Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday, February 28th: Exodus 27-28; Philemon ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 27-28; Philemon

Couple notes from my Life Application Study Bible....
The altar of burnt offering was the first thing the Israelites saw as they entered the tabernacle courtyard. Here sacrifices were constantly made. Its vivid presence constantly reminded the people that they could only come to God by means of the sacrifice. It was the only way their sins could be forgiven and taken away. In Hebrews 10:1-18, Jesus Christ is portrayed as the ultimate sacrifice. This teaches that we are not to seek any other means to having a personal relationship with God. No counselling theory, Eastern mysticism, or modern ideas of spirituality can remove our sin. Jesus is our only High Priest today. Put all your confidence in him.

It is clear from all of these instructions that there was going to be a lot of skill involved in crafting everything for the tabernacle and the priestly garments. God has given all of us special skills.  God wants to fill us with His Spirit so that we will use these skills for His glory, not our own. How can you and I use our gifts and talents to help people and glorify God?

Reading Philemon reminded me again of how encouraging Paul was to his friends and the people he ministered to.  Can you imagine getting one of his letters?  His love and dedication is clear, but so is his willingness to challenge, convict, and hold accountable!  Are we being that type of friend to those around us?  Do we build them up in love?  Do we love them enough to challenge them in their walk with God?  Do we try to reconcile two believers who are at odds with each other?  Do we do so humbly, and in love - not from a position of power or authority? Do we share with others our faith, our resources, and our love?  Do we have someone we need to forgive?

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 29-30; James 1

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday February 27th: Exodus 25-26, 2 Thessalonians 3 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 25-26 and 2 Thessalonians 3

In our OT reading the Lord tells Moses to build a sanctuary in which He will dwell. Though God is present everywhere everywhere, He locates His saving presence in the tabernacle, where He has promised to be found. Today, He locates His blessings of salvation for you in the Word and Sacraments of His Church. The Lord speaks to Moses from the mercy seat, the place of the Commandments and the atonement--His Law and His Gospel-mercy. Today, God no longer speaks from Mount Sinai or between the cherubim of the ark. He has spoken in these last days by His Son (Heb 1:2), who came to fulfill the Law for us and atone for all our sin. God sets before His people the bread of His presence. Jesus is "the living bread that came down from heaven" (Jn 6:51). The lampstand serves both practical and symbolic functions, providing the only light in the dark sanctuary and representing the sacred order God established in the daily and weekly services of His house. No wonder "light" and "enlightenment" have come to describe His work among us through the Word we hear at His house, which enlightens our understanding of His ways.

The tabernacle is laid out according to the specifications God gave on the mountain. Worship is not spontaneous or haphazard but is carefully organized to honor the Creator, who set creation in order by carefully arranging space, boundaries, and the passage of time. Today, organized worship, patterned on God's Word and the life of our Savior, honors God's works of creation, redemption, and sanctification, by which He makes us His beloved people.

In our NT reading Paul requests prayer for his missionary work and obedience to what he has commanded them. We are called to listen to those whom God has given to teach and preach the pure Word. The Lord's faithfulness toward us is steadfast; He is an immovable rock. Through the Church (His Body) and her pastors, He will guard us against the attacks of the evil one, the devil, the Antichrist. Those who are idle are to be avoided and even denied fellowship in order that this might cause them to repent, amend their ways, and return to their fellow believers. Laziness is a serious sin against the God who created us and gave us talents and abilities. It is a sin against the Body of Christ, against our brothers and sisters in the Lord, to whom we have been joined and with whom we are to be co-workers. The good news is that this word of the condemning Law is not the last word. The Law shows us our need for the Savior from sin; the Gospel gives us that Savior. Paul concludes his Letter with a prayer for peace and, in his own hand, a blessing of grace. We should imitate Paul in his blessing. We should pray for peace for others, even for our enemies. We should bless, and not curse, even those we do not like, even those who do us harm. Our prayer for God's peace and grace in our lives is no mere wish. We do have peace with God and with one another through the blood of Christ; by the grace of our Lord, this is a peace that passes all understanding and remains steadfast regardless of external assaults by the devil.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:Exodus 27-28; Philemon

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday, February 26th: Exodus 23-24, 2 Thessalonians 2 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 23-24; 2 Thessalonians 2

One thing that struck me about Exodus 23 was that God was practical.  Yes, He commanded the Israelites to drive out the Canaanite et al, but they would need to be persistent as this would not be a quick or one time thing.

v29-30 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.

Makes perfect sense.  Though not stated in this passage, it is also a test of the Israelites endurance and their willingness to obey even at the cost of great personal sacrifice for an extended period of time. It would test their desire to drive evil from their land.  Tests they would ultimately fail.  Just like we do in so many ways.  Thankfully, God's faithfulness to us is not dependent on our faithfulness to Him.  We cannot obey perfectly and He knows that - that is, after all, why we needed a Saviour!

In chapter 24, Moses, Aaron, and his sons, and 70 of the elders take part in fellowship and communion in the very presence of God!  We know that no human can see God fully face to face and live (because of His holiness and our sinfulness), so we know this was only a partial viewing of God - perhaps only under His feet as that is all that is described in this passage.  But either way - can you even imagine what that experience would've been like?!  What an amazing privilege!  And how horrible that they could go to that mountain top experiences to the disaster of the golden calf in only 40 days.  Over and over we are battered over the head with our need for a Saviour.  We are no better.  As much as we'd like to think so, we really aren't.

Our Thessalonians passage is mainly Paul reassuring the Thessalonians that they hadn't missed the Second Coming, and explaining more of what would happen beforehand.

I appreciated my ESV Study Bible's note on 2 Thessalonians 2:13 which says
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

Note the involvement of each person of the Trinity: the Father elects, the Son loves, and the Holy Spirit makes holy.

The trinity is a hard concept to grasp, but what a wonder it is!

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 25-26, 2 Thessalonians 3

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday, February 25th: Exodus 21-22, 2 Thessalonians 1 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 21-22; 2 Thessalonians 1

Though many of the laws in our Exodus passage are not directly applicable to our lives today, the truth behind it still is - human life has value because we are made in God's image, and we are to treat each other with the dignity and respect.

Unfortunately, our society does not have respect for all human life.  Abby Johnson (pro-life advocate) said this on her Facebook page today:

Of course we have euthanasia. Of course we have child abuse. Of course we have violent crime.

What else would we expect? When we don't value the most defenseless among us in the womb, why would we value them after they are born?

This theme is carried over into our Thessalonians passage and the persecution of the saints.  Christians are persecuted at an alarming rate in our day and age.  Thankfully, God has promised not only to give them the grace to endure, but that ultimately justice will be done.  I need to remember to pray for those suffering horrific persecution for their faith in Jesus - and be willing to stand up for my faith.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 23-24; 2 Thessalonians 2

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tuesday, February 24th: Exodus 19-20 1 Thessalonians 5 ~ Nathan

What an awesome experience this would have been for Moses and the Israelites,  in chapter 19, when they reached the Sinai desert.

The Lord spoke directly to Moses up on the mountain there and Moses passed on God's instructions to the Israelites. We would assume that this experience alone would stick with those who were present those days,  and be a reminder to everyone of God's power and presence, and would erase any doubt the Israelites had that God was with them. God tells them that they are his special people, what a privilege to hear this and be a part of this. Yet later in chapter 20 we read how the Israelites, after witnessing God's power,  are fearful and scared,  and even ask that Moses speak to them instead of God.

One interesting verse in in chapter 20 verse 26, where it says to not build steps leading up to the alter because when people look up to the alter they shouldn't be able to see under your clothes. At first I thought this was funny,  and still do,  but then I got serious for a moment and understood that we need to dress and act appropriately. 

I found 1 Thessalonians 5 to be a very encouraging chapter. It starts with warnings to be ready for Jesus' return and goes on in verses 7 and 8 to show us how to behave. Verse 8 mentions self control,  which to me is one of the most important parts of our relationship with God. It's a reminder to me that I need to live the way God wants all the time,  using self control,  even when no one is watching.

Monday, February 23: Exodus 16-18, 1 Thessalonians 4 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 16-18; 1 Thessalonians 4 

What stood out for me in the Exodus passage was all the complaining and lack of faith in God that the Israelites continued to display.  After witnessing first hand the miracle of being delivered from the Egyptians, they still had little faith in God.

While walking in the wilderness they began to grumble.  They were hungry and thirsty and they were not quiet about it.  (I found it interesting that they did not try to figure anything out on their own - they brought all their issues to Moses.)  Moses brought their concerns to God and He listened.

Even after God delivered them meat in the evening and bread in the morning, some still showed unbelief in receiving this blessing every day by taking more than they could eat, only to have it spoil by the following day before they could eat it.

It is important to remember that we are where we are because God has brought us there.  When we grumble, it shows a lack of faith in not being able to understand the good hand of God.  It may not always be enjoyable, but we need to be "walking in the wilderness" in a way that pleases God.  The Israelites had only been following God in the wilderness for a little over a month, so their faith was quite immature at this point so God was gracious to their grumblings.

The letter Paul wrote is geared towards further instructions for Christian living.  His instructions included areas of sexual morals (vs 3-7), love for our brothers (vs 9-10), being diligent in our daily work (vs 11), and respect for our church leaders (vs 12-13).  Good advice for at that time, and relevant for today too!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 19-20; 1 Thessalonians 5

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday, February 23rd: Exodus 14-15, 1 Thessalonians 3 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 14-15; 1 Thessalonians 3

I love reading the passage about the crossing of the Red Sea.  It is hard to imagine such an amazing sight - being surrounded by walls of water, likely being able to see the fish swimming on either side, while walking through on dry land.  What's amazing is that God does this miracle for the people despite their doubt.  How often don't we view our circumstances through our finite eyes, forgetting that no matter where we are, God has brought us to this place?

For our Thessalonians passage I'm using the SOAP method.....

S - Scripture
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
O - Observation
Paul concludes this section of his letter to the Thessalonians with a pastoral prayer.  He prays that he will be able to revisit them, that they will abound in love for each other, and that they will be blamelessly holy at Jesus' second coming.

A - Application
There are several ways we can apply this to our lives.  First, it is a great list of things to pray for our fellow believers.  Often we want to pray for people but we don't exactly know what to pray for.  This is a great start - fellowship, love, and sanctification.

Second, v13 is rather key.  God is the One who will produce holiness in us.  Yes, we are to be holy, but it is only through His strength that it is possible.  We cannot do it on our own, and as soon as we start to rely on our own power, we fail.

P - Prayer
Dear God, thank you Paul's example of prayer.  Please bring to mind people that we should be praying for.  May those who follow this blog experience the blessing of the fellowship of the saints and our love for one another.  Purify their hearts and keep their hearts blameless in holiness before You.  We know it is only through your power that we can become more like Jesus.  Thank you for your Spirit's work in our lives and hearts.  May we continue to allow Him to work in every area of our lives.  Amen.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 16-18, 1 Thessalonians 4

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday, February 21st: Exodus 12-13, 1 Thessalonians 2 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 12-13; 1 Thessalonians 2

One thing I've never really noticed before was right in Exodus 12:1-2, and was put this way in my ESV Study Bible....
The events of the plagues and exodus are so significant for Israel's identity as an emerging nation that the month they come out of Egypt will become for them the first month of the year.

Their entire calendar revolves around this event -  it was truly momentous!

The sacrifice of blood, a slain lamb, was required in order for the angel of death to pass over a home.  The same is true today - the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and His blood covers us in order that we may be spared eternal separation from Him.  And it is only fitting that Jesus died at the exact same time that the Passover lambs were slain.

I found out Thessalonians passage extremely convicting and totally applicable to our lives today. In this short passage I found myself asking....
Am I willing to suffer and be treated shamefully for the sake of the gospel? (v2)
Do I have boldness to declare the gospel of God - in peace never mind in the midst of conflict? (v2)
Do I ever have wrong motives or methods?  (v3)
Do I speak to please man or to please God?  (v4)
Do I ever employ flattery to get what I want? (v5)
Am I ever greedy? (v5)
Do I ever seek glory for myself? (v6)
Am I gentle and selfless? (v7)
Am I not only affectionate but willing to give of myself for others? (v8)
Do I work tirelessly so as not to be a burden on anyone? (v9)
Do I proclaim the gospel, even while working? (v9)
Am I holy, righteous, and blameless in conduct? (v10)
Do I challenge and encourage fellow believers? (v12)
Do I hold fellow believers accountable in love? (v12)
Do I continually thank God? (v13)
Do I accept the entire Word of God as truth, not just the parts I want to be true? (v13)
Do I allow His Word to work in my heart and in my life? (v13)
Do I purposefully find those who can mentor me, or whom I can imitate as I strive to live a godly life? (v14)
Do I serve God no matter what obstacles are put in my path? (v15-16)
Do I care about people who I haven't seen in awhile? (v17)
In what, or in whom do I put my hope and joy? (v19)

That is a lot of food for thought!

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 14-15; 1 Thessalonians 3

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday 20 February Exodus 9-11; 1 Thessalonians 1 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 9-11; 1 Thessalonians 1

Despite the number of times Pharaoh goes through the cycle of sin, oppression, regret, and deliverance, God will not be mocked. God deals another detrimental blow to the Egyptian religious and economic systems. By God's grace, Israel is delivered from temporal judgment and destruction. The Lamb of God delivers us from sin, death, and the devil through His atoning blood. The magicians collapse under the Lord's chastisement; both people and animals are smitten by painful skin abscesses. The Lord again distinguishes His people in this plague by sparing the Israelites and their animals. The blessings God gives us should extend beyond us to bless even our animals! If the Lord shows such mercy to sheep, how much more shall He show mercy toward you? His Gospel rescues us from sin, death, and the devil.These three preparatory plagues will be exponentially greater than the previous one and will prepare Pharaoh for the final plague of judgment. God did not destroy Pharaoh with just one act of judgment in order that Pharaoh might glorify God, and the name of the Lord might be declared to the ends of His kingdom. Pharaoh mocks God with false repentance, but the Lord is unmoved. Sinners cannot bargain with God by conceding some of their sins or by amending behaviors. God sees through it all. Like the thief on the cross, we do not appeal to mockery but instead call on God's mercy. Jesus is always ready to forgive.

The plague of darkness removes any ability to move freely, as was possible with the first several plagues. Sinners mock God's Word and in so doing deceive themselves. The Egyptians would soon be exposed to the destroyer and the death of the firstborn as a testimony that the Lord is patient and slow to anger, but at the proper time, judgment will come. Thanks be to God that by the vicarious sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are His children through Holy Baptism, forgiven, cleansed, and protected from the final judgment.

God's final judgment is about to come upon Pharaoh and Egypt. The hardened king will see that God's patience has come to an end and His wrath is imminent. The 10th plague will bring judgment upon sin and its wages (Rm 6:23). In our stead, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, took upon Himself the full punishment for all our sin so that we will not die an eternal death.

As a good shepherd, Paul wants to keep in touch with the flock of God. Labor in God's kingdom is not a one-man job. We must not forget to visit and follow up with those who are in Christ Jesus. We must work in God's kingdom by joining hands with other brothers and sisters. God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ sustain the Church and carry it in the palm of Their hand. The Thessalonians become model Christians in words and deeds due to the impact of the Gospel in their lives and the fruit of the Spirit demonstrated in their faith, love, and hope. Compared to the Thessalonians, we are much poorer in our faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope. Even without hardship or persecution, we are slow to confess our faith and live it out in love. The Lord knows each one of us and our specific situation. His Spirit has created faith in us and gives us power and full conviction. Despite our weaknesses and failings, His unfailing love and forgiveness will sustain us to be His witnesses.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 12-13; 1 Thessalonians 2

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thursday, February 19th: Exodus 7-8, Mark 16 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 7-8, Mark 16

In today's passage we come to the matter of God hardening Pharoah's heart - something He already said He would do in Chapter 4.   Paul uses this, in Romans 9, to illustrate divine sovereignty in salvation and this subject has been the source of endless debate and controversy.

I appreciated Robert Rayburn's sermon on this.

God intended to harden Pharoah's heart to accomplish a specific goal - that the Egyptians would see that He is God through a mighty revelation of His power and glory.  The fact that God hardened Pharoah's heart is mentioned repeatedly in the biblical narrative.  It is also clear that God will use sin sinlessly in order to accomplish His will.  It is also judicial in character.  Sorry this is a bit on the long side but I thought it was worth the read....


God used Pharaoh to reveal supremely important truth to him, to Egypt, to Israel, and to the world. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that the divine revelation would be given with crystal clarity and terrible power. He will humiliate the great imperial power of the world of that day, and when it is down he will lift it up to strike it down again – over and over; ten times in all – and so he will have demonstrated for all time the impotence of the false gods of mankind and the grace and power of the one living and true God. But in using Pharaoh to disclose this truth – the truth that sets men free – he was not pulling a marionette’s strings, as if Pharaoh was some unthinking, unfeeling, inanimate puppet. Pharaoh was manifesting his own character – callous, arrogant, resistant to instruction. When God hardened Pharaoh’s heart he did nothing but encourage the willful king in his natural pride and cruelty. God often judges sin with more sin in the Bible and in human life. Pharaoh is not let off the hook. He got nothing but what he deserved. And if God hardened his heart, made it still more stubborn, more cruel, more stupid, it was because he deserved to suffer the consequences of his brutal ways. If you would be cruel, the Lord was as much saying, then see where cruelty will get you when taken to its logical end and its spiritual culmination. Choose sin, the Lord says, and I will see to it that you get what you chose. Give yourself to sin and I’ll see to it that you see where sin will take you. So not only do we read that the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but that Pharaoh hardened his own heart....

Surely one of the reasons why the Bible does not hesitate to tell us that God is in control even of the sinful acts of human beings and also uses their sins to accomplish his will – a teaching that might have been left out of Holy Scripture, after all – is to assure us that God is in absolute control, that nothing happens in this world that is not subject to his rule, that nothing, absolutely nothing can interfere with the accomplishment of his will in the world.

When we read that what Judas did in his betrayal of the Lord was foreordained by God, when we read that those wicked men who crucified the Lord of glory were, in fact, fulfilling the divine purpose and plan for the salvation of the world, we are assured that, at the last, even the greatest evil in this world does not escape divine control and must at last fulfill God’s perfect plan for this world. That is, that must be, in the face of the great darkness of so much in this world, an immense encouragement. For whatever reason, God has seen fit for the world to suffer these things, for individuals to endure this injustice or this sorrow or this suffering. It is his will in the deepest sense. And so we are not left without hope even in the face of the worst that this world can do. The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart meant more suffering for Israel; almost surely it meant the death of some Israelites before they could escape Egypt. But God had a plan and all of this happened according to that plan. It was essential that it should and it did.

It is all very well to question how the holy God can, in any way, be involved in the sinful thoughts and deeds of human beings. But, at the last, if he is not, if the Almighty has no control over human sin, if human sin does not accomplish his will and purpose for the life of mankind, if it does not lead inexorably to that place where God intends human history to end, then there is an immense part of human life and of the story of this world that is not under the divine rule and we can no longer know that things will turn out as God has promised. We may, in one way, wish to separate God entirely from the wickedness of human life. But that would be a Pyrrhic victory. The cost would be the loss of our assurance that God is in absolute control and can bring history, as he promised, to its appointed end and each and every individual human life with it....

The Bible offers this relentless logic many times: if God is to bring the future to its appointed end he must be in control, absolute control, of the present, of every tiny circumstances. Well, in this world, if God is in control of this world, he must be in control of sin, one of the most powerful forces abroad in human life and one of the most powerful influences on history. And the Bible says that he is.

But, at the same time, we are taught countless times in this same Word of God that human beings do evil out of the wickedness of their own hearts, that God never forces them to sin against their will, that man is absolutely responsible for his own thinking, his own attitudes, and his own behavior. ...

How God exercises his control without staining in any way, to the slightest degree his own terrible purity; how God rules over human sin without in any way becoming the author of sin or a responsible party to that sin, how God can harden Pharaoh’s heart without in any way being accountable for the sin of the king’s stubbornness, these are questions we cannot adequately answer. We stand before a great deep that we will never plumb. An absolutely sovereign God; an absolutely free and responsible man. The Bible says both things many, many times. The Bible insists on both facts many, many times. The Bible does not at any point seek to explain to us how to hold these facts together or to reconcile them with one another. They are both true and we are left to believe them both. That is all.

We know both are true from both the teaching of God’s Word and the observation and experience of life. How they are both true at one and the same time we cannot really explain. But, then, there are many things that are of absolute importance to our human life that we cannot begin to explain. The ways of God are far above us whether we are thinking about the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart or something as fundamental to our daily life as our own human self-consciousness. We cannot explain that either: or the origin of our soul, or the reality of prayer, or a hundred other things that are fundamental to our life as human beings and our Christian life as the children of God.

We know that God is sovereign. We know that man is free and responsible. That is enough for us to know. But, here in Exodus, we emphatically know that the living God is an absolute sovereign. We are taught here that God rules over all and that everything that happens in this world comes to pass in conformity to the purpose of his will. And, lest there be any misunderstanding, any underestimation of the character, quality, and sweep of the divine sovereignty, the Bible makes the point unmistakably clear by telling us straightaway that God’s rule extends to even the worst things that human beings do. Even at his most rebellious, man does not escape the divine rule. Indeed, when he plays the rebel full tilt, pathetically he only manages to do what God had planned and to fulfill God’s purpose for his life and the life of others. Pharaoh will rage and the result will be that God has revealed himself in his glory to the world! That is how absolute God’s sovereignty is!

He is the Lord! And the acknowledgement of that fact, the confession of that fact from the heart, the acceptance of the fact that we cannot, can never escape his rule and control should cause us to fear him, to fall before him and beg his mercy, and promise that, by his grace, we will submit our lives to him in every way. And, if we are Christians, the fact of the Lord’s universal rule must console us in the knowledge that the Lord Christ, who loves us with an everlasting love, has everything, absolutely everything, under his complete control.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 9-11, 1 Thessalonians 1

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday, February 18th: Exodus 4-6, Mark 15:26-47 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 4-6, Mark 15:26-47  

The recurring theme that jumped out me in today's readings was the glory of God.  Everything God does is for His glory, that all men may know that He alone is God.

We see His power in the miracles he told Moses (and Aaron) to perform.

We see His holiness when He was about to kill  Moses because He had not circumcised his son - the Lord remembered His covenant promises but His people were also called to remember the conditions of the covenant, one of which was circumcision).

We see Pharoah's haughty and arrogant attitude and outright disdain for God - something that God will soon rectify on a massive scale so that all Egypt may know that He is the Lord.

My favourite portion of our Mark passage is then when temple curtain is torn in two from top to bottom, removing the separation between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place - giving everyone access to God through the sacrifice of Jesus.  The tearing of the curtain was no easy task - it was approximately 60' high, 30" wide, and 4" thick.  It was so massive it took 300 priests to manipulate it, and, according to Josephus, horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart.  It would've been incredible to witness that massive curtain being torn in half as though it was only a thin piece of paper.  What dramatic symbolism!

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 7-8, Mark 16

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesday, February 17th: Exodus 1-3 Mark 15:1-25 | Nathan

In Exodus chapter 2 we see God at work in how He looks after the future leader of the Israelites,  when Moses was a baby. Pharaoh wanted all Israelite male babies to be killed because he feared the power of the Israelites as they grew in numbers.

Just the fact that Moses survived as a baby and wasn't discovered by the Egyptian guards was a miracle. As well as how he was hidden, in a homemade boat, then found by Pharaoh's daughter who had compassion for him. She then "happened"  to find a women (Moses' mom) to look after him, and was even paid to do so. Pharaoh's daughter later would want to look after him and raise him. This was obviously God at work. The odds of this happening just on coincidence was impossible. 

In our new testament reading in Mark,  I notice two men who are put in difficult positions. First is Pilate,  who feels uncomfortable going through with crucifying Jesus. He tries to convince the people to agree to let Jesus go free,  but he's not strong enough to stand up to the political pressure he gets to kill Jesus.

The second man who is put in a difficult position is Jesus. Instead of taking the easy way out,  He goes through with His Father's will and takes unbelievable punishment for us. He takes this abuse for sinners like me and you,  people who don't deserve it. Jesus could have easily gotten out of this,  He didn't deserve it,  but loved us so much He went through with it. He took the hard road compared to Pilate who took the easy road, when put in an uncomfortable position.

This is a reminder for me to do my best for God,  who did something for me that I'll never be able to repay.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday, February 16: Isaiah 65-66; Mark 14:54-72 ~ Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 65-66; Mark 14:54-72

I teach at an independent Christian school and last week we gathered at an inservice retreat for all the affiliated schools in the country. The blessing of teaching at a Christian school is that I do not have to filter what I believe in a way that is "politically correct" to my students. Parents choose our school knowing that we will be teaching their children in a way that is biblical and that glorifies our Saviour. As I sat in the workshops, it reminded me that I have this incredible privilege to plant seeds of faith in the students who attend our school. 

As the book of Isaiah concludes in today's reading, it shares the judgement that is coming:

verse 2:
I spread out my hands all the day
    to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
    following their own devices;

You do not have to look far in our society to find people who are walking in a rebellious way, who are following a path of destruction, and believing that whatever "feels good" to them is fine. Isaiah was instructed by God to tell people that this is not the way they should live and that judgement on their life choices was coming.

verse 12:
I will destine you to the sword,
    and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter,
because, when I called, you did not answer;
    when I spoke, you did not listen,
but you did what was evil in my eyes
    and chose what I did not delight in.”

We are destined to the sword. We are sinful. With society's acceptance of so many sins, many people aren't even aware of their need for a Saviour. How can they know of this need for redemption if we don't tell them. We must plant the seed.

At our inservice, one of the messages was about investment. As teachers we do plant many seeds that we may never see to full maturation. We plant and we nurture and we do as much as we can for future growth. We sow seeds of academics but also seeds of faith. It is ultimately those seeds of faith that will have the deepest impact on a child's life during their time on earth and also for eternity. 

The speaker shared about how churches were built long ago and that it was often common for oak trees to be planted as the construction began with the anticipation that these trees would be the scaffolding for the roof construction many many years later. The people that planted these trees would never see the final result of their work. Investment does not always mean an instant reward. Investment means that a long-term result is going to be worth the effort even if we don't see it...we may never see the result. 

When we invest in our relationship with Christ, we are nurturing the seed. When we plant seeds of faith in others we are investing in their relationship with Christ. This is so important because:

Verse 15 &16:
“For behold, the Lord will come in fire,
    and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
    and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment,
    and by his sword, with all flesh;
    and those slain by the Lord shall be many.

However, we are human. Even when we have the seeds of faith growing in us we stumble and we fall. We will rebel against what we know is true, we will stray from the path of righteousness, and we will think that we can do things on our own just fine. Just like Peter, we will deny that we know Jesus. We will say, either with our words or in our actions:

verse 71:
“I do not know this man of whom you speak.”

Thankfully, we serve a God that is invested in us. He knows us. He already knows we will fail even before we do. 

verse 72: And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him,“Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Our loving Saviour knows that we will fail and yet loves us anyway. He is invested in us even when He knows that we will fail on our own. I'm so thankful for redemption from sin. Let me invest in the lives of the people around me. May I be the one to plant seeds of faith even when I am not sure that I will ever see the results. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday, February 15th: Isaiah 62-64, Mark 14:27-53 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 62-64, Mark 14:27-53

This is the last of my pre-vacation posts that I'm doing before we leave for holidays, and I admit I'm running out of time to come up with my own stuff, so I'm going to quote from my Life Application Study Bible again.....

Mark 14:31  Peter was so emphatic. It is easy to say we are devoted to Christ, but our claims are meaningful only when they are tested in the crucible of persecution.  How strong is your faith? Is it strong enough to stand up under intense trial? We need the Holy Spirit, not boastfulness and human resolve. We must never discount our vulnerability to pride, greed, or even indifference.

Once again I noted that Jesus was in agony, not so much over the painful death to come (though He certainly wasn't looking forward to that!) but rather over awfulness of sin that was about to be placed on His shoulders and the corresponding wrath of God and the agony of alienation from His Father.  And yet despite this exceedingly high price, Jesus was willing to be obedient to His Father.  Obedience has never even come close to costing us that much.  Whatever our commitment to God will cost us, we need to be willing to pay in order to gain eternal life.

This verse jumped out at me in our Isaiah passage....
63:7a  I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us.

This same theme seems to be coming for me time and time again.  I need to be willing to tell those around me about Jesus and what He has done for me and what He can do for them.

64:6 talks about our righteous acts being like filthy rags.  This doesn't mean that God will reject us if we come to Him in faith, or that He doesn't want us to try to please Him.  What it does mean is that we can't come to God for acceptance based on our "good works" because in comparison to God's absolute and infinite righteousness, our measly "righteousness" looks like filth.  We need to recognize that we can do nothing to earn our salvation, that it is God's gift to us when we repent and turn to Him in faith.

God, thank you for your amazing grace!

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 65-66, Mark 14:54-72

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday, February 14th: Isaiah 59-61, Mark 14:1-26

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 59-61, Mark 14:1-26

Something that strikes me over and over as I read the gospel accounts of Jesus' death is how completely in control He is.  Nothing that happens takes Him by surprise.  Everything took place exactly as it was supposed to at the exact time it was supposed to - down to men carrying jars of water at the right place at the right time.  He laid down His life on His own accord in order to save us.

I'm going to quote a few portions from my Life Application Study Bible on our Isaiah passage....

(59:1-14) Sin offends our holy God and separates us from him. Because God is holy, he cannot ignore, excuse, or tolerate sin as though it didn't matter. Sin cuts people off from him, forming a wall to isolate God from the people he loves.  No wonder this long list of wretched sins makes God angry and forces him to look the other way. People who did with their life of sin unforgiving separate themselves eternally from God. God wants them to live with him forever, but he cannot take them into his holy presence unless their sin is removed.

Jesus is the only One who can rescue His people from sin.

(59:21) When the Holy Spirit dwells within his people, they change. Their former desires no longer entice them; now their chief aim is to please God. We who are Christians today are the heirs of this prophecy; we are able to respond to God's will and distinguish between good and evil because the Holy Spirit dwells within us. 

(60:1ff) As we read these promises, we long for their fulfillment. But we must patiently wait for God's timing. He is in control of history, and he weaves together all our lives into his plan.

(61:1,2) Jesus quoted these words in Luke 4:18-19. As he read to the people in the synagogue, he stopped in the middle of 61:2 after the words, "to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Rolling up the scroll, he said, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21). The next phrase in 61:2, "and the day of vengeance of our God," will come true when Jesus returns to earth again. We are now under God's favor; his wrath is yet to come. 

61:6 Under the old covenant, God ordained the priests of Israel to stand between him and his people. They brought God's word to the people and the people's needs and sins to God. Under the new covenant, all believers are priests of the Lord (1 Peters 2:5), reading God's Word and seeking to understand it, confessing their sins directly to God, and ministering to others.

How often I take my Bible (all the many versions that I have lying around the house!) for granted.  So thankful for this blog and the accountability factor that has assisted me in reading and studying God's precious Word.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 62-64, Mark 14:27-53

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday 13 February: Isaiah 56-58 and Mark 13: 21-37 | Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 56-58 and Mark 13:21-37

First I need to apologize for posting this so late. We've decided which 3 puppies we're keeping and have been getting crates set up, figuring out schedules for them, etc. Getting to the library to post just didn't happen yesterday. Now to sell the remaining four. Since I'm doing this quickly, I apologize for any typos I've missed. Hopefully any you find will not make you think I'm a heretic. ;)

(I also just realized that even though I did schedule mine to post last week, it didn't. I've fixed that. I don't know where it'll end up, but you should be able to find it. Sorry. I'm still getting the hang of these settings.)

The focus of the next few chapters of Isaiah is on the proper observance of the Lord's covenant, as well as His willingness to forgive those who repent. The Lord's salvation will come not only for the chosen people, but also for foreigners and outcasts. Israel's leaders have forsaken their sacred duty. We, too, often pursue personal pleasure and gain at the expense of our God-given responsibilities. Unlike Israel's leaders who sought their own gain, Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He laid down His life for every sinful sheep, faithfully fulfilling God's righteous requirements for our sake.
As Israel practices idolatry through a number of degenerate acts, they are openly mocking the Lord. The Lord heals and comforts all who are of a contrite and lowly spirit. But God's comfort and peace are withheld from the wicked, including those intent on backsliding in the ways of their own hearts. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the obstacle of our sin has been removed. There is now healing, comfort, and peace for every contrite heart.
The Lord condemns all who draw near to Him only with words, those who seek their own pleasure above all else. But for those who share with their neighbors in need, the Lord promises healing. We cannot draw near to the Lord in faith while oppressing and quarreling with our neighbors. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law of love and would lead us to repentance. His cross is the guarantee that the Lord will answer when we call upon Him in faith.
In Mark, Jesus warns His followers of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem, which was fulfilled during the Jewish revolt against the Romans (AD 66-70). These events foreshadowed the end of the world. Jesus tells us these things so that we may be prepared to resist evil and proclaim the Gospel more fervently while we have time to do so. When Jesus returns on the Last Day, He will judge all people. Prior to that glorious day, evil will erupt and bring destruction. Yet, God holds on to His people throughout these events, anchoring believers in Jesus Christ by His Holy Spirit.
Jesus will return on the Last Day to judge all humanity, fulfilling OT prophecy and His own predictions. No one will enter the kingdom of God by works, nor will any mere religion save anyone. Because Jesus died and rose for us and because the Holy Spirit created and sustained saving faith in His people, we can be sure of our salvation no matter how fearsome the Last Day may be.
Then Jesus answers the original question of "when?" about the destruction of the temple. The events of vv 14-23 would take place within a generation. The fall of Jerusalem foreshadows the end of the world, which will come later (vv 24-27). Today, we need to focus on the calling we have as Christ's Church: Gospel proclamation and outreach.God has created this time before the before the second appearing of Jesus so that we may come to faith and call others to faith and salvation. In contrast to the fall of Jerusalem (vv 5-23), which will happen within a generation, no one knows the day when Jesus will return to judge the world (vv 24-27). Jesus exhorts us to bigilance and encourages us to use the available time wisely, proclaiming the Gospel for the salvation of others. Jesus promises to be with us always and has poured out on us His Holy Spirit for the work of evangelizing the nations.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Isaiah 59-61; Mark 14:1-26

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thursday, February 12th: Isaiah 53-55, Mark 13:1-20 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 53-55, Mark 13:1-20

Isaiah 53 is probably one of the most well known chapters in Isaiah.  The poetry is beautiful, particularly due to the subject matter.

It is so clear from this passage that the Messiah would be a suffering servant, not a military victor, and yet the latter is what the Jews were expecting, and the majority of them refused to accept Isaiah 53's Messiah.

How often are we too, blinded by what we want to see, rather than what is true?

Jesus was the only perfect and innocent human being who ever lived, and yet He willingly took on the sins of the entire world, along with yours and mine.  He took the punishment we deserved.  And truly, the most difficult part of it for Jesus must have been when His Father poured out all His holy wrath on His Son.  We simply do not grasp the seriousness of sin enough to truly comprehend how terrible that would have been.

the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us was the will of the Lord to crush him

I am so thankful Jesus was willing to humble Himself like that for me!  So thankful that with everlasting love [He] will have compassion on [me].  And yet, how quickly we take it for granted or live as though it is insignificant to us.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 56-58, Mark 13:21-37

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday, February 11th: Isaiah 50-52, Mark 12:28-44 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 50-52, Mark 12:28-44

Judah's sufferings were the necessary result of sin, but their separation from the Lord was only temporary.  The Lord's power to redeem was indisputable, but Judah still refused to believe and obey Him.  However, God had made an unconditional promise in the Davidic covenant, and He would honour that through Jesus who will reign forever.

Jesus was made perfect through obedience and suffering.  He obeyed His Father's will  even though He was treated cruelly and was not swayed from the path set before Him no matter what hardship awaited Him.  He had complete and utter confidence in His Father's support.  And the salvation that He accomplished will last forever!

How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news.

We are to be the bearers of that good news!  We are supposed to have beautiful feet.  It is such good news - how can we keep it to ourselves!

Spreading the gospel is also the embodiment of the greatest commands in our Mark passage.

Love God and love our neighbour.

If we love our neighbour we will share the good news.  If we love God we will want to glorify Him through word and deed.

Are we loving God and loving our neighbour through His power?

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 53-55, Mark 13:1-20

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday, February 10th: Isaiah 47-49 Mark 12:1-27 ~ Nathan

The portion of this reading in Isaiah that stands out to me,  and sums up a lot of what we read in Isaiah,  is found in chapter 48 verses 17-19. This is where God tells the Israelites what good things would have happened to them if only they had obeyed. God is a patient God,  but enough was enough. He goes on in verses 20-21 to give an example of his patience in rescuing Jacob.

In the New Testament portion of our reading we see the wisdom of Jesus in three different stories. In the first Jesus tells the Jewish leaders,  through a parable,  what their future will be if they keep on doubting that Jesus is God's son.

In the second and third stories,  we read how first the Jewish leaders and then the Sadducees, try to make Jesus stumble,  by asking him trick questions. Jesus shows his wisdom by answering them both, in ways that the questioners didn't expect. When put under pressure by humans, Jesus calmly shows his superiority.  It must have been awesome to have been a follower of Jesus at that time,  and witnessed this level of wisdom in person, on a daily basis.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday, February 9th: Isaiah 45-46, Mark 11:19-33 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 45-46; Mark 11:19-33

While reading the Isaiah passage, I found myself pulling out words and phrases that describe God's ability and characteristics.  In chapter 45, these are the phrases or characteristics that stood out for me:

I will go before you (vs 2)
I will level the mountains (vs 2)
I will break down gates (vs 2)
cut through bars (vs 2)
I will give you treasures (vs 3)
I call you by name (vs 3)
I will strengthen you (vs 5)
creator (vs 7, 12, 18)
saviour (vs 21)
there is no other (vs 21)

The descriptions continue on in chapter 46.  Only now it shifts to describing earthly gods:

burdensome, dead weight (vs 1)
made by man (vs 6)
has to be carried (vs 7)
does not move (vs 7)
does not answer (vs 7)
cannot save (vs 7)

along with more God qualities:

carries us (vs 3)
sustainer (vs 4)
rescuer (vs 4)
not comparable to anyone (vs 5)
makes known the end from the beginning (vs 10)
purposeful (vs 11)

The characteristics of an earthly god reminded me of the trophies I won as a child.  These trophies sat on a shelf while I was growing up, now they sit in a box.  The only use they may serve today, is as a gag gift to someone because of their gaudiness (no pun intended) at Christmas time.  It is interesting that people will put there faith in something that is made by man.  As I was reading this passage, I was reminded that there truly is nothing that our God cannot do!

"Therefore  I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mark 11:24)

How often do I pray for something without believing in my heart that it can be done?  Why do I question God's ability?  Why would I ask for something I didn't think I would ever receive?  This is a God who is all powerful, all knowing, who wants to give us everything we need.  We just have to ask, but most of all believe.

  Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 47-49; Mark 12:1-27

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday, February 8th: Isaiah 43-44, Mark 11:1-18 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Isaiah 43-44; Mark 11:1-18

Knowing what they deserve, the Israelites should fear God.   Knowing what we deserve, we should fear God.   Thankfully, for the sake of His glory, He is willing to save and to restore, and so we have no need to fear when we have Him as our Lord and Saviour.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  Isaiah 43:2

Does this mean nothing bad will ever happen to God's people.  No, of course not.  Jesus promised us that in this world we would have trouble.  We need to be careful not to take verses out of context and claim them for our own personal situation when that's not the correct application of the verse.

My ESV Study Bible has this notation for this verse....
"YOU" designates the whole people (v1).  Even when they are subject to the hardships of captivity and exile, God is still with his people
Not only has He promised to be with His people, but He will also preserve a remnant - for the sake of His glory.

That verse was specific to the Israelites, but we can also take something from it. He will always be with us, and there will always have a remnant of believers.  And ultimately, though our earthly bodies can be destroyed, no one can destroy our eternity with Him.

Jesus came to earth for a purpose: to live a perfect life, to die in our place as a sacrifice for our sins, and to rise from the dead displaying God's victory and power over sin and death.  His death did not take Him by surprise.  And we see, beginning in this passage, how He very deliberately goes to Jerusalem at Passover time, to become our true Passover Lamb.

We also see an example of the soils parable from a couple weeks back, play out for us here.  Many people were praising Him and shouting "Hosanna" now when they thought He would save them the way they wanted Him to, but after His death we will see that the number of true believers was small indeed.  People sometimes claim belief, when really they want Jesus for what He can do for them and they don't truly understand His gospel message.  A genuine believer does not fall away - eternal life lasts forever and begins at the moment of salvation.  Someone who turns away from Jesus only proves that their initial profession of belief was not genuine (I John 2:19, ).  Genuine believers do sometimes have times of doubting or even backsliding, but a true believer will persevere to the end.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Isaiah 45-46, Mark 11:19-33

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday, February 7th: Isaiah 41-42; Mark 10:32-52 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 41-42; Mark 10:32-52

Note the following.....
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (41:10)
Fear not, I am the one who helps you (41:13b)
Fear not......I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord (41:14)

The same pattern is repeated throughout the Bible.  We are told not to be afraid.  Why? Not because of our circumstances. But because God is with us.  Because God will help us.  Because God is sovereign.

My ESV Bible study notes summarize the Isaiah passage this way....
41:1-20  God reassures his people that He alone is guiding all events in human history, for His glory and their benefit.
God does this through both judgment and salvation, both wrath and mercy.  History is not only controlled by God, but it also displays God's character.  All for His glory and our ultimate benefit.

41:21-42:17  God challenges the false claims of human idols, He presents His servant as the only hope of the world, and He invites the whole human race to praise Him for His salvation.
Only God can predict the future.  Only God can connect the past and the future into a cohesive and complete storyline.  Only God is sovereign.  Only God is Creator.  Only God is righteous.  Only God is Saviour.

42:18-43:21  God promises to restore His confused people to clarity about Himself as their only Saviour.
God's people need deliverance just as mach as the pagan nations do, and Jesus is their (and our!) only Saviour.

The fall of Israel cannot be explained as a failure of God. He is powerful, but His power turned against them because they turned against His word. The real problem for God's people, therefore, is not their captivity in Babylon but their disobedience to God. That is what they do not understand.

And yet, for His glory, He will preserve a remnant.

In our Mark passage we see Jesus trying to explain to His disciples exactly how He is going to save them (just as our Isaiah passage showed us), but they do not believe Him or understand Him.  He isn't acting according to their expectations.  They want a mighty warrior, a conquering King - but they didn't understand the sacrifice necessary to secure our salvation.

When do we put God in a box and expect Him to handle things the way we want Him to, instead of according to His plan?

James and John were concerned with their own glory instead of consumed with God's glory.  How often are we not guilty of the same thing?  Wanting to please the self and the desires of the sinful nature is what comes naturally to us.  Even after we are saved, the battle is not over.  The key is to take our eyes off ourselves, and fix them on Jesus.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 43-44; Mark 11:1-18

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday, February 6th: Isaiah 39-40, Mark 10:1-31 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 39-40; Mark 10:1-31

In our Isaiah passages today, Hezekiah foolishly shows off his nation's treasures to the prince of Babylon. The Lord rebukes him for expressing hope in Babylon as his ally against Assyria. Although Judah lasted about 125 more years, Hezekiah's son, Manasseh, was especially brutal and became the cause of the Babylonian captivity. Hezekiah's dynasty was threatened with being cut off (sons or descendants would be eunuchs in the Babylonian court), but in mercy, the Lord preserved the heritage of Judah's kings, as promised to David and realized in the Messiah.

In chapter 40, the Lord promises comfort and restoration for the Babylonian exiles. These promises, fulfilled through John the Baptist's ministry, have personal consequences for you and all people. Just as the Lord doubled the comfort and forgiveness for the exiles, He has doubled comfort and forgiveness for you in the person of His Son. The Lord's messenger contrasts the Lord's faithfulness with the unfaithfulness of all people. Rather than defending our weaknesses, we ought to confess them before the Lord, who gives us life through His Word. Israel has an incomparable God who watches over her. Though the Lord may use His power for condemnation, He acts as our Good Shepherd for our salvation. (Btw, I love how in 40:22 there is a reference to "the circle of the earth". So much for the ancients thinking the earth was flat, huh?)

In Mark, Jesus teaches that God wants a man and a woman in marriage to be exclusively committed to each other for life. Attempts to alter or get around God's good intentions bring condemnation, not greater liberty. Thoughtfully and prayerfully embrace God's way. What He establishes is for our good and stems from His love and grace. The story of the children is the key to the chapter, showing us that salvation is a gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We trust the Lord as a child trusts a parent. We do not earn God's love and favor by keeping the Law, especially when we look for loopholes to excuse our sinful behavior. All people, like helpless children, receive Jesus' blessing and enter the Kingdom through faith in Him. Jesus teaches His disciples that not even people with the greatest worldly means can enter the kingdom of God on their own merit. We cannot justify ourselves; we receive salvation solely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, just like a little child.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 41-42; Mark 10: 32-52
Isaiah 41-42; Mark 10:32-52
Isaiah 41-42; Mark 10:32-52

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thursday, February 5th: Isaiah 37-38, Mark 9:30-50

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 37-38, Mark 9:30-50

I love the portion in Isaiah 37 were God refers to the great Assyrian king as an underling who dares to blaspheme His name, and then prepares to annihilate them.  This is a good thing.  We should be zealous about God receiving glory.  But we need to be careful that it doesn't lead to self-righteousness which it so easily can.  But for the grace of God, we are the blasphemers.  We need to rejoice in God's grace and not become proud in our status as His children but rather grateful for all He has done for us, and filled with compassion for those still blinded by sin.

The disciples let their pride get them as they argued over who was the greatest.  Thankfully, they were ashamed of their argument and didn't want to tell Jesus about it.  Guilt it a tool used by God to drive us to Him to admit our sin and ask for His forgiveness in order to restore our relationship with Him.

This verse stood out to me as well....
Isaiah 38:19b fathers tell their children about your faithfulness.

We need to be diligent and purposeful about teaching our children about God and His faithfulness to us and to them.  There are no spiritual grandchildren - everyone has to decide for themselves to become a child of God.

Nathan and I are leaving on holidays tomorrow and will be back on the 14th.  We have done all our posts and set them up to post on the correct day, but will be unable to comment on any of your posts until we're back.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 39-40, Mark 10:1-31