Daily Bible Reading

Speak out!

There are two ways of learning things: you can learn the hard way and figure it out on your own, or you can seek out an answer or advice from someone who already knows. The concept is not new. It’s existed literally since the beginning of time.

We seek out those who have learned the hard lessons or who have gleaned those lessons from others. It’s how we, as humans have gathered our wealth of knowledge. Each generation (should) learn from the previous. It’s all dependent on the previous generation sharing their knowledge and the current generation listening and understanding what is being passed to them.

In high school, I was a smart kid. I learned quickly. I graduated with the highest honours possible. Nearly straight A’s. A’s in everything but Math 11. I distinctly remember one day in class where I just couldn’t grasp a concept, so I asked the teacher for help. He told me I’d have to come after class if I wanted help. Not possible. Where most student’s days ended at 2:15, I had another class after that. I explained that to the teacher. He shrugged. I asked if he could help me in class (as far as I could tell, he wasn’t doing anything else, and wasn’t it his job as a teacher to teach me?). He looked at the problem and told me I should know how to do that already. Well, I don’t, which is why I’m asking for help. He said I should have learned that the year before. Obviously, I didn’t. I’d have to come to after school help. I couldn’t (I liked band class way better than math anyway). I never did fully understand the concept and my grade reflected it.

That teacher had knowledge that, had he been willing to share it with me, would have helped me to maintain my straight A status. He could have helped, yet he withheld that information. Now, that’s just high school math and, contrary to what every teacher ever told me, I never needed algebra in the “real world”—not even in the fifteen years I worked in finance and insurance. But what about the knowledge we, as Christians, have? What do we know that could help others? Has God done great things for us? Has He come to our aid when we’ve called on Him? Has He loved us? Has He rescued us?

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has saved you from your enemies.

Psalm 107:1-2 (NLT)

If one of the the only ways people can learn is from others, what are we showing or teaching them? Are we silent and withholding like my math teacher or are we vocal and willing to share about the great things God has done in our lives?

Those who are wise will take all this to heart
they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.

Psalm 107:43 (NLT)

The only way something will show up in history is if it’s recorded—whether we write it down or pass it down orally. The only way history will show the faithful love of the Lord is if we keep talking about it. History doesn’t record silence. It records difference-makers.

Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 107-108, Romans 12:21-33 

Daily Bible Reading

Hope anew

As humans, when left entirely to our own devices, we make poor choices.

left alone

Whether it be cereal or flour all over the kitchen, makeup all over the bathroom, or permanent marker all over the sibling, no kid ever had to be taught to make a bad decision. It all comes naturally. If we are never taught any different and are left to make our own choices, it is pretty much a guarantee that life will become a series of one bad decision after another.

People need to be free to make their own choices. Yes, they do, but they also need to be taught to make the right choices.

I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and know,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children
but we will tell the next generation about
the glorious deeds of the Lord.
We will tell of his power and the mighty
miracles he did.
For he issued his decree to Jacob;
he gave his law to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
that they might teach their children
So each generation can set its hope anew on God
remembering his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.
Then they will not be like their ancestors—
stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful,
refusing to give their hearts to God.

Psalm 78:2b-8 (NLT)

There are reasons why the Bible first, exists, and second, is full of verses about wisdom, knowledge, and instruction. These are not things that happen by chance. As you can see by the photos above, humans aren’t born wise. We are all prone to bad decision-making.

If you’ve been instructed to go somewhere you’ve never been before, but have not been given a map, how will you ever get there? Will chance lead you to that place? It’s doubtful.

Teach your child to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

Young or old, every person must be taught to make good choices—it’s never too late. Just like Israel passed on accounts of the miraculous things God did for their nation, so should we pass on accounts of the things God has done for, in, and through us. If the people around us are never given a map, how can we expect them to arrive at salvation?

…but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:60b (NIV)

PROCLAIM: to announce; to utter openly; to make public

Church, it is our mandate to publicly proclaim the Gospel, to utter it openly, to make it public, to know Christ and to make him known.

So you must never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:8a (NLT)

This generation and the ones to follow will not be able to remember God’s glorious miracles if they never heard about them in the first place. When God does something, talk about it! When He says something, tell someone else. Give the next generation the opportunity to set their hope anew on God.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 78, Romans 7

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

Be prepared

Scar_lion_king.pngIf you grew up in the 90’s or had kids who grew up in the 90’s the words be prepared may stir memories of good old Scar. You know, brother of Mufasa, uncle of Simba, all around bad guy. And, like every devious Disney character, he gets his moment to sing the song that lays out all his evil plans.

So prepare for a chance of a lifetime
Be prepared for sensational news
A shining new era is tiptoeing nearer

While the number in its entirety is about killing the king and his son so that Scar himself can take over the kingdom, some truth can still be found in his words.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is speaking to his disciples preparing them for his imminent departure. He tells story after story probably hoping that at least one will speak to each of his loyal followers. In Chapter 25, we read the story of the ten bridesmaids (or virgins, depending on your translation). Five women leave thinking only of the final outcome while the five others leave prepared for multiple outcomes. When the first five run out of lamp oil, they try to convince the other five to share. In the end, the first five miss out entirely on the final outcome they were initially anticipating.

The moral of the story: be prepared.

Just because you are planning for one outcome, doesn’t mean that another can’t happen. It’s cliché, I know, but things don’t always work out like you plan. Jesus is warning his disciples of this very thing.

So stay awake and be prepared, because you do no know the day or the hour of my return.

Matthew 25:13 (NLT)

If we don’t continually keep ourselves prepared for any outcome, we may miss the big event—the chance of a lifetime, sensational news, that shining new era.

Set your heart on Jesus like the bridesmaids did the groom, but be prepared for anything. The road might not be the one you planned, but like Simba, you may find yourself some crazy friends and end up better off in the end.

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 4-6, Matthew 25:1-30

 

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The next generation

I was talking with my mother the other day of someone we know to have been raised in a Christian home. His wife was also raised in a Christian home. Somehow, though, the faith was not established in either of them and they soon walked away from all faith. When he was later diagnosed with cancer, rather than returning to the faith of his childhood, he turned to spirit healers and other forms of faith.

What happened?

If you read through Psalm 78 (long though it may be), you’ll find account after account of similar actions. We’ve read it already this year in previous books of the Old Testament. Israel follows God. Israel turns from God. Everything goes wrong. Israel turns back to God. It’s a never-ending circle of advance and retreat.

Asaph, the writer of this Psalm begins with a bit of a reminder before going into the history of Israel.

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from old.
things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.

He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast.
whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Psalm 78:1-8 (ESV)

What would happen in a single generation if mothers and especially fathers, would teach their children to set their hope in God? If today’s children were taught to love and honour God and each other?

Asaph saw his fathers’ folly and urged the present generation not to make the same mistake. What if we did likewise? How much could we change the world for the next generation?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 78; Romans 7

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We can work it out

Did you know that every Christian is called to full-time ministry?

But wait! I don’t want to be a pastor!

Full-time ministry isn’t just what we refer to as the five-fold ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers according to Ephesians 4:11). Full-time ministry is the Great Commission.

And he [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

Mark 16:15 (ESV)

Some – a lot of – people really aren’t called to preach. We make a mistake when we believe that ministry is limited to those five specific roles. But there are other roles in ministry that are just as, if not more, important than preaching and teaching.

In Acts, we see that there were certain people whose physical needs were being neglected. Now, if all the Church had to offer were pastors, those people would never have their daily needs met. Instead, the disciples held a meeting and said, “Hey, you guys, we feel we need to keep on preaching, but we need some help in other areas. Who’s in?” (Paraphrase.)

So a group of people who were full of faith and the Holy Spirit were appointed and anointed to do a different work. These weren’t lesser men by any means. They were called to a different type of ministry.

And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit… These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Acts 6:5-7 (ESV)

Did you know that the Gospel can be proclaimed just loudly with a helping hand as it can from a stage with a microphone in your hand?

There is a place for everyone in the ministry. If you know it’s not your job to be doing the preaching and teaching and prophesying, look for another area where you can use your gifts to help spread the Word. If you’re still not sure, ask your pastor or church leaders. I know I can speak for my own church when I say that we will never turn down willing hands.

Daily Bible reading: Esther 7-10; Acts 6

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Put to shame

If you spend any time at all on social media, you will eventually see something about shaming. Passenger-shaming, drink-shaming, body shaming, and more. While some believe it is their God-given right to shame whomever they wish, there are also those who believe that no one should feel any shame at all. Where is the line?

As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

Luke 13:17 (ESV)

I believe shame to be useful as pain is useful. Do we want to feel it? Of course not! Should we feel it? Perhaps.

Like pain, shame often tells us that something is wrong. When Jesus continued to perform miracles on the Sabbath, the rulers of the synagogue were indignant. Apparently performing miracles was considered work. Jesus then proceeded to explain his reasons and the men of the synagogue were put to shame. They used religious excuses to avoid doing the real work they were called to.

I don’t think Jesus’ intent was to make them feel like horrible people, but rather to use their shame as a tool to correct wrong thinking.

If you feel shameful about your actions, were they the right actions? If you feel shameful about your words, were they the right words?

The next time you feel ashamed, take a moment to think about the reasons why. Rather than becoming angry and indignant to try to make yourself feel better, use that feeling as an indicator. Like pain tells us that something is wrong, shame can work the same.

Didn’t Jesus come to take away shame? Yes, He did! But He also told us to turn away from the things that bring us shame.

Sin no more. Feel shame no more.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 7-9; Luke 13:1-21