Daily Bible Reading

He bends down

If you want to speak to someone of consequence, you must first put yourself in a position to be heard. If I want to speak to the Queen of England, I’m going to need a better position than the one I have. I’ll probably need a title (which she’d have to give me, but never will because I’m not British) and more than a few connections (which I don’t have because I’ve never been to England). I’m never going to have a conversation with the Queen of England, even if we share the same name.

In order to even speak to, let alone ask for aid from, a person in power or of status, we generally have to be in a position of power or status ourselves. Us lowly citizens don’t have the ear of our nation’s leaders at any given moment.

We have a tendency to put these same requirements on God. Us lowly church members can’t just talk to God, we must have a mediator, someone with greater connections, someone with position.

What a load of garbage!

I love the Lord because he hears
and answers my prayers.
Because he bends down and listens,
I will pray as long as I have breath.

Psalm 116:1-2 (NLT)

A raised position is not on the list of requirements for approaching God. In fact, I believe that the lower we are, the more likely He is to respond because the lower our state, the more sincere our prayer.

If a child cries out to a parent, how does that parent respond? They bend down to listen. If a person trips and falls, how does a friend go to help? They bend down to listen.

We called out to God in our sinful state and He bent down to listen. If God has already stooped down to pull us from our sins, He will do it again and again and again.

It is when we are at our weakest, our lowest place, that God is at His strongest.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 2:9a (NKJV)

Don’t ever believe the lie that you are to lowly for God to care about.

Whenever there is prayer, there is danger of His own immediate action. He is cynically indifferent to the dignity of His position, and ours, as pure spirits, and to human animals on their knees. He pours out self-knowledge in a quite shameless fashion.

senior devil, The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.

If God is not ashamed to bend down to listen to us, we should never be ashamed to cry out to Him at our lowest. He hears and answers our prayers.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 116-118, 1 Corinthians 2

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Daily Bible Reading

Speak out!

There are two ways of learning things: you can learn the hard way and figure it out on your own, or you can seek out an answer or advice from someone who already knows. The concept is not new. It’s existed literally since the beginning of time.

We seek out those who have learned the hard lessons or who have gleaned those lessons from others. It’s how we, as humans have gathered our wealth of knowledge. Each generation (should) learn from the previous. It’s all dependent on the previous generation sharing their knowledge and the current generation listening and understanding what is being passed to them.

In high school, I was a smart kid. I learned quickly. I graduated with the highest honours possible. Nearly straight A’s. A’s in everything but Math 11. I distinctly remember one day in class where I just couldn’t grasp a concept, so I asked the teacher for help. He told me I’d have to come after class if I wanted help. Not possible. Where most student’s days ended at 2:15, I had another class after that. I explained that to the teacher. He shrugged. I asked if he could help me in class (as far as I could tell, he wasn’t doing anything else, and wasn’t it his job as a teacher to teach me?). He looked at the problem and told me I should know how to do that already. Well, I don’t, which is why I’m asking for help. He said I should have learned that the year before. Obviously, I didn’t. I’d have to come to after school help. I couldn’t (I liked band class way better than math anyway). I never did fully understand the concept and my grade reflected it.

That teacher had knowledge that, had he been willing to share it with me, would have helped me to maintain my straight A status. He could have helped, yet he withheld that information. Now, that’s just high school math and, contrary to what every teacher ever told me, I never needed algebra in the “real world”—not even in the fifteen years I worked in finance and insurance. But what about the knowledge we, as Christians, have? What do we know that could help others? Has God done great things for us? Has He come to our aid when we’ve called on Him? Has He loved us? Has He rescued us?

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has saved you from your enemies.

Psalm 107:1-2 (NLT)

If one of the the only ways people can learn is from others, what are we showing or teaching them? Are we silent and withholding like my math teacher or are we vocal and willing to share about the great things God has done in our lives?

Those who are wise will take all this to heart
they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.

Psalm 107:43 (NLT)

The only way something will show up in history is if it’s recorded—whether we write it down or pass it down orally. The only way history will show the faithful love of the Lord is if we keep talking about it. History doesn’t record silence. It records difference-makers.

Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 107-108, Romans 12:21-33 

Daily Bible Reading

Lead

How often do you ask to be lead rather than to lead? Who really wants to follow when you can be a leader?

How often do you ask what you should be doing? Who really wants to be told what to do when you can tell someone else what to do?

Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
or my enemies will conquer me.
Tell me clearly what to do,
and show me which way to turn.

Psalm 5:8 (NLT)

Life isn’t all about being the one in charge. Sometimes—and even more often than we think—it should be about asking for direction and instruction. It’s about letting someone else be in charge. God’s guidance isn’t there to stifle us. He doesn’t want to lead us like a dog on a leash.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Protect them,
so all who love your name may be filled with joy.
For you bless the godly, O Lord,
surrounding them with your shield of love.

Psalm 5:11-12 (NLT)

We don’t have to listen to God’s directions and instructions, we get to. When we put ourselves into God’s plan, not only is it His will that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28), but He surrounds us with His shield of love. We can take refuge in Him. He will protect us.

Submitting to God is not a trial. It’s a joy. A privilege.

I will lie down in peace and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

Psalm 4:8 (NLT)

Submitting to God leads to joy. It leads to peace. It leads to love. Who else can you follow that will lead you to all of that?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 4-6, Acts 16:16-40

Daily Bible Reading

It is I

Have you ever been wrong? Of course not! What a silly question.

I’m sure we’d all like to answer that we’ve never been wrong in our lives, but I’m pretty sure we’d all be lying through our teeth to do so. Whether we’re ill-informed, ignorant, or just plain wrong, it happens to us all. And it will happen again.

So what do we do when we’re on the losing side of a debate? Do you clench your teeth and refuse to listen to the other party? Do you walk away? Do you listen while all the while planning your next response? Or do you pay attention with patience and an attitude of humility? Are you able to admit when you’re wrong?

For several weeks now in our daily reading, we’ve been listening to Job whine on and on. He believes that if he can plead his case before God, God will see the error in His ways and restore back to Job all that was taken from him. He figured he could beat God in a debate.

In the end, God shows him up in just a couple of chapters. And He does it in mighty fashion. Job cannot deny his own error. He can now either turn from God—as the devil figured he would when this whole mess started—or he can continue to be the righteous man God claimed he was.

Then Job replied to the Lord:

“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You ask, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.

Job 42:1-3 (NLT)

I am sure that there are many out there who would believe that admitting they are wrong would be telling the world they’re idiots. Nothing could be further from the truth! To be able to admit wrong is a sign of both humility and wisdom. It means that you are willing to learn and that you are willing to lower yourself to do so. Only idiots refuse to admit their wrongs.

Our own understanding will only get us so far—it didn’t get Job anywhere. That is why there are so many verses that speak of getting wisdom and understanding.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)

Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And whatever else you do, get good judgement.

Proverbs 4:7 (NLT)

Wisdom and humility go hand in hand. Had Job refused to humble himself and admit his wrongs, it is doubtful that he would have received a double portion of prosperity in his latter years.

Sometimes, the wisest thing we can say is, “It is I. I was walking about things I didn’t understand.”

Daily Bible reading: Job 40-42, Acts 15:22-41

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

Not in it

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” The Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was a such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19:11-12 (NLT)

How often do we look for God in the storm, the quake, and the fire? He can and has appeared in those things, but He also comes in a gentle whisper. Too often, we get so caught up in watching for the big and loud that we completely miss out on the soft and quiet. On a daily basis, we’re so surrounded by sound we would never hear a whisper unless we were intent on doing so. Yet Elijah heard it—even after the noise of the storm, the quake, and the fire died down. With all that noise ringing in his ears, he would have had to be listening closely to hear the gentle whisper.

It wasn’t just that Elijah was listening for the whisper, he’d put himself in a place to do so. I’ve seen people stumble into church fifteen minutes late, frazzled by the effort it took just to get there, and then walk out in a huff because they didn’t get what they wanted from God.

Prior to the mountain, Elijah was on the run. Jezebel had made a solid threat to end his life, so he, like any other sane man, ran from the crazy lady. He planned to die in the wilderness, but God had other plans and sent an angel to feed him.

Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, for there is a long journey ahead of you.”

So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.

1 Kings 19:7-8 (NLT)

Elijah’s mountaintop experience didn’t just happen. He wasn’t taking a scenic hike when God just decided to interrupt him. He was there on purpose. It took him forty days and forty nights to get there. We act like God should shower great blessings on us just because we managed to make it to church before the service ended and here, Elijah travelled for forty days and nights on two meals.

It doesn’t take any effort at all on God’s part to reach us no matter where we are, but I firmly believe that He is looking for great effort on our part to reach Him where He is. Our response to Him is often akin to Elijah had he politely declined the food and water the angel brought to him. No thanks, I’d rather die in the wilderness than eat this miraculous food because I know God will ask me to do something I’m probably not willing to put in the effort to do.

After forty days and nights of travelling, Elijah could have given up when God wasn’t in the the storm. He could have started back down the mountain when He wasn’t in the quake (be honest, would you stay on a mountaintop after an earthquake?). He could have seen the glow of the fire from a distance. And he would have missed the whisper entirely.

When we put in the effort we think is required of us to hear from God, our patience can often run thin. We get to where God wants us and then expect Him in the storm and check out because God was not in it. In reality, it is our hearts that are not in it.

In his weariness from the long journey, having almost been swept away by the storm, tossed down the mountain by the quake, and consumed by the fire, I’m sure the only thing Elijah could hear was his heart. Pounding in his ears. But he stayed where he was. Maybe he was frozen in fear and couldn’t move, but when God finally spoke, he was listening.

The next time you’re ready to walk away because you don’t see God in it, check your self. Make sure you are in it. Then wait. Listen closely for the sound of a gentle whisper.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 19-20, John 2

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His Voice

Jesus said to him [Thomas], “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 20:29 (ESV)

Are you a have-to-see-it-to-believe-it kind of person? I’m not. I can read a fantasy novel and drink it up and have no problem believing in other dimensions, alternate universes, or time travel. Call me crazy.

Thomas, on the other hand, was a touchy-feely kind of guy. He had to touch Jesus’ wounds before he could confirm that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead.

But what about Mary Magdalene? Earlier in John chapter 20, Mary is one of the first people on site at the empty tomb. A man appeared before her asking whom she was looking for. She saw the man yet did not recognise him. But when he said her name, she knew immediately who stood before her.

Where Thomas needed to see to believe, Mary had to hear.

We’re not all going to see Jesus standing right in front of us. But we all have the ability to hear his voice.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:27 (ESV)

Even if you are not like me, easily able to believe in the supernatural, you can still listen. Mary, in her firm belief that Jesus was dead, did not recognise him in appearance, but his voice, his voice she knew. After years of sitting at his feet listening to him speak, she would know his voice anywhere.

Have you been listening? Even if you can’t see Jesus, can you hear him? Do you know his voice? Is his voice proof enough for you?

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 3-5; John 20