Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday, August 31: Psalms 132-134; 2 Corinthians 10 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 132-134; 2 Corinthians 10

This verse really stood out for me:

verse 133:1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity.

Immediately, I thought about the upcoming elections...both the immediate Canadian and the more distant US election. Have you watched any of the debates? Unity is the farthest thing from anyone's minds. Snippets of angry press conferences, mudslinging commercials with taglines even kids are repeating (He's just not ready),  and every attempt to belittle and step on each other is evidence to how bad and unpleasant it can be to be at odds with one another. Even after the election happens, unity does not happen because the winning party is never able to fulfill all of the items on its promises and the losing party, who would never have been able to fulfill of its campaign promises either, spends the next 4 years whining and complaining that they would have been better. 

More personally, custody battles between angry ex-spouses cause emotional scarring and turmoil to their kids caught in the middle of two people they love. Over the years of teaching grade 1, I have unfortunately seen the effects of divorce and separation on the hearts and minds of innocent 6 year olds who are on a roller coaster ride they never asked to ride. Even in my own life, the breakdown of my own parents' marriage has been hard on me to be in the middle....and I'm not even a child who has to live at home through the process.

I looked up some commentary on this verse and found this here:

What it is that is commended—brethren’s dwelling together in unity, not only not quarrelling, and devouring one another, but delighting in each other with mutual endearments, and promoting each other’s welfare with mutual services. Sometimes it is chosen, as the best expedient for preserving peace, that brethren should live asunder and at a distance from each other; that indeed may prevent enmity and strife (Gen. 13:9 ), but the goodness and pleasantness are for brethren to dwell together and so to dwell in unity, to dwell even as one (so some read it), as having one heart, one soul, one interest. David had many sons by many wives; probably he penned this psalm for their instruction, to engage them to love another, and, if they had done this, much of the mischief that arose in his family would have been happily prevented. The tribes of Israel had long had separate interests during the government of the Judges, and it was often of bad consequence; but now that they were united under one common head he would have them sensible how much it was likely to be for their advantage, especially since now the ark was fixed, and with it the place of their rendezvous for public worship and the centre of their unity. Now let them live in love. How commendable it is: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is! It is good in itself, agreeable to the will of God, the conformity of earth to heaven. It is good for us, for our honour and comfort. It is pleasant and pleasing to God and all good men; it brings constant delight to those who do thus live in unity. Behold, how good! We cannot conceive or express the goodness and pleasantness of it. Behold it is a rare thing, and therefore admirable. Behold and wonder that there should be so much goodness and pleasantness among men, so much of heaven on this earth! Behold it is an amiable thing, which will attract our hearts. Behold it is an exemplary thing, which, where it is, is to be imitated by us with a holy emulation. (emphasis mine)

To live in unity is hard. Marriages, created to be the example of unity, now has evolved to nothing more than a passing fling that begins and ends at the whim of those involved. Over the recent years, divorce within Christian circles is just as common as outside them. Even those who choose to stay married may not be as unified to their spouse as they claim to be as evidenced by the recent Ashley Madison customer base being hacked and shared.

Although it is good and pleasant to live in unity, I don't think that means at the expense of not standing up for what is right. However, I do think there are ways to stand up without angst or purposely striving to divide without a possibility of unity.
The Westboro Baptist church is well known for its vocal stance against homosexuality. In fact, the church's website address can be found at The Westboro Church has created a deep divide between people, does not show love and compassion, and has been responsible for 55,682 pickets against various things. Although their motivation to have people who repent appears to be genuine, their execution of their plan to make that happen is flawed. Their negative publicity paints all Christians with the same brush and instead of drawing sinners to Christ their hateful "holier than thou" mentality has distorted the message in a way that will be hard to undo. The Westboro church's in-your-face brazenness has probably prompted the placing of Focus on the Family as a hate group on wikipedia in the "See Also" section.

We are all sinners and we shouldn't judge people because they sin different than we do. Instead we should attempt to live in unity with each other...forming relationships with people...understanding that we all need a Saviour...and leaving it for God to be the judge. Living in unity is like Heaven on Earth. It will not always attainable but something we should strive for.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 135-136; 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday, August 30th: Psalms 129-131, 2 Corinthians 9 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 129-131; 2 Corinthians 9

Psalm 129 reminds us that God alone will bring us through tough times.

Psalm 130 declares God's faithfulness to forgives when we confess our sins to Him.

Psalm 131 recognizes that the basis for our contentment is trust in God and a willingness to be humble.

In our Corinthians passage we see how easy it is for initial enthusiasm to dwindle.  The start and end of a marathon are far more exciting than the difficult miles in between - it takes determination to keep going and encouragement from each to succeed.  As believers, our generosity should stem from our understanding of what God has generously given to us in His priceless gift of salvation.  Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:   Psalms 132-134, 2 Corinthians 10

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday, August 29th: Psalms 126-128, 2 Corinthians 8 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 126-128; 2 Corinthians 8

Psalm 126 points to God and His power alone to release us from the captivity of sin and restore us to right relationship with Him.

Psalm 127 was written by Solomon and contains shades of Ecclesiastes - everything in our lives is senseless without God.

Psalm 128 was often sung at Israelite marriages and is a reminder that God is the true head of the home.

What struck me in 2 Corinthians was the need to be generous with the correct motives.  The churches in Macedonia had given to the point of sacrificial giving with pure motives.  Are we giving the way the Macedonian church gave?  Our of dedication to Christ, love for our fellow believers, the joy of helping those in need, as well as the fact that it's simply the right thing to do?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 129-131; 2 Corinthians 9

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday, 28 August, Psalms 123-125; 2 Corinthians 7 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 123-125; 2 Corinthians 7

In Psalm 123 our eyes are to be upon God, both to receive His blessings and to do His bidding. We are servants of a merciful Lord. However, when our time of service is filled with contempt from others, we grow tired of waiting for God's justice. The Lord does indeed have mercy for us in Christ Jesus.

In Psalm 124 we need this psalmist's reminder that our strength and safety come only by God's hand. We are in danger from flood and snare, the overwhelming and the enticing. But God is faithful for His name's sake. He rescues us so that we will continue to bless and call on His name.

Psalm 125 was possibly written at the time of Nehemiah, following the exile. The mountains surrounding Jerusalem are reminders of the lasting apportionment of the land and the promise that God will be gracious to the righteous. god's blessing transforms us into mountains surrounding His dwelling place. We are built on His Word as an unchanging rock, and we become pillars by His grace.

In our NT reading, Paul shares the ups and downs of ministry and his great joy in hearing that the Corinthians' faith in Christ was solid again. We Christians are often guilty of hoarding Christ's great love, rather than making room in our hears for others. God has loved us with an everlasting love through Jesus Christ. To open up our hearts to others, to let them know of Christ's love, is to experience again the joy of that great love of God for all.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 126-128; 2 Corinthians 8

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thursday, August 27th: Psalms 120-122, 2 Corinthians 6 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 120-122; 2 Corinthians 6

I appreciated the Theme description of Psalm 120 in my Life Application Bible....
A prayer for deliverance from false accusers. All believers must live with the tension of being in teh world but not belonging to it.

Psalm 121 is one that I've memorized - I always love it when I come to a section I've either memorized or know very well.  Perhaps that should be an incentive to memorize more :)

This Psalm makes it clear that not only is God the all-powerful Creator, He watches over us unceasingly.  Not a moment passes by where He is not in complete control or that escapes His attention.

The Theme description of Psalm 122 in my LAB is....
Stepping into the presence of God. What Jerusalem was for the Israelites, the church is to the believer.

In the notes it adds....
Going to God's house can be a chore or a delight. For the writer, it was a delight. As a pilgrim attending one of the three great religious festivals, he rejoiced to worship with God's people in God's house. We may find worship a chore if we have unconfessed sin or if our love for God has cooled. But if we are close to God and enjoy his presence, we will be eager to worship and praise him. Our attitude toward God will determine our view of worship.

In our NT passage this hit me...
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Many people put off salvation, thinking they want to get some living in first, or that they have lots of time to make a decision.  But we don't know that.  If we delay we can miss our opportunity all together!  The right time is today.  The right time is now!

This one as well..
3 We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry
Do we, like Paul, always consider what our actions communicate about Jesus?  As believers we are representatives of Christ and non-Christians are watching us.  Are we being the ambassadors we should be?

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
This verse makes it clear that we should not lock ourselves into personal or business relationships with unbelievers as it could cause us to compromise our faith.  Clearly, this is so important specifically in the marriage relationship.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 123-125; 2 Corinthians 7

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday, August 26th: Psalm 119:89-176, 2 Corinthians 5 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalm 119:89-176; 2 Corinthians 5

The very first verses of our Psalms passage jumped out at me today....
Forever, O Lord, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day,
for all things are your servants.

What beautiful words for an amazing truth.  God's Word is so powerful it created the universe and continues to sustain it to this day.  Truly every breath we take is by His grace and power alone.

The verses immediately following as well.....
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life.

The Word of God speaks for itself and it is indeed mighty to save.

And, of course, this very well known verse 105....
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

When searching out God's will for our lives, a lot of it can be determined simply by reading His Word and allowing it to guide us.  If we have done that, we should feel free to follow where our desires are leading us - because they are grounded in His Word.  I don't think God micro manages us.  There are, of course, times where it is clear He is closing doors and opening windows, times when He does not give us peace about something even though all is biblically sound because He has something else for us, but other times we are simply to free to follow our desires - because when we are living biblically He is the One who has planted those desires within us.

The beginning portion of our NT passage hit me as well....
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
It reminded me of a great quote I read in a work of fiction recently.  In the book, a woman named Savannah asks Aidan why he considers the cottage on his property a haven and he says that it is "a haven from everything in the world that is not this". And Savannah replies "But if everything in the world were such as this, where would the longing for heaven be?"

Where would the longing for heaven be?  Indeed, living in this fallen world ensures that we long and groan for His eternal presence.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.It can sometimes be difficult for those of us who have grown up in Christian homes, and cannot even remember a time when we were not followers of Jesus, to see the difference between the old and new creation.  This is, of course, a blessing.   But if we're needing something by which to measure ourselves, to test ourselves for genuine fruit, and we cannot really compare it to our old self, there is a simple comparison to make - are we any different that society around us.  The majority of those around us are not believers.  They are that old creation.  And if we are the new creation we should be different.  If we are not, then it is time for some serious self-reflection.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 120-122; 2 Corinthians 6

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday, August 25th: Psalm 119: 1-88, 2 Corinthians 4 ~ Nathan

In the early part of the reading from Psalm 119, three verses stood out to me. They all talk about needing help to keep the Lord's word.

5. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees
10. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands
17. Be good to your servant while I live, that I may obey your word

The surrounding verses talk a lot about praising the Lord,  but the Psalmist keeps going back to asking for help to not slip away from God.

Later on in verses 67 and 71,
67. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word
71. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

We read here how the Psalmist had earlier slipped away from God,  but now felt it was a benefit that he had earlier fallen away  because he had now learnt a lesson and was back on track.

I hope for myself that I keep focused on God and not slide back. This can easily be done by skipping daily prayer time,  or getting lazy with not keeping up my Bible reading, or many other things.

In our reading from 2 Corinthians,  their is a lot said in the final couple of verses. The ones that stand out to me have to do with knowing that out bodies are dying, but our inner self is being renewed.

12. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you
16. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Sometimes when I look at the really old people (I'm not putting an age down) in church,  I feel sorry for them because they can't physically do the things they used to. They often have a sickness or worse yet have a spouse that's gone on already. But if they serve the Lord their soul is being renewed,  and they are being prepared for something far better. How much better this is, than being physically fit and without God?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday, August 24th: Psalms 116-118, 2 Corinthians 3 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan isPsalms 116-118, 2 Corinthians 3

In Psalm 116, the author indicates that God is our biggest asset available to us:
vs 1 - He hears our voice
vs 6 - He saves us from distress 

Verse 5 in Psalm 118 mentions the same idea - He hears us, He saves us.  

Who better than to put our trust in?  "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man." (vs 8)  This reminded me to place all my trust in God.  Not in myself.  Not in another person.  But in God alone.

The verse that stood out for me in our NT passage was verse 17:
17 Now the Lord[d] is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 

(It also reminded me of one of my favourite movies, Braveheart.  Where William Wallace is near death shouting out the word "freedom".)

We all want freedom.  When we were younger, we couldn't wait until we were 18 to begin experiencing some freedom.  When Pamela was in university, we couldn't wait for her freedom from days, evenings, and nights of studying.  While we're working, we look forward to freedom from that - retirement.  People take a warm getaway to experience some freedom from our nasty cold winters.  The desire for freedom is something we all experience.  When we achieve this freedom, we also find it to be short lived because it is not long after and we are looking for some other type of freedom.  

The freedom in the examples above are ones that we have control of, and we release the strings that hold us back.  True freedom, however, is found not in release from all restraint, but in submission to a new master - Jesus Christ.

Jesus delivered us from all bondage.  He set us free from sin and its guilt and punishment.  He set us free to experience the complete freedom that comes when the Spirit lives within us.  

I'm all for retiring early, but the long term complete freedom package that Christ offers is what I want to experience!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 119:1-88; 2 Corinthians 4

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday, August 23rd: Psalms 113-115, 2 Corinthians 2 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 113-115; 2 Corinthians 2

Psalm 113:3 From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!No matter our circumstances, He is worthy of our praise - all day long!

This Psalm also demonstrates God's concern for the poor and oppressed.  A person's value has nothing to do with their wealth or position in society.  How do we treat those society perceives as less than?  This reminds me again of the atrocities being revealed in the recently released Planned Parenthood videos.  The moral depravity that our nations have sunk to is heart shattering.  We must speak up and we must be His hands and feet.

Psalm 114 speaks to God's awesome power as demonstrated in creation.  It is fitting that there are thunderstorms raging while I write this.  God's power is awesome in the truest sense of the word.

How many of us can pray this verse and mean it?
Psalm 115:1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!Talk about a motive check!

2 Corinthians 2:4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

My Life Application Bible says this...
Paul did not enjoy reprimanding his friends and fellow believers, but he cared enough about the Corinthians to confront them with their wrongdoing. Proverbs 27:6 says: "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiples kisses." Sometimes our friends make choices that we know are wrong. If we ignore their behaviour and let them continue in it, we won't be showing love to them. We show love by honestly sharing our concerns in order to help these friends do and be their very best for God. When we don't make any move to help, we show that we are more concerned about being well liked than about what will happen to them. 

2 Corinthians 2: 14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.
Again, from my Life Application Bible....
In a Roman triumphal procession, the Roman general would display his treasures and captives amidst a cloud of incense burned for the gods. To the victors, the aroma was sweet; to the captives in the parade, it was the smell of slavery and death. When Christians preach the gospel, it is good news to some and repulsive news to others. Believers recognize the life-giving fragrance of the message. To nonbelievers, however, it smells foul, like death - their own.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 116-118; 2 Corinthians 3

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saturday, August 22nd: Psalms 110-112, 2 Corinthians 1 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Psalms 110-112; 2 Corinthians 1

Psalm 110:1 is one of the most quoted psalms in the NT because of it's unmistakable reference to the Messiah.  The entire psalm points to the Messiah - His final and total destruction of the wicked, His reign on earth, His priestly work on behalf of His people, and ultimately His complete and total victory over evil.

Psalm 111 praises God by extolling His goodness in everything He does and ends by declaring that the only way to become truly wise is to fear and revere God.

Psalm 112 describes more benefits to those who fear God - honor, prosperity, security, and freedom from fear.

This passage stood out to me in our 2 Corinthians passage...
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

God is compassionate and comforts us during the hard times that inevitably come in life.  Clearly, we will never know all the reasons for the hard times we experience, but this passage does give us a clue to at least one aspect of it.  God comforts us during our trials so that we can come alongside others and comfort them in theirs, and so that they can do the same.  It is a ripple effect of compassion.

Ray Pritchard says this...
Our afflictions soften our hearts so that when we have received the comfort of God it is easy for us to pass it along to someone else. O, how we need it in the church of Jesus Christ. It is so easy to be callous. It is so convenient to be unkind. It is so easy for us to look down our noses at weaker brothers and sisters who go through hard times. We say so carelessly, “Why don’t they just get tough? Why don’t they show some backbone? Why don’t they quit complaining and get on with life? Why don’t they just be strong like the rest of us?” It is so easy to be that way. The Apostle Paul is telling us that one of the reasons God lets you and me go through hard times is to break us of that attitude and to soften us up so that we will be able to minister in the name of Jesus Christ to other hurting people.

Here, then, is a mighty principle that answers many questions. Many of us have hardened places in our lives that will not become tender until we go through the fires of affliction. God lets it happen so that we might reach out to others and comfort them.

Who has God placed in your life to encourage?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 113-115; 2 Corinthians 2

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday, 21 August, Psalms 107-109; Galatians 6 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 107-109; Galatians 6

In Psalm 107 history unfolds the prevailing deeds of God's steadfast love. Because of sin, this world is chaotic and inhospitable. But in Jesus God has restored the peace we long for. Our sins are forgiven, and where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and every blessing.

In Psalm 108 we're reminded that from time to time, old defeats come back to haunt us. Perhaps a future challenge reminds us of a past failure. At times like this, we remember that God, who delivered us in the past, is with us in the present and the future.

In Psalm 109, even though falsely accused, David responds by calling for judgment and punishment. Imprecatory (cursing) psalms can be difficult to harmonize with Jesus' command to "love your enemies". However, we do not know the hearts of David's enemies. His calls for destruction are his prayers for salvation. If he is to be saved, and if they refuse to repent, then they must be defeated. He believes that his enemies have removed themselves beyond the reach of God's grace. Ultimately, all who persecute Christ and his followers and refuse to repent will experience God's judgment. As we look to God for salvation, we know His justice will prevail upon our enemies who remain in sin. He declares us justified and His dear children through Jesus.

In our reading from Galatians, Paul reminds us that members of God's family restore the erring, bear one another's burdens, support their teachers, and do good to all-especially to fellow Christians. An attitude of moral superiority closes the heart against the brother or sister in need. The Son of God "loved me and gave Himself for me" (2:20), that I may be free to serve Him and my neighbor in need. In a handwritten postscript, Paul leaves us with an interpretive lens through which to evaluate all Christian teaching and life: the message of the cross. Against all self-righteous pride in spiritual accomplishments, the cross speaks a word of judgment. Yet to those who believe, the cross is God's power to make all things new.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 110-112; 2 Corinthians 1

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday, August 20th: Psalms 105-106, Galatians 5 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 105-106; Galatians 5

Psalms 105 and 106 challenge us to remember, not only God's miracles, but also His faithfulness to us, in spite of our faithlessness.  His grace truly is amazing.  But, may we not take that grace for granted and presume upon His mercy, but rather press on towards holiness as His transforming power works within us.

I appreciated Pritchard's thoughts again...
Why do we fight so hard for the truth of the gospel? I find the answer in Galatians 5:5-6. “But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Our hope is in the Lord alone. All that we need comes from him. The righteousness we need is found in Christ. And that righteousness comes to us by virtue of his bloody death on the cross. God doesn’t care whether or not we are circumcised. The only thing that matters is true saving faith that expresses itself in a life motivated by love.

And, of course, one of the most well-known verses....
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. We are known by our fruit - does this verse describe you and me?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 107-109; Galatians 6

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday, August 19th: Psalms 103-104, Galatians 4 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 103-104; Galatians 4

Psalm 103 speaks of all God has done and continues to do for us.  There are so many verses in here that I love.
v11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

His love is infinite, and beyond our understanding.
The notion of fearing God has gone out of style, but it is a timeless truth we would do well to remember.  Every time a human had even a glimpse of God's glory, they trembled or fell down in fear.  Our sinful nature simply cannot handle the purity of His holiness.  His wrath is real - but thankfully, so is His grace!

In fact....

v12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Of course, east and west can never meet.  What an amazing symbol of God's forgiveness for us - He separates our sin from us so that He doesn't even remember it.  God not only forgives our sin, but He chooses to forget it, and declares us righteous in Christ.  What a Saviour!

Psalm 104 contains beautiful poetic language to describe God the Creator and Sustainer of all things.  Truly, even poetry cannot do justice to this amazing creative power.

Our Galatians passage tells us that in Christ we are given a new position - we are now no longer simply freed slaves, but we are heirs, true sons and daughters of God!  We are not step-children, we are adopted into His family.  And this standing is secure because it is not based on our performance, but on our standing as His children.  We are given the priviledge of coming to the throne as His children through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit - amazing.

The Galatians believed in Jesus, but they wanted to live under the law in order to please God.  Paul straightened out this error in thinking by using Sarah and Hagar as an allegory to show that you cannot have it both ways.  You are either an Isaac or an Ishmael.

Who is your mother? Hagar or Sarah? Are you born of the flesh only or are you also born of the Spirit? Do you still think there is some way you can help God out by the things you do? If you think you can somehow be good enough to merit salvation or if you think that salvation is partly what God does and partly what you do, you are a child of slavery. You are still in chains.

The Ishmaels of this world trust in themselves. The Isaacs of this world trust in God alone for salvation.

There are two streams of humanity and only two. Despite all the superficial differences of skin color, culture, language, place of birth, and so on, in God’s eyes the whole human race is divided into two groups—the Ishmaels and the Isaacs, the children of Hagar and the children of Sarah. Everyone in the world is descended spiritually from one of those two women. You are either a slave to works or you have been set free by God’s grace.

Who is your mother? Make sure you know the answer to that question.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 105-106; Galatians 5

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tuesday, August 18th: Psalms 100-102, Galatians 3 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 100-102; Galatians 3

Psalm 100:2 I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me?
In order to lead a blameless life, we need God's help.

Psalm 100:3a I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.This is a good reminder to be careful what we watch on TV, what we read, and the things on which we purposefully allow our eyes to linger.  As much as we might like to thing otherwise, what we see affects our minds and hearts.  We cannot be indifferent or even callous to the things we look at.

Psalm 102:18-22 
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:
19 that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die,
21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,
and in Jerusalem his praise,
22 when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.

V18 and 20 in particular bring the tragedy of abortion to mind.  The womb should be the safest place for a child, and yet often it is instead a prison from death row, filled with infants doomed to die, instead of born to praise God.  Due to all the undercover videos being released, this issue is gaining some attention, but it seems to be one nobody wants to hear the truth because the evil of abortion is so hauntingly obvious, and yet to see it is to be responsible to change it, and society does not want that.  But the truth is we know.  We can choose to ignore it, but we cannot say we did not know.  Are we willing to speak the truth about this volatile topic?

The main point of Paul's letter to the Galatians was to answer the question - are we saved by what we do, or are we saved by what Christ has done for us?  Clearly, the latter is the answer.  But do we live as though it is?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 103-104; Galatians 4

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday, August 17: Psalms 97-99; Galatians 2 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 97-99; Galatians 2

A few things stuck out for me today:

Psalm 97 verses 5-6 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all the peoples see his glory.

We've been road tripping to BC a few times and after growing up and living on the Prairies, the mountains seem to rise up and greet us with a majestic appearance. But even the firm standing mountains are created and can be destroyed by God. Have you ever watched a candle burn? Have you ever watched a wrapper melt in a campfire? The fire consumes it and it melts in submission. God has the consuming power of fire and even the mighty mountains are not match. One day that power will be evident in a very tangible way that no one can deny it and all the people, believers and non-believers alike, will melt in God's presence. We will be consumed by our unworthiness and God's holiness.

Psalm 98 verse 6: With trumpets and the sound of the horn
    make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

I love that this verse emphasizes "trumpet" and "horn". We are to worship God loudly and joyfully and make our praise known. It doesn't say to whisper or hum or play something that is barely audible. When you hear a trumpet or a horn it commands attention. Everyone will turn and look to where that sound is coming from. We should strive to make a joyful noise to our King in a way that attracts people to Him.

Psalm 99 verse 5-6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
    Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.
    They called to the Lord, and he answered them.
In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;
    they kept his testimonies
    and the statute that he gave them.

We are constantly reminded throughout the Bible about those who have journeyed before us. This allows us to reflect on what they've done, both in obedience and disobedience, and how God has been with them through all circumstances. I know that I don't often share with my children about my past walk with God and how it has shaped me. When we look back, reflect, and share what we have learned it makes it easier to see God's hand in situations over the long term.

From the NT:

Galatians 2:14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew,live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
It's hard to call someone out. It's so much easier just to raise your eyebrows and shake your head (or your finger) than it is to confront someone about something. Even worse, it is so easy to gossip and think about how much better we are than someone who would do that.

The reality is that we are all sinners. Sin separates us from God--whatever that sin may be. We need to stop judging people for sinning differently than we do. If we see a fellow believer straying from biblical truths we should, with love, challenge them and their choices. It won't be easy but we should desire to guide wrong back to right. The world is watching...and waiting for us to fail...and we will. Often and repeatedly. When we set an example of sinfulness we are not being the ambassadors for Christ that we need to be. When our conduct is not in step with the truth of the gospel it has dire consequences. May we acknowledge our sins and be accepting when our wrongs are brought to our attention and may we have the desire to change.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 100-102; Galatians 3

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday, August 16th: Psalms 94-96, Galatians 2 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 94-96; Galatians 1

Psalm 94 reminds us both that God will keep His people from the severe judgment awaiting the wicked, and that the wicked will not prevail because God is holy and just.

Psalm 95 in an invitation to worship God.  Recognize a few praise songs in these verses!

Psalm 96 describes different ways to praise God - singing, witnessing, worshiping, giving Him the glory, bringing Him offerings, and living holy lives.  Praising God isn't just about singing along in worship at church - it's also about spreading the Good News and making sure our walk matched our talk.

Ray Pritchard had some great thoughts about our Galatians passage....
1. Even well-taught Christians may unwittingly follow false doctrine.

Let everyone who reads these words take heed. You may be deceived even though you are well taught and well grounded. Take nothing for granted. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light for that very purpose. And be on guard for your friends and for those new believers around you. If Paul’s converts could be seduced, the same thing could certainly happen to those folks you lead to Christ.

2. Standing for the truth demands that we expose error when great issues are at stake.

Pay special attention to the phrase “great issues.” Not every issue is a great issue. I think there is room for disagreement on the timing of the rapture or the proper mode of baptism. Certainly we can have fellowship with believers from many different backgrounds and denominations. And whether or not you use Power Point to put the words to the hymns on a big screen, that’s not a “great issue.” It’s not even a biblical issue. It is purely a matter of personal preference. Ditto for a thousand things we like to argue about. But there are some “great issues” that go the heart of our Christian faith. And none is more fundamental than the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. When that doctrine is denied or challenged or when it is watered down, it’s time to march. To arms! To arms! Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war. This is a hill worth fighting for and dying on, if necessary. Paul certainly felt that way, and so should we. I don’t believe in splitting churches, but here is a reason to split a church. Or to leave a church. If the church isn’t straight on the gospel, whatever else they are straight on doesn’t really matter.
3. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is telling the truth.

This is an obvious truth that perhaps needs to be repeated in our day. Jesus warned about people who work miracles and claim to be his followers, but in the Day of Judgment he will declare, “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you” (see Matthew 7:21-23). Lest we take that too lightly, ponder the thought that those words might one day be directed at you personally. Make your own calling and election sure. Before you point the finger, make sure you are not among those who claim to be something they are not.

4. God still pronounces a curse on anyone who adds anything to the simplicity of the gospel of free grace in Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 97-99; Galatians 2

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday, August 15th: Psalms 91-93, 1 Peter 5 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 91-93; 1 Peter 5

I love the use of metaphors in Psalm 91 to describe God.  He is our shelter, He is our refuge, He is our fortress.  Truly, He is sovereign and filters everything through His hands.  He alone is worthy of our trust.

v11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.Though scripture never indicates that one guardian angel is assigned to each believer, this verse makes it clear that one of the functions of angels is to watch over believers.

Psalm 92 reminds us to be thankful and faithful every day.

Psalm 93 describes God's unchanging and almighty nature, using creation to describe His great power - and what a great example that is!

In our 1 Peter passage we see the importance of having the right kind of leaders and a reminder that we need to follow those leaders.  We also need to practice humility and release anxiety, showing trust in God.  We always need to be alert for the enemy, and trust God for our stability.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 94-96; Galatians 1

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday, 14 August: Psalms 89-90; 1 Peter 4 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 89-90; 1 Peter 4

Psalm 88 is a personal psalm, prayed by someone whose suffering sounds a lot like Christ's own suffering. Lamenting the troubles that God has visited upon him, the psalmist clings to the hope that God shall yet save him. This psalm evokes feelings of sadness and abandonment. The psalmist is so overcome by troubles that he wonders if God will hear him. Surely the loneliness spoken here has been felt by many suffering Christians. Yet even in sorrow and suffering, God inclines His ear toward His people, always ready to hear and answer us according to His mercy.

Psalm 89 speaks of the rise and fall of David's kingdom, suggesting a date during the time of the kings. Because David's sons, the kings of Judah, did not remain faithful to God, God has visited judgment upon His people. Lamenting this harsh treatment, the psalmist calls upon God to relent and to restore His people once again. It speaks primarily of David, who enjoyed God's faithfulness and promises. Even when David sinned and felt the weight of God's Law, he still relied completely upon God. "How long, O Lord? (v.46) easily comes to the lips of all who, because of their sins, have suffered under the weight of God's Law. God's steadfast love of old and His faithfulness are shown most clearly in Christ, whose death and resurrection provide the remedy for all troubles.

Psalm 90 does not name any specific event or crisis, so this psalm is suited for any time of lament, when the frailty of life stands in stark contrast to God's eternal strength. Compare the barrenness of fall and winter with the new life and promises of spring. Our lives in times of crisis or trouble and the promise of Christ's resurrection.

In our reading from 1 Peter, we're reminded that Christ suffered in the flesh and became sin in our stead. He now calls us to live the new life He has given us as stewards of His gifts. Everything we have, even our lives, are used to benefit the Church and our neighbor. Through our words and actions we bring Christ to a world that is dead in sin so that some may come alive in Christ, even as we have been made alive. God permits suffering in our lives for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it comes as a direct result of our own sin in order to discipline us. Other times it is an effect of being God's child in a world that wants to crush His Church. Although we do not know God's hidden will, we trust He has only the best in mind for us. He will strengthen, uphold, and bless us in the midst of persecution. He will use any afflictions we face for our good or for blessing others. With our eyes on the cross, we can endure. Our God will preserve us, and He has prepared an eternal home for us in heaven for the sake of Christ.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 91-93; 1 Peter 5

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thursday, August 13th: Psalms 87-88, 1 Peter 3 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 87-88; 1 Peter 3

Psalm 88 shows us that there are times that believers feel far from God, or even abandoned by God.  Though it is true that we may face affliction so severe that we may feel abandoned by Him, we never are.  He has promised to always be with us.  When we feel abandoned it may be because of our sin, because of our turning away from Him.  Or it may simply be because of the fickleness and unreliability of our feelings.  Feeling something does not make it true.  Our hearts are wicked, and even we, believers with redeemed hearts, have to fight against our sinful nature.  But this Psalm also directs to pour out our lamentation to God - He is our comfort, He is our peace, He is Truth.

There is, once again, so much going on in our 1 Peter passage.  A couple of passages jumped out at me.

v15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,We need to know what we believe (one of the reasons we're doing this blog), and we need to be ready to explain it to those around us, in love.  This does not mean we won't offend people, because the truth often offends.  But it does mean we need to speak with the right motives and attitude.

The surrounding text makes it clear that we may be persecuted for our faith, but that if we are, we are blessed; that we should not fear because Christ has conquered death; that we should be prepared to defend our belief in Jesus; and that we should live with such integrity that people need to tell lies about us in order to slander us.

V18-22 is a rather confusing passage but I found Ray Pritchard's sermon on it to be very enlightening.  As a very brief explanation...
I believe that Jesus, either between his death and resurrection or after his resurrection, proclaimed his victory to those demon spirits that rebelled so greatly against the Lord in Noah’s day.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 89-90; 1 Peter 4

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday, August 12th: Psalms 84-86, 1 Peter 2 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 84-86; 1 Peter 2

I love Psalm 84.  It expresses so beautiful our longing for heaven and the presence of God.

I love how John Schultz put it....
It is love that makes a place lovely. It is the presence of God, which gives loveliness to a place.

He also points out that the term used here is for the Lord of hosts, an army.

God is the supreme commander of the greatest army in heaven and earth...To call upon God as our supreme commander also implies that we are part of His army, that we are on His side, and that we owe Him absolute obedience. We know that cause for which we stand. The man who sees himself in this position is blessed. The word “blessed” is also used three times in this Psalm. 

ß Blessed are those who dwell in your house. 
ß Blessed are those whose strength is in you. 
ß LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you. 

If we see these three sentences in connection with God’s army, we may say that, dwelling in God’s house is tantamount to belonging to His battalion; having our strength in Him is equivalent to wearing His uniform, and trusting in Him means that we count, not because of what we are in ourselves, but because of our relationship with God’s army. In New Testament terms this means that we have taken up our position in Jesus Christ. 

1 Peter 2 covers so much, but this verse stood out to me...
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
We are new creatures, we were bought with a price, we are not our own - and we should be very different from those around us.  Are we?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Psalms 87-88; 1 Peter 3

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tuesday, August 11th: Psalm 81-83, 1 Peter 1 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 81-83, 1 Peter 1

The Psalmist starts off in chapter 81 talking about how God wants Isreal to depend Him only. It says in verses 8-10:
"(8)Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel! [9] You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. [10]  I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."
God is almost pleading with the Israelites to follow Him, and He wants the same from us. Why wouldn't we grab that gift?

Later in chapter 83:1 we see the opposite, we see how the Psalmist begs to hear from God,
"O God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God."
God doesn't necessarily answer us when we want. This may feel like He's ignoring us,  but He isn't, as we read earlier He shows how He wants us to live for Him.  He is in charge and will answer when it's best.

In our reading out of 1 Peter we read right away how this letter from Peter is to all the Jews scattered throughout different lands. Peter goes on to remind the Jews that they are God's chosen people and God wants them to be made clean by the sacrifice of Jesus.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 84-86; 1 Peter 2