Daily Bible Reading

Hope anew

As humans, when left entirely to our own devices, we make poor choices.

left alone

Whether it be cereal or flour all over the kitchen, makeup all over the bathroom, or permanent marker all over the sibling, no kid ever had to be taught to make a bad decision. It all comes naturally. If we are never taught any different and are left to make our own choices, it is pretty much a guarantee that life will become a series of one bad decision after another.

People need to be free to make their own choices. Yes, they do, but they also need to be taught to make the right choices.

I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and know,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children
but we will tell the next generation about
the glorious deeds of the Lord.
We will tell of his power and the mighty
miracles he did.
For he issued his decree to Jacob;
he gave his law to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
that they might teach their children
So each generation can set its hope anew on God
remembering his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.
Then they will not be like their ancestors—
stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful,
refusing to give their hearts to God.

Psalm 78:2b-8 (NLT)

There are reasons why the Bible first, exists, and second, is full of verses about wisdom, knowledge, and instruction. These are not things that happen by chance. As you can see by the photos above, humans aren’t born wise. We are all prone to bad decision-making.

If you’ve been instructed to go somewhere you’ve never been before, but have not been given a map, how will you ever get there? Will chance lead you to that place? It’s doubtful.

Teach your child to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

Young or old, every person must be taught to make good choices—it’s never too late. Just like Israel passed on accounts of the miraculous things God did for their nation, so should we pass on accounts of the things God has done for, in, and through us. If the people around us are never given a map, how can we expect them to arrive at salvation?

…but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:60b (NIV)

PROCLAIM: to announce; to utter openly; to make public

Church, it is our mandate to publicly proclaim the Gospel, to utter it openly, to make it public, to know Christ and to make him known.

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

2 Timothy 1:8a (NLT)

This generation and the ones to follow will not be able to remember God’s glorious miracles if they never heard about them in the first place. When God does something, talk about it! When He says something, tell someone else. Give the next generation the opportunity to set their hope anew on God.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 78, Romans 7

Daily Bible Reading

Why so sad?

These days, if you watch or read the news, it can be pretty difficult to keep yourself happy and encouraged. Most news stations report mostly bad news. We’re gluttons for the horrific stories and are drawn to the most sinister of reports. Good news gets buried in the heaps of the atrocities surrounding us.

It begs the question, how then do we remain happy, joyful, and encouraged when all we hear are awful reports?

Why am I so discouraged?
Why so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

Psalm 42:5, 11 and 43:5 (NLT)

Three times in two chapters we see this refrain. It must have been important to the descendants of Korah for it to have been repeated so many times.

How often have you asked yourself those questions? Why am I so discouraged? Why am I so sad? And how often are we unable to come up with a reasonable response?

The writer of these Psalms had a solution—put your hope in God and praise Him. Is it really that easy? Yes, I believe it is. James 4:8 tells us to come close to God, and God will come close to you. And Psalm 22:3 says that He inhabits the praises of Israel. Our praise brings us closer to God. God inhabits, dwells, lives in our praises. How can we be anything but joyful and encouraged when God is right there, near to us and living in our praise?

Hope in the temporary will only lead to disappointment and discouragement. This will all pass away. But hope in the everlasting, the eternal leads to joy and encouragement.

Through each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.

Psalm 42:8 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 41-43, Acts 24

Daily Bible Reading

Moving shadows

Once you’re gone, how long will you be remembered? Who will remember you? What will you be remembered for? When one considers a stretch of unending time and all of the billions of people who exist and have existed, we’re all just a blip on the radar. How many individuals have made a truly lasting impact?

This thought isn’t meant to discourage nor is it meant to deter you from doing something worthwhile. It should push you toward positive action.

We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth for someone else to spend.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.

Psalm 39:6-7 (NLT)

Because it is so difficult and rare for a single person to impact eternity, it would make a lot more sense to join forces with a group of people who can have a greater effect. This is one of the reasons why the local church is so important. It helps us as individuals to learn and to be accountable to each other, but it also allows us, working together, to leave a greater and longer-lasting impression on the world around us. Further still, it ensures that no single person gets all the glory. When a group of people work together toward a common goal, it is only God who can be glorified.

Alone, it is easy to fall into the busy rushing of daily life. When we go it alone, we forget that we aren’t really alone. But when we can put our hope in the Lord and trust Him to guide us, He will surely lead us to other like-minded people. Our busy rushing becomes more focused and more hands and resources are added to the work. The work becomes greater. And a greater work has a larger impact.

We all have to make a choice: do I want to be merely a moving shadow or will I put my hope and trust in the Lord and add my portion to a larger work so that my impact will be far greater than anything I could generate on my own?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 38-40, Acts 23:12-35

Daily Bible Reading

He controls my destiny

So he will do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny.

Job 23:14 (NLT)

For those who are in Christ and have surrendered themselves to the will of God, this is a comforting statement. For those who may see God as a big bully in the sky, this can be a frightening thought. Since I’m not one to see this as a scary idea, let’s pursue the comfort in this verse a little more.

We know that we are created in God’s image. He didn’t create the world, fill it with animals, populate it with humans, and then walk away from it all to see what would happen. God is very interested in what happens—especially with us,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Many are tempted to and even do lose hope when things don’t go the way they expected. They forget that God has a good plan for them and give in to the lies the enemy would have them believe that God cares nothing for them. That God wants to punish them. Nothing could be further from the truth!

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)

The good things that God has planned for us come when we are walking in His will, not our own will. Will it all be easy? No. Will it all seem good when it’s happening? Probably not. But is the end goal worth it? Yes! A thousand times, yes!

Who do you think has the better plan, you with your limited knowledge and experience? Or God, with His infinite knowledge—the one who knew the end at the beginning?

So I will let Him to do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny. Thank God for that!

Daily Bible reading: Job 23-25, Acts 10:24-48 

Daily Bible Reading

Here and now

One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, ” When will the Kingdom of God come?”

Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God isn’t ushered in with visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is among you.”

Luke 17:20-21 (NLT)

How will the world know what the Kingdom of God looks like if they can’t see it? How do we, as the Church, present the Kingdom to an unbelieving world?

We act like it.

The Pharisees wanted specifics. They wanted Jesus to give them a bullet list of things to look for when it came to the Kingdom. But Jesus gave them the opposite. His answer was vague and specific at the same time. You won’t see it coming, but it’s here and now.

Jesus spent a lot of time telling parables that described the Kingdom.

Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds come and find shelter among its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19 (NLT)

Jesus also likened the Kingdom of God to a little yeast used to make a lot of bread. It spreads. It permeates. It activates. It causes things to rise.

Let’s put it this way: if unbelievers are unable to see the Kingdom, it isn’t their fault, it’s because the Church has failed to show it to them. Like the mustard plant, we should provide shelter, like yeast, we should permeate.

If the Kingdom of God is here and now, let’s act like it. Let’s live like it. But I can’t see it.

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 30-31, Luke 17:20-37

Daily Bible Reading

Get dressed

Much to the dismay of my mother, I’m a sports fan. Not all sports, mind you. I’m a baseball and football kind of girl (though I’ll watch hockey if the occasion calls for it). When February rolls around, I get excited because that means that Major League Baseball spring training begins and the long winter without my favourite team is over. I park my comfy chair in front of the big screen and watch to see how my players worked on their game over the winter months.

You can tell who spent the off-season on the beach and who spent it at the gym or with trainers. Some guys aren’t as quick to get around the bases or catch that fly ball to left field. Other guys have trimmed down and come up with some new strategies to improve their game. And then there are the minor league players—the guys who have previously impressed the team scouts and have been invited to join the big boys for the spring. They get a chance to try to prove their worth and maybe even earn a spot in the starting line up.

Be dressed for service and well-prepared.

Luke 12:35 (NLT)

MLB spring training can be full of surprises. Those guys who spent their time off on the beach may find themselves quickly replaced by the young pitcher who spent his off-season perfecting his curve ball. The tried and true second baseman may be bumped for the kid who shows up to the diamond early every day dressed for action. The biggest characteristic that will define the team going into the first weeks of the schedule is preparation. If a player waits until spring to try to get himself into shape, he may find himself bumped down a few levels.

But I’m not an athlete, how is this supposed to apply to me?

Every Christian—no matter what they may or may not feel called to do—should be like the players who spend the winter training hard and getting better. The Bible is not a textbook just for teachers, but a guidebook for life—your life.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV)

While Paul may be writing to Timothy, this is for all of us. Ministry is not just for pastors, teachers, preachers, apostles, and evangelists. It’s for all of us.

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)

If you wait to be called up to prepare, you’ll never get the call. But, if you work on preparation daily, you’ll be ready at any moment to respond with words of hope, love, and truth. In sports, natural ability will only get you so far. Often, it’s the lesser talented guys who work the hardest that get the job. The same works for us. Those who are prepared get the call and are rewarded for it.

Don’t wait. Get up. Get dressed. Be prepared.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 4-6, Luke 12:35-59

Daily Bible Reading

Set apart

CONSECRATE: To make or declare to be sacred, by certain ceremonies or rites; to appropriate to sacred uses; to set apart, dedicate, or devote, to the service and worship of God.

When I read this word, I can’t help but take it personally. My name literally means consecrated to God. But you don’t have to be named Elizabeth to be consecrated to God.

…you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)

One translation says we are set aside to be a royal order of priests. Set apart. Consecrated.

But Israel was unfaithful concerning the things set apart for the Lord.*

Joshua 7:1a (NLT)

*The Hebrew term used here refers to the complete consecration of things or people to the Lord, either by completely destroying or by giving them as an offering.

The blood of Jesus as a sacrifice completes our consecration. We belong to God. We are His possession.

In our reading in Joshua today, we see how the selfishness of just one man caused the death of many as well as Israel’s defeat in battle. Because one man withheld what belonged to God, the entire nation suffered.

Since this line of study is so personal to me, I had to ask myself the question of whether or not I’ve been faithful with the thing set apart for the Lord. That thing is my life. Have I been faithful to God with my life? Am I that one person who causes the entire body to suffer loss because of my own selfishness? God, I hope not.

But if I am, if you are, there is still hope! Israel was able to rectify the situation. While the unfaithful man and his family were stoned to death and burned, we have a greater hope. Israel built an altar and offered sacrifices before the Lord. Our sacrifice has already been made. Jesus blood was enough and still is enough to intercede for our unfaithfulness.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.

Romans 3:23-25a (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 7-8, Luke 2:25-52