Daily Bible Reading

Tell me about it

When was the last time you got excited about something you experienced? For me, it was last weekend. My football team won. And not only did they win, they kicked butt. They walked all over my pastor’s favourite team. This was no ordinary win, either. This win marked the first time in several years that my team didn’t have a losing record. Our wins and losses for the season are currently tied. Halfway through this season, they’ve now tied the number of wins they had all last season. I was pretty excited. So what did I do? The next day, I donned my jersey, my team-coloured flip flops, my team cap and bandana. I waltzed into church and waited. I knew my pastor would notice. We’ve got quite the rivalry going—especially since his team had played the first seven games of this year undefeated. He noticed. I didn’t have to say much, my clothing and smirk got the point across.

My point in all this? I experienced something exciting. I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to let people know that my team isn’t a losing team anymore.

If I can get that excited over a bunch of grown men throwing a ball and launching themselves at each other, how much more excited should we all get over eternal salvation? When something good or exciting happens, we should talk about it! We should let everyone know!

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts.

Psalm 145:4 (NLT)

It may be in style for parents to let their kids make all their decisions on their own, but where does that get you? Kids make poor choices. You don’t even have to be a parent to know that. How do kids learn to make good choices? Their parents tell them. They talk about good choices. They talk about the rewards that come with making good choices. Their parents lead them and guide them along the path that leads to a good, healthy, and prosperous life.

There may be those that would say loud proclamations aren’t for the Church. We should be humble and quiet.

Praise the Lord!

How good it is to sing praises to our God!
How delightful and how right!

Psalm 147:1 (NLT)

Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy of your righteousness.

Psalm 145:6-7 (NLT)

How will the world ever hear about all the good things God has done if we refuse to tell them? I believe that the measure we talk about what God has done will be the same measure in which we will experience God. The more we talk about miracles, the more we expect to see miracles. But if we never talk about it, how will we ever learn to expect it?

All of your works will thank you, Lord,
and your faithful followers will bless you.
They will talk together about the glory of your kingdom;
They will celebrate examples of your power.
They will tell about your mighty deeds
And about the majesty and glory of your reign.

Psalm 145:10-12 (NLT)

If God has done something, anything, in your life, talk about it. Ask others what God has done in their lives. Talk about it. Boldly share the story of God’s wonderful goodness and just see if you experience more.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 145-147, 1 Corinthians 11:1-15

 

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Daily Bible Reading

Hope anew

As humans, when left entirely to our own devices, we make poor choices.

left alone

Whether it be cereal or flour all over the kitchen, makeup all over the bathroom, or permanent marker all over the sibling, no kid ever had to be taught to make a bad decision. It all comes naturally. If we are never taught any different and are left to make our own choices, it is pretty much a guarantee that life will become a series of one bad decision after another.

People need to be free to make their own choices. Yes, they do, but they also need to be taught to make the right choices.

I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and know,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children
but we will tell the next generation about
the glorious deeds of the Lord.
We will tell of his power and the mighty
miracles he did.
For he issued his decree to Jacob;
he gave his law to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
that they might teach their children
So each generation can set its hope anew on God
remembering his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.
Then they will not be like their ancestors—
stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful,
refusing to give their hearts to God.

Psalm 78:2b-8 (NLT)

There are reasons why the Bible first, exists, and second, is full of verses about wisdom, knowledge, and instruction. These are not things that happen by chance. As you can see by the photos above, humans aren’t born wise. We are all prone to bad decision-making.

If you’ve been instructed to go somewhere you’ve never been before, but have not been given a map, how will you ever get there? Will chance lead you to that place? It’s doubtful.

Teach your child to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

Young or old, every person must be taught to make good choices—it’s never too late. Just like Israel passed on accounts of the miraculous things God did for their nation, so should we pass on accounts of the things God has done for, in, and through us. If the people around us are never given a map, how can we expect them to arrive at salvation?

…but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:60b (NIV)

PROCLAIM: to announce; to utter openly; to make public

Church, it is our mandate to publicly proclaim the Gospel, to utter it openly, to make it public, to know Christ and to make him known.

So you must never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:8a (NLT)

This generation and the ones to follow will not be able to remember God’s glorious miracles if they never heard about them in the first place. When God does something, talk about it! When He says something, tell someone else. Give the next generation the opportunity to set their hope anew on God.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 78, Romans 7

Daily Bible Reading

Get out of the way!

I’ve been to a lot of church services. I grew up in the day when we went to church twice on Sundays, once on Wednesdays, and attended extra services when a guest speaker was in town. We had youth group on Fridays and maybe even a mid-week Bible study. When I say I grew up at church, I mean that I actually spent the majority of my time at the church. Not much has changed.

In all of those church services, I saw a lot of ministry lines, altar calls, hands go up for prayer. But I rarely saw a pastor or speaker interrupt his or her sermon to do so. They weren’t wrong, but in recent studies and conversations, I’ve begun to wonder if they were always right.

While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was listening as Paul preached, and Paul noticed him and realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.

Acts 14:8-10 (NLT)

As far as I can tell, this is the first the crippled man had heard the Good News.  It was Paul and Barnabas’ first trip to the area and they were bringing a new message to the people there. Churches and training centres hadn’t been set up yet. The apostles were setting up the groundwork for future ministry.

Then this crippled man shows up. He hears a message of miracles and salvation and his faith is stirred. What do we do now?

In some churches, he’d be required to spend several weeks in studies on faith and healing before someone may or may not lay hands on him.

In other churches, he’d be told that healing isn’t for today, God made him crippled for a reason.

Yet in other churches, he might have to wait for the end of the message for a call to the altar to be offered and hope that someone could help him to the front before the altar closes to new arrivals.

But what did Paul do? The moment he recognized that this man had faith, he stopped what he was doing and called out to him to stand. He didn’t pause to teach on how healing works. He didn’t have to explain what faith is. He didn’t fall to his knees to petition God with pleading groans so the man could be set free from his affliction. In fact, I haven’t found anywhere in the Gospels where this was the case.

Miracles happened when faith was present and the men of God acted on their recognition of it. Long, flowery prayers not needed. Explanations unnecessary. A simple command was all that was required to activate the faith that was already there.

If God says He’ll do something, it’s up to us to believe and proclaim that He will do it. And when the gift of faith shows up, get out of the way! Shut up and let God show off. This message we preach is not about us. It’s about the God who came to give us abundant life. What we have to say is far less important than what God came to do.

Start looking for faith and then practice acting on it immediately. It may require retraining our minds and our spirits to respond in a different way, but if the result is seeing the crippled walk, the blind seeing, and the sick healed, it’s worth it. Isn’t it?

Daily Bible reading: Job 35-37, Acts 14

Daily Bible Reading

Power to the people

As a church leader, it always surprises me when I hear Christians say that they have no need of the local church. They’re good to worship God alone in the privacy of their own home. I don’t disagree with private and personal worship, but I strongly disagree with individuals distancing themselves from the group that Jesus himself ordained.

Reading through the Book of Acts, I am more and more convinced of the benefit as well as the need for Christians to be a part of a local body. In an article titled 4 Reasons Christians Need the Church, the following reasons are given:

  • We need other Christians. If you want to know what you believe, listen to what your friends say. The more time we spend around people who ridicule God, the more we allow their attitudes to affect our thoughts and attitudes. The more time we spend with God’s people and in His presence, the more like Jesus we become.

  • We need opportunities to discover our spiritual gifts, Every one of us has a skill God wants to use to help others know Him and follow Him. We will never uncover what God has equipped and called us to do if we don’t get involved.

  • We need authority. We don’t have to believe anything anyone tells us about God. He appointed men and women in the church to lead us and to teach us. God gave us the Bible and the church so we can know what’s from Him. Through the church’s authority structure, we can test and see what’s of God and what isn’t when we can’t tell on our own. When we’ve prayed, read the Bible and still aren’t sure what to do, the church is where we go for advice.

  • We never stop needing grace. Church people are not perfect people. No matter how long we’ve been following Jesus, we are going to screw up, fall short and sin. And when we do, we need a place where we can come to be healed, restored and renewed. That place is the church.

I believe there are a few other reasons why Christians need the church.

  • We need to see signs and wonders. That I can find, the Bible has no record of a single person going around performing miracles with absolutely no support system. Miracles, signs and wonders are always tied to a group of people serving God. When we see God move, our faith is stirred to see Him move in more and greater ways.
  • We need accountability. Try driving your car down road a dark night with no moon or stars, and no headlights to light your path. How long are you able to stay on the road? Our church family is there to help keep us on the road. Do we always like to be corrected? Certainly not! But it doesn’t mean we don’t need it. By walking out our faith together, we keep each other on the right path. Alone, people have the tendency to wander and get lost.

And finally:

  • There is great strength in numbers. Study revivals. Study the great evangelists of the modern era. When people gather with a common purpose, God moves in mighty ways. When God moves mightily, people will come to watch. Soon those people have been added to the Church and more people will come to see what’s happening. Yes, the church can grow by individuals discipling individuals. In fact, we need mentors. But we also need numbers. The Great Commission is not a solo project. It is a global project.

Meanwhile, the apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people… And more and more people were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women. As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came in from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.

Acts 5:12-16 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Esther 1-3, Acts 5:1-16

Daily Bible Reading

Share

We’re told all our lives that we need to share. Share your toys. Share your snacks. Share your room. Share the car. Share your office. Share, share, share. We’re told so often as we grow up that we have to share that when we’re all grown our response is often, oh good, I don’t have to share anymore. Sharing is something that we did because we had to not because we wanted to.

I believe that an attitude of generosity is something we could all use a little more of. I don’t necessarily mean in the way of finances, either. Money isn’t necessarily what someone in need actually needs.

The very first church in the Book of Acts grew by leaps and bounds in its first days. Was it because of the stellar preaching? I don’t think so. Many of those who joined up with the apostles had already seen and heard Jesus speak. I’m not sure anyone could teach better than Jesus. Was it because of the incredibly modern and up-to-date facilities? What facilities? They started with 120 people crammed in someone’s upper room. There was no church building to meet in.

Peter has just finished speaking his first message to the new church and here’s how the people responded:

Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church—about three thousand in all. They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer.

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. they worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.

Acts 2:41-47 (NLT)

Note that they didn’t start all sorts of programs. There was no men’s ministry or women’s ministry or kid’s ministry. There were no outreach programs or missions teams. The church worked and lived together as a community and God did mighty things in their midst. Notice that nothing they did specifically added to their numbers. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved. The church did their thing and God did His thing.

There have been moments in my Christian life when church looked like this description in Acts. We did all sorts of things with other church members. We did life together. We saw the miraculous and we saw our church grow. But that seems to be the exception, not the rule. I long to see my church as well as the Global Church live and grow together—without division and without selfishness.

Whether you attend a small church or a large church, this example in Acts can serve as something to strive for. They started with a modest 120 and grew by three thousand that first day! And from there their generosity grew along with their numbers.

The world is looking for community, what better way to find it than in the church?

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 4-6, Acts 2:14-47

Daily Bible Reading

Very hungry

Have you ever gone grocery shopping hungry? Do you then come home and, as you begin to put your purchases away wonder how on earth you came home with all those extra items?

Temptation is a tricky thing. We skip one meal and suddenly our cupboards are full of cookies and chips. In Luke 4, Jesus went on forty days without food. I think I’d be tempted to buy an entire farm by that point.

But Jesus taking off into the wilderness wasn’t a whim. It wasn’t an act of being out and about and suddenly realising that you need to pick up a few things on your way home.

Now Jesus, full of [and in perfect communication with] the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they ended, He was hungry.

Luke 4:1-2 (AMP)

When I think about this account, I tend to imagine that Jesus had been wandering alone for forty days and then the devil shows up. But if you read the verse, there is a strong indication that the devil was there the whole time. For forty days, Jesus resisted the devil. For four minutes, I’m not able to resist a chocolate bar. Or a bag of chips. Or that pepperoni stick. Snack foods are so trivial and it goes to show just how much Jesus was able to draw on the power of the Holy Spirit when he was tempted with the thought of bread or authority over all the kingdoms of the earth.

If you take anything from this passage (aside from a hankering for some munchies), think about the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus went into the desert right after being baptised. Right after the Holy Spirit had descended upon him and God spoke from heaven claiming Jesus as His Son. He didn’t go around touting this fact. He went off by himself to be proven.

I believe that, aside from His death and resurrection, this is one of Jesus’ greatest acts. What about the miracles? Sorcerers and magicians were able to perform similar feats (I am in no way making light of the incredible things Jesus did). But no one else was able to stand up in the face of the devil and say, no. Miracles came easy. Resisting temptation did not.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 11-13, Luke 4:1-32

Daily Bible Reading

He’s out of his mind

Does anyone in your family think you nuts? A little bit off? Maybe they wonder why you do the things you do. They don’t understand your faith. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Even Jesus’ family thought he was nuts.

When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.

Mark 3:21 (NLT)

It could very well be that those closest to us, are the furthest from understanding.

Jesus knew what he was all about. He knew what his mission was an the apostles with him, knew Jesus and trusted in him.

But Jesus’ family, the people who should have been the most understanding, thought he was crazy. When the miracles were so numerous that the crowds surrounding him got so large, Jesus and his disciples were unable to find a place to sleep or even eat, Jesus’ family tried to put a stop to it.

They didn’t see the Son of God, they saw the man who forgot to eat. They didn’t see the miracles, they saw the crowds closing in. They didn’t see salvation, they saw a man pulled in every direction.

The point is this: if we wait until everyone around us fully understands what God has called us to do, we’ll never do it. Read your Bible—rarely, if ever, does God’s way make sense to everyone else and sometimes not even to the person doing it.

This isn’t a message to shun your family and break all ties, but it is a word to you to know the One who has called you. This is why Paul said to Timothy, for I know the one in whom I trust. We don’t have to know the what and the why if we know the Who.

Daily Bible reading: Number 1-2, Mark 3:1-21