Daily Bible Reading

What is faith?

As Christians, we talk about faith. A lot. It is our belief system. It is the basis on which we live our lives. It is our calling. It is many things. We know that just a small amount—the measure of a mustard seed—can move a mountain. It can heal the sick and open blind eyes. Faith can raise the dead. But how many of us can accurately define faith?

Let’s go the the old standby in Hebrews:

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

I once heard a pastor say that grace is God’s grip on us and faith is our grip on God. According to Noah Webster, her statement was more than just something to be typed on a meme and posted to social media.

The sense of the verb is to strain, to draw, and thus to bind or make fast. A rope or cable is that which makes fast.

Our faith, combined with God’s grace, brings us or draws us toward God and binds us to Him. Without faith, we have no grip whatsoever. Grace alone is not enough. It is not the binding agent, faith is.

So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

FAITH: That firm belief of God’s testimony, and of the truth of the gospel, which influences the will, and leads to an entire reliance on Christ for salvation.

When we are called upon to use our faith, our belief should not be in the desired outcome, but in the One who can bring it to pass. We must remember that faith goes beyond a little prayer and a hope. Faith is what binds us to God. It draws us closer to Him. It brings us to obedience to His Word and puts in line with His will. It is our judgement that what God has stated is the truth. And, if He promised it, He will perform it.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 10-12, Hebrews 11:1-19

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Daily Bible Reading

To boldly go

We, as new covenant believers, don’t know how good we have it. For those who came before us, the old covenant pretty much had one purpose—to make God’s people painfully aware of their sin. Regular sacrifice had to be made to atone for a multitude of sin (both known and unknown). Only the high priest was able to approach God and then only after a long process of cleansing and sacrifice. After that, I imagine his approach would have still been somewhat reserved. We need have no such reservations.

Let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22 (NLT)

We see in Hebrews 10:1 that the old system of the law of Moses was only a shadow of the things to come, not the reality of the good things Christ has done for us. The old covenant was merely preparation for the new. Where the old pointed out sin, the new obliterated it. Where the old stifled believers, the new frees us. The old made man feel dirty and sinful.

And what God wants is for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.

Hebrews 10:10 (NLT)

Unlike the priests of the old covenant, we don’t have to go through a long, drawn out process of cleansing each time we want to approach God. Instead, we can go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him.

Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf made perfect and perpetual atonement for our sin. We are washed with pure water and covered by the blood. Knowing and trusting in this, we can boldly go to our heavenly Father.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 4-6, Hebrews 10:1-23

Daily Bible Reading

Faithful

FAITHFUL: Firm in adherence to the truth and to the duties of religion; fidelity, loyal, true to allegiance; constant in the performance of duties or services; constant.

Faithfulness is a rare trait these days. Contracts are broken when it no longer suits one or both parties. Vows are unmade when temptations become too strong. Promises are about as strong as thin ice over a puddle after the first frost.

Since fidelity is no longer a trait we strive toward, it makes our walk of faith even more difficult. No longer do we hear my word is my bond and then see such statements carried out. A handshake is nothing more than a greasy agreement, easily slipped out of. So how can we possibly remain faithful in our Christianity when we have nothing with which to base our fidelity on?

But if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

Hebrews 3:14 (NLT)

Just because faithfulness hold little value in society doesn’t give us an excuse to allow the world’s views to spill over into our relationship with God. The world may not be able to give us a solid example of faithfulness, but they don’t have to. God already has. Open your Bible. Those thin pages are full of accounts of weighty promises that have never been broken. At one time, we all as believers, put enough trust in Christ to rescue us from an eternity in hell and we must do all that we can to hold on to that first faith.

We have our example and we must strive to follow it to the very best of our ability—with a little help from our friends.

Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.

Hebrews 3:12-13 (NLT)

Being faithful doesn’t have to be a lonely walk. It shouldn’t be. By instituting the fellowship of the saints, Jesus set in motion a plan to help us help each other. If we only hold each other accountable and allow ourselves to be held accountable, this whole business of remaining faithful becomes a lot easier.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 43-45, Hebrews 3

Daily Bible Reading

The wait

Sometimes it feels as though our life is made up more of waiting than actually doing. Just wait. Hold on a minute. Can I put you on hold? Just a moment, please. Hold your horses! We wait so much that we have lists and rooms designated for that purpose. And they’re full. All the time.

And, as much as the waiting is bothersome, everyone else’s reaction to your waiting can be even more so. When are you going to get married? When are you going to have kids? Are you having more kids? When are you ever going to get a job? What about that promotion? We can get so caught up in what everyone else thinks of our waiting that we plow ahead, bypassing God’s timing for our own.

The Bible is full of people who decided that they knew better than God. All the way back to Eve, if she’d only waited for Adam’s input before eating the fruit, things may have turned out differently. What about Sarah and Abraham? At 90, Sarah didn’t think she could wait any longer and foisted her servant on her husband so the promised child could be produced. The result was Ishmael—we’re still seeing the effects of that mistake today. The entire nation of Israel grew tired of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain and decided it would be better to worship idols.

The list goes on and on. The short of it is that no one likes to wait. We don’t like to feel as though we’re not accomplishing anything. But what is the penalty for our impatience?

Those who wait for me will never be put to shame.

Isaiah 49:23b (NLT)

We can try to blame God all we want, but when we jump the gun on His plan, the shame is ours alone. That’s not to say that God can’t repair what we broke, but there are still consequences.

But I don’t know what to do with myself!

I get it. I hate waiting, too. I hate not being productive. My hands must be busy. I have to have something to show for my time. In the practical sense, I bring something with me when I know I have to wait. A book. A crochet project. My journal. Candy Crush. But what about when I’m waiting on God?

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT)

God doesn’t make us wait to watch us squirm. He makes us wait because He’s either preparing us, preparing someone else, or preparing a situation. We will never see the entire picture, yet God is only asking us to trust in Him. The best thing to do—pray. Devote yourself to God. The wait may not be as long as you thought it was.

Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity.

Colossians 4:5 (NLT)

Waiting doesn’t have to be, and even shouldn’t be, idle time. The wait in itself is an opportunity. An opportunity to grow in our relationship with God. An opportunity to grow in our relationships with others. An opportunity to grow our faith and trust. An opportunity to prepare ourselves for the promise to come. The only shame in waiting is if we waste the opportunities God gives us in that time.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 48-49, Colossians 4

Daily Bible Reading

Potential power

Many moons ago, I processed cheques for one of the largest banks in Canada. Every work day, I was responsible for balancing the sum total of all cheques deposited to or written on accounts at the the bank I worked for. A half a million cheques could pass through my hands on any given day. Massive machines running at incredible speeds made this work possible. Anyone using these machines had to go through hazardous energy training. (Why this training was introduced after these machines had been used for decades was beyond me.)

What is hazardous energy? According to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), hazardous energy is any electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, chemical, nuclear, thermal, gravitational, or other energy that can harm people. When a machine was down for maintenance, the hazardous energy program required us to turn off, unplug, and lock out the machines so that they could not be used. Were they going to blow up and kill us all? Unlikely. But, because of maintenance issues, they had the potential to become dangerous until repaired. Because the machines were locked down, the power within simply remained a potential.

Many Christians are liked locked down machines waiting for a repair that we don’t even need. We know that there is potential inside of us, but something has caused us to power down, unplug, and lock out anything that might spark that potential. Just because we’re not sure where that potential may lead us, we often view it as hazardous energy—something to be avoided at all costs.

Yes, everything is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.

Philippians 3:8-10a (NLT)

Our trust, or faith, in Christ unlocks power within us. And not just a little bit of power, but the same mighty power that raised him from the dead. Like a locked-out machine, we sit dormant. Useless. Waiting. But we’re not broken. We’re not in need of maintenance. Rather we need to unlock ourselves and our potential to release the mighty power of Christ that’s just waiting to burst out from us. We need to plug ourselves back into the power source and allow Him to flow through us so that we can do the work we were created to do. We were meant to be effective and productive, working together to accomplish seemingly impossible, daunting tasks.

Satan thought he had locked Jesus out for good and thrown away the key, but the power within Christ was so great, that nothing could hold him back. The same power flows through us. We can either lock ourselves out and simply enjoy the potential access we have to the power source or we can get plugged in and affect change in the world around us.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

James 5:16b (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 37-38, Philippians 3

Daily Bible Reading

Let’s argue this out

Without even realising it, there are things that we do that render the value of grace to nothing. Without thinking, we say things that nullify the single greatest gift that has ever been offered to us.

One way to reduce the value of grace is to impose rules and regulations on Christians as a part of church membership. Women must wear their hair long. Men must always wear a suit and tie to church. Children must be seen and never heard. A youth cannot pierce their ear. Jesus never forced any of these things on his followers. Rather, he freed them from all those laws.

I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.

Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT)

Another way to devalue grace is to insist that people “clean themselves up” before coming to Christ. By saying that they must first overcome their vices before they can receive grace, what we are really saying is that God’s grace is great, but not that great.

Yet another—and probably the most grievous—way that we can take away the value of grace is by saying that we ourselves aren’t good enough to receive it.

“Come now, let us argue this out,” says the Lord. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.”

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)

The entire point of grace is that none of us—no matter how good or bad—are really worthy of receiving it. Its value is based entirely on the person who receives it and what their freedom in Christ is worth to them individually. If we put rules and regulations on grace, it is no longer grace at all, but something that must be earned—which grace cannot be.

So we can argue this out, but both Paul and Isaiah have done a pretty good job of it. Grace is only grace when it is completely free. For only grace that is completely free can set a person completely free.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 1-3, Galatians 2

Daily Bible Reading

When in doubt

Doubt, if not kept in check, can become a default. We begin to question everything. Can anyone or anything be trusted. Can you trust yourself? It’s a slippery slope that can be just as easily avoided as it is to tumble down.

When doubts fill my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Psalm 94:19 (NLT)

In addition to being full of doubt, many of us also have the tendency to try to be completely independent. We don’t want to have to depend on others for anything. We can do it on our own. But that’s not what we were created for. No one was meant to live life entirely alone. Our purpose is to fulfil God’s purpose for us. We are supposed to be completely dependent on Him.

 

The Lord will not reject his people;
he will not abandon his own special possession

Psalm 94:14 (NLT)

One thing we should never allow ourselves to doubt is God’s love for us. We are His people. His own special possession. When something is in your possession, chances are that you have a specific purpose for it. This works the same between us and God. We are His. He has plans for us. And, no matter what we do or how we feel, those plans never change.

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.

Romans 11:29 (NLT)

The next time you feel doubt start creeping in, remind yourself of who you are—God’s special possession. Know that you belong to Him, the creator of the universe. Once you’ve reminded yourself of who you are in God, remind yourself of who God is.

Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is to understand his decision and his methods! For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor? And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay it back? For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen.

Romans 11:33-36 (NLT)

You exist by His power and are intended for His glory. Never doubt that.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 93-95, Romans 11:22-36