Daily Bible Reading

Dependent

There is one company in particular (and probably many more) that has had no little amount of difficulty in filling an available position. Over the last five years, at least four different men have worked the job. They, like many other companies, want to hire people with experience. They want employees who require a little less training, and maybe have some education in the industry. They want a ready-made employee.

However, in all their hiring of guys with experience, they failed to look for the most important component of all—work ethic. Hire a guy with experience. Great. But how hard will he work for the company? Is the job just a paycheque so he can turn his phone off and hang out with his buddies on the weekend? Or is he a guy with not so much experience, but an eagerness to work and a wife and kids at home that depend on him?

As this company discovered, it’s not always the guys with the experience that turn out to be the best employees—it’s the guys who are willing to get down and get dirty and have dependents they must provide for.

DEPENDENT: One who is at the disposal of another; one who is sustained by another, or who relies on another for support or favor.

People tend work harder when they’re not just working for themselves, but for others who could not live without them.

Give me happiness, O Lord,
for my life depends on you.

Psalm 86:4 (NLT)

We are God’s children, His dependents. We literally cannot live without Him—a fact He knows very well.

As we’re reading through the Psalms, think about how many verses speak to God of needing rescue, life, sustenance. God, our Father, is like both the employee with experience and the one with dependents. He knows what He’s doing and He has a reason to work hard at it—us. He’s not lazy. He doesn’t turn His phone off on weekends. He’s not absent.

for your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death!

Psalm 86:13 (NLT)

For the Lord God is our light and protector.
He gives us grace and glory.
No good thing will the Lord withhold
from those who do what is right.
O Lord, Almighty,
happy are those who trust in you.

Psalm 84:11-12 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 85-87, Romans 9

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

Identify

One of the greatest struggles of our culture today is identity. We all want—need—to know who we are and who everyone else is. There are infinite ways to identify ourselves, but we make our greatest mistake when we determine our identity by what we do rather than who we are.

One mistake or misstep can change the course of your life when you become identified by that one action. In a negative context, if a person kills someone, that person is forever known as a murderer. That person could become the world’s greatest philanthropist, yet that single action determines how they are perceived for the rest of their life. In a less drastic context, if a singer has one hit song, they are forever known as the person who sang that particular song. It may not matter that they’ve sung a hundred other songs, that one song becomes their identity.

There is so much more to us than what we do. By making a determination of who we are based on just one portion of our lives, we reject our true identity.

You are among those who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:6 (NLT)

What better way to discover your identity than looking toward the One who created you? My true identity, your true identity, is in Christ. You don’t need to go find yourself if you know Christ because who we are is found in him. The trouble comes when we reject our Creator.

From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools.

Romans 1:20-22 (NLT)

When we reject our true identity—as belonging to Jesus—darkness and confusion set it. It is no wonder that, in a culture who has rejected the very idea of God, people have so much difficulty finding their identity. With no light to guide their way, their path can only lead to darkness and death.

Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to live.”

John 8:12 (NLT)

Our journey of self-discovery should only ever lead us to one place—Jesus. We have all we need to know how we should identify ourselves in the Word of God. We are called to belong to Jesus Christ. When you identify as a child of God, you need look no further.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!

1 John 3:1a (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 62-64, Romans 1

Daily Bible Reading

His purpose

I am surrounded by fierce lions
who greedily devour human prey—
whose teeth piece like spears and arrows,
and whose tongues cut like swords.

Psalm 57:4 (NLT)

What would your response be in this situation? Sounds like a great time to break out into praise and worship, doesn’t it? Hardly, but that’s what David does.

Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens!
May your glory shine over all the earth.

Psalm 57:5 (NLT)

If not everything is going perfectly, if there is a hint of trouble, most of us would tend to believe that we are not within God’s purpose. Surely something has gone wrong, we’ve fallen out of grace and are bound for destruction. But think about this, if we were never in a position to get into trouble, would grace still exist? If everything were always perfect all the time, could God deliver us?

David is crying out to God for protection and, in the middle of it all, bursts out in worship. Even when his enemies have set a trap for him, he praises God with confidence.

My heart is confident in you, O God;
no wonder I can sing your praises!

Psalm 57:7 (NLT)

When we are confident in our God—the God we have a personal relationship with—we can, like David, worship even in the difficult times.

I cry out to God Most High,
to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.

Psalm 57:2 (NLT)

David had such a close relationship with God that, centuries before Jesus had a chance to speak the words, David had a great revelation of them.

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

John 10:10 (NLT)

David knew that, while the enemy was not of God, God would fulfill His purpose. And that purpose included good things, not bad.

He will send help from heaven to save me,
rescuing me from those who are out to get me.
My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.

Psalm 57:3 (NLT)

If you’re in the middle of a violent storm like David was, hold on to your confidence. Trust in your God and His plans and purposes for you. Work up the courage to worship when you’re surrounded by trouble. Remind yourself of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 56-58, Acts 28:1-15

Daily Bible Reading

Why so sad?

These days, if you watch or read the news, it can be pretty difficult to keep yourself happy and encouraged. Most news stations report mostly bad news. We’re gluttons for the horrific stories and are drawn to the most sinister of reports. Good news gets buried in the heaps of the atrocities surrounding us.

It begs the question, how then do we remain happy, joyful, and encouraged when all we hear are awful reports?

Why am I so discouraged?
Why so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

Psalm 42:5, 11 and 43:5 (NLT)

Three times in two chapters we see this refrain. It must have been important to the descendants of Korah for it to have been repeated so many times.

How often have you asked yourself those questions? Why am I so discouraged? Why am I so sad? And how often are we unable to come up with a reasonable response?

The writer of these Psalms had a solution—put your hope in God and praise Him. Is it really that easy? Yes, I believe it is. James 4:8 tells us to come close to God, and God will come close to you. And Psalm 22:3 says that He inhabits the praises of Israel. Our praise brings us closer to God. God inhabits, dwells, lives in our praises. How can we be anything but joyful and encouraged when God is right there, near to us and living in our praise?

Hope in the temporary will only lead to disappointment and discouragement. This will all pass away. But hope in the everlasting, the eternal leads to joy and encouragement.

Through each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.

Psalm 42:8 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 41-43, Acts 24

Daily Bible Reading

Trust issues

TRUST: Confidence; a reliance, or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principle of another person.

In today’s world, who doesn’t have trust issues? Some of us trust too much and some of us trust too little.

For some of us our lack of trust has more to do with control than anything else. To trust someone means to give up control in a particular area. This becomes a big issue when we project our own insecurities regarding other people on God. We humanize Him to the point that we have a difficult time even trusting in the One who keeps the entire universe together.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.

Psalm 37:5 (NLT)

Everything. Yikes. I like to be in control. I like to know what’s happening and how it’s going to happen. The more I can control in a situation, the better. I don’t like unknowns. And then I put all of that insecurity on God. But here’s the thing, God isn’t an unknown. He gave us His Word to make Himself known to us.

Perhaps our greatest struggle in trusting God stems less from trust issues and more from relationship issues. When you really know someone, trusting them becomes easier. You know how they will react and respond and can predict a likely outcome for many situations. That is how it should be with God. The more we know Him, the more likely we will be able to anticipate the outcome. We have a giant book full of promises. How is it that all of that escapes our memory as soon as we’re asked to put our trust in the Lord?

Can we predict the future down to the tiniest detail? No, of course not. Only God knows all of that—and that is exactly why we should trust Him!

The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord.
He delights in every detail of their lives.

Psalm 37:23 (NLT)

How many friends do you have that delight in every detail of your life? None, right? Thought so.

For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

Psalm 37:9 (NLT)

Life isn’t without its struggles, but if we can put our issues aside, get to know God better and learn to put our trust in Him, He’ll fight our battles for us.

Don’t be impatient for the Lord to act!
Travel steadily along his path.

Psalm 37:34a (NLT)

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

Daily Bible Reading

The Lord gives.

How often have you heard someone say, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” If it hasn’t been those exact words, it’s probably been something similar. Now think of the context in which you’ve heard those words. I’ve heard them after someone’s house burned down. I’ve hear them after a child dies or a mother miscarries. I’ve heard them when disaster strikes.

I’ve heard enough of them.

Let’s take a look about what we know about God. God is a good. God is love. God is life. If you believe these things about God, then how can you believe that He would take good things away from you?

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?

Matthew 7:11 (NLT)

The more I think about it, the more I believe that people use that verse in Job as an excuse. If we can fool ourselves into believing that God did something bad to us then we have an excuse to distance ourselves from Him. Not only do we paint God in a bad light, but we also deny the fact that we have an enemy that would see us come to harm

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)

Do you think perhaps it could be just what the enemy wants when Christians blame God for the good things that have been taken away from them? The more people who are mad at God, the easier time the devil will have. The truth of the matter is that we do have an enemy and he really is out to get us. But it doesn’t have to end there!

Jesus came to give life in all its fullness. Do bad things happen? Yes. Did God do it to you? No! Let’s stop blaming God and start fighting back against an enemy who would see the church brought low believing in a God who would do the very things that satan himself has set out to do.

Keep this in mind: the devil takes, the Lord gives. Let’s be sure the right person gets the blame. If Job never blamed God, why do we?

In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.

Job 1:22 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Job 1-3, Acts 7:1-19