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

Behind the scenes

Read through the book of Esther. You won’t find any mention of God.

Does this surprise you?

If you know the story, you probably imagine it with folks praying and praising and God leading someone to do this and telling someone else to do that. The name of God is never mentioned, but we cannot deny the fact that He is still there behind every action taken throughout the story.

Maybe you feel like your life has started a little like Esther’s. She wasn’t born a queen. She was born to a race which, more often than not, was scorned throughout Persia. The Jews had more than their fair share of enemies. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she lost both her parents and her uncle took in his orphaned niece. For many, this would be reason enough to give up. But somewhere along the line, whether it was her nature or the nurture of her wise uncle, Mordecai, Esther grew into a beautiful, wise, strong woman.

As she grew up, Esther couldn’t know that she would one day capture the attention of the king. She couldn’t have known that God was preparing her to rescue her people from an enemy who would see them all dead. She couldn’t have known that she would have to put her own life on the line to spare the lives of her people.

We can never really know what God may be preparing us for as we go through life. Your struggles now may be strengthening you to do something great. And if you give in now, you may never know what God had in store for you in the future.

Like the book of Esther, you may not see God working in your life, but don’t make the mistake of believing He’s not there working, fighting, preparing behind the scenes on your behalf.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Esther 7-10, Acts 6

Daily Bible Reading

If you build it…

Many of us can quote the whispered line from Field of Dreams, if you build it, he will come. Nehemiah was kind of the Ray Kinsella of his time. God was the voice whispering to him to build it. Build what? The wall surrounding Jerusalem.

Nehemiah, however, wasn’t an Iowa corn farmer. He was the king’s cup bearer in Persia. He’d never even been to Jerusalem. Yet, when he heard of the disrepair the city had fallen to, God’s vision weighed so heavily on his heart that he had to go. He prayed for strength and courage to approach the king. No only did the king allow him to go, but Nehemiah left with letters which would allow him to pass through other lands on his way and also gave him access to the king’s resources.

Nehemiah showed up in a strange city full of distant relatives and somehow managed to get everyone working together to rebuild the wall. How’s that for a family reunion? From the lowest of the low to the city leaders, with God’s vision set before them, they all worked together.

There are those who would say that the God of the Old Testament is not the same as the God of the New Testament.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)

God doesn’t change. The God that stirred Nehemiah, a lowly servant, to rebuild Jerusalem is the same God who is still stirring within men and women today. He is planting vision in those daring enough to see beyond themselves and today.

Christians who did most for the present world were those who thought most of the next.

C.S. Lewis.

There are those who build for the sake of building. They want the glory that comes with a grand structure. And there are those who build for the sake of the Kingdom of God. They want the glory to go to the One who alone can fill the structure.

It is time that the Church allow herself to be stirred. Time for those who are willing to be led by the Spirit of God to build the Kingdom of God. It is time that we strive to become the Church that Christ will return for.

It’s time to sneak a peek at tomorrow’s reading:

‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
In those days I will pour out my Spirit
Even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.

Acts 2:17-18 (NLT)

Are you ready to think less of this world and more of the next? If you build it…

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 1-3, Acts 2:1-13

Daily Bible Reading

Your God

Judah is getting ready for battle. Several other nations armies have joined forces and come up against them. King Jehoshaphat is giving the big rally speech.

Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm.

2 Chronicles 20:20b (NLT)

The Lord your God. Not the Lord my God.

This was a time when Judah enjoyed a renewed covenant with God. Jehoshaphat did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. The Levites spent time going throughout the land teaching people about the covenant they had with God. Call them the early itinerant ministers.

The people of Judah had personal relationship with the Lord. They weren’t dependent on the relationship that the priests or the king had. They knew God for themselves. Their God was going to save them. They put their trust in Him, not their leaders.

After consulting the leaders of the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:

“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:21 (NLT)

Their trust in their king and their faith in their God allowed them to go ahead of the battle signing praise to the Lord. Judah could stand and sing as though they’d won because they had enough of a relationship with God to know that His character was victorious. When God led His people into battle, they won. Judah didn’t have to hope for a good outcome. They knew that if they put their faith in God, He would fight the battle for them.

And that’s exactly what He did.

The song went forth and the opposing armies obliterated each other leaving the plunder for Judah to gather.

What kind of victory will you see when you believe in the Lord your God and go ahead with praise as though the battle has already been won?

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 20-22, John 16:1-15

Daily Bible Reading

Hail to the King!

The next day, news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A huge crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted,

“Praise God!
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hail to the King of Israel!”

John 12:12-13 (NLT)

All of these people had gathered because they had heard Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. That was great. They heard a great story and got in the moment and publicly praised Jesus. I wonder, though, how many of those same people, several days later, shouted, “Crucify!” Was their praise simply the effects of a mob mentality? Is ours?

When we, as a church, get together on Sundays to praise and worship, God is glorified. We are all encouraged. We get together and great things happen in the presence of God. But how much of that carries over into Monday, Tuesday, and the rest of the week?

God is most certainly interested in our corporate worship. It is an important part of our relationship with Him. But He is also interested in our private devotion—what we do outside of Sunday.

Is our public worship a reflection of our private moments with Him or are we merely going with the flow—affected by the mob, first praising Jesus then accusing him?

Our public worship should not be directed by the crowd around us, but should rather be an extension of our private devotion.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 1-3, John 12:1-19

Daily Bible Reading

Faith like a child

Then the king summoned all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, and the priests, and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. The king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple. The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, regulation, and law with all his heart and soul. In this way, he confirmed all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll, and all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

2 Kings 23:1-3 (NLT)

This sounds like something that happened in Solomon’s day. Surely these are the actions of a great and wise king in a long line of God-fearing kings.

But it’s not.

This is Josiah. He was eight when he ascended to the throne and reigned only thirty-one years. He didn’t even make it over the hill. Wisdom and faith were not traits that were common in his lineage. In fact, he came after a long line of evil and rebellious kings. Yet somehow, he understood the importance of a covenant with the Lord.

Though previous kings had sought to honour God, Josiah was the first to utterly destroy pagan worship in Israel—the idols, altars, shrines, and priests. Then he reinstituted the Passover which had not been celebrated as such since the time when the judges ruled in Israel (2 Kings 23:22).

I say all this so that we can learn from the kid who became king. Age does not equal wisdom. Wisdom is simply the proper use of knowledge. Josiah had already commanded that the Temple be rebuilt and when the Book of the Law was rediscovered, Josiah suddenly had a wealth of knowledge at his fingertips.

The Book of the Law had all but disappeared from tradition in Judah. Josiah could have chosen to leave things as they were and not stir up trouble during his reign. But instead, he chose to apply his newfound knowledge. Because of the wisdom of a young man, a nation was saved from destruction.

“You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people, that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. So I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. I will not send the promised disaster against this city until after you have died and been buried in peace. You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this place.”

2 Kings 22:19-20 (NLT)

Don’t assume that all things from the aged are wise and don’t dismiss the words of a youth. God can bring forth truth and wisdom from anyone willing to see and pursue it.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 23-25, John 7:1-31

Daily Bible Reading

Quickly

Let’s assume that, if you attend church regularly, that you trust your pastor and other church leaders. You trust that he or she is a man or woman of God. You trust that they spend regular time in prayer and reading their Bible. You trust that their messages are Holy Spirit-led.

Then they approach you and tell you something you didn’t expect. It may be a word in season or it may be a word of correction. Some people take it to heart and are encouraged or work to make necessary changes in their lives. Others may ruminate on it for a while before responding. And others will get mad, stay away, or even leave the church thinking, what right does this person have to say this to me?

The truth is that they have every right. If you consider yourself to be a member of a church, you’ve put yourself into a position of submission to the pastor and the leaders he or she has put in place. So long as they are speaking and acting according to the Word of God, they have a certain amount of authority over you.

So why does our response matter so much?

Israel has wandered away from God. There are yet a few righteous men and women, but not many. Jehu is leading the army. Elisha is the prophet. Elisha sends a man of God to anoint Jehu as the next king. Jehu can do several things: he can send the man away, scoffing at him, he can listen to what he has to say and think about it, or he can accept the word and act on it.

Jehu accepts the anointing.

Jehu went back to his fellow officers, and one of them asked him, “What did that crazy fellow want? Is everything all right?”

“You know the way such a man babbles on,” Jehu replied.

“You’re lying,” they said. “Tell us.” So Jehu told them what the man had said and that at the Lord’s command he had been anointed king over Israel.

They quickly spread out their cloaks on the bare steps and blew a trumpet, shouting, “Jehu is king!”

2 Kings 9:11-13 (NLT)

Israel may have gone astray, but something (I believe the Holy Spirit) was still working in them. A deep respect and honour for the Word of God still resided in these men and, instead of getting upset that Jehu had been chosen to be the next king or taking the time to think about this news and whether or not they wanted to accept it, they immediately responded to it.

When we have a relationship with God, He will lead us and guide us. His Spirit works in and through us. He brings us insight and revelation.

When we are in submission to the leaders God has placed before us, God uses them to help lead and guide us. Between God speaking to our leaders and the Spirit working in us, I believe that we are well able to discern truth and allow that truth to guide us. When a word is presented to us from a trusted source and resonates within our spirits as truth, our response, like Jehu’s men, should be immediate. If we trust God and we trust our leaders, the time to ponder should be minimal. We should respond quickly.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 9-11, John 5:1-24