Daily Bible Reading

Success!

Growing up in the church, I never ceased to be amazed at the excuses Christians will come up with for their own sin. I’m probably guilty of it myself. You hear things like, “we’re no longer under the law” or “I’m covered by grace”. While those are both true, they are not free passes for us to sin. Many believers are under the impression that, because Jesus came to fulfill the law of Moses, that we have no code to live by.

So then that was Jesus’ ministry for?

We read in the Old Testament of King Hezekiah. Finally, there’s a good one in the bunch.

He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did.

1 Kings 18:6-7a (NLT)

Don’t you think we could learn a thing or two from this guy? We can simply believe in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and basically use our salvation as a Get Out of Hell Free card so we can continue to live our lives however we want or we, like Hezekiah, can obey the Lord and see success in our lives. Shouldn’t the choice be easy?

Rather than the entire book of the law (which is pretty much impossible to follow to the letter), Jesus centred his entire ministry on two commands:

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 22:37, 39 (NLT)

Love. That’s it. No more excuses! We don’t have a free pass to do what we want when we want. If we dare to call ourselves by the name of Christ, we should strive every moment of every day to live worthy of the name. Jesus is love. We should be love. I believe that the greatest success we can achieve on this side of heaven is to live as Christ. So I will leave you with the words of the apostle Paul:

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ…

Philippians 1:20-22 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 18-19, John 6:22-44

Daily Bible Reading

Here and now

One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, ” When will the Kingdom of God come?”

Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God isn’t ushered in with visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is among you.”

Luke 17:20-21 (NLT)

How will the world know what the Kingdom of God looks like if they can’t see it? How do we, as the Church, present the Kingdom to an unbelieving world?

We act like it.

The Pharisees wanted specifics. They wanted Jesus to give them a bullet list of things to look for when it came to the Kingdom. But Jesus gave them the opposite. His answer was vague and specific at the same time. You won’t see it coming, but it’s here and now.

Jesus spent a lot of time telling parables that described the Kingdom.

Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds come and find shelter among its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19 (NLT)

Jesus also likened the Kingdom of God to a little yeast used to make a lot of bread. It spreads. It permeates. It activates. It causes things to rise.

Let’s put it this way: if unbelievers are unable to see the Kingdom, it isn’t their fault, it’s because the Church has failed to show it to them. Like the mustard plant, we should provide shelter, like yeast, we should permeate.

If the Kingdom of God is here and now, let’s act like it. Let’s live like it. But I can’t see it.

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 30-31, Luke 17:20-37

Daily Bible Reading

Overshadow

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”

Luke 1:35a (NLT)

Here’s another word for you to think about: overshadow. It sounds ominous. And, in a way, it is.

OVERSHADOW: To cover with shade; to cover with anything that causes darkness; to render dark or gloomy.

Uh… hold on. This is the angel speaking to Mary, the girl who was to become the mother of Jesus. She was supposed to become dark and gloomy?

Look at it this way:

I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I life my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 (NLT)

When Mary said to the angel, I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants, this is what she meant. She was willing to sacrifice herself—her own will, her own desire, her own ambition—to do what God had chosen her to do. Had she not been willing to take a back seat to her own life, the Holy Spirit would not have been able to come upon her.

Here was a young girl preparing herself for marriage. No property of her own. No education (that was reserved for males). Yet, when the angel of the Lord came to her, without question she chose to put her own life aside and take on the life that God had prepared for her.

Could I so easily set myself aside to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit? Could you?

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 33-34, Luke 1:24-56

Daily Bible Reading

But I don’t wanna!

By definition, no one wants to do the things they don’t want to do. We don’t like to do it. We don’t want to do it. We wish we could avoid it.

But the truth is that we all have to do some things that we don’t want to do. If we don’t, we end up being useless spoiled brats who always, always have to have their own way. That’s no kind of life to live.

Even Jesus had to do things he didn’t want to do.

My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.

Matthew 26:39b

Three times Jesus asked to not have to do what he knew he had to do, but didn’t want to do. If Jesus couldn’t get out of doing the dirty work, what makes us think we should do?

Accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior doesn’t mean that life will be rainbows and butterflies from that moment on. Jesus had his struggles. He was met with temptation at every turn. He couldn’t find a moment to himself to grieve the death of a beloved friend. He knew he would be denied and betrayed by men who were as close as brothers. Yet all of that was to serve the call his Father placed upon him.

The purpose God has placed on your life may not be easy. It probably won’t be easy. If you’re finding it easy, you may want to check with God to be sure you’re actually on the right path.

The only thing that Jesus faced in fulfilling his purpose was being forsaken by his Father. Jesus had to be separated from God in order for his purpose to be fulfilled and, because he fulfilled his purpose, we can be sure that, as we walk in our purpose, we will never walk it alone. Just because we may have to force ourselves to do the things we don’t want to do doesn’t mean we’re on our own.

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

Hebrews 13:5b

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 13, Matthew 26:20-54

Daily Bible Reading

Disappear

Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever.

Matthew 24:35 (NLT)

We hear this verse and often think of it in a very vague sense. It sounds nice in a song. It’s great when you’re talking about spreading the Gospel. But what if we look at it literally?

Through this entire passage in Matthew 24, Jesus is talking about the end of time. He speaks of His second coming and all that will take place before He comes back on that glorious day. If we take the thunder, earthquakes, and chaos literally, should we not take this one at face value as well?

It’s a frightening thing to think of heaven and earth being gone, but still encouraging. Jesus goes on to talk about the faithful—that He will come back for them. He urges His followers to be prepared at all times so that, when He comes, we’re ready to go. The heavens will shake and the earth will mourn, but guess what? The Truth will sill remain.

Think about things we deem indestructible. The Titanic comes to mind. Unsinkable. But now, at the bottom of the ocean more than a century later, the ship is still slowly disappearing. The Great Pyramid at Giza. Sure, it’s been there for millennia, but it’s still crumbling. Great nations have come and gone. Massive structures, feats of engineering and ingenuity—gone.

But when all of these are no more, the Truth still stands. Think about how powerful those words are. When nothing else remains, God’s Word does. When the ships sink and buildings crumble, God’s Word doesn’t. When leaders fail and countries fall, God’s Word doesn’t. There is nothing more powerful than the Word of God that you can put your faith and trust in.

What better way to live than to trust in the one thing that will remain forever?

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 1-3, Matthew 24:23-51

Daily Bible Reading

The Great Appearance

When someone important appears in a certain place at a certain time, something happens. It’s usually significant. The date is set. The time is right. And then it happens.

What happens?

What is supposed to happen happens.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…

Titus 3:4-5a (ESV)

He saved us. There is no greater appearance recorded in history than the arrival of God’s goodness and loving kindness wrapped in a package called Jesus. No one who has ever set foot on this planet has had a greater and more lasting effect than the mercy that was displayed upon the arrival of Christ.

…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)

Though our own appearances in certain places at certain times can never compare to that of Jesus’ appearance, do you ever think about how your own appearance may affect others? If the Holy Spirit that was so richly poured out on us lives in us, shouldn’t the appearance of Christ be reflected through us every time we enter a room?

The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

Titus 3:8 (ESV)

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 33-35, Titus 3