Daily Bible Reading

Continually

There are few things in life anyone does continually. We all breathe. That’s a given. Most will work continually until retirement. Some talk continually. Some sleep continually. But all of these things can, and most often do, required breaks of some sort or another. There is one thing, though, that the Bible tells us to do continually.

Pray.

Never stop praying.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

Many in the western church probably couldn’t tell you the last time they started praying let alone the last time they prayed without stopping.

One of the greatest needs of the present day is men and women who will not only start out to pray for things but pray on and on and on until they obtain that which they seek from the Lord.

R.A. Torrey (1956-1928)

We all want to see God move in church on Sunday, but who is really willing to pray on Monday? For most of us, the Great Awakenings of the last century are so far gone (and often forgotten), that we don’t realise how effective prayer can really be. I make a point (though not often enough) to go back and read of the great revivals that brought North America to its knees. You cannot learn about a great move of God without being stirred to see one yourself.

But who is willing to pray for a move of God? Who even knows what that kind of prayer looks like?

True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God. It is not the utterance of words, it is not alone the feeling of desires, but it is the advance of the desires to God, the spiritual approach of our nature toward the Lord our God. True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that—it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of heaven and earth.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Acts 1:14 says that they all met together continually for prayer. Do you think the Holy Spirit would have shown up with tongues of fire if the group hadn’t waited? If they hadn’t been praying while they waited?

It is time that the Church look again toward prayer. Not just programs and growth strategies. I believe those things will come as the result of effective prayer.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

James 5:16b (NLT)

We all have a decision to make regarding prayer. We can go on with our daily lives and offer up a prayer every once in a while when we feel like it or need heavenly help out of a jam—but what’s the point of our faith at all if that’s the case? Or we can pray continually. Continual prayer will require sacrifice on our part, but the reward is great power and wonderful results.

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 9-10, Acts 1

Daily Bible Reading

Servant

Last weekend, we had a work day at the church. The men were lured in under the guise of a breakfast meeting and, after pancakes and sausage, were immediately put to work doing an assortment of tasks around the building. Most of these men are leaders in the church. Our head usher spent much of the morning hauling branches and trees into the back of a truck to be taken to the dump. Our sound man/bass player/greeter was put to work building lockers in the basement. A board member mowed and trimmed the lawn. And our pastor was armed with a chainsaw cutting down the last of the trees damaged in a winter ice storm.

For our church, this is normal. When there’s work to be done, the leadership team is first to arrive—no matter what that work is.

At the end of the day, when everyone was tired, sweating, and hungry again, I was set to leave and someone pointed out that one of my tires was rather low. The pastor was cleaning off his tools with an air compressor. I thought I’d see if he had the right piece so I could put air in my tire. Rather than hand me the piece so I could do it myself (which I was completely prepared to do), he got down on his artificial knees and did it himself.

For me, having my pastor do that extra small task of putting air in my dirty tire, was akin to Jesus getting down on his knees to wash the feet of his disciples.

We often look at the story in John 13 as Jesus humbling himself to bless his followers. He did do that, but that wasn’t all he did. The moment Jesus got down on his knees, he not only blessed, but he empowered his disciples.

In Jesus’ day, the caste system was alive and well. Servants served and lords lorded. Lines were defined and no one dared to cross them. But in order for God’s plan to work, Jesus had to put himself in the lowest position possible. The job of washing the feet of guests went to the lowliest servant in the house.

You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because it is true. And since I, the Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them. You know these things—now do them! That is the path of blessing.

John 13:13-17 (NLT)

By taking the position of the lowest servant in the house, Jesus not only showed great humility, but he put his disciples in a position greater than his own. Had Jesus remained sitting and allowed someone else to wash his feet, his followers would have always seen him as Lord and Teacher and never servant. But because they saw him as a servant, they could suddenly see themselves as master. Jesus was preparing them to hear his next words.

The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

John 14:12 (NLT)

A servant could never do greater things than the master. In order for the disciples to do greater things than Jesus, Jesus had to become the servant, and they the master. Jesus not only humbled himself, but he empowered his followers.

When my pastor got down on his knees to put air in my tire, he was following the example Jesus put forth. What would seem to be a menial task that someone of a lower position should be doing showed me that my pastor—a man deserving of great honour and respect—is willing to humble himself and put those who serve under him in a greater position. By emulating Jesus’ humility, he empowers his volunteers to do greater things.

It is great to be a master. But it is better to be a servant.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 7-9, John 13:1-17

Daily Bible Reading

Give to the light

Did you know that in many Latin-based languages, there is no specific word to describe the term to give birth? In Spanish, the term is dar a luz. Directly translated, it means to give to the light. If you’re familiar with any of the languages that use this term, perhaps it is of no great revelation to you. But what if we put it in the context that Jesus used?

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

John 3:3 (NLT)

Unless you are given to the light

Believe in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.

John 12:36 (NLT)

When we are born again—accept the free gift of salvation and accept Jesus into our lives as Lord and Saviour—we are given to the light. We become children of the light. We are then able to see through the darkness and no longer have to stumble around because we cannot see where we are going.

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness.

John 12:46 (NLT)

When we stop trying to put our trust in ourselves or those around us and put our trust in Jesus, we are no longer in the dark. We give ourselves to the Light. The Light of the world. The Light that gives life. The Light that illuminates our path. And then that Light shines in and through us so that we can guide the way for others.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 4-6, John 12:20-50

Daily Bible Reading

Bonus post: Already passed

When you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, did you feel any different? Did you feel invincible? As though you could take on anything and triumph? Did you feel as though you’d live forever? If you felt any of that, how long did it last?

Ask anyone who’s been a Christian for more than ten years. Odds are that they do not feel invincible. I can guarantee they’ve aged since their conversion. And they’ve probably failed at more than a few things.

After being in the faith for a while, verses that claim we are more than conquerors can become challenging to truly believe. We may even begin to doubt what the Bible says about us, yet wait for the day when we can claim eternal life.

But did you know that, if you’ve accepted the incredible gift of salvation, you are already alive? As in alive forever? Never to die. I don’t mean physically. I’m not sure I’d even want to live forever. But that moment when your spirit cries out to the Holy Spirit a miracle takes place. That dry, dead spirit is brought to life.

I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

John 4:24 (NLT)

Already passed. As in it’s happened. Done. Not something we need to wait for. Our eternal life doesn’t begin when we die. It begins when we come alive in Christ. Hey Church, let’s stop acting like dead people who have no life! We have the Way, the Truth, and the Life living inside of us! Because Jesus is alive, we’re alive.

Daily Bible Reading

Grab it by the horns

If you’ve read through the first two chapters of 1 Kings, perhaps you were as confounded as I at the talk of grabbing the horns of the altar. This is an odd occurrence—one I had not seen before now. There are several references to it, so it was time to dig into the commentaries.

It appears from this and some other instances, that it was now become a custom among the Israelites, though by no divine law, to flee to the altar of the Lord, as to an asylum.

Benson Commentary

Image result for child hiding behindThis is the picture in my head. When we were kids, behind Mom was the safest place to be when the rest of my siblings were after me. Yes, I’ve just likened my mother’s skirts to the horns on the altar of the Lord.

While this practice wasn’t law, it was highly symbolic and, in many cases, effective. Like a kid running to a parent, by clinging to the horns of the altar, salvation may be found.

As soon as Adonijah discovered David was after him, he rushed to the sacred tent. Likewise with Joab. Now, I understand than neither of these men were spared—their evil deeds had already sealed their fate, but what if we, like them, ran to the sacred place when we are being chased by our enemies? What would happen if we ran to God instead of whining or complaining to family, friends, or Facebook? If we would only cling to the altar, perhaps we, too, could find salvation.

Unlike Adonijah and Joab, when we grab the horns of the altar, we will find salvation. Over and over, God has proclaimed Himself to be faithful if only will we come near to Him. Run to Him. Rush to Him. Grab on to Him and don’t let go. As much of a shield of protection as your mother’s skirts could be, the presence of God is so much more.

The next time you hear the phrase, grab life by the horns, keep this in mind. Be reminded that to hold on to God is to hold on to your salvation.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 1-2, Luke 22:54-71

Daily Bible Reading

My family

My mother has recently taken up our family tree. Through Ancestry.com, she has been able to trace our lineage back to the 16th century, debunking some commonly touted family legend and lore in the process. It’s good to know where you come from. We’re fortunate enough to have come from a line that could boast a modicum of wealth—this has greatly increased the amount of information my mother has been able to uncover the further back she traces.

Other lines of the family tree have not proved as fruitful. It would seem that, the less you have, the less important you are, and the less likely you were to have your name recorded for posterity’s sake.

In 2 Samuel, in David’s final address as king, he speaks of his family.

It is my family God has chosen!
Yes, he has made an everlasting covenant with me,
His agreement is eternal, final, sealed,
He will constantly look after my safety and success.

2 Samuel 23:5 (NLT)

Did you know that we, the Church, have a share in that agreement? That covenant that is eternal, final, sealed? Our names have been recorded in the Book of Life.

God made a promise to David that, so long as his descendants served Him, his line would be on the throne forever. If you read through the super-exciting genealogy in Matthew 1, you will see that Jesus is a direct descendant of David—on both his mother, Mary, as well as Joseph’s side. When anyone accepts Christ as Lord and Saviour, we are also then accepted into the family of God.

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Romans 8:16-17 (NKJV)

We are a part of the chosen family David spoke of! God has made an everlasting covenant with you. His agreement is eternal, final, sealed.

No you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you.

Galatians 4:7 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 23-24, Luke 22:31-53

Daily Bible Reading

Renew

I’ve been to several wedding vow renewal ceremonies. I’ve also heard people scoff at the idea. After all, the couple made a promise for a lifetime. Why should they have to go through it again?

How many times did God renew His covenant with Israel? Over and over again! In 1 Samuel, I’ve counted no less than three times when David and Jonathan renewed their covenant of friendship with each other.

So to the two of them renewed their covenant of friendship before the Lord. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh.

1 Samuel 23:18 (NLT)

If a covenant is supposed to last for life, why should it have to be renewed?

You may have heard the story of a husband who never tells his wife he loves her. His reason, “I told you I loved you on the day I married you, if anything changes, I’ll let you know.” Imagine how that wife would feel? How secure would she feel in the love of her husband if he never told her so?

The purpose of renewing a covenant isn’t necessarily to fix what was broken, but it serves as a reminder for all parties involved of the original promise. Often in church, a pastor will invite the entire congregation to repeat the prayer of salvation. While this serves to make a new believer more comfortable, it can also be a sacred time of renewal for a long-time believer.

I think that there are times in our walk with God where a reminder of our promise can be helpful. Perhaps you are going through a tough time. Maybe you’ve pulled away from your relationship with God. Or maybe you just need the affirmation that God is still on His throne and He still accepts you no matter what.

When you are offered the opportunity to recommit yourself to the Lord—no matter what your circumstance—don’t scoff at it, rather jump at it. Just like we may need a reminder of who we are committed to, I’m sure God enjoys and appreciates our words of a renewed covenant with Him.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 22-24, Luke 16:1-18