Daily Bible Reading

Boast

Boast is a strange word. We don’t use it often and when we do, it can have negative connotations. Pride. Arrogance. Biblically speaking, the root word translated to boast can also be translated to shine.:

SHINE: To emit rays of light; to give light; to beam with steady radiance; to exhibit brightness or splendor.

Now that changes things a little bit, doesn’t it?

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man gloat in his wisdom, or the mighty man in his might, or the rich man in his riches. Let them boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who is just and righteous, whose love is unfailing, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NLT)

As humans, we cannot truly boast. We cannot truly shine. While we are made in God’s image, we are meant to reflect His glory, His light. We have no light of our own. Anything that we reflect other than God’s glory is a counterfeit.

But God, in His love and kindness has given us the capacity to know Him. And not just know about Him, but to truly know Him.

KNOW: To perceive with certainty; to understand clearly; to have a clear and certain perception of truth, fact, or any thing that actually exists.

God has given us both the capacity and the right to know Him, with clarity and certainty. And He delights in us when we do what He has allowed us to do. God loves it when we get to know Him. He’s not hiding from us. He doesn’t hold back from himself. He gives. Freely. This is what we should boast in—the truth that should radiate from us: that God knows us and that we can know the Creator of the universe, that He doesn’t want us to just know about Him, but that He wants us to know Him intimately and without doubt.

The more time you spend with someone, the more you reflect that person’s attitudes, ideals, and even mannerisms. It’s the same with God. Our time with Him should be so influential that we imitate Him in every way. Like a proud parent when their child mimics their (good) behavior, so God also delights in us when we act like Him.

So go ahead, boast. Shine.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 9-10, 1 Timothy 3

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Daily Bible Reading

Real life

What is real?

REAL: Actually being or existing; not fictitious or imaginary. True; genuine, not artificial, counterfeit, or fictitious.

So what is real life?

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)

Your real life, your true life is hidden with Christ in God. Real life isn’t the daily grind. It isn’t your occupation, it isn’t your station in life, it isn’t even your earthly relationships. Real life is Jesus. So how do we even begin to live this life?

…for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Colossians 3:9-11 (NLT)

We make so much of what we do in our lives here on earth. We have to work. We have to get an education. We have to save for retirement. We have to get married. We have to have kids. We have to provide for our kids and make sure they have an education, a job, a retirement. It’s an endless cycle that plagues us and pulls our focus off of real life and toward a mere shadow of what is to come. Work, education, saving, relationships are all important things and we should have all of those things, but when they become our primary focus, it becomes a lot easier to pick up those things that we stripped off when we came to Christ. Christ is all that matters.

And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

Real life and real love go hand in hand. When we put on love, we put on real life. True life.

Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

Colossians 3:16 (NLT)

Real life is real love which is real worship. When we live the new life that we found in Christ, we live a life of love and a life of worship. When our focus is on heavenly things, we can’t help but have thankful hearts because our focus is on the truth.

But the time is coming and is already here when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

John 4:23-24 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 45-47, Colossians 3

Daily Bible Reading

The gift that keeps on giving

It is a simple thing to accept a gift. And it can be just as simple a thing to set that gift aside and forget about it. If you receive something that you may not use right away or don’t need at the time, but may have use for it later, you can put it away and forget you ever received it.

But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.

Colossians 1:23a (NLT)

Paul understood that certain gifts can easily be forgotten. This is why he was so adamant that the church at Colosse continue to believe the truth and stand in the assurance they received when they first heard the Good News.

Accepting salvation through Christ is the easy part—keeping that salvation before us and remaining confident in it is where it may get difficult. Like a gift that is received and even welcome, yet set aside for later occasion, our salvation too, can be cast aside. And the longer it remains to the side and out of our direct line of sight, the less aware we become of it. It becomes the forgotten gift, collecting dust, unused.

For it has pleased God to tell his people that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory.

Colossians 1:27 (NLT)

Salvation is not a gift that is meant to be readily accepted and then set aside to be forgotten about or only pulled out on special occasions. It is meant to be used all the time. And the more we make use of it, the more we will grow, gain, and benefit from it. This gift of salvation is our assurance from God of even greater gifts to come. Like a kid excitedly waiting for his birthday party to start—with friends and presents on the way, we should be waiting in expectation of what is to come and grateful for what we’ve already received.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 41-42, Colossians 1

Daily Bible Reading

Can’t beat the real thing.

In 1990, Coca-Cola launched a new ad campaign. All over North America we heard that you can’t beat the real thing. This, of course, was a bit (or a big) slap in the face to Pepsi who, through the 1980’s had resorted to celebrity endorsement claiming they were the choice of a new generation. But not even Michael Jackson could make Pepsi taste like Coke.

To loyal Coke drinkers, Pepsi is a cheap knockoff. A counterfeit of the Real Thing. Marketing campaigns and branding strategies won’t change the fact that Coca-Cola was and always will be first.

Yet long before there was Coca-Cola or Michael Jackson sang Pepsi Generation, there was another original. Jesus. For over two millennia, his name, his fame, his power has surged through generation after generation. No marketing ploy necessary. But like Coke, there are those who are out to make a copy of the original, make slight changes, and market it as a new and improved version.

If you order a Coke with your burger and fries and the waitress, thinking it’s the same thing, brings you a Pepsi, you know it as soon as you take the first sip. As easily as you can recognise your favourite cola, you should be able to recognise the real Jesus versus a counterfeit. Anything but the true power of the Holy Spirit should taste bitter and cheap. The more you partake of the real thing, the more obvious the fake becomes.

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT0

If  you can’t tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, you haven’t tasted enough of one or the other. You show your ignorance by saying they’re both just cola. The same goes for Jesus. If you can’t tell the difference between the power of the Holy Spirit and a cheap counterfeit, you haven’t spent enough time getting to know Jesus.

Our responsibility is never to oppose the truth, but to stand for the truth at all times.

2 Corinthians 13:8 (NLT)

Get to know the real thing. Get to know the Truth. Because when you know the Truth, he will set you free.

Daily Bible reading: Song of Solomon 4-5, 2 Corinthians 13

Daily Bible Reading

Dainty morsels

Communication drives our world. New and faster ways of communicating are popping up every day. A new phone. A new kind of network. A new app. And it’s all held in our hands. So what are we doing with these powerful tools of communication? Are we using them to seek and propagate truth or are we using them to spread rumors and hearsay—taking pride in being one of the first to pass on the information without bothering to check into the veracity of it?

What dainty morsels rumors are—but they sink deep into one’s heart.

Proverbs 18:8 (NLT)

As easy as words are to share, truth can be difficult to find. Rather than filtering through posts, tweets, blogs, and stories, we often settle on the first account we read rather than the firsthand account.

Any story sounds true until someone sets the record straight.

Proverbs 18:17 (NLT)

Are you know as a person who shares stories or as a person who tells the truth? It is so easy for each and every one of us to get caught up in a narrative that is being driven by someone or something else. Yet, as Christians, it behooves us to search for and spread the truth.

Paul told the church in Corinth, “Now wherever we go [God] uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Good News like a sweet perfume… to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume.” (2 Corinthians 2:14, 16) We are not just to spread news, but spread the Good News. Our words—whether they be spoken, written, or typed—can give life or death. We are called to give life.

A person’s words can be life-giving water, words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.

Proverbs 18:4 (NLT)

Don’t settle for dainty morsels. Search for the life-giving water.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 17-18, 2 Corinthians 2

Daily Bible Reading

Don’t bother

Maybe I’m the only one, but when I read a controversial article online, I can’t help but scroll through the comments. And then I start to get riled up. Some people can be so ignorant! How can they even believe things like that? How can someone agree? How can they disagree? Can’t they even bother to use spell check? My initial reaction is to respond to every ignorant and inane comment right away. On the few occasions I have, I end up regretting it.

If you’re reading this, you have internet access and you’re probably aware that there are thousands of people out there who feel it is their calling to set things straight. They troll news and social media sites looking for topics that have the potential to spark debate and then they light it up. They believe themselves to be enlightened and on top of current social justice issues. They’re right. Every time. I have to resist the urge to respond to these types of people. The book of Proverbs would refer to them as fools, simple minded, wicked, liars. There is no use in responding to these people.

Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get a smart retort. Anyone who rebukes the wicked will get hurt.

Proverbs 9:7 (NLT)

Whether online or in “real life”, the best way to respond to these types of people is to not respond at all. But they need to know the truth! Yes, they do. But if they’re not looking for it, reading one comment from you isn’t likely to lead them down the path of enlightenment.

Don’t talk to much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn off the flow!

Proverbs 10:19 (NLT)

Why would you bother to pour out the wisdom that God has given you into a fool? They won’t receive it. Save it. Don’t join in the foolishness of the simple-minded.

So don’t bother rebuking mockers; they will only hate you. But the wise, when rebuked, will love you all the more.

Proverbs 9:8 (NLT)

This doesn’t mean that we leave this group of people alone entirely. It means that we learn from Kenny Rogers.

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

Save your wisdom. Save your knowledge of truth. Don’t waste it on those who don’t want it. Don’t bother trying to guide the blind. Don’t try to correct those who won’t accept it. Spend your energy leading those who are searching. And, above all, learn to fear the Lord, not the bored musings of blind fools.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding.

Proverbs 9:10 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:1-32

Daily Bible Reading

Honestly

Honesty is becoming a rare commodity. The places where you were once assured of finding truth are fast becoming dens of falsehood. Everyone is declaring their own personal truth and spurning the existence absolute truth. As Christians, it is just as easy for us to get caught up in partial truths and complete lies. Yet all God wants from us is honesty.

But you desire honesty from the heart,
so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.

Psalm 51:6 (NLT)

In order to be honest, though, we need to know what it is exactly.

HONESTY: In fact, upright conduct; an actual conformity to justice and moral rectitude; fairness; candor; truth.

Honesty is the first step toward gaining wisdom. Wisdom is not something that can be obtained through deceit. Whether you are being untruthful with others or yourself, where lies lie, honesty cannot exist. And where honesty isn’t, wisdom cannot be, either.

Sounds hard. But it’s not.

If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.

James 1:5 (NLT)

Imagine that, God wants His people to be wise! In having a wise people, it means He will also have honest people. And if He has honest people, He will have humble people. All of these attributes go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. A humble person is wise and a wise person is honest, and so on. All it takes is a little humility to be completely, absolutely, thoroughly honest. When we bare ourselves to God, that is when He is best able to work in us. A little effort on our part produces great results.

…but those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing.

Psalm 34:10b (NLT)

God will gladly give us wisdom. He wants to. Wisdom is a good thing. When we can put our trust in God, we won’t be lacking those good things. God is just looking for honesty from the heart. He is looking for us to put ourselves in a place where we are teachable, moldable, useable.

It’s a good thing. Honestly.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 50-52, Acts 27:1-15