Daily Bible Reading

Preservation

Even though it may not feel like it, we do not live in the first generation that has been overcome with lies disguised as truth. David was struck with an agony many faithful Christians feel today. And never in my life has his words seemed so apt.

Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing!
The faithful have vanished from the earth.

Psalm 12:1 (NLT)

David’s cry is not so different from that which we are hearing from those churches that have remained faithful—even when it would seem that popular culture wants them to alter the foundation of their doctrine. Even when the words of Jesus himself are considered hateful.

When the world is full of lies, even though it may be easier, it is our responsibility as those who bear the name of Christ both to preserve and to proclaim the truth. Our trust must be in our God, not our government. Our government can’t (or maybe even won’t) save us, but God already has. It is that fact that should keep us on our path in pursuit of truth—God has already saved us!

Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about
and evil is praised throughout the land.

Psalm 12:7-8 (NLT)

The pull of the world may be strong, but God is stronger. The lies may hide the truth, but the Truth lives longer.

Our help is from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124:8 (NLT)

When the wicked strut about, remember who your help is and where it comes from. God can and will preserve His Church. Trust in that.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 10-12, Acts 17:16-34

Daily Bible Reading

Get out of the way!

I’ve been to a lot of church services. I grew up in the day when we went to church twice on Sundays, once on Wednesdays, and attended extra services when a guest speaker was in town. We had youth group on Fridays and maybe even a mid-week Bible study. When I say I grew up at church, I mean that I actually spent the majority of my time at the church. Not much has changed.

In all of those church services, I saw a lot of ministry lines, altar calls, hands go up for prayer. But I rarely saw a pastor or speaker interrupt his or her sermon to do so. They weren’t wrong, but in recent studies and conversations, I’ve begun to wonder if they were always right.

While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was listening as Paul preached, and Paul noticed him and realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.

Acts 14:8-10 (NLT)

As far as I can tell, this is the first the crippled man had heard the Good News.  It was Paul and Barnabas’ first trip to the area and they were bringing a new message to the people there. Churches and training centres hadn’t been set up yet. The apostles were setting up the groundwork for future ministry.

Then this crippled man shows up. He hears a message of miracles and salvation and his faith is stirred. What do we do now?

In some churches, he’d be required to spend several weeks in studies on faith and healing before someone may or may not lay hands on him.

In other churches, he’d be told that healing isn’t for today, God made him crippled for a reason.

Yet in other churches, he might have to wait for the end of the message for a call to the altar to be offered and hope that someone could help him to the front before the altar closes to new arrivals.

But what did Paul do? The moment he recognized that this man had faith, he stopped what he was doing and called out to him to stand. He didn’t pause to teach on how healing works. He didn’t have to explain what faith is. He didn’t fall to his knees to petition God with pleading groans so the man could be set free from his affliction. In fact, I haven’t found anywhere in the Gospels where this was the case.

Miracles happened when faith was present and the men of God acted on their recognition of it. Long, flowery prayers not needed. Explanations unnecessary. A simple command was all that was required to activate the faith that was already there.

If God says He’ll do something, it’s up to us to believe and proclaim that He will do it. And when the gift of faith shows up, get out of the way! Shut up and let God show off. This message we preach is not about us. It’s about the God who came to give us abundant life. What we have to say is far less important than what God came to do.

Start looking for faith and then practice acting on it immediately. It may require retraining our minds and our spirits to respond in a different way, but if the result is seeing the crippled walk, the blind seeing, and the sick healed, it’s worth it. Isn’t it?

Daily Bible reading: Job 35-37, Acts 14

Daily Bible Reading

Be a lert

Be alert. We need more lerts.

That silly joke comes to mind almost every time I hear the word alert. It’s stupid, I know. It was funny when I was twelve. But now that I’m older, perhaps there is more to it than nonsense.

There is no such thing as a lert. There should be. We should all be lerts.

And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!

Mark 13:33 (NLT)

Jesus is speaking of the end of time. When the world (and even much of the Church) will fall away. He speaks this warning to his people. Stay alert! Jesus knows that humans are fickle creatures. We’re more apt to pick the easy way rather than the right way. Sit rather than stand. We’d rather sleep than be awake.

Jesus’ intent was never to come back for a lazy Church. He’s looking for a spotless, blameless Bride. Vibrant and full of life. His life. His Word. We need not only to keep the Word near to us and in our hearts, but we are to proclaim it to the nations.

And here’s what many find the most difficult: we are not to add to or take away from it. Once the Word has been meddled with, it is no longer the word and therefore no longer contains the power to change lives.

We need to stay alert so that we can be sure we are preaching the true, life-changing Word of God. We need to wake up the sleepers so that we can meet our Groom with wide eyes and oil in our lamps.

Be a lert!

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 14-16, Mark 13:14-37

Daily Bible Reading

Blind

When I read through the passages leading up to Jesus’ death, I am always baffled at how the very men who should have been first to recognise who Jesus was were the ones who put him to death.

Jesus is standing before the high priest and the priest demands to know if Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus, of course, says that he is. No problem, right?

Big problem!

Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict.”

Matthew 26:65 (NLT)

I’m not sure why the priest got so upset when Jesus told him exactly what he wanted to hear. The priest should have been thrilled to finally meet the promised Messiah. Instead, he is enraged because the Messiah doesn’t look like expected. Jesus didn’t come to promote the law, but rather to fulfil it. This went beyond what the priests were able to comprehend.

I wonder if we don’t sometimes act like the high priest at this time. Do we get so caught up in doing church that we forget why we do anything at all? If Jesus were standing in front of us proclaiming himself, would we see him for who he is or would we, like the priest, cry, “Blasphemy!”?

Let us not let the how blind us to the why. Rather than being so concerned about the rule book, let us instead focus on the fact that we’ve been invited to join in action.

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 14, Matthew  26:55-75

Uncategorized

Continually

Have you ever mentioned a problem to an unbeliever and they look at you aghast as though you, a Christian, should be living a life free of trouble, pain, and/or difficulty? It is a sadly common misconception that Christians can and should live completely perfect lives.

Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come.

Psalm 71:3 (ESV)

Note that David doesn’t say that he stays at the rock of refuge, but that he continually comes to it. Again and again. He didn’t run to the rock once and then everything was good from there. If you’ve read through David’s history, you know that he was plagued with trouble, both of his own making and of those conspiring against him.

But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.

Psalm 71:14 (ESV)

If God only saved you once, how much would you praise Him? If He saves you again and again, how much more will you praise Him?

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.

Psalm 71:20-21

Again and again and again. David saw more trials and tribulations than any one man should, yet God saw fit to bring Jesus out of David’s lineage. If believers were meant to live perfect lives, don’t you think God would have done something for David? Instead, David’s faith was continually increased and each time trials came, he turned to God. God gave him increase in every area of his life.

The issue is not whether or not we will experience difficulties, but rather what we do when they come. Do we wallow in self pity or stand up and proclaim that God is greater than our circumstance and He is always well-able to see us through?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 70-72; Romans 4