Daily Bible Reading

About the future

Yesterday we talked about the couple on the road to Emmaus—Cleopas and his wife. They walked seven miles with Jesus without recognising him. Cleopas talked for seven miles of all that had happened to Jesus while Jesus spoke to him of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Cleopas was still clueless. It wasn’t until they’d reached their destination, invited Jesus to stay for dinner and Jesus blessed and broke the bread that they realised who they’d been with the entire time.

Cleopas and his wife returned to Jerusalem to share their story with the rest of the disciples only to discover that Jesus had also shown himself to Peter. While all this is happening, Jesus suddenly appears again. He’s there. He’s not there. What are these people supposed to think? (Even after Jesus had said all along something like this would happen.) Even though Jesus stood before his believers with scars on his hands and feet and boiled fish in his belly, they doubted.

Then he [Jesus] said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must come true.” Then he opened their minds to understand these many scriptures.

Luke 24:44-45 (NLT)

These followers of Jesus knew him. They knew the scriptures. They had grown up hearing and reading the prophecies about the coming Saviour, yet when that Saviour stood right in front of them returned from the dead, they couldn’t understand. Not until it was revealed to them.

How many situations do we go through in our lives when we can’t see God? We beg and we plead and we walk away in disappointment because we couldn’t see the answer. We stand on the promises of God only to throw them back in His face because we are blinded by our own hurt and pain. Spiritual tunnel vision. We only see one thing.

Yet God sent the Spirit to show us many things.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me. All that the Father has is mine; this is what I mean when I say that the Spirit will reveal to you whatever he receives from me.

John 16:13-15 (NLT)

If we truly believe and trust in God, we be assured that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide us into all truth. Even in the difficult situations—the times when it seems as though God is far—the Spirit can reveal Truth to us. He can open up our vision to see purpose in the pain and to help us through our hurt.

Cleopas and his wife assumed Jesus had abandoned them to the point of walking away, yet Jesus chose to walk with them on their journey. They didn’t understand everything until they’d returned, but Jesus was still there. Walking with them. Talking to them words from the past about the future.

If you’re like the disciples in Jerusalem, disappointed, but still waiting for a miracle or like Cleopas and his wife, walking away, Jesus is there. He appeared to both parties where they were. Don’t fool yourself into thinking he can’t reach you where you are.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 12-13, Luke 24:36-53

Daily Bible Reading

Detour

How much of the Bible do you believe? A little bit? A lot? All of it?

In the short time Jesus ministered on earth, those who followed him saw miracle after miracle. They listened to his teachings. They trusted him. They believed he was the fulfillment of the prophecies that said one would come to be the King of the Jews. Jesus was that man. Jesus’ followers believed of him what they wanted to believe.

Jesus made no secret of the fact that He would have to die. But He also never hid the fact that He would rise again. These things His followers seemed to ignore.

It’s now Sunday following Jesus’ death. (We know that He wasn’t put to death, but He gave up His own life.) Jesus’ followers are dismayed because He’s dead. The man who was supposed to rescue them from the tyranny of Roman rule had be put in the grave. Some people stick around. Maybe someone else will step into His shoes. Others leave.

We meet a couple on the road to Emmaus. We’ve never met these two before. Some scholars believe they were husband and wife. Cleopas was the man’s name. We never learn the name of his companion. These two were discussing the events of the last few days when a man joins them on their journey and asks about their conversation. Cleopas, astonished that this stranger has no idea of what just happened in Jerusalem, goes on to tell this man about all that had taken place.

Jesus goes on to explain all of the prophecy in the scripture that pointed to Him and all that had to happen. Cleopas and his companion are taken in by this man and, when they reach Emmaus, invite him to dine with them and spend the night as it was getting late. It wasn’t until Jesus took the bread from the table, blessed it, and broke it, that Cleopas and his wife truly saw the man before them.

How often do we walk away in disappointment, baffled that what we thought was supposed to happen didn’t? We believed what we wanted to believe and ignored the stuff we didn’t like because it didn’t suit us. But still, in our ignorance, Jesus is with us—walking beside us on the road that leads away from the place we’re supposed to be. Yet, if we’d only believed everything He said, we’d have never left in the first place.

Listen to or read Seven Mile Miracle by Steven Furtick. You’ll learn that God is not the God of the destination, but the God of the detour. He is found, not in the dramatic, but in the details.

Our Christian walk is just that, a journey, not a destination. It is a long walk and—get this—Jesus walks it with us! No matter where you are—whether you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be or you’ve walked away in disappointment, Jesus is right there walking the road with you.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 10:11, Luke 24:1-35

Daily Bible Reading

They don’t know

If you were sentenced to death for a crime that you didn’t commit, how would you be acting? Would you go gracefully to the gallows or electric chair or, with every breath, scream out your innocence? Would you blame the system and your captors or would you calmly accept your fate?

It’s difficult to accept any sort of punishment or retribution for wrongdoing when you know you’re innocent of the crime. Even more so to do it with grace and dignity. Yet that is exactly what Jesus did.

He’d already been flogged and was carrying the beam of the cross where he would soon be nailed. People were yelling at him, calling out to him, and crying over him. He stops and tells them not to cry for him. When he finally makes it to The Skull, his hands and feet are pierced through and the cross is dropped into place.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34a (NLT)

Forgive them. Forgive them. Forgive them?! Even as he neared his final moments, Jesus somehow managed to keep his eyes on the prize. He knew he was innocent. He knew that the soldiers had been forced to do this to him. He knew that they, though not entirely innocent, deserved grace and forgiveness.

They may have known that they were putting an innocent man to death, but what they didn’t know is that they had a literal hand in the plan of salvation. The hands that wielded the hammers that pounded the nails through Jesus’ flesh were God-ordained. Without the callous men who held no qualms over killing an innocent man, Jesus never would have died. Never would have overcome death. Never would have risen. Never would be able to save the world.

Just because someone doesn’t know God or know what they’re doing doesn’t mean that their actions cannot be used of Him.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 6-7, Luke 23:27-38

Daily Bible Reading

Pilate project

I don’t like reading the account of Jesus’ death. I find it difficult to take every time I read it. Perhaps that’s a good thing. If I could breeze through the crucifixion of Christ, I don’t believe I would have the right to call myself by his name.

I don’t believe there was a person Jesus came across that did not have, at the very least, the opportunity to change. Even knowing his death was near, Jesus’ ministry was still active. Following his betrayal by Judas, Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate—the Roman leader in Jerusalem at the time.

Pilate was a hard and cruel man. Luke 13:1 speaks of how Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. Strike one against Jesus—he was from Galilee. Pilate also had symbols that would offend the Jews imprinted on the coins he sent into circulation. Strike two—Jesus was a Jew. When he found out that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod as Galilee was under his jurisdiction. Pilate and Herod were enemies. Strike three. Pilate’s tenure in Jerusalem ended when he was called back to Rome after massacring a group of Samaritans. He was just plain mean. There was nothing in this situation that would benefit Jesus.

And yet.

Herod could find no fault in Jesus so he sent him back to Pilate. Again, Pilate could not find Jesus guilty of any crime that would merit punishment by death. To try to appease the people, he offered to have Jesus flogged. But that wasn’t enough for the crowd. Three times Pilate told the crowd there was no reason to sentence Jesus to death. Three. That number sounds familiar…

…poetical for the moment when something is finished, completed, and perfected.

(N. Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, 1950, p. 384, n. 4)

After denying the crowd’s request three times (someone else had recently denied something three times… [Luke 22:54-62]), Pilate gave in. By waiting as long as he did to sentence Jesus, he went against his own track record. I’m sure that those who brought Jesus to him thought it would be an easy task to convince Pilate to kill a Jew from Galilee.

Having spent just hours in Jesus’ presence, it could be concluded that Pilate was changed. Not only did he go against his own history of violence and cruelty, but he befriended his enemy, Herod.

For the rest of his life, I wonder how much Pilate was haunted by his actions against Jesus that day. Did he think about it often or did he try to wipe it from his memory? Was there any remorse? Did he ever understand the role he played in the greatest plan of all time? Did he know that his command to have Jesus killed would work to finish, complete, and perfect salvation for all?

If God could use even the hardest man to accomplish His will, surely there is hope for the rest of us.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 3-5, Luke 23:1-26

Daily Bible Reading

The joy of salvation

Lately, we’ve been talking about eternity—the things that last forever. Our spirits last forever. Whether we chose Christ or not, we’re all in this for the long haul. God lasts forever. He’s been around forever, too. Jesus’ words last forever.

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

Luke 21:33 (NLT)

There aren’t many things that last forever, but how much of our focus is set on those things rather than the things that will disappear? Have you set your priorities as such that your focus is on the things that you can take with you when you pass from this world, or are you hoarding all you can here, only to have to leave it behind when Jesus comes again?

Watch out! Don’t let me find you living in careless ease and drunkenness, and filled with the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, as in a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth.

Luke 21:34-35 (NLT)

When I was a kid, my parents were involved in serving at church every Sunday. That meant we had to leave earlier than most. We took one car. When it was time to leave, we all had to be in that car. There were no exceptions. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. We didn’t have the option of taking another vehicle (none of us kids were old enough to drive). Mom and Dad both had to be at church early, so it wasn’t as though one of them could come later with another vehicle. House rules stated that we go to church on Sunday. Again, no exceptions. Ready or not, we all leave at the same time.

Jesus drives the car (this is not a Jesus take the wheel kind of story). When Jesus pulls up to get us all, He’s only coming once. We can be sitting on the front step all dressed up and waiting for him or we can be rushing through our routine trying to make it out the door, toothbrush in hand. There is no second ride.

We can spend our lives dawdling around thinking we can rush through our preparations when the time comes or we can get ready now.

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2b (NLT)

We can make the temporary things of this world our priority, or we can turn our eyes toward the eternal and make the decision to say:

Restore to me again the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.

Psalm 51:12 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 19-20, Luke 21:20-38

Daily Bible Reading

Dead yet alive

But before all this occurs, there will be time a of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will be accused before kings and governors of being my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me. So don’t worry about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply! Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. And some will be killed.

And everyone will hate you because of you allegiance to me. But no a hair of your head will perish! By standing firm, you will win your souls.

Luke 21:12-19 (NLT)

We would be foolish to believe that the times we live in are unique. Sure, there are things happening now that have never happened before, but the persecution, the turning away from God, the hatred for the Word of God isn’t new. Jesus spoke of it millennia ago.

In many places it is now considered hateful to speak the truth of the Word of God and it is punishable by law. If you live in one of these nations, you must decide where your allegiance lies—with the law of the land, or the love of the Lord.

While Jesus’ words here in Luke seem dire, they are also filled with hope. When the time for persecution comes—and it will come—He has promised to give us the words we need to stand for Truth. Though some may be killed, but none will perish. So long as we know where we stand with God, the very worst that can happen is that we lose our life on earth and gain eternity in Heaven with Jesus.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 17-18, Luke 21:1-19