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Taking Our Eyes Off Of Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 14-16

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 14:22-33

 

When people think about Jesus, many times they think of the image of Jesus walking on water seen in today’s key passage.  It is certainly a grand display of His power and of His command over all of creation.  When Peter called out to Jesus, he was not testing Jesus.  In fact, he was the only person on the boat who reacted to Jesus in faith. (14:28)  Walking on water was an impossible task for Peter, but instead of focusing on the improbability of his success he focused on Jesus.  Basically, Peter was saying that even though the task seemed impossible, he would try it if it was Jesus’ will.  Jesus reply to this request was a simple one.  He did not need a long dissertation to explain to Peter HOW to walk on water or to explain the physics behind it or anything else.  Jesus simply replied to Peter’s request with one word – “Come“. (14:29)

This is how it should work with our faith.  When faced with impossible choices and impossible conditions, we should look to Jesus and ask Him what His will is for us.  Does He want us to step out in faith, or cower in the boat?  More often than not, His response will be for us to come.  We may not always be comfortable.  We might not always be doing exactly what WE want to do.  However, if we truly follow His guidance and live by HIS will, we will have to step out of that boat and walk with Him in faith.

When Peter stepped out of the boat, initially he was fine.  He was actually doing the impossible and walking on water because it was Jesus will for him.  It was only when Peter took his eyes off Jesus and noticed the wind and the waves and began focusing on the impossibility of his task that he started to sink. (14:30)  Once again, it is the same thing with us.  It is not enough for us to step out in faith.  We have to keep our eyes on Jesus.  We cannot start focusing on how hard it is to do what we are doing or on any storms that may pop up along the way.  If we do that, we will start to sink and fall into despair.  If we keep our eyes on Jesus and if we have complete faith in Him to make it happen, we will not sink.  We will continue to walk with Him on the water.  Furthermore, if we do lose focus and start to sink, we can take another lesson from Peter.  When he began to sink, he did not try to save himself.  He did the only thing he could possibly do in that situation – he reached out to Jesus. (14:30)  As humans we sometimes have a tendency to try to fix everything ourselves.  Jesus is the only real answer.  He is the only real solution.  If we find ourselves sinking, we must reach out to Him for help.  Instead of pulling away when we start to sink, it is at those times that we must draw closer to Him.  Just as He did with Peter, Jesus will save us in those circumstances.

If you cannot tell, I love this story.  I love the image of Jesus walking on the water, but even more than that, I love the message that the story conveys to us.  I constantly remind myself to step out of the boat and walk in faith.  I remind myself to do His will and not mine, and I remind myself to keep my eyes on Jesus.  He is the way, the truth, and the life.  If you have not taken the time yet today, reach out to Him.  Praise Him for being such an amazing God.  Ask Him to save you from sinking.  Thank Him for his help, and then remember to keep your eyes focused on 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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Questioning God


Daily Bible Reading – Job 37,38; 1 Corinthians 12

Today’s Key Passage – Job 38:1-18

 

In much of the Book of Job, Job discussed what had happened to him with his friends.  Job spent most of his time wondering why he was made to suffer.  Job’s friends spent most of their time putting words in God’s mouth, and most of those words were wrong.  In chapter 38, God finally spoke to Job.  Instead of simply answering Job’s questions, God decided to ask Job a series of questions of his own.  Job (or any other human) could not possibly answer the questions God asked, and that was the point.  God was making the point to Job and his friends that He was completely sovereign and all-powerful.  God created the heavens and the earth without any help from anyone.  The earth and everything in it belongs to God.  Job could not understand all of the inner workings of God’s creation, because he was not there when God created the world.  If Job was unable to understand the creation itself, how could Job possibly understand God’s motives or what He was thinking?

We are all tempted to question God.  There are many times when we simply cannot understand why things are happening as they are.  In these times, we as humans tend to do one of two things.  Either we question God by asking Him why He is allowing this to happen, or we put words in God’s mouth by trying to explain His motives.  Sometimes, we try to do both.  God, however, does not need our help.  God does not need or want us to try to run the world.  God’s moral purposes are so complex that they are beyond human understanding.  How can we question God when we cannot understand things like His creation or the forces of nature?

The next time you feel tempted to question God or to try to explain His actions, remember this passage.  Remember that we were not there for creation.  Remember that we cannot explain the intricacies of this world.  Remember that we cannot explain how the wind blows or how storms move.  Most importantly, remember to trust God.  He has a plan.  He is in control.  He loves you and will always do what is best for you.  When we submit to God’s authority in our lives, we can rest in the knowledge that He will care for us completely.

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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What God Has Prepared For Us


Daily Bible Reading – Job 33; 1 Corinthians 1-3

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

 

A while back, I was driving my daughter to one of her after school activities, and we began talking about Heaven.  My daughter, being just 7 years old at the time, had many questions about what Heaven would be like.  She wanted to know if she would have stuffed animals there.  She wanted to know if she would be the age she was now, or would she be an adult.  She wanted to know about the food.  It was fun listening to the innocence of a child’s heart as she tried to understand things that are beyond our understanding.  For most of her questions, my answer was, “I don’t know”, much to her dismay.  She wanted to know the answers to her questions about what God had in store for her in Heaven.

I think we all want to know about what God has in store for us – both in Heaven and in our time here on Earth.  What are his plans for us?  What will he have us do?  Sometimes when I am trying to fall asleep, I try to imagine what my life will be like in 20 years or what Heaven will be like.  When thinking about Heaven, I usually get stuck when I try to think about what eternity looks like…for me, that is simply a concept that my human mind cannot seem to grasp.  I think one of the best answers to all of these questions comes in today’s key passage – “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived— the things God has prepared for those who love him”. (2:9)  God’s plan for each of us is greater than we can possibly imagine.  God knows each one of us personally and intimately.  He knows more about us than any person alive.  He had our entire lives mapped out and our entire beings planned before we were even born.  Try as we might, we will never be able to fully conceive in our minds the depth and beauty of His plans for us.  All we have to do is have faith in Him, and know that His plans for us will be greater than we can imagine, and then enjoy the ride.

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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Are We Worthy?


Daily Bible Reading – Job 23, 24; Mark 11, 12

Today’s Key Passage – Job 23:1-10

 

For most of the Book of Job, Job’s “friends” accuse him of being a sinful man.  They argue repeatedly that God is punishing Job for his sins.  Job, however, knows that he is righteous before God.  In today’s key passage, Job wishes that he could only stand before God to defend himself, because he is confident that God would find him blameless.  He knows that given the opportunity, he would be, “delivered forever from [his] judge” (23:7) and would, “come forth as gold” (23:10).

We will all face God someday.  I recently read somewhere that the mortality rate in the world is currently 100%.  Everyone will die at some point, and everyone will have to face God to answer for all of the things they have done in their lives.  The hope is that when we stand before God on our final judgment day, He will say to us “Well done, good and faithful servant”, but I think a lot of people have doubts.

I have spent much of my life constantly facing these doubts.  I always worried that I was not worthy.  I worried that on the Day of Judgment, God would take one look at me and remember all of the bad things I had done in my life.  I worried that He would see me as a terrible sinner, and would proceed to name every one of the sinful things I ever thought, said, or did.  I worried that at the end of the list (which I am quite sure would take a while to get through) He would say to me, “I am sorry, but you just were not good enough and I cannot let you into Heaven”.  I feared this day, and I repeatedly begged God to have mercy on me.

Then I realized that my thinking was seriously flawed.  In fact, my thinking was downright unfaithful.  I was calling God a liar.  See, God makes it very clear in His Divine Word that this is not the way it works.  My salvation has nothing to do with my works on Earth.  The moment I declared Jesus as the Lord of my life and invited Him into my heart, I was saved.  From that second on, my salvation was secured.  I no longer had to worry about “if” I would go to Heaven.  God’s Word says that is guaranteed!  While I certainly deserve for God to look at me as a terrible sinner, instead when He looks at me all He sees is the perfection of Jesus.  He sees me through the “rose-colored glasses” of the blood of Christ.  I am saved by His grace.  I am saved by what He did.  It has nothing to do with what I have done or not done.

We are all tempted at one time or another to feel guilty for what we have done in the past.  We are all tempted to feel that we are not worthy.  The simple truth is that none of us are actually worthy on our own, but by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has declared us as worthy.  When we come to the realization that we can absolutely believe what God has said and we have complete faith and trust in Him, we can finally leave all of our doubts about our worthiness at the Cross of Christ and feel secure in our salvation.  What a wonderful day that is indeed.

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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Weathering the Storm


Daily Bible Reading – Job 1, 2; Acts 6, 7

Today’s Key Passage – Job 2:1-10 

Stories of bad things happening to good people constantly bombard us.  Many people believe that God should shield good people from the bad things in life, and that if He really loved us He would not allow these bad things to happen.  We must realize, however, that the bad things that happen today are all due to a series of events that began in the Garden of Eden when Eve ate the apple.  Man’s rebellion from God changed a perfect world into an imperfect one.  While God is more than capable from putting an end to all of the suffering in the world today, that is not His plan.  It is difficult for our human minds to understand God’s plan sometimes, but that is because a human mind can never fully comprehend God.

God knew that Job was a good man.  He viewed Job as “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil”. (2:3)  Satan argued that Job was only faithful to God because God had been so good to him and had never given Job a reason to lose his faith. (2:4-5)  God, fully knowing what the outcome would ultimately be, allowed Satan to test Job. (2:6)  In the first test (1:6-22), Job lost his possessions and his family.  In the second test (2:7), Satan inflicted physical pain on Job.  Throughout the tests, Job remained faithful to God.  Even when Job’s wife chided him for staying faithful to God, he continued to be blameless.  Job told his wife “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (2:10)  Job knew that while it is easy to be faithful to God during good times, it is the mark of a truly good man to be faithful during bad times.

In the face of adversity, clinging to God is the only way to weather the storm.  Do not give up on Him.  The enemy uses these bad times as the perfect opportunity to try to test our faith.  We learn from the story of Job that Satan is only allowed to do what God lets him do, and God will never let him give us more than we can handle.  Stay faithful to God in the good times and the bad, and live a life blameless and upright in His sight.

 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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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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Returning to God


Daily Bible Reading – Zechariah 1-3; Luke 11

Today’s Key Passage – Zechariah 1:1-6

 

The prophet Zechariah was another of the minor prophets who spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem who had returned from captivity in Babylon.  Like his contemporary Haggai, Zechariah preached a message to the people asking them to resume their work on the temple.  In today’s key passage, Zechariah received a word from God that he shared with his people.  As I read it today, I was struck by how appropriate God’s message was: not only for the returning exiles, but also for all of us today.  It is not a complex message, but it is one that is both meaningful and powerful.  Speaking through Zechariah, God told the people, “Return to me…and I will return to you.” (1:3)

There are many times when each of us may feel as though God is far away.  We may feel this way when we are dealing with persecution or grief.  We may wonder where God is when we are facing difficult financial times or when struggling with a major life change.  There is a funny truth, though, about this feeling that God is far from us.  See, God has not actually gone anywhere.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  When we feel like He is far from us, it is not because He has moved but because we have.  God is faithful and true, and He will never turn away from us.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of us.  Throughout history, man has continually turned away from God in one way or another, and each time we do, the distance between us and God grows.  If you are feeling like God is far away from you, remember His words to the people of Judah.  “Return to me…and I will return to you.”  If we want to feel closer to God, all we have to do is turn toward Him and move in His direction.

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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