Daily Bible Reading

This little light

I’ve been talking a lot about work lately. Partly because I’ve been working so much and partly because never before have I taken note of so much opportunity to put the Word into practice.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

By all accounts, the apartment site I’m currently working on should be two months behind. The roof was late and everything else that followed was pushed back—except the move-in dates. While I don’t think that anyone will be moving into their first floor apartment by the end of next week, it’s amazing how much this crew has been able to do given the insane schedule they’ve been kept to. But, with the insanity of the schedule comes short fuses and a lot people working out of order and on top of each other. I shouldn’t really even be on site until just about everyone else is gone, but there I am in my safety shoes and hard hat cleaning in preparation for occupancy on a very active construction site.

And in all of that, I feel as though God has given me a mission. He’s given me a light—His light, Jesus—and the command to let it shine.

…Let your lives shine brightly before them.

Philippians 2:15b (NLT)

On a site full of foul language and bad attitudes, I should be like a beacon of hope and peace. And that’s exactly what I’ve been praying as I sing worship songs and dance to myself like no one is watching (I thought no one was listening until I literally ran into the site supervisor the other day when I thought I was alone in the room).

While it may not be my job to make sure everything gets done properly and on time, I can certainly take it upon myself to change the atmosphere wherever I go.

The atmosphere is changing now
For the Spirit of the Lord is here
The evidence is all around
That the Spirit of the Lord is here

Here as in Heaven, Elevation Worship

Where I go, the Spirit of the Lord goes.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

2 Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV)

When I walk onto that site today, I fully expect the atmosphere to change. I’m just a lowly cleaner, but little do they know the power that lives within me. The power to change. The power to heal. The power to set free. The power to move mountains. Even the power to get the building done on time. Wherever we go, God has given us the ability as well as the command to make things change. What can you change with your light today?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 34-36, Philippians 2

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Daily Bible Reading

Sing!

Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:19-20 (NLT)

When I was a kid and my mom would still send me off to school, she’d stand on the front step and holler out a song title at my sister and I. She would then stand on the step until she could hear us singing the song as we walked down the street.

More often than not, that song would stay with us throughout the day and we’d come home singing choruses like This is the Day or Celebrate Jesus (it was the nineties, have a little grace).

Mom was on to something. Her intent was to send us off to school with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Now, more than 20 years later, I’m still asking God to give me songs to sing while I work. When I’m alone in an room with great acoustics, why wouldn’t I sing? And if someone else walks in the room and hears me praising God while I work, what does that matter?

Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs aren’t just things to do to fill the silence, but they are a byproduct of being filled with the Holy Spirit and allowing him to control our lives. Verse 19 is preceded by this:

Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.

Ephesians 5:18b (NLT)

Then you will sing...

If you’ve got the Holy Spirit, don’t be afraid to sing the songs he puts in your heart. Even if you can’t sing. My dad always says that God told us to make a joyful noise. He never said it had to be on key.

So sing!

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 27-28, Ephesians 5

Daily Bible Reading

Benchwarmer

In sports, no one wants to be a benchwarmer—that one person that’s on the team just to fill out the roster and maybe get some playing time in if every other key player gets injured. A benchwarmer is the player no one knows. The player whose jersey you never see in the stands. No athlete aims for the position of benchwarmer.

So why are churches full of them?

Western churches are rife with people who are perfectly content to warm their seat on a Sunday morning and do nothing else with their faith for the rest of their life. Like a player with great talent, but no drive, we warm the pews and add an extra body to the weekly attendance count, but that’s it. We’re the player no one knows about. And that’s fine because it’s not our job to do anything else.

Or is it?

[Jesus Christ] is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)

For some reason, we, the benchwarmers in the church, have come to the conclusion that it’s up to the pastor and the rest of the church leadership team to build the church. But this verse tells us the opposite. It’s the pastor’s job to equip God’s people to do Christ’s work and build up the church. Who are God’s people? You are God’s people.

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.

Ephesians 4:1 (NLT)

If you’re that player who has been called up from the farm team to sit on the bench of the big league team, are you going to just keep that spot warm for a better player? Or are you going to get off your rear end and work harder to earn your spot on the field? You want to play the game worthy of the level you’ve been brought to.

So, whether or not you know what your specific call is in the body of Christ is irrelevant. Even if you do know you’re call, you are still called to build the body of Christ.

Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)

If you are not an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor, or a teacher, you fall into the sixth (and possibly the most important) category—the saints, or God’s people. You are not exempt from ministry work, but rather have the important responsibility of building the body of Christ. Whether you have a title or not, you have a position in the church and it is anything but lowly. So get off that bench and start living a life worthy of your calling. Go build up the Church.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 24-26, Ephesians 4

Daily Bible Reading

One more reason

Since reading Ecclesiastes 5 several weeks ago, my outlook on work has changed. And not just a little bit, but drastically. To help you understand, allow me to explain my current work situation.

Some friends of mine from church own a cleaning business. Work started to get a little crazy, so they brought me on to help them out. Do I love to clean? Not at all. Ask my mother. But it’s a job with a paycheque and the whole starving artist thing can only work for so long.

We clean new construction only. Meaning we get new houses and apartments ready to be moved into after the build is complete. Our current contract can be explained as less than ideal. We’re working on the second of what will be a three building apartment complex. The first building is complete and occupied. The building we are in is supposed to be occupied in a couple of weeks. The roof was two months late getting on and, as a result, every other trade has been pushed back. But in an effort to maintain the move-in dates, everyone is working at the same time. Drywallers are tripping over painters who are working over carpet installers who are working around guys pouring concrete who are working beside men trying to finish the siding. I think you get the picture. It’s a gong show.

No one on site is really happy about the situation. Myself included. I’m the peon on site. The lowliest of all the trades. It’s my job to clean up the mess everyone else left behind. Almost every day, I hear from another trade that I shouldn’t be there. I know that and they know that, but I’m trying to do my job just like they are. I could very easily take offense. I could very easily allow the situation to frustrate me and get me down. But since reading Ecclesiastes 5:19, it all rolls off.

And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NLT)

I don’t take for granted this incredible gift that God has given me. Every day I walk on to the job site with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. (Most days those songs come out of my mouth, too—I’m pretty sure the site supervisor was laughing at me yesterday when he caught me singing to myself rather loudly.)

I’ve said all that to say this, God has given us so many reasons to praise Him. I praise Him daily because He has given me an inexplicable gift of joy that allows me to enjoy my work in what can be a rather hostile environment. And the reasons to praise Him keep on coming.

The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God.

Ephesians 1:14 (NLT)

After all that God has done for us, He sent His Spirit as a guarantee that He will do all He has promised. I guess I have just one more reason… to praise our glorious God today! What’s your reason?

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 16-18, Ephesians 1

Daily Bible Reading

You All Everybody

The fictitious British rock band, Drive Shaft, had one hit song. You All Everybody was featured throughout the television series, Lost. Today’s wisdom comes from this song.

I know you see what I have been
And compare with what I am
But I don’t care now what you’ve seen
I’m just doing what I can

What does a song performed by people who ever actually existed have anything to do with anything? Everything.

Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Galatians 6:4-5 (NLT)

We live our entire lives comparing and being compared. Why can you be more like him? I wish I could do that like her. Unless you’re a complete recluse, you’ve most likely fallen prey to a line or two (thousand) like this. But that’s not what we should be doing.

God made each of us with specific talents to accomplish a specific purpose.

I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)

The more we compare ourselves to others, the more we insult God by saying He got it wrong. The only life we should ever be comparing ourselves to is that of Jesus himself. The only actions we should reflect are his.

Where you’ve been and where you are don’t matter so much as where you are going. What people may have seen from you in the past doesn’t matter as much as what they will see from you. We should never measure ourselves against the call God has placed on others because we weren’t created for that call. Do what God has called you to do, do it to the best of your ability, and enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well.

…What counts is whether we have really been changed into new and different people.

Galatians 6:15b (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 13-15, Galatians 6

Daily Bible Reading

Carefully protect

I can’t say for sure whether what follows is what Paul meant when he was talking about all the parts of the body of Christ, but as I was reading 1 Corinthians 12, this is what came to mind.

And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.

1 Corinthians 12:23-24 (NLT)

Here’s how I came to see it: the outward parts of the body, the parts that are seen, are the five-fold ministers. The prophets, preachers, teacher, apostles, and evangelists. They are the most visible part of the church and, as such, actually protect the rest of the church from a lot of potential harm. Since they are the visible ones, they will take the brunt of an attack against the body.

Many people strive to be an outward part of the body. They want to be up front and centre, but they aren’t always prepared or even called to deal with the fallout of being the face of ministry. There are some that are called to be essentially faceless and nameless.

To be a nameless, faceless part of the body is not a slight against anyone. It is, if you look at it, a place of honour. There are those that God has put in front of you who will protect you. So long as you have no face and no name, you are more likely to have no enemy. And, any truthful minister will tell you, they can’t do their jobs without the nameless people working tirelessly behind them. The Church as a whole would not survive if it were made up entirely of public speakers.

Today I worked at the church and cleaned eleven toilets and five urinals. Tomorrow, I will step up onto the stage and lead worship. Today’s work, though far less glamorous, is no less important than tomorrow’s so long as they are both done unto the Lord with the purpose of strengthening the body of Christ.

Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it. Here is a list of some of the members that God has places in the body of Christ:

first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who can get others to work together,
those who speak in unknown languages.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28 (NLT)

Paul goes on to say that you should desire the most helpful gifts. Sometimes the greatest and most honoured gifts in the body of Christ have nothing to do with standing on a stage. They are the ones done silently in the background under the careful protection of our leaders.

Our greatest position as believers in the body: helpers.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 1-2, 1 Corinthians 12

 

 

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