Daily Bible Reading

Shine?

From a young age, Christians are told to let our lights shine. What does that even mean? Do I literally have to have a light? If not, what is my light? How do I let it shine? Does it have a switch? Am I responsible for flipping it? If not, how does this whole light thing work? Letting our lights shine has become a nearly meaningless and clichéd line we use all our lives without really thinking about what it means.

God, through the prophet Isaiah, breaks it down into the simplest terms.

Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be bright as day.

Isaiah 58:10 (NLT)

Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. That’s it? That’s it. Matthew says it in a similar way.

In the same, way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Matthew 5:16 (NLT)

The term good deeds is also translated as light. In both cases, light means things like luminary, bright, clear, morning sun, to shine or make manifest. Everything about these roots indicates a rather public display.

But what about Matthew 6:1 where it tells us not to put our good deeds on public display? Well, it’s all about the heart behind the action. Jesus was talking about the hypocrites who made sure people were watching before they did something. It was all for their own selfish gain so that they themselves would be praised. But God is telling us to do these things when people are watching and when they aren’t. He tells us that our purpose behind our good deeds should be to point people back to Him.

By taking care of the very basic needs of those around us for no other reason but that they need it is allowing our light—Jesus—to shine. When we show others the love and mercy that Christ showed us, the glory is not ours, but God’s alone.

So now that you know how and why to do it, shine!

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 56-58, 1 Thessalonians 3

 

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Daily Bible Reading

No thanks

Everyone likes a little (or a lot of) recognition. It’s nice to be appreciated for the work you do. And we should show appreciation to other who do a good work. There is, however a difference in enjoying appreciation for the work you do and requiring appreciation in order to do it.

Jesus addresses this with his disciples.

When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, he doesn’t just sit down and eat. He must first prepare his master’s meal and serve him his supper before eating his own. And the servant is not even thanked, because he is merely doing what he is supposed to do. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, “We are not worthy of praise. We are servants who have simply done our duty.”

Luke 17:7-10 (NLT)

I’ve seen volunteers quit because they feel they aren’t shown enough appreciation. I’ve seen people turn up their noses at menial work because no one would ever see them do it—and if no one ever saw them do it, they would never be congratulated for it. One must then question the reasons for why we do what we do when it comes to service.

I don’t know about you, but in my Bible, Jesus tells all believers to go into the world and preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15). He tells us to honour our fathers and mothers and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves (Matthew 19:19). He tells us that we should do for others what we want them to do for us (Luke 6:31). These are just a few of the things Jesus instructed his followers to do. But in none of these guidelines have I found the provision for appreciation.

There is nothing that might stipulate that we should only do these things if proper gratitude is shown. In fact, we are told that if you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too (Matthew 5:39).

Christian service can be a thankless job, but that doesn’t negate our responsibility to Jesus’ teachings. The entire point of his ministry was to reach those who could not or would not show gratitude.

This lesson is twofold. First, don’t quit just because you aren’t being thanked often enough. You will never know how far your reach is until your race is complete. By quitting early, you may miss out on touching the one life that could have changed the world. Our service has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Jesus. Second, show gratitude. Make it a point to thank the people who do the lowliest of jobs in the church. Maybe even help them out. There is no such thing as stooping in the Kingdom of God. Pastors can clean the toilets and janitors can share the Gospel.

We are all there to serve. Period. We can all be servants. We can all be encouragers. And we can all do it together and be happy about.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 27-29, Luke 17:1-19

Daily Bible Reading

With you always

As a single person who lives alone, I find it difficult (and sometimes even unappealing) to imagine never being alone. But that is exactly what Jesus promised when he appeared to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Matthew 28:20b

This statement immediately followed what we now refer to as The Great Commission.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.

Matthew 28:18-20a

When we take our roles as disciples of Christ seriously. When we do his work. He is with us always. And not only is he with us, his power is to. That complete authority in heaven and on earth follows us around giving us the power we need to complete the Commission. Always.

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 20-21, Matthew 28:1-20

Daily Bible Reading

Blind

When I read through the passages leading up to Jesus’ death, I am always baffled at how the very men who should have been first to recognise who Jesus was were the ones who put him to death.

Jesus is standing before the high priest and the priest demands to know if Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus, of course, says that he is. No problem, right?

Big problem!

Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict.”

Matthew 26:65 (NLT)

I’m not sure why the priest got so upset when Jesus told him exactly what he wanted to hear. The priest should have been thrilled to finally meet the promised Messiah. Instead, he is enraged because the Messiah doesn’t look like expected. Jesus didn’t come to promote the law, but rather to fulfil it. This went beyond what the priests were able to comprehend.

I wonder if we don’t sometimes act like the high priest at this time. Do we get so caught up in doing church that we forget why we do anything at all? If Jesus were standing in front of us proclaiming himself, would we see him for who he is or would we, like the priest, cry, “Blasphemy!”?

Let us not let the how blind us to the why. Rather than being so concerned about the rule book, let us instead focus on the fact that we’ve been invited to join in action.

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 14, Matthew  26:55-75

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

Silent awe

In my attempt to look deeper into today’s reading from Matthew, I stumbled upon a commentary that expresses what I could not. So, instead of reading my ramblings, I’ll let you read it for yourself:

The teachings of that wonderful last day of Christ’s ministry, which have occupied so many of our pages, are closed with this tremendous picture of universal judgment. It is one to be gazed upon with silent awe, rather than to be commented on. There is fear lest, in occupying the mind in the study of the details, and trying to pierce the mystery it partly unfolds, we should forget our own individual share in it. Better to burn in on our hearts the thought, ‘I shall be there,’ than to lose the solemn impression in efforts to unravel the difficulties of the passage. Difficulties there are, as is to be expected in even Christ’s revelation of so unparalleled a scene. Many questions are raised by it which will never be solved till we stand there. Who can tell how much of the parabolic element enters into the description? We, at all events, do not venture to say of one part, ‘This is merely drapery, the sensuous representation of spiritual reality,’ and of another, ‘That is essential truth.’ The curtain is the picture, and before we can separate the elements of it in that fashion, we must have lived through it. Let us try to grasp the main lessons, and not lose the spirit in studying the letter.

MacLaren’s Expositions

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 7-9, Matthew 25:31-46