Daily Bible Reading

Attitude

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

John 11:21-22 (NLT)

This is the same Martha who had been whining to Jesus about Mary who would sit at his feet rather than help in the kitchen. She’s come a long way since then and has obviously taken the time not just to work, but to listen to Jesus as well.

“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

John 11:27 (NLT)

Martha, not Mary, was the first to greet Jesus when he finally arrived after hearing of Lazarus’ illness. Martha had to go get Mary so Jesus could speak with her. Martha, the more practical of the two believed that Jesus could do whatever God wanted him to do in the situation and told Jesus so. Mary, the more emotional of the two almost seemed to blame Jesus for their brother’s death.

When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell down at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

John 11:32 (NLT)

Both women told Jesus the same thing, but with completely different attitudes. There is a time to be like Mary—breaking open a jar of expensive perfume to pour over Jesus’ feet. To sit and listen to the Son of God and drink in all he has to say. And there is a time to be like Martha—more practical. Able to think clearly in times of turmoil and crisis.

Jesus didn’t scorn either woman, but praised them both for their attitudes and faith.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 26-27, John 11:18-46

Daily Bible Reading

Without measure

How much of God’s Spirit did He put in you? What limits did He put on your heavenly authority? What can’t you do with the power of His name?

These are all questions we should never be asking.

When Jesus was giving his disciples their last pep talk, he never even approached the topic of what they couldn’t do. But he spent several verses discussing all that they could do.

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick and heal them.

Mark 16:15-18 (NLT)

They will… they will… they will… I don’t see anything there about they won’t.

So if we can do all these things through the name of Jesus, what kind of power is backing that name?

For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God’s Spirit is upon him without measure or limit.

John 3: 34 (NLT)

Without measure or limit. That is the kind of power that backs the name of Jesus.

We Christians need to stop acting as though we got dealt the short end of salvation. God didn’t give us just enough of His Spirit to squeak into Heaven. He hasn’t withheld from us. He’s given us all of His Spirit and it’s time that we started acting like it.

Keeping in mind that we have access to the Spirit without measure or limit, the only question that remains is this: what can God do through you?

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 1-3. John 3:22-36I 

Daily Bible Reading

Look!

It’s nice to have people around (if you’re a people person, anyway). It can make you feel important or somehow special to not only have people around, but to have people follow you. Once you get used to having people following you, hanging on your every word, it can be difficult to let that go. But that is exactly what John the Baptist did.

John, Jesus’ cousin, was only a few months older than Jesus. God commissioned him to go ahead of Jesus to proclaim the Messiah, the new King of the Jews, the Son of God. In doing this, John amassed followers—people who believed in his message and allowed John to baptise them in water. These people would follow him around and would help to collect even more followers.

Then Jesus’ time came.

John had a choice to make. He could cling to his followers and continue preparing the way for the Lord or he could do as he did and let go.

The following day, John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and then declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!”

John 1:35-36 (NLT)

John knew that it wasn’t up to him to keep collecting disciples for himself, but rather to make disciples for Christ. He carried no animosity whatsoever toward his cousin and he willinging allowed his followers to go.

Then John’s two disciples turned and followed Jesus.

John 1:37 (NLT)

Just like that. John lost two followers and Jesus gained two.

Our Commission is the same a John’s—prepare the way for the Son of God and point Him out to any who will listen. But then the difficult part comes, when they’ve met Jesus, we need to let them go. I don’t mean to say that we introduce people to Jesus and then walk away, leaving them to struggle in their newfound faith. New believers need to be taught the Word of God. They need to learn how to be followers of Jesus. But once they have an understanding of the new life they have gained, we don’t get to “keep” them. They are no longer our followers, but Jesus’ followers.

Like John, we need to be able to point and say, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” And then we need to allow those people to follow Christ, not us. It can be difficult sometimes when those people choose a direction we may not have chosen for them. John had probably grown close to Andrew and Peter as they followed him. It is quite possible that they were both followers and friends. Yet, when the time came, he did not hold them back, but pointed at Jesus. Look! John had done his work well because, without question, Andrew and Peter stepped away from John and into step with Jesus.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 16-18, John 1:29-51

Daily Bible Reading

About the future

Yesterday we talked about the couple on the road to Emmaus—Cleopas and his wife. They walked seven miles with Jesus without recognising him. Cleopas talked for seven miles of all that had happened to Jesus while Jesus spoke to him of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Cleopas was still clueless. It wasn’t until they’d reached their destination, invited Jesus to stay for dinner and Jesus blessed and broke the bread that they realised who they’d been with the entire time.

Cleopas and his wife returned to Jerusalem to share their story with the rest of the disciples only to discover that Jesus had also shown himself to Peter. While all this is happening, Jesus suddenly appears again. He’s there. He’s not there. What are these people supposed to think? (Even after Jesus had said all along something like this would happen.) Even though Jesus stood before his believers with scars on his hands and feet and boiled fish in his belly, they doubted.

Then he [Jesus] said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must come true.” Then he opened their minds to understand these many scriptures.

Luke 24:44-45 (NLT)

These followers of Jesus knew him. They knew the scriptures. They had grown up hearing and reading the prophecies about the coming Saviour, yet when that Saviour stood right in front of them returned from the dead, they couldn’t understand. Not until it was revealed to them.

How many situations do we go through in our lives when we can’t see God? We beg and we plead and we walk away in disappointment because we couldn’t see the answer. We stand on the promises of God only to throw them back in His face because we are blinded by our own hurt and pain. Spiritual tunnel vision. We only see one thing.

Yet God sent the Spirit to show us many things.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me. All that the Father has is mine; this is what I mean when I say that the Spirit will reveal to you whatever he receives from me.

John 16:13-15 (NLT)

If we truly believe and trust in God, we be assured that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide us into all truth. Even in the difficult situations—the times when it seems as though God is far—the Spirit can reveal Truth to us. He can open up our vision to see purpose in the pain and to help us through our hurt.

Cleopas and his wife assumed Jesus had abandoned them to the point of walking away, yet Jesus chose to walk with them on their journey. They didn’t understand everything until they’d returned, but Jesus was still there. Walking with them. Talking to them words from the past about the future.

If you’re like the disciples in Jerusalem, disappointed, but still waiting for a miracle or like Cleopas and his wife, walking away, Jesus is there. He appeared to both parties where they were. Don’t fool yourself into thinking he can’t reach you where you are.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 12-13, Luke 24:36-53

Daily Bible Reading

Alone

I like to be alone. In fact, in order to stay functional, I need to be alone. Often and for long periods of time. I tend to resent anyone who may disturb the time I’ve set aside for myself.

Jesus had moments where He needed to be alone. But once His ministry was in full swing, those moments seemed to disappear altogether.

As soon as Jesus heard the news, he went off by himself in a boat to  a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where was was headed and followed by land from many villages.

Matthew 14:13 (NLT)

First of all, let’s back up. The reason that Jesus wanted to be alone was because He had just heard news of John the Baptist’s—his cousin—death. He was grieving.

I get annoyed on any given day when I want to be alone and am interrupted. I can’t imagine trying to mourn a close family member being followed by thousands of people. I have a feeling my response to those followers would be less than gracious.

A vast crowd was there as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 14:14 (NLT)

Not only did Jesus set aside His own wants and grief, but in a moment when He could have used some compassion, He had compassion on all of those who interrupted His mourning. If you keep reading, you’ll discover that this was the same moment where Jesus fed the thousands with just five loaves and two fish.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to graciously give up my alone time, but Jesus’ example makes me think I should try. My grief and need for solitude could perhaps be the moment that God most wants to use for the miraculous.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 44-45, Matthew 14:1-21

Daily Bible Reading

In the Beginning…

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that it was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” Together these made up one day.

Genesis 1:1-5 (NLT)

When reading this passage, I always made the assumption that the light that God created on Day One was the sun. It wasn’t. The sun didn’t come into play until Day Four. So if the light wasn’t the sun, what was it?

Jump over to the New Testament.

In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:1-5 (NLT)

For those of us raised in church, we knew the story of creation from a very early age. And, if you’re like me, you picture a big God in the sky with a glowing robe and a long, white beard. The Gandalf of the Heavens. But God wasn’t alone.

In the passage from Genesis quoted above, the entire Trinity is present. In the beginning GodAnd the Spirit of God was hoveringLet there be light (Jesus is the Light according to John 1:4)… The Hebrew word used for God is a plural word. Elohim. A plural of majesty indicating God’s greatness, not His number.

Jesus didn’t just appear at His human birth. The Holy Spirit didn’t arrive only at Pentecost. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have been present since the very beginning. They are three in one and cannot be separated from each other. They are all and they are in all.

There is no better way to go into a new year than with the revelation that God is in everything and cannot be separated from anything. He is as much a part of you as He always has been. He will never leave you or forsake you. He cannot be extinguished.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 1-2, Matthew 1