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

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Daily Bible Reading

Love each other

What does it mean to love each other? Is it warm, fuzzy feelings? Is it passion? A mutual respect? When we think about Jesus’ command for us to love each other, what is the context we put it in?

So now I am giving you a new commandment. Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

John 13:34-35 (NLT)

Yesterday, we looked at how Jesus switched positions with his disciples. He intentionally placed himself in the position of a lowly servant rather than Lord and Master. He washed the feet of those who had faithfully followed him. He served them.

Then he told them to love each other as he loved them.

How willing are you to wash the feet of the person who sits next to you in church? I have smelled the feet of some who sit beside me in church. I’m not sure I’d want to go so far as to wash them.

I don’t expect the church to suddenly install a foot-washing station for those who want to take these words literally. But I do expect us to think a little more about how we serve each other. Jesus said that our love for one another, how we serve each other as he served his followers, will prove to the world that we are his disciples. For the most part, I only see church people at church on Sunday. I don’t know much about what goes on in their daily lives or if they’d need help doing it.

However, I do think that we should know more about what goes on in the daily lives of the people we attend church with. We should know how they can be served and then we should strive to serve each other with the same love that Jesus displayed.

Sometimes a little dirty work can go a long way—it can go far enough to prove to the world that we are Jesus’ disciples.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 10-12, John 13:18-38

Daily Bible Reading

Hail to the King!

The next day, news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A huge crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted,

“Praise God!
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hail to the King of Israel!”

John 12:12-13 (NLT)

All of these people had gathered because they had heard Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. That was great. They heard a great story and got in the moment and publicly praised Jesus. I wonder, though, how many of those same people, several days later, shouted, “Crucify!” Was their praise simply the effects of a mob mentality? Is ours?

When we, as a church, get together on Sundays to praise and worship, God is glorified. We are all encouraged. We get together and great things happen in the presence of God. But how much of that carries over into Monday, Tuesday, and the rest of the week?

God is most certainly interested in our corporate worship. It is an important part of our relationship with Him. But He is also interested in our private devotion—what we do outside of Sunday.

Is our public worship a reflection of our private moments with Him or are we merely going with the flow—affected by the mob, first praising Jesus then accusing him?

Our public worship should not be directed by the crowd around us, but should rather be an extension of our private devotion.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 1-3, John 12:1-19

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Whole and Willing

And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.

1 Chronicles 28:9 (ESV)

As one of his last acts as king of Israel, David urges his son to follow in his father’s footsteps. God knew David’s heart and David’s heart was in the right place.

I often have to take a look at my own heart. When I wake up Sunday mornings, more often than not, I’m looking forward to an afternoon nap more than I am to the church service that comes first. Where is my heart?

When I stand on the stage, am I giving God my whole heart or just a part of it? Am I serving with a willing mind or is it wandering, trying to make it through the service?

Church aside, where are my heart and mind through the week? Does God have my whole heart all the time? With a willing mind, do I read His Word and pay attention to His teachings?

I take no small amount of encouragement in the second part of this verse, “If you seek him, he will be found by you.” God doesn’t play games with our hearts or minds. He is always faithful and sure. He will not leave us or forsake us even if we don’t approach Him wholeheartedly or completely willingly. He meets us where we are so long as we take that step. Jeremiah 29:14 says, “I will be found by you, declares the Lord.”

When I think of us searching for God, I think of playing hide and seek with a kid. We’re the one seeking and God is the kid hiding in plain sight, breathing heavy, talking the whole time, impossible to miss.

God wants us to find Him. And, when we know that God wants to be found, it makes it easier to search for him with all of our hearts and with a willing mind.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 28-29; John 11:47-57

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Stay Awake

Be on guard. Keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.

Mark 13:33 (ESV)

I like to sleep. I love to sleep. As much as I love church, I most often wake up on Sunday mornings thinking about the nap I’ll take in the afternoon. There’s a time change this weekend. I’ll lose an hour of sleep. But I get to nap on Sunday afternoon. Sleep is good.

While sleep is good and necessary for the body, the Church as a whole is pretty sleepy these days. Jesus told his disciples to be on guard. Don’t fall asleep! Keep watch! When the Church gets dozy, the world starts to fall apart.

We can blame politicians all we want, but where is the Church when morality sinks a little lower? Where is the Church when war breaks out? Where is the Church when hearts are broken? She’s asleep. Like the disciples when Jesus went to the garden to pray. They only had one job – stay awake and pray, but they fell asleep when Jesus needed them the most.

Jesus needs us. If he is coming back for his bride, the bride had better be ready. She had better be prepared. She had better be dressed in white. She had better be awake.

And what I say to you I say to you all: Stay awake.

Mark 13:37 (ESV)

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

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prepare

I’m the kind of person who was raised to go to church every Sunday. That was the rule in our house growing up. “As long as you live under my roof, we go to church every Sunday!” I still live by that rule.

There have been many times that I’ve shown up in church out of a feeling of obligation. Not that it’s a bad thing – I don’t think that church attendance can really be a detriment. There are also times when I’ve shown up at church expecting to see a move of God. Which times to you suppose one would be more affected by the presence of God?

Then the cloud covered the Meeting Tent, and the glory of the Lord filled the Holy Tent.

Exodus 40:34 (NCV)

We often like to think that God will show up no matter what, that He will come and fill the room with the cloud of His glory. But, if you read back in Exodus, the visible presence of God only showed up after Israel had prepared for it. The entire chapter preceding this verse talks about the preparation. God showed up when Israel was ready.

Are you ready?

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 39-40, Matthew 24:1-22