Daily Bible Reading

Living knowledge

[God] saves men because He loves them individually, and desires to make them blessed; but He also saves them because He desires that through them other shall be brought into the living knowledge of His love. It is most especially true about great religious teachers and guides.

MacLaren’s Expositions

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he tells his son in the faith to stop letting people waste time in endless speculation. Many in the church had begun to spend more time in discussion over fruitless facts rather than actually bearing fruit. They lost sight of the purpose of their salvation.

Our salvation is not only for our own personal good, but for the good of everyone. As stated in the quote above, God saves us because He loves us, but He also saves us so that we can share His love and be brought into the living knowledge of it.

Facts are great. I love facts. I love statistics. I like knowing things. But those things bear no fruit. Facts have no life to them. This is why Paul directed Timothy to keep the church from spending all their time arguing over these things. While genealogies may be important to an extent, when compared to eternity, it’s a bit of a waste of time. Because God wants to save everyone—not just a specific few.

This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—and I was the worst of them all. But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:15-16 (NLT)

The greater the fall, the greater the story of salvation. (Please don’t take this as an invitation to go on a sinning spree just so you can say you’ve been saved from all of that.) If Paul, a man who spent his life pursuing and killing Christians, could be saved, we can all be saved. And, if that same man can spread the Gospel, we can all spread the Gospel. This is the point he was making.

In the Kingdom of God, your earthy pedigree means nothing. The very same grace saves us all. Let’s not lose sight of that fact and let us not lose sight of the fact that we are saved so that others might be saved.

The purpose of my instruction is that all Christians there would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith.

1 Timothy 1:5 (NLT)

Love is what we should be filled with, not fruitless arguments. Look for that living knowledge of God, that which edifies the soul and strengthens the spirit. Those are the thoughts that should be consuming us.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 5-6, 1 Timothy 1

 

Advertisements
Daily Bible Reading

Real life

What is real?

REAL: Actually being or existing; not fictitious or imaginary. True; genuine, not artificial, counterfeit, or fictitious.

So what is real life?

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)

Your real life, your true life is hidden with Christ in God. Real life isn’t the daily grind. It isn’t your occupation, it isn’t your station in life, it isn’t even your earthly relationships. Real life is Jesus. So how do we even begin to live this life?

…for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Colossians 3:9-11 (NLT)

We make so much of what we do in our lives here on earth. We have to work. We have to get an education. We have to save for retirement. We have to get married. We have to have kids. We have to provide for our kids and make sure they have an education, a job, a retirement. It’s an endless cycle that plagues us and pulls our focus off of real life and toward a mere shadow of what is to come. Work, education, saving, relationships are all important things and we should have all of those things, but when they become our primary focus, it becomes a lot easier to pick up those things that we stripped off when we came to Christ. Christ is all that matters.

And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

Real life and real love go hand in hand. When we put on love, we put on real life. True life.

Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

Colossians 3:16 (NLT)

Real life is real love which is real worship. When we live the new life that we found in Christ, we live a life of love and a life of worship. When our focus is on heavenly things, we can’t help but have thankful hearts because our focus is on the truth.

But the time is coming and is already here when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

John 4:23-24 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 45-47, Colossians 3

Daily Bible Reading

Proof of life

People are always looking for proof. Proof that something or someone exists. Proof that something really happened. Or even proof of life.

If someone is kidnapped or captured, when negotiations begin to get that person back, a proof of life will often be requested. Those who are trying to retrieve their loved one or asset want unmistakable evidence that a hostage is still alive. A proof of life can be a photo or video, maybe a phone call. Once proof of life has been established, things can move forward.

For some, proof of life in Christ can seem like a hostage negotiation. We read the Bible or hear the Good News and believe it to be true, yet truly accepting the gift of salvation can be a difficult concept to grasp. We want proof. Unmistakable evidence that we are not who we were before. And we need to know this before we can really move forward.

And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us through Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:7 (NLT)

In all of your searching for proof, has it ever occurred to look to yourself rather than others? You are God’s example of the incredible wealth of his favour. You are His proof of life.

God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this: it is a gift from God.

Ephesians 2:8 (NLT)

You didn’t save yourself. Nothing you did—other than believe—brought grace into your life and nothing you can do can keep grace in your life. And it’s a good thing, too. If you were able to work hard enough to obtain salvation, how much harder would you have to work to maintain it? Don’t make things more complicated than they have to be. God saved you when you believed, plain and simple. If you’re looking for proof of life in Christ, look in the mirror.

But now you belong to Christ Jesus. Though you once were far away from God, now you have been brought near to him because of the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:13 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 19-21, Ephesians 2

Daily Bible Reading

Let’s argue this out

Without even realising it, there are things that we do that render the value of grace to nothing. Without thinking, we say things that nullify the single greatest gift that has ever been offered to us.

One way to reduce the value of grace is to impose rules and regulations on Christians as a part of church membership. Women must wear their hair long. Men must always wear a suit and tie to church. Children must be seen and never heard. A youth cannot pierce their ear. Jesus never forced any of these things on his followers. Rather, he freed them from all those laws.

I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.

Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT)

Another way to devalue grace is to insist that people “clean themselves up” before coming to Christ. By saying that they must first overcome their vices before they can receive grace, what we are really saying is that God’s grace is great, but not that great.

Yet another—and probably the most grievous—way that we can take away the value of grace is by saying that we ourselves aren’t good enough to receive it.

“Come now, let us argue this out,” says the Lord. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.”

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)

The entire point of grace is that none of us—no matter how good or bad—are really worthy of receiving it. Its value is based entirely on the person who receives it and what their freedom in Christ is worth to them individually. If we put rules and regulations on grace, it is no longer grace at all, but something that must be earned—which grace cannot be.

So we can argue this out, but both Paul and Isaiah have done a pretty good job of it. Grace is only grace when it is completely free. For only grace that is completely free can set a person completely free.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 1-3, Galatians 2

Daily Bible Reading

Weak

You’ve probably had a lot of experiences that many people don’t know about. You’ve done things, been places, seen people. Much of which could probably bring you up a few rungs on the ladder of worth when it comes to what others think about you. But is all of that really worthwhile? Is it really of value to boast about all those things if they are of no eternal value?

I have plenty to boast about and would be no fool in doing it, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it. I don’t want anyone to think more highly of me than what they can actually see in my life and in my message.

2 Corinthians 12:6 (NLT)

If it doesn’t further our ministry or our message, is it really worth boasting about? We shouldn’t have to rely on the opinions of others for validation. All the validation we will ever need is found in Christ. Besides, the worse off we are, the more Christ is able to do in our lives.

Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)

The world would have us believe that weakness makes us, well, weak. But it doesn’t have to. If we are always strong, we never have reason to lean on God. We never have the need to call on the name of Jesus. But in our weakness, when we must rely on our Creator, He makes us strong. He works in and through us. This is the life and the message Paul is talking about.

We shouldn’t have to boast about what God has done because people should be able to see what God is doing. If you’re always talking about what God did in the past, is there even room for Him in the present? There is no shame in weakness because, if Christ is in us, he has already taken our shame upon himself. As for the insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities?

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is our through Christ, who loved us.

Romans 8:35, 37 (NLT)

If you must boast, boast in that. That, no matter what life or the devil may throw at you, you belong to Christ. You are his, he is yours. Go ahead, be weak. Let Christ show his strength through you.

Daily Bible reading: Song of Solomon 1-3, 2 Corinthians 12

Daily Bible Reading

In conclusion

As we come to the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, some may be left with the idea that, since nothing seems to really matter, we should just live our lives in pursuit of personal pleasure.

“All is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “utterly meaningless.”

Ecclesiastes 12:8 (NLT)

There’s nothing like a bit of encouragement from the Teacher (largely presumed to be Solomon) first thing in the morning. If everything still to come is meaningless (11:8), why bother trying to do good? Why should we help other people when we can help ourselves? Because it is our duty—not as Christians, but as human beings.

Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NLT)

As soon as someone tells me that I have to do something, I suddenly don’t want to do it whether it’s good or not. Words like fear and obey are often not see in the best of light and we tend to not want to comply when they’re thrust at us. If you’ve been following along in your daily Bible reading, though, you’ll have already come across hundreds of reasons why fearing God and obeying His commands are really good things.

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom…

Proverbs 15:33 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge…

Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord leads to life…

Proverbs 19:23 (NLT)

Life. Wisdom. Knowledge. Who doesn’t want those? We should fear the Lord. And not just out of duty, but because we want to.

And what about obedience?

Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.

Psalm 112:1 (NLT)

When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

John 15:10 (NLT)

Joy! Love! We could go on all day about the benefits of fearing God and obeying His commands. It may be our duty, but it is also to our benefit to do so. If the wisest man who ever lived concluded that we should do these things, perhaps there’s something to it.

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 10-12, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Daily Bible Reading

Your lot in life

There are people I refer to as Eeyore Christians. You know, always depressed, pessimistic, gloomy. Glass half empty kind of people. These are the sort of people who may say that they’ve just accepted their lot in life. And they believe themselves to be of great piety as they say it.

But, guess what? These people are sorely mistaken! Too many Christians have taken that one small phrase from a larger portion of scripture and have used it to justify the fact that they refuse to work harder or find any joy at all right where they are. Accepting your lot in life has absolutely nothing to do with settling for a sub-par existence.

And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NLT)

Have you ever heard someone say that they just had to accept their lot in life and say it with joy? I doubt it. It’s usually with that Eeyore drone as though they are meant to go through life alone, unhappy, sick, and poor.

But there is nothing in this portion of Ecclesiastes that would indicate all of those things are our lot in life. It points to the opposite.

Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work—whatever they do under the sun—for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (NLT)

Is poverty a gift from God? No! Is pain a gift from God? No! Is sorrow a gift from God? No!

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.

John 10:10 (NLT)

To accept your lot in life is to accept a life of fullness no matter where you find yourself. Life may not be what you thought or planned it would be, but that doesn’t mean that you have to slog through it accepting all the junk life may throw at you. To accept your lot in life means to trust that God still has a good plan for you. It means to look for the joy in the things you see and do every day. It means be thankful and grateful for today and all that comes with it. And, above all, it means enjoying life.

So go ahead, accept your lot.

Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have.

Ecclesiastes 6:9a (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 4-6, 2 Corinthians 10