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

Daily Bible Reading

Dependent

There is one company in particular (and probably many more) that has had no little amount of difficulty in filling an available position. Over the last five years, at least four different men have worked the job. They, like many other companies, want to hire people with experience. They want employees who require a little less training, and maybe have some education in the industry. They want a ready-made employee.

However, in all their hiring of guys with experience, they failed to look for the most important component of all—work ethic. Hire a guy with experience. Great. But how hard will he work for the company? Is the job just a paycheque so he can turn his phone off and hang out with his buddies on the weekend? Or is he a guy with not so much experience, but an eagerness to work and a wife and kids at home that depend on him?

As this company discovered, it’s not always the guys with the experience that turn out to be the best employees—it’s the guys who are willing to get down and get dirty and have dependents they must provide for.

DEPENDENT: One who is at the disposal of another; one who is sustained by another, or who relies on another for support or favor.

People tend work harder when they’re not just working for themselves, but for others who could not live without them.

Give me happiness, O Lord,
for my life depends on you.

Psalm 86:4 (NLT)

We are God’s children, His dependents. We literally cannot live without Him—a fact He knows very well.

As we’re reading through the Psalms, think about how many verses speak to God of needing rescue, life, sustenance. God, our Father, is like both the employee with experience and the one with dependents. He knows what He’s doing and He has a reason to work hard at it—us. He’s not lazy. He doesn’t turn His phone off on weekends. He’s not absent.

for your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death!

Psalm 86:13 (NLT)

For the Lord God is our light and protector.
He gives us grace and glory.
No good thing will the Lord withhold
from those who do what is right.
O Lord, Almighty,
happy are those who trust in you.

Psalm 84:11-12 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 85-87, Romans 9

Daily Bible Reading

Moving shadows

Once you’re gone, how long will you be remembered? Who will remember you? What will you be remembered for? When one considers a stretch of unending time and all of the billions of people who exist and have existed, we’re all just a blip on the radar. How many individuals have made a truly lasting impact?

This thought isn’t meant to discourage nor is it meant to deter you from doing something worthwhile. It should push you toward positive action.

We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth for someone else to spend.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.

Psalm 39:6-7 (NLT)

Because it is so difficult and rare for a single person to impact eternity, it would make a lot more sense to join forces with a group of people who can have a greater effect. This is one of the reasons why the local church is so important. It helps us as individuals to learn and to be accountable to each other, but it also allows us, working together, to leave a greater and longer-lasting impression on the world around us. Further still, it ensures that no single person gets all the glory. When a group of people work together toward a common goal, it is only God who can be glorified.

Alone, it is easy to fall into the busy rushing of daily life. When we go it alone, we forget that we aren’t really alone. But when we can put our hope in the Lord and trust Him to guide us, He will surely lead us to other like-minded people. Our busy rushing becomes more focused and more hands and resources are added to the work. The work becomes greater. And a greater work has a larger impact.

We all have to make a choice: do I want to be merely a moving shadow or will I put my hope and trust in the Lord and add my portion to a larger work so that my impact will be far greater than anything I could generate on my own?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 38-40, Acts 23:12-35

Daily Bible Reading

He controls my destiny

So he will do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny.

Job 23:14 (NLT)

For those who are in Christ and have surrendered themselves to the will of God, this is a comforting statement. For those who may see God as a big bully in the sky, this can be a frightening thought. Since I’m not one to see this as a scary idea, let’s pursue the comfort in this verse a little more.

We know that we are created in God’s image. He didn’t create the world, fill it with animals, populate it with humans, and then walk away from it all to see what would happen. God is very interested in what happens—especially with us,

“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)

Many are tempted to and even do lose hope when things don’t go the way they expected. They forget that God has a good plan for them and give in to the lies the enemy would have them believe that God cares nothing for them. That God wants to punish them. Nothing could be further from the truth!

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)

The good things that God has planned for us come when we are walking in His will, not our own will. Will it all be easy? No. Will it all seem good when it’s happening? Probably not. But is the end goal worth it? Yes! A thousand times, yes!

Who do you think has the better plan, you with your limited knowledge and experience? Or God, with His infinite knowledge—the one who knew the end at the beginning?

So I will let Him to do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny. Thank God for that!

Daily Bible reading: Job 23-25, Acts 10:24-48 

Daily Bible Reading

Love each other

What does it mean to love each other? Is it warm, fuzzy feelings? Is it passion? A mutual respect? When we think about Jesus’ command for us to love each other, what is the context we put it in?

So now I am giving you a new commandment. Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

John 13:34-35 (NLT)

Yesterday, we looked at how Jesus switched positions with his disciples. He intentionally placed himself in the position of a lowly servant rather than Lord and Master. He washed the feet of those who had faithfully followed him. He served them.

Then he told them to love each other as he loved them.

How willing are you to wash the feet of the person who sits next to you in church? I have smelled the feet of some who sit beside me in church. I’m not sure I’d want to go so far as to wash them.

I don’t expect the church to suddenly install a foot-washing station for those who want to take these words literally. But I do expect us to think a little more about how we serve each other. Jesus said that our love for one another, how we serve each other as he served his followers, will prove to the world that we are his disciples. For the most part, I only see church people at church on Sunday. I don’t know much about what goes on in their daily lives or if they’d need help doing it.

However, I do think that we should know more about what goes on in the daily lives of the people we attend church with. We should know how they can be served and then we should strive to serve each other with the same love that Jesus displayed.

Sometimes a little dirty work can go a long way—it can go far enough to prove to the world that we are Jesus’ disciples.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 10-12, John 13:18-38

Daily Bible Reading

Be strong

Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.”

1 Chronicles 28:20 (NLT)

We, the Church, have the great task of building the Kingdom of God. We are to go into all the world preaching the Gospel and making disciples of all nations. That is a sizeable task. It can be daunting if we take the entire work upon ourselves as individuals or even individual churches.

But it is not our responsibility alone. While we should feel a great sense of responsibility to carry out the Great Commission, the pressure to complete it does not rest on any one individual, but the Church as a whole.

Jesus said that he would build his Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. If he promised it, he will perform it.

Like David instructing Solomon on building the Temple, Jesus instructed us on building the Church. David’s words to his son are as applicable to us in our endeavour to build the Kingdom of God as they were to Solomon in his to build the Temple.

We must be strong and courageous, and do the work. God is with us. He won’t fail us. He won’t forsake us. He has called us to work with Him and will equip us with all we need to complete the task as we need it.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 28-29, John 11:47-57