Daily Bible Reading

No matter what

Have you ever been determined to do something no matter what? Nothing can draw you away from reaching for and attaining that goal. There is no prize you will accept but victory.

Or are you someone who has a price on everything? You want to do some things, but if the reward is great enough, you can be swayed away from the task.

DETERMINED: Having a firm or fixed purpose.

I’m sure we’ve all seen a talent show where someone is determined to become a star. Some rather dishonest people in their life have told them they can do anything. They have talent. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot accomplish your dream. Then they sing. It becomes apparent that someone has lied to this individual and that their determination is horribly misplaced.

Are you determined to do something? Where do you get your confidence to do what you’ve set out to do?

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be dismayed. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will triumph.

Isaiah 50:7 (NLT)

When we make the determination to do the will of God, there is an assurance that comes with it. We can be confident in our decision and our coming victory.

For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true.

1 Thessalonians 1:5a (NLT)

When our determination leads us to do the will of God, the power of the Holy Spirit within us gives us the confidence we need to fulfill our purpose no matter what. Like Isaiah, we can set our face like a stone and push ahead toward the vision God has placed before us being confident in our triumph.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 50-52, 1 Thessalonians 1

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Daily Bible Reading

Team player

Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live in darkness?

2 Corinthians 6:14 (NLT)

I am well-aware that this portion of scripture is talking about believers and unbelievers. We usually take this to mean those who call themselves Christians and those who don’t. The New King James Version tells us not to be unequally yoked together. But, did you know that you can also be unequally yoked with believers?

I will admit that, as soon as I saw the word team, my mind drifted to sports. Last year, my favourite football team went through a rebuilding. That’s putting it nicely. The new head coach managed to break a league record for the highest number of different starters fielded by a single team in a season. In addition to talent, the coaching staff were looking for chemistry. In order to win, you need a team of men who have the same drive, mindset, vision, and work ethic. One person on the field who doesn’t share those qualities with the rest of the team can spoil a game or even a season. A year and a half and well over one hundred players in, we’ve started winning again. There’s hope for a spot in the playoffs.

Let’s take this to the realm of the local church. Replace players with leaders, volunteers, or regular church-goers. When we all share a vision and work together with similar ethic and effort, we win. The church grows. Plans come together. God moves. But one person applying a different set of ideals can spoil the whole thing. Ask any church leader.

Every denomination and even every church within a denomination (or outside of a denomination) has their own way of doing things. We trust that the leadership is hearing from God and are presenting that vision down the line to the rest of the body. We have several options:

  1. We can get into line. We can be those players who are on the team to win. We’ll follow every instruction passed down from the coaching staff and do everything in our power to win. In church words, so long as the pastor is in line with the Word of God, we come into line with the pastor.
  2. If you don’t agree with the coach/pastor, a few more options may present themselves. You can work to come into agreement with the leadership—so long as the vision and methods are biblically sound. Pray about it. Ask God to change your heart and your mind. If you still cannot come into agreement, a word of advice—leave. Don’t be that one person that spoils it for everyone else. If you’re the one that doesn’t agree, be quiet about it and exit gracefully without making an attempt to bring the whole thing down. If it’s not of God, it’ll come down on its own anyway.

If you are a believer, I hope that you’ve found yourself a winning team, er, church. I pray that you are in a place where you can get on board with the vision and are invited to help that ministry become all God has called it to be. If you haven’t yet found your team, I pray that you soon will or that God will do a work in you so that you can grow right where you are.

God created us with so much variety. There is no one single way to go about accomplishing His work, yet He never called anyone to go about it alone. So find those with whom you can team up. Work with them. Grow with them. Win with them. Be a team player.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 23-24, 2 Corinthians 6

Daily Bible Reading

All I really want

What do you want in life? A nice car? A big house? A good-looking spouse with a good job? Do you want to be happy? Feel settled? What do you spend your time pursuing?

Then I pray to you, O Lord.
I say, “You are my place of refuge.
You are all I really want in life.”

Psalm 142:5 (NLT)

Can any of us say, like David did, that the Lord is all we really want in life? Do we look to God for direction in everything? Do we trust Him with our lives—our entire lives?

Let me hear of your unfailing love to me in the morning,
for I am trusting in you.
Show me where to walk,
for I have come to you in prayer.

Psalm 143:8 (NLT)

While I believe that our spirits long for God completely, the rest of us often struggle to catch up. In our heads we can say that God is all we want, but our attitudes and actions may not quite fall into line.

That is where the asking comes in.

David had no trouble at all bringing his complaints and concerns to God. Did he do absolutely everything the way God wanted him to? No. But he was still the man who, despite his downfalls and shortcomings, chased after the heart of God.

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing.

Psalm 143:10 (NLT)

We have to keep reminding ourselves that, even if the spirit is willing and the flesh weak, that God, in His infinite loving kindness is still faithful. When we call out to Him, He will answer. If we allow Him to, He will lead us. If we open our eyes, He will show us the way.

If we endeavor to truly make God all we want in life, He will meet us where we are and fill as much space in our lives that we make available to Him.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 142-144, 1 Corinthians 10:14-33

Daily Bible Reading

A way out

Do you can do whatever you want to do. You can say whatever you want to say. You can feel whatever you want to feel. You can be whatever you want to be.

These are all ideas that are being thrust at as all the time. At first glance, they seem great. Yeah, I can do what I want to do! But what about what we are called to do?

Just because a feeling pops up or you want to say something or you want to be something doesn’t meant those are things that you should feel, say, or be. Our sinful, selfish natures will lead us to do things that are completely contrary to God’s will and plan for our lives. While the world would have us cater to ourselves, God would have us fight against those temptations.

But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

You mean I don’t get to do or say what I want? No, you don’t have to do or say what you want. Look at the people who live completely for themselves. Are they truly happy? Are they completely fulfilled? Or are they chasing one temptation after another looking for something they’ll never find as long as they pursue that path?

There is something to be said for restraint and resistance. Paul talks about it in 1 Corinthians and David addressed it in the Psalms.

Take control of what I say, O Lord,
and keep my lips sealed.
Don’t let me lust for evil things;
don’t let me participate in acts of wickedness.
Don’t let me share in the delicacies of those who do evil.

Psalm 141:3-4 (NLT)

Giving up control, even a little, is something we naturally want to fight against. We want things our own way! We all fight to gain control, but what does that truly get us?

We can pursue our own selfish whims or we can pursue God. We cannot do both. But giving up selfish desires isn’t resigning ourselves to a life of passionless boredom. By turning away from the endless pursuit of worldly pleasures, we enable ourselves to walk a path that was laid out for each of us as individuals before we were even born. We don’t have to go on a search to find ourselves. We are found in Christ. He has a plan and a purpose for us.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!
They are innumerable!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up in the morning,
you are still with me!

Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT)

We can wander aimlessly through life looking for the next bit of pleasure, never quite being fulfilled, or we can give up that search and find lasting, eternal fulfillment with the One who has already planned our days for us.

You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:16 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 139-141, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Daily Bible Reading

Love that builds

We don’t need to grow. We’re fine exactly as we are. Said no church leader ever. No good leader (of anything) is content with status quo. Growth and improvement are the goals we continually strive toward. To be satisfied with the same thing week after week, month after month, year after year is to completely disregard the entire purpose for our gathering together as Christians in the first place.

And then [Jesus] told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.”

Mark 16:15 (NLT)

Everyone. Everywhere. Those add up to big numbers. How are we supposed to reach everyone everywhere? It’s a massive undertaking. Knowing the mission is the first step. Knowing the Good News is the next. Knowledge is great. Leaders are learners—and by leaders, I mean anyone and everyone who calls his- or herself a follower of Christ. Our knowledge of God, His Word, His Church, and His will should be ever-increasing. But it can’t stop there. Knowledge alone isn’t good enough.

Knowledge is good and it is necessary, but it is not everything. If we are going to reach everyone everywhere, we need something that is not readily available to the rest of the world.

While knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.

1 Corinthians 8:1b-2 (NLT)

Lennon and McCartney were on the right track when they sang that all you need is love.

We need the love that is patient and kind, not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. We need the kind of love that is so thoroughly described in 1 Corinthians 13. Without it, what we build with our own knowledge is no different than the things the world builds. It is love—true love—that sets us apart.

And it is love that really builds up the church.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 132-135, 1 Corinthians 8

Daily Bible Reading

Harmony

It doesn’t take a musical genius to know when an instrument is out of tune or someone in the orchestra hits a wrong note. It’s obvious. It stands out. It’s not right. But when it all works together—every instrument in tune, in harmony—it’s a beautiful thing.

HARMONY: the just adaptation of parts to each other, in any system or composition of things, intended to form a connected whole; concord; agreement

That same basic principle of harmony works in our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit works in us to be sure that we remain in harmony with God.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows that the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)

We can have a relationship with God and go our own way. Later on in Romans 8, Paul talks about how nothing can separate us from God’s love. We can accept salvation, accept God’s love, and go about our business. But why would we want to? Why would we want to live a life in discord with our Heavenly Father? Just like an out-of-tune orchestra, our lives, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will always be off. Something won’t be quite right.

But when we take advantage of the Helper God has sent us, that’s when the music happens.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)

On its own, this verse is often taken to mean that, as Christians, everything will always be great! Anyone who has been a Christian for more than five minutes can tell you that’s simply not true. Just because God works for our good doesn’t mean that it will always feel good. There is a reason that this verse follows a verse about being in harmony with God’s will. God works for our good. Meaning that God works things out for our good according to His will, not ours.

Is it always easy? No. Does it always feel good? No. Is there still a divine plan for our lives? Of course!

For God knew is people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn with many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory.

Romans 8:29-30 (NLT)

When we get our spirit in harmony with God’s Spirit, we put ourselves in a place to be used greatly by Him. We put ourselves in the centre of His will and His love.

Why would you want to play solo when you can harmonize with the entire orchestra?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 82-84, Romans 8:19-39

Daily Bible Reading

Will, not can.

CAN: to be possible

WILL: divine determination

Lately, I’ve found my faith being stirred. Whether it’s because of what I experienced on the mission field or conversations with old friends, God is stirring something me and, I believe in the Church as a whole. We, as in the majority of the Western Church, have grown complacent and lazy. Not everyone, but enough that the world has largely forgotten about us. We’ve lost our power. We’ve lost our influence. We’ve lost our drive. We’ve lost our determination.

We’ve lost the difference between can and will.

Before Jesus finished his earthly ministry, he left the disciples with a lot of helpful information. They obviously made great use of it because the Church is still around today. Let’s look at a couple of these tidbits:

I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me.

John 6:57 (NLT)

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

John 14:12 (NLT)

Let’s set the record straight here. Jesus didn’t say that we can live by the power of the living Father, he said that we will.

Jesus didn’t tell us that we can do the same works [he has] done, he said that we will.

The more I read what Jesus says I will do, the less can becomes an option. Can implies maybe it will happen or maybe it won’t. Will indicates that there is no doubt about it, this is going to happen. Period.

Jesus commanded sickness and death to go. There was no wishy washy little prayer begging God to do something. There was no doubt about Jesus’ own ability or the ability of the Father who sent him. There was no maybe. Jesus never asked the question, “Can I do this?”

It’s time that we stop thinking we can do something and start knowing that we will do something. Even greater works.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 20-22, John 6:45-71