What are You Praying For?

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

Alright. I’ve got a tough and challenging question for you. First of all, let me say, if you are praying, I don’t want to say anything to discourage you. I’m super glad you have a habit of prayer. That is awesome. But now that you are praying, I want to challenge you to think about where you focus your prayers. It is true that you are allowed to bring to God whatever is on your heart. Pray for your needs and your wants. Cast all your cares upon God even when you are not sure if God would even care about that or not; lift it up to Him. He is our Abba, our Father, He wants to hear it. But this psalm presents a challenging question to me. Do I ever pray for what was top on this psalmist’s mind? Think about it, he is facing enemies who are violently hateful. And it is true that the psalmist gets around to praying for protection from them. But do you see where his prayer request first focuses? “Make me know your ways, Lord.” “Teach me your paths, Lord.” Lead me in your truth, Lord.” “Teach me, Lord.” How many of your prayers are anchored here? In fact, while the psalmist gets to talking about protection, it is very clear that the psalmist believes the protection comes not simply from God acting in the lives of the enemies. It comes from knowing the way of God. It comes from knowing God’s word and will. God protects us by showing us His path, His way. And, of course, considering Psalm 1, doesn’t that just make sense? Those who know the way of the Lord are like a tree planted by waters, but the way of the wicked perishes. Too often, I just go about studying and trying to figure things out on my own and then expecting God to pick up my messes. Perhaps I should start with, “Lord, make me to know Your way.” How about you?

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

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Error Has Consequences

Today’s reading is Acts 19.

I know we are in a completely new chapter this week. But have you ever wondered why there were 12 “disciples” who weren’t actually disciples in Ephesus in Acts 19? Why were there men so devout that Luke gives them this label, but then describes them in terms to demonstrate they can’t really be what he has called them? Again, remember according to Matthew 28:19-20, disciples are made through water baptism in Jesus’s name and correct teaching. The chapter break may throw us off, but surely we are told about these men right after we were introduced to Apollos and his baptism error because the latter is based on the former. Error has consequences. Apollos’s error had consequences. I know there has for a long time been a huge debate about what actually constitutes a “false teacher.” Is a false teacher someone who gets teaching incorrect or does a person have to have some false motives and insincerity to be a false teacher. If the latter, we’d never classify Apollos as a false teacher. If the former, maybe. But doesn’t this whole story demonstrate the debate about the definition of false teacher is a red herring? Whether you label Apollos a false teacher or not, his error had consequences. These men were sure they were serving the Lord, they were sure they were disciples. However, they weren’t. Their confidence was false whether their teacher was or not. They needed truth. After all, truth is what sets us free. Let’s hunt for truth always.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 19.

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Preaching the Word

Today’s reading is Acts 8.

When the Christians from Jerusalem scattered, they didn’t go quietly. They went preaching and teaching. However, notice what they went teaching and preaching: The Word. They didn’t go teaching and preaching self-help psychology. They didn’t go teaching and preaching philosophy. They didn’t go teaching and preaching cultural mandates. They taught the Word. The Word has been so linked to the kingdom of Christ that the growth of the Word has been used interchangeably for the growth of the kingdom (see Acts 6:7). While the Word teaches us to be moral, moralism is not the foundation of the kingdom. The Word is. While the Word provides guidance for successful living, successful living is not the foundation of the kingdom. The Word is. While the Word gives instruction in a psychologically fulfilling and meaningful life, psychological fulfillment is not the foundation of the kingdom. The Word is. When what we teach and preach looks and sounds more like the self-help section of the local bookstore than it does the preaching and teaching of Jesus, Peter, and Paul, we are going to be in trouble. And while folks’s lives may seem to improve, they won’t be saved. These early Christians were scattered, but went about preaching the Word. Folks were saved. May we do the same.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 8.

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Speak!

Today’s reading is Acts 4.

They had been arrested. They were being threatened by the Council. If there was ever a time to say, “Surely the Lord wouldn’t expect us to deal with this,” this was it. If there was ever a time to say, “We’ll just go along to get along for now, but just try not to get caught again later,” this was it. But they didn’t. What did they say, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” We must speak. The Council was charging them to be quiet. They could have said, “Yes, sirs,” but then gone and done what they wanted. But they wouldn’t even do that. They let the Council know right up front. “Nope, we’re going to keep on speaking.” Then it was up to the Council what to do with them. If we speak, our friends might not like us. If we speak, our family may disown us. If we speak, we may become unpopular. If we speak, even brethren might get mad at us. I know I’m tempted to say, “God wouldn’t want me to deal with all this negative press.” But Peter and John are staring me in the face. What an example! What Jesus has done is awesome. What Jesus has taught is life. Let’s Speak no matter the response.

Today’s reading is Acts 4.

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Teach Us to Pray

Today’s reading is Luke 11.

I am always humbled by Luke 11:1. “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'” Jesus prayed in such a way that his disciples asked to be taught how to pray like Him. Prayer is very important to me. However, I’m nowhere near as consistent, deep, dependent as I want to be. And I’ve never prayed in such a way that someone, not even my children, asked, “Teach me to pray like that.” I have lots of growing to do. I have lots of growing to do in prayer. However, I’m not going to wait for that growth to happen. I’m going to go ahead and pray today. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 11.

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Keep Reading

Today’s reading is 2 Timothy 3.

I just want you to know how glad I am that you take part in this daily devotion and Bible reading plan. Truly, there is almost nothing you can do that is more important than being in God’s Word on a regular, even daily basis. In our modern world, we often look for new and sophisticated ways to improve and grow. But the reality is: the number one way for us to grow is simply to be in the sacred, holy writings of God. They will teach you. They will reprove you. They will correct you. They will train you in righteousness. They will provide all you need to make you complete, equipped for every good work. I’m so glad you’re reading today. May I encourage you to keep reading no matter what. And if you miss some days or weeks or however long, don’t beat yourself up. Just pick it back up and read again.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Timothy 4.

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Unless We Preach it

Today’s reading is Romans 10.

God wants everyone to be saved. I know you do also. However, we need to understand something. No one will be saved unless someone actually preaches the gospel to them. No one will call on Jesus if they don’t believe in Him. No one will believe in Him if they don’t hear about Him. No one will hear about Him if no one talks about Him. So let’s start talking. Let’s start proclaiming. This gospel is amazing. There is no need to be ashamed. We are helping people and granting compassion to them when we tell them about Jesus. Let’s get busy today telling folks about Jesus. No, they won’t all believe. But some will. Let’s find them.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 11.

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Rejoice

Today’s reading is Acts 8.

Can you imagine being the Ethiopian eunuch? Clearly, he is devoted to Yahweh. He travels thousands of miles to make the Jerusalem pilgrimage. However, according to the Law, he actually isn’t allowed to be a citizen of the kingdom (seeĀ Deuteronomy 23:1). No wonder when Philip shares the good news of Christ’s kingdom with him, he questions, “What hinders me?” Philip’s answer really is, “Nothing!” He enters the water, is immersed for the remission of his sins, and then goes on his way rejoicing. He wasn’t allowed in the assembly of the Jews, but he is now part of the assembly of Jesus. Here’s the cool thing. In reality, we are all in the same boat as that eunuch. According to the law, we really don’t get to be part of the kingdom. We are sinners. The law condemns us. However, that doesn’t hinder us from being part of Christ’s kingdom. Let us surrender to His gospel, confess Him as Lord and being buried with Him in water immersion for the remission of our sins. Then let us rejoice. There are no second-class citizens of Christ’s kingdom/ Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 9.

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Pray for Laborers

Today’s reading is Luke 10.

Once again, I get it exactly backwards. I tend to believe there are a lot of disciples sharing the gospel, but not many people interested in it. Jesus says it is the other way around. There is a huge harvest waiting to be harvested, but not many people laboring. I’ve never thought about it before, but Jesus doesn’t teach us to pray for a big harvest. He says that is already there. He tells us to pray for workers, for harvesters, for disciples to get out there and share the gospel. WOW! Let’s spend today praying, not for a harvest, but for more laborers. Oh yeah, and let’s be ready to be part of God’s answer to that prayer. Let’s get into the field and start harvesting.

Monday’s reading is Luke 11.

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You Ought to be Teachers

Today’s reading is Hebrews 5.

I get it, when the Hebrew writer tells his audience they ought to be teachers, it is a bit of a rebuke. I’m sure some of us reading today need this as a rebuke as well. However, I actually get a great deal of encouragement out of it. Whether I need this as a rebuke or not, what I learn from it is every one of us can grow as teachers. Even if teaching is not our greatest spiritual gift, every one of us will grow to be able to teach others if we keep growing. That means even if I’m a wet-behind-the-ears babe in Jesus Christ, I can take comfort that as I continue to grow, I will, by the grace of God, become a disciple maker. God isn’t going to leave me out in the cold on that aspect of spiritual growth. So whether you need a rebuke on this or just an encouragement, keep growing. You too will be able to teach and make disciples.

Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 6.

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