Daily Bible Reading

One voice

I was recently in a meeting with my pastor when he was asked about the local ministers’ group—pastors who regularly get together to discuss local church-related issues (in theory). My pastor laughed at the comment. He stopped going to those meetings a long time ago. He never even attended enough to be considered a regular. Do you want to know why? At one of these pastor’s meetings—where a group of pastors from the same city should be getting together to discuss strategies on how to help the lost in their city—a pastor stood up and said that he saw no reason for the churches in our town to work together. They’re all doing their own thing and that’s just fine.

Is it?

May God, who give this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other—each with the attitude of Christ toward the other. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.

Romans 15:5-7 (NLT)

Everything I’ve ever read in the Bible, especially in reference to the Church, has always been that we should work together. That we are one body. A part of one mission. One family.

What should be a family business has become a rather serious case of sibling rivalry. I’ve heard many praise the fact that the city I live in is considered to be one of the most churched cities in the country (approximately one church per 1,000 residents). I beg to differ. I ask the question, how many United churches are there? Reform? Pentecostal? Mennonite? Non-denominational? There are multiples of each of these and many more. And very few, if any, were an intentional plant from another. It is a testament of split after split after split.

Don’t get me wrong, I get that there are different ways of doing things. Different denominations appeal to different people. I have no issue with that. What I take issue with is the fact that these people don’t see the need to work together, to speak with one voice.

The city is filled with people who have been exposed to and hurt by the local church. Instead of effectively working together toward a common goal, one church spurns another, creating more animosity than converts. How can God be glorified in that?

I long for the day when the Mennonite church can approach the Catholic church and join with the non-denominational church and they can all work together to proclaim the only message we’ve been called to proclaim:

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 (NLT)

I leave you with a prayer from Paul.

So I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 105-106, Romans 15:1-20

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Daily Bible Reading

The sound of silence

Silence can be one of the most difficult things to endure. For many, a great deal of discomfort is found when all noise ceases. Most of us will feel a need to fill the void of sound with babble, the radio, a YouTube video, or just about anything that will permeate the air with something other than silence.

There are times, though, when God desires our silence. Remember on the mountain, Elijah did not hear God in the wind, the quake, or the fire, but in the whispering, small voice in the stillness that followed the cacophony. With his ears ringing from the violence that had just passed, Elijah would have had to be still and listen closely to hear anything at all let alone a quiet whisper.

Be silent, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honoured throughout the world.

Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

It is in the silence that God speaks to us. If we constantly fill our days with noise, how will we ever learn to hear His voice? If we never hear His voice, we will be more easily swayed by all of the other voices around us.

The Lord Almighty is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.
                                                      Interlude

Psalm 46:11 (NLT)

God is always around us. How often do we take notice of that fact? How often do we acknowledge Him? The Psalms are filled with interludes. In many translations, you’ll find selah following a phrase. It is an intentional pause, a time for purposeful reflection. The Lord Almighty is here among us. Here. Among us. Those are certainly words that could use some additional thought.

We should take time every day not to merely endure silence, but to actively seek it out. If it requires removing yourself to a quiet place, so be it. Leave behind the noise and distractions. See what you can learn. Often the sound of silence is far more revealing than the noise.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 44-46, Acts 25

Daily Bible Reading

Speak without a sound

Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there.

Acts 19:32 (NLT)

There are a lot of people in a lot of places making a lot of noise. Like this crowd in Ephesus, they found a cause and joined the fray without even knowing why they were there. It all sounds too familiar. How much noise are we surrounded by? How many people are shouting to make their voice heard over the rest? How much of it really matters?

The heavens tell of the glory of God.
The skies display his marvellous craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or a word;
their voice is silent in the skies;
yet their message has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to all the world.

Psalm 19:1-4a (NLT)

Isn’t in incredible that the crowd at Ephesus had to shout to be heard and most of them didn’t even know why they were shouting! Yet the heavens are silent in their declaration and their message can be heard across the entire world.

Think about your message today. Consider the volume of your words and actions. Are you adding to the noise or are you making a silent declaration?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 19-21, Acts 19:21-41

Daily Bible Reading

Good sense

I’m sure we’ve all cringed while watching someone do something everyone else seems to plainly see as foolish. The fool struts into the situation believing themselves to be of the highest order. Untouchable. The most intelligent being in existence. And then it all falls apart. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I even enjoy watching it—not if it causes harm, mind you.

Nabal was that fool. Everyone else could see that he put himself in an impossible situation. While he thought himself to be untouchable, someone else saw his folly. His wife saw his stupidity. I could go on about how important women are and that men couldn’t possibly survive without them, but that’s not the point of this story.

Nabal, his land, his servants, and all of his property has been protected by David and his men while they were camped near by. No harm came to Nabal while David was in the vicinity. One might think that, whether or not Nabal had asked for the help, that Nabal would owe David something. But when David requested some provisions, the man was indignant. Who was this David to make such a request of him? How dare he ask for something he didn’t deserve! Needless to say, David wasn’t impressed.

Now, we could all sit back and watch Nabal get what he deserves or someone could step in and try to avoid what is sure to be a disastrous situation.

Abigail, Nabal’s wife, decides to step in.

I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t may any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests. But I never even saw the messengers you sent.

1 Samuel 25:25 (NLT)

Rather than watch David kill her fool of a husband, Abigail steps in. Because of her plea (and possibly David’s weakness for beautiful women), David spares Nabal. Unfortunately for Nabal, his wife’s charity does not earn him a happy ending. He meets his demise a short while later (he suffered a stroke after the drunken rave he threw to celebrate the fact that David didn’t kill him, then God struck him and he died).

There is a point to all of this: are you Nabal—the fool, or Abigail—the one who smooths over the situation? If you are Nabal and tend to rush into situations are you able to humble yourself to listen to the Abigail in your life? Can you slow down long enough for someone to point out your folly? Can you accept redirection? If you are Abigail, are you wise enough to step in when needed? Can you do it in love and mercy?

Though Abigail didn’t appear to harbour any tender feelings toward her husband, she make the effort to save his life. She saw the error of his ways. And, had he been able to see what she saw, perhaps his fate would have been different.

This Christianity thing is no simple task. We need to lean on the Holy Spirit so we can learn when we need to be bystanders and when we need to be like Abigail and step in. Sometimes, God’s response to a situation is to send a person. Whether we need that person or we are that person, knowing God’s voice becomes ever so important.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 25-26, Luke 16:19-31

Daily Bible Reading

Unlikely truth

There are a lot of voices out there. Some are good, some are bad. Some are soft, some are strong. Some are wise, some are fools. Some are truth and some are lies. With all that noise, how are we supposed to know who or what to listen to?

Then Jesus was filled with the  joy of the Holy Spirit and said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.

Luke 10:21 (NLT)

It is always easier to listen to the loudest, strongest voices, but it may not always be the wisest choice. Here, Jesus is thanking God for hiding the truth from those who would most likely be the loudest voices of the time. The childlike wouldn’t have had a platform to stand on in order to have been heard. Yet, God, in His wisdom, was pleased to reveal His truth to these lowly people.

One would be hard pressed to find a saviour born in a more humble setting than Jesus. Even the rabbi’s in the temple were astounded at his wisdom as a young man. If that was how God chose to deliver His message then, what makes us think He would do it any different now?

There is nothing wrong with having a platform and a loud voice, but if all there is is noise, is it really worth listening to? Instead of listening to the most convenient voice, perhaps we should be looking for the unlikely truth revealed to the childlike.

Daily Bible reading: Judges 15-17, Luke 10:1-24

Daily Bible Reading

From His Promise Through His Mercy

Whenever Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that rests on the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord spoke to him from there.

Numbers 7:89 (NLT)

This verse moved me when I read it. It comes at the end of a long and rather tedious chapter and you might miss it if you’re not careful.

Here, we see that Moses spoke directly with God. He heard the voice of the Lord. It’s not the fact that Moses heard God that got to me. We can all hear God if we listen closely. What touched me was where the voice was coming from.

God’s voice didn’t come booming all around Moses, filling the Most Holy Place. It didn’t come in a secret whisper. It came from the Ark of the Covenant. God’s voice came from the place that held His promise. And not only did it come from the Ark, but it came through the cherubim on the cover. The Place of Atonement. The Mercy Seat.

God speaks to us from His promise through His mercy.

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 7, Mark 4: 21-41

Daily Bible Reading

Hosanna! to Crucify!

The human mind has an incredible ability to change. We can have one thought one moment and a completely different one the next. The introduction of one tiny piece of information can change our way of thinking for years to come. Even pressure from people around you can force a change in thought or opinion.

Upon Jesus entry into the city, Jerusalem was stirred. He rode in on a young donkey saddled in coats. People who knew who he was spread their own cloaks on the ground before him. They cried,

“Praise God for the Son of David!
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Praise God in the highest heaven!”

Matthew 21:9b (NLT)

What a wondrous reception for the Son of God.

But while the people in Jerusalem were celebrating the arrival of a prophet, Jesus had to have known that this same crowd would turn on him. These people that were shouting words of welcome and blessing would be the same crowd that would shout just days later, “Crucify him!”

How easily swayed man can be. There are so many who will merely shout the word of the day whether it be Hosanna! or Crucify!

It is in this analogy that we see the great importance not just of making a simple confession of faith, but of making disciples. Words can change from day to day, but when your words become your way of life, you will not be so easily swayed.

In Jerusalem, we see crowds who followed the loudest voice no matter what it said. When the voice shifts from blessing to cursing, does your own voice add to the noise or are you the one who remains steadfast shouting Hosanna! while the crowd calls Crucify!?

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 25-26, Matthew 21:1-22