Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday, September 30th: Ezekiel 24-26, John 13:21-38 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 24-26; John 13:21-38

Ezekiel had been preaching a message that was not well received and was likely making him less than popular among his neighbours.  But at least he had a home and a wife he loved deeply.  Until God used the death of his wife as an object lesson to the Jews.

What could be worth that?  Jeremiah was called to bachelorhood, Hosea was told to marry an unfaithful woman - but Ezekiel married a woman he loved, and his ministry required that he lose her suddenly.  Why?

Rayburn says: there are greater, higher interests than those of our lives in this world, our personal happiness and fulfillment in life. The judgment of the nation, the rupture of the covenant, the destruction of Jerusalem, the razing of the temple of the Lord, the death of thousands and the exile of thousands more, the purification of the people of God; all of these are of much greater consequence and moment...... there are more important things than even the solemnities of mourning a loved one. A wife can be taken from a loving husband as a sign only if that which her death signifies is something so consequential, so important, so needing to be understood that even a great love lost is a price worth paying to make people take heed.

There is always purpose in our suffering, but so often we don't know what that purpose is, at least not at the time.  But Ezekiel knew.  Knowing it likely didn't make it any easier for him to bear personally, but he counted the cost of following God faithfully, and he chose to pay the price.

Are we willing to do the same?

Our NT passage reminds us that it is by our love that the world will recognize our faith.  Do we love in such a noticeable way?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 27-29; John 14

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday, September 29th: Ezekiel 22-23, John 13:1-20 ~ Nathan

In the later verses of Ezekiel 22 we read about how some of the different leaders in Israel at that time showed a poor example and played a big part in leading the nation astray. We see first how the princes (easy to read version) lead with a poor example:

Verse 25:
There is a conspiracy of her princes  within her like a roaring lion tearing its prey; they devour people, take treasures and precious things and make many widows within her.

Then also the religious leaders:
Verse 26:
Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.

We are all leaders in some part of our lives. We're either a parent,  or teacher,  or have a position of authority at work etc. We may have someone looking up to us and we don't even realize it. Do we make sure to lead in the way God wants? If we don't lead in the way God wants,  how are those that look up to us supposed to know what the right way is?

In chapter 23 we read a graphic account of two sisters lewdness, and how it parallels what Israel had done. These sexual sins are almost praised in society today,  and even though these verses give a graphic account -  they seem almost tame to us. We can see a lot of this on TV even. It shows how jaded our society has become.  As Christians we need to teach modesty,  self control and sexual purity to our youth and not give them the green light to follow what everyone else in secular society is doing.

In our New Testament reading we read about how Jesus teaches his disciples to wash each others feet. As He's doing this He must be having mixed emotions. On one hand He's about to endure a slow painful death. But in the other hand He's about to defeat sin and death, and therefore gain the largest victory ever! On top of that He's also about to go back to heaven,  it doesn't get better than that!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday, September 28: Ezekiel 20-21 & John 12:27-50 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 20-21; John 12:27-50

Scripture: Ezekiel 20:7
7 "And I said to them, Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. But they rebelled against me and were not willing to listen to me. None of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt."

John 12:43
 43" for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God."

Observation: We are like children disobeying the directions of our Father and choosing to do and serving ourselves and our peers instead.

Application: I teach Grade 1. It is September. September is a time of getting to know my students, establishing routines, and setting rules and boundaries. However, despite much training and repetition, there are multiple times each day when I catch a student in an activity or a behaviour that I know has been taught and reviewed in great detail. Not that I am comparing my job as a teacher as the same as God but stay with me...Just as God commands us as followers of Him to "cast away the detestable things" I remind my grade 1 students to "make good choices", "keep your hands (and other body parts including tongues--don't ask!) to yourself", "be kind",  and "stay on the job". students are 6 and they just can't (or sometimes won't) follow through on the instructions that I have set for them. We too, can often be like six year olds. We know better, we know the rules and expectations, and yet we choose not to listen. We reject what we know is good for us and we make bad choices.

Many of these poor choices of my Grade 1 friends are blamed on their friends: "He told me to" or "She was doing it too". The influence of peers weighs heavily on the behaviour of my students. They are more concerned about the acceptance or encouragement of their friends then they are about what me as their teacher has told them to do. How often do we too blame our circumstances on "'s not that bad because that guy did the same thing as I did" or "I just didn't want to offend them so I joined in" or "I just want them to like me and not be mad at me". We are just as guilty as 6 year olds in blaming our behaviour on others. We seek the glory that comes from man more than seeking the glory that comes from God.

Not only do we seek the glory from others over God but more often we seek our own glory over the glory of God. We adopt the cultural standard of "me first" without often even realizing that we are doing it. Our selfishness over our money, time, and resources can be a hinderance to seeking out what God would have us do with what He has given us. Grade 1 students are at an age where they think the world revolves around them. I would argue that often we are not too far removed from this mindset.

Prayer: Lord, you are the ultimate teacher with wisdom to share with us beyond our wildest imaginations. A teacher can teach but it is up to the learner to seek to understand what is being taught by listening and applying the knowledge. Help us to be good students and not like selfish six year olds. Help us to live in the world but not be of the world. Create in us a desire to turn from selfishness and need to please or be accepted by others. Remind us often that You will demand an explanation for our behaviour one day and that we will have to account for our actions. Thank you for your grace and mercy as we fall short every day. As a child grows, help us to grow to in knowledge and wisdom as we seek You. Amen.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 22-23; John 13:1-20

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday, September 27th: Ezekiel 18-19, John 12:1-26 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Ezekiel 18-19; John 12:1-26

Ezekiel 18 gives hope.  There is still time to repent.  God will not refuse forgiveness to anyone who genuinely repents and each person will ultimately be judged according to their own decision to follow God or to go their own way.  There is individual freedom and responsibility when it comes to salvation.  Everyone dies physically in this life, and it was quite likely that some true believers died during the fall of Jerusalem and the judgment of Israel.  But they would not die spiritually.  And so Ezekiel pleads with them, and with us, that NOW is the day of salvation.  Repent and believe today, do not delay!

Our NT passage also confirms that our spiritual lives are worth so much more than our physical lives. If we live with eternity in mind, our suffering or even death in this physical world is not in vain, and is worth the glory to come.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 20-21; John 12:27-50

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Saturday, September 26th: Ezekiel 16-17, John 11:30-57 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 16-17; John 11:30-57

Ezekiel 16 is a shocking and explicit chapter.  Ezekiel uses the analogy of a prostitute to describe Israel's spiritual infidelity and nakedness to describe her fate.  Israel thought they were immune to rejection by God because of their status as God's chosen people.  They slid into depravity so severe it made Sodom look good in comparison.  The innocent young woman God had plucked from the gutter and made his beautiful queen had deliberately become a prostitute, trampling over the grace her husband had shown her.

How did this happen?  Israel forgot God's grace.  They no longer purposefully remembered all that God had done.

We, too, sometimes need a shocking reminder of our own sinfulness.  We need to purposefully remember our status as depraved and helpless sinners, God's incredible mercifulness towards us, and we need to have an overwhelming sense of gratitude and debt that comes with that remembrance.

Being in church does not save us. In fact, exposure to God's teaching only increases our guilt and responsibility if we do not prove faithful.

We are not better than Israel.  We are prone to forget.  We must be vigilant about remembering, because there but for the grace of God go we.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 18-19; John 12:1-26

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday, 25 September 2015, Ezekiel 14-15; John 11:1-29 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 14-15; John 11:1-29

According to our OT passage today God does not answer the prayers of those who do not pray in His name, not even when false prophets claim to speak for Him. we are rejected because we first rejected Him, even if false preachers have seduced us. Verse 11 is a beautiful statement of the purpose of the Law-to convict and convince us of our unfaithfulness and bring us to repentance so that we may enjoy His salvation. Using four vivid pictures, Ezekiel emphasizes that righteousness (faith and life) is not transferable from one person to the next. We should not think that salvation can come from any other human  source, but only from the righteousness won by Christ on the cross. The exiles' concession that God doesn't not punish without cause is is described in 22-23. Jerusalem is a vine that is good for nothing but burning, a vivid illustration of the city's fall in 587 BC. By this catastrophe, the Lord prepares the way for restoration and salvation. In Christ, the true vine, we can bear much fruit.

In our NT reading today, Jesus, the Son of God, will raise Lazarus from the dead so that He might be glorified. Death overwhelms us all. Even Christians have difficulty at times accepting God's promise to strengthen faith through adversity. At the hand of Christ, suffering serves God's gracious purpose; even death loses its sting.

Jesus assures Martha that all who believe in Him, though they die physically, will lie forever. Death is the consequence of sin and eventually takes everyone. No human being can overcome it. We can comfort one another in the hope that even in the face of death, believers in Jesus Christ possess the sure promise of their own resurrection to everlasting life.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Ezekiel 16-17; John 11:30-57

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thursday, September 24th: Ezekiel 11-13, John 10: 24-42 ~ Nathan

Ezekiel again prophesied about the judgement coming to the Israelites. This also again reminds me of the judgement we will all face. I think of people around me who have backslidden and also of those who to me show a good example of how God wants us to live. It will one day be too late for us to change. 

One verse that stood out to me was in chapter 12:16,
"But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine and plague, so that in the nations where they go they may acknowledge all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the Lord .”
Were these few Jews convicted of their sin and therefore wanting to be forgiven and changed? It wasn't too late for them, they could still do what God wanted. Just like it's not too late for anyone alive today.

In our New Testament reading we read again how the Jews didn't believe that Jesus was God's son. We see this over and over again,  and Jesus uses many ways to show them who He really is. These Jews weren't stupid people, and yet they can't grasp something that to us is obvious.

We believe largely because we've read the Bible,  believe it, and have experienced the Holy Spirit in our lives. We also see God at work in both creation around us, and in how he works in our lives. These Jews were smart people,  but wouldn't allow themselves to fully embrace and accept what God was doing,  even though they were well taught in Old Testament law. Am I allowing God to work in me?  Or am I not being open to what He wants?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday, September 23rd: Ezekiel 8-10, John 10:1-23 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 8-10; John 10:1-23

In Ezekiel 8 God shows Ezekiel just how evil and corrupt Jerusalem had become, and that that was the reason for God's judgment.   Are we guilty of covering up sin in our lives?

In Chapter 9's picture of the coming judgment, God called one man to spare the remnant who had been faithful, and six men to slaughter the wicked. It's important to note that the remnant were considered faithful because they saw and repented of their nation's sin.  We need to grasp the seriousness of sin and the holiness of God.  At the end of Chapter 9 we see the people making excuses to continue to sin.  Attempting to rationalize or trivialize sin may make it easier to sin, but it sure doesn't convince God or cancel the punishment sure to follow.

In Chapter 10 we see that the people's sin has finally resulted in God's glory departing from the temple.  The temple was destroyed and though it was later rebuilt, God's glory never returned completely until Christ himself visited it.

He is the Good Shepherd, He is the Gate, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but through Him.  And when die in this life, and enter eternity through the Gate, that is when we will see the glory of God in ways we cannot even begin to imagine in this life.  But that will never happen if we do not grasp the seriousness of our sin and our desperate need of a Saviour.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 11-13; John 10:24-42

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday, September 22nd: Ezekiel 5-7, John 9:24-41 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 5-7; John 9:24-41

Holy wrath and vengeance is an undeniable feature of God's character.  Sin absolutely must be punished. Anyone who ignores that fact (or tries to argue it away) does so at their own peril.  Thankfully, Jesus on the cross stands between us, sinful creatures all, and God's holy wrath.

Rayburn points out that...
  1. First, the just judgment of Israel is, finally, only what he had promised his people from the very beginning should they betray his covenant as they had and do what they had done.
  2. Second, Israel’s behavior was, in fact, a complete and perverse betrayal of Yahweh, of his love, his holiness, and his condescension toward an unworthy people whom he had brought into covenant with himself.
  3. Third, and finally, the justice of Yahweh’s judgments against Israel – severe as he threatened to make them and as they would prove to be – is demonstrated by the fact that when God’s people, or what was left of them, finally came to their senses, they would be horrified not by what God had done, but by what they had done!
The truth is, we all deserve the judgment that is coming, and it is only by God's grace alone that we are spared.

In our John passage, I love the sass the healed man displays towards the religious leaders, and I love His absolute faith and trust in Jesus.  May we demonstrate such unshakable confidence in Him in every area of our lives.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 8-10; John 10:1-23

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday, September 21st: Ezekiel 3-4, John 9:1-23 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 3-4, John 9:1-23

Today's reading begins with Ezekiel being told to eat the scroll given to him by God, and then speak those words to the house of Israel.  I found it interesting because God is talking and giving direction to Ezekiel, but it does not indicate that Ezekiel says anything back to God.  

I wonder what was going on in Ezekiel's head?  Ezekiel was not only told to go to speak God's words, but to speak to people who would not listen because they were hardened towards God.  Not a very motivating speech to hear when you don't even want to go!

Well, Ezekiel went.  Not because of his own desire, but because God had Ezekiel in His grip and needed Ezekiel to fulfill His plan.  This reminded me that God will use people, including me, who may not feel equipped to bring His plan to fruition.

The instruction that God gives to Ezekiel is to do a good job speaking God's Word to His people.  But here's the catch.......he will only speak when God opens his mouth.  He was not to engage in idle conversation with the exiles.  He was also instructed to remain silent in his house until God gave him the words to speak.  Talk about a lonely job (see what I did there?)

Ezekiel's responsibility was to speak God's word to the house of Israel.  God already knew they wouldn't listen or heed to it.  The people of Israel were disobedient, so God commissioned a ministry of prophetic reproof by His prophet Ezekiel to those people.

Are we like the house of Israel?  How do we react if someone challenges our walk with God?  Do we listen with open ears, or turn our heads and walk away?  What if we see a fellow Christian on a slippery slope, do we come along side to help them?  Or do we find pleasure in finding their faults and pointing them out to others?

In chapter 4, Ezekiel becomes an actor.....sort of.  He was to act out the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem.  The purpose?  To attract attention.  And I'm sure he did!  I found it interesting that God instructed him to lye on his left side while prophesying against the sins of Israel and lye on his right side when prophesying against the sins of Judah.  I found it comical when Ezekiel felt he had to draw the line in verse 14 with cooking his food over human excrement!

In our NT passage we read of another one of Jesus' miracles - healing a blind man.  But this story is about more than just that.  It addresses the concept of sickness as a result of sin.  Even the disciples asked Jesus if it was the man or his parents that sinned to cause this man's blindness from birth.

So why does God permit sickness like this to happen?  In verse 3 we read, "but that the works of God might be displayed in him."   Satan does his work at night when it is dark, so that evil can hide.  Jesus does His work during the day when it is light out, so that all can see His works.

Of course, the healing of the blind man leads to the Pharisees investigating this healing, but again they have more questions than answers.  Ironic how Jesus allowed the blind man to see, and yet others (the Pharisees) remain blind to the miracle.      

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekial 5-7; John 9:24-41

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday, September 20th: Ezekiel 1-2, John 8:28-59 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 1-2; John 8:28-59

The first few verses of Ezekiel introduce us to the man chosen by God to proclaim His message to His people, and to write this book named for its author.

It is widely agreed that the thirtieth year (in v1) refers to Ezekiel's age when he received his prophetic call. He would have been 25 when taken captive during the second of three deportations of Jews from Judea to Babylon (v2). The first deportation occurred in 605BC when Babylon deported the most gifted of Judean's population, including Daniel, in order to ensure their loyalty. The second deportation occurred in 597BC when King Jehoiakim foolishly went against the council of Jeremiah and rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar. The King had Jehoiakim dragged to Babylon and executed, then set up his son Jehoiachim as King. Jehoiachim, along with the royal family, was brought to Babylon in the second deportation along with 10,000 captives from the upper levels of society, leaving only the poorest behind (2 Kings 24:14). Ezekiel and his wife were included in these 10,000 captives.


Ezekiel tells us that his prophetic call came to him in his 30th year....Ezekiel was 30 years of age when this happened. That means he would have been born just a year or so before the law book was discovered in the temple during Josiah’s reforms. As the son of a priest, he would have been an eyewitness of those reforms and of King Josiah’s piety and his support for the renewal of Israel’s faith and worship. When he was barely a teenager Josiah was killed in battle and the reforming movement was abandoned. As he grew up and prepared through his 20s for his calling as a priest, he was probably one of very few who took that calling seriously.

The fact that he was 30 when God called him would have had for him a melancholy significance, easily recognized by any Jewish reader, because it was at 30 years of age that a priest would undertake his formal duties (Num. 4:3). It was then that Ezekiel, as his father before him, would have entered into his service at the temple – service for which he had been preparing himself since the time he was a young man – but, of course, he wasn’t any longer in Jerusalem and could not and would never serve as a priest there. All the preparations of his life would have seemed for naught, until suddenly the Lord revealed different plans for this man.

Ezekiel the priest reluctantly became Ezekiel the prophet.

Most of Judea dragged their spiritual baggage along with them to Babylon. Years of idolatry and apostasy had brought her to ruin, yet they could not recognize that they were responsible for their own demise. They were thrilled to claim the promises of God, but they would not recognize their own sin, or the terrible holiness of God.  And that's precisely why Ezekiel's message would be so unpopular - his message of hope was dependent on the people's willingness to repent.

The description of Ezekiel's vision is incredible and truly only a glimpse of God's glory.

We see Ezekiel's reaction to seeing a glimpse of God's holiness - he fell flat on his face in fear and trembling.  (I find it interesting that though this is exactly how the Bible describes the few human encounters with glimpses of God's glory, none of the people in the "heaven tourism" books ever describe this as their own experience.  But I digress...)

To be honest - Ezekiel's message is the same for us today.  Our hope is dependent on our repentance, and generally that's not a message most people want to hear.

This passage causes us to ask some tough questions....
Have we deluded ourselves?
Have we taken our status as God's children for granted and presumed upon His grace?
Have we lost sight of the holiness of God?
Have we lost sight of the awfulness of our sin?
Have we lost the desire to see God's glory?
Are we willing to live for God even when it's hard?
Are we willing to go against the flow?
Are we willing to be holy no matter the cost?
Are we self aware of our spiritual condition?

In our John passage the people are still confused about Jesus' identity, but Jesus makes it clear that He in the Truth, and the only One that can free us from our bondage to sin.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 3-4; John 9:1-23

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday, September 19th: Amos 7-9, John 8:1-27 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Amos 7-9; John 8:1-27

Rayburn gives us an impressive list of the things we can learn from the book of Amos...
  1. That God’s wrath and judgment is a reality in the world and it falls first and most severely on God’s house, the church;
  2. That there is a progression in unbelief, beginning with indifference to God’s Word;
  3. That there is a point of no return which unbelievers even in the church pass with their constant refusal to heed and answer God’s summons to repentance; and once having passed these people are dead even though they live;
  4. That divine wrath is revealed suddenly and ferociously over and over and over again in the history of the world and yet, nevertheless, it always surprises the unbeliever;
  5. That the poor are swept up in this judgment as well as the rich; and that in God’s holy judgment he remains forever no respecter of persons;
  6. That repentance consists not of feelings and experiences, but of the repudiation of one’s sin and the putting on of obedience before God because of one’s consciousness of the Lord, of his reality, of his presence, and the reality of salvation in him and him only.

In today's passage we also see that God will vindicate His faithful ministers who speak the truth just as surely as He will punish the false teachers and unfaithful ministers; you cannot rebel against God without impunity forever; you cannot mistake His patience to mean anything but the fact that He is delaying judgment, for it is surely coming; absolutely no guilty persons will escape unpunished;  but that there will always be a remnant of genuine believers.

We are that remnant and we must live like we are.

The beginning of our John passage is not in the earliest manuscripts, but it is still faithful to the rest of the gospel.  Jesus did not condemn the woman, but neither did He ignore or condone her sin.  He stands ready to forgive any sin, but true repentance and confession means a change of heart which will bring with it a change in behaviour.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 1-2; John 8:28-59

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday, 18 September 2015 Amos 4-6; John 7:28-53 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Amos 4-6; John 7:28-53

In the beginning of our reading from Amos, the people of Israel are compared to fat, well-fed cattle and of walking along like them, looking neither right nor left. They've ignored all His warnings and not responded to His other signs and punishments for unfaithfulness.

Their only safety is in seeking the Lord. They have built nice things for themselves but they will not be able to enjoy them. They think that by belonging, literally, to the house of Israel, they are safe, but they're not following God's will. They're depending upon their names and heritage to save them. They're like someone who has escaped a lion only to meet a bear. (I love that image!)

They people are too sure of themselves and their lifestyles. They think because they have it good that they can't be sinners. They've been blessed! They have their best lives now! They can't possibly be under a curse! They have trusted in their armies and their own abilities but they're about to find out that they can only trust in the Lord. Nothing they have or do can be trusted.

In our Gospel reading we're dealing with Christ's origin. The people are confused. He claims to be the Messiah, but the religious rulers, who should really know the Messiah when they see Him, are calling for His arrest to get Him out of the way. So the question remains among them, who is He really? The people are believing Him and the religious leaders can't have that. They send the guard to arrest Him but since He's in control of the situation, they're unsuccessful. In fact the guards are as confused as the rest of the crowd. The rulers are intent and refuse to even listen to Nicodemus, ridiculing him along with the crowd.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Amos 7-9; John 8:1-27

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Thursday, September 17th: Amos 1-3, John 7:1-27 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Amos 1-3; John 7:1-27

We know the difference between right and wrong, and yet we do wrong anyway.  Amos exposes the wicked deeds of the nations for what they are - wicked deeds that deserve to, and will be, punished.  And the nation of Israel will be punished right alongside the pagan nations surrounding them because they are just as guilty - in fact, they are actually more guilty because they committed their sins against light and privilege.  They very well knew better.

Even as believers, we continue to sin.  As Rayburn says.... 

the way to ensure that we do not come to take those sins lightly or to allow ourselves to indulge them is precisely to hear, over and over again, what God thinks of those sins and what he does to those who commit them who do not repent and forsake them.

And we could say the same thing about God’s wrath. It is as important for Christians to remember as it is for the world to learn in the first place that the God of the Bible, the Creator of heaven and earth, the living and true God, is equally a God of love and justice, of mercy and holiness, of grace and vengeance. The fear of God is not for unbelievers only, but, usually in the Bible, for Christians. In our hearts that fear of God is tempered wonderfully by the knowledge of his grace, mercy, and fatherly affection for his people – we encounter God through Jesus Christ who suffered and died for our salvation – but the requirements of his holiness remain. Indeed, there never would have been a cross apart from the inflexible demands of God’s holy justice. It is true that, as in Toplady’s hymn, the wrath of God “with me can have nothing to do” since “my Savior’s obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view.” But still the wrath of a sin-hating God must remain a permanent part of the consciousness of a Christian. [Motyer, 32] It keeps him from taking his salvation for granted; it keeps him hard at work killing his sins and putting on righteousness in his daily life; and it keeps him alive to the fact that the world around him is doomed and that he must live his life as an ambassador of the gospel of Christ. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” Paul writes, “knowing that it is God who is in you…”

Divine judgment is coming.  It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.

The world does not want to hear this news nowadays, and it didn't in Jesus' day either, as see clearly in our John passage.  The world hates Jesus and we can expect that many people will hate us for following Him and exposing evil to the Light.  If we never experience any opposition at all in our lives, it may be time for some introspection to see if we're only following Jesus half-heartedly.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Amos 4-6; John 7:28-53

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wednesday, September 16th: Lamentations 3-5, John 6:45-71 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Lamentations 3-5; John 6:45-71

The devastation of the fall of the Jerusalem is almost unimaginable, particularly for the majority of us who have never experienced the effects of war.  God had promised that punishment would follow Israel's continued disobedience, and it did.  But God had also promised restoration, and Jeremiah knew God would keep that promise just as surely as He kept the promise of judgment.

But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”
Truly, clinging to that ray of hope is also our only way to make it through the trials in our lives.  May we have the same confidence and faith in God as Jeremiah did, no matter our circumstances.  As we learned in our Sunday School class this past Sunday, we also need to remember to use exactly circumstances such as these to allow God to grow our faith.

Our John passage speaks of Jesus being the bread of life.  We eat the bread by believing and receiving Jesus Christ, His pre-existence and His incarnation, and we drink the blood by believing in the death that He died to save us.

As John MacArthur explains.... You have to be able to eat His flesh in the sense that you take Him as the one who nourishes the soul. And you have to be willing to drink His blood in the sense that you accept his sacrificial death.

The work of the Spirit makes the heart hungry for the Bread of Life, who transforms us through His life and sacrificial death on our behalf.  Thanks be to God!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Amos 1-3; John 7:1-27

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tuesday, September 15th: Lamentations 1-2, John 6:22-44 ~ Nathan

The book of Lamentations was most likely written right after the fall of Jerusalem.  The purpose of this book is to express grief over the fall of Jerusalem because of her sin. It is believed that it is written most likely by Jeremiah. 

We see how the author shows the once great city and how it fell, in the opening verse,
"How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave"

And later in verse 5 we see the reason for this solemn tone,
"Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease. The Lord has brought her grief because of her many sins. Her children have gone into exile, captive before the foe."

The utter despair that Jerusalem is in,  shows us a picture of what life would be like without God helping us. No wonder our world today is so depressing to so many,  we can now understand somewhat what life is like to those who don't have salvation from Jesus.

In our New Testament reading from John,  we see how the people ask what they need to do - to be doing the works of God. Jesus answers in verse 29,
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent .”

He goes on to tell them in verse 35 that they need to come to Him,
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

And later in verse 40 He again says they need to believe,
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

The people then grumbled amongst themselves,  doubting who Jesus really was.

Jesus makes it really clear for us,  we need to believe He is who He says He is,  and then to except and obey Him (which we would naturally do if we believe He is who He says He is)

Sometimes we make things more complicated then they need to be,  but here Jesus makes it simple for us - believe He is who He says He is.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday, September 14: Judges 19-21; John 6:1-21 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Judges 19-21; John 6:1-21

You can't really read the passage from Judges without opening your eyes in disbelief, shaking your head in wonder, and scratching your head in confusion. What kind of story is this? Drunkenness, homosexual propositions, gang rape, physical abuse, murder, dismemberment, lying, fighting, and more. The writers of Criminal Minds and CSI can hardly come up with some of the atrocities of today's OT reading.

I did some googling and found this here in which the Pastor attempts to describe the character of the Levite:

"Now, here is the telling scene about the kind of man the Levite was. When the men wouldn’t listen to the old man, verse 25 tells us that the Levitetook his concubine and set her outside to them; they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. Verse 26reads, “at daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.”

The Levite didn’t protest against the wicked men of Gibeah. He didn’t stand up for his concubine, his wife. Instead, to save himself from being raped, he gave his concubine into the wicked gang of men to be raped and abused. He had the appearance of religiosity when he wanted to stay in a town belonging to the Israelites. But, the Levite was a man who only looked out for himself.

What was he doing during the night while his wife, his concubine was being raped by a group of gang? Verse 27 says, “When her master got up in the morning and opened to the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold.” He slept through the night comfortably while his concubine was being raped and abused; when he woke up he got himself ready to leave; when he was about to step outside of the house he saw his concubine lying motionless by the threshold.What did he say to her? Verse 28, “Get up; let’s go.” Cold, loveless… no wonder the concubine left this man. With no answer from her, he put her on his donkey and set out for home. No mention of tears, moaning… nothing from him!"

The Levite was just looking out for himself. He didn't care about the girl. His further dismemberment of her body and sending it out further indicates his lack of compassion for the woman. He further violates her by lying about what happened:

"When the rest of the Israelites received the dismembered body parts of the concubine, they were enraged; at Mizpah, a near city to Gibeah, they enquired the Levite of what happened. Verse 5, he told them, “During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died. I took my concubine, cut her into pieces and sent one peace to each region ofIsrael’s inheritance, because they committed this lewd and disgraceful act in Israel.” Listening to his story, it sounds like he was a helpless victim, a caring husband. But, we know that they weren’t after him to kill him. They were after him to have sex with him. And he conveniently skipped the part about how his concubine ended up outside of the house. It was he who pushed her outside to save himself.
The Levite gave them an embellished account of what happened. With the witness of this one man, without investigating further to learn what really happened, the Israelites reacted as one man. Verse 11 says, “So all the men of Israel got together and united as one man against the city.” Each tribe sent out 10 percent of their people to deal with the men of Gibeah."

I think what it really comes down to is summed up in the very last verse of the OT passage:

25 At that time there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.

People did whatever they felt like doing. Isn't that the state of our society today? We don't have to look very far to find the same evil. We live in a world that preaches if it feels right to you then it is good. Babies are murdered and mutilated  (and pieces sold for profit). Sex is not sacred between a husband and wife but a little searching online normalizes everything from casual sex, affairs, homosexual relationships, sex with animals, and celebrates transgender individuals as heros. Lying, stealing, and cheating become normal behaviours as society embraces political candidates that exhibit these characteristics. "At that time there was no king in Israel" We may have political figures in power but they are swayed easily by the minority and at the whim of political correctness. As a society, we are lacking a King--one who would protect us from doing whatever we felt was right in order to protect us from ourselves and our selfish ways.

We should be willing to serve a King that is worthy. A King who knows what is right and good and leads us away from what will harm us. Jesus is that King. He can feed the hungry (with leftovers!!) and walk on water. 

We have been given free will. We have the freedom to choose. So many choose so poorly and one day will have to answer for their choices to the King of Kings.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Lamentations 1-2; John 6:22-44

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday, September 13th: Judges 16-18, John 5:25-47 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Judges 16-18; John 5:25-47

Samson's life is a lesson on how not to live the Christian life.  Though empowered by the Holy Spirit, Samson lived for the flesh.  In fact, he became so immune to the Spirit that when the Spirit left him entirely, he didn't even notice it.  And he reaped the fruit of his sins in the punishment inflicted on him by the Philistines.  It was only when Samson's physical sight was destroyed that his spiritual eyes are finally opened, and finally Samson comes to a saving faith (as we know from Hebrews 11) and in his sacrificial death he did far more damage to the Philistines than he ever did during the time he wasted on raucous living.  The deaths of so many high ranking people would have through the Philistines into immense confusion.  God uses Samson, despite all his bad choices, to fulfill His purpose, and begin to rescue His people.

We are disobedient to our own peril, not to the peril of God's plan.  God's purposes will prevail, with or without us.  When we choose to be obedient, we are receive the blessings of that obedience.

Further into our passage we find a not-too-distant heir of Moses living as a priest for hire, using idols as his tools.  How quickly Israel has fallen away from God and into false religion.  They did what was right in their own eyes, instead of what was right in God's eyes.  Sounds exactly like our society today.

The law was given to reveal our sinfulness as well as God's righteousness. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law and died as a substitute for our sin, imputing His righteousness to us.  Trusting in gods of our own making, like Micah did, only leads to death.  As we see in our John passage, Jesus is the only way to life.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Judges 19-21; John 6:1-21

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Saturday, September 12th: Judges 13-15, John 5:1-24 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Judges 13-15; John 5:1-24

It's interesting to note that the Angel of the Lord (Jesus pre-incarnate) told Mrs Manoah that she was to abstain from wine and unclean food because her son was to be a Nazirite his entire life - and that included the womb.   I had never noticed before that this passage is applicable in the "when life begins" argument.  Clearly, life begins in the womb.

Bob Deffinbough says:
Here is a man whose birth was a miracle, and it was announced by a two-fold appearance of the Angel of the Lord. He was born into a godly home and raised (so far as we can tell) in a way that honored God. During his childhood, he experienced the blessing of God and was “stirred” by the Spirit of the Lord. Who could ask for any better beginning than this? ... Samson had been blessed with every advantage, and thus we anticipate great things from him in the following chapters.

But our high hopes are about to be dashed on the rocks of reality in chapters 14-16. While God will use Samson to break the Philistines’ grip on Israel, he is not a deliverer that we will be proud of (no matter how much we seek to clean up Samson’s image in our children’s Bible story books). Samson will kill his thousands, but his motivations are primarily anger and revenge, based upon his frustrated efforts to indulge himself with illegitimate pleasures.

Starting well does not guarantee ending well.  We see this in the life of King David as well.  We can never lose our vigilance when it comes to pursuing holiness and becoming like Christ.  You never retire from Christianity.

The story of Samson is a beautiful example of how God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility inter-mesh. There are many who feel it necessary to embrace one or the other – God’s sovereignty or human responsibility – but not both. But our text demonstrates both principles at work at the same time. Samson is a man who must (and does) make choices. These choices are almost always sinful and self-serving. And yet God purposed and promised that Samson would begin to deliver Israel from bondage to the Philistines. And that is exactly what God did, through a disobedient and pleasure-seeking Samson.

Do not think that God’s sovereignty removes all freedom of choice from men, or accountability for those choices. God’s sovereignty is so complete that He can give men freedom and yet still be in complete control of His world.

Yet, for all his faults, Samson did turn to God - he is listed in the Hebrews Hall of Fame.  And THAT is the good news.  God saves sinners like Samson, and sinners like you and me.  Human leaders (like Samson) will always disappoint us, but Jesus never does.

In our NT passage we see Jesus claiming, very clearly. to be God.  Some people like to claim that Jesus was simply a good person, but the Bible does not leave us that option.  As CS Lewis said, we are only left with 3 options of who Jesus is - lunatic, liar, or Lord.  A liar does not die for what He knows to be a lie, so that leaves us with 2 options.  We can call Him crazy if we wish, but if He was crazy He clearly would be one of the worst teachers or all time, not the greatest.  Which only leaves us one option - He is who He says He is - Lord.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Judges 16-18; John 5:25-47

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday, 11 September 2015, Judges 11-12; John 4:31-54 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Judges 11-12; John 4:31-54

Despite his outcast status, Jephthah is selected to lead the Israelite armies against the Ammonites. He argues that Israel has proper claim to the lands east of the Jordon after living there three centuries. God’s people today, too, have a homeland that the Lord has appointed: the promised land of the new creation. Christians may appear an unimportant minority on earth, with no particular claim to power, and losing influence as society becomes more and more secular. Yet God still guides the affairs of the world in the interest of His people. Jephthah’s carefully crafted speech and military victory over the Ammonites are overshadowed by his rash vow to sacrifice the first thing that comes out to him from is doorway-which turns out to be his only child. Because she requests two months to mourn her virginity rather than her death, it’s possible that she was to be offered or dedicated to perpetual service at the tabernacle, such that she could not marry. Jewish commentators, first-century historian Flavius Josephus, and Christian Church Fathers believed that Jephthah did indeed offer his daughter as a burnt offering. In other biblical texts, there were methods of substitution (e.g. the Lord accepted a ram for Isaac). The firstborn of every womb, spared by the Lord when He passed over Israelite homes in Egypt, belonged to the Lord but could be redeemed by the Levites, who were assigned to lifetime service. Either way, this serves as an excellent example why we shouldn’t make rash vows in the Lord’s name.

The tribe of Benjamin, in its pride and jealousy, is angry at not participating in the glory of Jephthah’s victory and threatens to kill the Gileadites. Instead, identifying their enemies by their regional dialect, the Gileadites defeat Ephraim, killing 42,000 of their fellow Israelites. God uses Jephthah, a sinner, to deliver His people. God’s grace to and through Jephthah may remind us of the deliverance He provides for us through Christ.

In our Gospel reading Jesus graciously reaches out to a Samaritan woman, leads her to recognize Him as the Messiah, and through her brings other Samaritans to receive His life-giving blessings. Christians sometimes allow social and cultural barriers to hinder their witness to Christ and His love for all people. Just as Christ forgave the woman her past and present sins, He now freely offers His forgiving love to us and calls us to spread this Good News.

The official, whose dying son Jesus heals in Galilee, comes to a genuine faith in Him before the sign, the wonder, is done. Unlike this official, many today will not believe God’s Word unless they are first shown demonstrative proofs. Despite such unbelief, the Lord still calls them to faith so He may forgive and bear their burdens.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Judges 13-15; John 5:1-24

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thursday, September 10th: Judges 9-10, John 4:1-30 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Judges 9-10; John 4:1-30

What strikes me every time I read this passage is the 3 year wait between Jotham's courageous declaration of a curse against Abimilech and God's execution of judgment.

Other times in the Bible God's judgment was both swift and severe.  But this time it was 3 years in the making.  And I'm sure they felt like 3 very long years to Jotham as he waited and waited for God to act.  Did he doubt during the long wait?  Or did his faith remain steadfast?  The Bible doesn't say.

How do we act when we have to wait on God's timing instead of our own?  Do we doubt God, or rail against Him, foolishly thinking we know better?  If we're honest, we fall into all of those categories at some point.  It is so hard to simply sit and wait for God to act.  Wisdom is knowing when we are to sit and wait prayerfully, and when we are to go ahead and act on faith that God will provide.

In our NT passage we see Jesus and the Samaritan women having 2 different conversations at the same time.  He's talking about living water, and she's just thirsty.  Eventually she figures out what He's talking about and is so drawn to Jesus that she wants everyone around her to know the same good news.

When is the last time we've been that excited and determined to share the good news with those around us?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Judges 11-12; John 4:31-54

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wednesday, September 9th: Judges 7-8, John 3:19-36 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Judges 7-8; John 3:19-36

What I love about our Judges passage today is how God leaves absolutely no doubt who gets the glory for this battle.  Gideon needed to put God through test after test in order to feel secure in leading the army into battle.  But this battle was not Gideon's to win, it was God's.  And God orchestrated things in such a way as to leave no doubt about who deserved credit for the victory.

Do we give God the glory and credit He is due for the victories in our lives?  Sometimes it is crystal clear, but even when it is not, ultimately He gets the glory for every thing we do.  Every breath we take is a testimony to His grace and sustaining power.  Apart from Him we can literally do nothing.  Yet so often we dare to take credit when it is not ours to take.  A reminder to be humble and direct all glory to Him and away from us.

19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
This passage explains why the world hates the gospel message.  Their works are evil, and they love it.  As unimaginable as it is, they simply don't want the light.  In fact, they hate it.

A good test to see if what we're doing in the moment is pleasing to God is to ask ourselves if we're ok with it being brought into the light, or if we want to hide it in the dark.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Judges 9-10; John 4:1-30

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tuesday, September 8th: Judges 4-6, John 3:1-18 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Judges 4-6; John 3:1-18

In Judges 4 we read how God gave victory to the Israelites,  who were being oppressed by Jabin, the king of Canaan. The leader of Jabin's army,  Sisera, was the only one from his army to escape the Israelites. He thought he was safe when got away from the battlefield and hid in the tent of Jael, an ally of Jabin's,  only to be murdered  with a tent peg while sleeping. Sisera thought he was safe and hidden from the Israelites,  but God's will was done and Sisera died.

In chapter 6 the Israelites have rebelled against God and are in trouble again and need help. Here we read about Gideon, who was selected by God to save the Israelites from the Midianites,  who were now oppressing Isreal. Gideon was somewhat like Moses in that after he was told by the angel from God that he was to save Isreal,  he doubted himself and God's choice of using him. Gideon even goes so far as to test God twice to see if God really meant what he had said to Gideon.

I'm often amazed at the patience God has for us. God doesn't need to prove Himself, but He does anyway,  and we still doubt what He says. Where in my life am I doubting God? 

One area that comes to mind is our prayer requests. Some of them we have had for a long time and they still haven't been answered,  do I still believe that God cares about these things and is working on them? The real answer is "yes,  but I need to be reminded of this and keep carrying on. I'm thankful that God has patience with me when I doubt, and that He forgives me when I doubt.

John 3:16-18
(16)For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. [18]  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son

These verses are some of the most popular and we'll known verses from the Bible. They form in a lot of ways the backbone or basis of what the Christian life is, and what it's about.

The key one for me now is verse 17, it says that Jesus didn't come to judge but to save. So often I judge a person or a situation that someone is in, I need to remember that I'm not the judge,  and the judging will come later. Now it's about saving. Keeping this in mind makes us better witnesses. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Monday, September 7th: Judges 1-3; John 2 ~ Conrad

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

Something that I found interesting in Judges 1:6 was that after the Lord handed the Canaanites and Perizzites into the hands of the Israelites, the Israelites chased down and cut off Adoni-Bezek's thumbs and big toes.  Well, after doing some research, I found out that this was a common practice during that era to prevent kings from being warriors ever again. Without thumbs for grasping, or big toes for balance, warrior-like activity is nearly impossible.  

The Israelites continued on attacking other cities claiming victory after victory.  Or could they claim victory?  They failed to drive out the idol-worshipping Canaanites from their land, and by doing so plagued the Israelites for generations.  We see in our reading that they ruled over these Canaanites, but they did not drive them out. While they could claim a victory in battle, they could not claim a victory in their God-given assignment - establishing an all Hebrew environment.

In chapter 2, an angel of the Lord expressed his displeasure with them, and reminded the Israelites their part of the covenant: 

"and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars."

The decisions we make will either provide us with a benefit, or a consequence.  The Israelites were no different. 

 So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”

Sometimes our adversity comes as the result of partial obedience to the Lord.  We have been called to obey God.  Not partially, but fully.  Unfortunately, many times our consequences affect more than just ourselves.  In this case, their descendants suffered from their lack of obedience too.  "10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel."  

That verse was an eye opener for me.  To think that a generation could grow up not knowing anything of God or the work that He had done for Israel!  

These heathen nations that Israel failed to drive out caused Israel to compromise their convictions and zeal for God in the beginning, followed by a full embracing of their God-forsaking ways in the next generation.  What one generation tolerates, the next embraces.

I pray that I will be very careful concerning the things that I tolerate.

In chapter 3 God leaves the Canaanites among the Israelites to test them and to teach them to take a stand.  Did it work?  Nope. They intermarried with them and served their heathen gods. Pleasing their neighbors just seemed more important to them than pleasing God.

Is that where my faith is?  Am I a people pleaser, or a God pleaser?  It is like that for us Christians today.  We are saturated with non-believers in our lives that we need to make a stand and be firm to not compromise our beliefs and lifestyle.

In our NT passage, Jesus performs a miracle - water into wine.  Jesus knew where His disciples were at and recognized that this was necessary.  "11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him."

Seeing is believing, but let us not lose sight on what God has done for us in the past!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Judges 4-6; John 3:1-18