Daily Bible Reading

Thus saith the Lord

If you grew up in church, did prophecy scare you? Were you ever concerned that God would hijack your mouth and force you to holler out a word in King James English? Did you ever worry that, even if you wanted to prophesy that you’d have to start memorizing the King James Bible and learn exactly where to insert your thee’s and thou’s?

There’s nothing wrong with a prophecy given that includes words like thee or thou, but that’s not how it has to be. If you’ve never read a King James Bible, you can still prophesy. If you don’t like public speaking, that’s okay. If you have a quiet voice, that’s fine, too. All you need is love, a willing heart, and a desire to speak God’s word to build up and encourage others.

Let love be your highest goal, but also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives, especially the gift of prophecy.

1 Corinthians 14:1 (NLT)

Many people shy away from all things prophetic because they had a bad experience. Maybe a preacher came to town and offered up a whole lot of condemnation in the name of the Lord. Know this—prophecy is not condemning. It is not accusing.

But one who prophesies is helping others grow in the Lord, encouraging and comforting them.

1 Corinthians 14:3 (NLT)

Prophecy is also not a fortune to be told. If it doesn’t already confirm what God has been showing you, write it down and put it on the back burner. The prophetic isn’t a guide to life, it is a confirmation of what God is already doing in your life.

So, you want to ask God for the gift of prophecy. What if I get it wrong? But what if you get it right? Here’s my opinion and you can take it or leave it—if you’ve asked God for a gift and you believe He’s given it to you, you have to start somewhere. And, if you know that prophecy is to encourage and build up and give someone an encouraging word, at the very least, a person walks away lifted up. At the very best, you’ve spoken a word into their life that confirms something God has already been speaking to them. It can be as simple as, “Hey, I was praying for you and this is what I believe God showed me…”

You never know what God will drop into your heart until you take the first step. So put away thoughts of a booming thus saith the Lord and start to entertain (and talk about) the little things that God is showing you. There may yet be a prophet in there somewhere!

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 5-6, 1 Corinthians 14:1-20

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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

Sacrifice

Leviticus is a tough read. There are a lot of rules and regulations that no longer apply to us as God-followers simply because God sent Jesus to be the fulfilment of all that law. We don’t need to make blood sacrifices anymore because the perfect, unspoiled blood of Jesus Christ has already been shed and made permanent atonement for those who have accepted it.

So why read Leviticus?

In part, I believe it’s good to slog through this early book simply to see what we’ve truly been saved from. Reading about all the rituals and sacrifices puts an entirely new spin on what salvation really means to and for us.

Leviticus 17 talks about what happens when a sacrifice is made away from the tabernacle. A person who made a sacrifice anywhere but at the tabernacle in front of the presence of God was cast out of the community and considered to be as guilty as one who has committed murder. That’s a pretty hefty payment for something that seems rather trivial.

Thank God that we are no longer required to make blood sacrifices. I imagine all of our cities would be heavy with the scent of burning flesh if animal sacrifice was still a necessary part of reconciliation.

But what about other sacrifices we make? Our time? Our finances? Our labour? Are these not considered worthy sacrifices? Of course they are. We are all called to give beyond what we might deem to be comfortable. But the question that goes even beyond whether or not we should make sacrifices is where and how do we make these sacrifices?

In Leviticus, a sacrifice was not acceptable unless it was brought to the entrance of the tabernacle. Maybe the same is still true today. I’m sure that even I am guilty of making sacrifices just for the sake of it—like the hypocties Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6 fasting and praying in public so that all would see and commend them for their sacrifice. But that kind of offering isn’t what is pleasing to God.

Would we still make our sacrifice if no one was watching? Would we still work if no one was there to see and applaud our gift?

It is not only the gift that matters to God, but also the manner in which we bring it. Matthew 6 talks about giving gifts in private and praying behind closed doors. It is the sacrifice that we make when no one is looking that is most pleasing and acceptable to God.

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 15-17, Matthew 27:1-31

Daily Bible Reading

If there is a God…

Here’s a line we’ve all heard over and over. “If there is a God, why doesn’t He…” Do you know what I’ve learned about the people who ask that question? They’re not really looking for God at all. They’re looking for an easy out and an excuse to continue living as though God doesn’t exist.

But why doesn’t God solve all of the world’s problems? Why doesn’t He step in when atrocities take place? Why doesn’t He stop war? The simple (yet sometimes difficult to swallow) answer is that we don’t give Him the right to. God gave man dominion over the earth and man promptly handed it to the devil. God gave us free will, to fix everything in one go would be to take away our free will and defeat His entire purpose in creating us.

Believe it or not, there is good that can come from all the turmoil around us.

Back when Moses was petitioning Pharaoh to let the Egyptians go, God intentionally hardened the heart of the king so that He would be glorified.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Return to Pharaoh and again make your demands. I have made him and his officials stubborn so I can continue to display my power by performing miraculous signs among them. You will be able to tell wonderful stories to your children and grandchildren about the marvelous things I am doing among the Egyptians to prove that I am the Lord.”

Exodus 10:1-2 (NLT)

In Egypt, Moses was following God’s instructions as He paved the way for the miraculous.

The harder the hearts of the people, the greater the miracle. For us, right now, our best course of action is united prayer. If we want to see the miracle in the hardened hearts of our nations, we need to give God room to do it. A united Church in and of itself would be a miracle. Imagine what a praying, united Church could do.

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 9-10, Matthew 18:1-20