Daily Bible Reading

Worthy

Do you ever have a hard time receiving a gift when you know you don’t deserve it? You try to give it back, but the person giving it to you insists that you take it.

Our lives in Christ are full of gifts that we are not worthy of. From beginning to end, God grants us gifts that we have no business receiving. Yet, in addition to giving us these gifts, He also makes us worthy of them.

And so we keep on praying for you, that our God will make you worthy of the life to which he called you. And we pray that God, by his power, will fulfill all your good intentions and faithful deeds.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 (NLT)

When God calls us to a life beyond our means, He holds no expectations that we work ourselves to the bone to become worthy of that life. He’s given us the gift and He is the only one who can make us good enough to receive it. That’s the point.

Then everyone will give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus because of you, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the undeserved favor of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:12 (NLT)

Because we are undeserving and because we are unable to live up to the life God has called us to in our own strength, we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit within us to accomplish what God has called us to do. In this way, not only do we increase the Kingdom of God, but we bring honour and glory to the name of Jesus. When the world sees us do what we cannot do, they will have no choice but to recognise the power of God.

So go ahead, accept that gift. And in accepting the gift of the call of God on your life, accept the fact that He has made you worthy to receive it and He will give you all that you need to do it. And, most importantly, after all of this happens, be sure to give the glory to the only One who is worthy of it.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 65-66, 2 Thessalonians 1

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Daily Bible Reading

No matter what

Have you ever been determined to do something no matter what? Nothing can draw you away from reaching for and attaining that goal. There is no prize you will accept but victory.

Or are you someone who has a price on everything? You want to do some things, but if the reward is great enough, you can be swayed away from the task.

DETERMINED: Having a firm or fixed purpose.

I’m sure we’ve all seen a talent show where someone is determined to become a star. Some rather dishonest people in their life have told them they can do anything. They have talent. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot accomplish your dream. Then they sing. It becomes apparent that someone has lied to this individual and that their determination is horribly misplaced.

Are you determined to do something? Where do you get your confidence to do what you’ve set out to do?

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be dismayed. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will triumph.

Isaiah 50:7 (NLT)

When we make the determination to do the will of God, there is an assurance that comes with it. We can be confident in our decision and our coming victory.

For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true.

1 Thessalonians 1:5a (NLT)

When our determination leads us to do the will of God, the power of the Holy Spirit within us gives us the confidence we need to fulfill our purpose no matter what. Like Isaiah, we can set our face like a stone and push ahead toward the vision God has placed before us being confident in our triumph.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 50-52, 1 Thessalonians 1

Daily Bible Reading

Potential power

Many moons ago, I processed cheques for one of the largest banks in Canada. Every work day, I was responsible for balancing the sum total of all cheques deposited to or written on accounts at the the bank I worked for. A half a million cheques could pass through my hands on any given day. Massive machines running at incredible speeds made this work possible. Anyone using these machines had to go through hazardous energy training. (Why this training was introduced after these machines had been used for decades was beyond me.)

What is hazardous energy? According to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), hazardous energy is any electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, chemical, nuclear, thermal, gravitational, or other energy that can harm people. When a machine was down for maintenance, the hazardous energy program required us to turn off, unplug, and lock out the machines so that they could not be used. Were they going to blow up and kill us all? Unlikely. But, because of maintenance issues, they had the potential to become dangerous until repaired. Because the machines were locked down, the power within simply remained a potential.

Many Christians are liked locked down machines waiting for a repair that we don’t even need. We know that there is potential inside of us, but something has caused us to power down, unplug, and lock out anything that might spark that potential. Just because we’re not sure where that potential may lead us, we often view it as hazardous energy—something to be avoided at all costs.

Yes, everything is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.

Philippians 3:8-10a (NLT)

Our trust, or faith, in Christ unlocks power within us. And not just a little bit of power, but the same mighty power that raised him from the dead. Like a locked-out machine, we sit dormant. Useless. Waiting. But we’re not broken. We’re not in need of maintenance. Rather we need to unlock ourselves and our potential to release the mighty power of Christ that’s just waiting to burst out from us. We need to plug ourselves back into the power source and allow Him to flow through us so that we can do the work we were created to do. We were meant to be effective and productive, working together to accomplish seemingly impossible, daunting tasks.

Satan thought he had locked Jesus out for good and thrown away the key, but the power within Christ was so great, that nothing could hold him back. The same power flows through us. We can either lock ourselves out and simply enjoy the potential access we have to the power source or we can get plugged in and affect change in the world around us.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

James 5:16b (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 37-38, Philippians 3

Daily Bible Reading

How do I love thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach…

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43

Long before Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned these words, someone else wrote similar words of love. But they weren’t of a lover to a mate, but rather a Father to His children.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.

Ephesians 3:18 (NLT)

Even Paul, as he wrote of the vastness of God’s love for us, couldn’t comprehend it in its entirety. They go much further than a sonnet.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Ephesians 3:19 (NLT)

There is great power in knowing how much someone loves you. You know that person will stand beside you and fight with you—even for you. You know that you have someone at your back, at your side, or in front of you if need be. That love makes you stronger because you know that you are not alone.

How much stronger should we be because of the love that God has poured out for us? This is not a sappy, fluffy, poetic sort of love, but a love of great strength and power.

Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

When you love someone and that person reciprocates your love, you work together to strengthen that bond and to strengthen each other. Just imagine how much stronger you could be if you more fully understood the love that God has for you? Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s words are frail in comparison to the greatness of the love that God has already bestowed upon us. Though we are loved freely, purely, and with passion, God’s love for us is far too great to be contained within the confines of iambic pentameter.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 22-23, Ephesians 3

Daily Bible Reading

Can’t beat the real thing.

In 1990, Coca-Cola launched a new ad campaign. All over North America we heard that you can’t beat the real thing. This, of course, was a bit (or a big) slap in the face to Pepsi who, through the 1980’s had resorted to celebrity endorsement claiming they were the choice of a new generation. But not even Michael Jackson could make Pepsi taste like Coke.

To loyal Coke drinkers, Pepsi is a cheap knockoff. A counterfeit of the Real Thing. Marketing campaigns and branding strategies won’t change the fact that Coca-Cola was and always will be first.

Yet long before there was Coca-Cola or Michael Jackson sang Pepsi Generation, there was another original. Jesus. For over two millennia, his name, his fame, his power has surged through generation after generation. No marketing ploy necessary. But like Coke, there are those who are out to make a copy of the original, make slight changes, and market it as a new and improved version.

If you order a Coke with your burger and fries and the waitress, thinking it’s the same thing, brings you a Pepsi, you know it as soon as you take the first sip. As easily as you can recognise your favourite cola, you should be able to recognise the real Jesus versus a counterfeit. Anything but the true power of the Holy Spirit should taste bitter and cheap. The more you partake of the real thing, the more obvious the fake becomes.

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT0

If  you can’t tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, you haven’t tasted enough of one or the other. You show your ignorance by saying they’re both just cola. The same goes for Jesus. If you can’t tell the difference between the power of the Holy Spirit and a cheap counterfeit, you haven’t spent enough time getting to know Jesus.

Our responsibility is never to oppose the truth, but to stand for the truth at all times.

2 Corinthians 13:8 (NLT)

Get to know the real thing. Get to know the Truth. Because when you know the Truth, he will set you free.

Daily Bible reading: Song of Solomon 4-5, 2 Corinthians 13

Daily Bible Reading

First installment

Do you ever wonder just how much God really has for you? Do you wonder if this is it or if you’ve barely scratched the surface?

I want to let you know that, no matter what you’ve experienced with God, the answer is the latter.

…because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, never wavers between yes and no. He is the one whom Timothy, Silas, and I preached to you, and he is the divine Yes—God’s affirmation. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in him. That is why we say “Amen” when we give glory to God through Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us.

2 Corinthians 1:19-22 (NLT)

When we look at the power of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we think we have arrived. We want those things—and rightly so—but those things are just the tip of the iceberg. The Holy Spirit is the first installment. Read back through 1 Corinthians. If the Holy Spirit is just the first installment, what else is there?

There is so much more than we could ever even imagine. We can barely fathom the power of the Spirit that is already within us let alone the next installment. And the one after that. Jesus is the Yes, the divine affirmation of everything God has already promised to us. He is the exclamation point on everything God has ever said about His children. Jesus opened the door for the Holy Spirit in our lives. But there are more doors.

This isn’t it. There’s more. So much more. You’ve only received the first portion. Don’t get complacent with just a little bit, with door number one. Walk through that door. Dig into that installment. Find out what you already have. Then wait in expectation for what is yet to come.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 15-16, 2 Corinthians 1

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