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

Daily Bible Reading

No thanks

Everyone likes a little (or a lot of) recognition. It’s nice to be appreciated for the work you do. And we should show appreciation to other who do a good work. There is, however a difference in enjoying appreciation for the work you do and requiring appreciation in order to do it.

Jesus addresses this with his disciples.

When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, he doesn’t just sit down and eat. He must first prepare his master’s meal and serve him his supper before eating his own. And the servant is not even thanked, because he is merely doing what he is supposed to do. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, “We are not worthy of praise. We are servants who have simply done our duty.”

Luke 17:7-10 (NLT)

I’ve seen volunteers quit because they feel they aren’t shown enough appreciation. I’ve seen people turn up their noses at menial work because no one would ever see them do it—and if no one ever saw them do it, they would never be congratulated for it. One must then question the reasons for why we do what we do when it comes to service.

I don’t know about you, but in my Bible, Jesus tells all believers to go into the world and preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15). He tells us to honour our fathers and mothers and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves (Matthew 19:19). He tells us that we should do for others what we want them to do for us (Luke 6:31). These are just a few of the things Jesus instructed his followers to do. But in none of these guidelines have I found the provision for appreciation.

There is nothing that might stipulate that we should only do these things if proper gratitude is shown. In fact, we are told that if you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too (Matthew 5:39).

Christian service can be a thankless job, but that doesn’t negate our responsibility to Jesus’ teachings. The entire point of his ministry was to reach those who could not or would not show gratitude.

This lesson is twofold. First, don’t quit just because you aren’t being thanked often enough. You will never know how far your reach is until your race is complete. By quitting early, you may miss out on touching the one life that could have changed the world. Our service has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Jesus. Second, show gratitude. Make it a point to thank the people who do the lowliest of jobs in the church. Maybe even help them out. There is no such thing as stooping in the Kingdom of God. Pastors can clean the toilets and janitors can share the Gospel.

We are all there to serve. Period. We can all be servants. We can all be encouragers. And we can all do it together and be happy about.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 27-29, Luke 17:1-19

Daily Bible Reading

The invitation

If you got an invitation directly from God to join Him at His table for a feast, would you go? Or would you make up an excuse to not have to attend? You’re probably thinking that the answer to this one is a no-brainer. No need to think about it. Of course I’m there!

Are you really?

In Luke 14, Jesus is teaching about humility. Instead of sitting at the head of the table and then embarrassing yourself when you’re asked to move down for a more honoured guest, sit at the foot and be honoured when you’re asked to move up. One man pipes up, “What a privilege it would be to have a share in the Kingdom of God!”

But Jesus goes on to share:

A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When all was ready, he sent his servant around to notify the guests that it was time for them to come. But they all began making excuses. One said he had just bought a field and wanted to inspect it, so he asked to be excused. Another said he had just bought five pair of oxen and wanted to try them out. Another had just been married, so he said he couldn’t come.

Luke 14:16-20 (NLT)

It turns out that, because the guests who were honoured with invitations wouldn’t come, the man went out and invited anyone he could find until every seat at his table was full.

But that would never be me! I’d never turn down an invitation!

I’m pretty sure we’ve all turned down an invitation or two—or even more. I’m inclined to believe that those who have been in the church for a long time turn down more invitations than those who are new to the faith.

What do I mean by invitation? I mean the opportunity to spend time with God. The chance to simply bask in His presence to do His work. When we’ve had many invitations, we tend to lose sight of the honour bestowed upon us because God wants us at His table. When we have the opportunity to serve, it is God allowing us the honour of furthering His Kingdom. When there is an invitation to worship, God is allowing us the honour of simply being in His presence.

How many times have you been too busy to attend that extra church service or too tired to put in an extra hour or two serving? I’ll be the first one to put my hand up and say that I’m guilty of doing just that.

Can you imagine how much more effective the Church would be if we would recall the honour in the invitation rather than offer excuses as to why we can’t go? God Himself has reached out His hand to you and asked you to work along side Him and to dine with Him. Why would anyone want to turn down that kind of invitation?

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 13-14, Luke 14:1-4

Daily Bible Reading

All the reasons why

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)

In my life, I think I’ve been both Martha and Mary. I’ve been concerned about getting everything just so and complaining about the people who sit around seemingly doing nothing at all. And I’ve been the one sitting and drinking in what is being offered rather than running around making sure everything runs smoothly.

If you’re a Martha, you’re not necessarily wrong. Notice that Jesus didn’t rebuke her. He didn’t tell her that what she’d been doing was wrong. He told her that there were more important things.

If you’re a Mary, I believe that there are some times that we need to look to Martha for direction. But, Jesus knew he would only be with these people for a short time. He had to teach them as much as he could before his time on earth was up. Mary was right to pay as close attention to him as she did.

In our Christian walk, there is a time to emulate both of these women. If we act like Martha all the time, we can very easily fall into empty works. We get so busy doing that we can forget the reason why we’re doing it in the first place. If we act like Mary all the time, we risk becoming spiritual gluttons. If you’re always being fed and never doing the work, you become at fat and useless Christian because you will never be able to fulfil the Great Commission of bringing the Gospel to a lost world.

If you’re working, take a break to refresh yourself in the Word of God. If you’re being taught, go out and put what you’ve learned to work. Whether you’re Martha doing the work or Mary being taught, don’t let yourself forget all the reasons why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Daily Bible reading: Judges 18-19, Luke 10:25-42

Daily Bible Reading

It worked

Once all the tribes of Israel had received their inheritance, it was Joshua’s turn. Because of his loyalty and leadership, God said he could have any town he wanted. Any town in all of Israel! There were a lot of towns to choose from. And, it seems, with no hesitation, Joshua chose Timnath-serah. In the hill country. Of Ephraim.

After all the land was divided among the tribes, the Israelites gave a special piece of land to Joshua as his inheritance. For the Lord had said he could have any town he wanted. He chose Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. He rebuilt the town and lived there.

Joshua 19:49-50 (NLT)

Oh, that hill country! Joshua chose to take land and make his permanent home in the land that wasn’t enough for the descendants of Joseph. That had too many trees and too many Canaanites with iron chariots.

I’d like to think that Joshua took that particular spot to prove a point. The tribe of Ephraim wasn’t satisfied there. But Joshua and his family would be. What Ephraim saw as a burden, Joshua would prove to be a blessing.

If God has given you a blessing that requires work, but you refuse to do the work, do you think it will stay in your possession forever? Of all the places Joshua could have taken, he took the place that another tribe had made little of. Joshua was able to see the potential in the problem and decided it would be for him and his own for generations to come.

If you don’t work your blessing, someone else will.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 19-20, Luke 5:17-39