Daily Bible Reading

A way out

Do you can do whatever you want to do. You can say whatever you want to say. You can feel whatever you want to feel. You can be whatever you want to be.

These are all ideas that are being thrust at as all the time. At first glance, they seem great. Yeah, I can do what I want to do! But what about what we are called to do?

Just because a feeling pops up or you want to say something or you want to be something doesn’t meant those are things that you should feel, say, or be. Our sinful, selfish natures will lead us to do things that are completely contrary to God’s will and plan for our lives. While the world would have us cater to ourselves, God would have us fight against those temptations.

But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

You mean I don’t get to do or say what I want? No, you don’t have to do or say what you want. Look at the people who live completely for themselves. Are they truly happy? Are they completely fulfilled? Or are they chasing one temptation after another looking for something they’ll never find as long as they pursue that path?

There is something to be said for restraint and resistance. Paul talks about it in 1 Corinthians and David addressed it in the Psalms.

Take control of what I say, O Lord,
and keep my lips sealed.
Don’t let me lust for evil things;
don’t let me participate in acts of wickedness.
Don’t let me share in the delicacies of those who do evil.

Psalm 141:3-4 (NLT)

Giving up control, even a little, is something we naturally want to fight against. We want things our own way! We all fight to gain control, but what does that truly get us?

We can pursue our own selfish whims or we can pursue God. We cannot do both. But giving up selfish desires isn’t resigning ourselves to a life of passionless boredom. By turning away from the endless pursuit of worldly pleasures, we enable ourselves to walk a path that was laid out for each of us as individuals before we were even born. We don’t have to go on a search to find ourselves. We are found in Christ. He has a plan and a purpose for us.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!
They are innumerable!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up in the morning,
you are still with me!

Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT)

We can wander aimlessly through life looking for the next bit of pleasure, never quite being fulfilled, or we can give up that search and find lasting, eternal fulfillment with the One who has already planned our days for us.

You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:16 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 139-141, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

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Daily Bible Reading

The great pursuit

Psalm 23 is one of my favourite passages in the entire Bible. I attribute this to my mother. While she was pregnant with me, she took up a project to cross stitch the entire chapter. She completed it in the hospital right before I was born. It’s now framed and hangs on the wall in my bedroom and is one of the last things I see before I go to bed every night.

Psalm 23

There is so much packed into these six verses. I can barely begin to scratch the surface, but I want to give you a little bit from each verse.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.

Psalm 23:1 (NLT)

If we follow Jesus like sheep do a shepherd, our needs will be fulfilled. God isn’t a magic genie to see to our needs and whims when we feel like rubbing the lamp. He is there to lead us and guide us. It’s under His guidance that our needs our met.

He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.

Psalm 23:2 (NLT)

Turmoil and stress don’t have to be a part of our daily lives. Like being under God’s guidance allows for our needs to be met, if we follow His lead, we will be drawn to rest and peace.

He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.

Psalm 23:3 (NLT)

Strength is required to walk God’s path. There is nothing that says walking with God will be easy, but He does give us the strength to do it. And, if we’re not bringing honour to His name, we’re probably not on His path.

Even when I walk
through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.

Psalm 23:4 (NLT)

When, not if. We will go through dark times. That’s pretty much a guarantee. But even in those times, God has promised that He will be with us—guiding us, protecting us, comforting us.

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest,
anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

Psalm 23:5 (NLT)

Our enemies will not suddenly decide to leave us alone because we decide to put our trust in God. We will still have enemies. They may still surround us. Yet God is there, providing for us in the middle of the battleground. And there, we can even find blessings!

Surely your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me.
all the days of my life,
And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:6 (NLT)

We make a grave mistake when we believe we have to chase after God’s love. His love comes after us. His love is there in peaceful rest. His love is there in the dark valley of death. His love is there in the presence of our enemies. His love is there in His house.

It’s time to stop chasing after God’s love. If we’d only just slow down for a moment, it will catch up to us and overtake us. In His love, we will find peace, rest, strength, guidance, provision, anointing, blessing, and goodness.

We don’t have to pursue God’s love because He is always pursuing us.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 22-24, Acts 20:1-16

Daily Bible Reading

Never fail

Sometimes I like to look up words that I hear a lot. In the church, we often hear that God will neither fail nor forsake us. But what the heck does forsake really mean? It’s almost Shakespearean in nature.

FORSAKE: to quit or leave entirely; to desert; to abandon; to depart from; to renounce; to reject; to leave; to withdraw from.

As Moses’ time as leader over Israel is coming to a close, God is giving him a few parting words for Israel and for Joshua—the man who would take Moses’ place.

Be strong and courageous! Do no be afraid of them! The Lord your God will go ahead of you. He will never fail you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

All through the Bible, God tells His people that He will never leave us. He will never abandon us. He will never depart from us. He will never renounce us. He will never reject us. He will never quit us.

So why do we have churches full of people who feel far from God? God is incapable of breaking His Word. He can’t leave us. Could it be that we are the ones who have pulled away from Him?

Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites.

James 4:8 (NLT)

As soon as we turn toward sin, we turn away from God. In order to feel close to God, all we must do it turn to Him. How difficult we have made such a simple thing! There is no great secret to being close to God. Our relationship with Him works the same as our relationship with others—we have to pursue someone in order to have a relationship with them. If we aren’t pursuing God, how can we ever expect to feel close to Him?

Take courage, though! Be strong! God has already gone ahead of us. He may be just out of our line of sight, but it is never, ever too late to catch up. If we make it a priority to pursue Him, He is faithful. He will never fail us.

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 31-32, Luke 1:1-23

Uncategorized

Fear

As a kid, I often heard that I should fear the Lord. It was a difficult concept to reconcile. Wasn’t God my Father? Loving and kind? Why should I be afraid of Him?

Then I learned to differentiate the fear of God from being afraid of God. Fear of God is a holy reverence. Honour. Respect.

OK. I know the difference now. But how do I do that?

Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and love many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 34:11-14 (ESV)

Of all people to speak on the fear of the Lord, I trust David.

We try to make things so complicated when it comes to fearing God, but this breaks it down into simple actions: watch what you say, turn away from bad things and toward good and peaceful things. Really, how hard is that?

Fearing God is not just knowing Him, it is pursuing Him. David, above all, knew what that looked like. He is forever known as the man who chased after God’s heart. That’s what the fear of God is – pursing an intimate knowledge of Him. And when we know Him, we will be more like Him.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 34-35; Acts 22

Uncategorized

Follow.

When the men brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.

Luke 5:11 (NCV)

FOLLOW (Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828):

  • to go after or behind
  • to pursue; to chase
  • to imitate; to copy
  • to embrace; to adopt and maintain
  • to obey; to observe
  • to pursue as an object of desire; to endeavour to obtain
  • to adhere to; to side with
  • to be led or guided by

Am I really a follower? Or do I say that I am because it sounds better than saying I’m just a fan?

Do I pursue and chase after Jesus?

Do I obey Him?

Do I allow myself to be led and guided by Him?

Like the men in the Gospels, have I dropped everything just because He asked me to?

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan.

Romans 8:28 (NCV)

Do I act as though I am a part of God’s plan? Or do I try to fit God into my plan?

God has amazing plans for me, but I will never see those plans come to full fruition until I am willing to drop everything and follow Him. All of those secrets and surprises He has waiting will remain hidden until I get myself into the place Jesus has called me to be.