Blog Archives

Separating the Sheep from the Goats


Daily Bible Reading – Matthew 23-25

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 25:31-46

 

What would you do if Jesus showed up at your door today?  What if He rang your doorbell, and told you that He was hungry and thirsty?  What if He said He needed some clothes to wear or a place to stay?  Would you invite Him in?  As followers of Christ, this should be a pretty easy “Yes” for most of us.  If our Lord and Savior Himself came to us asking for help, most of us would go out of our way to help Him in any way that we can, but helping Jesus is the easy part.  This is no different than being nice to people who are nice to us.  The Bible tells us, though, that we should not just love our friends but our enemies also.  That is the harder part and the more important part.  Just as we should love our enemies, we must help those in need.  We know, Biblically speaking, that Jesus is not going to show up at our door because the next time He comes it will be in glory for the final judgment.  This parable tells us that how we react to needy people in general is how we would act towards Jesus Himself.  Are we inviting them in?  Are we giving them food, drink, and clothing?  Are we taking care of those in need?

Some people debate over what Jesus meant in this story when He said, “these brothers and sisters of mine”.  Some people argue Jesus was referring to Jewish people.  Others think He was talking about Christians in general.  Still others think He was talking about all people everywhere who are in need.  I think the argument of whom he was talking about is not nearly as important as what he was telling us to do.  What if we just assumed He meant all people everywhere who are in need?  What if we decided today to treat every person we encountered on a daily basis as if he were Jesus Christ Himself?  How much differently would we start to live?  What kind of changes would happen in our world if we began viewing every person we met in this way?  Would we not become more generous?  Would we not become more loving?  Would we not become more like Jesus Himself through our actions, which is the whole point of Christianity?  Today, let us all vow to treat everyone we encounter as if he were Jesus, and see what happens.  I promise we will all like the results…

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.

True Wisdom Comes Only From God


Daily Bible Reading – Job 28, 29; Galatians 1, 2

Today’s Key Passage – Job 28:20-28

People look for wisdom in strange places.  Some people seek wisdom from listening to people they respect.  Some seek wisdom from reading ancient philosophers. Others read self-help books or go to self-help seminars.  The problem with all of these things is the source.  Every leader, philosopher, author (myself included), and speaker have one thing in common – they are human.

After listening intently to his friends opinions about his current plight, Job understood the problem with human knowledge.  He understood that, though his friends meant well, they did not really have the wisdom they thought they had.  Because they were human, their wisdom was inherently flawed.

No single person or group of people can gain enough experience, knowledge, or insight to understand the totality of the human race.  A true understanding of everyone and everything, also known as wisdom, can only come from one source – God.  God’s wisdom is revealed to us through His Word and through prayer.  We can certainly gain some insight and knowledge by reading and having conversations with other people, but to truly gain wisdom we must seek it from God alone.  Ask Him for wisdom today, and He will surely provide.

 

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 Highest Priority


Daily Bible Reading – Ezra 2, 3; Luke 8

Today’s Key Passage – Ezra 3:1-6

 

Like most people, I do not enjoy moving.  I have moved several times over the years, and each time I have faced the same dilemma.  Once everything is moved into the new home, the question always becomes where to begin.  If you have ever moved, you have likely faced the same issue and the question is usually answered based on your immediate priorities.  Since you know you are going to need clothes to wear, you might begin by unpacking your wardrobe.  Perhaps you need to make a meal, so the kitchen boxes might come first.  If you are tired from a long day of moving, getting the bed in order might become the most important thing.  Whatever the case, your first steps when moving to a new home will always be dictated by your highest priority.

After years of exile, the remnant of God’s chosen people were finally returning to Jerusalem.  In today’s key passage, we find out about their highest priority during the move into their new home.  When they returned to Jerusalem, they found that they were surrounded by strangers who had settled in the lands surrounding the city.  Though they were afraid of being attacked by one of their new neighbors, they did not immediately begin by building a wall around the city or by worrying about their defenses. (3:3)  Instead, their first step was to rebuild the altar and (eventually) God’s temple.  They knew that their highest priority was to worship God.

We can all learn a lesson from the people in our story today.  How often do we choose to spend our time building our physical lives instead of our spiritual ones?  In this life, we are constantly faced with changing priorities, and often we can all be tempted to make God and afterthought.  Like the people returning to Jerusalem, though, we must all make better choices.  When it comes to finding our highest priority, the correct answer is always our loving Heavenly Father.  When we choose to put Him first in all that we do, our priorities will always be in the right order.

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.

Becoming a Star


Daily Bible Reading – Daniel 11, 12; Luke 6

Today’s Key Passage – Daniel 12:1-3

 

Over the last decade or so, American television ratings have been largely dominated by reality shows.  There have been countless shows over the years in this genre – some of them wildly popular and others that flopped.  We have seen singing competitions and dancing competitions.  Competitors have tried to survive on deserted islands, raced across the globe, lived with strangers, and tried to find true love.  While most of the time, the grand prize of each show is different, all of the reality shows have one thing in common – they showcase people who want to become stars.  So many people today share this dream of becoming a star, which explains why reality shows never have trouble finding contestants or viewers.  Unfortunately, most of the time these reality “stars” burn out relatively quickly, giving new meaning to the term, “fifteen minutes of fame”.  Most of these contestants find that their stardom is temporary, and when it fades, they are left with very little.

Fortunately, in today’s key passage we read about a better way to become a star.  God’s messenger is talking to the prophet Daniel about the end times, and tells him that his faithful people will one day be delivered. (12:1)  The messenger says that in the last days the dead will rise from their graves, some to everlasting life and others to everlasting contempt. (12:2)  He then goes on to say, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” (12:3)  Unlike the temporary stardom so many people today crave, we can all become eternal “stars” by being wise and leading others to God’s righteousness.  Instead of dealing with rude judges who might criticize our efforts on national television, we only have to face one judge – the King of kings and the Lord of lords – and we will always be found perfect in His sight.  If you want to be a star, become a star for God today, and let your light shine brightly for 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.

Seeking God’s Will


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 42-44; Psalm 48; Revelation 13

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 42:1-43:7

 

The Babylonians had conquered the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem was destroyed.  Many of the inhabitants had been taken into exile, and very few remained in the land.  Those that remained came to Jeremiah and wanted him to ask God what He wanted them to do next. (Vss. 1-2)  They wanted to seek God’s will, and they promised to obey God and do whatever He told them to do. (Vs. 6)  Jeremiah prayed to God and sought His will as requested, and ten days later, he had God’s answer. (Vs. 7)  Jeremiah told the people that God wanted them to stay where they were. (Vs. 10)  God did not want the people to go to Egypt to try to escape the Babylonians, and promised to protect them only if they chose not to go. (Vss. 11-17)  Of course, God already knew that the people would not listen to Him.  He knew that they were a rebellious people who had already planned to go to Egypt and merely wanted God to go along with their plan. (Vss. 18-22)  As expected, the people disobeyed God and forgot their promise to do whatever He told them to do, and they went to Egypt despite God’s warnings. (Vss. 43:4-7)

As followers of Christ, we all want to know what God’s will is for our lives.  We pray to Him seeking His will, and we promise to obey Him and do whatever He tells us to do next.  However, seeking God’s will is not enough…we have to be willing to follow through.  How often does God tell us His will, but it seems too big for us?  How often do we convince ourselves that we must not have heard from God because His instructions seemed too difficult?  How often do we hear God’s words but rationalize that it must have been someone else’s voice because if we obeyed we might be uncomfortable?  My prayer for each of us today is that we gain the wisdom to discern God’s voice, and the courage to act on His will.  I pray that His will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.

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.

Knowing When to Walk Away


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 1-3; Titus 3

Today’s Key Passage – Titus 3:3-11

 

I have many fond memories of riding around in my parent’s car as a young boy listening to music.  The songs of The Statler Brothers, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Kenny Rogers were the staples of the car trips of my youth.  My favorite at the time was a song entitled “The Gambler”.  There is a famous line in that song that most of you are probably quite familiar with that says, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”  It might sound strange, but I thought about that song today as I read our key passage.  In his remarks to Titus, the apostle Paul warns him not to get involved in petty arguments about doctrine.  He says, “avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.” (Vs. 9)  Furthermore, Paul warns Titus about people causing division in the church.  He says, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Vs. 10)  In the face of petty arguments, sometimes you have to know when to walk away, and when dealing with a person who is causing disunity among believers, you have to know when to run.

As followers of Christ, each of us will likely be faced with a discussion or a debate about different aspects of Scripture.  Since there are many passages in the Bible that can be interpreted differently, it is not uncommon for two people to disagree.  Sometimes these discussions can be healthy.  If all parties involved are interested in truth and exhibit mutual respect of others’ opinions, these times of examination can lead to greater knowledge for everyone involved.  When pride becomes a factor and people begin arguing because they are interested in being correct, these discussions can quickly turn into “foolish controversies about the law” which are “unprofitable and useless”.  If this happens, sometimes the best course of action is to simply walk away.  The more dangerous moments are when we face a person who is causing disunity in the faith.  This might be a person who is arguing over basic aspects of Christianity in general, or it could be as simple as a person complaining about your church, your pastor, or the way things are done.  In these times, sometimes walking away is not the best option, as you may be led to offer correction instead.  Disunity is a virus that must be squelched quickly to avoid spreading, so offering a correction in love may be necessary to get the person back on track.  If the person continues to promote disunity after repeated warnings, it might be time to run.

We are reminded in Ecclesiastes 3:1 that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”  There is a time for discussions about Scripture and there is a time to avoid those conversations.  There is a time for correcting another who is promoting disunity and a time to stay away from him in hopes that he will repent.  My prayer today is that each of us would have the discernment to know the right time for each action.  My prayer is that we would all know when to walk away, and that we would all know when to run.

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 Self-Righteous Christian


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 4; Psalm 98; Romans 2

Today’s Key Passage – Romans 2:1-16

 

One of the easiest things for most people to do is to become self-righteous.  No matter where we are in our lives or in our walk with Christ, we can always find someone we consider to be not as “well behaved” as we are.  When we compare ourselves to the standard set by the other person, we feel like we are doing pretty well in the way we are living our lives.  Many people of varying faiths feel that they are going to Heaven because they are not “immoral” like others.  They reckon that since they are not adulterers, murderers, or bank robbers, God will probably judge them as worthy.  In fact, when they see other people who are adulterers, murderers, or bank robbers they find fault with them, and consider themselves to be in some way “above” those people.  There are also many born-again Christians who feel like they are “better” than other Christians or other denominations.  They decide that their church attendance is better than others, they pray more than others, or the places they choose to go or not to go are better than others.  All of these things are examples of self-righteousness, and all of them are very dangerous to a follower of Christ.

In today’s key passage, Paul confronts the self-righteous people in the Roman church.  Near the end of Romans 1, Paul spoke about the wickedness of men.  He talked about various sinners and sins that were taking place outside of the church.  Likely, the Roman audience of Paul’s letter would have considered themselves to be well above that kind of behavior and far better than these people described in Romans 1.  In our text, Paul confronts the person who felt that he would get to Heaven because he was not like those sinners mentioned in Romans 1.  He shows in our passage that the self-righteous person is just as guilty in the eyes of God as the blatant sinner is.  If Paul were writing to Christians today, he might point out that going to church or living an outwardly moral life is not going to get you into Heaven.  He might point out that just because we might “feel” self-righteous as compared to some other people, we are not actually viewed by God as righteous based on our own actions.  After all, “God does not show favoritism.” (Vs. 11)  The simple truth that Paul later points out to the Romans (and to us) is that because we are all sinners in one degree or another, we are all in need of a Savior.  We need someone to take away our sins, and that person is our Lord Jesus Christ.

I believe today’s key passage serves as a reminder and a warning for those of us who know we are saved that we have no right to stand as critics of others, regardless of what they do.  So often we can all have moments when we are critical of others.  We can all have moments when we feel “justified”.  We can all have moments when we feel “self-righteous”.   It is vitally important, however, that we are careful when it comes to being critical of other people or believing we are in some way “better” than they are.  Put simply, God is the only one that has the right to judge, and as followers of Christ, we can rest in the comfort of knowing that one day, He will.

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.

Solomon Asks for Wisdom


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Kings 3; 2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 78; 2 Thessalonians 2

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Kings 3:4-15

 

Most of us, at one time or another, have played the little game of “3 wishes” with ourselves or with others.  The game goes something like this – you have been given three wishes, and you can ask for anything you want.  What would your wishes be?  The answers to this question are typically humorous and pretty informative.  In fact, if you ever want to really understand what drives another person, ask him or her this question.  In today’s key passage, we see a real-life example of this game in Scripture.  Solomon was the new king and one night in a dream, God appeared to him and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (Vs. 5)  Now we all have moments of greatness in our lives.  These are moments when we do the right thing, say the right thing, or think the right thing.  In my opinion, Solomon’s greatest moment comes in the next few lines of Scripture.  In response to God, we read in verses 7-9, “Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.”  When given the chance to ask God for anything, Solomon chose to ask for wisdom.  The next line of Scripture is beautiful in its simplicity as we read, “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.” (Vs. 10)

My question today for each of us might be a convicting one.  If you were in the same position as Solomon, what would you say?  If God appeared to you today and told you to ask for whatever you want, what would you ask for Him to give you?  I ask that you spend some time today prayerfully considering this question, because while it may seem like an easy one, the answer will directly reflect where your heart is in relation with God’s will.  When considering this question, remember that no matter what we say our answer would be, God knows our heart and He knows what we would truly ask from Him.  He knows what is in our deepest prayers and He knows what drives us and motivates us.  Would your answer be pleasing to Him?  If not, the good news is that God has the power to change our hearts.  He has the power to help our will line up with His perfect will.  In fact, that is what our walk with God is really all about – growing and maturing in our faith as we become more like Christ.  My prayer today is that you would prayerfully consider your request, that your request would be pleasing to God, and that He will give you the desire of your heart.  Just as God granted Solomon’s request for wisdom, He will grant your request as well when it lines up with His perfect will.

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 God Wants


Daily Bible Reading – 2 Samuel 15,16; Psalm 32; Matthew 25

Today’s Key Passage – Psalm 32

 

Most of us spend a lot of time thinking about “wants”.  We think about what we want to eat for dinner.  We think about what our children want for their birthdays or Christmas.  We think about where our spouses want to go on vacation.  A better “want” to consider, however, is what God wants.  The Bible helps us answer this question in many different ways.  We know that He wants us to love Him.  We know that He wants us to put Him first.  In today’s key passage, we find more clues as to what God wants.  Let us look at a few of those “wants” today:

  • God wants us to be cleansed – (Vss. 1-2) – God wants each of us to receive the initial cleansing that comes from the salvation offered through Jesus Christ.  In addition, he wants us to be continually cleansed by Him as we live our lives daily.
  • God wants us to be convicted – (Vss. 3-4) – The Holy Spirit living in us convicts us of sins as they happen.  When we sin, God will convict us and show us that we need to turn back to Him to restore our relationship.  This conviction will not let us rest until we have dealt with our sin.
  • God wants us to confess – (Vss. 5-6) – When we acknowledge our sins to God, He forgives us and cleanses us from our impurities.
  • God wants us to rest in His protection– (Vs. 7) – God wants to be our “hiding place” from all of the troubles of this world.  When we rest in Him, he will shield us from evil.
  • God wants us to rest in His guidance – (Vs. 8) – God wants to instruct us and teach us how to walk in His ways.  He wants us to trust Him to lead us only to what is best for us.
  • God wants us to cooperate – (Vss. 9-11) – Some people in this world are stubborn.  Rather than allowing God to guide them with love, they leave God no other choice but to lead them with “bit and bridle”.  In other words, they force God to lead them using discipline and punishment.  When we fail to acknowledge our sins before God, He may punish us to force us back to Him.  God will use any means necessary to restore our relationship with Him.

As I read today’s passage, I am awestruck by the differences between God and man.  Obviously, human beings are very different from God in many ways, but I believe one of the biggest differences comes in the area of forgiveness.  When humans forgive others, we sometimes do it almost grudgingly.  We know we “should” forgive someone, or we feel like we “need to” forgive someone.  Sometimes we even feel like we “have to” forgive someone.  When we do forgive, we very seldom ever forget.  God, on the other hand, is not like us in this regard.  God never feels like He should forgive, or that He needs to forgive, and he certainly never feels like He has to forgive.  God wants to forgive us.  In addition, when He forgives, He forgets completely that we have sinned.  We do not have this ability on our own, but God does.  He does not keep a record of wrongs.  When God forgives us, we are washed clean in the blood of Christ and are made white as snow, and our relationship to God is completely restored.  We do not have to live with guilt over sin.  We do not have to live in fear of His punishments.  We can find freedom and joy today through the forgiveness He offers us.  The next time you are thinking about “wants” in your life, consider what God wants for you.  Think of this Psalm, and rest in His promises.

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.

Freely You Have Received, Freely Give


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 27; Psalm 141; 1 Chronicles 9; Matthew 10

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 10:5-10

 

In today’s key passage, Jesus is getting ready to send His disciples out into the world for the first time on their own.  He has spent time with them and He has trained them, and now He is sending them to reach others.  He tells them to go to the “lost sheep of Israel” and preach the message that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.  He gives them the power they will need to heal the sick, raise the dead, and drive out demons.  Just before they leave, Jesus gives the disciples a principle that they should use to guide their actions as they go from town to town preaching His message to others.  He tells them, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Vs. 8)  When I first read this verse, my first reaction was that Jesus was talking about generous giving.  God gives us so much in this life and blesses us in so many ways, that the very least we can do is share that wealth with others by freely giving of our time, money, and possessions to help others.  While this is obviously sound advice and something that we should all practice in our lives, the more I read this passage today the more I started to believe that Jesus was talking about a lot more than just material goods.

As I sat quietly today talking with God and thinking about this passage, I tried to focus on all the different things we have received from Him.  The more I meditated on it, the longer the list became, so I began to write down some of the things we freely receive from God that we can freely give.  Below are some of the items on my list:

  • Freely we have received His grace and mercy, and freely we should extend that grace and mercy to others.
  • Freely we have received His forgiveness of our sins, and freely we should forgive others of their transgressions.
  • Freely we have received His encouragement, and freely we should encourage others.
  • Freely we have received His wisdom, and freely we should share that wisdom with others.
  • Freely we have received His love, and freely we should show that love to others.

Perhaps the most important thing on my list that we have received from God is the Good News about Jesus Christ.  Each of us has been saved by His grace through faith in Jesus, and the fact is that at some point in our lives we learned about our Savior because someone somewhere cared enough about us to share the Gospel with us.  God freely gives us salvation, but in order for people to receive His gift, they have to first hear the Good News.  That is where we come in.  Freely we have received salvation through His Good News, and freely we should share that Good News with others.  I encourage you today to make a list of all the things you have freely received from God that you can freely give to others.

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.

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If you like this post, please SHARE it with others to spread the Word of God.

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

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