Monthly Archives: July 2013

Before We Were Saved


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 63,64; Psalm 107; John 2

Today’s Key Passage – Psalm 107:1-32

 

Psalm 107 is a psalm of praise, celebrating the Jews’ return from the Babylonian exile.  In the psalm, God is glorified for saving four different types of people.  As I read this today, I was reminded of exactly who I was before I was saved by God’s grace.  If you are anything like me, you will likely identify with each of the four groups of people mentioned in this psalm:

Wandering – Before we were saved, we were wandering.  We walked through this life without purpose or destination.  We were, “hungry and thirsty, and [our] lives ebbed away.” (Vs. 5)

Imprisoned – Before we were saved, we were imprisoned.  We were trapped in the prison of our own sinfulness, and we, “sat in darkness, and the deepest gloom.” (Vs. 10)

Suffering – Before we were saved, we were suffering.  We “became fools through [our] rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of [our] iniquities.” (Vs. 17)

Overwhelmed – Before we were saved, like merchants on ships in the midst of a violent storm, we were overwhelmed.  We “reeled and staggered like drunken men; [we] were at [our] wits’ end.” (Vs. 27)

Whether you have been walking with Christ for years or for days, it is important to be reminded of exactly who you were before you were saved.  When we remember, we can instantly recall how much God has done for us.  Whether you were wandering, imprisoned, suffering, overwhelmed, or all of the above, if you are a follower of Christ then there was a time in your life when you cried out to the Lord, and He delivered you from your distress.  Spend some time today praising Him for saving you.  Then share your story with others to bring glory to 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.

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Walking with Someone


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 60-62; John 1

Today’s Key Passage – John 1:35-42

 

Customer service is important to any retail store.  We have all experienced the good type of service, and most of us have unfortunately experienced the bad.  Years ago I worked in a department store, and we spent a lot of time talking about customer service.  One of our policies at the time had to do with how we should react whenever guests asked for directions to a certain department in the store.  Instead of pointing out the area or trying to explain where they should go, we were told to walk with them and personally show them to their destination.

We see this same attitude modeled twice in our key passage today.  We first see it when John the Baptist announces to his two disciples (Andrew and probably John) that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, (Vs. 36) and the two disciples followed Jesus. (Vs. 37)  The disciples asked Jesus where He was staying, and instead of simply answering their question or pointing out their destination, he walked with them and showed them. (Vs. 39)  We see it again when Andrew went to tell his brother Simon Peter about Jesus. (Vs. 41)  Instead of trying to tell Peter where to find Jesus, Andrew walked with him and took him to meet Jesus.  In both cases, while pointing to the destination would have been easier, walking with someone and showing him the destination was a better choice.

When faced with someone who is investigating the faith, we can choose to point to Jesus and hope they can find Him on their own, or we can walk with them and help them find Him.  When we are discipling a new believer, we can tell them what their journey might look like and point them toward their destination, or we can walk with them as they grow in Christ.  When given a choice, never decide to take the quick route and simply point the way.  Instead, walk with people and “do life” with them.  Go with them as they journey toward their destination, and help them avoid potential pitfalls or hazards along the way.  When we are walking with someone and showing them the way, we are following the model set forth by Jesus and the disciples, which is always the best choice.

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.

Running Late


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 57-59; Psalm 103; 2 Peter 3

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Peter 3:3-9

 

I once had a boss whose concept of time differed greatly from mine.  Every time he asked me to do something “quickly”, I was never able to live up to his expectations.  If I finished my assignment in a week, he wanted to know why it was not finished in a day.  If I finished in a day, he wanted to know why it was not finished in an hour.  I remember one time he gave me a project to do and I dropped everything else, got help from my entire team, and finished it in less than an hour.  I walked into his office expecting to impress him with my quick return, only to find him teeming with anger over how long it took me to finish.  It was at that point that I realized we were on two different wavelengths when it came to time.

The apostle Peter reminds us that we are on a different wavelength in regards to time with our Creator as well.  We often wonder why He does not step in to help us more quickly, why it is taking Him so long to bring healing to a friend, or why he is not helping a family member repent of his sin.  Sometimes we even wonder why he has not returned yet to bring us all into His glorious presence.  There are times when all of us think that God is running late.  Peter reminds us that, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” (Vs. 9)  See, the issue does not lie in whether or not God is running late, the issue lies in our concept of time compared to His.  “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (Vs.  8)  The next time you believe God is running late, remember the words of Peter, and realize that God’s timetable is not the same as ours.

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.

Every Rain Has a Purpose


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 53-56; 2 Peter 2

Today’s Key Passage – Isaiah 55:8-11

 

July in Texas usually means two things.  It is going to be hot, and it is going to be dry, and this summer is no exception.  In fact, for the life of me I cannot remember the last time it rained, which is usually the way it works.  See, I love a rainy day, but when the rains stop and the sun comes back out the water quickly fades away and we forget it was even there.  The evaporation process, especially in the heat of a Texas summer, is extraordinarily fast.  One thing we can always be sure of, though, is that before the rains evaporate they are going to perform their purpose.  They will always nourish the land.

In today’s key passage, we are reminded of the similarities between God’s Word and the rain.  Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Vss. 10-11)  Just as the rains always nourish the land, God’s Word will always accomplish His purpose.  It will never return to Him void.

So what does this mean to us practically?  It means that every time God’s Word (The Bible) is preached, heard, or read, it is accomplishing His purpose.  What we have to keep in mind, however, is that we might not always know or understand what that purpose is at the time.  Sometimes His purpose might be to draw someone closer to Him while other times that might not be the case.  Sometimes His purpose might be to teach us something, and other times it might be to correct us.  There will be times when He will give us more faith, and other times when He will convict us of our sins.  We will never know what His purpose might be, but we do always know that He has one.  When we get into trouble is when we think we know what His purpose “should” be and decide that anything less is unacceptable.  For example, when we speak the Word to an unbeliever and they fail to accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, we might feel like a failure because we wrongly believe we did not fulfill God’s purpose.  In reality, though, God alone decides the purpose for that conversation, and simply by taking part in it, you have succeeded!  Do not waste time trying to figure out His purposes, as he reminds us when He says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”. (Vs.  8)  Instead, rest in the comfort of knowing that God’s Word always achieves His purpose, and be thankful for the opportunity to help advance His Kingdom.

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.

Learning to Fly


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 50-52; Psalm 92; 2 Peter 1

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Peter 1:3-11

 

Airplanes have always fascinated me.  I have read all about Bernoulli’s Principle and I understand the physics of how a plane flies, but what really interests me are pilots.  Every time I walk past an open cockpit door, I am amazed that anyone could possibly learn how to use all of the buttons, switches, and gauges.  What looks like a jumbled mess to me is simply another day at the office for a trained pilot.  This thought brings me to an interesting question for today – what if someone walked up to you tomorrow and gave you an airplane?  I am talking about a genuine, no strings attached, free airplane.  It would certainly be an amazing and valuable gift, but for most of us, there would be a problem.  When we received the airplane, we would have everything we need to achieve flight, yet most of us still would not be able to fly because we do not know how to use the airplane.  We would find ourselves with a choice.  Either we could let the airplane sit around collecting dust, never to be used, or we could learn how to fly.

I thought about this question today as I read our key passage.  The apostle Peter says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (Vs. 3)  Many of us walk around this life with many questions in our heads.  We wonder if we are good enough, if we know enough, or if we can really fulfill God’s vision for us.  It is easy for us to think things like, “one day maybe I will be able to do this” or “one day maybe I will be able to stop doing that”.  What we often seem to forget is that when we were saved, the Holy Spirit came to live inside of us.  When that happened, God gave us everything we need to live a godly life and to follow him completely.  He gave us this free gift with no strings attached so that we “may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (Vs. 4)  Just like when we received the free airplane, with the Holy Spirit we have everything we need to live a life that is fully pleasing to God and to serve Him completely.  The problem, though, is that we might not immediately know how to use the free gift.  Each of us has the full power of the Lord of Lords living inside of us, but if we do not learn how to use that power, it becomes as useless to us as the plane we do not know how to fly, and we spend our time trying to overcome sin and temptation through our own strength.  The good news is that we can learn to utilize the power of God in our lives.  Do not leave the power of God’s Holy Spirit sitting around collecting dust.  Spend the time getting to know how to use His free gift through prayer and Bible study, and you can learn how to fly.

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.

Surviving a Lion Attack


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 46-49; 1 Peter 5

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Peter 5:8-11

 

Lions are interesting animals.  As the king of the jungle, the lion is the ultimate predator.  In fact, the only time lions are considered prey is when they are being hunted by humans.  Lions hunt in packs, and they rely on teamwork to catch their prey and survive.  Like most good hunters, lions position themselves downwind of the animals they are hunting, and when they attack they look for either the animal that is alone or they go for the animal that is injured or the weakest of the herd.  When they find that weak target, they attack with the full force of the pack, bringing the prey down and sharing the reward.  Fortunately, lions rarely attack humans, but it does happen on occasion.  The best tip to avoiding a lion attack is to be aware of your surroundings and not risk encroaching on a lion’s territory.  If an attack does happen, your best bet is to stand your ground, face the lion head on, stretch your arms out wide, and yell as loudly as you can.  Since this is not typical “prey behavior”, the lion will often change its mind about the attack and walk away.

If you are wondering why I am telling you all of this about lions, the answer can be found in today’s key passage.  Peter tells us that, “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (Vs. 8)  Like a lion, the enemy often waits for you to be at your most vulnerable point before attacking.  He might look for you in the moments when you are alone or cut off from other believers.  He might stalk you when you are feeling weak, tired, or helpless.  These are the times when the temptations to sin will attack you with their full force.  Just as we can with real lions, we can avoid most of these attacks by being “self-controlled and alert” (Vs. 8) but sometimes attacks are inevitable.  When an attack does happen, our best bet is to, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” (Vs. 9)  James gives us similar advice when he says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

All of us can survive a “lion” attack – not by our own strength, but with the power of the Holy Spirit on our side.  When you are facing an attack, stand firm and resist it, remembering that, “the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (Vs. 10)

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 End is Near


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 43-45; 1 Peter 4

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Peter 4:7-11

 

I played baseball for most of my childhood.  I started playing when I was five or six years old and played through high school.  During my senior year, one day about halfway through the season the realization hit me that the end was near because I knew that I did not have the skills necessary to play in college.  As mostly a relief pitcher, I never really knew when I was going to play, so I came to understand that any game could be my last.  With this in mind, I found myself working just a little bit harder in practice.  When I was called on to pitch in games, I found myself throwing just a little bit harder, and I found myself trying to relish every single minute I spent on the field.  I still remember the last game I ever played in high school.  After twelve or thirteen years of living a breathing baseball, I stood on that field one last time after the game was over.  As I stood there looking around the field, I thought about all of the fields I played on over the years.  I thought about all of the wins and all of the losses, all of the good times and the bad.  I experienced many emotions that day, but the one emotion I did not have was regret, because I knew I played all those years to the full extent of my ability.

In today’s key passage, Peter gives us a gentle reminder that the end of our days is near.  As followers of Christ, we know that we will leave this world either when Jesus comes for the rapture or when He decides our time is complete.  In either case, we do not know when our last day on earth will be.  It could be today, tomorrow, or 50 years from now.  Of course, we all realize that any day can be our last, but often we choose not to live with that in mind.  We always think we will have more time to love others or to try to save that unbelieving friend.  We think we will have more time to spend in prayer or in reading God’s Word.  We think we will have more time to live as Christ has asked and to fulfill His vision for our lives.  The bottom line, though, is that we simply do not know.  We cannot afford to procrastinate.  We cannot afford to put off until tomorrow what we could do today.  We have to live every day as if it might be our last.  When we do, we will find ourselves serving God just a little bit harder.  We will find ourselves praying just a little bit harder.  We will find ourselves trying to reach others for Christ just a little bit harder.  Then when we get to our last day, whenever that might be, we can look back on our lives without regret.  You never know when your last day will be.  Live like it is today.

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.

Be Prepared


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 40-42; 1 Peter 3

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Peter 3:15-16

 

Most of us know that the Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared”.  While I was never a Boy Scout, I still like to live with this motto in mind, as it just seems like good advice.  When I pack for a trip, I always pack more than I think I will need, just in case I end up having to stay another night or spill anything on my clothes.  In my vehicle, I always keep basic tools, a flashlight, and an air pump just in case I ever break down.  When going to a meeting or an appointment, I always leave a few minutes early just in case I am caught in traffic.  These are just a few of the ways in which I try to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

We can also strive to be prepared for the best-case scenario.  In today’s key passage, the apostle Peter gives us two pieces of advice to help us be prepared for the best scenario of all – sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.  First, he says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”. (Vs. 15)  Peter knew a very simple truth that each of us should keep in mind – you never know when someone might ask you about your faith, and when this happens, we must be prepared to answer.  The best way to be prepared for this eventuality is through practice.  Practice telling friends or family members your personal testimony.  When asked about our faith, often the most appropriate response is not to tell others what Jesus can do for them, but rather what Jesus has done for you.  By using this approach, you can gently and respectfully share your faith and avoid making the other person feel defensive.

The second way to be prepared to share the Gospel is through the way you live your life.  Peter continues his earlier thought by saying, “keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (Vs. 16)  When we live according to God’s Word, we keep a clear conscience and avoid the guilt that accompanies sin.  When others see our behavior in action, they will be able to observe firsthand the power of God in our lives.  For some people, this might be enough to cause them to seek God on their own, wanting to change their own lives for the better.  For others, while your behavior may not stop them from slandering you entirely, it will cause their words to serve only as an embarrassment for them.

Our complete witness for Christ is a combination of what we say and what we do.  When we are able to share our story about how God has changed our lives, and are able to back up that story with our actions and behaviors, we will always be prepared.

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 Story of Your Life


Daily Bible Reading – 2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38,39; Psalm 75; 1 Peter 2

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Kings 20:20-21

 

Have you ever noticed that there is usually a big difference between a person’s autobiography and a biography written by another author?  This seems to happen quite often with public figures.  A celebrity or politician will write an autobiography, and then someone else will come along and write a biography about that person and the two books will be remarkably different.  The stories and events included in the two books will differ.  The spin will differ.  Sometimes the overall impression about the person will differ.

If you were to write the story of your life, what would it look like?  You might write about your childhood or you might write about some key events in your life.  Perhaps you would include stories about some of your greatest accomplishments.  In contrast to that book, if God were to write the story of your life, what would that book look like?  I thought about this today, and I believe that for most of us, the two books would be remarkably different.

For the last few days, we have been reading about Hezekiah, king of Judah.  During Hezekiah’s life, perhaps his greatest secular accomplishment was the building of a 1777-foot tunnel from the Gihon spring to the Pool of Siloam.  When facing an attack by the Assyrians, Hezekiah wanted to ensure that his enemy could not cut off his water supply, so he had his men build this tunnel to provide the people of Jerusalem fresh drinking water throughout the siege.  Militarily, it was a brilliant move for a king to make, and if Hezekiah were writing the story of his life, it likely would have been highlighted.  Hezekiah might have spent several chapters writing about the construction of this tunnel, and what it meant for his people.  Interestingly, though, in the Bible it is barely mentioned.  We read about it briefly in 2 Chronicles 32, and we see it again today in our key passage.  This story, which might have been a highlight of Hezekiah’s autobiography, was only mentioned in four verses in the story of Hezekiah told by God.

In each of our lives, we all have events and accomplishments that we might think are important.  There are things that each of us would likely choose to highlight in our own autobiographies.  At the end of the day, though, what we would write about ourselves does not really matter much.  What is truly important is what God would write about us if He were writing our biographies.  His book about us would be about our faith and our trust in Him, and all of the earthly things that we consider important would barely be mentioned.  As you think about your life on a daily basis, think about the book God is writing about you.  Think about the things you are doing and not doing that He thinks are important.  Think about the story of your life, as written by the Creator of the universe, and make sure you are giving Him good material to work with.

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.

Praying for the Right Reasons


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 36-37; Psalm 76; 1 Peter 1

Today’s Key Passage – Isaiah 37:14-20

 

Even before I was saved, I used to spend time praying before going to sleep at night, though I vary rarely prayed for the right reasons.  For example, I would often pray that God would allow me to win the lottery.  Moreover, I did not want to win the lottery so I could do anything good like helping the homeless or building a church.  I wanted to win the lottery so I could buy a big house and a Ferrari.  Of course, looking back on it now my prayers were nothing short of sinful, yet at the time I was always at least a little surprised and disappointed when my lottery numbers failed to win.  See, I used to look at prayer the same way a small child looks at blowing out the candles on a birthday cake.  I would simply make a wish and hope for the best.  I never gave any thought to praying for the right reasons or praying according to God’s will, mostly because at that point in my life I had never actually read the Bible.

Hezekiah was a man who knew how to pray for the right reasons.  As we saw in yesterday’s reading, the Assyrian king had Jerusalem besieged, and was threatening to attack.  In the face of a seemingly hopeless situation, Hezekiah went to God in prayer.  Fortunately for us, the text of his prayer is preserved in our key passage today (as well as in 2 Kings 19).  Hezekiah began his prayer by praising and exalting God. (Vss. 15-16)  He then asked God to deliver his people from the hands of the Assyrians, but perhaps not for the reason you might think.  Hezekiah did not ask to be delivered to save himself from death or exile.  He did not even ask to be delivered simply to save his people.  Hezekiah asked God to be delivered, “so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.” (Vs. 20)

When we pray, we need to constantly seek to know God’s will and not our own.  So how do we know if our prayers are in line with God’s will?  One good way to test our prayers is by asking ourselves who would benefit if our prayers were granted.  If our prayers only benefit ourselves, we are probably not praying according to God’s will.  Even if our prayers benefit others, we still may not be praying according to His will.  The true test is whether or not the answer to our prayers will advance God’s Kingdom.  The more we learn about the Lord through his Word and the more we grow in Him, the better we will get at discerning His will.  When we know and surrender to God’s perfect will, we will find that we are able to pray for the right reasons.

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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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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