Daily Bible Reading

To boldly go

… to boldly go where no man has gone before.

You’ve probably heard that phrase more than a few times. It’s the mission of the starship Enterprise.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

The Church has a similar mission—only it’s a life-long one, not just five years.

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”

Mark 16:15 (NLT)

Did you know that this instruction from Jesus doesn’t apply only pastors? It applies to Christians. Period. But a lot of us tend to look at this as a job not an opportunity. The more we see taking the Gospel to the world as work, the less we’re apt to do it. So how did the early church manage to grow so much so quickly?

“And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give your servants great boldness in their preaching. Send your healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

After this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And they preached God’s message with boldness.

Acts 4:29-31 (NLT)

The church prayed and—amazingly enough—God answered their prayers!

They didn’t pray for their leaders to be bold, they prayed for boldness for themselves. Every member of the church received the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the Good News boldly. We don’t have to share the Gospel, we get to. And we don’t have to do it on our own power. If your desire is to see more people brought into the Kingdom of God, God is not going to withhold the power of His Spirit to help you do so.

Jesus told us to bring the Gospel to the world, but he also promised the Helper.

It’s time that the Church—the whole Church, every member of the Church—pray for boldness to preach the Good News. Now is not the time to sit back and reevaluate our message so that we don’t risk offending certain groups of people. Now is the time for us to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to fall on us all so that we boldly go forth and preach God’s message.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 12-13, Acts 4:23-37

Daily Bible Reading

No thanks

Everyone likes a little (or a lot of) recognition. It’s nice to be appreciated for the work you do. And we should show appreciation to other who do a good work. There is, however a difference in enjoying appreciation for the work you do and requiring appreciation in order to do it.

Jesus addresses this with his disciples.

When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, he doesn’t just sit down and eat. He must first prepare his master’s meal and serve him his supper before eating his own. And the servant is not even thanked, because he is merely doing what he is supposed to do. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, “We are not worthy of praise. We are servants who have simply done our duty.”

Luke 17:7-10 (NLT)

I’ve seen volunteers quit because they feel they aren’t shown enough appreciation. I’ve seen people turn up their noses at menial work because no one would ever see them do it—and if no one ever saw them do it, they would never be congratulated for it. One must then question the reasons for why we do what we do when it comes to service.

I don’t know about you, but in my Bible, Jesus tells all believers to go into the world and preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15). He tells us to honour our fathers and mothers and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves (Matthew 19:19). He tells us that we should do for others what we want them to do for us (Luke 6:31). These are just a few of the things Jesus instructed his followers to do. But in none of these guidelines have I found the provision for appreciation.

There is nothing that might stipulate that we should only do these things if proper gratitude is shown. In fact, we are told that if you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too (Matthew 5:39).

Christian service can be a thankless job, but that doesn’t negate our responsibility to Jesus’ teachings. The entire point of his ministry was to reach those who could not or would not show gratitude.

This lesson is twofold. First, don’t quit just because you aren’t being thanked often enough. You will never know how far your reach is until your race is complete. By quitting early, you may miss out on touching the one life that could have changed the world. Our service has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Jesus. Second, show gratitude. Make it a point to thank the people who do the lowliest of jobs in the church. Maybe even help them out. There is no such thing as stooping in the Kingdom of God. Pastors can clean the toilets and janitors can share the Gospel.

We are all there to serve. Period. We can all be servants. We can all be encouragers. And we can all do it together and be happy about.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 27-29, Luke 17:1-19

Daily Bible Reading

All the reasons why

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)

In my life, I think I’ve been both Martha and Mary. I’ve been concerned about getting everything just so and complaining about the people who sit around seemingly doing nothing at all. And I’ve been the one sitting and drinking in what is being offered rather than running around making sure everything runs smoothly.

If you’re a Martha, you’re not necessarily wrong. Notice that Jesus didn’t rebuke her. He didn’t tell her that what she’d been doing was wrong. He told her that there were more important things.

If you’re a Mary, I believe that there are some times that we need to look to Martha for direction. But, Jesus knew he would only be with these people for a short time. He had to teach them as much as he could before his time on earth was up. Mary was right to pay as close attention to him as she did.

In our Christian walk, there is a time to emulate both of these women. If we act like Martha all the time, we can very easily fall into empty works. We get so busy doing that we can forget the reason why we’re doing it in the first place. If we act like Mary all the time, we risk becoming spiritual gluttons. If you’re always being fed and never doing the work, you become at fat and useless Christian because you will never be able to fulfil the Great Commission of bringing the Gospel to a lost world.

If you’re working, take a break to refresh yourself in the Word of God. If you’re being taught, go out and put what you’ve learned to work. Whether you’re Martha doing the work or Mary being taught, don’t let yourself forget all the reasons why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Daily Bible reading: Judges 18-19, Luke 10:25-42

Daily Bible Reading

Shake the dust off

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”

Mark 16:15 (NLT)

This verse is probably as well known to you as John 3:16. We call it the Great Commission. Every Christian is called to bring the Good News to a lost world. But what if the lost world doesn’t want the Good News?

Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:16 (NLT)

It sounds a little harsh, doesn’t it? Some churches might even preach that hearing the Good News is good enough. Surely God wouldn’t condemn someone who has heard His Gospel.

Yet that is exactly what this scripture says. Believe and be saved. Refuse and be condemned. It’s a pretty simple, but hard truth to swallow. And, once we come to the realisation that not all who hear the Good News will accept it, how do we, as the ones who present that Gospel deal with the guilt of seeing someone condemned to a life of eternal torment?

We shake the dust off our feet and move on.

If the people of the village won’t receive your message when you enter it, shake off its dust from your feet as you leave. It is a sign that you have abandoned that village to its fate.

Luke 9:5 (NLT)

We can and should hold ourselves responsible to the Great Commission. We should be sharing the Gospel and spreading the Good News to the best of our ability, but we cannot and should not hold ourselves accountable for those who refuse our message. In Luke 8, Jesus addresses the different types of people that will hear the Word. He wouldn’t have talked about the seeds that would never grow if everyone who heard the Good News accepted it with joy.

Let this lesson free you—not from the burden to share the message of salvation—but from the guilt that may come when there are those who refuse your message. If you have prepared yourself and presented Jesus to the very best of your ability, you have fulfilled your Commission. If your message isn’t received, shake the dust from you feet and move on encouraged that you are still doing the work of the Father.

Daily Bible reading: Judges 10-11, Luke 9:1-36

Daily Bible Reading

Be a lert

Be alert. We need more lerts.

That silly joke comes to mind almost every time I hear the word alert. It’s stupid, I know. It was funny when I was twelve. But now that I’m older, perhaps there is more to it than nonsense.

There is no such thing as a lert. There should be. We should all be lerts.

And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!

Mark 13:33 (NLT)

Jesus is speaking of the end of time. When the world (and even much of the Church) will fall away. He speaks this warning to his people. Stay alert! Jesus knows that humans are fickle creatures. We’re more apt to pick the easy way rather than the right way. Sit rather than stand. We’d rather sleep than be awake.

Jesus’ intent was never to come back for a lazy Church. He’s looking for a spotless, blameless Bride. Vibrant and full of life. His life. His Word. We need not only to keep the Word near to us and in our hearts, but we are to proclaim it to the nations.

And here’s what many find the most difficult: we are not to add to or take away from it. Once the Word has been meddled with, it is no longer the word and therefore no longer contains the power to change lives.

We need to stay alert so that we can be sure we are preaching the true, life-changing Word of God. We need to wake up the sleepers so that we can meet our Groom with wide eyes and oil in our lamps.

Be a lert!

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 14-16, Mark 13:14-37

Daily Bible Reading

The King and His Thieves

Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

Mark 3:27 (NLT)

This may be one of the only times where Jesus seems to condone theft. But not just any theft. Let’s give this verse some context:

Jesus has just been doing a bit of his Father’s work by healing people and casting out demons. The local priests have accused him of being possessed by Satan. Jesus is setting them straight by explaining that a house divided cannot stand. If he was working for Satan, why would he be casting out demons? Then he goes on to say that, in order to rob a strong man, an even stronger man has to go in first and tie him up. Wait, what?

The odds that Jesus is actually encouraging people to go into someone’s house, tie him up, and steal his things are, well, none. But in this context of binding the devil, perhaps the strong man Jesus is referring to is Satan himself.

This idea is new to me, so bear with me as I make a feeble attempt to make sense of it all.

We know that, because of sin in the Garden of Eden, man gave authority of the earth to the devil. The earth is now the devil’s “house” and the property in the house is humanity. Salvation is pretty much God stealing from Satan.

When Jesus said that all power and authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him, he’s saying that his is the stronger man who went into the strong man’s house and tied him up. Now the house can be robbed.

Jesus, as the strongest of strong men has done the difficult work. It’s now up to us as the Church to do the rest and go into the house and plunder the goods. To go into the world and preach the Gospel making disciples of all nations.

If we’re stealing back what was already stolen, are we still thieves?

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 3-4, Mark 3:22-35