Daily Bible Reading

The wait

Sometimes it feels as though our life is made up more of waiting than actually doing. Just wait. Hold on a minute. Can I put you on hold? Just a moment, please. Hold your horses! We wait so much that we have lists and rooms designated for that purpose. And they’re full. All the time.

And, as much as the waiting is bothersome, everyone else’s reaction to your waiting can be even more so. When are you going to get married? When are you going to have kids? Are you having more kids? When are you ever going to get a job? What about that promotion? We can get so caught up in what everyone else thinks of our waiting that we plow ahead, bypassing God’s timing for our own.

The Bible is full of people who decided that they knew better than God. All the way back to Eve, if she’d only waited for Adam’s input before eating the fruit, things may have turned out differently. What about Sarah and Abraham? At 90, Sarah didn’t think she could wait any longer and foisted her servant on her husband so the promised child could be produced. The result was Ishmael—we’re still seeing the effects of that mistake today. The entire nation of Israel grew tired of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain and decided it would be better to worship idols.

The list goes on and on. The short of it is that no one likes to wait. We don’t like to feel as though we’re not accomplishing anything. But what is the penalty for our impatience?

Those who wait for me will never be put to shame.

Isaiah 49:23b (NLT)

We can try to blame God all we want, but when we jump the gun on His plan, the shame is ours alone. That’s not to say that God can’t repair what we broke, but there are still consequences.

But I don’t know what to do with myself!

I get it. I hate waiting, too. I hate not being productive. My hands must be busy. I have to have something to show for my time. In the practical sense, I bring something with me when I know I have to wait. A book. A crochet project. My journal. Candy Crush. But what about when I’m waiting on God?

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT)

God doesn’t make us wait to watch us squirm. He makes us wait because He’s either preparing us, preparing someone else, or preparing a situation. We will never see the entire picture, yet God is only asking us to trust in Him. The best thing to do—pray. Devote yourself to God. The wait may not be as long as you thought it was.

Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity.

Colossians 4:5 (NLT)

Waiting doesn’t have to be, and even shouldn’t be, idle time. The wait in itself is an opportunity. An opportunity to grow in our relationship with God. An opportunity to grow in our relationships with others. An opportunity to grow our faith and trust. An opportunity to prepare ourselves for the promise to come. The only shame in waiting is if we waste the opportunities God gives us in that time.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 48-49, Colossians 4

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Daily Bible Reading

Through the wilderness

In order to get to the place where God wants or needs you to be, He may lead you through the wilderness. When God led Israel out of Egypt, the final destination was never the wilderness. They should have only been passing through for a couple of weeks. Instead, they took their eyes off the prize and ended up wandering for forty years in a place they were never meant to stay.

Give thanks to him who led his people through the wilderness.
His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 136:16 (NLT)

Was God unfaithful because Israel stayed in the wilderness? Did His love not endure through that time of trial, grief, and wandering? No. God didn’t fail in that situation, Israel did. God brought them to the place He promised and it was Israel who failed to take hold of the promise.

We may look at Israel and scoff, yet we ourselves may be caught in the wilderness. We may find ourselves in a place where we don’t see or feel God. We allow ourselves to get stuck on the way to the promise and lose sight of where we were headed in the first place. Paul tells us that we are in a race. No one ever won a race by pausing on the path. Even in the story of the tortoise and the hare, the quick rabbit who paused lost the race because he took a rest in the middle of his journey. He forgot his purpose. He became too sure of himself and his own abilities. It wasn’t talent that won the race, it was persistence and purpose.

So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches.

1 Corinthians 9:26 (NLT)

Are we running straight toward the goal God has set before us or are we wandering along the way? Remember that God never leads us to the wilderness, but He may lead us through.

If you find yourself in a spiritually dry place, remember that’s not where God wants you to be. Seek Him. Look for direction. Refocus your sight on the promises God has made. Then run. Run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. Don’t stop. Don’t hesitate. Keep your eyes on God, not the situation around you.

He will lead you through the wilderness.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 136-138, 1 Corinthians 9

Daily Bible Reading

Law to love

If, according to Galatians 5:14, the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbours as yourself”, the words law and love should be interchangeable through much of the Old Testament. Jesus came and fulfilled the law with love—great love. So what does that fulfillment look like in light of the law according to Psalm 119?

I meditate on your age-old [love];
O Lord, [it] comfort[s] me.

v. 52

Your [love has] been the music of my life
throughout the years of my pilgrimage.

v. 54

I pondered the direction of my life,
and I turned to follow your [love].

v. 59

Evil people try to drag me into sin.
but I am firmly anchored to your [love].

v. 61

Your [love] is more valuable to me
than millions in gold and silver!

v. 72

Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live;
for your [love] is my delight.

v. 77

Your [love] remains true today,
for everything serves your plan

v. 91

Even perfection has its limits,
but your [love has] no limit.

v. 96

Your [love] make[s] me wiser than my enemies,
for your [love is] my constant guide.

v. 98

Your [love] give[s] me understanding;
no wonder I hate every false way of life.

v. 104

When we look at the law through Jesus and his fulfillment of it, what a difference it makes in our understanding of these verses! It’s not a bunch of rules and regulations that we follow, but love—perfect love at that. Love that gives understanding and wisdom. Love that teaches. Love that is valuable. Love that has no limits. Love that is our delight.

If the psalmist found all of these things in the law that God gave to Israel, how much more should we be able to find in the love that fulfilled the law?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 119:49-104, 1 Corinthians 4

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