Daily Bible Reading

The wait

Sometimes it feels as though our life is made up more of waiting than actually doing. Just wait. Hold on a minute. Can I put you on hold? Just a moment, please. Hold your horses! We wait so much that we have lists and rooms designated for that purpose. And they’re full. All the time.

And, as much as the waiting is bothersome, everyone else’s reaction to your waiting can be even more so. When are you going to get married? When are you going to have kids? Are you having more kids? When are you ever going to get a job? What about that promotion? We can get so caught up in what everyone else thinks of our waiting that we plow ahead, bypassing God’s timing for our own.

The Bible is full of people who decided that they knew better than God. All the way back to Eve, if she’d only waited for Adam’s input before eating the fruit, things may have turned out differently. What about Sarah and Abraham? At 90, Sarah didn’t think she could wait any longer and foisted her servant on her husband so the promised child could be produced. The result was Ishmael—we’re still seeing the effects of that mistake today. The entire nation of Israel grew tired of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain and decided it would be better to worship idols.

The list goes on and on. The short of it is that no one likes to wait. We don’t like to feel as though we’re not accomplishing anything. But what is the penalty for our impatience?

Those who wait for me will never be put to shame.

Isaiah 49:23b (NLT)

We can try to blame God all we want, but when we jump the gun on His plan, the shame is ours alone. That’s not to say that God can’t repair what we broke, but there are still consequences.

But I don’t know what to do with myself!

I get it. I hate waiting, too. I hate not being productive. My hands must be busy. I have to have something to show for my time. In the practical sense, I bring something with me when I know I have to wait. A book. A crochet project. My journal. Candy Crush. But what about when I’m waiting on God?

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT)

God doesn’t make us wait to watch us squirm. He makes us wait because He’s either preparing us, preparing someone else, or preparing a situation. We will never see the entire picture, yet God is only asking us to trust in Him. The best thing to do—pray. Devote yourself to God. The wait may not be as long as you thought it was.

Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity.

Colossians 4:5 (NLT)

Waiting doesn’t have to be, and even shouldn’t be, idle time. The wait in itself is an opportunity. An opportunity to grow in our relationship with God. An opportunity to grow in our relationships with others. An opportunity to grow our faith and trust. An opportunity to prepare ourselves for the promise to come. The only shame in waiting is if we waste the opportunities God gives us in that time.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 48-49, Colossians 4

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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

To boldly go

… to boldly go where no man has gone before.

You’ve probably heard that phrase more than a few times. It’s the mission of the starship Enterprise.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

The Church has a similar mission—only it’s a life-long one, not just five years.

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”

Mark 16:15 (NLT)

Did you know that this instruction from Jesus doesn’t apply only pastors? It applies to Christians. Period. But a lot of us tend to look at this as a job not an opportunity. The more we see taking the Gospel to the world as work, the less we’re apt to do it. So how did the early church manage to grow so much so quickly?

“And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give your servants great boldness in their preaching. Send your healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

After this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And they preached God’s message with boldness.

Acts 4:29-31 (NLT)

The church prayed and—amazingly enough—God answered their prayers!

They didn’t pray for their leaders to be bold, they prayed for boldness for themselves. Every member of the church received the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the Good News boldly. We don’t have to share the Gospel, we get to. And we don’t have to do it on our own power. If your desire is to see more people brought into the Kingdom of God, God is not going to withhold the power of His Spirit to help you do so.

Jesus told us to bring the Gospel to the world, but he also promised the Helper.

It’s time that the Church—the whole Church, every member of the Church—pray for boldness to preach the Good News. Now is not the time to sit back and reevaluate our message so that we don’t risk offending certain groups of people. Now is the time for us to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to fall on us all so that we boldly go forth and preach God’s message.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 12-13, Acts 4:23-37

Daily Bible Reading

By the hand

But Peter said, “I don’t have any money for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and anklebones were healed and strengthened.

Acts 3:6-7 (NLT)

How many times have you heard of people praying, yet receiving nothing? How many times have you prayed and received nothing? Some people will keep on praying while others just give up. If God didn’t answer them the first time, why would He answer at all?

But what if all that was missing was a helping hand? What if all your prayer needed was a little extra boost from a friend or someone who cared enough to help you out?

Notice that, in this passage, the man wasn’t healed the instant Peter told him to get up and walk. Nor did the man get up on his own. Peter lifted him up and then strength came to his limbs.

Maybe you’re the one who needs the extra hand or maybe you’re the one who can give the extra hand. Either way, we shouldn’t let a little seemingly unanswered prayer stop us from receiving the things God has promised to us. A little extra help may be required to see it through. Don’t stop praying. Look to the next step. Maybe God is waiting on you to ask for a hand. Maybe God is leading you to lend a hand. Our own pride and selfishness could very well be the things that are preventing us from seeing more miracles.

Let’s not pull each other down, let’s lift each other up so we can all begin to walk, leap and praise God.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 7-8, Acts 3

Daily Bible Reading

Continually

There are few things in life anyone does continually. We all breathe. That’s a given. Most will work continually until retirement. Some talk continually. Some sleep continually. But all of these things can, and most often do, required breaks of some sort or another. There is one thing, though, that the Bible tells us to do continually.

Pray.

Never stop praying.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

Many in the western church probably couldn’t tell you the last time they started praying let alone the last time they prayed without stopping.

One of the greatest needs of the present day is men and women who will not only start out to pray for things but pray on and on and on until they obtain that which they seek from the Lord.

R.A. Torrey (1956-1928)

We all want to see God move in church on Sunday, but who is really willing to pray on Monday? For most of us, the Great Awakenings of the last century are so far gone (and often forgotten), that we don’t realise how effective prayer can really be. I make a point (though not often enough) to go back and read of the great revivals that brought North America to its knees. You cannot learn about a great move of God without being stirred to see one yourself.

But who is willing to pray for a move of God? Who even knows what that kind of prayer looks like?

True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God. It is not the utterance of words, it is not alone the feeling of desires, but it is the advance of the desires to God, the spiritual approach of our nature toward the Lord our God. True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that—it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of heaven and earth.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Acts 1:14 says that they all met together continually for prayer. Do you think the Holy Spirit would have shown up with tongues of fire if the group hadn’t waited? If they hadn’t been praying while they waited?

It is time that the Church look again toward prayer. Not just programs and growth strategies. I believe those things will come as the result of effective prayer.

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

James 5:16b (NLT)

We all have a decision to make regarding prayer. We can go on with our daily lives and offer up a prayer every once in a while when we feel like it or need heavenly help out of a jam—but what’s the point of our faith at all if that’s the case? Or we can pray continually. Continual prayer will require sacrifice on our part, but the reward is great power and wonderful results.

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 9-10, Acts 1

Daily Bible Reading

Persistence pays

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up.

Luke 18:1 (NLT)

The story that follows this statement about a woman who demands justice from a godless judge. She is so persistent that the man finally gives her what she wants.

The the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this evil judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don’t you think God will surely give justice to this chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?”

Luke 18:6-7 (NLT)

There is something to be said for persistence. If you have kids or have even been around them, you know this. Jesus even talks about them later in the same chapter of Luke.

I assure you, anyone who doesn’t have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God.

Luke 18: 17 (NLT)

Our prayers should be constant. Without end. Ongoing until we get a response. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to keep on praying. Another translation says to pray without ceasing.

You mean I’m supposed to pray all the time? Yes! Like a kid who won’t leave his parent alone until they finally cave, that is how we’re supposed to be with God. Our everyday sort of faith is meant to be continual. All the time. In every moment. Persistent.

Does that mean we need to be muttering prayers under our breath all the time? No. But, as much as possible, we need to be aware of the Kingdom around us. The more in tune we are with the Holy Spirit, the more we will be able to continue praying. Whether it’s a long, urgent prayer in private or a quick word in your spirit as you go about your business, persistence in prayer is what gets results.

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

James 5:16b (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 1-3, Luke 18:1-17

Daily Bible Reading

Knock three times

When you approach someone’s house, how many times do you knock without receiving an answer before you leave? Once? Twice? Three times?

And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

Luke 11:5-8 (NLT)

So, in even simpler terms, the friend in the house isn’t going to help you because you’re his friend; he is going to help you because you’ve annoyed him with your persistent knocking and won’t stop until he gives you what you need.

All of this because one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach him to pray.

The only time one-and-done is sufficient when it comes to praying about our needs is if we see an immediate response. When Jesus healed people, He didn’t need to keep petitioning God because, as soon as He prayed, it was done. If you have the faith to see immediate results every time you pray, you need to be in full-time active ministry preaching to the masses. For the rest of us, we may need to be a little more like the man visiting his neighbour.

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

Luke 11:9-10 (NLT)

I think many have arrived at the conclusion that God doesn’t want to be bothered by our little prayers. But the truth is quite the opposite! Jesus himself told us that, in prayer, we should be like the annoying neighbour and not stop asking until we get what we’ve asked for. Not only is God not bothered by our perseverance in prayer, He welcomes it. He wants to fulfil our needs, but He also wants us to be dependent on Him.

If you don’t get your answer immediately, knock again. Knock twice. Knock three times if you have to. Don’t stop knocking until God opens the door.

Daily Bible reading: Judges 20-21, Luke 11:1-28