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

Worthless

Where do you find your worth? Do you feel as though you have any worth at all? If you don’t, where do you go looking for worth?

These are all huge questions we all face every day whether we realise it or not. And, the fact of the matter is, most people are looking for worth in all the wrong places. Our worth isn’t in our perfect weight or appearance. It’s not in our work or our family. It’s not in our friends or relationships.

Our worth is found in our worship. What you worship will determine your worth.

They rejected the laws and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshipped worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They followed the examples of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.

2 Kings 17:15 (NLT)

There is a very valid reason why God wanted Israel to completely annihilate the previous residents of the Promised Land—He knew that His people were easily swayed and that, if any evil remained, Israel would fall prey to it. So what did Israel do? They let a bunch of the previous residents stay. And what happened? Israel fell into the worship of pagan gods and idols. Their worth dwindled as they drew away from God.

Today, we all search for worth. Who doesn’t want to be valued? So we dress up, do our makeup, work out, find the perfect man or woman to walk beside us, dress up our kids so they make us look better, work at the high class job and drive the nice car. So why do we still keep searching for worth? Could it be that all those things we worship as good and valuable really hold no value at all?

We can only find our true worth when we set our worship on the only One who is worth anything at all.

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

Matthew 10:29-31 (NLT)

Your own search for worth can begin and end with Jesus. Nothing else that you can focus your attention on can fulfill your need to be something or someone. It’s all empty. Worthless. But who could make you feel more valuable than the one who created you?

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NLT)

Nothing is more precious to a craftsman than his own masterpiece. You are God’s masterpiece. In His eyes, you are valuable. You are worthy. You are His creation. You are His.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 15-17, John 6:1-21

Daily Bible Reading

Never too far

Have you ever heard someone tell you that they were too far gone for God to accept them? I’ve heard it more times than I’d like to count. My initial reaction is usually anger. Who told that person that they were beyond grace? Who allowed that person to believe that of himself? How did society come so far as to produce a generation who either doesn’t know God or believes they are out of His reach? Then I remember that this is nothing new.

The Old Testament is one story after another of people finding themselves far from God. They get into trouble—deep trouble—and then suddenly remember that there was once a God who saved them from an even worse situation. In 1 Samuel, we once again, find Israel in one of these situations. The Philistines have been picking on them for quite some time and they’ve lost a significant number of troops in battle. They cannot seem to get ahead of their enemy. Finally, as a last resort, they decided to talk to the prophet. Good ole Sam puts them in their place.

Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.”

1 Samuel 7:3 (NLT)

The easy thing to do when you feel as though God has a abandoned you is to blame it on God. After all, you’re practically perfect, aren’t you? What could you have possibly done to pull away from God? No, it was Him who turned His back on you. Israel thought like this for generations, but them Samuel takes a stand and tells them like it is. Get rid of the garbage! You’ve been worshipping idols instead of the God who delivered you over and over again. How can you expect Him to save you when you’ve turned to kneeling before objects you yourself made?

Humility can be a difficult lesson to learn. Obviously even Israel, God’s chosen people, had a hard time figuring it out. But the crazy thing is, every single time they repented, God heard them and responded favourably. Never once did God say, “No, you’re on your own this time, kids.”

You are never, ever too far from God. You will never be beyond His reach. Grace will never be the impossible dream.

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. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 7-9, Luke 13:1-21

Daily Bible Reading

More instructions

If some scary looking guy suddenly appeared in front of me and told me I was going to have a son, I can’t say I’d believe him. That is, if I’d even stuck around long enough to hear what he had to say. But that’s exactly what Manoah and his wife did.

In those days [when Israel did evil in the Lord’s sight] a man name Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son.”

Judges 13:2-3 (NLT)

The woman runs to tell her husband about the unexpected visitor. Instead of being livid like I imagine most men would respond now, he prayed and asked that the Lord send the man back to them so that they could receive further instruction.

What amazes me most about this account is that Israel is currently in one of their we’re-going-to-worship-any-god-but-the-one-true-God phases. The chapter starts off saying that the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So here we have a couple that have more than likely been raised worshipping pagan gods. They haven’t been taught to honour and respect the law. Yet, when an angel comes to them (they assume he’s just a prophet), their response isn’t to question the word from the Lord, but to pray and ask for further instructions. And what does God do? He sends the angel back with more instructions!

What we should take away from the actions of this couple is that it’s okay to ask for clarification. If you believe that you’ve had a word from God, but aren’t 100% on the facts, ask! God is totally okay with us asking questions. In fact, I believe He wants us to ask questions. He didn’t drop us all on the earth with limited knowledge and understanding just to watch us squirm. He created us to have a relationship with him. If one of your friends tells you something that is unclear to you, do you walk away from the conversation in confusion? No, you ask your friend to make things a little more clear so that you can fully understand what they’re saying.

Oh, that the Church would be humble enough to ask! If you’re unsure, if you’re confused, if you don’t feel like you have enough information to act, simply ask for more instructions. I have yet to read an account in the Bible where God refuses to answer the heart that is truly seeking Him.

Daily Bible reading: Judges 12-14, Luke 9:37-62

Daily Bible Reading

Burn it

Israel is a bit of a broken record. Over and over and over again they turn from God, cry out to God, turn from God, cry out to God. It starts to get a little tiresome as we read through the Old Testament, don’t you think?

For those few obedient people, God gives some interesting instructions. But they aren’t only to test the loyalty and faith of the few. There is purpose behind these requests.

That night the Lord said to Gideon, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one that is seven years old. Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it. Then build and altar to the Lord your God here on this hilltop sanctuary, laying the stones carefully. Sacrifice the bull as a burnt offering on the altar, using as fuel the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.”

Judges 6:25-26 (NLT)

God could have just told Gideon to build an altar and sacrifice the bull. Surely that would have been sufficient. But the sacrifice wasn’t the only thing God wanted Gideon to accomplish.

By tearing down the altar to Baal and building one to God, a challenge was issued. In the next few verses, we see the people of the tribe incensed over the fact that their altar had been torn down. They were out for blood until Gideon’s father, Joash told the people to let Baal worry about his own altar. Isn’t the god powerful enough to take care of his own place of worship?

By burning the Asherah pole (Asherah was thought to be and was worshipped as the Canaanite creator-god, El’s, wife or consort), Gideon ensured that, once delivered from the Midianites, his people would not easily be able to return to their pagan worship.

Turning from sin wasn’t good enough. We know that after reading so many accounts of Israel’s inability to remain faithful to the one God who had delivered them from slavery. The same principle applies to us. Turning from sin often isn’t enough. After all, it was tempting enough in the first place to draw us in. By simply turning away from it, how can we be sure that we won’t be tempted by it again in the future?

The best thing we can do is take a page out of Gideon’s book. Don’t just turn from sin, tear it down. Burn it. Do whatever we have to in order to rid ourselves not only of the sin, but the temptation to return to it.

Daily Bible reading: Judges 6-7, Luke 8:1-21

Daily Bible Reading

The taste of freedom

If you’ve made it through your teen years, you may remember the taste of freedom you had the first time your parents let you take the car out on your own. When you got home, you’d already begun planning your next adventure. One time would never satisfy your craving for freedom. The more you were given, the more you wanted.

Once the Israelites had their first taste of freedom from slavery, they couldn’t imagine going back. But unlike your teenage self, they didn’t chase it as vehemently as a kid would the keys to the family car. They got complacent in between bouts of peace. Another group of people would come and stifle their liberties. Eventually, though, they’d tire of the oppression and cry out to God. God, in His infinite faithfulness and grace, would raise up a leader to pull Israel from their lethargy and bring them once again into victory.

Once the victory had been won, though, and Israel once again enjoyed peace, they’d settle back in for another round with their enemies to start the cycle again. They’d get tired of being pushed around and cry out to God and God would yet again raise up another leader to deliver them.

Had Israel relished in their victory and become addicted to the high it afforded them, maybe they wouldn’t have been so quick to settle down. God was doing amazing things in their midst, but it was almost as though miracles had become so commonplace that they no longer seemed miraculous. They failed to remind themselves of all their God had done for them and fell into a false sense of security. They sought God only when they couldn’t handle the situation any more.

I think we can often be accused of the same response to God. We only call out to Him when we’re desperate. What would happen if we were desperate for Him all the time? If we call out to Him not because we need something from Him, but because we need Him? What if just a taste of freedom was no longer satisfactory, but we demanded to live our lives basking in the glorious freedom that comes from an intimate and continual relationship with the God who sets us free?

Are you satisfied with just a taste or do you want to be standing in line at the 24/7 buffet?

Daily Bible reading: Judges 3-5, Luke 7:31-50

Daily Bible Reading

Purge

When God brought Israel into the land He had promised to them, He gave them a directive—clear the land. Not for agricultural reasons, but for spiritual ones. Israel was to either drive out or destroy the peoples in the land and then get rid of their religious garbage. All of it. If they couldn’t get the people out, they were not to make any sort of treaty with them. When it’s broken down like that, it seems pretty simple. And even more so because, as long as they kept fighting and pushing out the previous residents, God was fighting for and with Israel. They had victory in the bag!

But, Israel maybe got tired of fighting. They maybe got complacent. Perhaps they captured enough land to satisfy their current needs. (Should we be surprised that Ephraim and Manasseh—the tribes who complained about not receiving enough land—left a rather large population of Canaanites to live in their inheritance?) Or maybe after the death of Joshua, Israel was suddenly floundering and didn’t know what to do.

It may seem like no big deal. Israel made it to the Promised Land! They had defeated enough of their enemies so that they could occupy the land comfortably and, of those enemies who had not been driven out, they were able to enslave many of them. Good deal, right?

Wrong. By failing to do the one thing God had commanded, Israel pretty much ensured their own failure for generations to come. God knew full well how fickle His people were. He knew that without a strong hand of leadership, they were apt to stray from the Law. Temptation was a deep pit made easy to fall into.

Had Israel managed to purge foreign gods from the land, temptation to stray from God would have been purged right along with them. Nothing God commands is just for the sake of doing it. The command to Israel to clear and clean out the land was for their own good. It would have been to their betterment. They could have lived prosperous and victorious. Instead, because they had turned from God, God turned from them and the battles they fought could no longer be won.

I think we can often be like Israel. We settle for good enough and fail to see the evil seep in from places we didn’t properly take control of. When we settle, our guard goes down and temptation sneaks up on us. Before we know it, we’re like Israel, trying to fight a battle we no longer have the ability to win. When God tells us to put aside our evil ways, it’s not because He wants to be mean, it’s because He wants to protect us.

The more we are able to drive worldly temptations from our lives, the better we are to withstand those temptations. But we don’t have to do all the work on our own. If we choose to fight, God will fight with us and for us and, if God is fighting for us, who or what can stand against us?

Daily Bible reading: Judges 1-2, Luke 7:1-30