Daily Bible Reading

Our foolish preaching

If we break down the message of the Gospel and look at it as an outsider might, it really is a foolish message.

A young girl gets pregnant before her wedding. The baby doesn’t belong to her fiance, but he marries her anyway. When she goes into labour, the only place they could find to stay was a stable. The kid grows up with his mother and adoptive father and trains in the family business—carpentry. He causes a bit of a ruckus, but by all accounts (and they are few), he’s a normal kid. At the age of thirty, he decides to make a bit more of a stir and hand-selects a group of people to follow him. Commercial fisherman and social outcasts are among those selected. This man from nowhere special then travels around with his little group and pretty much stirs up the religious people. He says things that are contrary to what they believe and he hangs out with people no one should be hanging out with. He performs all sorts of miracles—which many would have attributed to witchcraft. By the end of three years, he’s earned himself an execution. When he’s dead, all that’s left of his three years of wandering the countryside are a few men and a handful of weeping women.

Great story. No wonder so many people won’t listen to it! But that’s not the end.

This strange man with a contrary message didn’t stay dead. He came back to life in glorious fashion and continued to share his message with his followers for another forty days before disappearing. He disappeared.

This is the great message we are supposed to share with the world.

When people want to tell a story about one man saving the world, they send a superhero. Someone with extraordinary strength, power, and character. Someone with skills and abilities that go beyond being able to swing a hammer and tell a great story. They tell a story about an invincible hero who will always be around to save the day.

Our hero died. On purpose.

It is the fact that Jesus walked into his own death that makes our hero’s story the most extraordinary. He didn’t do what people expected of him. He did more.

I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT)

In order to be the hero that saved the day once and for all, Jesus had to do things differently.

Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save all those who believe.

1 Corinthians 1:21 (NLT)

The world may see our message as foolish (void of understanding or sound judgement; weak in intellect; unwise; imprudent; acting without judgement or discretion in particular things; ridiculous; despicable), but there is far more wisdom in it than anything the world could ever come up with.

This “foolish” plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:25 (NLT)

God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NLT)

We can look at this story of salvation as the world might—a sad one of a strange leader and his motley crew that somehow managed to do enough to have their story told for millennia. Or we can see it for what it really is—an incredible story of sacrifice and salvation. The story of the world’s greatest hero born in the most humble of circumstances. The story of one man who gave up his own life not for his glory, but the glory of his Father and the salvation of the world.

God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom.

1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT)

Our story doesn’t end with death. It continues with life. Life everlasting.

Not so foolish, is it?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 112-115, 1 Corinthians 1

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

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

Daily Bible Reading

It is I

Have you ever been wrong? Of course not! What a silly question.

I’m sure we’d all like to answer that we’ve never been wrong in our lives, but I’m pretty sure we’d all be lying through our teeth to do so. Whether we’re ill-informed, ignorant, or just plain wrong, it happens to us all. And it will happen again.

So what do we do when we’re on the losing side of a debate? Do you clench your teeth and refuse to listen to the other party? Do you walk away? Do you listen while all the while planning your next response? Or do you pay attention with patience and an attitude of humility? Are you able to admit when you’re wrong?

For several weeks now in our daily reading, we’ve been listening to Job whine on and on. He believes that if he can plead his case before God, God will see the error in His ways and restore back to Job all that was taken from him. He figured he could beat God in a debate.

In the end, God shows him up in just a couple of chapters. And He does it in mighty fashion. Job cannot deny his own error. He can now either turn from God—as the devil figured he would when this whole mess started—or he can continue to be the righteous man God claimed he was.

Then Job replied to the Lord:

“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You ask, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.

Job 42:1-3 (NLT)

I am sure that there are many out there who would believe that admitting they are wrong would be telling the world they’re idiots. Nothing could be further from the truth! To be able to admit wrong is a sign of both humility and wisdom. It means that you are willing to learn and that you are willing to lower yourself to do so. Only idiots refuse to admit their wrongs.

Our own understanding will only get us so far—it didn’t get Job anywhere. That is why there are so many verses that speak of getting wisdom and understanding.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)

Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And whatever else you do, get good judgement.

Proverbs 4:7 (NLT)

Wisdom and humility go hand in hand. Had Job refused to humble himself and admit his wrongs, it is doubtful that he would have received a double portion of prosperity in his latter years.

Sometimes, the wisest thing we can say is, “It is I. I was walking about things I didn’t understand.”

Daily Bible reading: Job 40-42, Acts 15:22-41

Daily Bible Reading

The former generation

“You don’t understand.”

“These are different times.”

“It’s not the same as it was for you.”

As young people, we probably all said this to an older person or two. If you’re not so young anymore, you’ve probably heard a phrase or two like this. There are a great many things that change with each generation, but what young people never seem to realise is that there are also a great many things that never change.

To some extent, we all want to feel as though we’re the only person who’s ever gone through what we’re going through. We want to be special. We want to be alone in the situation. If we admit that someone else may have gone through it before, it would mean we’d have to listen to that person and, suddenly, we’re not as special and unique as we thought we were.

Job, in his great trouble and misery has spent a lot of time complaining—and justly so! A few of his buddies came to try and talk some sense into him.

Just ask the former generation. Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors. For we were born but yesterday and know so little. Our days on earth are as transient as a shadow. But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you from the wisdom of former generations.

Job 8:8-10 (NLT)

This is kind of slap in the face to Job hearing a friend tell him to suck it up because he’s not the only person who’s ever lost everything. There were others. Learn from them.

I get made fun of a lot because the majority of my social circles include people at least two decades older than me. Most of my friends are old enough to be my parents, if not grandparents. As much as it would be nice to hang out with people my own age, I wouldn’t trade my friends for anything. When I sit in a room full of ladies who have lived full lives, I am surrounded with centuries of life experience. Anything I could possibly go through, one of those women has probably gone through it. Their generosity in how they are willing to share from their experiences often astounds me. There is so much to learn. And I don’t understand those who don’t see the benefit of sitting with and learning from someone older than they.

Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was one of those young people who refused to listen to the advice of the older generation. He scorned the advice of his father’s advisors and listened to his young friends instead. His legacy was much less than that of his father’s.

But he was an evil king, for he did not seek the Lord with all his heart.

2 Chronicles 12:14 (NLT)

Don’t allow yourself to go through life believing that there is nothing to be learned from generations passed. If you are young, seek the wisdom of the old. If you are old, don’t be stingy with sharing your experience.

Times may change, but wise council does not. This world may be full of knowledge, but it is lacking in wisdom. We must all be willing to both seek and share wisdom if we are going to see change.

Daily Bible reading: Job 7-9, Acts 7:44-60

Daily Bible Reading

Behind the scenes

Read through the book of Esther. You won’t find any mention of God.

Does this surprise you?

If you know the story, you probably imagine it with folks praying and praising and God leading someone to do this and telling someone else to do that. The name of God is never mentioned, but we cannot deny the fact that He is still there behind every action taken throughout the story.

Maybe you feel like your life has started a little like Esther’s. She wasn’t born a queen. She was born to a race which, more often than not, was scorned throughout Persia. The Jews had more than their fair share of enemies. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she lost both her parents and her uncle took in his orphaned niece. For many, this would be reason enough to give up. But somewhere along the line, whether it was her nature or the nurture of her wise uncle, Mordecai, Esther grew into a beautiful, wise, strong woman.

As she grew up, Esther couldn’t know that she would one day capture the attention of the king. She couldn’t have known that God was preparing her to rescue her people from an enemy who would see them all dead. She couldn’t have known that she would have to put her own life on the line to spare the lives of her people.

We can never really know what God may be preparing us for as we go through life. Your struggles now may be strengthening you to do something great. And if you give in now, you may never know what God had in store for you in the future.

Like the book of Esther, you may not see God working in your life, but don’t make the mistake of believing He’s not there working, fighting, preparing behind the scenes on your behalf.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Esther 7-10, Acts 6

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