Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 24th: Ezekiel 1-4 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 1-4

The start of the reading today reminded me of something that we would read out of Revelation.

It starts out and talks about a vision from God to Ezekiel, who was a priest, and is mainly about God preparing Ezekiel to minister to a people that were lost.

Ezekiel 2:5
And whether they listen or fail to listen —for they are a rebellious people —they will know that a prophet has been among them.

I sense that the Israelites have already gone too far and God is ready to give them what they deserve, but is willing to try again to save anyone who is willing to listen to Him,

Ezekiel 2:7
You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious

God is preparing Ezekiel for a ministry, to a lost people that have learned about God but fail to devote themselves completely to Him,

Ezekiel 3:10-11
And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. [11] Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says,' whether they listen or fail to listen. ”

We live in a fallen world just like the Israelites did in the times we read about. They are being given another chance, whether they want it or not, to turn to God. What an awesome and loving God we serve, that He would give that many chances to turn to Him.

When I think about it, it blows me away how awesome and loving God is. He takes all our sin and forgives us (when we personally accept Him and ask for forgiveness) then welcomes us into heaven to be with Him forever! Amazing!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Jeremiah 27-28, Jeremiah 51:59-64

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday, August 23rd: 2 Kings 24:10-17, 2 Chronicles 36:10, 2 Kings 24:18-20, 2 Chronicles 36:11-14, Jeremiah 52:1-3, Jeremiah 37-38 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Kings 24:10-17, 2 Chronicles 36:10, 2 Kings 24:18-20, 2 Chronicles 36:11-14, Jeremiah 52:1-3, Jeremiah 37-38

Jeremiah 38:15-
Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I give you an answer, will you not kill me? Even if I did give you counsel, you would not listen to me.”

This verse stood out to me today.

Already in Jeremiah 37:2&3, Zedekiah was not wanting to listen to Jeremiah’s words, but wanting the blessing of his prayers.  He wanted things from God but didn't want anything expected from him.

We have to be prepared to listen to guidance/direction given to us either directly from God or from godly counsel placed before us. God expects obedience from us.

Counsel can come in different forms.  Whether being the direction/path we're supposed to take or something that needs refining in us, we need to accept the counsel given (even when it goes against everything we want to hear) & follow.

Only in our obedience will we be able to receive the prayers of blessings.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Ezekiel 1-4

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday, August 22nd: Jeremiah 49:34-51:58 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 49:34-51:58

Sorry for the late post - I forgot it was my Monday!

Today's passage is a clear reminder that God is sovereign.  Nations, kings, and empires rise and fall according to His command.  God would use Babylon to punish Judah for her sins, and then He would use the Medo-Persians to punish Babylon for its own.  At its height, the Babylonian empire probably seemed invincible, but it was powerless against God's plan.

The same is true for us today.  With the disastrous looking election coming up for our neighbours to the south, it would be easy to become discouraged.  But no matter how that election goes down, God is still on His throne and He is ultimately the King of all kings (or presidents or prime ministers).  Perhaps God is bringing about a season of judgment, perhaps He is refining us through fire - it doesn't really matter whether or not we understand God's plan or know what He is doing.

We know that He is good.
We know that He is sovereign.
And that is enough.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage2 Kings 24:10-17, 2 Chronicles 36:10, 2 Kings 24:18-20, 2 Chronicles 36:11-14, Jeremiah 52:1-3, Jeremiah 37-38

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday, August 21th: Jeremiah 29-31` ~ Kelora

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is:Jeremiah 29-31

After reading these passages Jeremiah 29 stood out the most for me.  This chapter is a letter from Jeremiah to the captives of Babylon.  He reminded the people that even though they were experiencing troubled time that life keeps moving on and and that they should continue to live their lives and to pray for the nation that they were exiled to.  This was a good reminder to me that when troubles or hardship enter our lives not to forget to continue to pray and trust God.

I particularly like the verse Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."  What a reassurance this verse is especially the part about God giving us hope and a future.  My Life Application Bible had good notes on this verse It said:

We're all encouraged by a leader who stirs us to move ahead, someone who believes we can do the task he has given and who will be with us all the way.  God is that kind of leader.  He knows the future, and his plans for us are good and full of hope.  As long as God, who knows the future, provides our agenda and goes with us as we fulfill his mission, we can have boundless hope.  This does not mean that we will be spared pain, suffering or hardship, but that God will see us through to a glorious conclusion.  

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Jeremiah 49:34-51:58

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday, August 20th: 2 Kings 24:5-7, 2 Chronicles 36:6-8, 2 Kings 24:8-9, 2 Chronicles 36:9, Jeremiah 22:24-30, Jeremiah 23-24 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Kings 24:5-7, 2 Chronicles 36:6-8, 2 Kings 24:8-9, 2 Chronicles 36:9, Jeremiah 22:24-30, Jeremiah 23-24

Today's passage reminds us once again that leaders are responsible for those they lead and will be held accountable for how they do so.  We are all leaders to some degree or another, and should all take this to heart.

It warns once again about the prevalence of false teachers, something that we have in abundance these days!  There are a lot of prosperity preachers and those who claim to speak for God and yet call right wrong.  We must compare any teaching we hear with the truth from God's Word.  That is to be our only standard.

The story of the good and bad figs caught my eye in Jeremiah 24.  I appreciated this excerpt from my Life Application Bible....
The fresh, ripe figs represented the exiles to Babylon, not because they themselves were good but because their hearts would respond to God. He would preserve them and bring them back to the land. The bad, rotten figs represented those who remained in Judah or ran away to Egypt. Those people may have arrogantly believed they would be blessed if they remained in the land or escaped to Egypt, but the opposite was true because God would use the captivity to refine the exiles. We may assume we are blessed when life goes well and cursed when it does not. But trouble is a blessing when it makes us stronger, and prosperity is a curse if it entices us away from God. If you are facing trouble, ask God to help you grow stronger for him. If things are going your way, ask God to help you use your prosperity for him. 

Believers are the good figs - but not because of anything inherently good in us, but because of His grace, because of the Holy Spirit's work to soften our hearts to the gospel, because of His power to draw us to Himself.  

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Jeremiah 29-31

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday August 19th: Jeremiah 18, 35, 49:1-33 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Jeremiah 18, 35, 49:1-33

"But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him."  Jeremiah 18:4

Today's reading begins with God commanding Jeremiah to go and watch the potter work with his clay.  The potter takes his clay and begins to form something.  But before the clay hardens, the potter changes it completely and makes something else.

This demonstration was to show Jeremiah that Judah should turn from their wicked ways and be rewarded rather than rejecting God and being destroyed.  This verse applies to us today too.  The rewards that we will receive by following God, will outweigh any possible reward that we could achieve on our own.  Our ways are selfish that lead to destruction, where God's plan is to prosper us and provide us with hope.  God has the authority and power to form anything as He pleases.  He may dispose of us as He feels fit, and it would be absurd for us to dispute this (as the clay to quarrel with the potter).  When God comes against us in judgement we can be sure that it is for the sins that we have committed, and thankfully we have been given the gift of salvation through death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Dear Lord, I pray that I would be like clay in your hands and let you be the potter.  My life left in my own hands will lead to destruction and requires your touch to be reformed and shaped as you see fit.  I ask that you would provide a desire deep inside me that I would obey your words and learn from my mistakes.  Give me the strength to overcome temptation so that I can keep your commands.  You owe me nothing, and yet you choose to continue to show me patience, kindness, and compassion.  You have made me the way you wanted to, and it is my responsibility use those gifts to glorify you.  I would like to thank you for all that you have given to me and how you have always provided my needs.  Just as the clay will only find a purpose when it remains pliable and in the hands of the potter, so I too want to let you have your way with me.  Amen.    

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: 2 Kings 24:5-7, 2 Chronicles 36:6-8, 2 Kings 24:8-9, 2 Chronicles 36:9, Jeremiah 22:24-30, Jeremiah 23-24

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday August 18: Jeremiah 14-17 ~Cameron

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 14-17

Chapter 14:13-16 caught my eye.

Jeremiah, as with any of the prophets, had a tough gig. Bringing news of coming judgement is not a way to popularity. Being one of the few delivering a message of doom when other "prophets" are proclaiming peace would definitely increase the feeling of isolation. But God is not deceived and Jeremiah proclaims a severe judgement on those claiming to be speaking for God but are without substance.

While the message of peace is nice, the people of Israel and Judah knew their scriptures well. I wonder if at least a few of them paused from drinking in the warm and fuzzy feelings these "prophets" were serving and reflected on how little scripture backing these prophesies had. Then again, I wonder how many of us test the messages served to believers today. In my experience it is a frightfully low percentage and that apathetic attitude hurts the Church.

Placebo messages are common today too. They don't have substance but they still make people feel good. Pastors give messages intended to grease the wallets of the congregation so tithes flow more freely. Teachers shift the interpretation of the Word to make their message more palatable. And we see congregations empower these individuals or groups because it is the easiest path to take.

The "prophets" in this passage are not giving a message from God. But that does not mean those who heard them and did nothing are not still guilty. Rather, each message must be tested thoroughly. For prophetic predictions, the test is easy: did the event occur or not. Other messages require more examination.

This doesn't mean starting a confrontation every time a point comes up that you disagree with. What it means is that each of us must accept responsibility for the integrity of our faith and our eternal destination. It means reflecting on what is being taught, understanding the message, comparing it to scripture, being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and discussing it with others. Rarely are we called to be alone in our faith. Being able to discuss messages honestly ensures we don't delude ourselves, becoming the very thing we wish to avoid. But if you are ever called to confront someone on their message or teaching, do it in love with the goal of clarification and restoration.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageJeremiah 18, 35, 49:1-33

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday, August 17: Jeremiah 10-13 ~ Emma

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 10-13

A couple verses stood out to me in today's passage:

Jeremiah 10:6
LORD, there is no one like You! For Your name is full of power.

I find when I am feeling anxious or worried, I want to pray and talk to God, but I don't always know what to say. But God's name is so great that we can just whisper It, and in It there is power. It's like that 7eventh Time Down song: "when you don't know what to say, just say Jesus. There is power in the name, the name of Jesus."

Jeremiah 10:23
I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.

I am the type of person that I like to have things all planned out, and am always wanting to be informed of what exactly is going on. But God says that I need to just trust in Him because He has a plan for me. Even though I may have no idea what He is doing, I need to trust that "all things work together for the good of those who love Him".

Jeremiah 12:2
You have planted them, and they have taken root and prospered. Your name is on their lips, but You are far from their hearts.

Another reminder that we need to be all in for God. Our thoughts, actions, and words all need to point towards God. He didn't "half die" for us, so we shouldn't "half live" for Him.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageJeremiah 14-17

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tuesday, August 16th: Daniel 3, Jeremiah 7-9 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Daniel 3, Jeremiah 7-9

I love reading the book of Daniel & seeing, not only the miracles God performed, but the strength of faith demonstrated by Daniel & his friends.

In today's chapter, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego are told to worship the image or die.  In our human nature, it would have been easy to just obey this order to save their lives. They could have come up with a number of rationalizations for this – we will fall down, but not actually worship – we will do it this once & ask for God’s forgiveness – we’re not hurting anybody – if we get ourselves killed, who will help our people.

Some of these “excuses” touch a little close to home. How easy it is to justify our actions rather than follow the “letter of the law” when we are uncomfortable with what we know God would have us do. Or maybe, we don’t know how things can possibly work out if we don't bend the rules a little.

At first, some of these excuses almost sound rational. However, to have worshipped the image, it would have erased their testimony for God forever. Never again would they have been able to talk about the power of God above all other gods.

What excuses do we have for not standing up for God?

Daniel 3:17&18-
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, & he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

I find so much strength in those words: “but even if he does not.”  I know God can, but if he chooses not to, I will worship him alone.

Oh, how I pray for that kind of confident faith. I know my God can, but regardless of the outcome, I will follow him.

Jeremiah 9:23&24-
This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands & knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice & righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

I want to know God & have confidence in him like Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego did.  To have the kind of faith it takes to face the fiery furnace knowing that God is in control. To boast in him & his righteousness.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Jeremiah 10-13

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday, August 15: Jeremiah 19-20, Daniel 1-2 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 19-20, Daniel 1-2

Scripture: Daniel 1:5 & 1: 8  The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king........
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.

Observation: We are still responsible and accountable for our actions even when we are offered something that seems too good to refuse.

Application: Daniel was a man of integrity.

How easy it would have been to accept the King's food and wine and succumb to the ways of the others around him. Not only did Daniel stand up for what he believed but his friends joined him. Would his friends have also refused the King's food or negotiated a ten day trial with the chief of the eunuchs? We don't know but it seems to indicate that Daniel was the spokesperson or the leader. 

What opportunities do we have to show integrity when it would be much easier, and more common, to just do whatever is easiest? Do we correct a cashier that gives us too much change or misses an item? Do we go the speed limit even when we are running late? Do we take shortcuts in our work hoping no one will notice? Do we repeat rumours or gossip? Do we follow through on promises? How do we respond to others who do not act with integrity do we call them on it? Or let their actions slide because it's not our problem?

As a parent (and a teacher) I am constantly faced with opportunities to demonstrate and encourage actions that show integrity. I know that my own actions are being constantly scrutinized and I know that I often fall short. It's so hard to do the right thing all the time even when we know we should. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, we know that You will never place us in a situation that You are not there with us. You provide the way for us to obey and follow You. Give us strength and integrity to follow You in obedience without hesitation. May we be able to stand firm in Your commands regardless of any temptation that comes our way just as Daniel did. Amen.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageDaniel 3, Jeremiah 7-9