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.

Jesus’ Prayer for Us


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 18-20; Psalm 93; John 17

Today’s Key Passage – John 17:5-26

 

When was the last time someone prayed for you?  Was it a prayer spoken in the privacy of someone else’s heart that you found out about after the fact, or was it another believer praying over you in person?  If you have ever experienced this, you know it can be a very moving moment in our faith.  We know that, “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)  We also know that, “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15)  These two Biblical truths are what make prayer from another person so powerful, and they are also what make today’s key passage so important.

In the seventeenth chapter of John, Jesus prays an extended prayer for all of His disciples.  He prays not only for the disciples who were listening to Him at the time, He also prays for all of us who are following Him today.  In His prayer, He asks God for many things on our behalf.  He prays that we will all be unified as one body of Christ (Vs. 11), protected from the evil one (Vs. 15), and sanctified by the truth of God’s Word. (Vs. 17)  Perhaps my favorite part of Jesus’ prayer is when He asks God to allow each of us to live with Him so we can see His glory. (Vs. 24)

So why did Jesus pray this prayer for us and why is it recorded in the Bible?  Jesus had an intimate relationship with the Father, and did not need to pray this prayer aloud for His own benefit or to make sure God heard Him.  He did it for one reason and one reason only – so that we all might have the full measure of Jesus’ joy in our lives. (Vs. 13)  Experience the joy that comes from knowing that Jesus Christ prayed this prayer for YOU, and that He continues to intercede on YOUR behalf today before God.  Since no man has ever been more righteous than Jesus, no prayer has ever been more powerful or more effective.

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.

What Kind of Tree Would You Be?


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 16,17; Psalm 96; John 16

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 17:5-8

 

Years ago, I was interviewing for a new job when the interviewer asked me perhaps the most clichéd question in the history of employment – “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”  To this day, I have never really known how to answer this question.  I have always been a pragmatic person, so a question like this has always seemed silly to me.  I could have said I would be an oak – strong and dependable, or a pine – flexible and resilient.  I could have said I would be an evergreen – full of life every single day.  To be honest, none of these answers would have really meant much to me.  Fortunately, today I found a much better answer to this question in God’s Word.

In today’s key passage, God is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah about the difference between putting our trust in men versus putting our trust in God.  He says that some people put their trust in men and depend on their own strength as they turn away from God. (Vs. 5)  These people are like a barren bush living in the desert. (Vs. 6)  In contrast, some people put their trust firmly in God.  These people are like a tree planted next to a stream, whose leaves are always green and who never has to worry about a drought because it will always bear fruit. (Vs.  8)

As we walk through our lives, we have a choice to make every day.  Which kind of tree will we be?  Will we put our trust in men and settle for a life barren and devoid of God’s blessings, or will we put our faith and trust in God and bear fruit for Him daily?  The next time I am asked this question in an interview, I will know exactly how to answer.  I want to be a tree planted by a stream.  I want to put my whole trust in God.

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.

The Linen Belt


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 13-15; John 15

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 13:1-11

 

In today’s key passage, we find a very interesting illustration.  God tells Jeremiah to buy a new linen belt and wear it around his waist. (Vs. 1)  At that time, a linen belt was an intimate piece of clothing, comparable to the underwear of today.  After Jeremiah wore the belt, God directed him to take it off and hide it in some rocks near a river. (Vs. 4)  After many days, God told Jeremiah to return to Perath and retrieve the belt. (Vs. 6)  After sitting in the elements, the belt that was once perfect and clean was ruined and completely useless. (Vs. 7)

The belt was symbolic of the people of Judah.  They were once a people who were close to God, just as the belt was once close to Jeremiah.  Over time, though, the people of Judah allowed pride to come into their hearts, and this pride was as damaging to the people of Judah as the elements were to the belt.  Eventually, that pride ruined them and rendered them completely useless to God.

This perfect picture of backsliding is as relevant today as it was for the Israelites.  When we are first saved, we all begin a close personal relationship with God.  If we are not careful, though, we can allow the “elements” to damage that relationship.  We can start to feel pride about our salvation or about our good works, and pretty soon, we end up ruined and completely useless.  Do not allow anything to come between you and God, because with Him, we are clean and new, but without Him, we are just a dirty belt.

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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