Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday, November 24th: Ezekiel 22-23; 1 Peter 1 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Ezekiel 22-23; 1 Peter 1

"uses his power to shed blood"
"have treated father and mother with contempt"
"have oppressed the foreigner"
"mistreated the fatherless and the widow"
"have despised my holy things and desecrated my Sabbaths"
"eat at the mountain shrines and commit lewd acts"
"dishonor their father’s bed"
"violate women during their period"
"commits a detestable offense with his neighbor’s wife"
"shamefully defiles his daughter-in-law"
"accept bribes to shed blood"
"take interest and make a profit from the poor"
"extort unjust gain from your neighbors"
"you have forgotten me"

The above quotes are all from Ezekiel 22.  These verses are describing how the people of Jerusalem have been behaving.  It's sad.  It's disheartening.  It's tragic.  It's hopeless.  It's detestable.  Unfortunately, this is us in 2017 too.  

Thankfully, we have our reading in the NT to follow the words from Ezekiel:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,"
1 Peter 1:3-4

Despite our fallen world, and within that our own personal failures, we have this hope that is found not in this world, but in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In the meantime, yes we live here, but we can also live in joy and peace knowing that one day we will be in Heaven with our Heavenly Father.  An inheritance that we do not have to check on to see if the value has risen or crashed, but rather one that will never fade.  What a glorious and powerful hope that belongs to us!                      

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Ezekiel 24-26; 1 Peter 2

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thursday, November 23rd: Ezekiel 20-21; James 5 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 20-21; James 5

Ezekiel 20:9 But for the sake of my name, I brought them out of Egypt. I did it to keep my name from being profaned in the eyes of the nations among whom they lived and in whose sight I had revealed myself to the Israelites.
Phrases similar to this appear multiple times in our passage.  To me this is a good reminder that God chose to save me, just like He chose to save the Israelites.  And He didn't choose me because there was anything special about me.  He didn't choose me because I'm any better than anyone else.  He chose me despite me.  He chose me in order to glorify His name.

Yes, He saves us because He loves us.  But He also saves us for the sake of His name.  And I am thankful, so thankful, for His saving grace.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Ezekiel 22-23; 1 Peter 1

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wednesday, November 22nd: Ezekiel 18-19, James 4 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Ezekiel 18-19; James 4

Ezekiel 18:23
Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

Ezekiel 18:32
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

Does God take pleasure in us sinning and turning from Him? Absolutely not! Here it says, and God shows, that He wants us to turn from our sin and follow Him. He loves us and wants us to choose to follow Him.

James 4:8
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded

Again, an invitation to everyone to go to God. Clean up the sin in our lives by asking for forgiveness for it and trying our best to do better.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Ezekiel 20-21; James 5

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday, November 20th: Ezekiel 14-15; James 2 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Ezekiel 14-15; James 2

 "You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone."  James 2:22-24

In today's reading, James stresses the importance of our faith and our actions working together.  If we have an active faith, it should be expressed in Christian living.  In other words, a true disciple of Christ will not live in hypocrisy.  If our faith is not expressed in Christian actions, it is useless and dead.  I also appreciated how this passage tied in with the OT reading in Ezekiel 15 (Jerusalem as a useless vine).     

My next point is strictly my own thought, but here is a reason why I believe that our faith and our actions need to go hand in hand........

The Lord looks at our heart, which no one else is able to see or observe.  People on the other hand, can only hear what we say and observe us on the outside along with our actions.  I work at a store where the owner does not advertise.  So the only "advertising" we have is word of mouth from previous customers.  It will either be good or bad.......that just depends on how well the store treats its customers.  The same goes for us a Christians.  How are we advertising our faith? 

The faith Abraham had in God was equally matched with his actions, and is an example for us all.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Ezekiel 16-17; James 3

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday, November 19: Ezekiel 11-13; James 1 ~ Emma

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 11-13; James 1

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” - James‬ ‭1:17

How comforting it is to know that God never changes. He remains the same through our tough times, happy times, and all of time. It is so comforting to know that the God who holds the universe in His hands never changes. He is always good, always loving, and always knows what is best for us How great it is to serve Him.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageEzekiel 14-15; James 2

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday, November 18th: Ezekiel 8-10; Hebrews 13 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 8-10; Hebrews 13

Hebrews13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Wouldn't that be cool?!  To show hospitality to an angel?!  Well, if you've ever taken the time out of your day to help out a stranger, you just may have without even knowing it!  What a cool thought!

Obviously it shouldn't take the idea of angels to inspire us to show hospitality.  But it's kind of a cool reminder.  And Jesus made it clear that when we serve those who are in need, we are serving Him - which is even cooler than serving angels!

So serve - you never know who you're serving, but at the same time you always know Who you are serving!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageEzekiel 11-13; James 1

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday, November 17th: Ezekiel 5-7; Hebrews 12 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Ezekiel 5-7; Hebrews 12

 "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2 

I have read this passage many times, but today this verse stood out to me.  Today I realized that despite the fact that dying on a cross was a shameful death, Jesus focused on the end result. 

Jesus was not troubled by what His opponents thought of Him.  Religious leaders tried to damage His reputation.  He was laughed at and ridiculed.  A crown of thorns was forced onto His head.  A purple robe was put on Him to ridicule Him despite the fact that He was a king.

In spite of all this, did Jesus try to defend His reputation?  No.  The Scripture tells us that He "scorned its shame".  It was far more important that He glorified his Father, and remain focused on doing his Father's will than trying to save face or even to simply execute His own desire of not having to go through with the crucifixion.

This gives me hope and strength that if Jesus would endure the cross with all its pain and shame knowing that afterwards He would be seated beside his Father in Heaven, then I too should focus more on my Heavenly Father and less on my sinful desires and temptations.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Ezekiel 8-10; Hebrews 13

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday, November 16th: Ezekiel 3-4; Hebrews 11:20-40 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Ezekiel 3-4; Hebrews 11:20-40

Hebrews 11:39-40 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
We love it when God answers prayer (with a "yes!") and when we receive what's been promised.  It's easy to be faithful then.

But these faith "hall of fame-ers" were commended for their faith- and they never received what had been promised.  They NEVER received it, and were faithful anyway. 

It reminds me of the Mercy Me song....

I know You're able, and I know You can
save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
my hope is You alone

They say it only takes a little faith
to move a mountain
Well, good thing,
a little faith is all I have right now.
But God when You choose
to leave mountains unmoveable
oh give me the strength to be able to sing
it is well with my soul

May I have that kind of faith!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageEzekiel 5-7; Hebrews 12

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday, November 15th: Ezekiel 1-2; Hebrews 11:1-19 ~ Emma

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 1-2; Hebrews 11:1-19

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” - Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬

No matter what you believe in, it requires faith of the unseen/unknown. And we, as Christians, need to grow our faith stronger and stronger so that we always remain hopeful, and loving towards the Lord. If we don’t have faith, we have nothing.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageEzekiel 3-4; Hebrews 11:20-40

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday, November 14th: Lamentations 3-5; Hebrews 10:19-39 ~ Jody

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Lamentations 3-5; Hebrews 10:19-39

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3:22-24

What encouraging verses. He is all and everything we can place our hope in. And it's confirmed again in our New Testament reading.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:23

I could have actually listed the whole Hebrews reading here as passages that resonated with me today. That we continue to live in His hope, repenting and turning back to Him so we can fully receive His goodness and nearness.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageEzekiel 1-2; Hebrews 11:1-19