Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thursday, March 31st: Judges 1:1-2:5, 2:20-23 ~ Jeannine

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Judges 1:1-2:5, 2:10-23

"After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel." - Judges 2:10

This one little verse tells a very real and very sad story.  It tells the story of a generation that died leaving behind a new generation that did not follow God.  Judges Chapter 2 and into Chapter 3 shows a cycle of sin, judgment and repentance that Israel found themselves in over and over again through the next 300+ years.  The very center of God's law was found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Generation after generation the Israelites failed to teach their children to love and follow God.

It's easy for us to think that the church and the christian things are kids are involved in will teach our children what they need to know about God, but God says that this is primarily the job of the parents. Children learn the most by example and as parents we are the people that they see in action more than anyone else.  What a huge responsibility.  Are we taking it seriously enough that our future generations will know, love, and follow God?

What does Deuteronomy 6:4-9 look like in my life?  What does it look like in yours?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Judges 3-5

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wednesday, March 30th: Joshua 22-24, Judges 2: 6-9 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 22-24, Judges 2: 6-9

After reading today's portion of scripture, the first chapter (22) that I read gave me a good reminder about judgement.

The thing I took note of was how quickly the rest of the Israelites were ready to kill the 2 1/2 tribes that were going back to the east side of the Jordan River, after they had built an alter before crossing back. The tribes in Canaan assumed that this alter was to another god and therefore in direct disobedience to the one true God, who had just saved them from many enemies.

22:12 "the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them."

It turns out this alter was built as a reminder to all that the 2 1/2 tribes served the same God as the rest of the Israelites in the promised land.

How quickly do I jump to conclusions about people's motives without taking the time to find out reasons for their actions?

An example of this would be a person that has mental illness who's made some bad choices. I can be quick to assume they think rationally like the rest of us and therefore can't understand this person's negative actions. We can't always excuse bad choices, but we can look at some of these people with more sympathy and love at first instead of immediate disgust.

The Israelites go on to give somewhat of an apology for this quick judgement,

22:31 "And Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, said to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, “Today we know that the Lord is with us, because you have not been unfaithful to the Lord in this matter. Now you have rescued the Israelites from the Lord's hand.”

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageJudges 1:1-2:5, 2:10-23

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tuesday, March 29th: Joshua 19-21 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 19-21

In today's reading we reach the end of the allotments of the promised land.

A few verses stood out to me:

"The inheritance of the Simeonites was taken from the share of Judah, because Judah’s portion was more than they needed. So the Simeonites received their inheritance within the territory of Judah.”  Joshua 19:9

The tribe of Judah had to share some of their inheritance because, when planning out the allotments for each tribe, an error was made as to exactly how much land was available & they had run out at that point. Probably a bit tough to swallow for the tribe of Judah, but we don't hear of any grumbling or complaining about it even though it would have been within their right to keep it all to themselves.

We can be reminded to be generous with what we have & willing to give of our abundance (even to those who are maybe less than deserving).

“ (When the territory of the Danites was lost to them, they went up and attacked Leshem, took it, put it to the sword and occupied it. They settled in Leshem and named it Dan after their ancestor.)”  Joshua 19:47

After all that they had conquered, they still did not trust God completely. The tribe of Dan found that some of their land was difficult to conquer, so they chose to migrate to where they knew the victory was easier.

Anyone can trust God when things are easy.  The real test in our faith comes when the going is difficult.

“When they had finished dividing the land into its allotted portions, the Israelites gave Joshua son of Nun an inheritance among them, as the Lord had commanded. They gave him the town he asked for—Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim. And he built up the town and settled there.”   
Joshua 19:49&50

After all was said & done, Joshua received his inheritance. His choice was some land in the same country as his own tribe.

What a great reminder to keep our humility no matter our position. No only did Joshua wait until after everyone had been “served,” but he also chose the “common” land of his family rather than looking for something more deserving of a great leader.

“Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”  Joshua 21:45

In the end, after all of the Israelites shortcomings, after many years & many trials all of God’s promises are fulfilled.

God is faithful. Sometimes it may take longer than we would like, our patience may be tried, we may be tested & go through more than we think we can take, but God will go with us, carry us when necessary & lead us to our promised land. 

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Joshua 22-24Judges 2:6-9

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016: Joshua 16-18 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 16-18

I found this chart here:

The twelve sons of Jacob and their land assignments in Canaan
Click here to see the map.
12 sons of Jacob
Listed by age
Land assignment in Canaan
Scripture references indicate where assignments were declared
Reuben Reuben - Numbers 32 (see notes) & restated in Joshua 13:15-23 (see notes)
Simeon Simeon - Joshua 19:1-9 (see notes)
Levi Levi - No inheritance according to Joshua 14:3-4 (see notes) & Joshua 18:7 (see below)
Judah Judah - Joshua 15:1-12 (see notes)
Dan Dan - Joshua 19:40-48 (see notes)
Naphtali Naphtali - Joshua 19:32-39 (see notes)
Gad Gad - Numbers 32 (see notes) & restated in Joshua 13:24-28 (see notes)
Asher Asher - Joshua 19:24-31 (see notes)
Issachar Issachar - Joshua 19:17-23 (see notes)
Zebulun Zebulun - Joshua 19:10-16 (see notes)
Joseph Manasseh - Half in Numbers 32 (see notes) & restated in Joshua 13:29-31 (see notes) east of the Jordan River. The other half in Joshua 17:1-18 (see below) west of the Jordan River.
Ephraim - Joshua 16:5-10 (see below)
Benjamin Benjamin - Joshua 18:11-28 (see below)

The website also included this map:

Although I did know that the Levites did not get land, I don't know if I ever really took note that Joseph's two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, each received a portion to make up the 12 tribes. I imagine that in those days of slavery and prison that Joseph would never have guessed the legacy his sons would have and the place in God's plan for Israel. 

The commentary includes an explanation about casting lots:

The Practice of Casting Lots

Casting lots was basically the visual equivalent of throwing dice today. Therefore, casting lots (to the Old Testament observer) may seem like an arbitrary selection of something or someone based strictly upon chance. However, Solomon writes in Proverbs 16:33, "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD." We see a precedent in Leviticus 16:1-10 (see notes) that validates it as a God-recognized way for determining God's mind on an issue. The casting of lots was used in that passage to determine which goat would be freed (the "scapegoat") and which one would be sacrificed. The discovery of Achan as the culprit was apparently done by casting lots in Joshua 7:10-26 (see notes). And that's also the method used for distributing the land to the Tribes of Israel (Joshua 16, see notes). Saul was identified as the new king by Samuel, presumably with lots in I Samuel 10:19-24 (see notes). In I Samuel 14:36-43 (see notes) Saul used this technique to identify his own son (an unlikely suspect) as the culprit. Peter even used this procedure to select the replacement for Judas in Acts 1:12-26 (see notes). In the Old Testament, at least the people recognized that the casting of lots was a legitimate way of deciding an issue. That's a major reason why it worked.
Christians today have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by which we make our decisions. The Holy Spirit today stands as the replacement for the Old Testament practice of casting lots. You must agree: Direct Holy Spirit leadership on an issue is better than throwing dice.

A few other things that stood out for me from today's reading:

Now Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, had no sons, but only daughters, and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

I've noticed this before, but I guess the practice of unisex names existed even in biblical times as one of Zelphehad's daughters was named Noah.

because the daughters of Manasseh received an inheritance along with his sons. The land of Gilead was allotted to the rest of the people of Manasseh.

In a time and culture when women did not receive the same rights as men, it must have been unusual for these women to receive equal inheritances as their brothers. 

10 However, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor.

12 Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. 13 Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.

Half will come back to bite you every time. We deal with this today just the same as believers did back then. This commentary adds some insight into the trouble this causes in the future from not obeying

those Gezerites in Canaan just wouldn't go. Or...was it really that the Tribe of Israel didn't try that hard to get them to go, preferring instead to have the presence of a little slave labor? So, they served Israel - mentioned again in Judges 1:28-30,33,35 (see notes). However, in Judges 2:1-3 (see notes); Judges 3:5-6 (see notes); Judges 10:6 (see notes) we see that the idolatrous practice of these people was, indeed, a problem for Israel. David failed in his attempt to rid the land of them again centuries later (II Samuel 5:25; I Chronicles 14:16, see notes). Finally, Pharaoh comes up out of Egypt during Solomon's reign and takes Gezer as a wedding present for Solomon, who was married to Pharaoh's daughter (I Kings 9:10-28; II Chronicles 8:1-18 - see notes

Now look at verses 12-13; more problem Canaanites - they just won't leave! This is mentioned again in Judges 1:27 (see notes). Joshua had defeated the kings of Taanach, Megiddo, and Dor (Joshua 12:21-23, see notes), but a permanent Hebrew occupation did not follow. Verse 13 tells us that later on they did make slaves of them.

And finally, the commentary adds that Jerusalem appears to be shared by the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin although it technically belongs to the tribe of Benjamin:

It should be noted, however, that Jerusalem seemed to be shared by the Tribes of Benjamin and Judah. Note the following scriptures:
Joshua 18:28 And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.
Joshua 15:63 As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day. 
Judges 1:8 Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire. 
Judges 1:21 And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day. 

Based upon these verses, obviously Jerusalem was a shared city between the two tribes. Although, technically, Jerusalem was within the borders of the Tribe of Benjamin.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageJoshua 19-21

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday, March 27th: Joshua 12-15 ~ Jay

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Joshua 12-15

For those that love's passage is primarily intended to describe the areas conquered by the Israelites, and the dwelling places of each tribe and the subsequent descendants. 

A few of the key verses and thoughts as I read through the passage:

1) It is truly amazing to read about how vast the land is that God provided for His people.  I think back to the Israelites wandering in the wilderness as they left Egypt...If only they could have a glimpse of what God was going to provide for them.  Often for us too, we grumble and complain about the difficulties we encounter as God leads us on our journey- but we need to trust and be faithful... His history of promises fulfilled and ability to see the path to the future should provide daily reassurance that we need to remain faithful and daily commit our ways to him.

2) When God places a task before us, He partners with us. God had asked the Israelites to drive out the various inhabitants of the land...and then in Chapter 13 vs 6 it states: “As for all the inhabitants of the mountain regions from Lebanon to Misrephoth Maim, that is, all the Sidonians, I myself will drive them out before the Israelites.  How reassuring it is that as the tribes carried out God's commands...he actively worked along side them.  God is still active today, and works along side us...just as he did with the Israelites.  

3) In our relationship with God, we need to be content with any blessings God bestows on us and need not compare to the blessings God might provide to other believers.  The Levites provide an example of this, as twice in the passage it mentions that no land would be allotted for the Levites.  When you think of the Levites and their dedication to God's service...I can see how jealousy might creep in as they witness the land being bestowed on the other tribes; 14 But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since the food offerings presented to the Lord, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them....33 But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them. I pray that I too will be like the Levites and be selfless in my service.

4) We need to complete the tasks that God lays before us and never become satisfied that we" have done enough". In Joshua 15:63 we read that :  63 Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem;to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah.  For all the land that God's chosen people conquered, it really stood out to me that there remained this small parcel of land in Jerusalem that remained "unclaimed".  I read a few commentaries to gain perspective as I wanted to better understand what happened here.  Most commentators agreed that at one time Judah gained this portion but subsequently lost it, and then became content with the land they had and never completed the task or driving out the nations. Essentially, when God places a task in front of us, we need to complete it! Failure to do so can have long term implications. 

A lot of geography in today's passage, yet a lot of key lessons we can take away and apply to our lives.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday, March 27th: Joshua 9-11 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 9-11

In Joshua 9 we see what happens when we rely on our own ability without consulting God.  Joshua, though aware of the possibility of deceit, did not inquire of God (though he had been instructed by Moses to do exactly that in Numbers 27:21) and ended up being tricked.  He relied on his own wisdom instead of seeking the wisdom of God, and paid the price for it.  He did, however, keep his oath, even though it had been made in haste and by trickery.  God takes promises seriously and we would be wise to to think before uttering any rash promises!

However, this is also a story of how when sin abounded, grace abounded all the more.  Joshua assigned the Gibeonites work where they would be near the temple and exposed to the truth about God.  Eventually, many of the Gibeonites became Israelite believers themselves (1 Chronicles 12:4, Nehemiah 3:7, Nehemiah 7:25).  It's amazing how God works despite our sin.

What I noticed in the rest of our passage was Joshua's strengths as a leader - his determination to obey everything God and Moses had instructed him to do, and his willingness to get his hands dirty himself, and not just lead from afar.  But also, in every victory credit is given to God.

It's also important to note that though we read through this passage in one sitting, the process of ridding the land of the Canaanites took a long 7 years of hard fought battles.  We need endurance, we need patience, we need determination, we need energy - and we need to acknowledge that it all comes from God and not our own strength.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Joshua 12-15

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday March 25th: Joshua 5-8 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Joshua 5-8

Just after yesterday's reading of being strong and courageous, the first verse in today's passage tells us how the Amorite and Canaanite kings' "hearts melted in fear and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites."  This was another reminder for me that I need to be certain of where I am placing my faith, trust, and courage.

"Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”  “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”  Joshua 5:13-14a
As I was reading this, I was wondering how can someone be neither for us nor against us?  Well, I found an interesting note in my study Bible about that.  It said that "Joshua and Israel must know their place - it is not that God is on their side; rather, they must fight God's battles".
How true is that.  If I am needing to convince God that He needs to come along side of me to fight a battle, it probably means that I am fighting the wrong battle.  God is already present at His battle and is waiting for me to show up!  Joshua (and I) must take orders from God, not the other way around.  
The story of how the city of Jericho was captured is a well known story for us all.  One thing that did stand out this time for me was that while they marched around Jericho, the priests always carried the ark of the Lord with them in the centre of the army.  The ark of the Lord was to be made the centre of the focus, highlighting the fact that it was the Lord himself who besieged the city.

The entire city was destroyed with the exception of Rahab and her family and it was all orchestrated by God.  God was the mastermind but used His people once again to help execute His plan.  We too need to prepare ourselves daily to ensure we have placed our faith in Him, just at the Israelite's did, so that we are ready to do battle.

 "When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia,[i]two hundred shekels[j] of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels,[k] I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”  Joshua 7:21

How easy it was for Achan to take these items.......but at what a cost!

The command to not covet differs from others in the sense that it is an inner desire, rather than an outward act.  My study Bible had a note that said that coveting is rooted in an "attitude of pride characterized by excessive or misdirected desires".  

Just as it was easy for Achan to succumb to his temptation, we can too.  God wants us to close the door to temptation.  Instead of coveting, God commands us to be content with what we have, trusting that He will take care of all our needs.  By trusting God, we are putting our pride on the shelf in order to realign our desires to line up with God's.  

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Joshua 9-11

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Thursday March 23: Joshua 1-4 ~Cameron

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 1-4

We are never promised an easy ride through life. We may be asked to accomplish a seemingly impossible task. Those on the outside will rattle off a "have faith" quip and move on. But here we see God giving Joshua a pep talk.

Joshua had been mentored by Moses for the last number of years, but he was not Moses. He was not the one speaking with God on the mountain. People didn't rebel against him, only to be swallowed by the earth when God Himself defended Moses' position of authority. He was there, but he was not the one in charge. Even the cloud pillar was no longer part of the daily camp life. It must have been a lonely feeling.

"Be strong and of good courage" verse 6
"be thou strong and very courageous" verse 7
"I command thee to be strong and of a good courage" verse 9

Each verse increasing in amplitude, culminating with God commanding Joshua to get ready to be the leader of Israel.

The result? 9 verses later we see Joshua encouraging the tribes to be "strong and of a good courage" verse 18.

Most of us will not be tasked with re-conquering the promised land or leading a nation. But each of us have opportunities each day to encourage a leader or to be a leader who encourages others.

Go out. Be strong. Be courageous.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Joshua 5-8

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wednesday, March 23rd: Deuteronomy 32, Psalm 90, Deuteronomy 33-34 ~ Nathan

During and after today's reading I kept thinking back,  wondering how Moses felt during his final days. It seems almost like a celebration of his time on earth, but with a small bit of sadness at him not being able to cross the Jordan. 

In Deuteronomy 32 we read a basic summary of how the Israelites began and their history and future of disobeying and repenting.  Moses went through a lot of this and felt frustrated many times.  He was a special prophet who God set apart,
34:10  "Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,"

Moses himself frustrated God (sinned) as well,  and for this he wasn't allowed to cross over into the promised land.  It almost feels sad to read about Moses' final days,  he went through an incredible journey in his life and finished strong.  He sinned many times along the way,  including murder,  but God still used him to bring the Israelites out of slavery and to the brink of the promised land.  Moses doesn't show bitterness here,  for not being able to go the final step,  it's like he accepts the role God had for him and was pleased to play the role he did. He was a true leader,  but also a team player. 

Am I happy to play a role in God's plan,  even if I don't ever see the final results?  Am I happy to play a small part,  when I won't see any glory for it here on earth?

Maybe I can play a role in others coming to know Christ.  It would be nice to be around and witness the joy the minute Jesus enters their life, but this person may need someone to sow the seeds long before someone else comes along to help them take that final step.

Same as how Moses helped lead the Israelites almost all the way to the promised land.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday, March 22nd: Deuteronomy 30-31 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 30-31

Now choose life…” 

God knew that we would fall away, give into temptation, & turn our backs on him.  In his great love for us, he gave us a choice & knowing we would fail, he also extends his great mercy, love & forgiveness.

And when you & your children return to the Lord your God & obey him with all your heart & with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes & have compassion on you & gather you again from all the nations where he has scattered you”  Deuteronomy 30:2-3

Sometimes I think that if we were bound by the law like the Israelites it would be easier to know how to live. Everything would be plainly laid out as to what we were & were not allowed to do.  I find that, especially when teaching my kids, I have to include the clause “even if others (Christians) are doing that, watching that, saying that… It doesn't make it honouring to God.” All the while, we still have to be careful not to judge because we may be convicted of something that someone else isn't.

I was encouraged by the following verses:

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it & proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth & in your heart so you may obey it”  Deuteronomy 30:11,12,14

God will direct us to him & place his desires on our hearts.  Our part is to listen & follow even when others aren't. Like I tell my kids, we are only responsible for our own decisions in the end. 

The Lord himself goes before you & will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged”  Deuteronomy 31:8

As we choose life, we can know that God is with us.  He already knows that we will mess up, but he won't leave us. More than that, he goes before us. He will lead the way, he knows what we will face & will guide us. We just have to follow. 

Be strong & courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” Deuteronomy 31:6

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Deuteronomy 32Psalm 90Deuteronomy 33-34

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday, March 21st: Deuteronomy 28-29 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 28-29

I appreciated my Life Application Bible's remarks on the curses and blessings....

Sometimes looking at a list of curses like this gives us the idea that God has a bad temper and is out to crush anyone who steps out of line. We need to see these restrictions not as threats, but rather as loving warnings about the plain facts of life. Just as we warn children to stay away from hot stoves and busy streets, God warns us to stay away from dangerous actions. The natural law of his universe makes it clear that wrongdoing toward others or God has tragic consequences. God is merciful enough to tell us this truth plainly. Motivated by love and not anger, his strong words help us avoid the serious consequences that result from neglecting God or wronging others. But God does not leave us with only curses (negative consequences). Immediately following these curses, we discover the great blessings (positive consequences) that come from living for God. These give us extra incentive to obey God's laws. While all these blessings may not come in our lifetime on earth, those who obey God will experience the fullness of his blessing when he establishes the new heaven and the new earth. 

Another commentary I read made it clear that God's plan was to reveal Himself to the world through Israel....
He would do this either by making them so blessed that the world would know only God could have blessed them so; or by making them so cursed that only God could have cursed them and cause them to still survive. The choice was up to Israel.

We, too, have a choice.  We need to see the seriousness of sin, and be determined to eradicate it from our lives immediately, before it takes root (29:18).

I also noticed this verse....
29:5 For forty years I led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes and sandals did not wear out.

That was a provisional miracle all right!  Maybe not as dramatic as the parting of the Red Sea, but a miracle nonetheless.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Deuteronomy 30-31

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday, March 20th: Deuteronomy 26-27 ~ Kelora

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 26-27 - Kelora

After reading these 2 chapters a few things stood out for me. Chapter 26 gives instructions about tithing before they enter the Promise Land. God gives specific instructions about giving the first fruits that are produced from the soil and how much to give. By instructing the Israelites to tithe helps them to remember to be thankful for all that God has given them and not forget where they came from and how God has been faithful and kept his promises.   When we tithe we are honouring God and it also reminds us that everything we have belongs to God.

One verse that stood out to me in Chapter 27 is verse 5.  "Build there an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones. Do not use any iron tool on them."  I was wondering why the Israelites were instructed to not use iron tools on the altar stones. After reading a commentary about this I learned that "the Lord had specified an altar made of uncut stones so that people would not begin to worship the altars as idols."  I found another reference about the Israelites being instructed not to use tools when they built an altar which I found interesting.  In Exodus 20:25 it says "If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. "  This altar was to be sacred for sacrificing to God.  

Chapter 26 was meaningful to me as this reminded me why we tithe and how important it is to always remember the blessings God has given to us.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Deuteronomy 28-29

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday, March 19th: Deuteronomy 23-25 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteromony 23-25

Deuteronomy 24:7 "If someone is caught kidnapping a fellow Israelite and treating or selling them as a slave, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from among you"
I noticed again the term "purge the evil from among you", which reminded me of what we read a few times yesterday,
21:21 - about a rebellious son
22:21 - promiscuous women
22:23 - rapist
The Israelites were to deal harshly with certain sins,  God wanted these sinners rooted out permanently. This made me think about my own sins again, do I take them seriously?  I ask for forgiveness,  but do I really feel bad about them after and desperately want to change?
In the last half of chapter 24 we read of a few instances where we need to show mercy and kindness to others. We read about,
- not taking advantage of a hired worker (v14)
- depriving foreigners or the fatherless of justice (v17)
- leaving forgotten grain after harvesting (v19)
- leaving olives (v20)
- leaving grapes (v21)
This made me think of where in my life can I "leave something behind" for someone less fortunate, in a case where I would normally not.
My wife used to work in the restaurant industry as a waitress, and has been on my case for not tipping enough at times. She has often rolled her eyes at me for being less than generous! (I follow that up by playing dumb and trying to change the topic,  haha) These verses made me think that maybe I could be a little more generous with tipping after dinner out. A few extra dollars out of my pocket could go a long way for a cash strapped student or single parent working evenings and weekends trying to get by.
The point is to think about others needs,  rather than just our own.  No matter who we are,  there's always someone out there that's less fortunate than us,  what can I do to show mercy and help?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Deuteronomy 26-27

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday, March 18th: Deuteronomy 20-22 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Deuteronomy 20-22

My apologies for not having this posted for the early risers.

I've often thought of myself as a lover, and not a fighter.  Well, today's reading begins with some instruction and preparation for battle.  If I was one of those soldiers at the time, I probably would never have seen the battlefield.  I wouldn't be able to use the "getting married" trick, but I could always build a house to use the "built a new house and never used it yet" line, or just simply tell the truth and say that I was scared.  Either way, the general would have told me to pack my bags and head home!  After all, if you want to win a battle, you need to have the fittest, strongest, and most determined soldiers to conquer.

The Hebrews knew that where they were going, and what they needed to do would take dedication.  Thus, all the fighting men in the Hebrew army were to be men who were there willingly and without hesitation.  "He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them."  Deuteronomy 20:3

This reading has to do with the Hebrew army and physical battle, but it reminded me of an army that I can relate to........God's army.

God's army is no different.  God does not want any unwilling participants, soldiers with excuses, or the faint at heart.  I want to be a soldier in the army of God.  I have not been drafted so I can serve without a grudge.  I want to be listed for eternity.  I do not want to be a sell out by opting to avoid the battle, but rather choose to be a faithful, dependable, and reliable soldier.

With Christ as the Commanding Officer and the Holy Scripture as the code of conduct, along with faith and prayer as weapons, I will triumph.   "For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deuteronomy 20:4

I can do all things through Christ.  I will not be discouraged.  The devil cannot defeat me.  People will not disillusion me.  The government will not silence me.  My knees will not buckle.  I will obey my Commanders commands.  I will praise His name.  I am a soldier marching towards Heaven.  

I am not perfect, and I will stumble.  But in the end, when I am called home from the battlefield, I will be promoted to captain and will reign with our Commanding Officer in Heaven.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Deuteronomy 23-25

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Thursday, March 17th: Deuteronomy 17-19 ~ Jeannine

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 17-19

Does anyone else feel a little like Moses may have had ADD?  He jumps all over the place in these chapters and I find it a bit distracting...

He spends one verse telling the Israelites not to sacrifice any ox or sheep that has any defect or flaw. Then quickly moves into how to deal with a man who is doing evil in the eyes of the Lord, how to deal with cases that are too difficult to handle, then who they should select as king. Next onto what are acceptable offerings for Priests and Levites and then straight into telling them not to sacrifice their kids...WHAT???  THIS WAS A PROBLEM???...and then tells them how to recognize a true prophet...well you get the point...he's all over the map with his topics in this section.

Anyway...I just found that a little interesting as I was reading it...on to what I took away today...

There are so many different rules and instructions that the Israelites had to follow and I'm glad I live under the New Covenant and don't have to keep all that in mind.  However, I like how Chapter 19:9 sums up what the Lord is asking of them.

"because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today—to love the Lord your God and to walk always in obedience to him"

When Micah was little, he once expressed his frustration with all the "rules" he felt he had to remember and Cam told him that there really wasn't much he had to remember.  That if we followed only two commands the rest would be covered...

Matthew 22:34-40
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your hear and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments".

I remember Micah pondering this and it was like a weight was lifted.  He didn't have to remember a whole pile of rules, he just had to remember two.  

I hope that the Israelites felt some of this same kind of relief.

Wednesday, March 16th: Deuteronomy 14-16 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 14-16

14:2 You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.
As believers, we too have been set apart as holy to the Lord.  He has chosen us from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.

Do we live like it?

Do we live lives that are holy?  Set apart?  Do we live differently from everyone else around us?

The eating of ceremonially clean and unclean foods no longer applies to us, but it is a reminder that we must be holy in every aspect of our lives - how we use our time, how we use our finances, etc. We should be purposeful about living holy lives in the every day.

Tithing teaches us to put God first in our lives and to remind us that all we have belongs to Him and we are simply His stewards. It should also help provide perspective and keep our priorities straight.

Caring for the poor (15:1-11), treating our employees well (15:12-18), being generous with the things God has given us (15:10, 16:16-17), and electing wise and just officials (16:18) are other practical ways to live out our faith.

If the way we live our lives doesn't reflect our love for God, perhaps it's time for some introspection and self-evaluation.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Deuteronomy 17-19

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tuesday, March 15th: Deuteronomy 11-13 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 11-13

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing & a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God & turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.”  Deut 11:26-28

God gave the people of Israel, right from the start, a choice between a blessing or curse. We have the same choice today; God’s way or ours.

Sadly we see, that overtime, most of them, through their disobedience, chose the curse.

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts & minds; tie them as symbols on your hands & bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home & when you walk along the road, when you lie down & when you get up. Write them on the doorframe so of your houses & on your gates”   Deut 11:18-20

God recognized how easily they would fall astray & so he gave these words. To keep him a part of every aspect of your day, to be reminded of him where ever you turn & to talk about him.  

The same holds true for us today; the more time we spend focused on him, the closer we will be to him & the more aligned our life will be with his.

“Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones & burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods & wipe out their names from those places.”  Deut 12:3

God, also, warned them to remove every pagan altar & idol in the land. He knew how easily they could be tempted to change their beliefs & be tempted to use them.

In the same way, we need to remove anything in our lives that tempt us to turn our hearts from God. We should never consider ourselves to be too strong to be tempted.  God's warning was to remove the temptation completely.  A sin doesn't just come out of nowhere.  The more time we spend in places or with people that are not honouring to God, the easier it is to follow the crowd. The more we allow ideas into our minds, whether through media or conversations, the more quickly our mindset & attitudes change. God wants us to guard ourselves. 

None of those condemned things shall be found in your hands, so that the Lord will turn from his fierce anger; he will show you mercy, have compassion on you, & increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your forefathers, because you obey the Lord your God, keeping all his commands that I am giving you today & doing what is right in his eyes.”   Deut 13:17-18

And by following him, we will know his love & mercy, & will be blessed for it. 

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Deuteronomy 14-16

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday, March 14: Deuteronomy 8-10 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 8-10

Here are a few things that stood out for me from today's passage. The first thing that stood out for me was:

Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. 

This baffles me. I can't imagine clothes lasting for 40 years. What about the children? We just recently replaced all of our son Kaden's pants because the ones we bought him in Fall are all too short. Maybe the lack of need to replace the adult clothing did not make finding clothing for the children such a burden? Maybe they just passed clothing around from the children that had already outgrown items? Maybe?? Whatever it was I think that it was a reminder that God took care of all their needs in a very real way.

Also this:

11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (emphasis mine)

I think we live in a society that encourages us to rely on our own abilities and strengths and ignore that those are gifts are given to us by God. To acknowledge that we didn't gain something on our own is so counter cultural.

When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the Lord made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. 10 And the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the Lord had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. 11 And at the end of forty days and forty nights the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.12 Then the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you have brought from Egypt have acted corruptly. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them; they have made themselves a metal image.’(emphasis mine)

It doesn't take long for disobedience and doubt to take hold. Moses was away for 40 days and 40 nights...that's about 960 hours. Yet in that short amount of time, the people fell into their sinful ways and lost their faith in what God could do. It would have been even less time because by the time Moses came down, they had already created the idol. So how long was it before they started to talk about the need for the idol? A week? A month? Did Aaron try and persuade them against it? Was he instantly convinced? For us too, it doesn't take long for us to fall into the trap or into the habit of sin. Some people say that it only takes 21 days to form a new habit but interestingly I found this on this website:

The reality is, habits are easier to make than they are to break. If you repeat a behavior often enough, those synaptic pathways are going to get worn in. The human brain is a very adaptive piece of machinery. But does that take 21 days? Who knows? Everyone's brain is different, and habit formation also relies on aspects of experience and personality.
Breaking a habit is a lot more complicated, because while parts of those worn-in pathways can weaken without use, they never go away [source: Rae-Dupree]. They can be reactivated with the slightest provocation [source: Delude]. If you've ever tried to quit smoking, you already know this. You can go a year without a cigarette, and then give in one time and BAM, the habit comes right back.(emphasis mine)

The habit of sin never goes away. The slightest leaning to sin can give way to reverting to our old ways despite our best intentions to give ourselves fully to God.

I think what is also interesting is that the amount of time is the same for both Moses and for the left behind Israelites. Moses chose to use his time to humbly obey God and the Israelites used their time to move away from obedience to God and rely on themselves. It was the same amount of time with very different outcomes.

Moses again spent 40 days and 40 nights in humble pleading with God for the sinfulness of Aaron and the Israelites. It doesn't tell us but were the Israelites also bowing down for forgiveness at that time? I'm thinking they were not since it was Moses who destroyed the golden calf after his time pleading with God not to destroy them.

“At that time the Lord said to me, ‘Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to me on the mountain and make an ark of wood. And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets that you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.’ So I made an ark of acacia wood, and cut two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. And he wrote on the tablets, in the same writing as before, the Ten Commandments[c] that the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. And the Lord gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark that I had made. And there they are, as the Lord commanded me.”(emphasis mine)

Everything can be restored. The stone tablets written by the hand of God. The commandments of instruction. The relationship of God with people. Everything can be like before. What a comfort to know that no matter what we break in our anger and in our stubbornness that through God it can all be restored. We have a new beginning and things can be as they once were.

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

It sounds simple.

Fear God.

Be like God.

Love God.

Serve God.

Obey God.

But our habit for sin brings us back to the same old mistakes in no time at all. We forget how God takes care of us in big ways and small ways. We begin to think that our talents are the things that get us where we are. We turn from God and rely on ourselves. We serve ourselves and our selfish desires no matter what we know to be true. Old habits die hard. However, through Christ all things are restored....if we desire that and seek it.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageDeuteronomy 11-13