Faith, Deeds, and Salvation


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 23; Psalms 31,54; Matthew 7

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 7:13-27

 

Have you ever been confused by parts of the Bible?  Have you ever found apparent contradictions in God’s Word that led to questions in your mind?  For many years, I struggled with the relationship between faith, deeds, and salvation.  I would read Ephesians 2:8-9 which says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”, and I would think – OK, I get it, we are saved by faith alone and not by works.  Then I would read James 2:24 which says, “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone”, and I would be confused.  Does this mean I am not saved by faith alone?  Do I need to do good deeds to be saved?  I firmly believe that this seeming paradox (in my mind anyway) between faith and deeds kept me from surrendering my life to Jesus Christ for a long time.  I simply could not wrap my mind around what was correct, so I gave up.  Fortunately, I was able to work this out and understand how these three concepts intertwine with the help of solid doctrine and a good church, but I still wonder how many others are confused by these concepts.  As I read today’s key passage, God clearly spoke to my heart that the answers to this type of confusion can be found here in the words of Jesus Christ himself.  I had one of those “light bulb” moments when God just seems to show me exactly what is in His heart.  If you have ever been confused by the relationship between faith, deeds, and salvation, read on as I try to express what God has shown me today.

Our key passage today begins with Jesus talking about the way to Heaven.  He says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Vss. 13-14)  Many people believe there are many roads that lead to salvation.  They believe that if they do good deeds, they will be saved.  They believe that if they have religion or go to church, they will be saved.  Jesus makes it clear in this passage that there is only one narrow road that leads to eternal life.  In John 14:6, he explains what that narrow gate is when He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  He IS the narrow gate.  Not everyone will find Him, but those who do will enter that narrow gate and be saved.

Next, Jesus talks about fruit in people’s lives.  He says, “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Vss. 17-20)  Here, Jesus is talking about deeds.  Just as a good tree will bear good fruit, a person with faith in Jesus Christ will do good deeds.  If you want to know if someone has faith or not, all you have to do is look for their “fruit”.  When you have true faith, you have Jesus living inside you, and He will produce good deeds through you.

Now, stay with me because this is where Jesus ties all of this together for us.  He says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Vss. 21-23)  The people who Jesus never knew are the people who did good deeds but had no true faith.  They did many things (prophesy, driving out demons, miracles, etc.), but they did not have faith so they were turned away on “that day”.  The people who enter through the narrow gate are the ones who had true faith.  Their faith produced good deeds in their lives because that is the good fruit that comes from a good tree.  These people are recognized by Jesus because they did the will of God.

What it all comes down to is this – people can do good deeds and not have faith, but people cannot have faith without doing good deeds.  Good deeds alone cannot produce salvation.  Faith in Jesus Christ alone produces salvation and that faith will be illustrated by our good deeds because they are our “fruit”.  If you have been struggling to understand how faith and deeds align with salvation, my prayer today is that you will hear God speaking to you through today’s key passage.  Read it and meditate on it.  Absorb it into your heart.  I pray that you will be changed by it forever, and I hope to see you as we walk through the narrow gate together.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Secretly Serving God


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 22; Psalms 17,35; Matthew 6

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 6:1-18

 

Recently, I watched a television program about the United States Secret Service.  While the Secret Service fills many roles in our national system of law enforcement, they are perhaps best known for their role in protecting the President.  Every time you see the President in public, you can be sure that he is surrounded by Secret Service agents.  The interesting thing about their protection detail is that most of the time you have to really be paying attention to spot them.  The agents are not dressed in full riot gear or other identifying clothing that would announce their role.  Instead, they are typically dressed in suits and attempt to blend into the background.  What you might see on television are a handful of agents next to the President, but what you might not see are the scores of other agents who are also nearby.  While these agents are on duty, they spend every second serving the President, and they do it without any fanfare and without calling any attention to themselves.  Their service reminds me of the type of service Jesus talks about in today’s key passage.

In Matthew 6:1, Jesus says, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  Jesus goes on to describe three unique “acts of righteousness” that should be done in secret – giving to the needy, prayer, and fasting.  It is interesting to note that when Jesus speaks about each of these acts, he uses the term “when”.  He says, “when you give to the needy”(Vs. 2), “when you pray” (Vs. 5), and “when you fast” (Vs. 16).  This language indicates that Jesus expects that His followers will do these things; otherwise, He would have used the term “if”.  As we look at each of these “acts of righteousness” individually, it becomes clear to us that Jesus is far more concerned with what is in our hearts than how we appear to others.  When He talks about giving to the needy, He says, “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret” (Vss. 3-4)  When He talks about prayer, He says, “go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Vs. 6)  When He talks about fasting, He says, “put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Vss. 17-18)  In each of these examples, Jesus is talking about our true motives.  If we give to the needy, pray, or fast in order to impress other people or to show how righteous we are, we are missing the whole point.  When we do these “acts of righteousness”, we should do them with the right heart.  We should do them to be pleasing to God.  We should do them because we recognize how fortunate we are to be called His children.  We should do them in secret.  When you do these things with the wrong motive of impressing others, you will have “already received your reward in full” (Vss. 2, 5, 16), but when you do these things with the right heart, then “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Vss. 4, 6, 18)

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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The Beatitudes: Living a Blessed Life


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 20,21; Psalm 34; Matthew 5

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 5:1-12

 

When you think of being blessed what comes to mind?  For many people, the idea of being blessed has shifted over time away from God’s ideal definition.  Today, some people think that being blessed comes down to their circumstances.  If they have a lot of money or possessions or if they have a relatively happy marriage, they feel blessed.  Jesus, however, had a slightly different definition of blessed.  When He spoke about being blessed, he was talking about more than just happiness about our circumstances.  He was talking about a feeling of hope and joy that only comes from following Him.  He was talking about eternal joy as opposed to earthly happiness.  In the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us the Beatitudes, which were a series of statements about what it means to be truly blessed.  In today’s key passage, we will examine each of these Beatitudes to find out how to live a blessed life:

  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit” - A person who is poor in spirit is not the same as a person who is “poor spirited”.  He or she is someone who has an honest opinion of his or her spiritual condition.  The person who will admit he is sinful is well on his way to faith in Christ for salvation.
  • “Blessed are those who mourn” - The heart that mourns over sin is the heart that will confess and find the comfort of forgiveness.  Initially people will find the forgiveness of salvation.  After salvation, people will find the comfort of forgiveness for sins that they confess.
  • “Blessed are the meek” - Being Biblically meek is being in submission to God.  Being meek does not indicate a lack of strength, but rather strength that is under God’s control.
  • “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”- To hunger and thirst after righteousness should be a characteristic of every Christian.  We should want to please God by doing what is right.  We should hunger and thirst for the things of God and His Word.
  • “Blessed are the merciful” - As followers of Christ, we should show mercy toward others simply because of the mercy God has shown us.  None of us deserves to be saved, but God has saved us anyway because of His great mercy.  When we understand our own forgiveness, we will be better able to show mercy toward others.
  • “Blessed are the pure in heart” - Many people concern themselves with what other people see about them.  They think appearance or actions are key because they want others to believe they are righteous.  God, however, looks only at our hearts.  What we have in our heart is what matters to Him, so we should do everything we can to keep our hearts pure.
  • “Blessed are the peacemakers” - There are two main ways in which we can be peacemakers.  We can be peacemakers between man and man by how we treat others and by avoiding things like gossip and strife.  We can be peacemakers between man and God by sharing our faith with others and leading them to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
  • “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness” - Many Christians may face persecution because of their faith in Jesus, but we can take comfort in knowing that there is an eternal reward in Heaven.

If you truly want to live a blessed life, consider living by the Beatitudes.  Jesus has provided us with a blueprint for what it means to be blessed, and to achieve the hope and joy that comes with being blessed through Him, all we have to do is follow His instructions.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Jesus Faces Temptation in the Desert


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 19; 1 Chronicles 7; Psalm 59; Matthew 4

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 4:1-11

 

As followers of Christ, how we react in the face of temptation will often define our character.  The enemy would have us believe three things – that we are the only ones to face temptation, that we face temptation alone, and that we have no tools available to help us fight off temptation.  Fortunately for us, today’s key passage reveals the fallacy of these lies.  Following His baptism, Jesus was led into the desert to fast for forty days and forty nights.  During His most vulnerable time – in the desert alone with no food or drink – Satan decided to attack Jesus.  Three times Satan tempted Jesus to provoke Him to sin, but all three times Jesus prevailed.  Today, we will examine each of these three temptations to see the tactics the enemy uses to entice us to sin and how Jesus modeled overcoming these temptations.

In his first attempt, Satan tried to tempt Jesus by saying, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Vs. 3)  Notice what the enemy was doing here.  Notice his language.  He said, “IF you are the Son of God”.  He was trying to provoke Jesus by making Him want to “prove” He was the Son of God.  In addition, Satan used Jesus’ hunger as a basis for the temptation, but Jesus had the Word of God firmly implanted in His heart.  He was able to defeat this temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 which says, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”  Jesus knew that the bread He could consume to quench His hunger was simply a temporary solution to a temporary problem.  God’s word, however, is an eternal solution to an eternal problem.  When we keep our focus on God, we will find it much easier to overcome temptations based on our current circumstances.

In his second attempt, Satan tried to tempt Jesus by saying, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.  For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (Vs. 6)  Once again notice the language as Satan tries to provoke Jesus into proving He is the Son of God.  We also note that Satan himself quoted scripture during this temptation (Psalm 91:11-12), though he did so out of context to try to prove his own point.  We can learn two lessons from this.  The first is that sometimes unscrupulous people will try to use God’s Word out of context to convince us to do things that are not right.  When we know the whole of God’s Word, we will be able to see through these deceptions.  In addition, we learn that just knowing Scripture is not enough to overcome temptation because Satan also knows the Bible; we must be willing and able to obey what we have read.  Jesus once again overcame this temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, which says, “Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah.” When we know God’s Word and we are willing to apply it to our lives and obey Him, we can overcome temptation.

In his final attempt, Satan tried to tempt Jesus by showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and saying, “All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.” (Vs. 9)  He was trying to tempt Jesus by offering Him quick and easy access to power and achievement.  We will often find that in our temptations, we might be offered wealth, power, or success if we are just willing to stop following God and sacrifice what we know to be right.  When we find ourselves craving some earthly thing, we can resist those temptations the same way Jesus did.  Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13, which says, “Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.”  Instead of worshiping the false idols of this world – money, fame, success, etc. – when we choose to worship God and serve Him only, we can overcome temptations.

We can learn a lot through Jesus’ experience in the desert.  We learn that we are not the only ones who have been tempted.  We learn that during our weakest moments God is with us giving us strength.  We learn that through God’s Word we have the tools available to us to overcome any temptation.  Follow the model of Jesus, and keep God’s Word close to your heart.  You never know when a moment of weakness will come, and in those moments, you will need His Scriptures to find His strength.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Preparing the Way for Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 18; 1 Chronicles 6; Psalm 11; Matthew 3

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 3:1-17

 

More than 400 years had passed since the last of the Old Testament prophets, and faithful Jews were waiting and watching for the promised Messiah.  In today’s key passage, we are introduced for the first time to John the Baptist.  John was preaching in the Desert of Judea, and he was teaching a message of repentance.  Interestingly, the word “repent” is actually a military term meaning “about face,” or “turn completely around”.  When used in context, it refers to a person who is walking in the direction of sin toward destruction and then decides to turn away from sin and walk in a different direction.  John the Baptist was calling people to repent of their sins.  He was asking the Jews of the time to stop rebelling against God and to instead turn toward Him.  He must have been quite an interesting sight to the people of the day, as we learn that he wore strange clothes and ate strange food, but John knew what his role was in the Kingdom.  John’s role was to prepare the way for Jesus.  He was called to “make straight paths for him” (Vs. 3).

Our world today is not all that much different from the world at the time of John the Baptist.  Even today, people who do not know Jesus need to be prepared to meet Him, and we can all play a part in that.  So how can we help prepare the way for Jesus?  We can do it through our words as we speak to the unsaved about the need for forgiveness or talk to them about the differences Jesus makes in our lives.  More importantly, we can do it through our actions as we live for Jesus daily and demonstrate Christ’s teachings though our actions toward others.  Like John the Baptist, it is important that we understand our role in this life.  We are not called to save other people – that is a job for God and God alone.  Only He has the power to save, and only He has the power to rid people of sin.  Our calling, instead, is to prepare the way for Him.  Our calling is to make straight paths for him as we clear up any misconceptions about Him and show others who Jesus really is in our lives.  Someone around you might be open to a relationship with Jesus Christ today.  They might be investigating Him.  They might be close to salvation.  What are you doing to prepare the way for Jesus?  Are you playing your part in the Kingdom?  What message are you teaching through either your words or your actions?  When we all come together and understand our roles, we can begin to reach more people for Christ, and we can prepare the way for His saving grace.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Facing a Giant


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 17; Psalm 9; Matthew 2

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Samuel 17:1-50


In today’s key passage, we read the popular story of David and Goliath.  Most of us have likely read this story before or have at least heard of it.  It is the type of Bible story that we are often told as kids in Sunday school, and there are many lessons to be learned from it.  Today, I would like to focus on the practical aspects of this story that we can all use as we walk through our lives.  The Philistines had moved into Israel’s territory and set up camp, so King Saul put together an army to face off against them.  The two armies were each perched on opposing hills with a valley in between them.  At this time in history, armies wanted to avoid losing a lot of troops in a long, drawn out battle, so it was common for an army to pit their strongest soldier against the strongest soldier of the opposing army for a “winner-take-all” battle.  Out of the Philistine camp came a giant named Goliath.  He was big, he was powerful, he was armed with heavy weapons, and he wanted to fight one of the Israelites to settle the battle.  When King Saul and the Israelites saw Goliath, they were all filled with fear.  They did not know how they could possibly defeat this formidable foe.  For forty days, Goliath would come out of the Philistine camp and intimidate the Israelites, challenging them to send someone to oppose him, but none of the Israelites would dare go against him.  All of the Israelites, including Saul, were focused on their own self-preservation, so they were frozen in their fear and unable to move forward against their enemy.

One day David, a young shepherd who was tending his father’s flock was sent to the front lines to bring provisions and to get a report on the war.  As he arrived, he saw Goliath come out of the Philistine camp for his daily taunting of the Israelites.  Unlike the rest of the Israelites, David’s focus was not on his fear or on self-preservation.  His focus was on the glory of God.  He said, “Who is this unbeliever, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (Vs. 26)  David was confident that God would defeat this enemy.  He knew that this giant was no match for the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, so he decided to step up and face off against the giant.  Though the other Israelites did not believe David could defeat Goliath, David still made the lonely walk to face off against the giant.  David had the faith to know that while he could not defeat the giant alone, God was with him in the battle.  In the end, David defeated Goliath using only a slingshot and a single stone.

As we walk through our lives, every single one of us will face off against “giants”.  These “giants” might be people who oppose us.  They might be habitual sins that we have trouble standing up to.  They might be difficult circumstances, illnesses, or financial problems.  Whatever the case may be, these “giants” will be a very real threat to us just as Goliath was a very real threat to the Israelites.  When we face these giants, we have a choice to make.  We can choose to be paralyzed with fear like Saul and the Israelites, afraid to move forward against the “giant”, or we can choose to have faith in God to solve our problems like David.  We can choose to focus on our own self-preservation, or we can choose to focus on the glory of God.  With the right faith in God, we can trust that He will deliver us from our “giants”.  With the right faith in God, we can be sure that He will bring us victory in His own time.  With the right faith in God, there is nothing we cannot overcome.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Moving On


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 15,16; 1 Chronicles 5; Matthew 1

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

Life is filled with disappointments.  We will be disappointed by our own actions, circumstances, or health conditions.  We will be disappointed by others.  There are so many things in this life that will disappoint us, and it can be very easy to let these disappointments get us so discouraged that we stop serving the Lord.  When things are not going the way we would like them to go, we can have a tendency to give up, but there is a time to accept the disappointments we have faced and move on to whatever God has planned for us next.  In today’s key passage, the prophet Samuel was disappointed.  He had anointed Saul as King of Israel, but because Saul chose not to follow God’s instructions, he had failed.  Samuel was in deep mourning over Saul’s failure, but through his pain God teaches us four lessons about moving on after a disappointment.

The first lesson we learn is that there is a time to stop mourning.  In Verse 1 we read, “The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”  Even though Samuel was disappointed about Saul’s failure, God knew that his mourning would never change the situation.  There is a time to stop grieving and realize that in spite of whatever disappointments we have faced, God is in control.

The second lesson we learn is that we must accept God’s will.  Samuel believed that Saul was going to be a good king when he anointed him, but God rejected Saul because of his own actions.  Samuel had to accept the fact that God had another plan for Israel and for him.  Many times, we tend to hold on to what we think God’s will should be for our lives, when in reality God might have an entirely different plan for us. No matter what we might think at the present time, God’s plan for us is always the best plan, even if it does not fit into our current way of thinking.

The third lesson we learn is that there will come a time when we must simply move on to the next thing God is calling us to do.  God’s plan was for Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint another king.  Although Samuel was afraid of what Saul would do if he heard about Samuel anointing another king, he still chose to obey God and go to Bethlehem.  When we finally stop mourning over a disappointment and accept God’s will for our lives, we will find we can move forward and do as God directs.

The final lesson we learn is that we have to follow God’s directions as we move forward.  When Samuel first saw Jesse’s son Eliab, he immediately assumed that this would be the new king.  It was not until he heard from God that he realized his mistake.  He had to listen for God’s guidance and God ultimately led him to David as the new king of Israel.  Following our disappointments, we need to spend time getting back in tune with God.

Moving on from disappointment can be a hard thing to do, but it is something we will all need to do in this life.  Fortunately, God provides us with a road map to follow on our journey.  As we read His Word daily, we can learn His tips for moving on, and we can ensure we are following Him.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Examining Your Faith


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 14; 1 Chronicles 4; 2 Corinthians 13

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Corinthians 13:5-14

Human beings are a naturally curious species.  Along with this curiosity comes a tendency to examine many different things during the course of our lives.  We examine our checkbooks regularly to make sure the balance is correct and to see where we are spending our money.  We take our automobiles to service centers periodically to get inspected to make sure there are no serious mechanical issues.  We go to the doctor for a physical to find out if we have any health issues.  When our children bring home a report card, we examine the grades to see where strengths and opportunities exist.  There are literally countless things that we choose to examine.  In today’s key passage, the apostle Paul mentions another thing we should spend time examining – our faith (Vs. 5)

So what does this look like?  How can we examine ourselves to see if we are really following Christ?  The first sign to look for is growth.  When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior and He begins living inside of us, He starts making changes.  As my pastor likes to say, He starts “moving around the furniture”.  In this process of sanctification, we become more like Christ.  When we look at our faith today, we should be able to see that those changes are constantly occurring.  We should see motion in our faith as we grow in Christ.  If we are not maturing as Christians, then we must try to figure out what is going on.  The bottom line is that there are really only two options for how we are living – we are either growing closer to God or we are turning farther away from Him.  There is no middle ground.

When we look at ourselves honestly to determine if we are practicing what we preach, we can help keep ourselves on track and can quickly discover any wrong thinking or unintentional sin.  Keep in mind, though, that we cannot truly examine our own faith in a vacuum.  We should seek council from other believers who know us and love us to help us in our examination.  Even more importantly, we should seek God’s help in examining our faith.  We should ask God to point out the things in us that He wants to change.  Then we should have faith in Him to make us the people He wants us to be.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Finding Strength in Our Weaknesses


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 13; 1 Chronicles 2,3; 2 Corinthians 12

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

There are many times in the Bible when what we read seems to contradict what our earthly minds believe to be true.  Today’s key passage is a good example of this type of conflict.  The apostle Paul tells us that he has been given a “thorn” in his flesh to keep him from becoming conceited.  While we do not know exactly what this “thorn” was because Paul never provided details, some Biblical scholars have theorized that it might have been a disease such as malaria or epilepsy, or perhaps a problem with his vision.  Whatever the case, we can be sure it was some sort of physical ailment that made Paul’s mission in life more difficult.  Three times Paul pleaded with God to take this “thorn” away from him, but each time God refused, telling Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (Vs. 9)  What Paul goes on to say in verse 10 is the part that seems to conflict with what we believe to be true based on our human knowledge.  He says, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I love these examples when God takes our conventional earthly wisdom and turns it upside down.  Jesus said that whoever is first will be last and that the meek will inherit the earth and Paul said that when he is weak, then he is strong.  If you are wondering how this can be true, allow me to explain.  When we are strong, we tend to start to feel pride.  During our strongest moments, we feel like we can accomplish anything on our own, without any help.  While that might sound like a good thing, it is actually the opposite of what God wants for us.  God wants us not to try to accomplish things in our own strength, but to accomplish things through His strength.  He wants to be our source.  During our weakest moments, when things look dark and bleak, those are the times when we can turn to Him for strength.  More importantly, God’s strength is so much more than anything we can possibly muster on our own.  Therefore, when we are weak, we become strong because God gives us the strength we need to move forward.  When we tap into the power of Jesus Christ living through us, we become far more powerful than we can ever be on our own.  We can accomplish so much more than we could ever accomplish on our own.  When you are feeling your weakest, rejoice in knowing that you can find strength.  Rejoice in the knowledge that the power of Jesus Christ is available to you in your darkest hour.  Rejoice in knowing that when you are weak, then you are strong.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Creating Our Own Storms


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 11,12; 1 Chronicles 1; 2 Corinthians 11

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Samuel 12:12-25

After serving Israel for years as a judge, Samuel made a farewell speech to the Israelites.  In it, Samuel affirmed in the minds of the Israelites that he was trustworthy.  He reminded them of their history and pointed out their wrongs against God.  He also reminded them that it was their idea to appoint a king over Israel against God’s clear instructions.  Once the stage was set, Samuel then said, “‘Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes! Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call upon the LORD to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the LORD when you asked for a king.’ Then Samuel called upon the LORD, and that same day the LORD sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the LORD and of Samuel.” (Vs. 16-18)

To fully understand this passage, it is important to point out a few things about Israel at this time.  This event took place during the wheat harvest, which was near the end of the dry season in Israel during May and June.  During the dry season, rain was a rarity, so having a thunderstorm at this time was considered a miracle.  Unlike most “good” miracles, however, a thunderstorm during this time of the year could have been disastrous for the Israelites.  Any amount of rain during the wheat harvest could damage the crops and cause them to rot.  With this historical information in place, we can now see that this thunderstorm clearly illustrated God’s anger with Israel over asking for a king.  If they had never asked for a king, they would have never had to face that storm.

Sometimes the storms we face in life are created by our own actions.  If we fail to work hard at our jobs, we might find ourselves unemployed.  If we fail to treat our spouse the way we should, we might find ourselves with relationship problems.  Understand that not all of the trials we face are caused by our own actions.  Many times our periods of distress will have nothing to do with what we did and will instead be caused by the evil present in this world.  It is still important to note, however, that when we go against God, He will sometimes send us storms as a way of correcting us.  For this reason, anytime we face a storm it is important that our first step is to search our hearts for any unconfessed sin.  If we discover sin in our lives, our natural reaction as humans might be to try to hide from God.  Samuel offers a much better solution in verse 20 –  “‘Do not be afraid,’ Samuel replied. ‘You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.’”  When we discover that we have created our own storm, we must take that opportunity to press in closer to God instead of turning away from Him.  After all, God is the only one that can save us from the storms, even if we have created them ourselves.  If you have found that you are in the midst of a storm that you have created, find comfort in Samuel’s words in verse 22 when he says, “For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.”  If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are one of His people.  You are one of His children.  He alone will not reject you.  He alone will calm the storm.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

To become a fan of The Daily Bible Plan’s Facebook Page, CLICK HERE.

To follow me on Twitter for inspirational tweets, click the follow button –

If you like this post, please SHARE it with others to spread the Word of God.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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