing.

HARMONY: the just adaptation of parts to each other, in any system or composition of things, intended to form a connected whole; concord; agreement

That same basic principle of harmony works in our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit works in us to be sure that we remain in harmony with God.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows that the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)

We can have a relationship with God and go our own way. Later on in Romans 8, Paul talks about how nothing can separate us from God’s love. We can accept salvation, accept God’s love, and go about our business. But why would we want to? Why would we want to live a life in discord with our Heavenly Father? Just like an out-of-tune orchestra, our lives, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will always be off. Something won’t be quite right.

But when we take advantage of the Helper God has sent us, that’s when the music happens.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)

On its own, this verse is often taken to mean that, as Christians, everything will always be great! Anyone who has been a Christian for more than five minutes can tell you that’s simply not true. Just because God works for our good doesn’t mean that it will always feel good. There is a reason that this verse follows a verse about being in harmony with God’s will. God works for our good. Meaning that God works things out for our good according to His will, not ours.

Is it always easy? No. Does it always feel good? No. Is there still a divine plan for our lives? Of course!

For God knew is people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn with many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory.

Romans 8:29-30 (NLT)

When we get our spirit in harmony with God’s Spirit, we put ourselves in a place to be used greatly by Him. We put ourselves in the centre of His will and His love.

Why would you want to play solo when you can harmonize with the entire orchestra?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 82-84, Romans 8:19-39

Daily Bible Reading

The friendship of God

FRIENDSHIP: An attachment to a person, proceeding from intimate acquaintance, and a reciprocation of kind offices, or from a favorable opinion of the amiable and respectable qualities of his mind.

There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.

Everyone needs friends. Life is miserable when done alone. We weren’t meant to do it alone. Friends can get you through dark times. Friends can make you laugh. Friends can provide for you in ways no one else can.

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)

Friendship carries evidence. You cannot be friends with someone without having evidence of that person in your life. Maybe a gift they’ve given, something they’ve left at your house, a message on your phone. Even in non-physical ways. On a bad day, a friend can pick you up. When you’re excited, they rejoice with you. In some way or another, your life will have evidence of a relationship with that person.

What about God? In James 2:23, it says that Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous. He was even called a “friend of God”. Abraham’s life surely showed evidence of his relationship with God.

Even Job knew the benefits of being friends with God.

…the friendship of God was felt in my home.

Job 29:4b (NLT)

I don’t know that any of us wouldn’t want the benefits of being friends with God—both Abraham and Job were very prosperous men because of their loyalty to the Father. But the benefits come at a price. Friendship with God costs something. We all have it—time and effort. It’s the same price tag on every relationship.

You can’t call up an old high school buddy after twenty years of silence and ask to borrow their car. But if you’ve stayed in contact with them, nurtured that relationship, and put time and effort into your friendship, that person is much more likely to help you out in whatever way they can.

God will never ignore us when we call out to Him in need, but if we only ever call out to Him in need, why should we expect Him to respond like a best friend would? Maybe, if we would continuously put time and effort into our friendship with God, those times of need won’t be so drastic and we won’t need to cry out. Perhaps our lives will show evidence of a friendship with God like Abraham and Job. A close friend may even see the need before we do. God knows our needs and wants to fulfill them. How much more would He be able to do that if we nurture the friendship of God?

Daily Bible reading: Job 29-30, Acts 12 

Daily Bible Reading

Anything

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, Ask anything in my name, and I will do it!

John 14:13-14 (NLT)

This verse almost sounds like Jesus is giving his disciples carte blanche to do whatever they want whenever they want to do it. Many people today look at this verse that way and then end up bitter and disappointed when Jesus didn’t give them the boat they’d been lusting after for months.

While Jesus didn’t place stipulations on what anything means, the next few verses offer a little more clarity.

If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth.

John 14:15-17a (NLT)

The anything Jesus talks about in verses 13 and 14 is part of the truth that is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus isn’t a genie in a bottle waiting for us to rub the lamp and invite him to perform a few magic tricks. He’s telling his disciples that, as Jesus has been speaking the words of the Father, so we—with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit—will also be able to speak the words of the Father.

The Spirit leads us in all truth. Jesus is the Truth and the Truth is the way to the Father. We are able to do the greater things Jesus spoke of in verse 12 because we have the full power of the Truth living inside of us. Greater things come when we align ourselves with the Truth. When we are one with the Truth, we can ask anything in Jesus name and he will do it because the words we speak are not our own. They are His.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 13-16, John 14 

Daily Bible Reading

Servant

Last weekend, we had a work day at the church. The men were lured in under the guise of a breakfast meeting and, after pancakes and sausage, were immediately put to work doing an assortment of tasks around the building. Most of these men are leaders in the church. Our head usher spent much of the morning hauling branches and trees into the back of a truck to be taken to the dump. Our sound man/bass player/greeter was put to work building lockers in the basement. A board member mowed and trimmed the lawn. And our pastor was armed with a chainsaw cutting down the last of the trees damaged in a winter ice storm.

For our church, this is normal. When there’s work to be done, the leadership team is first to arrive—no matter what that work is.

At the end of the day, when everyone was tired, sweating, and hungry again, I was set to leave and someone pointed out that one of my tires was rather low. The pastor was cleaning off his tools with an air compressor. I thought I’d see if he had the right piece so I could put air in my tire. Rather than hand me the piece so I could do it myself (which I was completely prepared to do), he got down on his artificial knees and did it himself.

For me, having my pastor do that extra small task of putting air in my dirty tire, was akin to Jesus getting down on his knees to wash the feet of his disciples.

We often look at the story in John 13 as Jesus humbling himself to bless his followers. He did do that, but that wasn’t all he did. The moment Jesus got down on his knees, he not only blessed, but he empowered his disciples.

In Jesus’ day, the caste system was alive and well. Servants served and lords lorded. Lines were defined and no one dared to cross them. But in order for God’s plan to work, Jesus had to put himself in the lowest position possible. The job of washing the feet of guests went to the lowliest servant in the house.

You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because it is true. And since I, the Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them. You know these things—now do them! That is the path of blessing.

John 13:13-17 (NLT)

By taking the position of the lowest servant in the house, Jesus not only showed great humility, but he put his disciples in a position greater than his own. Had Jesus remained sitting and allowed someone else to wash his feet, his followers would have always seen him as Lord and Teacher and never servant. But because they saw him as a servant, they could suddenly see themselves as master. Jesus was preparing them to hear his next words.

The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

John 14:12 (NLT)

A servant could never do greater things than the master. In order for the disciples to do greater things than Jesus, Jesus had to become the servant, and they the master. Jesus not only humbled himself, but he empowered his followers.

When my pastor got down on his knees to put air in my tire, he was following the example Jesus put forth. What would seem to be a menial task that someone of a lower position should be doing showed me that my pastor—a man deserving of great honour and respect—is willing to humble himself and put those who serve under him in a greater position. By emulating Jesus’ humility, he empowers his volunteers to do greater things.

It is great to be a master. But it is better to be a servant.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 7-9, John 13:1-17

Daily Bible Reading

Will, not can.

CAN: to be possible

WILL: divine determination

Lately, I’ve found my faith being stirred. Whether it’s because of what I experienced on the mission field or conversations with old friends, God is stirring something me and, I believe in the Church as a whole. We, as in the majority of the Western Church, have grown complacent and lazy. Not everyone, but enough that the world has largely forgotten about us. We’ve lost our power. We’ve lost our influence. We’ve lost our drive. We’ve lost our determination.

We’ve lost the difference between can and will.

Before Jesus finished his earthly ministry, he left the disciples with a lot of helpful information. They obviously made great use of it because the Church is still around today. Let’s look at a couple of these tidbits:

I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me.

John 6:57 (NLT)

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

John 14:12 (NLT)

Let’s set the record straight here. Jesus didn’t say that we can live by the power of the living Father, he said that we will.

Jesus didn’t tell us that we can do the same works [he has] done, he said that we will.

The more I read what Jesus says I will do, the less can becomes an option. Can implies maybe it will happen or maybe it won’t. Will indicates that there is no doubt about it, this is going to happen. Period.

Jesus commanded sickness and death to go. There was no wishy washy little prayer begging God to do something. There was no doubt about Jesus’ own ability or the ability of the Father who sent him. There was no maybe. Jesus never asked the question, “Can I do this?”

It’s time that we stop thinking we can do something and start knowing that we will do something. Even greater works.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 20-22, John 6:45-71

Daily Bible Reading

Light

The first chapter of the Gospel of John may well be my favourite in all the Bible. I can read it over and over again and still be greatly humbled by those few words.

In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. the light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:1-5 (NLT)

We’ve looked at the parallels between these verses and those in Genesis 1 before, but it never hurts to go back. Both books start with the same three words, in the beginning. The beginning as we know it to be. we know that God is timeless. John said that the Word already existed. So when God created the heavens and the earth, Jesus—the Word—was there. We also know from Genesis 1:2 that the Spirit was there, hovering over the surface of the void.

Then there was light. Not the sun, mind you, but Light. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. The sun doesn’t appear until verse 14.

Jesus is Light. Jesus is the Word. When God spoke His Word over the void earth, He spoke Jesus. Jesus went out and accomplished all that God spoke. In my head, Jesus is always the man with the well-coiffed hair, white robes, and a lamb draped around his shoulders. But he is so much more than that.

He is the Good Shepherd, but he is also the Word that created the earth. He is the friend of sinners, but he is also the Light that pushes back the darkness. He is the healer, but he is also in the seed that produces after their own kind.

If we only ever see the Jesus of the Gospels, we will never understand the Jesus that existed prior to his short stint on earth. He was there in the beginning. He literally was the Word that went out when God the Father spoke. He created everything there is. Jesus did that. The same Jesus that went to the cross and gave up his life for us is life itself. He is light.

Science lesson: The only reason we see anything at all is because of light. Of course! Our eyes receive signals of light reflecting off surfaces and our brains translate that into objects. What we perceive as colour is certain wavelengths of light. Light is a type of energy.

Now swap out light for Jesus.

I’m not going to explain that any further. Just think about it for a while.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 14-15, John 1:1-28