Daily Bible Reading

True wisdom

We’ve discussed wisdom before. It’s pretty difficult to read through the Bible and avoid the subject entirely. It’s all about wisdom and obtaining it. It is wisdom.

I tried a quick search on where people believe wisdom comes from. Here are a few interesting responses I discovered:

Wisdom is a belief that’s not only true but that in the fact of our believing it leads us to feel and act in such a way that makes us suffer less or feel joy more.

Alex Lickerman M.D.

While I see the merits of this explanation, truth must first be defined and absolute. Different people believe different things to be true and acting on them with full belief can lead to varying results—some wise, but some unwise.

I truly believe that wisdom comes from experience. You can not fully understand people, things events or even situations if you don’t have life experience. If you haven’t lived through an event or heard the story of how other lived through this event you can’t possible understand it. You cannot know what it’s like to be a mother or a father until you’ve been one.

Sophie

Thanks Sophie, but I have to disagree with you here, too. While there are some things in life that must be experienced to fully understand, I’ve heard very wise words from people who’ve never experienced it at all and, on the other side, watched the fallout from very bad decisions made by people who have already experienced the situation.

Wisdom is the imprint a life has made on other lives.

Krista Tippett

Really? I hope there was more to that explanation somewhere because I can say with absolute certainty that there are many people who have been left with imprints made by very bad choices. Wisdom had nothing to do with those.

There are a lot of different ideas out there about the origin of wisdom. We can keep pondering those or we can just go to the Bible. Paul put it rather simply.

To God, who alone is wise, be the glory forever through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Romans 16:27 (NLT)

Done and done. The world can search for and explain away about wisdom all they want, but we—the Church—have access to the source of true wisdom.

Reverence for the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.
The rewards of wisdom come to all who obey him.

Praise his name forever!

Psalm 111:10 (NLT)

True wisdom begins and ends with God. We can search everywhere, but true wisdom can be found nowhere else than in the presence of our Holy Father. Only there will we discover the foundation on which we can put our knowledge to proper and prosperous use. Seeking, honouring, and obeying God are the first and only steps required to obtain wisdom.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

James 1:5 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 109-111, Romans 16

Daily Bible Reading

One voice

I was recently in a meeting with my pastor when he was asked about the local ministers’ group—pastors who regularly get together to discuss local church-related issues (in theory). My pastor laughed at the comment. He stopped going to those meetings a long time ago. He never even attended enough to be considered a regular. Do you want to know why? At one of these pastor’s meetings—where a group of pastors from the same city should be getting together to discuss strategies on how to help the lost in their city—a pastor stood up and said that he saw no reason for the churches in our town to work together. They’re all doing their own thing and that’s just fine.

Is it?

May God, who give this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other—each with the attitude of Christ toward the other. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.

Romans 15:5-7 (NLT)

Everything I’ve ever read in the Bible, especially in reference to the Church, has always been that we should work together. That we are one body. A part of one mission. One family.

What should be a family business has become a rather serious case of sibling rivalry. I’ve heard many praise the fact that the city I live in is considered to be one of the most churched cities in the country (approximately one church per 1,000 residents). I beg to differ. I ask the question, how many United churches are there? Reform? Pentecostal? Mennonite? Non-denominational? There are multiples of each of these and many more. And very few, if any, were an intentional plant from another. It is a testament of split after split after split.

Don’t get me wrong, I get that there are different ways of doing things. Different denominations appeal to different people. I have no issue with that. What I take issue with is the fact that these people don’t see the need to work together, to speak with one voice.

The city is filled with people who have been exposed to and hurt by the local church. Instead of effectively working together toward a common goal, one church spurns another, creating more animosity than converts. How can God be glorified in that?

I long for the day when the Mennonite church can approach the Catholic church and join with the non-denominational church and they can all work together to proclaim the only message we’ve been called to proclaim:

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 (NLT)

I leave you with a prayer from Paul.

So I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 105-106, Romans 15:1-20

Daily Bible Reading

Debt of love

No one wants to be in debt. There are all sorts of companies that work to get people out of debt. So how would you feel if I told you that there is a debt that you can never repay for as long as you live? Gasp! For some reason, there are those who have made this unending debt seem like a weight, a trial, a burden we must all bear. It shouldn’t be. It should be a joy, an honour, a delight to any who seek to make continuous payments on it. What sort of debt am I talking about? The debt of love.

Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbour, you will fulfil all the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting—and any other commandment—are all summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to anyone. So love satisfies all of God’s requirements.

Romans 13:8-10 (NLT)

How quickly our world would change if, not even everyone, just the the Church would take these verses to heart! If just those who bear Christ’s name would also, in the same way, show Christ’s love, we’d change the world in an instant. This love I’m talking about is not what the world thinks Christian love should be, but what Jesus showed us Christian love is.

Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Romans 12:9-10 (NLT)

Our love should not be based on how we perceive the thoughts or actions of others, but on how Jesus sees them: a lost soul in need of salvation, a confused mind in need of clarity, or a searching heart in need of an answer.

There is that old saying, love the person, hate the sin. It’s true. But in what order are we abiding by this truth? Is our hate for the sin overshadowing our love for the person? I’ve found that most sinners don’t need to be told that they’re sinners. They already know it and they already feel enough condemnation for it. What they don’t know and feel is love.

It isn’t always easy to show love for our Christian brothers and sisters, let alone those whom we know live in the sin that we are instructed to hate. But, thank God, in giving the instruction, He also gave us a way.

But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don’t think of ways to indulge your evil desires.

Romans 13:14 (NLT)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

Romans 12:2a (NLT)

God wants us to allow Him to transform us so that, instead of thinking the thoughts of the world, we can think His thoughts. We don’t have to try to love with our own natural love, but we can be filled with a supernatural love. A love that we don’t have to work for. A love that comes easy.

Think of it this way: say you owed a great amount of money and had no way of paying it, then some stranger comes along and gives you far more than what you need to pay of the debt. Jesus paid a price that we could never pay for a debt that he did not owe. The only debt we are now required to pay is the debt of love—and we don’t even have to come up with the love to pay it because God has given that to us as well.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 99-102, Romans 13

Daily Bible Reading

Harmony

It doesn’t take a musical genius to know when an instrument is out of tune or someone in the orchestra hits a wrong note. It’s obvious. It stands out. It’s not right. But when it all works together—every instrument in tune, in harmony—it’s a beautiful thing.

HARMONY: the just adaptation of parts to each other, in any system or composition of things, intended to form a connected whole; concord; agreement

That same basic principle of harmony works in our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit works in us to be sure that we remain in harmony with God.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows that the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)

We can have a relationship with God and go our own way. Later on in Romans 8, Paul talks about how nothing can separate us from God’s love. We can accept salvation, accept God’s love, and go about our business. But why would we want to? Why would we want to live a life in discord with our Heavenly Father? Just like an out-of-tune orchestra, our lives, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will always be off. Something won’t be quite right.

But when we take advantage of the Helper God has sent us, that’s when the music happens.

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)

On its own, this verse is often taken to mean that, as Christians, everything will always be great! Anyone who has been a Christian for more than five minutes can tell you that’s simply not true. Just because God works for our good doesn’t mean that it will always feel good. There is a reason that this verse follows a verse about being in harmony with God’s will. God works for our good. Meaning that God works things out for our good according to His will, not ours.

Is it always easy? No. Does it always feel good? No. Is there still a divine plan for our lives? Of course!

For God knew is people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn with many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory.

Romans 8:29-30 (NLT)

When we get our spirit in harmony with God’s Spirit, we put ourselves in a place to be used greatly by Him. We put ourselves in the centre of His will and His love.

Why would you want to play solo when you can harmonize with the entire orchestra?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 82-84, Romans 8:19-39

Daily Bible Reading

Act like it!

Christians should be the happiest, most joyful people on the plant. There are some who call themselves Christians that may balk at that statement, but it’s the truth. There are no scriptures in the Bible that would indicate that Christians must be a solemn people, prone to frowns and fits of self-deprecation.

So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him “Father, dear Father.”

Romans 8:15 (NLT)

Everything that I’ve found in scripture that speaks of how we should act as children of God indicates that we should stand out from the crowd—not because we are miserable, but because we have something that everyone else does not. Our faces, our actions, our attitudes, our responses should reflect the Spirit of God that lives on the inside of us.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them are not Christians at all.)

Romans 8:9 (NLT)

2017-08-05 15.17.05
Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver #89, Duron Carter, tossing a pass to my nephew.

I was recently at a CFL football game with my sister and her two boys. We had passes that allowed us down on the field before the game while the players were warming up. Even though our team doesn’t win nearly as often as we would like them to, we’re still big fans and cheer them on. So there we were cheering on some warm-up catches when one of the best receivers in the league tossed a pass to my nephew. My nephew (who plays football) managed to throw back a decent spiral, got a smile and a wave from the player. It was a special moment. We made sure everyone knew he’d caught the only pass from that player that day. Both our words and our actions indicated that this kid was something special.

If a single pass from a professional football player can make our day, how much more should the fact that we have been made heirs with Christ reflect in our lives?

With all the noise and distraction around us, it can get difficult to remember who we really are. That’s why it is so important to take the time to listen to the voice of the Spirit within us.

For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children.

Romans 8:16 (NLT)

God hasn’t left us on our own. Just like your last name is a perpetual reminder of who you are, who you belong to, and where you came from, the Holy Spirit within us is there to also remind us of who we are, who we belong to, and where we came from.

Listen to that voice that God put in you. You are a child of God. A child of the King. Brothers and sister of Christ. Heirs of the Promise and so much more. And it’s okay to act like it. Our membership in the Kingdom of God is something to be celebrated and shared.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 78-81, Romans 8:1-18

Daily Bible Reading

Control freak

Nobody likes to hear the S word. Sin isn’t something anyone wants to or enjoys talking about. Even sinners don’t like their actions to be referred to as sin. It’s a dirty word. And so it should be. But just because sin is dirty, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address it or even talk about it. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. So how do we deal with it?

We don’t.

He [Jesus] died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God.

Romans 6:10 (NLT)

Jesus already dealt with sin. He defeated it. There is no maybe about it. There were no little stragglers that escaped. Jesus got it all. He didn’t just win the battle, he won the war.

What does this mean for us?

Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Romans 6:6 (NLT)

There are days where sin feels mighty powerful in my life. I struggle with the temptation to give in—and often do. But if it’s lost its power, why is the struggle still there?

Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval.

Romans 6:16 (NLT)

Perhaps our struggle isn’t so much with sin as it is with control. Until the day we leave this earth, sin will always be an option. But just because it’s there doesn’t mean we have to allow it to control us. We should aim for the exact opposite.

So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11 (NLT)

Romans 6 goes on to talk about how we should be using our bodies as tools to bring glory to God. A tool is something to be used, controlled by the one using it. Our bodies should not control us, but we rather, should control our bodies. When we give ourselves over to sin, we give up control. Likewise, when we give ourselves over to God, we give Him control. The less control we hold for ourselves—the more we give to God, the less likely we are to give it up to sin. In a culture where control is everything, this is a difficult thing to comprehend or even accept. Yet the benefits in giving all control to God far outweigh the disadvantages (because there are no disadvantages).

For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

Romans 6:7 (NLT)

Sin doesn’t have to control us. We don’t have to try to control sin. We must simply give all control over to God. Easy in words, not so much in action. But I believe that the more we strive to give God complete control and ask for His grace in doing so, the more freedom we will find.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 75-77, Romans 6

Daily Bible Reading

Just the right time

There’s a lot of waiting for the right time. We hear it often. There’s a right time for farmers to plant crops. There’s a right time for a couple to start a family. There’s a right time for that special person to come along. There’s a right time to start school. There’s a right time for that promotion. There’s a right time for just about everything.

Because we spend so much of our lives waiting for the right time, it often has an effect on our response to Jesus. Some people are told that they have to wait for the right time for salvation. Well, guess what? It’s now!

Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2b (NLT)

There are those that may leave the impression that a person must be in the right place in their lives in order to be saved. You need to finish something. You need to change something. You need to know more. You need to do less.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Romans 5:6 (NLT)

Utterly helpless. That doesn’t sound like a person who has it all together. That sounds like a person who has completely fallen apart. That is the person Jesus came to save. Jesus didn’t die only for those people who are good enough. News flash—no one is good enough. We cannot save ourselves from our own sin.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8 (NLT)

Jesus took to the cross of his own free will knowing full-well that there would be those who would refuse his sacrifice. There would be those who would try to earn the gift that he was giving. Some might even try to pay for it. Knowing all of that, he still gave up his life on the cross for all of us who would recognise our own sinfulness and humble ourselves enough to accept what he went through—shedding his blood as the final sacrifice that would wipe our sins from all heavenly record.

Because of Jesus, we can step into a new relationship with God free from any guilt and shame that may plague us.

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.

Romans 5:11 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 73-74, Romans 5