More Time


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 12-14; Revelation 5

Today’s Key Passage – Ezekiel 12:21-28

 

I am not a morning person.  Each morning, I typically have to set two alarms – one for the time I actually want to get up, and one for fifteen to thirty minutes beforehand to give myself a warning that it is almost time to get up.  No matter what time I set my alarms for at night, when they go off in the morning I always have the same thought as I say to myself, “I thought I had more time.”

The Israelites in today’s key passage also thought they had more time.  The listened to all of the prophets telling them about God’s judgment, and they wrongly assumed that the prophets were talking about events that would happen in the distant future. (Vs. 27)  They even had their own proverb that was popular at the time – “The days go by and every vision comes to nothing.” (Vs. 22)  What they did not realize was that God’s judgment was closer than they thought.  In fact, in less than six years, Jerusalem would be completely destroyed.  They failed to listen to the warnings because they all thought they had more time.

Many people today still react to God’s warnings in the same way as the Israelites.  They know the message of the Bible.  They know that they need to repent of their sins and follow God.  They know they need to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.  The problem is that they believe they have more time.  They think God’s final judgment will happen sometime in the distant future.  In fact, they may be right.  They may live a long life and they may still have plenty of time to turn to Him.  On the other hand, they might be wrong.  We will never know when our time on this earth will be done.  Jesus may come back or He may call us home tomorrow, or we may be here for another 100 years.  Do not fall into the trap of thinking you have more time.  If you have unconfessed sin in your life, repent today.  If you have been waiting to start a personal relationship with Christ, turn to Him today.  If you have been waiting for the right time to reach out to that unbelieving friend in love, do it today.  When the alarm clock of life finally goes off, we do not want to be caught off guard thinking we had more time.

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.

A Glimpse of Heaven


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 8-11; Revelation 4

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 4:2-11

 

Recently I was browsing through an airport bookstore while waiting for a flight, when I noticed a large number of books about Heaven.  The spirituality section was littered with books on this topic, including several books from authors claiming to have seen Heaven during a near death experience.  Typically, books like these do really well, often ending up on the New York Times’ bestseller list, because most people are interested in finding out more about the afterlife.  Christians and non-Christians alike buy these books hoping to get a small glimpse into what Heaven might be like.  Fortunately, we do not have to go to these lengths to find out about Heaven, and we do not have to worry about the legitimacy or motives behind the author’s account.  If we truly want a glimpse of Heaven, we need to look no further than today’s key passage.

The apostle John was shown a vision of Heaven, which he relays to us in our reading today.  In his vision, he is taken to the throne room of God where he describes God (Vs. 3), elders (Vs. 4), and living creatures covered with eyes and wings. (Vs. 6)  The living creatures spend day and night continually praising God (Vs.  8), and when they do, the twenty-four elders fall down before the throne of God in worship to Him. (Vss. 9-11)  If you are looking for a glimpse of what Heaven is like, this is it!  It is a place where everyone and everything spends all of their time praising God.  Most of the promises of our new home, like our new bodies that never feel pain or sorrow, are things we will have to wait to receive, but we can begin living today as if we were already there.  We can live every day in the presence of God, and we can continually give, “glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever”. (Vs. 9)

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.

Against All Odds


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 31, 32; 1 John 4

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 32:1-27

 

The odds of winning the main lottery jackpot in Texas are roughly 25 million to one.  Despite this fact, millions of people spend their hard-earned money each week on tickets.  It is not that people do not know the odds.  In fact, they are readily available on the Internet and are even printed on the back of each ticket.  When people choose to play the lottery, it is because they are betting against all of the odds that they might win.

The people of Judah were facing some difficult odds.  The prophet Jeremiah was in prison for speaking out against the sins of Judah, and the Babylonian armies had Jerusalem surrounded. (Vs. 2)  All signs were pointing to Judah’s predicted fall.  That is when the Lord spoke to Jeremiah and told him that one of his cousins was coming to ask him to buy a piece of land. (Vs. 7)  Although enemy soldiers already occupied the land in question, God told Jeremiah to make the purchase from his cousin.  Even though all of the facts at the time said the land was worthless, Jeremiah went against all of the odds and obeyed God.  He did not necessarily understand God’s request (Vs. 25), but he trusted God when He said, “houses, fields, and vineyards will again be bought in this land”. (Vs. 15)

There are many times in this life when the odds may seem to be stacked against us, and it is in these times when God asks us to step out in faith and trust in His promises.  In those times, our human minds might want to focus on the dismal facts at hand.  We can all choose, however, to go against the odds.  We can choose to bet on God to do the impossible as we remember his encouraging words to Jeremiah: “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Vs. 27)  Even when things seem desperate, God can always find a way.

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 Temporary Exile


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 28-30; 1 John 3

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 29:10-14

 

The people of Judah were in a bad place.  For years, they sinned against God and ignored the prophecies of their impending punishment.  Finally, the worst happened.  Their land was invaded and the people were sent off into exile to Babylon.  Ripped from their homes, they must have faced a tremendous amount of fear, worry, and doubt about their futures.   During these dark times, the people of Judah must have wondered whether God had forgotten them or forsaken them.  Fortunately, a word of hope came to them from the very same source they spent so long ignoring.  Through the prophet Jeremiah, God provided the exiles with a glimpse of what was to become of them.  He told them that for seventy years they would be in exile in Babylon, but that God would eventually call them back home. (Vs. 10)  God had a plan for His people, and His plan involved giving them a new beginning.  He was using their time in exile as a way of preparing the people to follow Him.  He was looking forward to a time when the people would call upon Him, and He would answer them. (Vs. 12)  He was looking forward to a time when the people would seek Him with all of their hearts. (Vs. 13)

We all face times when we feel like maybe God has forgotten about us.  We all face times when we wonder if He has forsaken us.  In the darkest of times, we can all start listening to the wrong voices in our heads that tell us lies and try to damage our faith.  In those times, though, we too can find a glimmer of hope knowing that God might be preparing us for a new beginning.  He might be preparing us for a time when we will seek Him with all of our hearts.  He might be preparing us for a time when He can finally use us in the way He most desires.  In your worst hours, embrace the promises of God.  Cling to His words as he says, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Vs. 11)  No matter how bad things might be, we can rest in the promise that our “exile” is only temporary.  We can rest in the promise that one day, we will all be called back home.

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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Having a Bad Day


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 21, 24, 27; Psalm 118; 1 John 2

Today’s Key Passage – Psalm 118

 

We have all had one of those days.  They are the days when nothing seems to work out the way we think it should.  They are the days when the world seems to be against us.  They are the days when we want to just curl up into a ball and hide from everything and everyone.  They are the bad days.  We all have them from time to time, and when one pops up out of nowhere it can hit you like a ton of bricks.  A bad day can make every small incident seem like a major disaster.  A bad day can make every small misunderstanding turn into a relationship-defining argument.   A bad day can just make you feel completely out of sync and alone.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 118 knew all about having a bad day.  He faced periods of anguish (Vs. 5), and times when he felt completely surrounded. (Vs. 10)  He was pushed back and about to fall (Vs. 13), and had to suffer through God’s discipline. (Vs. 18)  Through it all, we see that he maintains a spirit of praise toward God as he declares, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Vs. 24)

We will all face bad days.  We will all face challenges in this life and will all feel alone or forsaken.  While we cannot always control our circumstances, we can take refuge in the knowledge that God is in control.  Every day, even your worst day, is a day created by God for His purposes.  Everything that happens during that day is part of His design, and can build your strength and your faith.  Every day is an opportunity for us to serve our God and to serve others.  Let us all rejoice and be glad in it.

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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Eyewitness Testimony


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 48,49; Psalm 67; 1 John 1

Today’s Key Passage – 1 John 1:1-4

 

During the course of my professional career as an investigator, I have been called to testify in court on quite a few occasions.  While each case has been different, every time I have received a subpoena I have been asked to testify about what I had seen or heard during my investigation.  There are many different types of evidence that can be introduced into a court case, but one of the most credible types of evidence is eyewitness testimony.  Each time I have been asked to testify in court, I was able to give credibility to the prosecution’s case simply by talking about the things that I had actually experienced firsthand.

Many people tend to think of the Bible as simply a collection of stories.  They believe that the Bible is a narration of different events in time that may or may not have actually happened the way they are written.  In today’s key passage, the apostle John reminds us that the Bible is much more than that.  John writes, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” (Vs. 1)  See, the Bible is not just a collection of stories; it is primarily a collection of eyewitness testimonies written by men as directed by God.  John did not write about what he thinks someone else might have seen or heard.  Instead, he (along with the other writers) wrote about their own personal experiences.  Because of this, we can trust that the words contained in God’s Word are true and accurately reflect our God.  As you read the Scriptures, always keep in mind that you are not just reading a story that was written a long time ago.  Instead, realize that you are reading an eyewitness testimony, trust in the truth of God’s Word, and believe.

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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Where is Your Focus?


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 45-47; Psalm 105; John 21

Today’s Key Passage – John 21:18-22

 

A few years ago, I was playing golf with a friend of mine on a course that was new to me.  From about 180 yards away, I hit a beautiful approach shot that landed about three feet from the hole.  I will be the first to say I am not a great golfer, so I was understandably excited until I turned to my friend to see his reaction.  As he stared at the green with a shocked look on his face, he slowly turned to me and started laughing.  Unfortunately, I quickly learned that I was incorrectly aiming for the green of an adjacent hole and not the one we were currently playing.  I ended up on the wrong green because I was focusing in the wrong direction.

In today’s key passage, we see that Peter had a similar problem.  Following Jesus’ resurrection, He was walking with Peter and talking to him about the difficult times he would face ahead. (Vss. 18-19)  As Peter listened to Jesus, he noticed that John was following them, and asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” (Vs. 21)  Instead of thinking about how he could serve Jesus, Peter was focusing in the wrong direction.  To this, Jesus simply answered by saying, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (Vs. 22)

All of us can fall into the trap of comparing our lives to other people.  We wonder why others have received a blessing we have not received or why their walk with God is different from our own.  We can even become judgmental and start comparing someone else’s devotion to Christ to our own.  When these temptations strike, we must remember Jesus’ words as he gently says, “What is that to you?”  No matter what is happening with anyone else, our role is to follow Him.  Instead of focusing on what God is doing in other people’s lives, keep your focus clearly aligned on Jesus.  When you do, you will never have to worry about ending up on the wrong green.

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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Burning the Scroll


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 26, 35, 36; John 20

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 36:1-26

 

In today’s key passage, we find an interesting story about Jehoiakim, king of Judah.  God asked Jeremiah to write His prophecy against Judah on a scroll (Vs. 2), and this scroll was taken to the temple and read aloud. (Vs. 10)  Eventually, the scroll was taken to Jehudi, who read it to King Jehoiakim. (Vs. 21)  As the scroll was read, every time Jehoiakim heard three or four columns of the prophecy that he did not like, he cut those sections out of the scroll and burned them, until eventually, God’s entire message was burned. (Vs. 23)  Though God was trying to get the people of Judah to repent, Jehoiakim did not want to listen to His message because He had no fear of the Lord. (Vs. 24)

I think most of us would agree that we would never think of literally burning the Bible.  Sadly, though, most of us figuratively burn God’s Word more often than we would like to admit.  God tells us to love our enemies, yet how often do we all think of them with something less than love in our hearts?  God tells us to spread the Gospel, yet how many times do we all neglect to share the life-changing message of salvation with someone because we do not feel like the time is right?  How many times do we all selectively “cut” parts out of the Bible that seem too hard for us to obey, and ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit for us to change?  See, every time we ignore any part of God’s Word or choose to live in disobedience, we are effectively “burning the scroll”.  We must never forget that ALL scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), even the parts that seem extremely difficult for us individually.  God does not want our partial compliance.  He is looking for total obedience to His Word, so we can live a life that is holy and worthy of His name.

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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It is Finished


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 23,25; John 19

Today’s Key Passage – John 19:17-30

 

Anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that I am a perfectionist.  Sometimes, this trait can serve me well, but more often than not, I run into problems.  My compulsive need to make everything perfect is particularly a problem when I am working on projects.  No matter what I am working on, I never seem to actually finish.  Even when I think my work is complete and I believe the project is finished, I usually think of one or two things I could do to improve upon my work.  Once I complete those tasks and think I am done, I usually come up with one or two more things I could do to make it better.  It is a frustrating cycle, and it is something I have struggled with my entire life.

Sadly, many people have the same reaction to Christ’s work on the cross.  Though He proclaimed, “It is finished” (Vs. 30), we are still tempted to try to add something to what He did.  We wrongly believe that we need to earn our salvation by our own deeds or actions, when in reality, He has already done everything that needed to be done.  Believing that we need to add to Christ’s work on the cross is not just damaging to our faith; it is actually sin.  When we try to earn our salvation by our own works, we are effectively saying that what Jesus did was not enough for us.  We are saying that though his work was finished, we have found one or two more things we think we can do to try to improve upon His work.  When you think about it in these terms, it is easy to see why focusing on our deeds as a method to salvation is so caustic to our faith.  We are saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  His work on the cross is all we need to receive complete forgiveness for all of our sins.  Do not try to add to His beautiful masterpiece.  It is already finished.

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.

Are You a Good Person?


Daily Bible Reading – 2 Kings 24; Jeremiah 22; Psalm 112; John 18

Today’s Key Passage – Psalm 112

 

Have you ever wondered whether you are a good person?  If you are anything like me, you probably have.  Most people, if asked directly, will say that they believe they are a good person, even if they have doubts or questions in the back of their minds.  More often than not, the problem with this question lies in perspective.  How one person defines “good” can radically differ from another person’s definition.  Because of this perspective problem, most of us have a difficult time clearly discerning whether we are actually “good”.  Fortunately, in today’s key passage we find a way to answer this question.  To truly find out if we are “good people”, we need only to look from God’s perspective.

In Psalm 112, we see a clear set of guidelines as to how God defines a good person.  According to the psalmist, a good person fears the Lord and delights in His commands. (Vs. 1)  He or she is righteous (Vs. 3), as well as gracious and compassionate. (Vs. 4)  A good person is generous and just (Vs. 5), and has an unshakable faith. (Vs. 6)  Finally, a good person has no fear of bad news because of his trust in the Lord. (Vss. 7-8)

The next time you find yourself wondering whether you are a good person; take a quick look at the characteristics found in Psalm 112.  While we may not always live up to God’s definition of a good person based on our own performance, we can rest in the promise of knowing that we are all made perfect not by our own works but by faith in Jesus Christ.  Secure in that knowledge, we can strive to live up to His standards as our way of thanking Him and demonstrating our love for Him, so that others may see our good deeds and praise our Father in Heaven.

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.

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