Daily Bible Reading

Finish the race

When I was a kid, I wasn’t much of an athlete. I’m still not an athlete. It’s not that I don’t enjoy exercise, but it’s never been one of those things that comes naturally to me. I had a hard time finishing a race. But it wasn’t so bad. So long as I participated, I still got a ribbon.

Many of us approach our faith the same way we might have approached an elementary school track meet. Show up. Good enough. Get a ribbon no matter what. We care not whether we finish or, if we do, what place we take. It doesn’t matter.

But it does matter. We are not the only ones affected by how we run our race. Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the Hall of Faith. It gives a brief list of many who have gone before us and run their race to the best of their ability. And they ran it with fewer benefits than we have now.

All of these people we have mentioned received God’s approval because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had far better things in mind for us that would also benefit them, for they can’t receive the prize at the end of the race until we finish the race.

Hebrews 11:39-40 (NLT)

The promise, the benefit that we have that our fathers and mothers in the faith did not have, is Jesus Christ. We have the fulfillment of the promise they never had. When Abraham laid Isaac on the altar and raise a sharpened blade above his head, he had no guarantee of what would come of his sacrifice. When Moses’ mother sent him down the river in a basket, she had no promise to hold on to. Through the entire chapter, the list goes on. One faithful person after another waiting for a promise they would never see in their lifetime.

But we have seen that promise. We partake of that promise with every breath we breathe. Even knowing that we have received what these great men and women never did, we’re content to settle for the participation ribbon.

Even if we don’t want to run the race for ourselves (but why wouldn’t we?), we should be running it for our Bible heroes. Because we’re all in this race together. Either we all win or we all lose. Jesus’ blood ties us all together as one family. One body. A foot cannot win a race without the leg and the leg cannot win without the hips. The hips cannot win without the torso, and so on. When Jesus comes back in all his glory, we will all cross the finish line together.

Because Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Rahab, Gideon, and all the others ran their race without the promise, we should run even harder because we have the promise and we’re not just running for ourselves. We’re running for the whole body. Finish the race.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 13-15, Hebrews 11:20-40

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Daily Bible Reading

Home

Home. It is more than simply a place. It is not just a house or a home town. It may not be with family or anyone at all, for that matter. Home, more than anything is a sense. A sense of belonging. A sense of safety and refuge. Without exception—whether we would admit it or not—we all desire a home.

Maybe you’ve always had a home. Maybe you’ve never had a home. Maybe you lost your home. Maybe you left home and never looked back. No matter what state you find yourself in, you can always find home right where you are.

Lord, through all the generations
you have been our home!

Psalm 90:1 (NLT)

It was Moses who said those words. If you know anything about Moses, you would know that he never had a real home. As a baby, his mother gave him up and sent him down the river in a reed boat. He was raised as a prince in a palace and ended up exiled to the wilderness before returning to rescue his people from slavery only to end up wandering the wilderness once more. He never had a home in the practical sense, yet he called the Lord his home.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
Will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1 (NLT)

If you make the Lord your refuge,
If you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your dwelling.

Psalm 91:9-10 (NLT)

Home doesn’t have to be a place. It doesn’t have to be the house you grew up in. It doesn’t have to be the city you were born in. It can be the Lord. And He will be with you no matter where in the world you go (even if you make it to the moon or Mars, He’ll be there, too).

For he orders his angels
to protect you wherever you go.

Psalm 91:11 (NLT)

Home will follow you. And God offers an open invitation to anyone who will accept His offer.

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest,
anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:5-6 (NLT)

God is calling you home. He is inviting you in. He has already prepared a place for you—even in the middle of whatever situation you may find yourself in. It doesn’t matter if you have a home, you left home, or never had a home, God wants to be your home.

If you make your home in Him, He will make His home in you.

Home truly is where your heart is.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 90-92, Romans 11:1-21

Daily Bible Reading

Shadows and light

All through Bible school, I heard the term type and shadow in reference to comparing the Old Testament against the New. It’s all type and shadow. After you hear something over and over again, it can either become a great revelation or it can cease to carry meaning altogether. I claim the latter on this particular term. Until today, that is.

I’ve always known that the New Testament is a brighter reflection of the Old Testament. There are many parallels to be found between the two. But it wasn’t until reading Stephen’s last message to the high council that the light finally came on. He is telling the tale of Jewish history. (This is moderately amusing because, who would know Jewish history better than their high council?) Stephen starts with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel), and goes on to Moses.

And so God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected.

Acts 7:35a (NLT)

That sounds familiar.

Come to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by the people, but he is precious to God who chose him.

1 Peter 2:4 (NLT)

Moses was a man rejected by his own people. Jesus was a man rejected by his own people.

He was the mediator between the people of Israel and the angel who gave him life-giving words on Mount Sinai to pass on to us.

Acts 7:38b (NLT)

Israel needed a mediator between themselves and God so that they could receive the inheritance God promised to them. Hey, I know someone else who needs a mediator to receive an inheritance.

The is why he [Jesus] is the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, so that all who are invited can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them.

Hebrews 9:15a (NLT)

Could it be that God had already proven it possible that a man rejected by his own people could still be their saviour? The Jews, knowing the account of Moses, should have been well-prepared to receive Jesus. Yet history repeated itself, the Old Testament becoming a shadow in the light of the New Covenant.

The great difference is this: where Moses was unable to reach the Promised Land, Jesus has already gone ahead of us. Our way is paved and ready to go. We have two choices—we can be like the ten scouts who saw only giants and impossibility or we can be like Caleb and Joshua, ready, willing, able, and full of confidence.

You can live in the shadow of the Old Covenant or bask in the light of the New.

Daily Bible reading: Job 4-6, Acts 7:20-43

Daily Bible Reading

The day the manna stopped

No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.

Joshua 5:12 (NLT)

I wonder if Israel was disappointed or excited when they realised they would no longer be feasting on manna every day? Remember, they had whined to Moses back in the wilderness and God sent them birds—so many birds they got sick of them. How strange a thing it would be to be nourished by the same miraculous thing for 39 years 11 months and then have it stop, never to return.

Did this mean that God would no longer provide for Israel? Of course not!

PROVIDE: to procure beforehand; to get, collect or make ready for future use; to prepare.

Remember way back when Moses send scouts into Canaan to check out the land? They came back with a report that it was a prosperous land flowing with milk and honey. It was a good land, well-able to sustain Israel.

When Israel finally crossed the Jordan River, God’s provision didn’t stop, it merely changed. The manna was necessary to keep His people alive while they wandered in the wilderness waiting for the doubters to die. But now, in the Promised Land, there was abundant supply. They ate from the fruit of the land.

Just because provision doesn’t literally fall from the sky doesn’t mean it’s not there. Sometimes provision looks like work. God gave Israel, the land, but they were still going to have to fight for it. They were still going to have to tend to it. They were still going to have to harvest the fruit from it.

Take a look at your life. Have you been believing God for something? Have you seen your answer? Look again. It may look more like work than a miracle, but it doesn’t mean that God’s hand isn’t in it.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 4-6, Luke 2:1-24

Daily Bible Reading

Never fail

Sometimes I like to look up words that I hear a lot. In the church, we often hear that God will neither fail nor forsake us. But what the heck does forsake really mean? It’s almost Shakespearean in nature.

FORSAKE: to quit or leave entirely; to desert; to abandon; to depart from; to renounce; to reject; to leave; to withdraw from.

As Moses’ time as leader over Israel is coming to a close, God is giving him a few parting words for Israel and for Joshua—the man who would take Moses’ place.

Be strong and courageous! Do no be afraid of them! The Lord your God will go ahead of you. He will never fail you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

All through the Bible, God tells His people that He will never leave us. He will never abandon us. He will never depart from us. He will never renounce us. He will never reject us. He will never quit us.

So why do we have churches full of people who feel far from God? God is incapable of breaking His Word. He can’t leave us. Could it be that we are the ones who have pulled away from Him?

Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites.

James 4:8 (NLT)

As soon as we turn toward sin, we turn away from God. In order to feel close to God, all we must do it turn to Him. How difficult we have made such a simple thing! There is no great secret to being close to God. Our relationship with Him works the same as our relationship with others—we have to pursue someone in order to have a relationship with them. If we aren’t pursuing God, how can we ever expect to feel close to Him?

Take courage, though! Be strong! God has already gone ahead of us. He may be just out of our line of sight, but it is never, ever too late to catch up. If we make it a priority to pursue Him, He is faithful. He will never fail us.

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 31-32, Luke 1:1-23

Daily Bible Reading

His plan, His time

Do you ever get tired of waiting for God? Do you pray hoping for an answer right away, but it seems an awful long time coming? Do you need something now, but God needs you to wait?

Sometimes, I believe that God answers our prayers the way we want just to prove a point. That point being that our way isn’t necessarily the best way. Other times, God lets us go ahead on our own, again, to prove the same point. We don’t know best.

Israel tried their way over and over again. I shake my head in wonder at how they could have been so stupid. But then I have to wonder how many times I’ve done the exact same thing.

In Deuteronomy 1:42-26, we get a recap of a select group from the Israelite camp who figured they knew best. Moses had just told them that, because of their disobedience, they would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. I’d be a little peeved, too, if I were on the doorstep of something great and then was told I wouldn’t be able to take part in it. But these guys were going in. Not even a strong warning from Moses would keep them from their purpose. They marched on in. And they were chased right out.

It wasn’t God’s plan. It wasn’t God’s time.

But then, after nearly 40 years had passed, the time was right. God was giving Moses the final instructions on how everything was to go down. We get a recap of all that had happened since their departure from Egypt. The time to go in and fight would soon be at hand and this time there would be no tail-tucking or running involved.

Do not be afraid of the nations there, for the Lord your God will fight for you.

Deuteronomy 3:22 (NLT)

When the time is right and when the plan is the Lord’s, He goes ahead and sets the battle for us. Notice, though, that just because God was on their side, it didn’t mean that Israel was exempt from fighting. Men were still trained for battle. Blacksmiths still made strong, effective weapons. Armour was worn. Leaders were chosen. Battles were planned. Israel would have to fight for their promise.

God would do His part and deliver on His word, but His people still need to do their part to retrieve it.

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 3-4, Mark 11:20-33

Daily Bible Reading

Consequences

We all have to live with consequences—both good and bad. To every action there is a reaction. Current culture would have us believe that we need only endure the good consequences. The bad ones, well, there’s always a way out.

What would happen if we changed our view of “bad” consequences? What if, rather than avoiding them or pretending they don’t exist, we learned from them?

All through Numbers (and most of the Old Testament), Israel suffered the consequences of their disobedience. Some would say that God was rather harsh with them. Remember that, because of Moses’ pleading, God was not as harsh as He would have been otherwise. Over and over again, Israel, despite being a living, breathing miracle, rebelled against God.

A group of leaders tried to usurp Moses as leader. The earth swallowed them and their families. The rest of that group burned to a crisp. Ten of the twelve men sent to scout the land returned with the (incorrectly assumed) news that they could not take the Promised Land. As a result, they wouldn’t live to see Israel inhabit the land. A man gathered fire wood on the Sabbath. He was taken outside the camp to be stoned to death.

What did all of these things have in common? They all went against what God had already commanded. God wasn’t being a bully, He was simply living by His word. One would think that, after a punishment or two, that Israel would have taken the hint and repented of their evil ways. Unfortunately, we still haven’t learned our lesson. We refuse to look at the consequences of our actions as our own doing.

Society as a whole has adopted the mentality of victims, much like Israel did as they wandered the wilderness. Rather than accept their fault in the matter and work to avoid similar situations in the future, they wandered aimlessly complaining about their hard life. The reality was that they could have obtained the Promised Land in a matter of months after fleeing Egypt. Their disobedience kept them from the promise.

Take a look at the “bad” things in your life. Are they things that have been done to you or are they a result of your own action (or inaction)? Try to avoid getting defensive right away. Really look at yourself. Now, how much can you change by simply adjusting your attitude and correcting your course?

The “bad” things can often serve as good reminders that we’ve veered off course and need a correction.

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 16-17, Mark 6:33-56