Monthly Archives: January 2014

Today’s Defeat Is Tomorrow’s Victory


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 28,29; Acts 7

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 7:44-60

 

The members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen had accused Stephen of blasphemy (the same charge against Jesus) and brought him before the Sanhedrin for trial.  When the high priest asked Stephen if the charges against him were true, Stephen could have used his time to mount his own defense.  Instead, Stephen used his time to recap Israel’s relationship with God.  He spoke about the many times in Israel’s history in which God was faithful to his promises yet the people rejected God and His prophets, including the Messiah Jesus Christ.  Even when faced with untrue charges against him, Stephen stood firm in his beliefs and spoke of his Lord to the very end when the religious leaders got so caught up in their anger that they stoned Stephen to death without even giving him a proper trial.

At first glance, Stephen’s stoning and death following his preaching about Jesus may appear to be a defeat.  While it is true that no one in the council repented that day and came to Christ because of Stephen’s speech, there is fortunately more to this story.  One of the people standing in the crowd that day listening to Stephen’s last words was a man named Saul.  Saul, later called Paul, would eventually convert to Christianity after a miraculous encounter with the resurrected Jesus, and would go on to become the greatest missionary in history.  While Paul’s conversion was not the direct result of Stephen’s speech, there is little doubt that Stephen’s sermon as well as his death must have had a profound effect on Paul.

When we share our faith with others, we may not always see immediate results.  We all know that not everyone we talk to will come to Christ.  Some people will hear our words and will immediately want to run to Him, while others will reject the message and harden their hearts toward God.  There is a third group, though, who will hear our words and something will begin stirring in their hearts.  It may take days, weeks, or even years and it may take other events to get them to the right place, but eventually these people will give their lives to Christ.  These are the people we may never know about, and these victories of tomorrow may appear as defeats in the present.  All God needs to work with is faith the size of a mustard seed in a person, and our call is the help plant that seed.  When faced with what appears to be defeat while sharing your faith with others, do not be discouraged.  You never know whom you are talking with in the present.  That person who seems to dismiss you and reject Jesus today might just end up running to Him and turning others to Christ in the end.

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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Delegation of Duties


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 25-27; Acts 6

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 6:1-7

 

As great as the early church was, it was not perfect.  Like churches today, the early Christian church had its share of problems, both internally and externally.  In today’s key passage, we read about one of these issues that arose between the Hebrew-speaking Christians and the Greek-speaking Christians over the distribution of food.  When the Twelve apostles heard about this problem, they could have taken it upon themselves to try to work out the food distribution on a daily basis, but they knew that their skills were needed elsewhere.  As the leaders of the church, their focus needed to be on preaching the Gospel and bringing new believers to Christ.  Instead of trying to split their focus, they decided to look for other people who could be trusted to take on this important duty.  They searched for seven men who were full of the Holy Spirit and Wisdom.  These seven deacons would take over the food distribution to ensure that this administrative task was taken care of without taking the Twelve’s focus off of the ministry.

In our churches today, we may face similar issues.  There is so much to be done in a vibrant, growing church, so it is important that duties be delegated properly.  Are you a leader in your church?  If so, you know that the demands on your time can be daunting.  Even people with excellent time management skills can quickly become bogged down in administrative details if they try to take on too many tasks.  As leaders of the church today, our focus should be exactly the same as the focus of the Twelve.  We should spend the majority of our time bringing new people to Christ and making disciples.  When other duties come up and it becomes necessary to find others to delegate these tasks to, we would do well to follow the model set forth by the Twelve in our passage.  We should look for others who are full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom to help take on some of our responsibilities.  If you are not a leader in your church today, are you making your skills and talents available to the leadership?  Are you open to having duties delegated to you and helping in the mission to spread the Word of God throughout the world one step at a time?  Remember that we all have a role to play in building the church.  We could all easily just sit back and become a “consumer” at church, but when we truly have a heart for service and we understand that it takes everyone pitching in to reach as many people for Christ as possible, we will realize that being a consumer is not enough.  When we all do our part, the church becomes so much more than just four walls – the church fulfills its destiny of being the bride of Christ, and we can all be a part of that.

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 Problem-Free Christian Life


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 23,24; Psalm 14; Acts 5

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 5:12-26

 

Peter and John had become a thorn in the side of the Sanhedrin.  After being told not to preach anymore in Jesus name, they instead continued preaching, were arrested, and put in jail.  However, an angel came to them, opened the jail, and let them out.  The angel had specific instructions for Peter and John.  They were told to go to the temple courts and preach the Gospel boldly.  This action would cause them to be arrested again.  After much debate about what to do about Peter and John, we find out later in the chapter that the Sanhedrin, “called the apostles in and had them flogged“.  (Acts 5:40)

For some people, it may seem strange that the angel of God would give Peter and John directions that would ultimately lead to them being arrested and beaten.  Sometimes people tend to think that if they obey God they will not have to face troubling times (such as imprisonment and flogging).  Some people believe that following God will lead to a problem-free Christian life.  Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case.  Sometimes following God’s instructions can cause us great pain.  The pain we must bear might be physical, or it might be emotional, but it is pain nonetheless.  While obeying God’s commands will ultimately lead to blessings for us, we must realize and accept that those blessings do not always come in this life.  Sometimes listening to God and going where He tells us to go will cause this life to be filled with pain and suffering instead.  I know what you might be thinking…that does not sound like a very attractive sales pitch for Christianity.  It would be much easier to convince others to follow Jesus by telling them that conversion will make all of their problems go away and will provide them with that problem-free life that seems so elusive, but it would also be a lie.  Fortunately, we can rest assured that God’s blessings will come, and the blessings will be more than we can ever imagine.

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 We Have Seen and Heard


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 21,22; Psalm 12; Acts 4

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 4:1-20

 

The rulers, elders, and teachers of the law in Jerusalem found themselves in a difficult position.  When Jesus was crucified, they likely hoped that would be the end and they would not have to deal with Him anymore.  Now they were faced with His followers who were preaching, teaching, and healing in His name.  What were they to do?  They tried to quiet the storm but putting Peter and John in prison, and they tried to quiet it even more by telling them not to teach in the name of Jesus, but Peter and John refused to be quieted.  Notice what Peter and John said when they were told not to preach in Jesus’ name – they said, “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard”.

I have heard it argued many times over the years by nonbelievers that the resurrection of Christ was a myth.  People claim that Jesus was a good man but was not the Son of God and was not resurrected on the third day.  The argument is that the early Christians (people like Peter and John) simply made up the story of the resurrection to give weight to the religion.  When I was first starting to investigate Christianity, I admit that I considered this possibility, but I quickly dismissed it as ridiculous.  The fact is that most of these early Christians were persecuted, tortured, imprisoned, and sometimes even killed for preaching in Jesus’ name and for sharing the Gospel.  When faced with immediate death, most people would be willing to say their true stories were a lie if it meant saving themselves, so it is simply not feasible that anyone would willingly allow themselves to be tortured or executed to protect a lie.  If the early Christians did not know for a fact that Christ’s resurrection was true, the “myth” would have died off as soon as the torture, imprisonment, and executions began.  The fact is, these early Christians spoke about the resurrection and preached the Gospel because THEY HAD TO.  They had no choice but to talk about what Christ had done for them because of everything they had SEEN and HEARD.  They witnessed the events firsthand, and there was no way they were not going to talk about them.

When we share the Gospel with others, we should do it with this same mindset.  For most of us, we can often find excuses for why we do not share the Gospel with more people.  We might think that the “timing was not right” or that the “opportunity just never came up”.  In reality, these are just our own rationalizations that make us feel better for not sharing the love of Christ with others.  When we focus on the things He has done in our lives – the things He has done for us, the ways He has changed us, and the prayers He has answered – we will find that we too cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.

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.

Telling the Story of Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 17-20; Acts 3

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 3:11-26

 

My initial inclination today was to write a blog about the Ten Commandments.  After all, today was the day we read about them in Exodus 20, and even before I read them today, I was already thinking about what I could write and how I would lay out the post.  Sometimes, though, when we come up with a plan, God decides to provide us with an alternate plan instead.  I logged onto the website to write the blog, and took a quick look at the visit statistics as I often do, and I found something that caused me to change direction today at the last minute.  Each day, the website I use for this blog provides me with a recap of how many people have visited the site, and how they got to the site.  Some people find this page from posts in Facebook (either my own or when some of you graciously decide to click the SHARE button).  Other people find the site by doing a search on popular search engines like Google or Yahoo.  When that happens, the statistics on the site tell me what search term the person used to find this blog.  Most of the time, the search terms are things you would typically expect such as “daily bible reading” or “bible plan”, but today one of these search terms stood out to me.  One of the search terms used today to find my website was, “who was the carpenter in the Bible?”

In this day and age, I think a lot of us take for granted that everyone has heard the Good News about Jesus.  More often than not, we probably think that people have at least heard the story of Jesus once or twice.  Some people have chosen to believe and put their trust in Him, and others have not, but everyone has at least heard the story, right?  This search term reminded me today that sometimes people, maybe even people in our own neighborhoods, have never come to Christ simply because they have not heard about Him.  Maybe they have never been given the opportunity to meet Him and learn about Him.  Maybe they have never read anything in the Bible or been to a single church service.  In the passage above, Peter tells the story of Jesus to the onlookers at the temple, some Jews and some Gentiles.  He tells the story of Jesus as if the people were hearing it for the first time, because for many of the onlookers it may have actually been the first time.  When we tell the story, we should do the same thing.  We should tell the story of Jesus with the same level of passion and emotion as Peter did.  We should never take for granted that people have heard it before.  Even if people have heard parts of the story, maybe they have never heard the whole thing.  Maybe they have never heard the one part that would have made all the difference in the world for them and would have softened their heart toward Christ.  Maybe God has placed you in the position you are in at just the right time to be able to tell His story to that person.

I do not know what happened with that person with the search term.  I pray that he or she found something on this website that moved his or her heart.  I pray that he or she will continue to search for Jesus.  I pray that he or she will make the most important decision of his or her life and trust in Him today.  Please join me today in praying this same prayer.

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.

 

Grumbling and Complaining


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 14-16; Acts 2

Today’s Key Passage – Exodus 16:1-15

 

Before we get into today’s verse, I would like to take a second for a brief recap of what we have read about in the last few days.  The Israelites spent 430 in Egypt praying for God to take them out of Egypt and back to the land of milk and honey.  God rained down ten different plagues on the Egyptians to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, and while the plagues affected the Egyptians in numerous ways, the Israelites were completely unharmed.  When the last of the ten plagues killed the firstborn of all the Egyptian people, Pharaoh finally agreed to let the Israelites leave Egypt.  God sent a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and He was actively leading them during their entire journey thus far.  After they had left, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army to attack the Israelites to bring them back to Egypt, but God placed the pillar of cloud between the Egyptians and the Israelites so that the Israelites would not be attacked.  Then God parted the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to cross on dry land, but then made the sea come back together to destroy the Egyptian army.  After all of this, the Israelites sang a quick song of praise to God, and then immediately started complaining because they were hungry.  Is it just me, or does that just seem crazy?

It is easy for us to look back, of course, at the Israelites and see how foolish they were to complain about being hungry after God had done so much for them.  Sadly, though, most of us have done the same thing.  Each of us has been blessed by God in innumerable ways, yet how quick are we to complain when things do not go our way or when trouble finds us?  When was the last time you complained about something?  Maybe it was when you got home after picking up dinner and found that they got your order wrong.  Maybe it was when you did not get the job you wanted or did not make the sale you wanted.  Maybe it was something completely different.  The point, though, is that we can spend a lot of time and energy complaining about the things that go wrong, and what does it get us?  Usually our complaints make us feel miserable for a time until we eventually get over it and move on.  What if instead of going through this cycle, each time something goes wrong and we feel like complaining we  stopped and thanked God for all the things He HAS done for us.  When the Israelites complained, Moses and Aaron explained that they were not grumbling against them, they were grumbling against God.  When we complain, we are doing the same thing.  Try to keep this in mind the next time the urge to complain comes up, and remember to praise God for His blessings instead.

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.

God Leads the Way


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 12,13; Psalm 21; Acts 1

Today’s Key Passage – Exodus 13:17-22

 

After spending 430 years in Egypt, the Israelites were finally going to the Promised Land.  They had spent years praying for this day and waiting for the time when God would lead them to the land He had promised them.  During their stay in Egypt, they were treated harshly, but the Lord never left them.  We can learn a lot about God from today’s reading and our key passage.  First, we learn about God’s timing.  While 430 years seems like a long time to have to wait for God in human terms, in God’s terms these 430 years are like the blink of an eye.  God’s timing, not ours, determines when He will act.  He always chooses the exact perfect time to put His plans into motion.  While we might sometimes be tempted to “jump the gun” and act impulsively, we must learn to wait for God’s perfect timing before we move forward.

The second thing we learn is that God did not lead the people using the shortest possible route.  He could have taken them on the road through the Philistine country, which was a shorter route to go, but He chose not to because God knew that if they faced opposition on that road they might return back to Egypt.  Instead, He led them down the desert road toward the Red Sea.  When God leads us, He may not always choose the path we would have normally taken ourselves.  God knows the outcome of all future events, so His sense of direction may not always be the same as ours.  When it seems like God is leading us down a much longer path than is available, we need to realize that God has chosen that path for a reason.  We do not have the ability to know what obstacles God is helping us avoid by using His path, and we do not know what we might find along His path that will be very useful to us.  The Israelites did not know it yet, but going the route toward the Red Sea was going to be crucial to their journey out of Egypt.  If they had not taken that route, God would not have been able to use the Red Sea as He ultimately intended.

Finally, we learn that God was actively leading the Israelites, just as He can actively lead us.  With the Israelites, God used pillars of cloud during the day and pillars of fire at night to show them which way to go.  With us, God uses His Scriptures and His Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us in life.  The Israelites could have chosen not to follow God by ignoring the pillars of cloud and fire and simply going their own way, but they would have been foolish to do so.  Likewise, we can each choose not to follow God by ignoring the Bible and the Holy Spirit, but we would also be foolish to do so.  God uses His tools to lead us, and those tools will always be there for us and will never leave us.  We simply have to remember to follow.

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.

Ignoring God’s Message


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 9-11; Luke 24

Today’s Key Passage – Exodus 11:1-10

 

Several times in Exodus, Moses went to Pharaoh and shared the same message from God – “Let my people go, so that they may worship me”.  Each time, Pharaoh chose to ignore God’s message.  Up to this point, he had already seen nine different plagues come upon his land and his people because of his stubbornness.  Pharaoh had endured the plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness.  Each time, Pharaoh was told in advance by Moses exactly what was about to happen with the plagues, and each time Pharaoh saw that the plague happened exactly as God said it would but he still failed to believe.  It seems almost incomprehensible how Pharaoh could have witnessed all of God’s great power and yet still refused to listen to Moses, but the fact is that Pharaoh had decided even before the plagues started that he was not going to listen to God.  Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, meaning he refused to change or repent regardless of the situation.  He was unable or unwilling to accept that anyone or anything was more powerful than he was, and his stubbornness would eventually cost him dearly.

We are all faced with the opportunities to ignore God’s messages on a daily basis.  When people are presented with all of the evidence in the Bible but still refuse to accept the Good News about Jesus Christ, they are ignoring God’s message.  When others hear the Gospel and want to accept it but are unable to put their full faith and trust in Jesus, they are ignoring God’s message.  When we are convicted of sin and know that we should stop but we continue on, we are ignoring God’s message.  Sometimes people allow their hearts to become so hardened that they are unwilling or unable to change.  This is not something that happens all at once – it is a progression that evolves over time until eventually people are unable to hear God’s voice at all.  Like Pharaoh, people can reach a point where they have turned so far away from God that no amount of evidence can bring them back.  This is one of the reasons that sin is so bad for us.  Even when we consider a sin to be “small” or “inconsequential”, we must realize that these sins can build up and harden our hearts.  We have the benefit of hindsight when looking at Pharaoh’s story.  We know how it ends and we are able to see the consequences of repeatedly ignoring God’s message.  Protect your heart today.  Do not allow it to become hardened by ignoring any of God’s messages to you.  He will continue to speak to us, but it is up to us to stop and listen.

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.

Crumbling Under Pressure


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 6-8; Luke 23

Today’s Key Passage – Luke 23:13-25

 

Pilate was a politician, and like most politicians, he wanted to stay in office.  Historical documents suggest that Pilate had already been warned by the Roman authorities about disturbances in his region.  Now he found himself in a difficult place.  On one hand, he found no fault in Jesus.  He questioned him repeatedly, and he seemed to believe that Jesus was not guilty of anything.  Apparently Pilate understood that the Jewish leaders simply wanted Jesus killed out of jealousy, and not because he was an actual criminal.  On the other hand, though, he was worried about what might happen if he refused to kill Jesus.  We read in John 19:12 that the Jewish leaders threatened to go to Caesar and file a complaint against Pilate, which could have resulted in him losing his position.  Pilate had to make a decision, but which road should he take?  He could stand up for what he knew was right and risk losing everything, or he could go along with the crowd even though he knew it was wrong and keep his position.  Obviously, we know which direction he took.  After much internal debate, Pilate crumbled under pressure and allowed Jesus to be executed.  How differently might things have been if Pilate had only stood up for what he believed?  No doubt Jesus still would have died (after all, that was God’s plan all along and nothing was going to stop that), but if Pilate had stood firm in his beliefs he would have been remembered much differently than he is today.

Most of us face similar situations in our own lives.  Peer pressure is not just something that happens to teenagers in high school.  It may start as a childhood issue, but peer pressure continues for most people all their lives.  We may face pressures from friends or coworkers who are not believers who want us to go along with what they are doing or to go back to the way we were before we were saved.  Time and time again, we may be faced with people who want us to do things that go against our better judgment and our beliefs.  How will we react in those times?  How will we react when there might be real consequences to standing up for what we know is right?  When the consequences are real and the pressure is on, if we try to go it alone and rely on our own strength to get us through, the chances are we will crumble the way Pilate did.  If, however, we rely on the power of Jesus Christ living inside of us, we can withstand the pressure.  We can stand up for what we know is right.  We can stand firm in our beliefs regardless of the pressures or the consequences.  Pilate had no idea that the decision he was making about Jesus would turn out to be the defining moment of his life, and we will not know which of our decisions might be our own defining moment.  Instead of crumbling under pressure, when we stand firm with the courage of God on our side we can only become stronger.

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.

Feelings of Inadequacy


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 3-5; Luke 22

Today’s Key Passage – Exodus 4:1-17

 

Even people who do not know much about God or the Bible have likely heard of Moses.  Most people, if questioned, could probably tell you a little bit about him, as he is one of the great heroes of the Bible.  What many people might not know, however, is how much Moses struggled with feelings of inadequacy.  When God first told him His plans for Moses, his reaction was one of shock as he asked God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)  In today’s key passage, we see these feelings of inadequacy as Moses struggles with the tasks God has asked him to do.  He is worried that people will not believe that he talked to God.  He is worried that he will not be able to speak well to others.  Basically, Moses does not feel that he is the right man for the job.  As he worries about what the future might hold, he focuses on all of the worst-case scenarios that might happen, and struggles to understand how he will possibly be able to do what God is asking him to do.

Most people, at one time or another will feel inadequate.  There are times when many of us will struggle with what God is calling us to do, and we might feel like we are not worthy or capable to do much to help God build His Kingdom.  I know when I felt called to start this blog, I struggled with these feelings of inadequacy just as Moses did.  I worried that I did not know enough.  I worried that I would not be able to find something to write about or even find the time to write every day.  I even worried that I might accidentally write something that was not “Scripturally sound” and might lead others in the wrong direction.  After all, who am I to write about God and the Bible every day?

What I have learned, though, is that God does not call us to do something without giving us the tools to do it.  God gave Moses the ability to perform miraculous signs to ensure others would believe him.  He gave Moses the words to speak, and even allowed Aaron to help him.  Moses had no reason to fear the future or worry about his own inadequacies because God was with him and was willing and able to help.  Just as He did with Moses, God has provided me with the tools I need to do His work through this blog.  Every day, He has given me topics to write about and the words to use, and every day He has reminded me that I should not have been so concerned about my own feelings of inadequacy.  The fact is that all of us are absolutely inadequate when compared to God.  Fortunately, God works through each of us and gives us the ability to do the work He asks us to do.  He provides us with all the right tools at exactly the right time to make sure we can accomplish His goals.  The next time you are feeling inadequate or wondering, “who am I to do this”, remember that God will help you every step of the way.  He will guide you and lead you down the right paths if you are willing to follow Him.  God can cure your inadequacies and heal your weaknesses.  All He asks is that we are willing to do what He says and trust in Him to help.  Never let the fear of your shortcomings keep you from doing great things for 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.

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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