Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday, June 30th: Deuteronomy 10-12, Acts 3 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 10-12; Acts 3

10:12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?

Love and serve God with all our being, that is God's command.  Simple, yet not easy.

21 He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.

It's amazing what God can do.  There's no way Joseph or Jacob could've known how God would grow the family of Israel from the small band of 70 that came to Egypt, to the very high number that left in the Exodus.  He is the One that does these great things.  He deserves all the praise and glory.  And His power is still at work today.

11:26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.
We can choose - blessing or curse, life or death, obedience or disobedience.  It reminds me of a quote.....  You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.

What will you and I choose today?

It is always good to help people by meeting their physical or material needs, but in our Acts passage, we see that even when we don't have anything to help people practically, we always have the most important thing - the good news.  We can't heal the way God did through the apostles in the time of Acts, but we can (and must!) bring people the gospel, which results in the most important healing of all.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 13-15; Acts 4:1-22

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday, June 29th: Deuteronomy 7-9, Acts 2:22-47 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 7-9, Acts 2:22-47

In the OT reading, there were a couple of verses that stood out for me today:

Deuteronomy 7:26 - And you shall not bring an abominable thing into your house and become devoted to destruction[c] like it. You shall utterly detest and abhor it, for it is devoted to destruction.

Moses was instructing the Israelites that they would not only drive out nations, but that they were to destroy everything that the people in those nations had left behind.  This is something that I thought was important to realize that what may appear to be innocent at the time, can grab a hold of us, and cause spiritual destruction in our lives.    

Deuteronomy 8:11 - Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today.

Today in church, one of things pastor Dan mentioned was remembering what the Lord has done in our lives.  Lest you forget.  We need to be keep in mind when everything is going well that we do not become proud and forget all that the Lord has done for us.

In our NT reading, Paul tells us to repent and be baptized (vs 38).  But that is only the beginning.  In vs 42, Paul talks about how the believers also devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and to fellowship among themselves.  They didn't meet every other week, or even once a week, they met every day.  That's true devotion!

I pray that I can have the same devotion as they did, and the same fire and compassion that they had for the people in need.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 10-12; Acts 3

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday, June 28th: Deuteronomy 4-6, Acts 2:1-21 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 4-6; Acts 2:1-21 

In our OT passage Moses continues to recount the least 40 or so years to the Israelites, reminding the younger generation how the Lord brought their parents out of Egypt with miracles and wondrous signs.  He reminds them of their sin which resulted in the wandering in the desert for 40 years until all the older generation had died off.  He reminds them that they are a chosen people, and that they are to glorify God by living holy lives, completely different than the nations around them.  He tells them that they will conquer the nations currently living in the Promised Land and challenges them not to forget the Lord and all His deeds when times are easy.  He recounts the 10 commandments and reminds them of the importance of continuing to tell their children about all that the Lord has done for them.

Deuteronomy 6    4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[k] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
I love this passage.  Our God is the Only true God, and we are to love Him with our entire being, and teach our children to do the same.  Are we making this a priority in our lives every day?

In Acts 2 we see the events of Pentecost - the Holy Spirit coming, as Jesus promised, and filling the believers; Peter preaching an amazing sermon that is heard by everyone in their own language.

Our OT and NT passages together testify to our awesome God, His amazing power, and what He has done for us for our good and for His glory!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Deuteronomy 7-9, Acts 1:22-47

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday, June 27th: Deuteronomy 1-3, Acts 1 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 1-3; Acts 1

As Moses recounted the history of Israel, this verse jumped out at me...

22 You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’
There are many things we can fear in life, and often we fear things we don't have control over, or when we know the odds are stacked against us.  The reason for our fear is that we have placed our trust in the wrong place.  We trust in ourselves and our abilities, we trust in police officers and firefighters to protect and help us, we trust in other people around us who we feel are more qualified than we are, etc.  And, to a certain extent, it's good to trust this way.  But what we need to remember is that ultimately God is sovereign, and He is the the only One who truly controls the outcome of any situation.  He is the only One we can trust every time without fail.  He never gets tired, never makes a mistake, never makes an error in judgment, never gets weak, never fails.  He fights for us - we don't need to fear!

Acts 1 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
We have received this power, and we too have received this command. Are we witnesses to those around us?  Are we praying for opportunity to tell people the good news?  Are we taking the opportunities God gives us?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 4-6; Acts 2:1-21

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday 26 June Joel 1-3; Philippians 4 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joel 1-3; Philippians 4

The assigned scripture reading for today is misleading. Yes, it’s Joel 1-3 but it also happens to be the whole book of Joel! Not only is it rather daunting it would also probably be an entire book of a post for today. Therefore I will gladly defer to Dr. Martin Luther words from Lectures on Joel:
Joel was a kindly and gentle man. He does not denounce and rebuke as do the other prophets, but pleads and laments; he tried with kind and friendly words to make the people righteous and to protect them from harm and misfortune. But it happened to him as to the other prophets: the people did not believe his words and held him to be a fool.

Nevertheless Joel is highly praised in the New Testament, for in Acts 2 St. Peter quotes him. Thus Joel had to provide the first sermon ever preached in the Christian Church, the one glorious use of the saying, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” [Rom. 10:13], which is also in Joel 2[:32].

In the first chapter he prophesies the punishment which is to come upon the people of Israel. They are to be destroyed and carried away by the Assyrians; and he calls the Assyrians cutting, swarming, hopping, and destroying locusts [1:4]. For the Assyrians devoured the kingdom of Israel bit by bit until they had completely destroyed it. In the end, however, King Sennacherib had to suffer defeat before Jerusalem; Joel touches on that in chapter 2[:20] when he says, “I will remove the northerner far from you.”

In the second place, at the end of the second chapter and from that point on [2:28-3:21] he prophesies of the kingdom of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, and speaks of the everlasting Jerusalem.
He speaks of the valley of Jehoshaphat [3:12] and says that the Lord will summon all the nations thither for judgment. The ancient fathers understand that to refer to the Last Judgment. I do not condemn this interpretation, but hold, nevertheless, that this is really Joe’s meaning: even as he calls the Christian Church the everlasting Jerusalem, so he calls it also the valley of Jehoshaphat. He does so because through the word all the world is summoned to the Christian church and is there judged, and by the preaching is reproved as being all together sinners in the sight of God, as Christ says, “The Spirit of truth will reprove the world of sin” [John 16:8]. For valley of Jehoshaphat means valley of judgment. Thus also does Hosea call the Christian Church the valley of Achor. (AE 35:318-19)

In our New Testament reading today, as Paul concludes this Letter, he uses imperative language to urge the reader to adopt practices of living that are in harmony with the Creator’s will. The strength and clarity of this exhortation reminds us that we often set our minds on those things that are contrary to God’s will. Paul’s exhortations are always followed by promises of God’s blessing on our behalf. Paul cannot end this Letter without a vibrant expression of gratitude toward God and the service of the Philippians. Paul’s outpouring of appreciation contrasts sharply with feelings of neglect, resentfulness, and even anger that can arise when we lack the privileges and comforts we expect. Paul invites us to see the blessings and fullness of God that are present in every situation. Christ multiplies those blessings by His grace. Paul’s last words in the Letter are greetings and blessings. Contrast Paul’s concern for greeting all and extending grace with our unwillingness to greet people in our own church communities. The grace of the Lord Jesus is so abundant that it flows over from Paul to us through this very Word and has the power to overflow from our lives into the lives of others, so that we genuinely greet and then extend God’s grace.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:Deuteronomy 1-3; Acts 1

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thursday, June 25th: Jeremiah 51-52, Philippians 3 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 51-52; Philippians 3

I love this portion of our OT passage.....
15 “It is he who made the earth by his power,
    who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
16 When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
    and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
    and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

We had some severe (for us) weather here yesterday, including 2 tornadoes in our province (but a few hours away from us).  Nothing compared to what they see in tornado alley, but still a powerful reminder that we really have no control over so many things in our lives, and that ultimately God alone is sovereign over everything from the weather to the nation in power.

The OT concludes with the foretold destruction of Jerusalem, after years of prophetic warnings that went unheeded by the people.  So often God's patience in delaying judgment is mistaken as leniency or that no judgment is coming - that is far from the case!  Don't delay today in turning to Him!

Our NT passage reminds us that our righteousness does not and cannot come from anything we have done, but only comes through faith in the work of Christ Jesus on our behalf.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Joel 1-3; Philippians 4

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday, June 24th: Jeremiah 50, Philippians 2 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 50; Philippians 2

In our OT passage we see again see God's sovereignty on display.  He chose to use the ungodly nation of Babylon to exact judgment on both Judah - but He also executed judgment on Babylon for their evil deeds.  God is just.  God is sovereign.

In our NT passage there were so many verses that challenged and convicted me.  Here are just a few of them.....

v3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing

15 be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world

So hard!

Thankfully, we also see this.....
13 for it is God who works in you
We can't do those things on our own strength, we need to rely on Him.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 51-52; Philippians 3

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday, June 23rd: Jeremiah 48-49, Philippians 1 ~ Nathan

Chapter 48 is about the judgement of Moab. This was a city that also didn't obey God.
7." Since you trust in your deeds and riches, you too will be taken captive..."

Moab was proud of itself,
29. “We have heard of Moab’s pride — how great is her arrogance!— of her insolence, her pride, her conceit and the haughtiness of her heart."

Pride and arrogance can bring any of us down. It's so easy to gain, but gets a hold of us and  hurts us before we know it. Thankfully God is a forgiving God.
47. " “Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in days to come,” declares the Lord. Here ends the judgment on Moab."

In chapter 49 it talks first about the wrongs of Ammon and again this section ends with verse 6 " “Yet afterward, I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites,” declares the Lord"

Later on we read again about how God restores Elam, 
39. " “Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come,” declares the Lord"

Even though God is angry and carries out terror on His people for the wrongs they've continually done,  He forgives and restores. I want to forgive easier.

We've had an incident happen in my extended family that has made some of us angry,  but I have to remind myself that this anger can't last forever and I need to look for restoration and reconciliation.  At this stage I don't feel ready for this,  but I know I need to get there with God's help. I'm thankful for the examples He's shown about forgiveness. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday, June 22: Jeremiah 46-47; Matthew 28 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 46-47; Matthew 28

I've chosen 'stand' as my word of the year and when I read it in each passage as I have been reading my attention is drawn to it. Today's passage includes this:

say, Stand ready and be prepared,
    for the sword shall devour around you.’
15 Why are your mighty ones face down?
    They do not stand[a]
    because the Lord thrust them down.
16 He made many stumble, and they fell,
    and they said one to another,
‘Arise, and let us go back to our own people
    and to the land of our birth,
    because of the sword of the oppressor.’

Matthew Henry says this:

46:13-28 Those who encroached on others, shall now be themselves encroached on. Egypt is now like a very fair heifer, not accustomed to the yoke of subjection; but destruction comes out of the north: the Chaldeans shall come. Comfort and peace are spoken to the Israel of God, designed to encourage them when the judgments of God were abroad among the nations. He will be with them, and only correct them in measure; and will not punish them with everlasting destruction from his presence.

What a hope we have even when we cannot stand on our own.

The new Testament passage brings the good news! I cannot imagine what it would have been like for those women to stumble on such an amazing discovery. Unlike Jeremiah, who preached without being heard or believed for 42 years, the women were heard and believed because the disciples came right away to the tomb. 

Once in Sunday School, I heard someone talk about the significance of it being women who were the first ones to hear about the resurrection. I googled it and here's what I found:

One of the numerous considerations that favour the historical reliability of the account of the empty tomb is the fact that the initial testimony of the empty tomb is said to have come from a small group of women. However chauvinistic it might be, the fact is that in first century Palestine as in the wider Middle East, the testimony of a woman was regarded as inferior to that of a man. If an author had simply invented the discovery of the empty tomb and been trying to make it seem as persuasive as possible, women would certainly not have been his first choice of initial witness. Even in a court of law, women were regarded as being – compared to men – unqualified as witnesses. Presenting the testimony of women as the epistemological basis of the belief of others would perhaps have even served as an embarrassment to the early church. Hence, the authors of the Gospel would not have been motivated to paint fictional accounts with women as first witnesses. That they portrayed the events this way therefore counts in favour of the reliability of the account of the empty tomb. (more here)
Finally, we are reminded that almost everything can be bought...if the price is right...
11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

Judas was bought. These guards were bought. Selling out ultimately cost Judas his life when he was overcome with remorse for what he did. Selling out perpetuated a lie that continues today. Let me stand firm against the temptation to be bought. Instead let me:

"...make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you...”

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 48-49; Philippians 1

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday, June 21st: Jeremiah 43-35, Matthew 27:51-66 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 43-45; Matthew 27:51-66

Johanan and his group were already on their way to Egypt when they visited Jeremiah, supposedly to ask for God's direction on where they should go, vowing to do whatever God said through his prophet.  But when God told them to stay in Judah, instead of telling them to go to Egypt like they had planned, they called Jeremiah a liar and refused to obey God.  They had not come to seek God's direction, they had wanted a rubber stamp of approval for the plan they already made.

How often do we do the same?  We make our plans and then, as an afterthought, quickly pray that God will bless our plans.  Sometimes we even pray that God would make it clear if we are not to go ahead - but do we actually wait to hear the answer and listen with an open and willing heart to see if God has a different plan?    We shouldn't make plans unless we are willing to have God change them, and we shouldn't pray unless we are willing to accept God's answer.

In our NT passage, I always love the telling of the temple curtain being torn in two.  The curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was torn, symbolizing that the barrier between God and man was removed.  We are all free to approach God because of Christ's sacrifice for our sins.  This was a huge, thick curtain - tearing it in two was clearly a supernatural event.

There were other miraculous events that occurred at the time of Christ's death - darkness (from yesterday's passage), the tearing of the temple curtain, an earthquake, and people rising from the dead.  There was no way Jesus' death went unnoticed - everyone had to know that something significant had happened.  Yet, clearly many people either explained it away, dismissed it, or someone managed to ignore it.

People often say that they would believe if only they would see an obvious miracle.  And yet it is clear from this passage, and others like it, that that is not true.  People often have many excuses for why they are not believers - in the end it usually comes down to an unwillingness to humble themselves and to give up their sin.

Today is the day our oldest daughter is getting baptized.  I am thankful for her willingness to be obedient in taking this step in her spiritual journey, humbling herself, and publicly declaring her need for a Saviour.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 46-47; Matthew 28

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saturday, June 20th: Jeremiah 40-42, Matthew 27:27-50 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 40-42; Matthew 27:27-50

At the beginning of Jeremiah 40 we see the Babylonian commander acknowledge that God had given the Babylonians victory - and yet he did know God personally.  People can recognize that God exists, and even that He does miracles, but they may refuse to accept Him as their Lord and Saviour.  Being a believer is much more than head knowledge - after all, the demons know that Jesus is God, and Satan is well-versed in the scriptures.  Knowing God is more than knowing about Him, we need to know Him personally, love Him, and follow Him.

In 40:4 Jeremiah was given a tempting offer - he was free to go anywhere.  Going to Babylon He would have been favoured by the Babylonians but likely hates by the Judean exiles.  Staying in Judah he would continue to experience hardship, but the Judeans would know he was not a traitor.  Even though he could've chosen the easy route, he chose to stay.  A challenge to us to choose the right way over the easy way.

In our NT passage we see that Jesus also chose the hard way - he did not take gall to help deaden the pain but chose to suffer fully conscious and with a clear mind.  And, above all, He chose to lay down His life for us.

In Matthew 27:45 we see nature testifying to the gravity of Jesus' death as darkness fell over the earth.  The darkness was both physical and spiritual.

In 27:46 we see the reason for Jesus dread as He prayed in the Garden.  Of course the physical agony was horrible, but what was even worse was His having to take on sin and experience the wrath of God and separation from His presence.  He experienced this for us so that we would never have to experience eternal separation from God.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 43-45; Matthew 27:51-66

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday 19 June Jeremiah 37-39; Matthew 27:1-26 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 37-39; Matthew 27:1-26

Jeremiah is firm in proclaiming the inspired Word during the last two years before the fall of Jerusalem. In three private interviews with Zedekiah, he did not hesitate to announce the fearful fate awaiting the king, the city, and its inhabitants. Nor did scourging, jailing, and threat of death by the princes cower him into deviating from the truth. He was called to his first discussion with the king when Nebuchadnezzar lifted the siege of Jerusalem to engage an army under Pharaoh Hophra. Asked to pray that the Babylonians be forced to stay away permanently, Jeremiah announced their inevitable return to burn the city with fire. Jeremiah assures King Zedekiah and the city residents that the withdrawal of the Babylonians is only temporary. The Babylonians would certainly return and destroy the city, as God had ordained because of people’s sin. Sin brings terrible consequences. They are sometimes delayed, but they are inevitable. God never entirely abandons His people, but continues to call them to repentance with the promise of forgiveness and hope for the future. He continues to suffer for doing god’s will and speaking the truth. The world hates God and His Word and opposes those who proclaim its truth. However, God does not ignore the plight of His persecuted people, and He will not neglect you.

Jeremiah’s enemies secure permission from King Zedekiah to kill him for treason since he advised the city’s soldiers to desert and predicted their defeat at the hand of the Chaldeans. Rather than risk outright murder, they confine Jeremiah to a dry cistern with the expectation that he will die of thirst or starvation. God’s people often face death for their faithful proclamation of His Word. God rescues His people, even when they die, and gives them eternal life. Ebed-melech, an official of King Zedekiah’s administration, rescues Jeremiah with the king’s permission. Like Jeremiah, God’s people today should never give up hope but rather trust in the Lord, especially when things are at their worst. Also, God works through us to help one another in time of need, as Jesus helps us in our greatest need by rescuing us from sin and damnation. King Zedekiah arranges a private meeting with Jeremiah and learns that he can avoid capture and save the city by surrendering to the Babylonian army, yet Zedekiah fears his own advisers more. Go mercifully offers Zedekiah and his family their lives and will spare the city if only they will trust Him and leave matters in His hands. God’s people have always faced the difficult choice of trusting God and doing things His way or following their own wisdom and the world’s way. When faced with such dilemmas, pray that the Lord would grant you both wisdom and courage. Jesus, crucified and risen, is our wisdom. His courage in the face of death is the basis of our salvation.

After a siege of one and a half years, Zedekiah and his people experience the consequences of their idolatry and unbelief. Yet, as promised, God rescues a remnant of the people and will later return them to Judah. God’s Word of Law is kept, and His Word of Gospel is kept too. Nebuchadnezzar has Jeremiah released from custody and returned to his hometown. Before Jeremiah goes, he brings good news to Ebed-melech, who had rescued him from the dry cistern, that he will survive the fall of Jerusalem because he trusted in the Lord. You cannot avoid what you fear by disobeying God and trusting your own wisdom. Instead, trust that the Lord never forgets His people. Ultimately, He provides for you eternally through Jesus Christ.

In our Gospel reading for today, Peter’s denial is followed closely by Judas’s suicide. The two commit similar sins in betraying Christ, but things turn out differently for each. Both are sorry for their misdeeds-perhaps Judas is even sorrier in that he tries to undo the damage. But Judas ends his life in despair, while Peter ultimately trusts in Christ, who alone can save us from guilt and despair. Jesus silently listens to His accusers. His silence leads to His condemnation, but also to our forgiveness. When foes accuse you, curb your tongue. Loose your tongue in prayer to the One who takes away your sin. The crowd chooses to release Barabbas instead of Jesus. They prefer the sinful ways of Barabbas and seek to crucify their true Lord. Just as the Lord’s own ways disturbed and threatened the people of Jerusalem, His ways disrupt our self-security. The silent Lamb of God would lead us away from the ways of the world to walk in His ways. He was condemned to death, that we might go freely into His kingdom.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Jeremiah 40-42; Matthew 27:27-50

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday, June 18th: Jeremiah 34-36, Matthew 26:51-75 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 34-36; Matthew 26:51-75

I always find the passage about Jehoaikim burning the scroll to be both horrifying and ironically funny. It is horrifying that anyone would have the gall to burn the very Word of God. But it's also humorous that the King would actually think that burning the scroll would stop it's words from coming true! No one can ever truly destroy the Word of God, and certainly no one can ever prevent it's promises (both blessings and curses) from coming true.

I love the story of the Recabites and their 200 years of faithfulness to the vow their ancestor charged them with. An incredibly stark contrast to the Israelites continuing unfaithfulness to God.

In our Matthew passage we see Peter's unfaithfulness, denying Christ three times.

Thankfully, our God is faithful in spite of our unfaithfulness.

If we continually reject Him, like Israel and Judah did, we will experience His wrath and judgment.

If we turn to Him in repentance, like Peter did, He will forgive us and the Holy Spirit will work His regenerating power within our lives.

God has set before us the way of life and the way of death - let us choose life!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 37-39; Matthew 27:1-26

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday, June 17th: Jeremiah 32-33, Matthew 26:26-50 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 32-33; Matthew 26:26-50

Humanly speaking, practically speaking, it made no sense for Jeremiah to buy a field outside Jerusalem.  The city had been under siege for a year, and he bought land occupied by soldiers - a poor investment by any criteria.  Except spiritual criteria.  Jeremiah was demonstrating his faith in God's promise to bring his people back and to rebuild Jerusalem. 

Trust and faith, by their very definitions, do not come easy.  At least, not when we focus on earthly and temporal things.  When we focus on God, on His already fulfilled promises, on His character - then we are reassured that our faith and trust is far from misplaced, and truly is the only wise thing to do.

God has promised to restore Jerusalem - not because of anything they did, but because it was part of His ultimate plan.  God's plans always prevail.  Always.  But we can choose to be blessed by being a part of their fulfillment or face the consequences of going against God.

Jeremiah 33:3 was a verse I memorized in Teen Missions.
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

God is always ready to answer us - but we need to ask for His help.  Obviously He can take care of us without our asking, but when we ask, we acknowledge that we need His help, that He alone is God, and that we need His strength.  Are we humble enough to acknowledge this?

When we fail to do so, when we become too self-sufficient, when we coast spiritually - that's when we become like the disciples who fell asleep while Jesus prayed, and like Peter would deny the Lord three times.  

When we don't learn from the mistakes of history, we are doomed to repeat it.  

Peter would be restored in His relationship with Jesus, and would eventually die for his faith as he initially claimed he would.  He learned from his mistakes and put his faith, not in his own strength, but in Christ's.  We must do the same!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 34-36; Matthew 26:51-75

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday, June 16th: Jeremiah 30-31, Matthew 26:1-25 ~ Nathan

In chapter 30 of Jeremiah,  we read how God both explains why He is punishing Israel and Judah...

15.Why do you cry out over your wound, your pain that has no cure? Because of your great guilt and many sins I have done these things to you.

and later explains, and reassures,  what will happen to his people after He punishes them...

22 “ ‘So you will be my people, and I will be your God .’ ”

This reminded me of when I was a child and did something wrong and was spanked (not sure if I can talk publicly about spanking now a days).  My dad hated doing it,  but told me he did it because he loved me and cared enough that he had to do something that hurt me and him now but would benefit me later. My parents weren't going to put up with ongoing misbehaviour and reached a point where something had to be done,  and after a few warnings I usually got a spanking. After this I usually felt relieved and much better.

This is a lot like how God explains what will happen after He punishes Israel and Judah in chapter 31...

2.This is what the Lord says: “The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.”

The one thing that stood out for me in our New Testament reading is found in verse 13,
"Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Little did that women know that by doing a kind deed for Jesus she would be remembered forever. How many politicians or athletes try to do things for their own legacies,  so that they will be remembered?  Here a humble and lowly women came and did a kind and loving thing for Jesus 2000 years ago, and we're still talking about it  today!

Just goes to show that doing something kind for God will truly count in the end.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday, June 15th: Jeremiah 27-29, Matthew 25:31-46 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 27-29; Matthew 25:31-46

In our Jeremiah passage, we stumbled across one of my favourite and most meaningful verses - Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

When Pamela and I got married we received a plaque with this verse on it.   At the time, we were more interested in the envelopes with money, that we would have discounted this plaques value and meaning and simply placed it on a shelf to collect dust.  The timing of "finding" this plaque shortly after opening our "meaningless" gift was instrumental in reminding us that we need to trust God whole heartedly daily as this was right around the time that we realized we would be unexpectedly expecting our first child.

As exciting as it was to know we would be parents, this excitement was equally matched with fear as we had no idea how we could make this work financially as Pamela was a student, and I did not have a full-time job.  I am not saying that it was all rainbows and butterflies, but everything fell into place.  Friends and family came to our assistance, I was offered a full-time position at work, we were blessed with a healthy girl (who is graduating high school this year - yikes), and we didn't have to file for bankruptcy!  

There is not a day that goes by that I am not reminded of God's good plan, as the plaque is still situated on a dresser in our bedroom.

The passage continues with, "12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

God does not play hide and seek so that we cannot find Him.  He is listening to our prayers, and is anxiously waiting for us to seek Him!  

In our passage in Matthew we read about acceptance into the kingdom of Heaven for those who serve with no thought or intent of receiving a reward, as God gives out of grace, not debt.    

There are only two possible scenarios when the Son of Man comes and we are standing in front of God Almighty.  We will either be like the goats sent away to eternal punishment, or like the sheep and be invited into Heaven for eternal life.  I know what side I'm going to be on!   

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 30-31; Matthew 26:1-25

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday, June 14th: Jeremiah 24-26, Matthew 25:1-30 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 24-26; Matthew 25:1-30

Jeremiah 26:2-3  “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the Lord all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word.  It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds.

Jeremiah did not have a fun message to deliver to the people of Judah.  It was a message of destruction and wrath.  But God commanded him to speak.  And Jeremiah's job was simply that - to speak the message of God.  It was not his job to change the people, it was not his job to get them to repent - that is the work of the Holy Spirit.  It was his job to speak truth.

We have the same job.  Our message is similar.  The automatic path of humanity, our default destination is hell, not heaven.  We need a Saviour.  We cannot save ourselves.  But we also need to be willing to humble ourselves and to repent.  And if we turn from our evil ways, God will have mercy on us, and He will save us for all eternity.

It is a message of wrath and love, of doom and hope.  And it is our job to deliver the message.  We cannot change people's hearts - only the Holy Spirit can do that.  But we can, and must, speak.If we speak, it may be that they will listen!

When is the last time you or I have shared the gospel message with a world that desperately needs it?

Our NT passage follows up on a similar theme.  We are each responsible for our own spiritual condition, and we also need to be ready.  This also means we must also have a sense of urgency when it comes to sharing the gospel.

We also need to use well what God has entrusted to us.   God knows what we are capable of and asks different things from each of us.  But when He gives us something - whether it is time, gifts, talents, or other resources - He expects us to use them wisely until He returns.  It isn't what we've been given, but how, and for whose glory, we use it.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 27-29; Matthew 25:31-46

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saturday, June 13th: Jeremiah 22-23, Matthew 24:29-51 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 22-23; Matthew 24:29-51

In Jeremiah 23:10 this short phrase jumped out at me
because of the curse the land mourns
It reminded me of the truth that not only are we subject to the curse of the fall, but so is creation.  You can see the devastation of this on a grand scale all the time - hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires.  It's also there in a smaller scale - disease, winter rot, infestation.

Yet, at times creation is absolutely breathtaking.  Again, on a grand scale we see Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.  On a smaller scale we see the sunset, a rainbow, a majestic mountain, and on and on.

When I see the beauty of God's creation after the fall, it makes me wonder what it must have been like before the fall, and what the New Earth will be like after Christ's return.  It will be beyond spectacular!

I also see hope in the beauty of God's creation.  Though flawed, it is still beautiful, and it speaks to the hope of what creation, and we, will be in the perfection of eternity.

It is interesting, too, how much creation plays into the second coming, as we see in our NT passage.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 24-26; Matthew 25:1-30

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday, 12 June; Jeremiah 20-21; Matthew 24: 1-28 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 20-21;Matthew 24:1-28

After being flogged, Jeremiah was locked in the stocks overnight in order that his captives might ridicule and discredit him. However, Jeremiah still announced the threat of the apostate nation’s doom, even more emphatically and pointedly than before. The moment he took his eyes off the Lord and became introspective, Jeremiah slipped back into dark brooding over his fate. The sudden change of mood from praising God to deep melancholy will not surprise anyone who has wrestled with God in the night watches of doubt; that person knows from experience it is possible to fall into self-pity and rebellious complaint at the very moment when faith seemed to have a strong grip on God’s promises. Jeremiah complains bitterly about the opposition he has experienced in response to the dire warnings he preached to the people. His predictions of destruction stand unfulfilled, giving his enemies grounds to beat him, imprison him, and plot against his life. Jeremiah calls on the Lord for help and praises His name, but he cannot help expressing the anger and despair he genuinely feels. Like Jeremiah, we are often weak and fearful in times of crisis because we doubt the Lord and trust in ourselves. When we are weakest, God’s strength shines through more clearly. He is ever our refuge and strength, who hears our confession and forgives all our sins.

Through Jeremiah, God reveals His judgment on Jerusalem to the political and religious leaders of Judah: only those who surrender to the Chaldeans will live. God disciplines them for their lack of repentance and for ignoring His warnings. Even during this judgment, mercy and compassion shine through, providing a way of survival. No matter what you face today, call on the Lord with a repentant heart and humbly trust that He has an answer for you. Consider the life and sufferings of Jesus, who humbled Himself to redeem you for your salvation. Three kings who immediately preceded Zedekiah are dealt with in chronological order, each one’s fate demonstrating how the threat uttered against the whole dynasty would affect the lives of its individual members. Shallum and Jehoiakim were sons of Josiah, during whose 13th year Jeremiah was appointed a prophet; Coniah was a grandson of the same godly king. Jeremiah condemns Israel’s leaders for their obsession with wealth and power and, at the same time, neglect and abuse of the needy. God tells these powerful people that they will not enjoy their dishonest gains. People worship the same things today, sacrificing integrity and compassion for temporary riches. Jesus, having all things, avoids the deceit of wealth and power, remaining faithful to the plan of salvation by going to the cross to save us from our sinful deceptions.

In response to His disciples’ admiring comments about the temple, in our Gospel reading today Jesus predicts its destruction. The things of this world do not endure. All earthly splendor will be forgotten on the Last Day. Understanding the provisional nature of material things leads us to place our highest hopes in the Lord and what He has in store for us in the new heavens and new earth. Jesus prophesies about things leading up to the end of the world. Today, stories of military conflicts, political intrigues, and natural disasters continue to fill the news. All this should remind us of the nearness of the end of this age. In that we may rejoice! Though the world is indeed increasingly evil and hostile to God, Christians are ever nearer the great day of Christ’s return. While prophesying concerning Jerusalem’s destruction, Jesus again warns His disciples against being deceived by false messiahs. During crises, people instinctively seek spiritual aid. In such times, God’s people are tempted to join those fleeing to charlatans and the false hopes they offer. Christ’s return in glory will be unmistakable. In an instant, He will raise the dead, transform believers into His likeness, and so effect our final deliverance.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 22-23; Matthew 24:29-51

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday, June 11th: Jeremiah 18-19, Matthew 23:23-39 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 18-19; Matthew 23:23-39

Jeremiah 18:6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
My Life Application Bible notes this about this verse:
As the potter molded or shaped a clay pot on the potter's wheel, defects often appeared. The potter had power over the clay, to permit the defects to remain or to reshape the pot. Likewise, God had power to reshape the nation to conform to his purposes. Our strategy should not be to become mindless and passive...but to be willing and receptive to God's impact on us. As we yield to God, he begins reshaping us into valuable vessels.

God uses object lessons in Jeremiah quite a lot.  In our passage we see two of them.

In Chapter 18 we see the potter's clay - God can destroy His people if He wants to, it's a warning to repent before He is forced to bring judgment.

In Chapter 19 it is the broken clay jars - God will smash Judah just as Jeremiah smashed the clay jars.  Another warning of impending judgment.

I love the hope of 18:8 if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.

I love the promise of restored relationship, if only the people would repent.  God has so much patience!  But we cannot presume upon that patience, as we never know when it will run out at last.

God desires restored relationship - but He requires repentance in order to do so.  So often we are so desperate for peace in our relationships and family and friends that we adopt a peace at any cost mentality.  This is a mistake.  Any relationship based on peace at any cost is a superficial one at best, completely fake and destructive at worst.  Peace at any cost is too high a price to pay.  

Our Matthew passage again warns about the danger of putting on the appearance of holiness while forsaking holiness itself.  God will not be mocked.  He can see the heart, He knows our motives, and we will reap what we sow.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 20-21; Matthew 24:1-28

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wednesday, June 10th: Jeremiah 15-17, Matthew 23:1-22 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 15-17; Matthew 23:1-22

Jeremiah 16:10b ‘Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?’

Sin is blinding.  Eventually, sin blinds us to much, we don't even notice our sin anymore.  We, like the Israelites, are grossly mistaken when we presume that God's patience in delaying judgment means that judgment will not come at all.  The Word is clear, eventually God's patience will end and judgment will come - for us, just like it did for the people of Judah, and the people of Israel before them.

Jeremiah 17:7-8  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

This passage is very similar to Psalm 1:3 
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

When we meditate on God's word and apply His wisdom, we will bear good fruit - actions and attitudes that honour and glorify God.  

This does not come naturally.....
Jeremiah 17:9-10  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

We see this in our NT passage as well - God is concerned with our heart, because what is in our hearts will inevitably flow out into the way we live our lives.  

Our goal should not be the appearance of holiness, but rather truly becoming more holy through the power of the Holy Spirit, for our good and His glory.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tuesday, June 8th: Jeremiah 12-14, Matthew 22:23-46 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 12-14; Matthew 22:23-46

Jeremiah 12:1 "You are always righteous, Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?"

This verse stood out for me,  it asks the same questions that Christians have been asking forever. Why do good things happen to bad people?  This frustrates us when we see ourselves struggling in our jobs or in raising our children,  and then look over to someone who doesn't even care about God and they seem to have it all together and have everything (material items).

To me,  the answer to this comes at the beginning of 12:3, where it says "But you know my heart,  Lord. You see me and test my mind...." 

Nobody can fool God,  He knows our hearts and cares for us. I think Christians would all agree that it is better to be rewarded in heaven then to gain rewards here on earth,  which don't last.

In our New Testament reading we see how the Sadducees and Pharisees tried three times to fool Jesus with questions and three times He frustrated them with wise answers. He made them look foolish. 
When I've read this over the years I've always wondered why they even tried to go head to head with Jesus and match wits with Him?  I think it shows  arrogance, and is a reminder for me of how small I am and how big God is. I'd rather be on His side and obey Him,  then rebelling against Him.