Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saturday, July 21st: 2 Kings 22-23, Matthew 8 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Kings 22-23, Matthew 8

I've been reading only the NT portion of our readings this year, but when I saw that the OT portion contained the story of King Josiah, I had to read it - it's one of my favourite passages.

King Josiah began his reign at only 8 yrs old!  Several evil kings had reigned before him, but Josiah followed God (maybe his mother's influence?  The Bible doesn't say and I'd love to know!).  However, because there had been evil kings before him, the Book of the Law had been lost and Josiah and his people didn't even know about all the laws they were breaking.  When the King heard the Book of the Law read to him he tore his robes in grief and repentance, and instituted sweeping reforms throughout the nation in an effort to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord.

King Josiah's life is a reminder that age has no bearing on the influence we can wield.  All of us have the opportunity to influence those around us by the way we live. Perhaps not to the extent of the King, but we all have our own spheres of influence and we must use them for His glory.

I love these portions.....

19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people...I also have heard you, declares the Lord.
25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.
What an amazing legacy!  To have a responsive heart, to be willing to humble himself, to be known as one who turned to the Lord with all his heart, soul, and strength - would that that phrase would be said of us!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  2 Kings 24-25, Matthew 9

Friday, July 20, 2018

Friday, July 20th: 2 Kings 19-21, Matthew 7 ~ Emma

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Kings 19-21, Matthew 7

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” - Matthew 7:7

This being my fourth summer leading at camp, this applies to my current season in life so clearly:

Keep on

Keep on asking for strength on the hard days, keep on seeking for God in every situation, keep on knocking on that door. 

Keep on pushing through tough times, keep on praising God even when He seems far away, keep on working as hard as you can in everything you do. 

Keep on pursuing God through everything. 

Keep on

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  2 Kings 22-23, Matthew 8

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday, July 19th: Isaiah 34-36, Matthew 6:19-34 ~ Nathan

Isaiah 36:14-15
This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you! [15] Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, 'The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.'

We hear these words from people today too, urging us not to trust in the Lord, or urging us to place our trust in something other then God. Is their something out there that's greater then God?

Let's not be fooled, trusting in the Lord is the only sure thing we can do in life. The odds were fiercely against the people of Judea, but God helped them succeed. How dangerous is it to ignore God and place our trust in human strength?

Do we place our whole trust in the Lord?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wednesday, July 18th: Isaiah 31-33, Matthew 6:1-18 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 31-33, Matthew 6:1-18

16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
I realized when reading this that I've heard very few sermons (if any) on fasting.  Notice how Jesus says when you fast, not if you fast.  Fasting is a good thing, but we need to know the right way to do it.

Physically, it must be safe to fast - this isn't possible for everyone.

But, more importantly, we need to fast correctly from a spiritual perspective.

We can't fast in order to receive praise from men.  We can't fast in order to try to be seen as being holy or super-spiritual.

That said, if someone notices that we are fasting, we haven't not lost all spiritual benefit of the fast.  As John Piper says in this article.....
If someone finds out you are fasting, you haven't sinned. The value of your fast is not destroyed if someone notices that you have skipped lunch. It is possible to fast with other people—for example: our staff fasting together on a planning retreat to seek the Lord—it is possible to fast like that and NOT to fast "to be seen by men." Being seen fasting and fasting to be seen are not the same. Being seen fasting is a mere external event. Fasting TO BE SEEN is a self-exalting motive of the heart.

So, what is the reward of fasting?

the best place to find out the reward of our fasting is to look here in the Sermon on the Mount. For example, the prayer that Jesus just taught us to pray in Matthew 6:9–13 begins with three main longings: that God's name be hallowed or revered, that his kingdom come, that his will be done on earth the way it's done in heaven. That is the main reward God gives for our fasting. We fast out of longing for God's name to be known and cherished and honored, and longing for his rule to be extended and then consummated in history, and longing for his will to hold sway everywhere ...

For sure he gives us many, many specific things through fasting. And it is not wrong to seek specifically for his help in every area of our lives through fasting. But these three petitions: hallowing his name, seeking his kingdom, and doing his will—these give the test to see if all the other things we long for are expressions of these. Do we want our sons and daughters saved because this would hallow God's name? Do we want North Korea to open for the sake of the advance of the kingship of Jesus? Do we want upright leaders in government because God's holy, revealed will for his creation is at stake? Do we want Bethlehem [Church] revived and awakened with divine power and love and joy because it glorifies the name of God and advances his kingdom and brings about his will?
This is what Jesus is calling us to—a radically God-oriented fasting.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Isaiah 34-36, Matthew 6:19-34

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tuesday, June 17: Isaiah 28-30, Matthew 5:27-48 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 28-30, Matthew 5:27-48

Matthew 5:38-39
You have heard it said, ‘Eye for eye, & tooth for tooth.’  But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

This is just hard.

How badly to we want to fight back, to get even, to make that person feel or go through what they put us through. And yet we are commanded to ‘turn the other cheek,’ to ‘be the bigger person’ as some would say.

I don’t know that this comes easy to anyone & yet we are called to it. The thing is, this doesn’t just apply to our enemies. Are we quick to respond to our spouses, children, brothers & sisters, etc with harsh words or choose to not be kind in a response to a disagreement. When we can work within ourselves to respond in love to those we love, then we are a step closer to responding in kind to others around us.

Seeing as how this kind of response isn’t second nature, we need to be in constant communication with our Father. Take a step back from the situation, pause for a prayer & an attitude check & respond in a way that  may be contrary to how we feel in the moment but in a way that we can look back on & not be ashamed of our actions.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Isaiah 31-33, Matthew 6:1-18

Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday, July 16: Isaiah 25-27, Matthew 5:1-26 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 25-27, Matthew 5:1-26

This summer, my youngest 2 children are leaders at our church's day camp. They will minister to just over 60 children each week and some will hear the message of salvation for the first time. These two verses stood out for me as I thought about the day camp and the children who will be attending this summer:

Isaiah 26: 7-8

The path of the righteous is level;
    you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.
Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws,[b]
    we wait for you;
your name and renown
    are the desire of our hearts.

If everyone lived their lives they way God intended, what a life this would be! But how do people who do not know about Jesus know how to walk in his ways? We need to look for ways to share Jesus with those around us so that they can wait and be walking with Him when He returns. 

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The theme for this year's camp is "walk in the light". Living without the knowledge of Christ is like walking in the dark, fumbling around trying to make sense of the surroundings. Knowing God means that we are no longer in the dark and that we can share the light with others too and this will help them to find their way too.

Today I am praying for the hearts of the campers to receive this message that will light their way as they go through the rest of their lives.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Isaiah 28-30 Matthew 5:27-48

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Saturday, July 14th: Isaiah 22-24; Matthew 4 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 22-24; Matthew 4

One thing that jumps out me from the passage in Matthew 4 where Satan tempts Jesus, is not only how important it is to know the Word, but also how to use it.

Satan knew scripture.  But he twisted and misused it.

I read a quote again today ("coincidentally") that said this....
Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong.  It is knowing the difference between right and almost right. (Charles Spurgeon)

How true this is!  Satan does not usually try to deceive us with outright lies - that would be easy for us to see through.  He tempts us with lies that sound like truths.

We need to know scripture enough to see through Satan's tricks, and we need to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us through that knowledge.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Isaiah 25-27, Matthew 5:1-26

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday, July 13th: Isaiah 19-21; Matthew 3 ~ Emma

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 19-21; Matthew 3

“After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”” - ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭3:16-17‬

I read these verses and then moved on, thinking “what am I going to write about for this week’s blog?” And then, rereading the passage, realized what I had missed. 

Imagine being one of the many people gathered around watching Jesus get baptized. Those people probably woke up that morning and did their usual chores and jobs. Or maybe they woke up excited for the journey ahead to the Jordan River to watch, or even to be baptized. Imagine being there to see the Son of God be baptized! Imagine seeing the heavens open and watching the Spirit of God come down like a dove and sit on Jesus’ shoulder. Imagine hearing a voice from the sky proclaiming who Jesus was!

We often read verses like this and don’t even think about what they mean. There was so much of God’s amazing glory in these two verses, and I just skimmed through them!

Let’s take the time to not only read our bibles, but to try to understand the context and stories being told of God’s glory. 

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageIsaiah 22-24; Matthew 4

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thursday, July 12th: Isaiah 16-18, Matthew 2 ~ Nathan

As with yesterday's blog, what stood out to me in today's blog  was also Joseph, and what a key roll he played in the early part of Jesus life.

He shows again great faith and trust in God when he was told to pack up and move because king Herod would be after them, in particular Jesus his new born son.

Matthew 2: 13-14
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him .” [14] So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,

If Joseph had not listened to God, things would have gotten really bad for his new family.
It's amazing how God uses people in small, sometimes forgotten, ways to make things work the way He wants.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wednesday, July 11th: Isaiah 13-15, Matthew 1 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 13-15, Matthew 1

Matthew's main purpose is to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah, the King of the Jews.  One of the requirements would be to trace Jesus' lineage back to David - and because kingship is handed down through the father's line, Matthew shows that Joseph, Jesus' earthly father, can trace his ancestry to King David.

Joseph was a godly and strong man.  It would take a man of great character to marry Mary, knowing she was already with child, and all the baggage that would come with that - at best the neighbours would think Joseph had engaged in premarital sex with Mary, at worst they would think she had been unfaithful to him.  Either way, it was not what he thought he had signed up for.  And yet, when he received assurance that she had been faithful (and I certainly don't fault him for needing assurance - immaculate conception would be a tough sell!), he was willing to follow through with the marriage and to take Jesus as his son.

We also need to live out our lives in faithfulness to God's plan, even when it doesn't go according to what we thought was best or when we don't know what will happen.  God is in control, His plan is best, and following that plan is for our good and for His glory.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:   Isaiah 16-18, Matthew 2