Daily Bible Reading

Speak out!

There are two ways of learning things: you can learn the hard way and figure it out on your own, or you can seek out an answer or advice from someone who already knows. The concept is not new. It’s existed literally since the beginning of time.

We seek out those who have learned the hard lessons or who have gleaned those lessons from others. It’s how we, as humans have gathered our wealth of knowledge. Each generation (should) learn from the previous. It’s all dependent on the previous generation sharing their knowledge and the current generation listening and understanding what is being passed to them.

In high school, I was a smart kid. I learned quickly. I graduated with the highest honours possible. Nearly straight A’s. A’s in everything but Math 11. I distinctly remember one day in class where I just couldn’t grasp a concept, so I asked the teacher for help. He told me I’d have to come after class if I wanted help. Not possible. Where most student’s days ended at 2:15, I had another class after that. I explained that to the teacher. He shrugged. I asked if he could help me in class (as far as I could tell, he wasn’t doing anything else, and wasn’t it his job as a teacher to teach me?). He looked at the problem and told me I should know how to do that already. Well, I don’t, which is why I’m asking for help. He said I should have learned that the year before. Obviously, I didn’t. I’d have to come to after school help. I couldn’t (I liked band class way better than math anyway). I never did fully understand the concept and my grade reflected it.

That teacher had knowledge that, had he been willing to share it with me, would have helped me to maintain my straight A status. He could have helped, yet he withheld that information. Now, that’s just high school math and, contrary to what every teacher ever told me, I never needed algebra in the “real world”—not even in the fifteen years I worked in finance and insurance. But what about the knowledge we, as Christians, have? What do we know that could help others? Has God done great things for us? Has He come to our aid when we’ve called on Him? Has He loved us? Has He rescued us?

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has saved you from your enemies.

Psalm 107:1-2 (NLT)

If one of the the only ways people can learn is from others, what are we showing or teaching them? Are we silent and withholding like my math teacher or are we vocal and willing to share about the great things God has done in our lives?

Those who are wise will take all this to heart
they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.

Psalm 107:43 (NLT)

The only way something will show up in history is if it’s recorded—whether we write it down or pass it down orally. The only way history will show the faithful love of the Lord is if we keep talking about it. History doesn’t record silence. It records difference-makers.

Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 107-108, Romans 12:21-33 

Daily Bible Reading

Aim higher

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

Romans 14:17-19 (NLT)

Inclusion is the chant, but division is the outcome. We see it in the news every day. One side yelling at another side, each one believing they’re right. But if you would ask the individuals, most everyone says they want the same thing—peace and harmony. So why are the results the opposite? Why are we tearing each other down instead of building each other up?

I believe it all begins with the individual. Luke said that, whatever is in your heart determines what you say (Luke 6:45b). When one side is screaming at another, one must wonder what is really in their hearts? Is it the peace and justice they claim to want or is it hate and division?

Our aim, like Paul tells us, should be for harmony in the church and [to] try to build each other up. So how do we do that? I think David’s thoughts can start us down the right track.

Praise the Lord, I tell myself;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, I tell myself,
and never forget the good things he does for me.

Psalm 103:1-2 (NLT)

If what is in our hearts will determine what we say, let’s get good things in our hearts. Here in Psalm 103, David speaks to himself, reminding his spirit of the good things God has done. He’s putting good things into his heart so that good things will come out of his mouth.

Getting the good stuff to stick is hard when we’re constantly being bombarded with noise and negativity, but if David could do it, if Paul could do it, we can, too.

For we are not our own masters when we live or when we die. While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord. So in life and in death, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:7-8 (NLT)

Start with reminding yourself who you belong to, whom you serve. Then remind yourself of all He has done for you and for those who have gone before you. Fill your heart and your mind with goodness and peace and joy. Then your aim for harmony won’t seem to lofty.

Try a daily confession. Write your own from verses that speak to you or find one (like this) that lines up with the Word of God. Speak to yourself like David did. Tell yourself who you are and what God has done for you. You may be surprised by what you start to say. When those good things start to pour out from your spirit, the natural effect will be the building up of those around you.

Let us, as the Church, aim higher.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 103-104, Romans 14

Daily Bible Reading

Disappointed?

It’s a horrible thing to say, but disappointment is pretty much a part of life. I’m not sure anyone can get through life without someone letting them down, expectations not being met, or hopes fading. To think about it very long can become a disappointment in itself.

As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believe in him will not be disappointed.”

Romans 10:11 (NLT)

Paul’s message to the Romans takes those thoughts of being let down and gives hope to the discouraged. Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed. That’s not to say that life will become a bed of roses, but rather that God Himself will not be a let down to us. He will not disappoint those who truly believe and trust in Him.

Salvation comes from trusting in Christ—which is the message we preach—is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, “The message is close at hand; it is on you lips and in you heart.”

Romans 10:8 (NLT)

Salvation, a relationship with God though Jesus, is not some vague, unattainable idea. It is here and now and it is for everyone—not just a select few.

For “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:13 (NLT)

And if what God said was true thousands of years ago, it still stands true today.

No, I will not break my covenant;
I will not take back a single word I said.

Psalm 89:34 (NLT)

Faithfulness is your very character.

Psalm 89:8b (NLT)

For someone whose very character is faithfulness, it would be pretty difficult to be a disappointment. Even if life has let you down, God will not. He cannot. It is not in His nature to do so.

Your unfailing love will last forever.
Your faithfulness is as unending as the heavens.

Psalm 89:2 (NLT)

If disappointment has you down, take some time to focus on God’s unfailing love and unending faithfulness, the gift of salvation He has so freely given us. He is close. He is never far. Never failing. Never disappointing.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 88-89, Romans 10

Daily Bible Reading

Abundant rain

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This is what I woke up to this morning. This photo was taken around 7:00am Pacific Standard Time. This is my street. This is my mountain. It’s hard to see. It’s difficult to breathe.

Hundreds of kilometres away, wildfires are eating up thousands of hectares of forest forcing thousands of people out of their homes looking for safety. Weather conditions have pushed vast quantities of smoke towards the west coast from the interior of British Columbia as well as north from our American neighbouring Washington State. The province has been in a state of emergency for weeks now.

There is no rain, only dry heat, in the near weather forecast.

forecast

As I sat outside in the haze this morning to read my Bible, this is the verse that jumped off the page:

You send abundant rain, O God,
to refresh the weary Promised Land.

Psalm 68:9 (NLT)

God not only provides for our spiritual needs, but also for our physical. Right now, we need rain. Lots of it—and without the lightning that has been sparking additional fires. This morning, I’m praying that God would send spiritual rain to His people and put a burden on their hearts to pray for natural rain.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 68-69, Romans 3

Daily Bible Reading

Honestly

Honesty is becoming a rare commodity. The places where you were once assured of finding truth are fast becoming dens of falsehood. Everyone is declaring their own personal truth and spurning the existence absolute truth. As Christians, it is just as easy for us to get caught up in partial truths and complete lies. Yet all God wants from us is honesty.

But you desire honesty from the heart,
so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.

Psalm 51:6 (NLT)

In order to be honest, though, we need to know what it is exactly.

HONESTY: In fact, upright conduct; an actual conformity to justice and moral rectitude; fairness; candor; truth.

Honesty is the first step toward gaining wisdom. Wisdom is not something that can be obtained through deceit. Whether you are being untruthful with others or yourself, where lies lie, honesty cannot exist. And where honesty isn’t, wisdom cannot be, either.

Sounds hard. But it’s not.

If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.

James 1:5 (NLT)

Imagine that, God wants His people to be wise! In having a wise people, it means He will also have honest people. And if He has honest people, He will have humble people. All of these attributes go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. A humble person is wise and a wise person is honest, and so on. All it takes is a little humility to be completely, absolutely, thoroughly honest. When we bare ourselves to God, that is when He is best able to work in us. A little effort on our part produces great results.

…but those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing.

Psalm 34:10b (NLT)

God will gladly give us wisdom. He wants to. Wisdom is a good thing. When we can put our trust in God, we won’t be lacking those good things. God is just looking for honesty from the heart. He is looking for us to put ourselves in a place where we are teachable, moldable, useable.

It’s a good thing. Honestly.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 50-52, Acts 27:1-15

Daily Bible Reading

A word of encouragement

Who doesn’t need or want a little encouragement every once in a while (or all the time)? We feel good when someone gives us a pat on the back, tells us we’re doing a good job, or sends a text just to say they’re thinking about us. But what about those days when those things don’t happen? What about the days when we could really use that encouraging word and it doesn’t come? What then?

It sure would be nice if our frame of mind wasn’t so dependant on outside reassurance.

I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are discouraged take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.

Psalm 34:1-3 (NLT)

It’s interesting that, in all these lines about praising God, David inserts something about the discouraged. He saw a relationship between praising God and a happy heart.

What if, when we’re feeling a little down and tend to focus more inwardly, we turned it around? What if we took the focus completely off of ourselves? Think about this, when you’re worshipping God, praising Him, speaking about His greatness, what’s your mental state like? Do you feel burdened, in need of a pick-me-up? No. It’s pretty difficult to stay down when you’re lifting God up.

When we turn our focus on to God and His greatness, first of all, our troubles become very small. Second, we allow our spirits to commune with His Spirit—our helper and comforter. Our affirmation doesn’t need to come from outside sources—it shouldn’t come from outside sources. We have the ability to lift ourselves out of the gloom and into the glorious light of God.

How can we be anything but encouraged when we shift our focus from our inward troubles and outwardly praise the Lord, speak His praises, boast in Him, tell of His greatness, and exalt His name?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 34-35, Acts 22

Daily Bible Reading

Wormtongue

Afterward they preached from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. he had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, a man of considerable insight and understanding. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the Word of God. But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Saul and Barnabas said. He was trying to turn the governor away from the Christian faith.

Acts 13:6-8 (NLT)

As I read this passage, my mind immediately went to a scene from J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Two Towers. It’s one of my favourite scenes in the movies when Gandalf (newly turned from the Grey to the White) arrives in Rohan with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. Instead of finding a bustling, prosperous land, they find a king poisoned by the whispering lies of Grima Wormtongue. Théoden has so long been subject to the lies that he is even unaware of the death of his son.

Gandalf has quickly assessed the situation and silences Grima before he has the chance to speak. “Be silent! Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth.”

Théoden’s mind has been captured by the evil Saruman, but Gandalf approaches saying, “I will draw you, Saruman, as poison is drawn from a wound.” Saruman, speaking through Théoden believes he has the upper hand until Gandalf reveals the white cloak beneath the grey. Saruman is stripped of his power and cast out from Théoden.

Though I have no proof, I wouldn’t be surprised if this passage in Acts inspired Tolkien to write the scene as he did. It is a powerful moment when the light overcomes the darkness and the truth casts out the lies.

We cannot allow ourselves to make the mistake of believing that we are safe from people like Elymas and characters like Wormtongue. They truly do exist. There are those who would whisper lies until they take root in our hearts and seem to be truth. This is why we are instructed to guard out hearts.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

If we guard our hearts and continue to fill them with God’s Word, we leave no room for those evil whispers that would choke out the truth. Those words will have no effect on us. We will be able to see them for what they are and banish them before they are ever allowed to settle. So fill your heart with good things to protect it from the bad things.

I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Job 31-32, Acts 13:1-23