Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday, November 30th: 2 Chronicles 23-24; Luke 9:18-36 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: 2 Chronicles 23-24; Luke 9:18-36

Who's a good boy?  Well in our OT passage we read about one who started off good, but didn't finish so well.  It happens in the sports world where a promising young prospect is drafted to a team, but never suits up with their jersey.  In golf, we saw the quick rise of Tiger Woods to the point where his competition viewed him as unstoppable, to the quick collapse when he was caught in his personal life making bad choices.  Unfortunately, this pattern is not limited to the sports world as it happens to people spiritually too.  I'm sure we have all seen it, and we always ask ourselves the same question....."why?".

King Joash was a boy with huge potential.  God had a plan for Joash's safety as he was rescued from his grandmother Athaliah and was also raised secretly in the temple precincts by godly people - his uncle Jehoiada and aunt Jehoshabeath.  At the young age of seven, he was anointed as king.  #nbd  This left his whole lifetime to serve the Lord and to lead His people.  He began to lead the people by restoring the temple which had been desecrated and had fallen into ruin under Athaliah.  Joash organized the funding, and saw to it that the work would be completed, and that it would be restored as quick as possible.  Things went well as long as Jehoiada had lived. 

    Unfortunately after Jehoiada died, the leaders of Judah tempted Joash and he listened to them.  Things went from bad to worse as they abandoned the house of the Lord and fell into the trap of idolatry (24:18).

The downward spiral did not stop there.  Joash resisted the attempts of the prophets to call him back to the Lord (24:19).

Then when Joash is confronted by Zechariah, Jehoiada's son - his own cousin, he kills him. 

Joash does not "get away" without consequence in his disobedience to God:Joash abandoned God - God abandoned Joash in the invading army. 

A few points that we can take out of the story of Joash: Joash was blessed with a spiritual privilege - so are we;Joash demonstrated early spiritual zeal - so should we;Joash faced spiritual testing - so will we;Joash was given the opportunity to repent - so do we;Joash reaped the consequences of his rebellion again God - so will we if we do not repent.

In our NT passage, verse 23 which is well known stood out to me - If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

We can't pick and choose which days work for us to follow God.  It's daily.  We can't choose to lead or take charge.  We follow.  We're not in the driver's seat.  We're the passenger.  

It's like a race.  It's not about how you start, it's how you finish!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Chronicles 25-27; Luke 9:37-62

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday, November 29th: 2 Chronicles 21-22, Luke 9:1-17 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 21-22; Luke 9:1-17

2 Chronicles 21:5-6 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.
Jehoram picked the wrong wife.  He was likely already headed down the wrong path, but picking the daughter of Ahab to be his wife sealed the direction his life was taking.

Choosing who to marry is, aside from becoming a Christian, the single most important decision a person can make.  That being said, so many people, Christians included, become very stressed out with meeting "the one", and make it much more complicated than it needs to be.  God is sovereign and knows who we will marry, and He definitely can and does bring people into our lives for a purpose, but He also has given us great freedom when it comes to the responsibility of choosing a spouse.

A good marriage is formed when two people who are both committed to being followers of Jesus, who share the same convictions when it comes to core doctrinal matters as well as family, finances, and calling; choose to love each other and commit to adjusting to each other's differences, relying on the power of God to each give 100% to each other.  It may not always be easy, but it is really simple.  A lot of Christians have fallen for the Hollywood version of romance more than we think we have.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Chronicles 23-24; Luke 9:18-36

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saturday, November 28th: 2 Chronicles 19-20, Luke 8:26-56 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 19-20; Luke 8:26-56

In our OT passage we read King Jehoshaphat declare God's strength, and Judah's own powerlessness. We then see God act in such a way that only He would get the glory for the victory.  Judah did nothing, God did everything.

In our NT passage we see the same thing.  The demon-possessed man, powerless to save himself, is delivered from the demons by the power of Jesus.  The woman, powerless to heal herself, is healed instantly by the power of Jesus.

War, demons, and sickness - all powerless in the face of Jesus' mighty power.

But nothing demonstrates this fact more than our salvation.  We are unable to save ourselves.  We are dead in our sins.  Without Jesus, we are doomed for eternity.  But through the power of Jesus, who is mighty to save, we claim victory over sin and death.  To Him be the glory, forever and ever, amen.


Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Chronicles 21-22; Luke 9:1-17

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday, November 27th: 2 Chronicles 17-18; Luke 8:1-25

Today's paasage: 2 Chronicles 17-18; Luke 8:1-25

In our NT parable about the seed being sown it's important to note that though we are responsible to sow the seed,  we are not responsible for the ground it falls on or whether or not it takes root.  Emphasizing the reverse,  though we are not responsible for the soil or whether or not the seed takes root,  we are responsible to sow the seed of the Word of God.

The miracle of the calming of the storm hit me as well.  So often we're so used to reading about all the miracles that we hardly even notice them. But putting myself in their position,  in the midst of the raging storm - and suddenly,  at the word of Jesus,  the calm is immediate.  That would have been amazing,  and probably a bit frightening!   What a powerful God we serve!

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Chronicles 19-20; Luke 8:26-56

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thursday, November 26th: 2 Chronicles 15-16, Luke 7:31-50 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 15-16; Luke 7:31-50

Our passage in 2 Chronicles reminded me of the importance of consistency in the Christian life, and faithfully continuing to pursue holiness day after day, year after year.

King Asa had wholeheartedly committed himself and his people to following God.  But he forgot God's faithfulness in battle, and relied on pagan nations instead of on God alone.

It is so tempting to make human resourcefulness our go to, and yet God should always be our go to in every situation.

In our NT passage we see the beauty of understanding God's grace and forgiveness in light of His glory, His hatred of sin, and the wrath we deserve.  When we truly understand grace, our response to God will be an outpouring of gratitude.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Chronicles 17-18; Luke 8:1-25

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday, November 26th: 2 Chronicles 13-14, Luke 7:1-30 ~ Nathan

In our readings from 2 Chronicles 13 and 14 we read about a father and son leaders who lead Judah,  with the help of God,  against armies that were almost twice their size, and got victory.

The first battle in chapter 13 had Judah's king Abijah against Israel's king Jeroboam.  Isreal had approx 800,000 men and Judah had approx 400,000 men. King Abijah stood up and warned Isreal that even though they had more men,  Judah followed the Lord and would therefore defeat Isreal. Isreal even tried a sneak attack and then got beaten soundly by the smaller Judah,  who relied on God.

In chapter 14 we read about Abijah's son king Asa,  who faced Zerah the leader of Ethiopia, who had a million men. Asa had just under 600,000 men but again found victory because he relied on God. 

Both these battles were larger than any single battle fought in both World War one and two. The amount of soldiers involved and the amount of weapons and supplies used would have been unreal to comprehend. The odds of Judah winning both of these battles would have been small. Yet God gave victory to the one who trusted in Him. Do we faithfully keep trusting in God when the odds are against us or something we're trying to accomplish for Him?

Again in out New Testament reading we see again how God does things that seem impossible. First Jesus heals a Centurion's servant who was close to death,  then He raises a man from the dead who was a widow's son.

God can do anything,  I need to have more faith and not give up on people.  There's people in my life that seem forever lost,  to me it seems hopeless,  I need to keep praying for these people and trust and believe that God can do a miracle in these lives too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday, November 24th: 2 Chronicles 10-12, Luke 6:27-49 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 10-12; Luke 6:27-49

In our NT passage we see that, as believers, our lives need to be different than the lives of the non-believers around us.

Robert Rayburn says....

Christians’ behavior, in other words, is to be different than even the best behavior of unbelievers because they have a very different reason for their behavior. Unbelievers can certainly do good things, but there is definitely a limit to what they will do and there is almost always a principle of self-interest at work. Christians have completely different motivations which lend a completely different character to their obedience. In fact, the ancient moralists almost always recommended the principle in this way: “Do good to others so they will do good to you.” Christians, on the other hand, are to seek to please a merciful God.... If we would be the true children of our heavenly Father we should have the same spirit toward our enemies as he does toward his and, of course, we were once his enemies....
The problem we face is that Christianity has been around for a long time now and only some of those who call themselves Christians take seriously the Lord’s summons to his disciples that they must live a life different from and higher than even that of the most moral of unbelievers. Our faith and the reputation of our religion have been profoundly compromised in the so-called Christian world. We are no longer and so obviously a .... unique people. But some of us must be. Some of us must keep alive that reputation in the world. Some of us must persuade the unbelieving world that there really is such a community as Jesus Christ has described here. There is very little that we can do about the fact that so many insincere Christians dilute our testimony in the world, but there is nothing this world needs more than that there should be a mass of Christian people who vindicate in their lives the description of true Christianity that our Savior has given here

I don’t suppose a one of us really has any difficulty understanding what the Lord Jesus is teaching us here, no matter that nearly 2,000 years separates his time from our own. When a store clerk is rude, the Lord expects us to be patient and kind in return. When we are criticized, even when we are criticized in ways we think unjust, we are to respond humbly, ready to take any responsibility that is ours and to reply with courtesy and respect. When people make demands upon us that are really unfair, we ought to meet them cheerfully, even sacrificially. Our loving treatment of others is vastly more important than any injustice done to us. If, as is happening in Iran and elsewhere today, we are condemned to death for our faith in Christ, we are to love and pray for our enemies to the end as our Savior did, as Stephen did and as countless martyrs have done after them. In all things we ought to govern our conduct by the principle of mercy, and not just any principle of mercy. No, the mercy, the kindness, the generosity, the patience toward others that is to mark our behavior... is that mercy that our heavenly Father and our Savior showed us in saving us from our sins, in overlooking our disgusting faults, and in paying the terrible price he paid to remove our mountainous guilt when he knew full well he was going to get virtually nothing in return.

That is the kind of mercy to which we are to aspire in our conduct toward others.... We return blessing to those who curse us because we cursed God and he blessed us in return. We give to those who beg from us because we were nothing but beggars and the Lord lavished his gifts on us.

It isn’t only that we ought to behave this way toward others and toward our enemies, Christians want to do this; no, that isn’t even strong enough. They revel in doing it! Or, they should.

You see, this way of life, this radical, extravagantly selfless way of life, is the way of life a Christian wants to live precisely because of the impression the Lord’s love and mercy has made upon his or her soul. A person cannot really appreciate God’s great mercy, cannot feelingly understand what God’s grace has done in his or her life sinful and selfish life and not want that grace to be embodied in his or her behavior toward others. A Christian cannot really love God without wanting to please him. But how can mere mortals like you and me please God? We can take his heart and make it our own. We can honor his love – selfless, radical, sacrificial – by making it our own. We should; we must.... To do anything less is to belittle that love with which he loved us. If you don’t aspire to God’s kind of love then it must not have impressed you very much.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday, November 23: 2 Chronicles 7-9; Luke 6:1-26 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 7-9; Luke 6:1-26

The thing that stood out for me from today's passage was the whole grand idea of unbelievable-ness. The things talked about in these verses almost seem too unbelievable to be true:

 King Solomon offered as a sacrifice 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep.

22,ooo oxen?!

120,000 sheep??!!

I can hardly wrap my head around the unbelievable amount of animals and the logistics involved in the sacrifice of them.

Then the verses go on to describe Solomon's accomplishments and his visit from the Queen of Sheba and the gifts she leaves him. The Bible says that these had never been seen before. Unbelievable. 

Solomon's wealth is described in detail:
* in one year was 666 talents of gold
* he made 200 large shields of beaten gold;
* 600 shekels[i] of beaten gold went into each shield 
*he made 300 shields of beaten gold; 
*300 shekels of gold went into each shield;  
* a great ivory throne and overlaid it with pure gold. 
*The throne had six steps and a footstool of gold  
*All King Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold
* all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. 
* King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. 
 *4,000 stalls for horses and chariots, 
*12,000 horsemen,
*And the king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stone
* he made cedar as plentiful as the sycamore of the Shephelah.

Unbelievable. It's hard to even fathom Solomon's riches. It just seems exaggerated it seems too far-fetched and too big. It seemed too unbelievable to be true.

The NT passage has a similar theme. When Jesus heals the withered hand after he has forgiven his sins. Unbelievable. When Jesus chooses the apostles...ordinary men who literally left everything behind to follow Him. Unbelievable. All of the healing miracles that Jesus performed on the masses. Unbelievable. 

The Beatitudes paint the most unbelievable picture of mixed-upness. Blessed are the poor, the hungry, the ones who cry, the ones who are hated...but woe to the ones who are rich, who are well fed, who laugh, and have lots of friends. Say what? It's hard to imagine...

But God is the god of the unbelievable. Just when things seems so unbelievable and impossible, God works.

Yesterday, a man in our church was baptized. He had only been in Canada for a few days when sometime unbelievable happened. God had been tugging on his heart in his homeland before he came to Canada but this man never really wanted to acknowledge Him. It was right after he arrived here that he was in Walmart when someone from our church felt led to reach out to him and they obeyed. Their interaction with him led him to finally accept Christ as his Saviour and stand up to boldly proclaim his faith. God used the meeting of two strangers at Walmart to add another member to his family.  Unbelievable.

God makes the unbelievable...believable. He makes the impossible....possible. What a great God we serve.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Chronicles 10-12; Luke 6:27-49

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday, November 22nd: 2 Chronicles 4-6; Luke 5:17-39

Today's passage: 2 Chronicles 4-6; Luke 5:17-39

One thing I thought of during today's reading was how bitter sweet this passage must have been for the Jews when this was written,  as it also for us,  in a lesser way.  Chronicles was written to the Jews returning from Babylonian exile,  a few of which were still alive and had seen this beautiful temple that was being described,  but that now lay in ruins around them. 

They knew that they would prove so unfaithful that God would use the Babylonians to judge His people,  and destroy the very temple described in this passage.  How their tears must have fell as they listened to beautiful description after beautiful description,  and to how God's glory filled the temple. 

Sin is serious and it has serious,  sometimes devastating, consequences. 

And yet,  in His great mercy,  God always offers us a way back,  an opportunity to be reconciled with the One Holy God.  May we take the opportunity He gives,  and may we not waste it!

We need to do what the Pharisees could not,  and acknowledge our desperate need for a spiritual physician.

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Chronicles 7-9; Luke 6:1-26

Saturday, November 21st: 2 Chronicles 1-3; Luke 5:1-16

Today's passage: 2 Chronicles 1-3; Luke 5:1-16

People often seem to treat God like a genie in a bottle - only talking to Him when they have a  request,  and becoming upset or confused when He doesn't answer their requests with a "yes" immediately.  But God is not a genie in a bottle and it doesn't work that way.

At least,  not usually.  In today's passage God gives Solomon that opportunity and asks him what he would like God to do for him. 

Can you imagine? Being asked such a question by the sovereign,  all-powerful God?!

What would we have asked for?

Solomon shows that he already has a great deal of wisdom when he makes wisdom his request.  What maturity and depth of character it took for him to make a request that would benefit not just himself,  but the entire kingdom.

So God not only answers Solomon's request but also grants him all the things he did not ask for,  including riches beyond imagining. 

God still operates that way,  in one extent.  When we put others ahead of ourselves,  when we make selfless requests,  when we demonstrate faithfulness,  He rewards us.  Not always in this life (though sometimes,  as in Solomon's case,  He does),  and certainly not always materially. But with spiritual blessings now and eternal blessings to come. 

And,  maybe the best news on all,  even when we prove ourselves unfaithful,  His faithfulness to us remains.  Amazing grace!

In our NT passage we see Jesus proving His divinity through miracles.  What I always love about Jesus is that His miracles were not simply random,  but we also acts of compassion - providing for people,  healing people,  loving people.  THAT is the God we serve.

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Chronicles 4-6; Luke 5:17-39

Friday, November 20th: 1 Chronicles 28-29; Luke 4:31-44

Today's passage: 1 Chronicles 28-29; Luke 4:31-44

In today's passage King David publicly humbled himself in front of the nation by admitting that,  even though he wanted to build the temple, God had not permitted him to do so and had given the honor to his son instead.  And then he prayed a beautiful prayer completely focused on God - His sovereignty,  His power,  His glory,  His strength,  His abundance.  David acknowledged that,  even though the people had willingly given God gifts for the building of the temple,  everything was truly God's Himself to begin with.

Do we pray that way? Do we spend more time praising God or making requests of Him? God loves to hear the requests of His people,  but they should not be the sole focus of our prayers all the time. Do we give our material possessions,  time,  and money to God,  willingly,  acknowledging that they were always His to begin with?

Challenging questions!

In our NT passage it hits me how slow people were to recognize Jesus for Who He was,  while the demons recognized Him instantly.  Truly we need God to open our eyes in order to see spiritually.

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Chronicles 1-3; Luke 5:1-16

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thursday, November 19th: 1 Chronicles 25-27, Luke 4:1-30 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 25-27; Luke 4:1-30

Our OT passage today was a reminder to me of how the body of Christ is supposed to be unified, with each having a different role to play.  There were numerous roles for the Israelites - everything from prophesying to playing instruments to being a gatekeeper to taking care of the furniture to maintaining food supplies.  Every job and every role is important.  Are we willing to serve where God has placed us?  And are we willing to use the skills and talents He's blessed us with in service to Him for glory instead of our own?

Our NT passage reminded me of the importance of not taking scripture out of context and twisting it to mean whatever suits our purpose.  Satan knew scripture, but he twisted it and misinterpreted it in an attempt to get Jesus to sin.  Obviously, Jesus knew scripture better than Satan and saw right through it.  Do we know scripture well enough to recognize when Satan is twisting it in order to convince us to do something we know is wrong?  Do we know it enough to recognize false teaching when we hear it?  Definitely one of the reasons we're doing this blog!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 28-29; Luke 4:31-44

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday, November 18th: 1 Chronicles 22-24, Luke 3 ~ Nathan

In 1 Chronicles 22 we read about how King David prepares his son Solomon to be the next king over Israel.  He also instructs Solomon to build the temple,  which David was told by God not to build because he had shed too much blood in past battles.

22:8 "But this word of the Lord came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight."

David wanted to build the temple but God told him it was not for him to do, and David seemed satisfied with this. King David had accomplished a lot with God's help,  and now it was time to pass the torch so to speak. Throughout this chapter we read how David encourages his son to keep the law of the Lord,  and that Solomon will prosper if he follows the statues and rules God gave Moses.

Are we satisfied if others,  and not ourselves,  get to do things that bring honor to God?  Are we willing to be a background player while others get a more honourable position that gives them glory? King David was not a background player,  he had lived a great life,  but this was one thing he wanted to do that God said "no" to.

David also had the means to build the temple and helped prepare Solomon for this job by supplying materials, but he stopped there, because God told him to. Are we this obedient to God? 

In our reading from Luke 3, we read about John and how similar his story is to the leaders of the early church. John talked about needing to change our attitudes and actions, and living for God by loving others. He was thrown in jail for it,  just like many in the early church. This is a reminder again to me of the price we need to be willing to pay if we follow Jesus. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday, November 17th: 1 Chronicles 19-21, Luke 2:25-52 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 19-21; Luke 2:25-52

Our OT passage starts off with Hanum, king of the Ammonites, listening to extremely foolish advice, and embarrassing the ambassadors of King David instead of receiving David's message of consolation at the death of Hanum's father.  What part of this plan sounded like a good idea?!  Humiliate an adversary so you end up provoking him to war?

It seems ludicrous and oh so obvious.  But how often do we do the same?  We listen to foolish advice, because it's easier or because it's what we want to hear or because it strokes our ego.  We need to be careful who we surround ourselves with, and to whom we go to for advice.  And no matter how responsible or full of integrity they are, we still need to measure their advice against the commandments and principles of the Bible.

In our NT passage, I love the stories of Simeon and Anna - old and steadfastly faithful believers whom God chose to bless by allowing them to see the Messiah with their own eyes, and for them to know that the baby they were ministering to was the Christ.  What an amazing experience this must have been for them.  What a wonderful way to say, already in this present world "well done, good and faithful servants!"

We know that we will be rewarded in heaven someday and that we will experiences untold and unimaginable blessings that will make any hardship suffered on earth pale in comparison.  But sometimes, maybe even oftentimes, God chooses to bless us on earth as well.  Do we notice the blessings God gives us or do we take them for granted?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 22-24; Luke 3

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday, November 16th: 1 Chronicles 16-18, Luke 2:1-24 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 16-18, Luke 2:1-24

That day David first committed to Asaph and his associates this psalm of thanks to the Lord:"  1 Chronicles 16:7

David continues into a psalm of thanks to the Lord in the next verses, but what I thought that was worth mentioning is that thanksgiving to God is closely related to giving praise or glory to God.  The Old Testament ceremonial laws included a special thank offering to the Lord.  Even Paul, when writing his letters, would often begin his paragraph with some thanksgiving to God.  I believe that this element is also important in our prayer life too.  We give thanks to God for His goodness and love, His just character, the new life He offers us, how He provides for us, how He cares for us, the guidance that He bestows upon us, and the list goes on and on!  To sum it up, we ought to be thankful to God in ALL circumstances.

In his psalm of thanks, David says in verses 23-24 that we should:

sing to the Lord, proclaim His salvation (vs 23)
declare His glory, tell of His marvellous deeds (vs 24)

David knew that he had done some pretty great things, but more importantly, he knew that it was God who gave him his victories.  It would have been easy for David to take the credit for all he accomplished, but he was humble, and recognized that he could not accomplish what he was doing without God's assistance.  A good reminder for me in my life…..

In verses 10-14 of chapter 17, we read of God's promise to David in that the house and kingdom of David will stand forever.  This promise was fulfilled when Jesus came into the world to establish the throne of his father David.  He is now the King of kings and Lord of lords, and in control of everything and rules the entire world!

The Lord continued to give victory to David everywhere he went, and David continued to give back to the Lord.  In verse 11 of chapter 18 we read that David dedicated the articles of gold, silver, and bronze to the Lord that were brought to him from the nations he conquered.  He knew that God would continue to provide for him, and David gave back to the Lord all that he gained.  

Our NT reading in Luke is a VERY familiar one to me (and Nathan) as we had helped our Sunday School boys over the years memorize this chapter up to verse 20.  What I wondered while reading this passage, is what did the shepherds think the Saviour was actually saving them from?  Did they really know?  People may look for a saviour from a sickness, or from a physical hardship, or maybe in the form a new political leader in hopes of things to become better.  But did they know and fully understand that the announcement was for a saviour that would deliver them from sin and death?

The shepherds were obviously interested in this news, as they hurried off to confirm this, and found exactly what the angels had revealed to them.  Seeing was believing.

We already know about the news of this Saviour.  But are we as excited to meet Him as the shepherds were that day?  Will we stop everything we are doing to meet Him?  Or maybe the better question is, are we making changes in our lives so that others will see the Saviour in us?

With news this good, I pray that I would be more like the angels and want to let others know of our Saviour.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 19-21; Luke 2:25-52

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday, November 15th: 1 Chronicles 13-15, Luke 1:57-80 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 13-15; Luke 1:57-80

David learned a harsh lesson about obedience to God through the death of Uzzah.  We go into dangerous territory when we worship without considering God's instructions.  We cannot do whatever we want.  As much as God wants relationship with us, He is also to be feared.  Disobedience never brings glory to God, no matter the motive.

David brought this lesson onto the battlefield as well.  How often do we wait until after we've already made decisions and consequences are unfolding before we ask God for help?  We should not treat Him as our last resort, but should go to Him first, like David did.

We also see David making other mistakes that would have long term consequences.  Growing a large harem of wives and concubines was the norm for the surrounding culture of the times, but it went against God's plan for marriage.  Those marriages may have brought David power and influence, but they also caused jealousy, discord, and even murder within his family.  We cannot just give in to society's worldview.  So often the biblical worldview is completely counter-cultural, and we need to be willing to stand out by going against the tide of popular opinion in order to be obedient.

In our NT, I love that Zechariah's first words, after months of God-enforced silence, were words of obedience (naming his son John) followed by words of praise.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 16-18; Luke 2:1-24

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday, November 14th: 1 Chronicles 10-12, Luke 1:39-56 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 10-12; Luke 1:39-56

The valiant warriors who buried King Saul and his sons remind us that we need to be respectful of the authority figures God has put into our lives.  David also demonstrated this even when he new he would be the next king.  He knew it was up to God, not him, to decide when Saul's reign would end. God is sovereign and has raised up leaders for a purpose.  Even those who are evil are to be respected for their position, but we are not to follow their example or allow them to lead us into sin.

The life of David is an excellent reminder that God's promises are worth waiting for.  He had to wait years after his anointing to become king, and even then he had to wait another 7 1/2 yrs to become king over all Israel.  We are often eager to rush God's timing, but we need to rest in the fact that God's timing is best.

Our Luke passage made me wonder if Mary was around for the birth of John.  Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy when the angel came to Mary with the revelation that she would bear the Messiah, and then Mary went to visit her (the travel must have taken some amount of time) and stayed for 3 months.  The timing is right, but the text does not say.

I love that John, as a baby in the womb, leaped for joy when his spirit recognized the spirit of Jesus in Mary's womb.  The fact that he leaped for joy, and that the baby within Mary was recognizable as the Messiah when she must have been in the very early stages of pregnancy, both testify to the value of the unborn.  The progression of science and ultrasound technology has made it much more difficult to discount this truth, yet society continues to be resistant to change in this area.  All life is valuable because we are image bearers of God.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 13-15; Luke 1:57-80

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday, November 13th: 1 Chronicles 7-9, Luke 1:21-38 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 7-9, Luke 1:21-38

1 Chronicles 9: 2 Now the first to dwell again in their possessions in their cities were Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the temple servants.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but this verse stood out to me and highlights the fact that our spiritual health is the most important foundation upon which to build our lives.  If we don't start right, there is nothing to build on.

Luke 1: 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.
Truly we serve a God who can do the seemingly impossible - including resurrecting not only phyiscal bodies but regenerating our hearts.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 10-12; Luke 1:39-56

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thursday, November 12th: 1 Chronicles 4-6, Luke 1:1-20 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 4-6; Luke 1:1-20

In the midst of all the names of 1 Chronicles we come upon 4:9-10....
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”[b] 10 Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm[c] so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
Of course, this brings to mind the bestseller The Prayer of Jabez, written by Bruce Wilkinson.  This book also happens to make a Top 10 List - of books Christians would be better off NOT reading. Quite frankly, I'm naturally suspect of any book marketed as a Christian book, that makes the secular best sellers list.  Books that are doctrinally sound do not tend to tickle the ears of our fickle and self-centered society.

Granted, the book had some good points (but again, as we've seen in our discussions of false teachers recently, the "best" false teaching has a fair bit of truth sprinkled in, the better to deceive you with).  It encourages prayer, it even encourages praying with a focus on ministry instead of our personal lives.  But it also treats God as a genie whom we can manipulate by praying a certain way, and that God's power is limited by our prayers - none of which is biblical. It takes one verse out of context, from a passage that is not a passage on prayer, and turns it into a prayer formula to get what we want from God, and it falls pretty much into the prosperity gospel camp.

What DO we know about the prayer of Jabez?

Ray Stedman has an excellent sermon about it.  We know that Jabez was born to a family with dishonorable sons, to a mother who endured sorrow in her life, and without a father being mentioned.  This father possibly lost their property in a shameful way, necessitating Jabez's prayer.  Somehow Jabez had been taught (possibly by his mother, though that is inferred) about God and that He answers prayer.  And so Jabez prayed, and God granted what he asked.  Does this mean God will always grant all our prayers?  No.  What it does mean is that what Jabez prayed for was in line with God's will for him and so God answered his prayer.  God was faithful.  And He will be faithful to us as well, though perhaps in a different way.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 7-9, Luke 1:21-38

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday, November 11th: 1 Chronicles 1-3, Jude ~ Tammy

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

1 Chronicles covers the same time period as 2 Samuel, both describing the reign of David.  1 Chronicles, possibly authored by Ezra, was written to the returning remnant who were rebuilding Jerusalem after their 70 year exile in Babylon.

The genealogies seem boring to us, yet they were important to the Jewish people, and to record the Jewish line that would eventually culminate in the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Many of the records were probably lost during the seige and exile of Jerusalem, and these records tied the pre-exile with the post-exile period.

I am thankful that, though the Jews were God's chosen people, He opened the way of salvation to everyone.

In Jude we find the truth the the Bible is the very Word of God.  The Bible is the one source we can trust for absolute truth.  There have always been and always will be people who try to twist the Word of God and to spread false teachings that are fortified with just enough truth to be believable - and, therefore, dangerous.  He charges us to contend for the faith, and to live out the love of God.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 4-6; Luke 1:1-20

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tuesday, November 10th: Ezra 9-10, 2 Timothy 4 ~ Nathan

In Ezra 9 the writer (Ezra) is devastated that the people of Israel keep on disobeying God by not separating themselves from other nations who do not worship and honour God. Ezra is devastated because the Israelites were severely punished and lost everything for years and years of sinning against God. They were taken out of the promised land and made slaves. Finally God gave them another chance and they were blowing this one too!

To make matters worse,  it was the leaders of the people of Israel who were leading in this sin. In Ezra's devastated state he says in 9:10
“But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the commands"

It was embarrassing for Ezra and I'm sure he felt exhausted and considered giving up. But the Israelites who were guilty of this sin responded by weeping bitterly and truly wanted forgiveness.
How many times is God frustrated with us at our repeated sins?  We need to also be truly ashamed for our sins and be more desperate for forgiveness,  which only God can give through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  I don't think I take my sin seriously enough at times, I pray that I realize that it is serious and needs to be cleaned up.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday, November 9th: Ezra 6-8, 2 Timothy 3 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezra 6-8, 2 Timothy 3

Ezra chapter 6 begins with Darius' reply to the Persian governor's letter in regards to the Jews having authority to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.  His reply was a pretty strong yes.  Not only did they have the authority to rebuild it, but he also commanded that the project be funded from the royal treasury.  If there was any thought of someone wishing to prevent this from happening, verse 11 would take care of that notion - "I decree that if anyone changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it.  And for this crime his house is to be made a pile of rubble."  Certainly a strong punishment for attempting to stall the rebuilding process.

Despite strong words of likely punishments, typically people don't like to be told what to do, especially if it does not fit into our own agenda.  If in a situation like that, our backs would be arched like a cat and our tails would be puffed out to twice the size.  In this particular situation, God had his hand in it.  "the Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel." (verse 22b)

This verse reminded me of the power that God has in His ability to change others and His ability to soften their hearts.  Do I give God access to all areas of my life when facing trials?  Or do I leave Him on the bench and attempt to accomplish things on my own?

I liked Ezra 7:10 - "For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel."  Ezra illustrates some important aspects of a true follower of God.  He was devoted not to himself, but to the Law of the Lord.  Something we should strive for and I believe we all are by participating in this blog.

What I enjoyed reading in Ezra chapter 8 was not so much the genealogy, but that Ezra was a normal human too.  Despite his devotion to God, he still had some fear in regards to their journey to Jerusalem.  Verse 22 says, " I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king. "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him."

Even though Ezra had a strong faith in God and was devoted to Him, it does not mean that he did not feel the need to handle difficult situations on his own.  He did, however, show his ability in looking past his fear and realizing where his strength comes from.  Ezra relied on his faith in God and made things right with Him by fasting and praying for three days calling upon Him to protect their journey.

Today's reading in Ezra showed me that God is a caring God, who will accomplish His will in spite of opposition, and whose protection in our daily lives is all we need to make it through each day.

In our NT reading, Paul tells us in verse 16 that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,".

Through prophets and apostles, God interprets past events and accurately predicts future ones.  This makes the Bible trustworthy, eternally fixed, perfect and complete, and a sure guide for life, as it makes us wise for salvation!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezra 9-10; 2 Timothy 4

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday, November 8th: Ezra 3-5, 2 Timothy 2 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezra 3-5; 2 Timothy 2

The section that stood out to me in our Ezra passage was how the young people rejoiced in the rebuilding, but the older people wept because they saw the difference between the original, glorious temple, and the newer, rebuilt one.  It's true that the beauty of the building is not as important go God as the attitudes of the builders and worshipers, but my Life Application Bible has this insight as well....
The celebration after laying the temple foundation was marked by contrasts of emotion - shouts of joy and sounds of weeping. Both were appropriate. The Holy Spirit can stimulate us both to rejoice over the goodness of his grace and to grieve over the sins that required him to correct us. When we come into the presence of Almighty God, we may feel full of joy and thanksgiving, yet at the same time feel sobered by our shortcomings.

Just as the workers did, we can expect opposition when we do God's work.  There may be compromising alliances, discouragements, intimidation, or unjust accusations. When we go into it expecting opposition, it is easier to stay the course.  We must continue to move ahead, trusting that God will show us how to overcome any obstacles that may be thrown our way.  After all, the right thing is seldom the easy thing.

We also need to be leery of those who claim to be Christians, but whose actions clearly reveal that they are only using Christianity to serve their own interests and further their own agendas.  Saying you're a Christian doesn't make you one.  Which is why we too, must be sure that walk the talk, and prove our faith genuine by our deeds.

This verse stood out to me in our NT passage....

2 Timothy 2:13  if we are faithless, he remains faithful

So thankful for that truth!

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Ezra 6-8; 2 Timothy 3

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Saturday, November 7th: Ezra 1-2, 2 Timothy 1 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezra 1-2; 2 Timothy 1

Once again we see a display of God's sovereignty.  Cyrus was not a Jew, was not a believer, and yet God moved him and worked through him to fulfill prophecy and return the exiled Jews to their homeland. And not only did he allow their return, he provided them with protection, money, and the temple articles that had been taken by Nebuchadnezzar.  God's power is not limited to our resources. He can use anyone to accomplish His plans.

I wonder about the Jews who chose to remain in Babylon.  The journey back to Jerusalem was definitely difficult, dangerous, expensive, and long.  How often do we miss out on God's best for us because we're not willing to do the work or make the sacrifice that God asks of us?  Are comfort, security, and material possessions our priorities, or is it serving God in whatever capacity He asks of us?

In our NT passage, I love Paul's reference to Timothy's mother and grandmother.  It implies that Timothy's father was not a believer, or was not around.  What hope this gives to single parents or those married to unbelievers.  Your faith can still have an impact on your children or your grandchildren!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezra 3-5; 2 Timothy 2

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday, November 6th: Zephaniah 1-3, Colossians 4 ~ Tammy

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

Zephaniah was written in an attempt to shake the people of Judah out of their complacency and return to God. It was written during the reign of King Josiah and may have been the motivating factor in the reforms implemented by the King.   It is a message of both judgment and hope.

Some thoughts from my Life Application Bible....
God does not take sin lightly, and it will be punished. But be encouraged by teh words of hope - our God reigns, and he will rescue his own. Decide to be part of that faithful remnant of souls who humbly worship and obey the living Lord....

Zephaniah warned the people of Judah that if they refused to repent, the entire nation, including the beloved city of Jerusalem, would be lost. The people knew that God would eventually bless them, but Zephaniah made it clear that there would be judgment first, then blessing. This judgment would not be merely punishment for sin, but it would also be a means of purifying the people. Though we live in a fallen world surrounded by evil, we can hope in the perfect Kingdom of God to come, and we can allow any punishment that touches us now to purify us from sin.

3:17 stood out to me....
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

The thought of God, the One who is mighty to save, singing over us and rejoicing over us is amazing. We sing praises to Him all the time, and rightly so.  But there will also be a day where He will sing over us with rejoicing.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

An excellent reminder to guard our tongue, and to be careful what we say, and how we say it.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezra 1-2; 2 Timothy 1

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thursday, November 5th: Habakkuk 1-3, Colossians 3 ~ Tammy

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

Habakkuk 3:17-18
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

This is our hope.  Not that we will never struggle.  Not that life will be perfect.  Not that we will be always be wealthy.  Not that we will never get sick.  God has not promised us any of that.  But He has promised us His presence in affliction during this temporary life, and He has promised us joy unending and perfection forever in eternity with Him, the magnificence of which will far outweigh our earthly trouble and pain.

Colossians 3:7-8a
In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away
This completely ties in to what our Pastor has been preaching about in church recently.  Before God saved us and sanctified us, we lived as slaves to sin.  But after our salvation we have become slaves to righteousness through the power of the Holy Spirit. However, that doesn't mean that we can just sit back and do nothing and expect to be transformed.  God has given us His Word and expects us to obey.  Yes, we are to rely on His strength not our own, but we still need to be obedient.  We must actively pursue holiness.  If we do nothing intentionally, our default is to drift away from God.  We cannot become lax in our sanctification!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Zephaniah 1-3; Colossians 4

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wednesday, November 4th: Nahum 1-3, Colossians 2 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Nahum 1-3; Colossians 2

Somehow I got the passages a little mixed up this week.  I've edited the other days and added this one - so it should all be good now. Whoops!

In Nahum we see God pronouncing judgment on Assyria and comforting Judah with this promise.  My Life Application Bible says this....
Judah was comforted to know that God was still in control. Nineveh is an example to all rulers and nations of the world today. God is sovereign over even those who are seemingly invincible. WE can be confident that God's power and justice will one day conquer all evil.

What a great truth, particularly in the light of recent elections in Canada and upcoming for us provincially, and upcoming in the States.   God is sovereign. Period.

This passage also reminds me that the day of judgment will be a horrible time for unbelievers, but a gloriously joyful time for followers of Christ.

As our NT passage says, Jesus nailed our debt to the cross and triumphed over sin and death, so we can have that joyful day, that certain hope still to come.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Habakkuk 1-3; Colossians 3

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday, November 3rd: 2 Samuel 23-24, Colossians 1 ~ Nathan

In our reading from 2 Samuel we start off with a reminder of who King David is,
Verse 1: ".... the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, the hero of Israel’s songs"

He was anointed by God,  can you have a higher position?  This beats anything that we see today on TV or online, where positions of power in politics or well known celebrities seem to be looked up to. But these positions today fall far short of being anointed by God like David was.

And yet, we see a few examples of how King David humbled himself and put others before him.
In 23:17 we see how some of David's men risked their lives to bring him water out on the battlefield when David mentions how thirsty he was. David says:
"“Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it...."

Later on because of David's sin,  a pestilence came upon Isreal that killed 70,000 men,  and David felt he should be punished and not anyone else,
24:17 "When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family"

And lastly,  when David wishes to set up an altar to God,  a man named Arauna offers to give him everything for free to set up the altar,
24:24"But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing .”

King David could have thought only about himself many times,  and the people around him wouldn't have thought anything of it because he was the king, but King David was a man of God and lived out his life that way. He wasn't perfect and sinned like any of us,  but his true character came out as well in his unselfish behaviour. This truly showed where his heart was at.

In our reading from Colossians I am again struck by how invested Paul is in his ministry. He puts everything into it and cares deeply how the church is doing. My prayer would be that I would be more like Paul and care more about how others are doing around me.