A daily encouragement to read the Bible with others from Christ Community Church, Conway.

Month: January, 2013

Bible Reading Day 31

Day 31 – Matthew 21:1-22
Good morning!
The end of the first month; we are more than 8% of the way through our New Testament reading plan. Well done for all your efforts!
Do you remember how we saw so many prophetic words referring to Jesus fulfilled in the early chapters of our reading? Well now we are coming to the other season of Jesus’ life where many prophecies are fulfilled – His death and resurrection.
Throughout these next few chapters, I want to remind you to notice how Jesus is the opposite of what we would expect by the standards of this world. No king would enter a city on a donkey, for example!
What other contradictions with worldly values can you see in this chapter?
Have a great day!

Bible Reading Day 30

Day 30 – Matthew 20:17-34
Good morning!
Our readings in Matthew’s gospel now take a turn toward their climax, as Jesus sets out for Jerusalem and His death. 
It is striking how He remains in control, focused on others, during this hardest season of His ministry. He explains it all to His disciples because they will need to understand what has happened from God’s persepctive. The religious leaders who have opposed Jesus all along are going to finally do away with Him, but He still has time to stop and heal two blind beggars!
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. What a privilege to follow Him!
Have a great day!

Bible Reading Day 29

Day 29 – Matthew 20:1-16
The Parables of the Kingdom
Good morning!
Jesus is a master of story-telling. His narratives help us imagine the truths He is communicating, and to see them in human terms. 
Often these stories contain a “twist” that we find hard to stomach from our limited perspectives. Today the surprise is that the landowner pays all the workers the same wage, whatever their workday had been. It is tempting to discuss this story as if it was a real-life account; making points about fairness, workers rights, and so on. But the point of a parable is to reveal one key truth, and we would be mistaken to take it further. The truth is the most obvious one made by the story. Sometimes Jesus will state the truth plainly, other times we have to deduce it from what He says.
To me the main point seems to be that God is fair to give eternal life to everyone, whether they deserve it or not. What do you see?
Have a great day!

Bible Reading Day 28

Day 28 – Matthew 19:16-30
Good morning!
Today’s reading starts with the account of the rich young ruler. He wanted to gain eternal life on his own terms and Jesus gently but firmly challenged his sense of self-security to get him to trust God with his life.
When our trust is in money (or any other facet of the world’s security), we will find it very hard to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. God’s values are just SO different from any we find in this world. In light of this, Jesus tells His disciples that many things will turn out to look different in heaven from how they appeared here on earth.
Praying for you to have an open ear and heart today, to catch God’s perspective, and to live from a new place of trust.
Have a great day! 

Bible Reading Day 27

Day 27 – Matthew 19:1-15
Good morning!
God’s standards are not our standards!
Matthew chooses to give us another challenge today, hard on the heels of yesterday’s instruction to forgive as often as needed in order to be part of God’s Kingdom. That showed us how God’s standard for a life of love is so much higher than anything we could achieve alone.
Now we see the same truth applied to the matter of marriage and divorce. God made us male and female, and when a man and woman marry they become one – God joins them together. Splitting what God has joined is a lower standard than God’s, and God does not agree with that! 
In the same way, Jesus corrects the disciples when they send away children, thinking the parents are bothering Jesus by asking Him to bless their little ones. God’s standards are different, and the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the childlike. That is our blessing if we can accept it; let’s think on that for a while today.
Have a great day!

Bible Reading Day 26

Day 26 – Matthew 18:21-35
Good morning!
A shorter reading today, but with SO much content!
To forgive seven times would take a lot of effort for most of us. After the third or fourth offense we would be tempted to say “I’m done with this!” Seventy times seven is 490, and some commentators say the true meaning of the phrase is seven to the seventh power which is 823,543. Clearly this is not about counting! Jesus says forgiving is to be our default setting, our lifestyle, our constant choice.
Do you find that challenging? I do! But as Jesus rightly says, gaining entry to God’s home (the Kingdom of Heaven) is worth ANY sacrifice – even forgiving someone who has wronged me.
Have a great day!

Bible Reading Day 25

Day 25 – Matthew 18:1-20
Good morning!
A lesson in humility:
Jesus takes the first half of this chapter to teach us how to be great. Greatness isn’t how famous you are, or how much power you have, or how rich you can become. Greatness is childlikeness. (Not childISHness!).
Jesus tells us He has a heavenly Father, God in heaven, who cares for EVERYONE. The correct response to that knowledge is to act like a trusting, loving child! 
There are several applications of that truth in Jesus’ teaching today that you may find challenging!
Have a great day!

Bible Reading Day 24

Day 24 – Matthew 17.
Good Morning!
Already in our readings we have seen plenty of examples of the disciples’ humanity and fallibility. I hope that encourages you as you consider your own walk with the Lord!
Today is another day where we see how human-minded the disciples (especially Peter) can be: this time Father God Himself has to tell Peter to be quiet!
As the chapter unfolds, there are several accounts of the disciples failing (incidentally that is another sign of the authenticity of these accounts; the writers and their contemporaries are willing to admit their own faults freely). Through all the failures Jesus remains steadfast in His commitment to love these guys, to teach them, to treat them as friends, and to empower them to do the work of the Kingdom.
There’s nothing you or I can do to hinder God’s Kingdom, apart from dropping back from being His disciples. All other mistakes and failures are covered by His love and power.
Have a great day!

Bible Reading Day 23

Day 23 – Matthew 16
Good morning!
Today Jesus is asked for a sign to prove His authority, and the disciples continue to be hard-to-teach!
But despite their persistent misunderstandings and doubts, there is a foundational moment in verses 15 and 16 where Jesus asks “But who do you say that I am?” and Simon Peter replies with the famous declaration “You are the Messiah, the  Son of the living God.”
Jesus is clearly pleased with Simon receiving this revelation from the Father, and gives him the new name Peter (“Rocky”). The next phrase has often been mistaken to say that Peter will control who gets into heaven, or that Peter is the foundation of the Church. However, Jesus says “upon this rock,” referring to the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, rather than “upon you, the rock” meaning Peter. So the Church will be built by Jesus, on the foundation of the revelation that He is the Messiah. “And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven” – in other words: you have the right, and the ability, to unlock heaven here.
What a privilege to be part of such an exchange! You’d think that Peter would be forever changed by it. But in the very next paragraph, Peter is embroiled in a head-to-head confrontation with Jesus, for seeing things from a human perspective rather than a godly one!
Let’s humbly ask God to help us see things from His perspective, where even losing our lives for His sake is a good idea!
Have a great day.

Bible Reading Day 22

Day 22 – Matthew 15:21-39
Good morning!
After dealing with the opposition of the religious leaders in His homeland, Jesus moves out into what would normally be hostile territory – Tyre and Sidon.
These were cities left from the original conquest of the promised land, and the Gentiles who lived there were referred to as “dogs” by the people of Israel.
It seems Jesus went there for the sake of one woman – and she gets her request! 
No matter how far away from God we are, He seeks us out and wants us to receive Him.
The second half of today’s passage shows Jesus expanding the disciples’ hearts and faith (a parallel with what Phillip was teaching us on Sunday). He wants them to respond to this new need in the same way as they saw Him respond to the need in Matthew. 
As you read this section, ask yourself “How would I have responded to Jesus?” and “How does God want to expand my capacity for Him?”
Have a great day!