Daily Bible Reading

Shelter

If someone were to list all the things that God is, that would be a really long list. Then, if they started asking others what God is, that list would keep getting longer. While God’s character and nature never change, what facet each of us sees of Him can vary dramatically.

To someone who’s father has passed away, God may fill that void as a parent. To a single mom, He is a provider. To a child, He can be a giant. Some may need comfort while others correction. Some need a friend while others may need the void of a lost spouse filled. We all need God to be different things at different times in our lives.

What we can miss, though, in our focus on just one single facet of His character is everything else that He is, can, and wants to be to us all the time. Though our view of God may change throughout our lives, one thing does not—He will never abandon anyone who truly searches for Him. It is not in His nature to turn his back on anyone.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.

Romans 8:38 (NLT)

Maybe you feel like you’re outside of God’s love, beyond His circle of protection. Keep this in mind—shelter must be taken, refuge must be taken. If you’re outside and get caught in a downpour, you won’t be sheltered just because you wish it to be so. First you must look for and find refuge. Then you must take it.

The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have never abandoned anyone who searches for you.

Psalm 9:9-10 (NLT)

Often the only thing separating you from God’s shelter and refuge is distance. And He hasn’t moved.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 7-9, Acts 17:1-15

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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

Knock three times

When you approach someone’s house, how many times do you knock without receiving an answer before you leave? Once? Twice? Three times?

And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

Luke 11:5-8 (NLT)

So, in even simpler terms, the friend in the house isn’t going to help you because you’re his friend; he is going to help you because you’ve annoyed him with your persistent knocking and won’t stop until he gives you what you need.

All of this because one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach him to pray.

The only time one-and-done is sufficient when it comes to praying about our needs is if we see an immediate response. When Jesus healed people, He didn’t need to keep petitioning God because, as soon as He prayed, it was done. If you have the faith to see immediate results every time you pray, you need to be in full-time active ministry preaching to the masses. For the rest of us, we may need to be a little more like the man visiting his neighbour.

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

Luke 11:9-10 (NLT)

I think many have arrived at the conclusion that God doesn’t want to be bothered by our little prayers. But the truth is quite the opposite! Jesus himself told us that, in prayer, we should be like the annoying neighbour and not stop asking until we get what we’ve asked for. Not only is God not bothered by our perseverance in prayer, He welcomes it. He wants to fulfil our needs, but He also wants us to be dependent on Him.

If you don’t get your answer immediately, knock again. Knock twice. Knock three times if you have to. Don’t stop knocking until God opens the door.

Daily Bible reading: Judges 20-21, Luke 11:1-28

Daily Bible Reading

Hack a hole

Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus.

Mark 2:2-4 (NLT)

Have you ever thought about what this would have been like to experience? Not only being in the presence of Jesus and being able to see and hear him teach while among the crowd, but to have been in the room while a part of the roof was being removed.

I don’t know about you, but as a basement-dweller, I am very much aware of the noise above me. I know the room was crowded and probably on the noisy side, but you can’t tell me that no one noticed as chunks of clay began to fall from the ceiling. Soon, a hole appeared. Someone definitely would have noticed that. And, once the original hole appeared, hands and faces would have been seen as they hole continued to grow.

Now, if you’re sitting in church and suddenly a hole appears in the roof, I have a difficult time believing that the service would go on as usual. Surely, even if the pastor didn’t stop teaching, someone would send an usher or security team member out to see what was going on and try to put a stop to it. But no one did.

Jesus allowed these men to continue to hack a hole in the roof of Peter’s house. He allowed bits of clay to rain down onto the heads of the people below. He didn’t command that they stop and a path be made clear so that the men could walk into the house. Jesus allowed the entire situation to play out before first forgiving the sick man and then healing him.

One commentary calls these men the eager group of interrupters. When the crowds were too dense to pass through, they didn’t turn around and go home. When they received glares from the men in the room (who, by that time wore a dusting of clay), they didn’t stop digging. These eager interrupters didn’t stop what they were doing until their friend was able to walk from the home on his own steam.

At what point would you have stopped? When the crowds were too much? When the climb to the roof with an invalid was too difficult? When the clay on the roof was too thick? When the men below gave you the look of death for disrupting their meeting? When Peter gasped at the sight of the giant hole in his roof?

These men had more opportunities than most to give up, yet they did not. But I believe the most important part of this encounter is Jesus allowing it all to happen. He could have made the job easier, yet he did not. These four crazy friends worked for their buddy’s healing. Their faith took action and nothing was going to stop them, not even Jesus.

Like the strength a butterfly gains from escaping its cocoon, I believe that there are also times where the easy way is not the best way. Would the man’s healing and forgiveness held as much value if they’d been able to walk right in?

Just because Jesus allows difficulties, doesn’t mean he is no longer willing to come to our aid. Perhaps he is rooting for us to build our own strength and faith first.

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 26-27, Mark 2