Daily Bible Reading

Never be ashamed

If you’re afraid of the dark, if you’ve encountered a scary situation, if you can’t seem to put your mind at ease, 2 Timothy 1:7 may have been a verse that came to mind or one that someone has given to you. I don’t want to burst your bubble—because we shouldn’t be fearful when God is on our side—but in context, that verse really doesn’t have much to do with being afraid and has more to do with being bold.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

That’s a great verse and I know it’s helped many get through some pretty intense situations, but take a look at what Paul tells Timothy next.

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

2 Timothy 1:8 (NLT)

That doesn’t sound much like Timothy was struggling with night terrors or paranoia. It sounds as though Timothy was having trouble finding his voice when it came to sharing the Gospel.

I don’t want to make light of those who genuinely deal with fear. It’s something we all deal with at times in our lives, but I want to be sure that we really understand what these verses are talking about.

Preceding these passages, Paul reminds Timothy to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave him. Then he tells him that God hasn’t given him a spirit of fear.

God has given all of us—yes all—spiritual gifts. And sometimes it can be difficult to step out in these gifts. What if I’m wrong? What if I’ve missed God? What if someone makes fun of me? What if people don’t understand? There is nothing wrong with having these questions. The error comes when we allow them to control when and how we use the gifts God has given us. This is why Paul tells Timothy not to fear. He says, I am not ashamed, because I know Jesus, the One in whom I have believed (NCV).

There is a boldness that comes when we know Christ, I mean really know Christ. He gives us the power, love, and self-discipline to step out in the gifts that he has given to us. And then it is up to us to use, to refine, and to protect those gifts.

Protect the truth that you were given; protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

2 Timothy 1:14 (NCV)

The more you use your gift—whatever that gift may be—the more confident you will become in it. Never be ashamed to use what God has given you, but be confident in the One who gave it to you.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 20-22, 2 Timothy 1

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Daily Bible Reading

Walking contradiction

The life of a Christian is full of contradictions. To the world, it would make no sense at all, but to the born again believer, it makes perfect sense. Die so you can live. Bind yourself so you can be free. Fear God so you fear nothing else.

The Lord said to me in the strongest terms: “Do not think like everyone else does. Do not be afraid that some plan conceived behind close doors will be the end of you. Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty. He alone is the Holy one. If you fear him, you need fear nothing else.

Isaiah 8:11-13 (NLT)

When we have a proper, holy fear of God, there is no room for any other fear. In fact, the fear of God rejects all other fear completely.

FEAR: holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun everything that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience

Paul, like God, spoke to the church in Galatia in strong terms.

Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things.

Galatians 4:12a (NLT)

What things? The things of the law. Paul pleaded with the church to let go of the law that holds us back from the freedom that can only be found through a personal relationship with Christ. But we must wholly bind ourselves to that relationship. And that’s what faith truly is.

FAITH: to persuade, to draw towards any thing; to conciliate (to draw or bring together, to unite, to call; the primary sense of the root is to strain, to stretch, drive or draw); to believe, to obey.

Our faith in Christ draws us to him and to the Father. True faith stretches and strains toward the Truth, leaving all else behind—shunning everything that can offend God. Our fear—respect and reverence—for God leads us away from all other fear and through faith, calls us toward and unites us with perfect love which, we know, casts out all fear.

To try to understand all this through our human nature is futile. It can only be learned as we grow in our relationship with God and through divine revelation as as result of that relationship. So don’t worry if it doesn’t all make sense right away. The important thing is to keep at it.

Don’t copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

Romans 12:2a (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 7-9, Galatians 4

Daily Bible Reading

In conclusion

As we come to the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, some may be left with the idea that, since nothing seems to really matter, we should just live our lives in pursuit of personal pleasure.

“All is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “utterly meaningless.”

Ecclesiastes 12:8 (NLT)

There’s nothing like a bit of encouragement from the Teacher (largely presumed to be Solomon) first thing in the morning. If everything still to come is meaningless (11:8), why bother trying to do good? Why should we help other people when we can help ourselves? Because it is our duty—not as Christians, but as human beings.

Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NLT)

As soon as someone tells me that I have to do something, I suddenly don’t want to do it whether it’s good or not. Words like fear and obey are often not see in the best of light and we tend to not want to comply when they’re thrust at us. If you’ve been following along in your daily Bible reading, though, you’ll have already come across hundreds of reasons why fearing God and obeying His commands are really good things.

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom…

Proverbs 15:33 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge…

Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord leads to life…

Proverbs 19:23 (NLT)

Life. Wisdom. Knowledge. Who doesn’t want those? We should fear the Lord. And not just out of duty, but because we want to.

And what about obedience?

Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.

Psalm 112:1 (NLT)

When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

John 15:10 (NLT)

Joy! Love! We could go on all day about the benefits of fearing God and obeying His commands. It may be our duty, but it is also to our benefit to do so. If the wisest man who ever lived concluded that we should do these things, perhaps there’s something to it.

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 10-12, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Daily Bible Reading

Be that hero!

Who’s your hero? Are you into super heros? Maybe Superman or Iron Man or Captain America. Maybe it’s the quarterback from your favourite football team or that awesome guitar player from your favourite band. Maybe it’s the writer of those books you can never seem to put down or even the character in those books. Whoever it is, you probably have a hero of some sort.

But what is a hero really?

HERO: A man or woman of distinguished valor, intrepidity or enterprise in danger; a great illustrious or extraordinary person.

In all of our admiring of great athletes, musicians, super heroes, and artists, do we take the time to admire another kind of extraordinary person?

The godly people in the land
are my true heros!
I take pleasure in them.

Psalm 16:3 (NLT)

These are the people who are truly deserving of our admiration. I can honestly say that I’ve got a few of these heros in my life.

The woman in Mexico who works two jobs to feed a bunch of kids that aren’t even hers. The young woman in Zambia who left her comfortable life behind to teach. The family who moved to Michigan to befriend a Muslim community. The single mom who’s teaching her boys to love, serve, and fear the Lord. The pastor who works on his day off just to be sure the job gets done.

These people are true heroes. They are each great and extraordinary in their own way. And they are all godly people. It is these kinds of people who are worthy of our praise and admiration. These are the people we should seek to emulate.

Let’s face it, you’re not and orphan from Krypton. You’re never going to make a flying suit and save the world. And I doubt you’ve never spent the better part of a century entombed in ice after being a guinea pig in a secret government science project. But you can do little things every day that make you a hero in the eyes of someone. In the words of Larry Boy, be that hero!

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 13-16, Acts 18

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The price of wisdom

How much would you pay for wisdom? 10% of your paycheque? An entire paycheque? What about an entire year’s worth of paydays?

It’s all fine and good if you’re willing to pay for wisdom, but it can’t be bought.

Wisdom is far more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold. Coral and valuable rock crystals are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above pearls.

Job 28:17-18 (NLT)

Before we get too far into how much it is worth, what exactly is wisdom anyway and why should we be trying to get our hands on something that is seemingly unattainable?

WISDOM: The right use or exercise of knowledge; the choice of laudable ends, and of the best means to accomplish them. Profitable words or doctrine.

Let’s be clear—wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing. A person can be a walking encyclopedia and still be lacking in wisdom. Having all the knowledge in the world doesn’t mean that a person knows how to use it. In short, wisdom is the proper application of knowledge.

If having knowledge doesn’t mean you’re automatically wise, where does wisdom come from?

And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’

Job 28:28 (NLT)

Until God enters the picture, all you can ever have is knowledge. What use is knowledge if you don’t know how to use it properly? Wisdom is a byproduct of a healthy relationship with God. It is not something we can purchase or come across by any other means other than to walk with the One from whom wisdom flows.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

James 1:5 (NLT)

There you have it. Ask God. It’s the only way to attain the otherwise unattainable. The price tag on wisdom is your humility.

Daily Bible reading: Job 26-28, Acts 11

Daily Bible Reading

Gone Ahead

Do you ever wonder how much preparation God has done on your behalf? If you’re like me, probably not at all. But what if He has. What if, like with Israel, God has gone ahead of you and prepared something great? What if there is one person, like John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus, who has set out before you and made a way where there was no way? What if we really believed that God is for us?

“I know the Lord has given you this land,” [Rahab] told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone is living in terror for we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt…”

Joshua 2:9-10a (NLT)

I tend to forget just how much preparation went into Israel’s settlement in the Promised Land. For 40 years, rumours of their exploits went through the nations, and like any good story, it probably got embellished along the way. By the time these stories reached Jericho, it was no wonder the inhabitants were living in terror.

Israel was a huge nation who had left Egypt and crossed a sea on dry land. They’d been led in the wilderness for a full generation by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They’d been fed with manna that arrived like the dew every morning. They drank sweet water from a rock. They defeated every enemy the Lord set them up against.

While these stories were working fear into the hearts of their enemies, they were building strength and courage in Israel.

I command you—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

This is why, in the previous verse, Israel is reminded to meditated on God’s Word. To study it day and night so that they would be able to obey it and remember it and with it, have success.

The same stands true for us today. God has gone ahead of us—whether we’re aware of it or not. The closer we keep His Word to us, the stronger we’ll be. The more courageous we will be. The more confident we will be in the God who has made plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

The enemy before us is already terrified. They’ve already lost the battle. If we go in confident in the One who sent us and His Word for us, we can’t lose.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 1-3, Luke 1:57-80

Daily Bible Reading

Honour

Who doesn’t want to be honoured? You may think of being honoured as perhaps being presented an award of merit at a special ceremony. Or receiving a medal for acts of bravery. What about simply being treated with respect?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. We all want some. So how do we get it?

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 15:33 (ESV)

Back to this fear of the Lord thing again? Yes.

In Bible school, we spent over two weeks on an in-depth study on honour. It all came back to our approach to God.

When we know our place in reference to God, we not only have a greater understanding of Him, we have a greater understanding of who we are. When God is put in the correct place in our lives, having ourselves in the right place is a beneficial byproduct.

Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

Proverbs 16:20 (ESV)

These seemingly unrelated phrases are not lumped together just to fill a page. Over and over again through the Proverbs are verses about trusting in and relying on God with good things to follow.

If you want honour and respect, you have to be able to properly give honour and respect. Honour God. Respect God. Put God in His place and then you will be in a position for Him to put you in your place. Humble yourself and you won’t have to look for honour, it will find you.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 15-16; 2 Corinthians 1