Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday, December 31st Psalm 11

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Malachi 3-4
Today's scripture focus is Psalm 11

Psalm 11 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Lord Is in His Holy Temple

To the choirmaster. Of David.

11 In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
    “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
    they have fitted their arrow to the string
    to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”
The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord's throne is in heaven;
    his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous,
    but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Let him rain coals on the wicked;
    fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
    the upright shall behold his face.
We have the tendency to allow our circumstances to dictate our emotions - a very natural, human tendency, but not necessarily a very wise or helpful tendency.

The fact that God is sovereign and good is what can give us confidence despite our circumstances.  He will never leave us or forsake us, but will strengthen us and give us peace as we go through difficult times.

I remember reading a blog post by Angie Smith when she and her husband discovered via ultrasound that their unborn baby would die either in utero, during birth, or very shortly after birth.  I remember her saying something to the effect of this "My Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday". (Read full blog post here).

And it's true.  No matter our circumstances, Jesus is still the same.  He is still Lord.  He is still King.  He is still good.  He is still there.  He is still with us.  HE IS.

I can't believe that wraps up another year on the Bible blog.  Once again, I've learned so much and am so thankful for all of your contributions.  Looking forward to a new year tomorrow!!  We're going back to our original format - we will follow a Bible in a Year reading plan and post about something that impacts us from the day's reading.  Here is the plan we will be following.   Happy New Year!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 1-3, Romans 1

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tuesday, December 30th Psalm 10

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Revelation 22, Malachi 1-2
Today's scripture focus is Psalm 10

Psalm 10 English Standard Version (ESV)

Why Do You Hide Yourself?

10 Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
    let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
    and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
    all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
His ways prosper at all times;
    your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
    as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
    throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
    under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages;
    in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
    he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
    he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10 The helpless are crushed, sink down,
    and fall by his might.
11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
    he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
12 Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
    forget not the afflicted.
13 Why does the wicked renounce God
    and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14 But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
    that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
    you have been the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
    call his wickedness to account till you find none.
16 The Lord is king forever and ever;
    the nations perish from his land.
17 Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
What a timeless psalm.  Since the beginning of time it seems like the wicked flourish and get away with murder (sometimes literally).  And sometimes, in this life, they really do, to a certain extent.

However, those who reject God do so at both a temporal and eternal cost.

For life here on earth, they have no chance to experience the true joy that can only be found in relationship with God.  God has set eternity in the heart of man, a longing for Him that only He can fill.  The wicked may have moments of fleeting happiness, but they cannot experience true joy as God intended.

And the eternal cost is obvious.  As we walk this earth, our years seem long and our temporary happiness can at times feel all important.  But when we consider our lifetimes in light of eternity, it truly is but a moment.  We serve a God of both justice and mercy.  He will show mercy to those who truly repent, but He will show justice and wrath to those who do not.  He is King, He is Lord, and in the end, justice will reign.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Psalm 11
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Malachi 3-4

Monday, December 29, 2014

Monday, December 29- by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Revelation 21, Zechariah 13-14
Today's scripture focus is Psalm 9

I Will Recount Your Wonderful Deeds

[a] To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben.[b] A Psalm of David.

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
    I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
    I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
When my enemies turn back,
    they stumble and perish before[c] your presence.
For you have maintained my just cause;
    you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.
You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
    you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
    their cities you rooted out;
    the very memory of them has perished.
But the Lord sits enthroned forever;
    he has established his throne for justice,
and he judges the world with righteousness;
    he judges the peoples with uprightness.
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
11 Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion!
    Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
    he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
13 Be gracious to me, O Lord!
    See my affliction from those who hate me,
    O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises,
    that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
    I may rejoice in your salvation.
15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
    in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
    the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion.[d] Selah
17 The wicked shall return to Sheol,
    all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
    and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
19 Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail;
    let the nations be judged before you!
20 Put them in fear, O Lord!
    Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah

This passage begins with a reminder:

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
    I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
    I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

and what better time to think about the blessings of God than at this time of year. Sometimes this time of year can be a real downer. Maybe the excitement and the decorations and the lights and the anticipation is a bit of a let down to what the reality of what the actual Christmas season turned out to be. Maybe the focus was too much on the outside appearances the tree, the stockings, the presents and not the PRESENCE of Jesus.

I have a strained relationship with my side of the family. No other time of the year does this make itself especially known than at Christmas. It probably because of the "ideal" nature of Christmas and the picture perfectness that we associate with the holiday season.

I choose to "give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart". I choose to "recount all of his wonderful deeds". My personal blog has become a collection of good things that I can focus on instead of all the negativity that threatens to outshine all the blessings. I am "glad" and I do "exult" God because I know that it is through Him that I have what I do.

When life gets hard, it's so easy to get bitter. Bitterness can leach into all aspects of life like a poison. It's hard to escape and so easy to drag others in when you look at life through a bitter lens. We are all a product of our life choices. We can choose to be grateful or choose to be bitter. Choosing to live a life that focuses of being grateful is a life that has been changed by God. It does not been that my life is not without problems but it is that I am choosing to look on the blessings that I have and not on what I do not have. I am a sinner. I fall short. I am not perfect. Through God's mercy, this does not keep me from Him. I am grateful for that. I am just human and I fail miserably and often. However, I am grateful for repentance and forgiveness and the ability to live life giving thanks for the many blessings, especially when I do not deserve a single one.

You are so gracious and full of mercy. It is so hard for me to comprehend it. I make bad choices, I hold grudges, I am a sinner. Thank you for loving me anyway. Thank you for welcoming me back again and again. Help me to show this same generosity and mercy to all those who need it from me. Remind me often that all blessings come from You and protect me from the poison of bitterness. Amen.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Psalm 10
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Revelation 22, Malachi 1-2