Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday, March 31st: Proverbs 22-24, Hebrews 2 ~ Nathan

I've found reading through Proverbs difficult. It seems to me that every verse is different and there isn't a theme or story to follow. It's hard to concentrate when every sentence is totally different and not related to the one previous.

Then it came to me how this book is special. The theme,  to me,  is wisdom and how to gain it. The Bible talks many times about how important it is to gain and grow in wisdom. Proverbs gives us many one sentence verses telling us how to gain and grow in wisdom,  what better example could we ask for? 

I won't remember everything I've read,  after reading 3 chapters of Proverbs a day,  but there is always a few things that stand out. A few verses found a few times in each chapter of that day's reading,  that say the same thing,  but in different approaches.

The verses today that stood out to me were about raising our children. In chapter 22:8 it says,  "teach children in a way that fits their needs,  and even when they are old,  they will not leave the right path".

This reminds me of the great parents I have that taught me,  and the important job I have of teaching our kids. It's easier when they're young to influence them,  and hopefully they see the importance when they're parents.

I'm also reminded in chapter 23:13 -  "always correct children when they need it. If you spank them,  it will not kill them"-  of the physical discipline I received as a child. I'm thankful that my parents loved me enough to spank when necessary.  This was done in love and for the purpose of correcting.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Proverbs 25-26, Hebrews 3

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday, March 30 - Proverbs 19-21; Hebrews 1

A few random thoughts on today's passages:

I have Proverbs 19:20 above the door in my classroom in the NLT version:

Get all the advice and instruction you can,
    so you will be wise the rest of your life.

How appropriate for my Grade 1 friends as they learn the basic skills in reading, writing, and math that they will use as building blocks for the rest of their academic careers. How true also for all of us to get ALL the advice and instruction we can from friends, acquaintances, teachers, pastors, co-workers, bosses, etc. so that we can be wise. We may not always take every piece of advice that we get but how much wiser we are when we are able to see multiple sides of a situation.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Since my Word of the Year for 2015 is 'stand', this verse caught my attention. When I think about my daily life, my schedule is often overwhelmed with plans. Plans that keep my busy, plans that keep my kids busy, plans that make me a better teacher, plans that make me a better parent, plans that keep my from being better, plans that never come to fruition. This gives me comfort that throughout all my plans, God's purpose will prevail.

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler,
    and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

Our oldest child just turned 18 last Friday. Unlike many of her peers, Kiandra did not choose to spend her birthday getting drunk. Kiandra has shown me facebook posts and instagram posts where acquaintances have been sloshed out of their minds and done really dumb stuff. At a party, there was an incident where someone jumped on a table and broke the home's chandelier. The same party had many guests going topless. Many people at this party declared it to be "the best party ever!" even though some probably couldn't remember it the next day. Not only will the decisions made during this party affect the party-goers current reputation, it may also cause permanent damage to their future choices because the stuff online never really goes away. A police officer that recently came to our son's school told students that so many of the recent applicants to the force have been rejected because of activity that they found online. It is wise not to be under the influence of something that could lead to poor decision making and unnecessary long term consequences.

11 Proverbs 20:11 Even a child makes himself known by his acts,
    by whether his conduct is pure and upright.

We are known by what we do. As a grade 1 teacher, I have been able to (unfortunately) witness first hand that even children as young as 6 can tell remarkable lies, hurt other children mercilessly, and not have a care in the world about respect and conscience. It's actually scary sometimes...and I teach at a "good" school. When a child is known by what they do it makes their reputation precede him or her in a negative way. As parents, it is our job to raise our children to make a positive reputation so that is what precedes them.

23 Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
    keeps himself out of trouble.

How many times do we wish there was an "undo" button when we say something we shouldn't or when something comes out in a different way than what we meant. How wise it is to be quiet instead of saying the wrong things.

Hebrews 1:10-12“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands;
 they will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
    like a garment they will be changed.[a]
But you are the same,
    and your years will have no end.”

What a hope we have in the Creator of the entire world. As we begin to dig out our Spring and Summer clothing after a long Winter, we might be discarding the old worn pieces, the pieces that don't quite fit right anymore, and pieces that aren't trendy anymore. We need to replace things that need to be replaced. Each season, especially with young children, means that a shopping trip is needed because the things worn last year are not suitable for this year. How awesome to think that our Lord is the same day after day and season after season. He never goes out of style, He never wears out, He never is the wrong size, He never needs replacing. There is a real comfort in the unchanging nature of Christ.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday, March 29th: Proverbs 16-18, Titus 3 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Proverbs 16-18; Titus 3

There were a number of well known proverbs in our passage today, but a few others caught my eye as I read our passage....

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life

Our culture does not value the elderly.  We don't view them as productive, and therefore they must be useless.  What a waste!  The elderly have so much to teach us.  Though age does not always equal wisdom, age does provide years of experience from which to draw wisdom.  And, as the saying goes, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  We can learn from their mistakes and from their experience.  We can also learn from their stories.  Jesus spoke in parables often because we are drawn to them and they are an excellent teaching tool.  When we ignore or marginalize the elderly we are missing out on a treasure trove.  

Of course, the elderly aren't only to be treated with respect because of what they can teach us.  The elderly, like all humanity (including the handicapped, the unborn, the less than) have value not because of what they do, but because they are made in the image of God and He has declared them worthy through His death and resurrection.

Another common theme in today's proverbs is the importance of taming the tongue, of using it for good instead of evil.  A great reminder for me!

Our Titus passage contains another one of my favourite passages.....
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
What a beautiful description of the gospel message.  We all were once all those awful things, until Christ.  Until Christ.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift of mercy and grace!

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Proverbs 19-21; Hebrews 1

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday, March 28th : Proverbs 13-15, Titus 2

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Proverbs 13-15; Titus 2

I find Proverbs a difficult book to study in chapter chunks - I feel like almost every verse could use it's own post, and that it's difficult not to stop and carefully think through each one.

A couple general themes stood out to me though.  One is the importance of humility and being willing to learn - both from the Word of God, and from wise mentors around us.  Of course, it's difficult to learn from wise mentors if we have not consciously chosen to surround ourselves with them.   We need to make sure we have a strong spiritual support system in our lives, and that, once we have it, we make use of it!

More recurring themes include being careful to use our words to edify instead of destroy, living a life of obedience to God which is almost always completely counter-cultural, living according to the wisdom of the Word instead of the wisdom of the world, recognizing that justice will reign in both this life (though not necessarily materially or physical, but always spiritually) and in the next, that joy is found in the Lord and not in our circumstances, that it is far more valuable to be spiritually rich than financially rich, and that the fear of the Lord is the foundation of everything.

A couple of favourites for me (some to cling to, some to convict, some to encourage).....

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:26-27 In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.

Proverbs 14:30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:5 A fool despises his father's instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.

I love the book of Titus!  Partly because it is the first book of the Bible I have memorized.  Unfortunately, I have gotten out of the habit of reviewing it and so I don't have it completely  memorized anymore (I memorized it in the NIV1984 version and I can't find an audio Bible that still carries that version which makes it difficult to review easily), but it is still very familiar to me.

One thing that jumps out at me in our passage is that we all have a responsibility to both learn from those older than us, and to teach those younger than us (and that is determined more by spiritual maturity than by actually age).   It is so important for our faith to be rooted in sound doctrine!  We cannot teach what we don't know.  We cannot live out what we don't know.  We cannot defend what we don't know.  We cannot recognize false teaching if we don't know genuine teaching.  It is so important for us to take the time to read, study, memorize, and meditate on the Word of God.

This chapter also contains one of my favourite passages in the Bible - and it also happens to be a great summary of the gospel message.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Proverbs 16-18; Titus 3

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday, March 27th: Proverbs 10-12, Titus 1 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Proverbs 10-12 and Titus 1

In today's Proverbs readings the material blessings enjoyed by families should be pursued by prudent and diligent work done honestly. God blesses such labor and uses it to provide for the needs of His people. We should be careful not to forget that it is God who provides us with all that we need to support our body and life. Likewise, we must never resort to wickedness or dishonesty in an attempt to secure a better profit for ourselves. The righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus not only delivers from death, but it also ensures that our heavenly Father will provide us with everything we need. The words we speak can be either a source of life and comfort, edifying those around us, or a source of strife and wickedness, stirring up hatred and division. Always choose your words prudently, being careful never to speak gossip, lies, or slander about another person. Defend those whose reputation is under assault and forgive those who sin against you. Jesus was a victim of false accusations; the blood He shed on the cross covers all of our offenses. Both the righteous and the wicked face tempests and challenges. Yet the righteous, who travel the way of the Lord and who live in the fear of the Lord, are blessed with stability, joy, and the promise of everlasting life. The Lord is you hope, health, stronghold, and way.

Proverbs teaches the wisdom of living by righteousness as taught by the Lord. Worldly logic tells us that we become wealthy by hoarding what we have. But God's Word tells us that true riches come to those who give generously. We should always return a portion of our income to the service of God (who gives us all things) and support our neighbors according tot heir need. After all, this is God's wonderful way of dealing with His children. He has generously given us all that we need, including the life of His one and only Son for our salvation.

Paul opens his Letter to Titus and the churches on Crete with a greeting that asserts his authority, recaps God's plan for salvation, and notes his personal bond with Titus. Most of his greeting revolves around the Gospel, because this is so central to Paul's life that he can hardly speak (or write) without mentioning it. God saves us from sin and condemnation and makes us fit for His kingdom. The only logical response to such love, grace, and generosity is, like Paul, to overflow with His praises and share this joyous news with others. Through Jesus Christ, the Father rescues us from our shortcomings yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Step by step, Paul outlines the requirements for those who wish to lead as stewards of God's Church. Then he turns his focus to the false teachers, who do not measure up in understanding or teaching the truth, in their corrosive behavior, or in their motives. As living, active members of God's Church, potential leaders should aspire to know and understand His truth and to serve in the roles He provides. They and their families need to live a godly life that avoids empty talk, deceit, and any teaching that turns away from God's truth. Purity is a tall order, though, and we cannot make ourselves pure. Yet God steps into our lives and purifies us by His Gospel. Thank God that through Jesus Christ, He makes us pure and leads us through His trustworthy Word!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Proverbs 13-15; Titus 2

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday, March 26th: Proverbs 8-9, 1 Corinthians 16 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Proverbs 8-9; 1 Corinthians 16

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
My Life Application Study Bible says....
The more a person fears and respects God, the more he or she will hate evil. Love for God and love for sin cannot coexist. Harboring secret sins means that you are tolerating evil within yourself. Make a clean break with sin and commit yourself completely to God. 

Wisdom is a crucial foundation for our lives.  And it needs to be found in God alone.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
To know God is not just to know facts about Him, nor is it enough to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  After all, the demons know that Jesus is the Son of God.    We need to worship Jesus as the Son of God, and we need to have a relationship with Him, getting to know Him better personally not just factually.

The verse that jumped out at me in our Corinthians passage was this one....
13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
We always need to be alert for spiritual enemies or wrong theology.  We need to stand firm in the gospel message as it is written in the Word.  We need to be courageous to stand against false teachers, deal with sin, and address other problems that may come up.  We need to find our strength in God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  And we must do everything in love.  Practical and excellent reminders for me!

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Proverbs 10-12; Titus 1

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday, March 25th: Proverbs 6-7, 1 Corinthians 15:29-58 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Proverbs 6-7; 1 Corinthians 15:29-58

The beginning portion of our Proverbs passage reminds us to strike the right balance between generosity and good stewardship.  Of course that doesn't mean we only give what we can easily afford - after all, we shouldn't offer something to the Lord that costs us nothing.  But Got does not promise to cover the costs of our unwise decisions either.

We are also not to be lazy.  We should observe times of Sabbath rest and restoration - but we should not indulge in idleness and laziness.

I found it interesting, the contrast between the seven different things the Lord hates.  What we perceive as "smaller" sins (like lying, haughtiness, scheming) are in the same list as murder!    Those of us who have been Christians our whole lives can tend to become a bit self-righteous when it comes to sin.  After all, we've never committed murder or adultery.  But my white lies and pride drove the nails into the hands of Jesus just as much as did the "big" sins.  My righteousness is as filthy rags before His holiness and I am only saved by His grace and mercy.

Again, there is a stern warning against adultery.  People like to argue that sexual sin doesn't hurt anybody but themselves, but that is so far from the truth.  It damages or even destroys relationships (marriages, family, children, friends), ministries, your witness, and ultimately your relationship with God.

Randy Alcorn, a pastor and author, wrote this....

Personalized List of Anticipated Consequences of Immorality
  • Grieving my Lord; displeasing the One whose opinion most matters.
  • Dragging into the mud Christ's sacred reputation.
  • Loss of reward and commendation from God.
  • Having to one day look Jesus in the face at the judgment seat and give an account of why I did it. Forcing God to discipline me in various ways.
  • Following in the footsteps of men I know of whose immorality forfeited their ministry and caused me to shudder. List of names:
  • Suffering of innocent people around me who would get hit by my shrapnel (a la Achan).
  • Untold hurt to Nanci, my best friend and loyal wife.
  • Loss of Nanci's respect and trust.
  • Hurt to and loss of credibility with my beloved daughters, Karina and Angela. ("Why listen to a man who betrayed Mom and us?")
  • If my blindness should continue or my family be unable to forgive, I could lose my wife and my children forever.
  • Shame to my family. (The cruel comments of others who would invariably find out.)
  • Shame to my church family.
  • Shame and hurt to my fellow pastors and elders. List of names:
  • Shame and hurt to my friends, and especially those I've led to Christ and discipled. List of names:
  • Guilt awfully hard to shake—even though God would forgive me, would I forgive myself?
  • Plaguing memories and flashbacks that could taint future intimacy with my wife.
  • Disqualifying myself after having preached to others.
  • Surrender of the things I am called to and love to do—teach and preach and write and minister to others. Forfeiting forever certain opportunities to serve God. Years of training and experience in ministry wasted for a long period of time, maybe permanently.
  • Being haunted by my sin as I look in the eyes of others, and having it all dredged up again wherever I go and whatever I do.
  • Undermining the hard work and prayers of others by saying to our community "this is a hypocrite—who can take seriously anything he and his church have said and done?"
  • Laughter, rejoicing and blasphemous smugness by those who disrespect God and the church (2 Samuel 12:14).
  • Bringing great pleasure to Satan, the Enemy of God.
  • Heaping judgment and endless problems on the person I would have committed adultery with.
  • Possible diseases (pain, constant reminder to me and my wife, possible infection of Nanci, or in the case of AIDS, even causing her death, as well as mine.)
  • Possible pregnancy, with its personal and financial implications.
  • Loss of self-respect, discrediting my own name, and invoking shame and lifelong embarrassment upon myself.

If we would rehearse in advance the ugly and overwhelming consequences of immorality, we would be far more prone to avoid it.

That puts it into perspective, doesn't it?

Thankfully, there is forgiveness through Christ's sinless life, death, and resurrection.  Our NT passage again expounds on the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection, incontestable evidence that Jesus has power over sin and death.  Thanks be to God for His glorious gift!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Proverbs 8-9; 1 Corinthians 16

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday, March 24th: Proverbs 3-5, 1 Corinthians 15: 1-28 ~ Nathan

Proverbs 3 talks about trusting in the Lord. It talks about how to trust in the Lord in the first part of each verse in verses 1-10, and follows with the results of trusting in the Lord in the back half of those verses.

I found these verses to be positive and uplifting. In the back half of these verses the writer talks about benefiting by adding years to my life (v1),  finding favour and success (v2),  making my paths straight (v6), gaining healing and refreshment (v8),  and my barns filled with plenty and vats bursting (v10).

The first part of these verses reminds me to not forget His teaching (v1), keep steadfast love and faithfulness (v3),  trust in the Lord with all my heart and not to lean on my own understanding (v5),  acknowledge Him (v6), not to think of myself as wise (v7), and honor the Lord with the money I make by giving back to the Lord first, and not after I've taken care of my own interests (v9).

Basically I need to put God's interests ahead of my own if I want to truly succeed at anything (first half of verses), and thus realizing that by "succeeding"  this means not gaining material wealth but true happiness and wisdom in the Lord (back half of verses).

In verse 12,  this section ends with a reminder that we should accept the Lord's discipline because he does this to those He loves. I need discipline and need to also remember to accept it as "constructive cristism",  not taking it as a personal shot,  but rather using it as a tool to grow in the Lord.

This leads me to a reminder about forgiveness,  which I found in 1 Corinthians 15: 9-10, where Paul reminds us that he persecuted the church but is now forgiven. He states in verse 10 that God's grace given to Paul was "not wasted" ( easy to read version) . What great motivation too,  while remembering God's gift to us (grace),  keep working hard for God, who forgives all sin.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday, March 23rd: Proverbs 1-2, 1 Corinthians 14:21-40 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Proverbs 1-2; 1 Corinthians 14:21-40

Today we began to read in Proverbs, the book of wisdom.  I googled online and it said that wisdom was, "the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise."

Proverbs begins with providing us a manual for life.  We have a father who is attempting to spare his son potential heartaches by not choosing the wrong group of people to follow and not associating with evildoers.  Mark Twain once said, "It's easier to stay out than to get out."

Chapter one spoke about warnings against enticement and warnings against rejecting wisdom, but it was the benefits of wisdom shared in chapter two that stood out for me.

If we accept God's words, remember His commands, seek His council, apply understanding, we will show fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God, for the Lord gives wisdom.  "For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guide you.  Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse." Proverbs 2:10-12

How comforting it is knowing that God wants to impart His wisdom upon us.  If I followed these words everyday, how much different would my life be?  Why do I struggle to embrace His words which leads to wisdom?

In the NT passage, it talks about using our spiritual gifts with the correct purpose - glorifying God, building the church, and effectively reaching the unbelievers.  We need to have the understanding that in certain circumstances, specific gifts may need to be exercised and used in order to be effective in fulfilling God's purpose.  Whatever gifts we have been given by God, Paul insists that these gifts should be controlled by the recipients themselves.  

God wants our worship to be orderly and not chaotic.  When we worship the correct way, God doesn't stir us up into confusion, but harmony.       

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Proverbs 3-5; 1 Corinthians 15:1-28

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday, March 22nd: Job 41-42, 1 Corinthians 14:1-20

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 41-42; 1 Corinthians 14:1-20

In our OT passage we continue to see God's greatness, followed by Job's repentance, God's judgment of Job's three friends, Job's sacrifices on their behalf, and then Job receiving from God double the wealth he had before.

I always wondered why Job didn't receive double the amount of children.

And then I read Rayburn's sermon (it is excellent, I recommend reading it all!) and he made a great, and obvious point.  Job did receive double the mount of children.  Yes, his first 10 children died - but we know that death is not the end.  Eventually, Job would be reunited with all 20 of his children in heaven - double the original ten.  So obvious, and yet I missed it until it was pointed out.

Truly the lesson of Job is this - we may have to suffer in this world for many different reasons.  But not forever.  To the faithful God promises reward - some rewards will come in this life (ranging from joy filled marriages, to the beauty of sunsets and rainbows) and some will come in the next - but they will come.  Because He who promised is faithful.  And He has promised that the suffering of this present time will not be comparable to the joy that is coming in eternity.  That is where we need to put our hope and our trust.

Our Corinthians theme expands on this somewhat - pointing out again that we should not allow emotion to trump intellect.

There is some controversy over tongues amongst Christians.  I appreciated Rayburn's thoughts on this....

"tongues" in the Bible refers to the supernatural ability to speak in a human language one has never learned. That is certainly what tongues was in the only instance in which it is actually described in the NT, in Acts 2. It is interesting, by the way, that Luke mentions tongues-speaking twice more in Acts, once, in chapter 10, in the house of Cornelius and once, in chapter 19, among some men in Ephesus. It is very unlikely that we are to suppose that Luke meant something entirely different in those two later instances of tongues-speaking than he had in chapter 2 in the more complete description of the gift given in his account of Pentecost. Some would have us believe, however, that tongues was a very different thing in Corinth than in these other three instances. They think it was some kind of ecstatic utterance unlike human language. All I can say is that the burden of proof certainly rests very heavily on the one who wishes to make that case. We know what tongues were in Acts, in Jerusalem, at Caesarea, and at Ephesus. On what basis are we to believe that tongues was a different kind of gift in Corinth? Anyway, the tongues speaker was carried along in ecstasy by the Holy Spirit and though, apparently, that was a wonderful experience of communion with God, a sense of being overtaken by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, he or she did not know what it was that was being said and no one else who didn't know that language would have understood it either. In that sense, the words are being spoken to God alone while the individual is taken up in this magnificent experience of communion with God.

Rayburn maintains that those types of miraculous gifts of the Spirit where given for a certain time in history, and are no longer present.  But there is still a general principle here to take to heart - and that is not to allow emotion to trump intellect.

Yes, God created emotion, and it can be wonderful.  But emotion and experience can be seriously misleading and are not accurate indicators of genuine faith.  What matters is our faith in Jesus Christ and the acts of obedience that flow from that faith.   The question is - what do we believe and how do we live?

God does not move hearts by some kind of invisible violence. He addresses their minds with words and summons them to respond with intelligent faith and obedience. The first duty of man is to understand what God is saying to him and then to act in conformity with that understanding. 

We need to know what God says to us in His Word (that's why we're doing this blog!), we need to trust what He says in His word, and we need to obey what He says in His Word.

And when we do, God guarantees reward - in this life and the life to come, as we see with Job.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Proverbs 1-2; 1 Corinthians 14:21-40

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday, March 21st: Job 38-40, 1 Corinthians 13 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 38-40; 1 Corinthians 13

Today's passages must be some of my favourite in the entire Bible.  The awe inspiring magnificence of God described in such breathtaking poetry truly puts things into perspective - both for Job and for us.  God is so much more than our finite minds can grasp, and His power is beyond comprehension.

Job realizes his smallness in the face of almighty God and falls silent.

And we segue into the love chapter.  How utterly fitting.

God doesn't NEED us.  But He created us anyway - in His image, to glorify Him.
God doesn't NEED us.  But He loves us anyway.

We only know what love looks like, because of His love.

We are only capable of love because He first loved us.

And never are we more like Him, than when we love those around us.

Love - as the Word defines it, not as the world defines it.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 41-42; 1 Corinthians 14:1-20

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday, March 20th: Job 36-37; 1 Corinthians 12 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 36-37; 1 Corinthians 12

My apologies for two things...one is not getting this posted earlier. My daughter has been home sick all week and I wasn't able to get to the library until now. Also, I left my reading glasses at work so I'm squinting as I type and read so who knows what will actually get posted.

In Job today Elihu counsels Job that the Lord uses affliction not just for our punishment but also for our deliverance. Allow affliction to open your ears to learn the Lord's purposes, and to open you mouth in praises. Praise Christ most highly, who delivers you from evil by His agony and bloody sweat.

The awesome power of a storm reminds us how truly small we are. Elihu tells Job to abandon obstinacy and, with proper fear and trust, to submit to God as his Lord, thereby preparing Job for God's visit in the whirlwind. All of the days of our lives are spent in such preparation. Though we may become distracted by many things in this life, both bane and blessing, God prepares us for His visitation, when all that will  matter will be our confidence in His grace through Jesus Christ.

In Corinthians, God, who is one, unified and blessed the Corinthian congregation through His Spirit and gifts. Like the congregation at Corinth, we also suffer from divisions and party spirit, which undermine God's work among us. Yet the Lord still leads us to true confession through Jesus, our Savior, and the Spirit's work among us. Paul seeks to settle and unite the Corinthian congregation by emphasizing the order God established in creation and the priority of the Gospel. The sin of arrogance plaguing the Corinthians still disrupts congregations today when roles of service are not clearly defined or valued. Yet also today, Christ unites us in Baptism and makes us His very Body. Though wounded and afflicted, His Body can never be destroyed but carries out God's loving purposes.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Job 38-40; 1 Corinthians 13

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday, March 19th: Job 34-35; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 34-35; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

My Life Application Bible says this about our Job passage....

God doesn't sin and is never unjust, Elihu claimed. Throughout this book, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu all have elements of truth in their speeches. Unfortunately, the nuggets of truth are buried under layers of false assumptions and conclusions. Although we might havea wealth of Bible knowledge and life experiences, we must make sure our conclusions are consistent with all of God's Word, not just parts of it. 

34:21 jumped out at me too....
“For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps.Nothing is hidden from God.  Not only does He see every deed, and hear every word, He even knows our thoughts and motives.  When we do sin, we are fooling ourselves to think God doesn't know about it.  Amazingly, He loves us and offers us forgiveness despite our sin.  That's one of the many reasons why grace is so amazing.

In our Corinthians passage we see that celebrating the Lord's Supper is both remembering Christ's death, and anticipating His coming again. We cannot let it become simply a pious habit - we need to take communion purposefully and reflectively.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 36-37; 1 Corinthians 12

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday, March 18th: Job 32-33, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 32-33, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

Until this point, Elihu had remained silent, trusting that the older men would have wiser advice for Job than he would.  But, as Elihu says, wisdom is not dependent on age alone - a fact we should remember as well.

There is much truth in Elihu's speech.  He contends that the three friends are wrong in saying that Job is being punished for past sins.  Instead, he says, Job was sinning as a result of his suffering by becoming arrogant as he defended his innocence.  He also said that suffering is used by God to discipline, not punish, but to restore us and keep us on the right path.

Elihu wasn't completely right however.  He still implied that the correct response to suffering would also bring healing and restoration, and that it is always related to sin.  The truth is, that though we don't always know the exact reason for our suffering, we do know that it is all related to sin in general, due to the fall.  And that, as long as we live in this present world, we will suffer.  But God can, and will, use the suffering of those who love Him for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

Elihu was also wrong when he implied that God always answers us, we just don't always hear His answer.  In truth, God doesn't always answer all our questions - faith wouldn't be faith if we understood everything 100%, and as finite beings, it is impossible for us to understand the infinite mind of God.  Plus, sometimes the point of the test is not knowing why we're being tested - we must trust God's goodness even when we don't understand His plan.  We need to trust in Him, not our circumstances.

My Life Application Bible says this in regards to our 1 Corinthians passage....
This section focuses primarily on proper attitudes and conduct in worship...While Paul's specific instructions may be cultural (women covering their heads in worship), the principles behind his specific instructions are timeless, principles like respect for spouse, reverence and appropriateness in worship, and focus of all of life on God. If anything you do can easily offend members and divide the church, then change your ways to promote church unity. Thus Paul told the women who were not wearing head coverings to wear them, not because it was a Scriptural command, but because it kept the congregation from dividing over a petty issue that served only to take people's minds off Christ.

God ordained submission in certain relationships to prevent chaos. It is essential to understand that submission is not surrender, withdrawal, or apathy. It does not mean inferiority, because God created all people in His image and because all have equal value....  Thus God calls for submission among equals. He did not make the man superior; he made a way for the man and woman to work together. Jesus Christ, although equal with God the Father, submitted to him to carry out the plan for salvation. Likewise, although equal to man under God, the wife should submit to her husband for the sake of their marriage and family. Submission between equals is submission by choice, not by force. We serve God in these relationships by willingly submitting to others in our church, to our spouses, and to our government leaders..... Although there must be lines of authority, even in marriage, there should not be lines of superiority.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 34-35; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday, March 17th: Job 30-31, 1 Corinthians 10:19-33 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 30-31, 1 Corinthians 10:19-33

In these chapters Job lists off all the good he has done in his life,  in the hopes that God is listening and will explain to Job why He has done this to him. I can tell after reading these chapters that Job lived a more Godly life than I live,  and yet he still has to go through this dark valley. This blows away the theory by some that talk about how good things happen to good people. Just because we do things right doesn't mean that everything will work out perfect for us here on earth. Our focus should be on what's coming after our days on earth.

One part of chapter 30 that stuck out to me,  was how bad things got for Job in verses 10-14. Here he talkes about the sons of his most useless workers who are now making fun of him and showing disrespect to him. They even come to spit in his face (verse 10).  This must have been one of the most humbling times for Job,  and would have felt like things couldn't get any worse. Not only the personal humiliation, but the relationships between boss and worker that once were good and now not. 

The verse in 1 Corinthians 10 that stood out to me was the last one, where it says,
"... I try to please everyone in every way. I am not trying to do what is good for me. I am trying to do what is good for the most people so that they can be saved."

That to me is the bottom line, doing things in life so that people can be saved. This can be many things,  but it needs to be our goal.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 32-33, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday, March 16: Job 28-29; 1 Corinthians 10:1-18 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Job 28-29; 1 Corinthians 10:1-18

Yesterday, we had speaker Phil Callaway come to our church to speak. Phil was talking about the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness, while it is a feeling of elation, is fleeting. Joy in the lord lasts beyond where the happiness feelings would wane.

I kept thinking of our readings over the last while about Job. I'm quite certain that Job was happy with his life and the blessings and riches that he had before God allowed Satan to take everything away. Job's feelings of happiness, no doubt, changed when that horrible day came and every worldly possession was ripped away in one series of messages after another. His feelings of happiness also changed when God allowed Satan to attack his body. Job was no longer happy with his circumstances but in all of his circumstances Job did not lose his joy.

He did not understand why things were happening but he did understand that God knew what he was doing. Job had wisdom beyond what he could understand.

“But where shall wisdom be found?
    And where is the place of understanding?
13 Man does not know its worth,
    and it is not found in the land of the living.

Job himself didn't even realize that he was wise to what was happening. He was the one that had to explain to his friends that he was innocent of the suffering he was enduring. Even without knowing that God himself had thrown him under the bus, Job knew God had a plan for his life. 

God understands the way to it,
    and he knows its place.
 For he looks to the ends of the earth
    and sees everything under the heavens.

 When he gave to the wind its weight
    and apportioned the waters by measure,
 when he made a decree for the rain
    and a way for the lightning of the thunder,
 then he saw it and declared it;
    he established it, and searched it out.
And he said to man,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
    and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

Job knew. He knew that God had something much bigger in mind. Bigger than Job himself could imagine. Did Job know that his story would earn him a special place in the Bible and it would be an inspiration to all who are suffering through big things? Did Job know his story would live on? Did Job know that God chose him? Even though Job may not have known these things, Job trusted that God did.

Phil Callaway spoke today about suffering. He has suffered the loss of 4 close friends and family over the last year. It may not have been all in one day as Job suffered, but it still seemed overwhelming to Phil and his family. Phil shared some of the trite comments that people spoke to him to "help" him with the losses. Much like Job's friends after that first week, their responses were not helpful and not a comfort.

One of the responses Phil heard during his time of suffering and loss was that "God would never give him more than he could bear" and Phil was adamant that this was not true. In fact it was a misquoting of scripture from today's NT readings:

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God promises we will never be tempted beyond what we can bear but God never promises that we will not suffer beyond what we can bear. Suffering and loss is inevitable in this world. We will face loss. We will suffer. However, God does promise this:

" I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

May we recognize God's wisdom in all circumstances so that we even when we don't understand what God is doing we can have the peace of knowing that God does.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 30-31; 1 Corinthians 10:19-33