Daily Bible Reading

Valuable

What determines the value of your life? Is it how much money you make or how much stuff you have? Is it the quality of your education and the job you have? Is it how much you give to the poor and needy? What is it that makes life worth something if it is even worthy anything at all?

But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.

Acts 20:24 (NLT)

Paul considered all but three years of his life to be worthless—the only years that held value were the ones he used to obey the call of God on his life.

Like Paul, we’ve all been given the same assignment—the Great Commission as described in Mark 16:15. But what about everything else? Not everyone can (or should) go into full time ministry. How do we know what else to do with our lives to make them worthwhile? How do we know what to do to give our lives worth?

Who else can we get advice from than the man after God’s heart? David certainly knew where guidance came from.

Who are those who fear the Lord?
He will show them the path they should choose.

Psalm 25:12 (NLT)

God’s call on our lives doesn’t simply appear out of thin air the moment we accept Christ as Savior. It takes time. It takes a relationship. It takes trust.

Our value and worth in life are derived from our relationship with God and our obedience to His leading. My call isn’t your call and your call isn’t your sister’s call. While we’ve all been given certain instructions as Christians, the how, when, and where may vary. Determining those factors can only come through your own personal relationship with Jesus. This is where trust and dependence on God comes in.

The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all those who keep his covenant and obey his decrees.

Psalm 25:10 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 25-27, Acts 20:17-38

Daily Bible Reading

Lead

How often do you ask to be lead rather than to lead? Who really wants to follow when you can be a leader?

How often do you ask what you should be doing? Who really wants to be told what to do when you can tell someone else what to do?

Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
or my enemies will conquer me.
Tell me clearly what to do,
and show me which way to turn.

Psalm 5:8 (NLT)

Life isn’t all about being the one in charge. Sometimes—and even more often than we think—it should be about asking for direction and instruction. It’s about letting someone else be in charge. God’s guidance isn’t there to stifle us. He doesn’t want to lead us like a dog on a leash.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Protect them,
so all who love your name may be filled with joy.
For you bless the godly, O Lord,
surrounding them with your shield of love.

Psalm 5:11-12 (NLT)

We don’t have to listen to God’s directions and instructions, we get to. When we put ourselves into God’s plan, not only is it His will that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28), but He surrounds us with His shield of love. We can take refuge in Him. He will protect us.

Submitting to God is not a trial. It’s a joy. A privilege.

I will lie down in peace and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

Psalm 4:8 (NLT)

Submitting to God leads to joy. It leads to peace. It leads to love. Who else can you follow that will lead you to all of that?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 4-6, Acts 16:16-40

Daily Bible Reading

Look!

It’s nice to have people around (if you’re a people person, anyway). It can make you feel important or somehow special to not only have people around, but to have people follow you. Once you get used to having people following you, hanging on your every word, it can be difficult to let that go. But that is exactly what John the Baptist did.

John, Jesus’ cousin, was only a few months older than Jesus. God commissioned him to go ahead of Jesus to proclaim the Messiah, the new King of the Jews, the Son of God. In doing this, John amassed followers—people who believed in his message and allowed John to baptise them in water. These people would follow him around and would help to collect even more followers.

Then Jesus’ time came.

John had a choice to make. He could cling to his followers and continue preparing the way for the Lord or he could do as he did and let go.

The following day, John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and then declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!”

John 1:35-36 (NLT)

John knew that it wasn’t up to him to keep collecting disciples for himself, but rather to make disciples for Christ. He carried no animosity whatsoever toward his cousin and he willinging allowed his followers to go.

Then John’s two disciples turned and followed Jesus.

John 1:37 (NLT)

Just like that. John lost two followers and Jesus gained two.

Our Commission is the same a John’s—prepare the way for the Son of God and point Him out to any who will listen. But then the difficult part comes, when they’ve met Jesus, we need to let them go. I don’t mean to say that we introduce people to Jesus and then walk away, leaving them to struggle in their newfound faith. New believers need to be taught the Word of God. They need to learn how to be followers of Jesus. But once they have an understanding of the new life they have gained, we don’t get to “keep” them. They are no longer our followers, but Jesus’ followers.

Like John, we need to be able to point and say, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” And then we need to allow those people to follow Christ, not us. It can be difficult sometimes when those people choose a direction we may not have chosen for them. John had probably grown close to Andrew and Peter as they followed him. It is quite possible that they were both followers and friends. Yet, when the time came, he did not hold them back, but pointed at Jesus. Look! John had done his work well because, without question, Andrew and Peter stepped away from John and into step with Jesus.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 16-18, John 1:29-51

Daily Bible Reading

Jump up

If you knew Jesus was within shouting distance, what would your reaction be? Would you call out to him? Would you keep calling if those around shushed you? Would you chase after him? What if you called to him and he heard you? What if he called you over? Would you casually approach? Would you hurl yourself toward him?

Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

Mark 10:50 (NLT)

This man was blind. He’d heard the stories of the miracles that followed Jesus. By this time in his ministry, Jesus had restored sight to countless blind people. Bartimaeus wanted his take!

Despite the crowd’s less than enthusiastic response to Bartimaeus’ shouts, he continued on until he’d captured Jesus attention. When Jesus finally responded, Bart didn’t wait. He didn’t take the time to weigh his options or make a list of pros and cons. He didn’t even wait for someone to help him up.

He jumped up, shed the thing that would slow him down, and approached Jesus.

Now is the time when we all expect Jesus to make him see. But look at Jesus’ words:

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your faith has healed you.” And instantly the blind man could see! Then he followed Jesus down the road.

Mark 10:52 (NLT)

Jesus didn’t say, “I have healed you,” he said, “Your faith has healed you.” I wonder if Jesus’ words would have been the same had Bart decided to wait for help or if he got up a little slower or if he’d let his coat hold him down.

Bartemaeus’ response to and faith in Jesus made him well. But that’s not the end of the story. Jesus told him to go his way. So what did he do? Go home? No! He followed Jesus down the road. His old life as a blind man was over thanks to Jesus. He didn’t go back. As far as the scripture reads, he didn’t even go back for his coat. He not only left behind his blindness, he left behind the life that was attached to it.

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 34-36, Mark 10:32-52

Daily Bible Reading

House Rules

Growing up, we had house rules. There were certain guidelines anyone living or coming in to our home were expected to abide by. There were different rules at my cousin’s house. Different rules at my grandparent’s house. Different rules at all of my friends’ houses. Every house has its own set of rules.

All through Leviticus, God is telling Israel to be holy because I am holy. He basically tells them that they are who they are because of Him. He is Lord. He is holy. Because He is Lord, they have the opportunity to be made holy. He says, “I am the Lord who makes them holy.” (Leviticus 21:23) House rules.

So long as Israel called themselves set apart to be God’s people—along with anyone else who may be living with them—they were set apart. To continue to be set apart, there was a rule book to comply with. A pretty strict set of instructions, if you ask me, but those were God’s house rules. So long as you abide by them, you can stay in the house. If you break them, out you go.

Though we no longer abide by the Levitical law, there were still a great many things that Jesus told us to do: love God, love your neighbours, repent from your sin, follow me, keep your word, don’t lust, seek first the kingdom of God… Jesus outlined what a life following him should look like. He taught it. He lived it. He wrote new house rules.

My question to the Church would be this: if you don’t keep the house rules, what makes you think you’re still able to live in the house? The rule always was (and still is) that, as long as you live under this roof, you abide by these rules. God basically said the same thing in Leviticus and Jesus reiterated it in the Gospels. Where do we get off trying to break the rules and think we get to stay in the house?

We can be made holy by one thing and one thing alone—the blood of Jesus Christ. By accepting his blood, we accept his teachings, and we accept his name as our own. We make the decision to live a life set apart. We live by a different rule book. And here’s the catch—we don’t make the rules and we don’t get to change the rules. It’s not our house. It’s God’s house.

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 22-23, Mark 1:1-22

Daily Bible Reading

With you always

As a single person who lives alone, I find it difficult (and sometimes even unappealing) to imagine never being alone. But that is exactly what Jesus promised when he appeared to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Matthew 28:20b

This statement immediately followed what we now refer to as The Great Commission.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.

Matthew 28:18-20a

When we take our roles as disciples of Christ seriously. When we do his work. He is with us always. And not only is he with us, his power is to. That complete authority in heaven and on earth follows us around giving us the power we need to complete the Commission. Always.

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 20-21, Matthew 28:1-20

Daily Bible Reading

Filter

Do you read through a different filter every time you pick up your Bible? If you’re going through a personal situation, do different verses stand out? If you know someone who may be off track, do you read through a filter that would appropriate certain scriptures for that person? Do you watch media and then read into nearly everything? Today, I’m guilty of the last one.

If you live in North America—or just about anywhere in the world with access to media—and are not a hermit, you’re news feeds are probably full of things like #MuslimBan or #StopPresidentBannon. This is what I was faced with as soon as I turned on my computer this morning. I saw angry posts from friends who are very obviously not Trump supporters and I saw sad posts from friends who have ties to Muslim majority countries.

Then I sat down to read my Bible. Now, I probably should have sat down with my Bible first, but that’s not how things went today. Everything I read went through a certain filter. With angry rants in my head with a few grains of truth sprinkled in, I read this:

As Jesus and the disciples left the city of Jericho, a huge crowd followed behind. Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd told them to be quiet, but they only shouted louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Jesus stopped in the road and called, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.

Matthew 20:29-34 (NLT)

So what did I see in this passage after it went through today’s filter?

I saw two men who were truly in need. They sought Jesus, but the noisy crowds around Jesus tried to shut them down. The well-meaning people—many of whom had seen Jesus perform miracle after miracle—tried to shut these men up.

The blind men could have easily given up and resigned themselves to lives of blind begging. But they didn’t. They shouted louder. They let their voices be heard beyond the noise.

Today, how much noise is between you and Jesus? Who or what is the noisy crowd trying to drown you out and prevent you from receiving your miracle? These are distractions and we, too often, get caught up in them. We end up joining the noisy crowd rather than making our voices heard above it. We allow ourselves to get caught up in the masses and forget that we were on a mission to receive a miracle.

Today, don’t let the crowd drown out your voice. If you need Jesus, cry out. If you are truly seeking Him, no crowd will be able to overcome the sound of your plea.

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 22-24, Matthew 20:17-34