Daily Bible Reading

Share

We’re told all our lives that we need to share. Share your toys. Share your snacks. Share your room. Share the car. Share your office. Share, share, share. We’re told so often as we grow up that we have to share that when we’re all grown our response is often, oh good, I don’t have to share anymore. Sharing is something that we did because we had to not because we wanted to.

I believe that an attitude of generosity is something we could all use a little more of. I don’t necessarily mean in the way of finances, either. Money isn’t necessarily what someone in need actually needs.

The very first church in the Book of Acts grew by leaps and bounds in its first days. Was it because of the stellar preaching? I don’t think so. Many of those who joined up with the apostles had already seen and heard Jesus speak. I’m not sure anyone could teach better than Jesus. Was it because of the incredibly modern and up-to-date facilities? What facilities? They started with 120 people crammed in someone’s upper room. There was no church building to meet in.

Peter has just finished speaking his first message to the new church and here’s how the people responded:

Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church—about three thousand in all. They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer.

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. they worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.

Acts 2:41-47 (NLT)

Note that they didn’t start all sorts of programs. There was no men’s ministry or women’s ministry or kid’s ministry. There were no outreach programs or missions teams. The church worked and lived together as a community and God did mighty things in their midst. Notice that nothing they did specifically added to their numbers. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved. The church did their thing and God did His thing.

There have been moments in my Christian life when church looked like this description in Acts. We did all sorts of things with other church members. We did life together. We saw the miraculous and we saw our church grow. But that seems to be the exception, not the rule. I long to see my church as well as the Global Church live and grow together—without division and without selfishness.

Whether you attend a small church or a large church, this example in Acts can serve as something to strive for. They started with a modest 120 and grew by three thousand that first day! And from there their generosity grew along with their numbers.

The world is looking for community, what better way to find it than in the church?

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 4-6, Acts 2:14-47

Daily Bible Reading

The golden ticket

I grew up watching the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I still get the golden ticket song stuck in my head:

I’ve got a golden ticket
I’ve got a golden chance to make my way
And with a golden ticket, it’s a golden day

Charlie dances around singing a song and his bedridden grandfather miraculously hops out of bed to join him.

Jesus gave us a golden ticket.

The truth is, you can go directly to the Father and ask him, and he will grant your request because you use my name.

John 16:23b (NLT)

Jesus wouldn’t have told us that we can go directly to God if it were a difficult thing. His name is our golden ticket to access the Father.

On my last mission trip, there were several older people on our team. Apparently grey hair gets you the golden ticket—literally, they got a yellow slip of paper—that allowed them an easier time through the security line. They got to leave their shoes on and only had to go through the metal detector, not the full body scan. They had the closest thing to a free pass the airport could give them. And they (and their aching knees) were happy about it.

You haven’t done this before. Ask using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

John 16:24 (NLT)

Comparing our prayer life to an airport security line may seem trivial, but it can help to see the simplicity of Jesus’ words. Christianity is not complicated. Access to God is not difficult. Jesus gave us the use of his name as our golden ticket to God, all we have to do is use it—without hesitation. Those people in the security line with their yellow card didn’t hesitate to reap the benefits of what they’d been given and neither should we.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 23-25, John 16:16-33

Daily Bible Reading

Fruit hurts

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

John 15:1-2 (NLT)

I think most everyone could agree (or at least hope) that if you a bearing good fruit, pain should be the furthest thing from your mind. Many of us are under the impression that by living a good Christian life, we should be free from trouble, worry, and pain.

What if I told you that pain is good?

So long as you’re connected with Jesus—the true vine—you shouldn’t have to worry about being cut off. But that doesn’t mean you’re free and clear from some difficulty. God loves us so much that He’s willing to cause a little pain so that we can see even more fruit.

I’m not a parent, but I’ve heard that many parents have a difficult time disciplining their children. It’s not that they want their kids to continue misbehaving, it’s because they love them that they don’t want to be the cause of pain and tears. I’m quite certain God feels the same—and even more so—about us. He loves us enough to take things away, cut things off, and redirect our paths.

The resulting pain of God’s pruning isn’t bad news. In fact, it’s great news! It means that you have fruit to start with. And it means that God wants you to produce even more fruit.

There’s an orchard near my house that looks as though it was overtaken with blight several years back. Since then, the keeper has done absolutely nothing with it. The trees are all but dead and intruding vines are taking over what is left of the branches. The owner doesn’t even care enough to have it all removed. It’s gone to waste and is being overtaken by invasive plants. In order to bring back a fruitful orchard, even more work will be required than if the keeper of the trees had just cut it all down when the blight first attacked.

God isn’t going to allow blight or invasive brambles to overtake His orchard. He is going to attack anything and everything that doesn’t belong there because He wants the greatest harvest possible.

So don’t get upset when the things that prevent fruit in your life are taken away. Rejoice because you know that God truly does care and is watching out for your best interests.

I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

John 15:11 (NLT)

Bearing fruit hurts. There may be a little pain now, but the payoff is more fruit in the future. The next time you feel you’re being pruned. Rejoice. God is working on you and He is working for you.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 17-19, John 15

Daily Bible Reading

Effective

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Philemon 4-7 (ESV)

I have just one quick question for you today: how effective is the sharing of your faith?

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 36-37, Philemon 1

Daily Bible Reading

Multiply

The world is loud. Really loud.

There are things being shouted at us from all directions at all times.

The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive and knows nothing.

Proverbs 9:13 (ESV)

Foolishness is loud. It stands up and shouts an invitation and most people see the appeal in it and will follow the louder voice. But that voice leads nowhere but to shame and destruction.

It is the quiet voice that needs to be lifted up.

Does not wisdom call?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud.

Proverbs 8:1-3 (ESV)

Where foolishness leads to destruction, wisdom, that quiet voice, leads to so much more.

Teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

Proverbs 9:9b (ESV)

For by [wisdom] your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.

Proverbs 9:11 (ESV)

A slack hand causes poverty,
but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Proverbs 10:4 (ESV)

Read through Proverbs 9 and 10 and ponder the words associated with wisdom. These are the things we should be looking for – not the temptation that comes from foolishness, but the enduring benefits of wisdom:

  • increase
  • multiplied
  • glad
  • blessings
  • receive
  • life
  • wealth
  • pleasure
  • joy

I don’t know about you, but that list looks pretty good to me.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:1-32

Uncategorized

Praise God.

When someone does something good, we praise them. At least we should praise them. As kids, we get rewards and praise for correct behaviour. As adults, we get bonuses and accolades for a job well done. And there are those who seek praise (and often receive it) though they’ve done nothing to deserve it.

What about God?

Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared,
a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm!

Psalm 47:1-7 (ESV)

If we offer praise even to those who are undeserving, how much more should we offer praise to God? And I’m not talking about the twenty minutes you may sing on Sunday morning. I’m talking about all the time. You got out of bed this morning. Surely that is worth something. If you’re reading this, you have a device on which to read it and access to the internet. You’re prospering in some way. You’re literate. You’re ahead of the majority of the world’s population. What is that worth?

As you go through your day, focus on the blessings – all the reasons why God deserves praise. But don’t stop there. Praise God. Whether it’s in a whispered prayer or telling someone else, praise God.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 47-49; Acts 26

Uncategorized

Delight

The English language really is a wonder. We have so many words that mean so many things. The language is constantly evolving and new words are added all the time. However, some words have also lost meaning. We tend to replace some words with others and make words that don’t really mean the same thing interchangeable.

When you think of delight, is it temporary or permanent? Is it affected by circumstance or state of mind? Delight. Joy. Happy. Content. We often use these words in place of each other. But what does delight really mean?

DELIGHT is a more permanent pleasure than joy, and not dependent on sudden excitement.

A high degree of pleasure, or satisfaction of mind; joy.

With that in mind, take a look at some of the verses in Psalm 37.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Psalm 37:11 (ESV)

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
When he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24 (ESV)

None of these references have anything to do with being happy. No outside force is implied when David tells us to delight in the Lord, in abundant peace or God’s ways. Even in the hard times, as David explains, if we delight, if we find our joy in God and His will, His ways, we will find the blessing of peace.

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Psalm 37:39-40 (ESV)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 36-37; Acts 23:1-11