cccdailybiblereading

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

Month: March, 2013

Bible Reading Day 90

Easter Sunday: Day 90 – Luke 7:1-30

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Good morning, Happy Easter!
Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, and our readings have so many echoes of the victory we celebrate.

Here are just a few – see how many others you see as you read:

The Centurion understands submission to authority and his servant is healed, just as Jesus submitted to the Father’s authority in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross, and is raised from the dead.

The widow of Nain’s only son is raised from the dead. God’s only Son is raised from the dead.

John sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the Messiah, and Jesus answers by referring to the miracles that can be seen. On Easter morning, Mary saw Jesus resurrected – the greatest miracle in history.

Finally – when Jesus spoke about John it was in glowing terms, yet even the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John. We celebrate today the event for which John prepared the way – our Redeemer, Jesus, is alive!!

Have a great day!

Mark.
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If you would like to receive your own copy of this email, please email Mark to request this.
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Bible Reading Day 89

Day 89 – Luke 6:27-49

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Good morning!
Easter Saturday: today we continue in the Sermon on the Plain. As with the Sermon on the Mount, we can call this Jesus’ Manifesto (except He isn’t standing for political office, and He has already won the seat of eternity – at the right hand of the Father).
 
I encourage you again today (as I have repeatedly as we read through the gospels) to read with new eyes. Let the enormity of Jesus’ words surprise you again, as if you were hearing them for the first time. See how counter-cultural Jesus is (both in His own time and in ours today). So much of what Jesus is teaching us to do is the opposite of human nature, the opposite of what evolutionary theory demands, the opposite of what the religious teachers of the day were proposing, and the opposite of what we read and see in the media in the 21st Century. 
 
So the challenge we each have today is: will we listen (verse 27)? And will we obey (verses 46-49)? Jesus is Lord, and arguing with His teaching is not an option available to us. We can reject it, seek clarity on it, or accept it, but not adapt it to suit our own opinions. The fruit of our lives (verses 43-45) depends on the choices we make when the words of Jesus confront our human wisdom. What will you choose today?
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
You are welcome to forward this to a friend.
 
If you would like to receive your own copy of this email, please email Mark to request this.
 
Quick links:
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Bible Reading Day 88

Good Friday: Day 88 – Luke 6:1-26

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Good morning!
Today, as we remember the day Jesus died, our thoughts will go back to the two accounts of that day that we have already read – in Matthew and in Mark.
In our reading through Luke we are still near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, but already the stage is set for the final showdown which is still about three years ahead.
Jesus has enemies – mostly among the religious leaders at this stage; the Romans were late, almost reluctant, conscripts to the cause of hating Jesus. Today we see the religious leaders putting more value in actions than motives. The disciples are simply snacking on some young grain as they walk through a field, but the religious leaders, always eager to make a rule (especially one that makes them look good and others look bad), declare that this is “harvesting on the Sabbath” and therefore sin. Jesus responds that the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath. “Son of Man” is a Messianic title from the Old Testament in the books of Ezekiel and Daniel. It is used a good deal in Luke’s gospel, where one of the key themes is the humanity of Jesus.
Luke has gathered more than one Sabbath episode into this section of his gospel, and the second refers to a man with a withered hand. The religious leaders watch to see if Jesus will heal him, in order that they can rule this illegal too. But again Jesus confronts them directly. “Is it lawful to do good or evil on the Sabbath?” Of course the answer is straightforward – “good” – but that would require them to agree that healing the man is allowed, so instead they give no answer. Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t actually heal the man; He just asks him to hold out his hand, and as he does so the hand is healed. Once again, obedience to the instruction of Jesus releases the supernatural. And the supernatural is the fastest way to make enemies among religious people, especially leaders in religion!
Next, Jesus spends the night in discussion with His Father, and appoints the twelve apostles (sent ones). Then together they stand on a plain at the foot of the mountain where Jesus had spent the night, and Jesus begins to teach. Luke records the core of Jesus’ teaching in the next chapters. Jesus begins with the blessings and the sorrows. Some of these are surprising if you stop to reflect on them. Why is it a blessing to be poor? Or weep? Or be persecuted? And why does sorrow await the rich, the fat and prosperous, those who laugh, and those who are praised?
With the benefit of knowing about Good Friday, we may understand now what Jesus was saying. But to those hearing on that plain, the teaching must have seemed upside down! So what in your life seems hard or unfair? Is it maybe God’s blessing in disguise? Or if life is good for you, how does that look to God? And what might God be asking of you in response to all you have?
May God bless us as we remember Jesus’ great sacrifice today. Please join us tonight at the Riverfront Park in Conway at 6pm for Stations of the Cross with all the Conway churches.
Have a great day!

Mark.
You are welcome to forward this to a friend.
If you would like to receive your own copy of this email, please email Mark to request this.
Quick links:
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Bible Reading Day 87

Day 87 – Luke 5:17-39

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Good morning!
Now Jesus has a following of disciples, He is a Rabbi (teacher) and is becoming a threat to the religious leaders. The Pharisees and teachers of religious law follow Him around, finding fault with Him. That might be enough to threaten me or you into compliance, but not Jesus! It is almost as though He goes out of His way to offend their religious pride! When a paralyzed man is brought to Jesus, He first tells him his sins are forgiven. (Remember that most people in that day thought disease was the result of sin). Of course the religious leaders believed only God could forgive sin, and so the stage was set for a confrontation! How moving that Jesus proves the power of His (controversial) words by doing a miracle, while the Pharisees’ (religious) words have never worked a miracle in their lives! The joy the paralyzed man felt was shared by everyone who knew him, and so Jesus’ fame spread.
 
Then Jesus picks a disciple certain to provoke the Pharisees to further fits of rage – Matthew (also called Levi) the Tax Collector. During tax season (remember April 15 is coming up soon) we don’t often think highly of tax collectors (unless we get a big refund). But in Jesus’ day tax collectors were as vilified as Al-Quaeda sympathizers are in ours. They were traitors, and worse they had the backing of the evil government. Of course tax collectors deserved this bad reputation – they deceived people, were greedy, and could only be trusted to cheat you!
 
So Jesus’ choice was very interesting – for Matthew, and for the religious people. We see a glimpse of why Jesus called him in the conversation with the religious leaders that follows; Jesus tells everyone that He has come to those who know they are sinners and need to repent. Matthew clearly was in that place, and it is testimony to the power of Jesus’ love that Matthew went on to write the gospel we read at the start of this year together. More information on Matthew here.
 
Finally Jesus is asked why He and His followers do not fast, when John the Baptist’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast regularly. The purpose of fasting was to bring one closer to God (at least for John’s followers) or to prove one’s devotion to God. Of course, Jesus’ disciples can’t get any closer to God than walking around with Him, so fasting is not relevant for them at this time. Jesus explains that they will fast when He is taken away, and follows that statement with two illustrations about the difference between old and new. He is the NEW, and the new is incompatible with the old, causing harm to it if they are forced together.
 
What new thing is God doing in you today? And what new structure or habit do you need to embrace to allow God’s newness to work in you fully?
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
You are welcome to forward this to a friend.
 
If you would like to receive your own copy of this email, please email Mark to request this.
 
Quick links:
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Bible Reading Day 86

Day 86 – Luke 5:1-16

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Good morning!
Today Jesus calls His first disciples. Very early in His ministry He begins to invest in others. First He calls Simon to help Him with a need. The crowds are pressing in and Jesus needs to be heard, so Simon takes Jesus out on the water in his fishing boat. From a short distance out on the lake Jesus can speak to a much larger crowd as the water reflects His voice, acting like an amplifier. After having Simon help with the need, Jesus goes a step further, and freaks Simon out with a demonstration of God’s power!

It is interesting that, at the point of acting on God’s instruction, Simon explains to God why the instruction won’t work! Have you ever done that? God prompts you to do something supernatural (speak to a stranger, or meet a need secretly, or pray for a need in someone else’s life), and you take a few minutes to politely explain to God that it won’t work? “We’ve fished all night and caught nothing.” 

Well, this may surprise you, but I don’t believe God minds you and I explaining to Him why His instructions are impossible! Provided we follow Simon’s example and go on to say “nevertheless, at Your Word I will…” It is at the point of obedience that the miracle happens, and we are amazed! Notice that the miracle impacts not only Simon, but His friends onshore too. They are all amazed, and Simon starts to confess his sin! When God shows up in power, we are all changed. These fishermen, although they had just made the biggest catch of their lives, willingly left it all behind and followed Jesus. That is a miracle – ask any fisherman!

Next, Jesus moves from many fish to one outcast. Leprosy was a slow death sentence in those days; instant exclusion from society, self-imposed rejection from shouting “unclean” to everyone you meet, followed by a gradual disintegration of the body, starting with the extremities. Lepers were the lowest of the low and their plight was irreversible. Yet one leper had the courage to say to Jesus “If You are willing, You can make me clean” – he had faith in God’s power, but was uncertain of God’s will. Jesus quickly reassured him about the will of God – “I am willing, be healed.”

Jesus was always surrounded by crowds for a reason – He loved them and had the answers to their needs. Yet He also took care to be alone with His Father regularly. It was Jesus’ obedience to His Father’s will that released all the miracles, just as Simon’s obedience led to the miraculous catch of fish.

What is God saying to you? What reasons can you give for God’s Word not to work? He IS willing, and is ready for you to say “nevertheless, at Your Word I will….”

Why not spend a few moments listening to Him this morning so you can obey His instructions and see amazing things happen?
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
You are welcome to forward this to a friend.
 
If you would like to receive your own copy of this email, please email Mark to request this.
 
Quick links:
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Bible Reading Day 85

Day 85 – Luke 4:33-44

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Good morning!
Today we see Jesus ministering in the authority that we discussed yesterday. He surprises many in the process.

First Jesus surprises the powers of evil. A man with a demon started shouting at Jesus, presumably to frighten Him away, but it was the demon who was surprised, when Jesus ordered it out of the man. That authority surprised the crowd, who were not expecting such power along with the synagogue teaching! As often happens, this demonstration of power caused the fame of Jesus to increase – until there is revival in Galilee.

When Jesus goes to Simon’s house, he is asked to heal Simon’s mother-in-law who is sick with a fever. The fever is no match for Jesus, and she is soon up and serving them a meal! That led to the whole village bringing their sick (as soon as the sun went down because that day was the sabbath and work such as carrying sick people to Simon’s house was not permitted until sundown). Everyone was surprised as Jesus healed every sick person, and freed those troubled by demons too. The demons were no doubt surprised too, not expecting to be defeated so soon. Luke records that they knew Jesus was the Messiah, so they must have known their end was in sight, but to be ejected immediately was not in their plan!

Finally there is another surprise as Jesus tells the crowds that He will not stay there, but instead will move on to preach in other places. This surprises us too – we would have found it much more attractive to stay there and build a solid reputation for miracles that would draw ever larger crowds, but Jesus is following His Father’s plan, which is for everyone to hear the good news of the Kingdom of God. Miracles are a great way to verify the power of God, and often to arouse interest in God’s will, but hearing the Word of God is even more important than being healed or set free. 

Jesus meets needs so the needy can meet God. What are your needs today? God wants to meet you through them!
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
You are welcome to forward this to a friend.
 
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Bible Reading Day 84

Day 84 – Luke 4:1-32

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Good morning!
Today we see the authority of Jesus and learn the source of that authority. Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit after His baptism (pray that for all those who were baptised yesterday). Then the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness and for forty days He is tempted by the devil. Luke records the exchange at the end of that forty day period, where the devil tempts Jesus first with appetites – “turn these stones into bread,” then with authority – “I will give you all these kingdoms,” and finally with power – “jump: He will order His angels to protect you.”

Of course Jesus has nothing to do with any of these temptations, unlike every human who ever lived! Jesus responds with “it is written” – quoting the Word of God to overcome temptation. Remember that Jesus is the Word of God, and that when we receive Him, His word abides in us. So we can resist temptation too!

The resistance to temptation gives Jesus greater authority – verse 14 tells us Jesus returns to Galilee full of the Holy Spirit, and in Nazareth He reads from Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy and declares ““The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” Notice, though, that authority does not necessarily mean that we are accepted – the townspeople reject Jesus because they have too small a view of Him. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” So Jesus reminds them that throughout the Old Testament God has often gone to the outsiders, rather than the insiders. When they try to mob Him and kill Him, He simply walks through the crowd. That qualifies as authority in my view!

Finally Jesus goes to Capernaum, where His authority is recognized by those who don’t know Him as “just Joseph’s son”!

So notice that Jesus refuses to give in to the temptation to take what is rightfully His (authority) and thus grows in authority! There’s a lesson here for us; it reflects what Dominic talked about yesterday. We can’t gain anything of value by our own effort, but only through relationship with God. Let’s submit to His timing today, tell Him we trust Him, and ask for the grace to resist temptation.
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
You are welcome to forward this to a friend.
 
If you would like to receive your own copy of this email, please email Mark to request this.
 
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Bible Reading Day 83

Day 83 – Luke 3

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Good morning!
Today’s chapter has a great deal in it! I will try to be brief in my comments to give you plenty of time to dwell on these verses.

John the Baptist comes into his foremost time of ministry – he leads a revival of repentance in Israel that creates hunger and anticipation for the coming Messiah. John is uncompromising in his preaching and equally clear that he is NOT the Messiah. What a gift to be so confident in God’s commission that he fulfills his calling, yet never oversteps his role!

Luke loads his account with so many historical details, giving us confidence in the veracity of the Word of God. Truly God is at work in every detail of history. God’s Kingdom over-rules every detail of earth’s empires.

In this same chapter we see the beginning of the decline of John’s ministry. Jesus comes to John to be baptized, signifying the beginning of Jesus’ ministry which John knows will eclipse his own. As we have seen before, the obedience of Jesus in submitting to baptism causes His Father great joy. How appropriate that we read this chapter on the day when a number of our church family will also be baptized. Pray for them that they will each hear God say ““You are my dearly loved son/daughter, and you bring me great joy.”
 
Finally. Luke lists the genealogy of Jesus (in an unusual reverse order which gives greater emphasis to Jesus). If you compare this genealogy with the one in Matthew, you will find many differences. Most scholars believe that Luke’s genealogy is actually that of Mary, showing the human line of Jesus’ birth. Joseph, as son-in-law of Heli, probably lived in his father-in-law’s house as a son. For more discussion see these two articles: Bible Genealogy and About.com

Have a great day!

Mark.
 
You are welcome to forward this to a friend.
 
If you would like to receive your own copy of this email, please email Mark to request this.
 
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Bible Reading Day 82

Day 82 – Luke 2:25-52

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Good morning!
The sacrifice in the Temple that Jesus’ parents offered was answered very clearly by God. First Simeon blesses the baby in terms that clearly identify Jesus as the Messiah, and then Anna prophesies, telling everyone who is looking for the coming Messiah that Jesus is here. With these two incidents Luke fills in a great deal more of the human detail of Jesus’ birth. Here is a Savior for all mankind!

The second half of our reading today records the incident at 12 years old where Jesus stays in the Temple after the annual Passover celebration. His parents lose Him for a time and there is quite a scene! To our eyes this can look like neglectful parenting or rebellious teenage behavior, but in fact it would be normal for the family to be part of a larger group, and for children to be cared for in the group. As the oldest child, Jesus would have had some freedom while His parents were presumably occupied with younger siblings. Eastern society at that time was much more rooted in extended family structures than we are today in the west. Jesus was only one year from HIs Bar-Mitzvah so would have been expected to sit with the teachers of the Law and learn. The surprise was that He was teaching, not learning! And you can imagine Mary’s consternation when she realized Jesus was missing: how would you feel if you had lost the Son of God??!!

Even at this young age, Jesus knew He had a heavenly Father, and as a result He had wisdom and favor. The same is true for you and me; to have wisdom and favor we must first dwell in our Father’s house, close to His heart. I pray you will have a deeper revelation of Father God’s love for you today, and grow in wisdom and favor as a result.
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
You are welcome to forward this to a friend.
 
If you would like to receive your own copy of this email, please email Mark to request this.
 
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Bible Reading Day 81

Day 81 – Luke 2:1-24

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Good morning!
Luke gives us great detail about the birth of Jesus – historical facts that verify Jesus’ life in history. And the verses today are packed with supernatural power too – only God could arrange for His Son’s birth to occur in such a precise way, with so many prophetic details fulfilled. For some examples, check out this website.

Because this is perhaps one of the most familiar passages in the gospels, I invite you to read it prayerfully and with an eye to details you would normally overlook. I am not going to comment on the verses today, other than to commend to you the attitude of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in verse 19.

One small, but significant human detail (remember Luke is recording the life of Jesus with the focus on His humanity) is found in verse 24. The Law provided for a sacrifice of two doves or pigeons for the poorest people (Leviticus 12:28).  All the circumstances of His birth demonstrate His humility.

Now, let me leave you to read the verses again and let God speak to your heart.
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
You are welcome to forward this to a friend.
 
If you would like to receive your own copy of this email, please email Mark to request this.
 
Quick links:
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