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Accepting God’s Invitation


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 20-22

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 22:1-14

 

I remember the first time I read today’s key passage.  I understood the metaphor that the invited guests that refused to come to the banquet were representative of people who have heard God’s message for the world but have chosen to ignore Him and reject Him.  I understood that God sent the invitation to everyone just as God’s grace and salvation is open to everyone.  The one thing I did not understand was the one man who was found without wedding clothes who was kicked out of the banquet.  This seemed harsh to me.  In my young mind, my first thought was – what if the man could not afford wedding clothes?  It seemed so unfair to me, and it was a stumbling block for me, but then I started to learn more about God and about His Scriptures, and I came to understand this passage.  You see, in the days of Jesus when a wedding was announced, the guests were GIVEN wedding clothes to wear.  The person throwing the party freely gave every invited guest some fancy clothes to wear.  This changed everything for me.  The only reason this man would not be wearing the wedding clothes was because he did not think he needed them.  Perhaps he was too proud to wear the clothes or too arrogant.  For whatever reason, I could understand the king’s anger at this man for not putting on the clothes he had provided.

God is having a party and it is called eternal life.  It is going to be the best party you can imagine and everyone is invited.  You have received your invitation and it is in your hands whether you will attend.  God even provided us all with wedding clothes to wear in the form of His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus provided the wedding clothes for us by what He did on the cross.  All you have to do to receive the gift of eternal life is put on the wedding clothes that Christ has provided for you, and you will be welcomed with open arms.  As we all walk through this life, let us all put on the wedding clothes provided by Jesus, and let us all help others change their clothes as well.

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

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Facing Persecution


Daily Bible Reading – Malachi 3, 4; Psalm 148; Acts 5

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 5:17-42

 

In the early days of Christianity, the ruling authorities warned Peter and John many times not to preach about Jesus Christ.  Each time they received a warning, they went right back to doing what they knew was right, and they continued to share their faith and tell others the good news about Jesus.  They did this because they knew they “must obey God rather than men“. (5:29)  Because of this decision to continue preaching the Gospel, they faced brutal persecution.  Today’s key passage marks the first of many times that the Apostles were beaten.  When the beating was finished, Peter and John “left the Sanhedrin, REJOICING because they had been counted worthy [by God] of suffering disgrace for the Name [of Jesus Christ].” (5:41)  It requires a tremendous amount of faith to rejoice in persecution, and the Apostles had this faith, for they knew that they were doing the right thing.

Christians today are still facing persecution to some degree.  Most of us, however, face persecution in the form of mocking, ridicule, and exclusion as opposed to being beaten and jailed (though unfortunately that does still happen in some parts of the world).  Sometimes it is difficult to see this persecution as a blessing, but we must always remember that if we are persecuted for our faith, it is only because God has counted us worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  Jesus never said that living our lives for Him would be easy while on this earth.  Fortunately, no matter what persecutions we face here, we know we can count on blessings in Heaven.  On that day, when we stand face to face with the resurrected Christ, we can know we will never shed another tear.

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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Answering Prayers


Daily Bible Reading – Nehemiah 11, 12; Psalm 1; Acts 3

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 3:1-10

 

The crippled beggar positioned himself in the same place every day – right at the entrance to the temple.  He did this because he felt it was the best place for him to be to get what he thought he really needed.  In the beggar’s mind, he believed money would be the answer to his prayers, so he sat in the same place daily hoping for someone to come along and give him something.  When Peter saw him, he had a different idea.  Peter told the man “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you” (3:6) and then he promptly healed the man by the power of Jesus Christ.  Peter was unable to answer the prayer the beggar was asking for, but that he had something much better to give him.  The power of the Holy Spirit healed the man and allowed him to walk.  Undoubtedly, this was a much better gift than a couple of coins.

I think God answers many of our prayers in the same way.  Often we are like the crippled beggar, begging God to give us what we think we really need.  When we fail to receive what we were begging for, it is easy to think that our prayer went unanswered.  In reality, though, that is not the case.  Perhaps God, in his infinite wisdom, knows that what we were begging for is not really what we needed.  God is amazingly faithful.  He hears and answers all of our prayers in one way or another.  The love that He has for each of us is unending.  He wants the very best for us in everything we do on a daily basis.  His plan for all of us is perfect and He always knows what He is doing.  When we surrender everything to Him and let Him take over everything in our lives, we allow God to do more than just answer our prayers.  When we trust in Him completely, sometimes instead of giving us what we have asked for, He can give us something much better.

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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Gifts from God


Daily Bible Reading – Nehemiah 1, 2; Psalms 133, 134; Luke 22

Today’s Key Passage – Nehemiah 2:1-9

 

Nehemiah was distraught when he heard that the walls of Jerusalem had not yet been rebuilt.  Walls were very important in Nehemiah’s time as they offered a city protection and security.  When he heard about these things, he spent days fasting and praying and by the end he knew what he had to do – he needed to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and restore the city.  Nehemiah knew that God had given him a great gift in life – the gift of leadership.  He wanted to use this gift to help rebuild the city both physically and spiritually.  At the time, Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king, which meant he was in charge of the safety and quality of the king’s meals and drinks.  Nehemiah knew that God had placed him in this position for exactly this time, and he used this gift of God to ask the king for permission to rebuild the city and to ask the king for help.

Every single person on this earth has been given gifts from God.  That gift may be a talent like speaking or leading, or it may be that God has placed a person in a specific environment or position for a reason.  God gives us gifts to serve Him and to further His kingdom, but not everyone uses his or her gifts for these purposes.  Others spend years trying to determine what their gifts are and how to use them for God.

If you have found your gifts, use them for God’s work.  Find an outlet to serve Him and then take action.  If you are not sure of your gifts yet, keep praying and God will show you how you can help and what you can do for His Kingdom.  As long as we always keep our eyes on Him, we can use our individual gifts to bring Him glory and honor in everything we do.

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.

No Coincidence


Daily Bible Reading – Esther 3-8; Luke 18

Today’s Key Passage – Esther 4:1-17

 

Have you ever noticed how sometimes the perfect song comes on the radio right when you need to hear it?  Have you ever gotten the phone call from a friend or loved one right when you needed to hear his or her voice the most?  Have you ever received a financial blessing right when you were feeling overwhelmed by bills?  The world would call these things coincidence.  If you look deeper, though, you can clearly see that examples like these are evidence of something much more.  They are, in fact, evidence of God’s sovereignty and providence.

In our readings yesterday and today from the book of Esther, we find many examples of God’s care in action.  It was no coincidence that Esther became queen of Persia (2:17), or that it happened shortly before Haman convinced King Xerxes to issue a decree to kill all of the Jews. (3:5-15)  It was no coincidence that when Esther went to speak with the king uninvited, he welcomed her instead of having her killed, which was his custom. (5:1-2)  It was no coincidence that King Xerxes had the history of his reign read to him, was reminded that Mordecai saved his life, and decided to honor him on the same night that Haman came to convince the king to have Mordecai killed. (6:1-11)  It was no coincidence that the evil Haman was hanged on the very same gallows he had built to hang Mordecai. (7:1-10)  While God’s name is never actually mentioned anywhere in the book of Esther, it is clear that Esther’s entire story is one great testimony to God’s love and power.

Never underestimate God’s ability to provide you with just what you need at exactly the right time, and to use you right when He needs you the most.  He can use any means to bring about His plans.  When you begin to wonder why He has you in a certain place or why you are facing certain circumstances, be open to His direction and His will, and realize that He may have you there “for such a time as this“. (4:14)

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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Being Grateful


Daily Bible Reading – Ezra 5, 6; Psalm 138; Luke 16

Today’s Key Passage – Psalm 138

 

There are many recurring themes in the book of Psalms, and one of these themes is gratefulness.  King David was certainly grateful to God, and that spirit of thanksgiving shines through in our key passage today.  David praised God for His love and faithfulness (138:2), and for making him bold and stouthearted (138:3).  He was grateful for being saved during all of his times of trouble (138:7), and knew that God would never abandon him. (138:8)  David understood an important truth about God.  Our proper response to Him should always be one of gratefulness, because He will always fulfill His purposes for us (138:8) and will always answer when we call on Him. (138:3)

Most of us cry out to God in our times of need.  We go to Him with our requests and we ask Him to help us in our most dire situations.  There is obviously nothing wrong with this, as God wants us to take our most sincere needs to Him in prayer, but we can all have a tendency to be one-sided in our prayers.  Spending time with God and having a relationship with Him should be about more than just asking Him for a laundry-list of needs, wants, and desires.  It is important that we not forget to be grateful for all that He has provided.  When we forget about this important piece, we are more likely to get frustrated when we have to wait for God’s answer to our prayers, and we are more likely to question whether He is listening to us in our times of need.  When we focus first on being grateful to Him for the prayers He has already answered, it becomes much easier to wait for His timing and to trust that He will come through for us again.  Spend some time today thanking God for the prayers He has answered.  Thank Him for the big prayers and the small ones in which He has been faithful to you, and praise Him for all the prayers He will answer for you in the future.

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.

Questions about Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – Ezra 1; Psalms 84-85; Luke 7

Today’s Key Passage – Luke 7:18-35

 

John the Baptist knew what his role was in this life.  He knew that he was to prepare the way for God’s chosen one – the Messiah.  He had heard all of the stories about Jesus, and he knew that Jesus must have been sent by God.  The only problem was that he was not sure if Jesus was just another prophet or the Anointed One of God, so he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask him. (7:18-20)  Jesus response to John’s disciples tells us a lot about Him.  He could have been upset about being questioned.  He could have been angry that John felt the need to ask questions about Him instead of simply believing blindly.  This, of course, was not Jesus’ response.  Jesus told John’s disciples to report back to John all the things He had done. (7:22)  Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead, among other miraculous deeds.  He wanted John the Baptist to decide for himself if Jesus was the Messiah based on the evidence at hand.  Then, as further evidence that Jesus was not upset about being questioned, He spoke to the crowd about John the Baptist’s greatness among men. (7:28)

Most of us, whether we are followers of Christ or not, have had questions about Jesus.  They might be questions we have already answered, or they might be lingering thoughts that appear from time to time.  Is Jesus really the Messiah?  Does He really know me?  Did He really die for my sins?  Does He really see me as perfect and beautiful?  Does He really love me?  If you have ever felt guilty for asking yourself these questions about Jesus, today’s key passage will be a real blessing for you.  See, Jesus does not get angry about being questioned.  Having questions about Him does not mean there is something wrong with your faith or that you are not a “good Christian”.  Just like John, Jesus invites us to examine the evidence about Him and decide for ourselves that He is who He says He is.  The more we learn about Him through reading God’s Word and spending time with Him in prayer, the fewer questions we will have about Him.  Then, as we answer our questions about Him, we will grow to trust Him and love Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

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

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

When Life Seems Unfair


Daily Bible Reading – Hosea 10-12; Psalm 73; Hebrews 4

Today’s Key Passage – Psalm 73

 

At some point in our lives, we have all cried out the familiar phrase, “That is not fair!”  I can remember saying it as a child and I know I have thought it and said it as an adult.  As human beings, we naturally like to believe that things should always work out fairly.  The wicked should be punished immediately, and the righteous should be rewarded immediately.  Anything less just seems unfair.  One of the greatest lessons my parents ever taught me as a child was that life does not always work out in this way.  In this world, sometimes life seems unfair.  Sometimes the people who cheat and lie are the ones who are most successful (as the world defines success).  Sometimes the righteous people who live their lives in obedience to God face hard times.  While it is little consolation to us in the midst of a “life is not fair” moment, this is not a new problem that only affects our generation.  In fact, the fairness of life has been plaguing human beings for thousands of years.

In today’s key passage, the psalmist Asaph struggles with the fairness of life as he “envied the arrogant when [he] saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Vs. 3)  Asaph goes through a laundry list of the ways in which the wicked prosper (Vss. 4-12), and decides that, “Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.” (Vs. 13)  It was not until Asaph consulted with God that he truly came to understand the problem with his thinking. (Vs. 17)  The issue of fairness is really a matter of perspective.  Apart from God, we only have one perspective – our own.  We see the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer and we believe life is unfair.  As we grow closer to God though, we begin to see things from His perspective.  As we get closer to God, we realize that the prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous is only a temporary condition confined to this world.  Ultimately, the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished, and these conditions will be eternal.

When facing a “life is not fair” moment, remember to change your perspective.  Instead of focusing on how unfair the world seems today, focus on how fair our perfect world will be in eternity.   Like Asaph (Vss. 23-28), praise God for His presence in this life, and praise Him for his promises of fairness in eternity.

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 Insignificant Miracle


Daily Bible Reading – 2 Kings 6,7; 2 Chronicles 20; 1 Timothy 3

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Kings 6:1-7

Yesterday we read about some fairly significant miracles that God performed through the prophet Elisha.  He multiplied oil, healed a leper, and raised a boy from death as He exhibited His great love for His people. In light of those miracles, the story in today’s key passage seems almost out of place and insignificant.  In today’s story, Elisha and some of the prophets went to the Jordan River where they began to cut down trees to build a place to live.  As one of the prophets was cutting down a tree, the head of his ax fell into the water of the Jordan.  The prophet was immediately disheartened by this, because the ax he was using was borrowed.  The prophet was undoubtedly worried about having to explain to the owner what happened to his ax, but Elisha was not at all concerned.  Elisha asked the prophet where the axhead fell, and then threw a stick into the water at the spot in which the axhead was last seen.  As soon as the stick hit the water, the iron axhead immediately began to float, and the prophet was able to retrieve it.

Do you see what I mean about this event sounding almost out of place?  It is easy for us to understand why a story about God healing a leper or raising a dead boy is included in the Bible, but when it comes to a story like this it just does not seem to compare.  This miracle seems insignificant, and it is sometimes hard for us to understand why God would intervene into something as trivial as a lost axhead.  Upon further review, however, we can begin to understand that the relative triviality of this event is exactly why it is included in God’s Word.  See, we all expect to see God healing the sick.  We expect for Him to help the poor.  We even expect for Him to raise the dead.  These are all big events, and are exactly the kind of events we expect God to get involved in solving.  But God cares about a lot more than just the big events.  He also cares about the trivial, insignificant events in our lives.  He cares about the lost axhead, and He cares about all of the things that you might think are too unimportant to bring to God in prayer.  When I was younger, I used to wrongly think that I would be “bothering” God by taking insignificant things to Him.  I rationalized that the God of the universe was far too busy to care about the small details of my life.  I was putting God into a box, and I was limiting His influence in the areas of my life that I deemed trivial.  God wants to be involved in all aspects of your life.  He wants to be involved in every event, and every decision.  The next time you are facing something that seems trivial or unimportant, do not be afraid to take it to God, because nothing is too insignificant for Him.

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

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Limiting God’s Blessings


Daily Bible Reading – 2 Kings 4,5; Psalm 83; 1 Timothy 2

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Kings 4:1-7

 

In today’s key passage, we find the story of a woman who cried out for Elisha’s help.  The woman was the widow of a prophet who was being hounded by a creditor.  In Elisha’s time, debtors were often forced to sell themselves or their children as slaves to pay off their debts, and the widow was afraid that this fate would befall her.  Elisha began by asking the widow about the resources she had on hand, and she replied that the only thing of value that she had was “a little oil” (Vs. 2)  Elisha was a man who knew God well, and he knew that God could do great things with only a small amount of resources, so he had a plan for the widow to help her out of her situation.  He told the widow to go to all of her neighbors and ask for their empty jars.  Elisha further instructed her by saying, “Don’t ask for just a few.” (Vs. 3)  The widow was to take these empty jars into her house and begin pouring oil into them.  Even though the widow only had a small amount of oil, Elisha told her that as each jar was filled, she should put it aside and fill another one.  The widow did what she was told and began filling the jars.  Miraculously, she continued pouring oil until she ran out of jars.  When she told Elisha about the miracle, Elisha said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” (Vs. 7)

So what can we learn from this story?  As previously stated, we learn the obvious lesson that God can multiply resources exponentially.  He can make a little oil fill many empty jars, just as He can cause one man preaching the Gospel to touch the lives of thousands or even millions of people.  This in itself is a great message, but there is also another less obvious lesson here.  The number of empty jars the woman collected from her neighbors was directly proportional to her faith.  If the woman had doubts about whether or not God was going to bless her, she probably would not have collected many empty jars.  She would not spend her time and energy collecting jars if she did not believe they would be filled.  On the other hand, if she truly believed that God was going to continue filling the jars until they were all full, she likely would have gone out of her way to collect as many jars as possible.  See, all of us want to receive God’s blessings in our lives, but we often forget a very simple fact that is illustrated so plainly in this story.  That simple fact is that God’s blessings for our lives are limited only by the measure of our faith and obedience to Him.  Never lose faith in God’s ability to provide everything you need in your life.  He will provide for us, and He will care for us, but we need faith to ensure we are not limiting the blessings He can bestow. We must believe that God will provide, and not allow worry to overtake our faith.  Do not limit God’s blessings by only bringing Him a couple of jars.  Bring God as many jars as you can, knowing that He will bless you in ways you cannot possibly 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.

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