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

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Daily Bible Reading

Zealous

ZEAL: Passionate ardor in the pursuit of any thing, an eagerness of desire to accomplish or obtain some object, and it may be manifested either in favor of any person or thing, or in opposition to it, and in a good or bad cause.

Have you ever been zealous about something? If you were, zealous probably isn’t the word you’d use, but zeal is still something we encounter and experience.

In Numbers 25, Israel has—once again—fallen prey to temptation and has been drawn away from God and into the worship of foreign gods. The Lord is mad. M.A.D. Mad. God has ordered that all of the ringleaders be executed in broad daylight. Right after this order has been given, an Israelite man made the less-than-intelligent decision to bring a Midianite woman into the camp. God’s anger is already burning at white hot. The priests share in His rage. Who are these people to deny the God who led them out of captivity, feeds them and provides for them every day for forty years, and wants to bring them into their own prosperous land?

In a fit of passionate zeal, Phinehas, son of Eleazar flees the scene only to return with a spear. In one swift move, he launches the weapon and skewers the man and woman both. This single act stopped the wrath of God within the Israelite camp.

I am in no way telling anyone to find a weapon and take out the next person who sins in your presence, but what if we, the Church, responded in a similar manner to Phinehas when sin enters our camp? I’m not talking about the unbeliever—sinners are supposed to sin. I’m talking about when Christians sin. Yes, we sin. Most people wouldn’t use that word. He stumbled. She’s going through something. Oh, it’s just a season they’re going through. We whitewash our shortcomings and pretend it doesn’t happen.

I know that there is sin in my own life and, after reading this passage, I wonder what would or could change if I went after it as zealously as Phinehas went after the man with the Midianite woman? What would happen if I called out my own sin and slayed it for all to see? What if we all did?

Would the Church be seen less as a gathering of hypocrites and more like a place where everyone is welcome to work out their salvation? We are all works in process, let’s not pretend we’re a finished product. Why not be accountable and hold others accountable?

Call sin what it is. Look at it. Acknowledge it. Get it out of the camp.

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 24-27, Mark 8:11-38

Daily Bible Reading

Consequences with Grace

Often we are under the impression that church leaders—especially those of large congregations—are exempt from consequences. We’ve heard stories of preachers who’ve managed to get away with sin for a long time and wonder who else is hiding something.

The truth is, no one truly gets away with sin. Even Moses, as leader of Israel, and Aaron, as high priest, didn’t escape unscathed.

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”

Numbers 20:12 (NLT)

Aaron died before Israel made it to the Promised Land and it was Joshua, not Moses who was leading at that time.

But there is hope. There is grace.

Last summer one of the pastors I listened to on a regular basis was removed from his position by his own church. The church he started. The church he watched grow from nothing to thousands. He’d succumbed to alcohol addiction and it was affecting his ability to minister effectively. Rumours flew that he might be cheating on his wife or that old issues with pornography addiction had flared up. The world turned on him. I stopped listening to him.

Until another pastor that I have a great amount of respect for offered this “fallen man” his stage. Not just for a weekday service. Not just one weekend service. But for their anniversary service. My first reaction was shock. How could anyone let this man ever take the stage again?

I realised I had become judge and jury for this man. If another pastor whom I respect would give him room, why couldn’t I? So I listened to that sermon he preached from the stage that was not his own. And on  February 5, 2017, Perry Noble stood on the stage at Elevation Church and preached a message on grace and forgiveness from a place only a man who truly knew what it felt like could.

Even though Moses and Aaron failed to obey God, God never failed them. Though they had to suffer the consequences of their sin, God never let go of them.

We all fall. And we all have the opportunity to get back up again. I realised that, if I want a hand to reach out when I’m down, I can’t be the person to deny my hand to the one who is down.

There are consequences. But there is still grace.

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 18-20, Mark 7:1-13

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

Daily Bible Reading

From His Promise Through His Mercy

Whenever Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that rests on the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord spoke to him from there.

Numbers 7:89 (NLT)

This verse moved me when I read it. It comes at the end of a long and rather tedious chapter and you might miss it if you’re not careful.

Here, we see that Moses spoke directly with God. He heard the voice of the Lord. It’s not the fact that Moses heard God that got to me. We can all hear God if we listen closely. What touched me was where the voice was coming from.

God’s voice didn’t come booming all around Moses, filling the Most Holy Place. It didn’t come in a secret whisper. It came from the Ark of the Covenant. God’s voice came from the place that held His promise. And not only did it come from the Ark, but it came through the cherubim on the cover. The Place of Atonement. The Mercy Seat.

God speaks to us from His promise through His mercy.

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 7, Mark 4: 21-41

Uncategorized

Boundaries

If you own property, chances are that you know where your property line is. You know what land belongs to you and what land doesn’t. If your neighbour took it upon himself to build a new fence three feet into your yard, you’d have something to say about it. You won’t let anyone take what rightfully belongs to you.

This shall be your land as defined by its borders all around.

Numbers 34:12b (ESV)

You know your natural borders, but do you know your spiritual borders? God gave very precise lines for Israel to draw around the land they had been promised. Everything within those borders was theirs to keep, to prosper from, and to protect. Do you know what God has promised you?

The yes to all of God’s promises is in Christ, and through Christ we say yes to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NCV)

When we approach life knowing who we are in Him through the revelation of His word, we know what we’ve been promised. As God set boundaries for Israel, He’s set boundaries for us. He said that He would keep His word to us, but the only way for us to know whether or not He’s kept his word is to know His word. When we know what we’ve been promised we are then also able to protect the promise.

Once Israel inhabited Canaan, it became their responsibility to maintain possession of the land. They had all the benefits along with the responsibility of being property owners.

When you have your promise in your hands, it’s up to you to keep it. God gave it to you. Don’t let anyone or anything take it from you. Know what’s yours and keep it.

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