Daily Bible Reading

He bends down

If you want to speak to someone of consequence, you must first put yourself in a position to be heard. If I want to speak to the Queen of England, I’m going to need a better position than the one I have. I’ll probably need a title (which she’d have to give me, but never will because I’m not British) and more than a few connections (which I don’t have because I’ve never been to England). I’m never going to have a conversation with the Queen of England, even if we share the same name.

In order to even speak to, let alone ask for aid from, a person in power or of status, we generally have to be in a position of power or status ourselves. Us lowly citizens don’t have the ear of our nation’s leaders at any given moment.

We have a tendency to put these same requirements on God. Us lowly church members can’t just talk to God, we must have a mediator, someone with greater connections, someone with position.

What a load of garbage!

I love the Lord because he hears
and answers my prayers.
Because he bends down and listens,
I will pray as long as I have breath.

Psalm 116:1-2 (NLT)

A raised position is not on the list of requirements for approaching God. In fact, I believe that the lower we are, the more likely He is to respond because the lower our state, the more sincere our prayer.

If a child cries out to a parent, how does that parent respond? They bend down to listen. If a person trips and falls, how does a friend go to help? They bend down to listen.

We called out to God in our sinful state and He bent down to listen. If God has already stooped down to pull us from our sins, He will do it again and again and again.

It is when we are at our weakest, our lowest place, that God is at His strongest.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 2:9a (NKJV)

Don’t ever believe the lie that you are to lowly for God to care about.

Whenever there is prayer, there is danger of His own immediate action. He is cynically indifferent to the dignity of His position, and ours, as pure spirits, and to human animals on their knees. He pours out self-knowledge in a quite shameless fashion.

senior devil, The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.

If God is not ashamed to bend down to listen to us, we should never be ashamed to cry out to Him at our lowest. He hears and answers our prayers.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 116-118, 1 Corinthians 2

Daily Bible Reading

When in doubt

Doubt, if not kept in check, can become a default. We begin to question everything. Can anyone or anything be trusted. Can you trust yourself? It’s a slippery slope that can be just as easily avoided as it is to tumble down.

When doubts fill my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Psalm 94:19 (NLT)

In addition to being full of doubt, many of us also have the tendency to try to be completely independent. We don’t want to have to depend on others for anything. We can do it on our own. But that’s not what we were created for. No one was meant to live life entirely alone. Our purpose is to fulfil God’s purpose for us. We are supposed to be completely dependent on Him.

 

The Lord will not reject his people;
he will not abandon his own special possession

Psalm 94:14 (NLT)

One thing we should never allow ourselves to doubt is God’s love for us. We are His people. His own special possession. When something is in your possession, chances are that you have a specific purpose for it. This works the same between us and God. We are His. He has plans for us. And, no matter what we do or how we feel, those plans never change.

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.

Romans 11:29 (NLT)

The next time you feel doubt start creeping in, remind yourself of who you are—God’s special possession. Know that you belong to Him, the creator of the universe. Once you’ve reminded yourself of who you are in God, remind yourself of who God is.

Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is to understand his decision and his methods! For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor? And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay it back? For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen.

Romans 11:33-36 (NLT)

You exist by His power and are intended for His glory. Never doubt that.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 93-95, Romans 11:22-36 

Daily Bible Reading

Control freak

Nobody likes to hear the S word. Sin isn’t something anyone wants to or enjoys talking about. Even sinners don’t like their actions to be referred to as sin. It’s a dirty word. And so it should be. But just because sin is dirty, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address it or even talk about it. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. So how do we deal with it?

We don’t.

He [Jesus] died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God.

Romans 6:10 (NLT)

Jesus already dealt with sin. He defeated it. There is no maybe about it. There were no little stragglers that escaped. Jesus got it all. He didn’t just win the battle, he won the war.

What does this mean for us?

Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Romans 6:6 (NLT)

There are days where sin feels mighty powerful in my life. I struggle with the temptation to give in—and often do. But if it’s lost its power, why is the struggle still there?

Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval.

Romans 6:16 (NLT)

Perhaps our struggle isn’t so much with sin as it is with control. Until the day we leave this earth, sin will always be an option. But just because it’s there doesn’t mean we have to allow it to control us. We should aim for the exact opposite.

So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11 (NLT)

Romans 6 goes on to talk about how we should be using our bodies as tools to bring glory to God. A tool is something to be used, controlled by the one using it. Our bodies should not control us, but we rather, should control our bodies. When we give ourselves over to sin, we give up control. Likewise, when we give ourselves over to God, we give Him control. The less control we hold for ourselves—the more we give to God, the less likely we are to give it up to sin. In a culture where control is everything, this is a difficult thing to comprehend or even accept. Yet the benefits in giving all control to God far outweigh the disadvantages (because there are no disadvantages).

For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

Romans 6:7 (NLT)

Sin doesn’t have to control us. We don’t have to try to control sin. We must simply give all control over to God. Easy in words, not so much in action. But I believe that the more we strive to give God complete control and ask for His grace in doing so, the more freedom we will find.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 75-77, Romans 6

Daily Bible Reading

Powerful

Who doesn’t want power of some sort? Power indicates might, strength, resources. Power produces change. It is forceful. It is something to be reckoned with. Some want political power. Others military. Some intellectual and others physical. Power comes in many forms and from many sources.

Do you want power just for the sake of having it? Do you want it for your own selfish reasons? Or do you want power for the greater good?

And David became more and more powerful, because the Lord Almighty was with him.

1 Chronicles 11:9 (NLT)

Only one reason was given for David’s show of great strength—because the Lord Almighty was with him. When God was for Israel, they were strong and victorious. When God was against Israel, they were weak and defenseless.

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Romans 8:31b (NLT)

When our power comes from the Creator, nothing can stand against us. Like David, we can become more and more powerful for all the right reasons. There is no selfishness in the power that comes from God. It is for your good and it is for the greater good. It is the power to overcome darkness. The power to shine the Light of the World. The power over sin and death. And the power that comes from God is a result of sacrifice.

Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

…despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Romans 8:35, 37 (NLT)

Overwhelming victory. That sounds like power to me. But the glory then, is not ours, but the Lord’s. As we discussed earlier, everything in the Bible points back to Jesus. The power that we receive through the Holy Spirit does, too. And that should encourage us since it is our job to point the world to Jesus. What better way to do so than to have his great power show through us?

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 11-13, John 9:1-25

 

Daily Bible Reading

Will, not can.

CAN: to be possible

WILL: divine determination

Lately, I’ve found my faith being stirred. Whether it’s because of what I experienced on the mission field or conversations with old friends, God is stirring something me and, I believe in the Church as a whole. We, as in the majority of the Western Church, have grown complacent and lazy. Not everyone, but enough that the world has largely forgotten about us. We’ve lost our power. We’ve lost our influence. We’ve lost our drive. We’ve lost our determination.

We’ve lost the difference between can and will.

Before Jesus finished his earthly ministry, he left the disciples with a lot of helpful information. They obviously made great use of it because the Church is still around today. Let’s look at a couple of these tidbits:

I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me.

John 6:57 (NLT)

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

John 14:12 (NLT)

Let’s set the record straight here. Jesus didn’t say that we can live by the power of the living Father, he said that we will.

Jesus didn’t tell us that we can do the same works [he has] done, he said that we will.

The more I read what Jesus says I will do, the less can becomes an option. Can implies maybe it will happen or maybe it won’t. Will indicates that there is no doubt about it, this is going to happen. Period.

Jesus commanded sickness and death to go. There was no wishy washy little prayer begging God to do something. There was no doubt about Jesus’ own ability or the ability of the Father who sent him. There was no maybe. Jesus never asked the question, “Can I do this?”

It’s time that we stop thinking we can do something and start knowing that we will do something. Even greater works.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 20-22, John 6:45-71

Daily Bible Reading

Without measure

How much of God’s Spirit did He put in you? What limits did He put on your heavenly authority? What can’t you do with the power of His name?

These are all questions we should never be asking.

When Jesus was giving his disciples their last pep talk, he never even approached the topic of what they couldn’t do. But he spent several verses discussing all that they could do.

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick and heal them.

Mark 16:15-18 (NLT)

They will… they will… they will… I don’t see anything there about they won’t.

So if we can do all these things through the name of Jesus, what kind of power is backing that name?

For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God’s Spirit is upon him without measure or limit.

John 3: 34 (NLT)

Without measure or limit. That is the kind of power that backs the name of Jesus.

We Christians need to stop acting as though we got dealt the short end of salvation. God didn’t give us just enough of His Spirit to squeak into Heaven. He hasn’t withheld from us. He’s given us all of His Spirit and it’s time that we started acting like it.

Keeping in mind that we have access to the Spirit without measure or limit, the only question that remains is this: what can God do through you?

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 1-3. John 3:22-36I 

Daily Bible Reading

I lay it down

We always talk about how Jesus was killed. He was murdered. He was put to death. But was he really?

When Jesus was finally sentenced to being flogged and crucified, the religious leaders thought they got the last laugh. They got what they wanted. The man who threatened their entire way of life would die. They would have him killed.

Read the scriptures again. Yes, Jesus was sentenced to death. Yes, Jesus was flogged. He was crucified. But was he actually murdered? Was he really put to death?

Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46 (NLT)

He shouted. As he hung on the cross in unbearable pain for crimes he did not commit, he shouted. He raised his voice so every ear in the vicinity could hear that he would not be put to death. He gave his life of his own volition.

How angry the Jewish leaders must have been. In the moment when they expected to finally be able to breathe that sigh of relief, the man they wanted to have killed made sure everyone knew his life was given willingly. And Jesus had to do so.

The Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may have it back again. No one can take my life from me. I lay it down voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it up again. For my Father has given me this command.

John 10:17-18 (NLT)

By proclaiming with his last breath that he was giving up his life into God’s hands, Jesus was fulfilling his own words. Those words took all power away from the men who put him on the cross. Little did they know that, in their anger and indignance, they played right into the plan of God. By putting Jesus on the cross, they fulfilled prophecy and gave the plan of salvation another big push toward fulfillment.

The next time you consider the account of the cross, keep in mind that, while Jesus died, he was not put to death. He laid down his life voluntarily. For me. For you.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 8-9, Luke 23:39-56