Daily Bible Reading

Moving shadows

Once you’re gone, how long will you be remembered? Who will remember you? What will you be remembered for? When one considers a stretch of unending time and all of the billions of people who exist and have existed, we’re all just a blip on the radar. How many individuals have made a truly lasting impact?

This thought isn’t meant to discourage nor is it meant to deter you from doing something worthwhile. It should push you toward positive action.

We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth for someone else to spend.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.

Psalm 39:6-7 (NLT)

Because it is so difficult and rare for a single person to impact eternity, it would make a lot more sense to join forces with a group of people who can have a greater effect. This is one of the reasons why the local church is so important. It helps us as individuals to learn and to be accountable to each other, but it also allows us, working together, to leave a greater and longer-lasting impression on the world around us. Further still, it ensures that no single person gets all the glory. When a group of people work together toward a common goal, it is only God who can be glorified.

Alone, it is easy to fall into the busy rushing of daily life. When we go it alone, we forget that we aren’t really alone. But when we can put our hope in the Lord and trust Him to guide us, He will surely lead us to other like-minded people. Our busy rushing becomes more focused and more hands and resources are added to the work. The work becomes greater. And a greater work has a larger impact.

We all have to make a choice: do I want to be merely a moving shadow or will I put my hope and trust in the Lord and add my portion to a larger work so that my impact will be far greater than anything I could generate on my own?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 38-40, Acts 23:12-35

Daily Bible Reading

Be that hero!

Who’s your hero? Are you into super heros? Maybe Superman or Iron Man or Captain America. Maybe it’s the quarterback from your favourite football team or that awesome guitar player from your favourite band. Maybe it’s the writer of those books you can never seem to put down or even the character in those books. Whoever it is, you probably have a hero of some sort.

But what is a hero really?

HERO: A man or woman of distinguished valor, intrepidity or enterprise in danger; a great illustrious or extraordinary person.

In all of our admiring of great athletes, musicians, super heroes, and artists, do we take the time to admire another kind of extraordinary person?

The godly people in the land
are my true heros!
I take pleasure in them.

Psalm 16:3 (NLT)

These are the people who are truly deserving of our admiration. I can honestly say that I’ve got a few of these heros in my life.

The woman in Mexico who works two jobs to feed a bunch of kids that aren’t even hers. The young woman in Zambia who left her comfortable life behind to teach. The family who moved to Michigan to befriend a Muslim community. The single mom who’s teaching her boys to love, serve, and fear the Lord. The pastor who works on his day off just to be sure the job gets done.

These people are true heroes. They are each great and extraordinary in their own way. And they are all godly people. It is these kinds of people who are worthy of our praise and admiration. These are the people we should seek to emulate.

Let’s face it, you’re not and orphan from Krypton. You’re never going to make a flying suit and save the world. And I doubt you’ve never spent the better part of a century entombed in ice after being a guinea pig in a secret government science project. But you can do little things every day that make you a hero in the eyes of someone. In the words of Larry Boy, be that hero!

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 13-16, Acts 18

Daily Bible Reading

Defender

I’m not a hermit. Sometimes I wish I was. Because, if I were a hermit, it would mean that I wouldn’t have to deal with people. Let’s face it, sometimes people aren’t the most fun to deal with. But what is life without them?

I mess up. A lot. My neurological makeup is such that I miss out on a lot of social cues and conversational intricacies. As a result, I have been told I often say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Or I’ll say the right thing in the wrong way. Or I say nothing at all and come across as a complete jerk. More often than not, I don’t even know I’ve done it unless someone close to me points it out.

Neurological atypicalities aside, I often find myself alone. Close friends have been difficult to come by and even family isn’t always aware or understanding of my abnormalities. I feel alone.

That’s why this verse in Job stood out to me today.

You must defend my innocence, O God, since no one else will stand up for me.

Job 17:3 (NLT)

So what does it mean for God to defend me, stand up for me?

The Lord is for me, so I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me.
I will look in triumph at those who hate me
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in people.

Psalm 118:6-8 (NLT)

Even in my dark places, when I feel completely alone, God is still there. With me.

Even though I may feel like the entire world is against me, God is still there. For me.

If I am wrong, He will forgive me. If I am innocent, He will defend me.

Though the words and actions of people around me may hurt, they can have no eternal effect on my spirit. Those people and their words cannot take God, my defender, from me.

People have always failed and will always fail. But the Lord will not. In those times when we struggle in our relationships, we can put our trust in God knowing that He will remain sure even when everything else may not.

He is for me; He will help me.

Daily Bible reading: Job 16-18, Acts 9:1-22

Daily Bible Reading

The former generation

“You don’t understand.”

“These are different times.”

“It’s not the same as it was for you.”

As young people, we probably all said this to an older person or two. If you’re not so young anymore, you’ve probably heard a phrase or two like this. There are a great many things that change with each generation, but what young people never seem to realise is that there are also a great many things that never change.

To some extent, we all want to feel as though we’re the only person who’s ever gone through what we’re going through. We want to be special. We want to be alone in the situation. If we admit that someone else may have gone through it before, it would mean we’d have to listen to that person and, suddenly, we’re not as special and unique as we thought we were.

Job, in his great trouble and misery has spent a lot of time complaining—and justly so! A few of his buddies came to try and talk some sense into him.

Just ask the former generation. Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors. For we were born but yesterday and know so little. Our days on earth are as transient as a shadow. But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you from the wisdom of former generations.

Job 8:8-10 (NLT)

This is kind of slap in the face to Job hearing a friend tell him to suck it up because he’s not the only person who’s ever lost everything. There were others. Learn from them.

I get made fun of a lot because the majority of my social circles include people at least two decades older than me. Most of my friends are old enough to be my parents, if not grandparents. As much as it would be nice to hang out with people my own age, I wouldn’t trade my friends for anything. When I sit in a room full of ladies who have lived full lives, I am surrounded with centuries of life experience. Anything I could possibly go through, one of those women has probably gone through it. Their generosity in how they are willing to share from their experiences often astounds me. There is so much to learn. And I don’t understand those who don’t see the benefit of sitting with and learning from someone older than they.

Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was one of those young people who refused to listen to the advice of the older generation. He scorned the advice of his father’s advisors and listened to his young friends instead. His legacy was much less than that of his father’s.

But he was an evil king, for he did not seek the Lord with all his heart.

2 Chronicles 12:14 (NLT)

Don’t allow yourself to go through life believing that there is nothing to be learned from generations passed. If you are young, seek the wisdom of the old. If you are old, don’t be stingy with sharing your experience.

Times may change, but wise council does not. This world may be full of knowledge, but it is lacking in wisdom. We must all be willing to both seek and share wisdom if we are going to see change.

Daily Bible reading: Job 7-9, Acts 7:44-60

Daily Bible Reading

The Lord gives.

How often have you heard someone say, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” If it hasn’t been those exact words, it’s probably been something similar. Now think of the context in which you’ve heard those words. I’ve heard them after someone’s house burned down. I’ve hear them after a child dies or a mother miscarries. I’ve heard them when disaster strikes.

I’ve heard enough of them.

Let’s take a look about what we know about God. God is a good. God is love. God is life. If you believe these things about God, then how can you believe that He would take good things away from you?

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?

Matthew 7:11 (NLT)

The more I think about it, the more I believe that people use that verse in Job as an excuse. If we can fool ourselves into believing that God did something bad to us then we have an excuse to distance ourselves from Him. Not only do we paint God in a bad light, but we also deny the fact that we have an enemy that would see us come to harm

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.

John 10:10 (NLT)

Do you think perhaps it could be just what the enemy wants when Christians blame God for the good things that have been taken away from them? The more people who are mad at God, the easier time the devil will have. The truth of the matter is that we do have an enemy and he really is out to get us. But it doesn’t have to end there!

Jesus came to give life in all its fullness. Do bad things happen? Yes. Did God do it to you? No! Let’s stop blaming God and start fighting back against an enemy who would see the church brought low believing in a God who would do the very things that satan himself has set out to do.

Keep this in mind: the devil takes, the Lord gives. Let’s be sure the right person gets the blame. If Job never blamed God, why do we?

In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.

Job 1:22 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Job 1-3, Acts 7:1-19

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