Daily Bible Reading

Without measure

How much of God’s Spirit did He put in you? What limits did He put on your heavenly authority? What can’t you do with the power of His name?

These are all questions we should never be asking.

When Jesus was giving his disciples their last pep talk, he never even approached the topic of what they couldn’t do. But he spent several verses discussing all that they could do.

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick and heal them.

Mark 16:15-18 (NLT)

They will… they will… they will… I don’t see anything there about they won’t.

So if we can do all these things through the name of Jesus, what kind of power is backing that name?

For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God’s Spirit is upon him without measure or limit.

John 3: 34 (NLT)

Without measure or limit. That is the kind of power that backs the name of Jesus.

We Christians need to stop acting as though we got dealt the short end of salvation. God didn’t give us just enough of His Spirit to squeak into Heaven. He hasn’t withheld from us. He’s given us all of His Spirit and it’s time that we started acting like it.

Keeping in mind that we have access to the Spirit without measure or limit, the only question that remains is this: what can God do through you?

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 1-3. John 3:22-36I 

Daily Bible Reading

Mark it

Have you ever set your mark on something? Of course you have! Even if it was as a kid making sure your name was ever visible on a school book or perhaps your mother marked your backpack for you. No matter who did it or how it was done, it was yours. Marked.

God wanted Israel to mark the Promised Land. Right away. As soon as they entered it. Not when they conquered it—when they arrived in it. He commanded that massive stones be erected and the law written upon them. I imagine this would have been the ancient version of Neil Armstrong planting the American flag on the moon. We were here! This is ours!

I believe that, in the same way the USA marked the moon and Israel would mark Canaan, God wants to make His mark on our hearts. The image that immediately comes to mind is of a row of four tiny lines with another crossing over. Tiny marks of counting. But that isn’t how God wants to mark our hearts. He doesn’t just want to mark us, he wants to leave His mark like the standing stones of Israel. He wants it to be obvious that we belong to Him and no other.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

If I trust God with my entire heart, I’m giving Him a lot more room than just space for ticks to mark the day. I’m giving Him room to set up His marker. The Song of Solomon says I am my beloved’s, and he is mine. When you belong to someone and that person belongs to you, you make it obvious—you wear a ring or get a tattoo.

If we have given Him our hearts, the mark of God on our lives should be obvious.

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 26-27, Mark 15:1-26

Daily Bible Reading

A place of prayer

Once upon a time, churches were build on prayer meetings. They were the foundation of the ministry. Churches couldn’t survive without it. People couldn’t survive without it.

There are times when a trip to the dentist may seem more desirable than prayer. When it comes time to pray, people look for anything else to do other than spend time seeking the heart of God. I strongly believe that there is nothing more important to do in church on a Sunday morning than to pray. We can spend time getting the kids ministry prepared. We can have all the media slides ready to go. The sound can be perfect. But if we haven’t prayed, what’s the use?

In Mark 11, Jesus came storming into the temple because prayer had taken a back seat to everything else that was going on.

He taught them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.

Mark 11:17 (NLT)

While I’m pretty sure that most churches aren’t involved in the money changing the temple had turned to, are we robbing the church and ourselves by shifting our focus? Are we more concerned about programs drawing people in than we are about the Spirit of God drawing people in?

On of the greatest modern examples I’ve found of the power of effective prayer in a church is the story of Brooklyn Tabernacle that Pastor Jim Cymbala tells in his book Fresh Wind Fresh Fire. At a time when the best option would have been to walk away, they prayed. And then they prayed some more. They kept praying.

Many would be shocked to hear this, but God showed up. In a big way. It wasn’t their outstanding kids ministry that brought people to the church. It wasn’t bingo night in the hall or the bake sales to raise money for missions in China. It was prayer. A group of people so passionate about seeing God move in their city that they continually cried out to God until they saw Him move—and then they kept calling to see Him move more.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be a part of a church that is known for powerful prayer than one that has a good youth program. All it takes is one person to start (hint: it doesn’t have to be the pastor).

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 1-2, Mark 11:1-19

Daily Bible Reading

Jump up

If you knew Jesus was within shouting distance, what would your reaction be? Would you call out to him? Would you keep calling if those around shushed you? Would you chase after him? What if you called to him and he heard you? What if he called you over? Would you casually approach? Would you hurl yourself toward him?

Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

Mark 10:50 (NLT)

This man was blind. He’d heard the stories of the miracles that followed Jesus. By this time in his ministry, Jesus had restored sight to countless blind people. Bartimaeus wanted his take!

Despite the crowd’s less than enthusiastic response to Bartimaeus’ shouts, he continued on until he’d captured Jesus attention. When Jesus finally responded, Bart didn’t wait. He didn’t take the time to weigh his options or make a list of pros and cons. He didn’t even wait for someone to help him up.

He jumped up, shed the thing that would slow him down, and approached Jesus.

Now is the time when we all expect Jesus to make him see. But look at Jesus’ words:

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your faith has healed you.” And instantly the blind man could see! Then he followed Jesus down the road.

Mark 10:52 (NLT)

Jesus didn’t say, “I have healed you,” he said, “Your faith has healed you.” I wonder if Jesus’ words would have been the same had Bart decided to wait for help or if he got up a little slower or if he’d let his coat hold him down.

Bartemaeus’ response to and faith in Jesus made him well. But that’s not the end of the story. Jesus told him to go his way. So what did he do? Go home? No! He followed Jesus down the road. His old life as a blind man was over thanks to Jesus. He didn’t go back. As far as the scripture reads, he didn’t even go back for his coat. He not only left behind his blindness, he left behind the life that was attached to it.

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 34-36, Mark 10:32-52

Daily Bible Reading

Context

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.

Mark 10:27 (NLT)

This is one of those verses we learn early on in our Christian careers. If you’re older than 30, you may have seen something illustrated on a flannelgraph. If you’re older than 20, it may have been Veggie Tales. If you’re younger than that, I have no idea what the current Sunday School fad is. The point is, we know this verse. We’ve heard it taught. We’ve sung songs about it. We claim it when things get rough.

I believe that we serve a God of the impossible. Parting the sea so that Israel could walk though on dry land was pretty impossible. Sending manna to nourish His people was pretty impossible. Coming into the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was pretty impossible. Coming to earth as a baby was more than pretty impossible, as was dying and coming back to life. But have you ever actually read this verse in context?

“Dear children, it is very hard to get into the Kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” They asked.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.

Mark 10:24-27 (NLT)

The impossible in this context is salvation. God is able to save anyone—even the wealthy. God is able to take those who are unable to be saved and save them. He make the impossible possible.

While it is truly awesome that God really can do anything, should we not be celebrating the most over this revelation—that anyone can receive salvation?

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 32-33, Mark 10:1-31

Daily Bible Reading

Eat what you want

It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.

Mark 7:15 (NLT)

Eat what you want. Food won’t affect your spirit (unless you’re a cannibal…). One must give the Pharisees A for effort, but it was misplaced. At every turn, they tried to prove Jesus wrong. All they wanted was one instance where they could point their fingers and tell the world that he was wrong. But in every instance, Jesus had the perfect response.

While the Jews were very much stuck on the rules and regulations regarding what was and what was not acceptable to eat, Jesus came right out and said that it didn’t matter! What goes in (and out) of our stomachs has no bearing on eternity. It’s what goes in and out of our hearts that makes the difference.

It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.

Mark 7:20-23 (NLT)

Before we ever take part in any sinful action, it begins in our heart—our soul. If we allow it to dwell in us, it will come out eventually. This is why we are told to let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Don’t get caught up in the laws of the flesh, but rather be sure to guard the door of your spirit.

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 21-23, Mark 7:14-8:10