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The Parable of the Weeds


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 11-13

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 13:1-43

 

Jesus often spoke to the people in parables.  He knew that people who were truly seeking Him would understand the parables if they were receptive, while others would simply hear the parables as meaningless stories. (13:13)

In the parable of the weeds, He talks about the weeds that grew among the wheat.  When they first start growing, the young weeds and the young wheat look exactly the same.  It is impossible to distinguish between the two until they become mature.  The servants were told by the owner not to try to pull up the weeds because they might inadvertently also root up the wheat.  Instead, the owner would allow the weeds to grow among the wheat until it was time for the harvest, and at that time, he would separate the weeds, burn them, and place the wheat in the barn.  Jesus went on to explain to His disciples that the field is the world, the good seed is the people of the kingdom, and the weeks are the people of the evil one. (13:37-43)

How many times have we heard people argue that God should just do away with all evil and bad things in the world right now?  While this would seem like the easy way to us, that is not God’s plan and that is not God’s timing.  The weeds (unbelievers) and the wheat (believers) are allowed to live together in this world for now, but eventually, the harvest WILL come.  Eventually, based on God’s perfect timing, all of the evil in this world WILL be pulled out and thrown into the fire.  As we wait for that day, we must stand firm and remember that we are the wheat.

 

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Do Not Worry About Tomorrow


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 5-7

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 6:25-34

 

I have always been a person that worries a lot.  I am not really sure why, but I have spent most of my life worrying about things.  Will I be able to pay the bills?  Will I be able to do this or that?  Will this work out?  How will I be able to do this?  All of these thoughts have consumed me.  It is funny when I look back over some of the things that have caused me worry in the past.  In the grand scope of things, most of them seem pretty insignificant.  Even though I constantly battle this, I eventually realized that worry is really nothing more than a lack of faith.

In today’s key passage, Jesus tells us not to worry.  He tells us that God will provide for us.  He tells us that if God takes care of birds and flowers, he will most definitely take care of us.  Jesus knew that if we spent time worrying about things, those things would eventually overcome our entire lives.  If we spend time worrying about paying the bills and about money for example, then eventually money will begin to consume our thoughts.  Before you know it, we will start putting money first over God.  This is definitely not what God wants for us.  God wants us to put Him first.  Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and to seek first His righteousness.

When I feel myself starting to worry, I now have to stop myself and think about this passage.  I constantly remind myself of God’s love for me.  I constantly remind myself to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.  I constantly remind myself that God is completely sovereign over the entire universe and that everything that happens is by His will and not mine.  Finally, I constantly remind myself to have faith in Him to provide what I need.  I cannot provide anything on my own.  Just as a loving father on earth provides for his children, our Father in Heaven will provide for us.

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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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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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.

Lost and Found


Daily Bible Reading – Zechariah 13-14; Psalm 147; Luke 15

Today’s Key Passage – Luke 15:1-32

 

In today’s key passage, we find three of Jesus’ most well known parables.  The parables of the lost sheep (15:1-7), lost coin (15:8-10), and lost son (15:11-32) all speak of God’s unwavering forgiveness, but each is unique in the way in which each item is lost and how it comes to be found.  In the parable of the lost sheep, the sheep foolishly wanders away from his shepherd.  In the parable of the lost coin, the woman’s coin is lost through no fault of its own.  In the parable of the lost son, the son blatantly defies his father’s will.  In the first two parables, the shepherd and the woman frantically search for their lost items, but in the third the father patiently waits for his son to return.  In all three cases, when what was lost is found there is a great celebration, just as there is a celebration in Heaven every time a lost soul comes back to the Father.

Every person in this world starts out as lost.  Some are lost through no fault of their own, perhaps growing up not knowing about Jesus.  Others are lost because they foolishly wandered away from God.  Still others are lost because they have blatantly defied God’s will and have rejected Him.  In any case, God spends a lifetime searching for these lost souls.  Sometimes, He finds them relatively easily, and other times He has to wait patiently for them to return to Him.  Has Heaven celebrated your return yet?  If so, rejoice in knowing that you are saved and help others find their way back to God.  If not, it is time to start heading home.  No matter what sins we have committed or how far we are from Him, we can always return to our Father’s house.  When we do, we will not be turned away, rejected, or ridiculed for our mistakes.  Instead, we will be welcomed by the loving arms of Jesus, and the celebration will finally begin.

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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A Time to Act


Daily Bible Reading – Haggai 1, 2; Psalm 129; Luke 10

Today’s Key Passage – Haggai 1:1-2:5

 

Yesterday we saw how the opposition facing the Jews caused them to temporarily stop rebuilding the temple.   In today’s reading, over 15 years had elapsed and the people of Jerusalem had still not gone back to the construction project.  Instead of building the temple, the Jews spent their time building their own houses, and they rationalized their lack of service by saying that it was not yet time to work on the temple. (1:3)  Fortunately, the prophet Haggai received a word from the Lord that would spark the Jews into action.  He told them that it was time to get back to work, and after 15 years of delays the people of Jerusalem went back to work only 23 days after hearing Haggai’s message.

Many times, we all know what God wants us to do, but we fail to act.  We might receive direction from him in our prayer time, while reading His Word, or when listening to a powerful message at church, but then we quickly forget about it or delay actually getting started.  While it is important that we wait for God’s timing and prayerfully move forward only when He tells us to, it is equally important that when we know His direction we act swiftly and decisively.  Do not allow yourself to rationalize delays when God tells you it is time to act.  Instead, listen to His words in Haggai 2:4 – “Be strong…and work.  For I am with you.”

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 Opposition


Daily Bible Reading – Ezra 4; Psalms 113, 127; Luke 9

Today’s Key Passage – Ezra 4:1-24

 

The Jews returning to Jerusalem from exile wanted nothing more than to rebuild the temple of the Lord.  Unfortunately, their task was not an easy one.  Not only did they have to deal with the logistics of rebuilding the temple and all of the work involved, they also faced opposition to the rebuilding efforts from their neighbors.  When Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, many people were relocated to live in this region, and now these people wanted to keep the Jews from rebuilding the temple for fear that they would gain power.  The enemies of Judah tried several tactics to stop the construction.  First, they attempted to infiltrate the people of Judah by offering to help so they could sabotage their efforts. (4:2)  When this failed, they tried to stop the construction by discouraging and intimidating the Jews. (4:4-5)  Finally, they took their complaint to the king, falsely accusing the Jews of rebellion.  In the short term, all of this opposition worked and the rebuilding efforts were temporarily put on hold. (4:23-24)  Eventually though, God’s plans could not be thwarted, and the temple was ultimately completed.

When we step out in faith in service to God, we too may face opposition.  This opposition might come from unbelievers, or perhaps even friends and family members.  Sometimes, the opposition comes from powers and principalities that we cannot truly understand.  It can be easy for us to become frustrated with this opposition, especially when it works in temporarily stopping our efforts.  However, we can take comfort in knowing that when we are following Christ and acting according to His will, His plans will ultimately succeed.  Our God is all-powerful and completely sovereign, and there is absolutely nothing that can keep Him from accomplishing His mission and achieving His goals.  We may sometimes feel like we are facing a brick wall, but to God this wall is simply a hurdle that is easily navigated.  When facing opposition, pray for the strength to get through the tough times while maintaining a loving attitude toward your oppressors, and pray for God’s will to be done.  God, in His infinite wisdom, will take care of the rest.

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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Satan’s Defeat


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 38, 39; Psalm 145; Revelation 20

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 20:1-10

 

In September 2011, some friends and I went to the theater to see the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  We walked into the movie with great anticipation, but I must admit that all of us left a little disappointed.  We were hoping to watch a dramatic, drawn-out battle in the movie, but what we found instead was about an hour and forty minutes of building followed by about 15 minutes of actual battle, which left us unsatisfied.

Those looking for a long, drawn-out battle will not find it in Revelation 20 either.  Though the entire book of Revelation (and really the entire Bible) builds toward a battle between the forces of good and evil, the actual event is quite short.  In fact, Satan’s ultimate defeat – the event we have waited for since his first appearance in Genesis – is dealt with in a single sentence.  When I thought about this today, I concluded that I believe God did this on purpose.  I believe God wanted John to only spend one sentence on Satan’s final destruction as a way of demonstrating His power.  There is no doubt that Satan is powerful.  There is no doubt that he attacks us and that his attacks can be quite strong sometimes.  The wonderful truth, though, is that as powerful as Satan may be, he is no match for God.  Our Lord Jesus is so powerful, in fact, that He can dispense with Satan in a single blow, and can throw him into the lake of burning sulfur to be “tormented day and night for ever and ever”. (20:10)  While this battle will be short, it will not leave any one of us unsatisfied, because Satan’s defeat will mark the end of all evil and sin.  What a glorious day that will be 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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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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