Saturday, October 31, 2015

Saturday, October 31st: 2 Samuel 16-18, 1 John 5 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 16-18; 1 John 5

I found it odd that David so easily accepted the word of Ziba against Mephisbosheth as being the truth. He could have been lying, but David didn't even check into it.  How often are we not guilty of the same thing?  Being hasty about accepting a negative report about someone?  We too are often quick to judge.  It's said that there are three sides to every story - one side, the other side, and the truth.  We should never be quick to believe the worst about someone, especially not without verifying the facts first.

In chapter 16 we also see Nathan's prophecy fulfilled - that because of David's sin with Bathsheba, another man would sleep with his wives.  We would do well to remember since we reap what we sow, we need to be careful what we're sowing!

Nathan also said that because David had killed Uriah, his own sons would rebel against him.  We see this in Absalom's rebellion as well.

David may have been an excellent king, but scripture also bears witness to the fact that by all accounts he was not a very good father, failing to discipline his sons when they were younger, and paying a steep price for that in their adulthood.

This stood out for me in our NT passage....
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
I have heard the saying that God calls us to holiness not happiness.  And to a certain extent that is true.  God calls us to holiness over the world's idea of happiness and the pursuit of that superficial counterfeit of joy.  But it is not a choice between holiness and true happiness.  In fact, the pursuit of holiness will result in our greatest joy.

Randy Alcorn says Holiness doesn’t mean abstaining from pleasure; holiness means recognizing Jesus as the source of life’s greatest pleasure.

If we love God we will obey his commandments, and when we do so, we will find that they are not burdensome, but the path to true happiness.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 19-20; 2 John

Friday, October 30, 2015

30 October 2015 2 Samuel 14-15; 1 John 4 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 14-15; 1 John 4

With subtlety, Joab moves the king to show mercy instead of administering justice. David is thereby reconciled with his son only outwardly. Although fathers love even evil children, the children should not misuse this love, as Absalom did. For Christ’s sake, God desires not to punish but to spare His sinful and rebellious children.

Once Absalom has officially been reconciled to the king, he begins to campaign for the throne. Soon he is no longer content to steal hearts, so he plots to steal the throne. Coveting what God has not given, and scheming sinfully to get it for ourselves, leads not to life but to death. Yet Christ, who is truly righteous, has righteously coveted our life and voluntarily laid down His life on our behalf. We are justified by His grace alone, through faith in His forgiveness. David is forced to flee Jerusalem and cross the brook Kidron. While his own son and countrymen conspire against him, he receives fierce loyalty from foreigners. In suffering, we, like David, should humble ourselves under God’s hand and commit ourselves and our paths into His keeping. David’s Son, Christ Jesus, was rejected by many of His own, but He called for disciples from all nations to take up the cross and follow Him. It was He who crossed the brook Kidron, bearing our sin, on the way to the cross.

In our NT reading, whenever a teacher speaks of a “Christ” or a “Jesus” or a “God” who comes to us without human flesh, know this: it is a demon speaking through a man, a demon who is seeking to destroy both your faith and your soul everlastingly. As long as we remain in fellowship with the Father through faith, we love one another and have no fear of Judgment Day. Whenever we do not treat our brother with love as Jesus has loved us, we fear God’s punishment.  Because He sent His Son to take away our sins, we gain confidence to stand before God without fear.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 16-18; 1 John 5

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thursday, October 29th: 2 Samuel 12-13, 1 John 3 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 12-13; 1 John 3

I found it jarring to read 1 John 3 immediately after our 2 Samuel passage.  Our NT passage talks about loving each other - and our OT passage could hardly get further from that concept!

David - the same man who lived on the run for years in order to wait for God's timing, the same man who trusted God against all odds when he fought the giant, the same man who refused to kill the evil king because He knew it was God's responsibility to cause kings to rise and fall - sins in some of the most serious ways imaginable.

Uriah was a soldier in David's army.  And he wasn't just any soldier.  He was one of David's mighty men - among the top 30 in the entire army.  He was not just a warrior of incredible skill, he was also a warrior of integrity.  And David betrays this faithful warrior in the most intimate way possible.  Then, in an attempt to hide his sin, he tries to send Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba, but Uriah's integrity derails that plan, and so he ramps things up to murder.

How did this happen?  How does one man go from a heart of faithfulness and complete trust in God, to adultery, betrayal, lies, and murder?!

We don't get an exact explanation.  Likely his position and power gradually caused his heart to turn astray.  It's like the Casting Crowns song "Slow Fade".  People don't crumble in a day.  You don't go from enjoying an intimate relationship with God to such overt acts of betrayal in 24 hrs.  It's a slow progression.  It's becoming complacent.  It's forgettting to remember our past sins and God's past forgiveness of those sins.  It's forgetting God's faithfulness.  It's forgetting to be active in pursuit of holiness.

And truly, there but for the grace of God go we.

As long as we remain on this earth we will still struggle with sin.  Yes, Christ defeated sin and death on the cross, and when we become believers we too are no longer slaves to sin.  But we are also not immune to it yet.  And when we take it lightly, we will fall.

But there is this verse in our 1 John passage....
6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning
David committed several serious sins when it came to Bathsheba and Uriah.  But when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan, he humbled himself, and genuinely repented of his sin.  He was restored to relationship with God, but he did not escape the consequences of his sin.

It's almost unbelievable that a true believer could commit the sins that David did.  But what differentiates a true believer for a non believer is their reaction when confronted with their sin.  True believers do not keep on sinning - not according to 1 John.  This doesn't mean we are perfect - far from it!  But it does mean that will not continue in a pattern of sin after becoming aware of it.  And this is where we need fellow believers to come alongside us and confront us about our sin.  So many Christians (and non-Christians) have misinterpreted the phrase "Judge not" to mean we are never to say anything about people's sin.  But passage after passage in the Bible refutes that interpretation.  Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to confront people about their sin.  We need to be humble, we need to make sure we're not committing the same sin or mired in a different sin, we need to make sure we take the log out of our own eyes first, but when we have done that we are to talk about the speck in our brother's eye with the goal of restoration in mind.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 14-15; 1 John 4

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wednesday, October 28th: 2 Samuel 9-11, 1 John 2 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 9-11; 1 John 2

I loved David's faithfulness to Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan.  It was customary to have entire households slaughtered to prevent someone of the previous king's bloodline attempting to claim the throne, but instead David acts honorably towards Mephibosheth.

Are our actions towards others dictated by our own selfish agendas, or by our love of God?

Unfortunately, our passage also contains David's betrayal of Uriah, one of his very own mighty men.  Uriah was a warrior of great integrity and David betrays him by committing adultery with Uriah's wife, and then ordering battle instructions that will ensure his death.  The results and ripple effects of David's sin would be catastrophic and marked the beginning of the end of the kingdom of Israel.

Sin, particularly sexual sin, has extremely far reaching consequences that we often cannot even see.  As we see in 1 John, David allowed the desires of the eyes and of the flesh to control his actions.  Thankfully, there is forgiveness for even such great sin.  Though forgiveness washes away our sin, it does not remove our consequences.  May we be ever mindful of that and may it help us to resist temptation when it comes our way.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 12-13; 1 John 3

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday, October 27th: 2 Samuel 6-8, 1 John 1 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 6-8; 1 John 1

Our 2 Samuel passage begins with the disturbing account of Uzzah's death.  At first reading, it seems unjust to us.  Uzzah was only trying to protect the ark, why would God strike him dead?

Back in Numbers God made it clear that the ark was to only be moved by Levites (as far as we know, Uzzah was not a Levite) and they were not to touch the ark itself, they were to carry it using carrying poles.  Instead, David placed the ark on a cart, following the example of the Philistine's mode of ark transportation, rather than God's commands.  Though Uzzah's motive was right, his action was still wrong, and he still had to pay the consequence for his sin. In order for David to bring Israel back into relationship with God, God had to remind the people in a dramatic way that enthusiasm is no substitute for obedience. The next time David tried to bring the ark back to Jerusalem he made sure to do it correctly, according to God's law.

There are many ways to sin - and we cover them all!  We can sin by doing the wrong thing.  We can sin by not doing the right thing.  We can sin by doing the right thing for the wrong reason.  And we can sin by doing the wrong thing for the right reason.  What it comes down to is the simple fact that sin, no matter its form, is sin.  God decides what is right and wrong, not us.  We don't get to change the rules because we're excited.  And ignorance is no excuse.  Sin is a big deal.  So often we don't think it is a big deal.  We certainly live that way anyway.  But sin is a really big deal to God. Every act of sin is an act of rebellion against God.

Thankfully, as our NT passage tells us, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins when we confess them to Him.  There is no sin so great that it cannot be covered by the grace of God.  Thanks be to the One who brings us into the Light and places the Light within us.  May we shine that light to those around us every day.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 9-11; 1 John 2

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015: 2 Samuel 3-5; 1 Timothy 6 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 3-5; 1 Timothy 6

Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:11&12

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

Observation: We need to run away from things that take us from God and run towards things that make us more like God.

Application: Our pastor has been leading us through messages about the Holiness of God over the last few Sundays. Until we begin to grasp just how Holy God is and how unworthy we are it becomes extremely difficult to understand our need for salvation. We are sinful. We are unworthy. We are drawn in by sin and it separates us from God. Verse 11 reminds us to "flee" from the temptation of sin and love of wealth and security. When we accept sin into our lives we are pushing God away. When we believe that money and financial assets can make us self sufficient we begin to believe that we do not need God and that we can do it all on our own. This feeling is short lived as all earthly gains are short lived and eventually pass away.

However, when we chase after the things that God values, we draw closer to Him and draw others to Him as well by our words and our actions. The things God values are eternal and will not pass away. Drawing other to God also has eternal value but it is a fight against Satan who is threatening and wants to get in the way of all things good.

Our son started a new school this fall and has been boldly proclaiming his faith to his new peers. Conrad and I have been in awe of his boldness as he stands up for his beliefs and as he is even challenging his friends on big issues like evolution vs Creationism. 1 Timothy 6:12 says: "Fight the good fight of the faith" and Kaden is doing that boldly as he risks being rejected in new friendships and risks being looked at in a negative way by his non-believing peers. He is fighting. Fighting to share the truth. Fighting for what is right. Fighting and willing to risk it all in this new school environment. Fighting the good fight...

Prayer: Dear Lord. You are Righteous. You are faithful. You are loving. You are loving. You are steadfast. You are gentle. You are loving. All of these things remind us that You are Holy. Help us to strive to be Holy and to be more like You. Give us the courage to fight the good fight. In the presence of our peers, give us what we need to go into battle to show You to them. May they see in us that we are chasing after what You value and fleeing from sin. Amen.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 6-8; 1 John 1

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday, October 25th: 2 Samuel 1-2, 1 Timothy 5 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 1-2; 1 Timothy 5

David was an excellent example of "love your enemies".  From a human standpoint, it would be understandable for David to rejoice over the death of King Saul.  After all, Saul had been hunting David for years, and his death would now clear the way for David to assume the throne for which he had been anointed, and he himself was not responsible for the King's death in any way.

But instead of rejoicing, David mourned.  Not only did he mourn, but he killed the man who falsely claimed to have killed the king, thinking the above would be true and he would be rewarded for his efforts.  Clearly, David mourned the death of his friend Jonathan more so than the death of Saul, but he took no pleasure in the death of his enemy.

And once again, instead of presuming anything, and despite already knowing he was the anointed king of Israel, David does not rush on ahead.  Instead, he again asks for God's guidance.

And things don't start off on a grand scale for David.  He is anointed king in the small town of Hebron.  But, just like the smallest mustard seed grows into the largest of trees, so too would David's kingdom grow from the tiny town of Hebron to eventually encompass all of Israel and Judah.

David also faced a rival kingship, a rival kingdom.

What a parallel to the spiritual kingdoms on earth today.  The kingdom of heaven begun in the hearts of all Christians on earth, and the kingdom of darkness.  Which kingdom are you in and to which King do you give allegiance to?  There is only One King who sits on the right hand of God - Jesus.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 3-5; 1 Timothy 6

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday, October 24th: 1 Samuel 30-31, 1 Timothy 4 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 30-31; 1 Timothy 4

When the Amalekites attack Ziklag and take David's and his men's wives and children, they are all understandably distraught. I love v6....

1 Samuel 30:6 But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
Where do we turn to when our lives have fallen apart?  Where do we find strength when everything has gone wrong?  We must remember, as David did, that our hope and strength is always only in the Lord.

And then, before rushing heedlessly or recklessly into battle to rescue their loved ones, David stops and asks God for will in the situation.  Oh, how we need to learn this lesson!  How often do we presume to know the best course of action to take without even bothering to consult God about it?  How often do we rush headlong into situations, based purely off of emotion?  It is always wise to pray first and then act accordingly.

In our Timothy passage Paul encourages both the learning of doctrine as well as the pursuit of godliness.  We cannot only fill our minds with biblical knowledge, we must also live it out.  But we cannot live out what we do not know.  We cannot have one without the other, we must pursue knowledge of God out of love for Him and then obey Him as we strive to live like Him.  We do this not in order to be saved, as that comes through grace alone, but in order to prove our faith and love of God to be genuine.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 1-2; 1 Timothy 5

Friday, October 23, 2015

23 October 2015 1 Samuel 27-29; 1 Timothy 3 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 27-29; 1 Timothy 3

Although David knew he had been anointed king, he could not bear the constant hide-and-seek existence in the wilderness for his family and small army. Given his earlier experience with the Philistines, he was courageous to return there. But this time he arrived with a small army. Unlike earlier, the Philistines would now be aware of Saul’s hostility toward David, which may have contributed to the welcome David received. David’s move again demonstrates the awkward and enigmatic relationship between the Israelites and Philistines. David’s suggestion to move to a smaller town would help to solve probably housing and social issues and allow the Israelites to live together as a community and maintain their own worship life. David knew how to negotiate, enhancing his request with words the king would like to hear. His stay in Ziklag and Gath, though little more than a year, provided further opportunity to gain the trust of the Philistines and to grow relationships with Israelites living in the area. Nomadic peoples living along the border between Canaan and Egypt often plundered Judean and Philistine towns. David would pursue these marauders in defense of the Israelite towns, exterminate them, and take their livestock as spoils of war. He pretended to be making raids on Judah, instead attacking the invaders and thereby actively helping his fellow Judeans. To maintain the deception, he had to make certain that none of the enemy survived. David’s responses to Achish’s questions were deliberately misleading, indicating only the direction he had gone, allowing Achish to assume that the raids were against Israelites. 

When told by Achish that he and his army would accompany them, David’s words are deliberately ambiguous. They could be support or betrayal. Loss of Samuel’s leadership may have emboldened the Philistines for an all-out attack on Israel. Now the king was desperate for any kind of guidance. Mediums consulted the spirits of the dead, and necromancers spoke with the deceased familiar to them, thereby supposedly discovering the secrets of the future. When Saul could get no answer from Urim or dreams or by prophets, he went to a medium. Calling up Samuel was another sign of Saul’s desperation; no ordinary spirit would do! Whether or not it was truly Samuel or Satan or one of his demons, we don’t know. Satan, though the father of lies, is capable of speaking the truth and can even mouth God’s Word. Saul’s sins are denounced as the reason for God’s anger and rejection. Missing is the prophet’s usual appeal for change of attitude, perhaps because it’s too late. Saul looks for a word of assurance that everything is going to be all right, but the earlier words of Samuel are only reinforced and are about to be fulfilled. Saul is in such despair that he refuses to eat. The medium has to offer an argument that he owed her for her risking her life.

As the Philistine army moves northward to battle, David’s difficult situation within the army is resolved when he is removed from the battlefield. Once again, God looked after David’s welfare. We, too, can get ourselves into some pretty tight spots as a result of our own decisions or deceptions. God will not condone our sinfulness, which is often what prompts the decisions we make. Yet, He still looks after our welfare, making all things work together for good in Christ.

In our NT reading, Paul tells Timothy that only qualified men may serve as pastors of God’s flock. We should honor and uphold the qualifications that God has set forth for those who would serve in the Office of the Public Ministry, always remembering that the pastoral office is a divine institution-a gift from God for His Church. The Lord Jesus has given this office and its qualifications because He loves us and always desires what is best for us. He Himself is our chief Shepherd. He has laid down His life for us and gives us eternal life. Deacons and deaconesses were faithful people, entrusted with special responsibilities for service to their fellow Christians. Christians today are also privileged to serve others through special congregational offices and service organizations. When given chances to express Jesus’ love in deeds of service, it is easy to pass on these opportunities. But, in truth, god calls every Christian to follow his example of self-giving service. Jesus came to serve sinners like us with His forgiveness and salvation. He still serves us today through His means of grace. 

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 30-31; 1 Timothy 4

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thursday, Oct 22nd: 1 Samuel 25-26, 1 Timothy 2 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 25-26; 1 Timothy 2

I can't even imagine what it must have been like for David.  The king was out to kill him, basically for being too good of a soldier, Saul took David's wife away and gave her to another man, and David was a fugitive fleeing for his life.  Meanwhile, David knows that he has been anointed king and will be the next king of Israel.  Then he's handed a seemingly God-given opportunity to do away with his enemy.

But he doesn't do it.  Not even after all that.  David does not allow Saul's wrong actions to goad him into sin.  He acts faithfully even though Saul does not.  He takes the phrase "be the bigger person" to a whole new level!

Here David clearly displays exactly why God chose him to be the next king of Israel.

I loved the beginning portion of of our NT passage and felt it particularly fitting due to our political landscape today, with Canada just electing a new prime minister.  We are to pray for all our leaders.  God raises them up and He will work out His plan through them, whether they are believers or not.

I wrote a post about the whole women's submission thing back in 2011 if you're interested in reading it, click here.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 27-29; 1 Timothy 3

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday, October 21st: 1 Samuel 22-24, 1 Timothy 1 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 22-24; 1 Timothy 1

In yesterday's passage we read about David lying to priest Ahimelech in order to protect himself from Saul.  Some may try to excuse his lie because of it being a time of war and the duty of a soldier to lie in order to deceive the enemy.  But, nowhere is David's lie condoned.  In fact, though his small lie seemed harmless, it led to the tragic slaughter of 85 priests. King Saul did not believe Ahimelech and thought there was a conspiracy going on between him and David, and had him along with all the priests (except one who escaped) killed.

Sometimes seemingly small sins can have serious consequences.  The truth is that all sin is serious and should never be taken lightly.

Are there different levels of sin?  Yes, there are.  All sin is equal in the sense that any sin, no matter how small, is enough to separate us from God and deserve His judgment eternally.  However, the Bible is also clear that there are harsher punishments for some sins (both here on earth, and in eternity), and more rewards for faithful service to Him.

There is a danger in thinking all sin is the same.  This type of thinking is used to justify committing adultery if you've already committed the sin of lust.  Clearly, this is faulty thinking.

Though not all sin is the same, we can't ignore the "lesser" sins.  We need to be diligent about killing all the sin in our life, because all sin is still sin, and an offense against God that causes a rift in our relationship with Him.  We need to be purposeful about pursuing holiness and sanctification.

In our NT passage we see that the law was not given simply as a list of commands for every occasion, but rather to show unbelievers their sin and inability to keep the law, bringing them to God.

Thankfully, no sin is beyond the saving power of Jesus!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 25-26; 1 Timothy 2

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday, October 20th: 1 Samuel 19-21, 2 Peter 3 ~ Nathan

In our reading today from 1 Samuel 19-21 we read mainly about how Saul tries to repeatedly kill David. At first Saul vows to not kill David in 19:6
Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be put to death.”

But later we read how Saul tries four times to kill David, and David escapes each time a different way.

The first time Jonathan reminded his father all that David had done for him and how David had not sinned against his father.

The second time David used his athletism to avoid a spear the own at him by Saul.

The third time David's wife helped him escape by deceiving Saul.

The fourth time God used Samuel to protect David by taking him in when Saul was chasing him.
Each time God used a different way to protect David,  for he had great future plans for him.
What are God's plans for us,  and how is he protecting us and saving us for the fulfilment of these plans? These are questions that are difficult for us to know and answer,  but if we look back on our lives we can see how God has worked to "protect" and "save" us many times. As an example,  how many times has he allowed us to travel safely, or by chance meet certain people that have become good friends?  These are things God has planned for us and has made happen not by coincidence or fluke. He is in charge and in control,  with a plan for each of us,  what a blessing!

In out New Testament reading we read about the coming day when the Lord will come. As we see how our world around us behaves we look forward to this day more and more. But we also need to remember that we need to be ready and living now the way God wants.

2 Peter 3:14
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

Lets pray that we finish strong.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday, October 19th: 1 Samuel 17-18, 2 Peter 2 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 17-18; 2 Peter 2

In today's NT reading, we come across a very well known story of David and Goliath. There were a number of verses that I could have pointed out, but I thought I would narrow it down to verse 45 in chapter 17.

45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

David's statement demonstrates that true success comes only through God's help.  David was not trained to be a warrior on the battlefield.  At this time, he was only a boy who had kept watch over his father's sheep.  The Bible doesn't say, but for all we know, David may not have even weighed as much as Goliath's armor did.  As inexperienced as David was in combat, he knew that God could still use him.  In vs 37, David tells Saul that the Lord will deliver him from the Philistine's hand, as He had done from the paw of the lion and bear while shepherding.  David's faith in God was larger than the 9' tall Philistine, and more dangerous than the sword and spear in hand or javelin on Goliath's back.  Even after Goliath attempts to intimidate David by saying that he would turn him into a tasty morsel for the field mice, David responded to Goliath by saying that "the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head."  David was giving credit to God even before God had done anything.  David's motives were not driven by selfish means, and was not looking to be a hero.  David was a young boy who recognized the importance of serving the Lord and placing his trust in Him.

In the morning Sunday School class at church, we have been learning about growing our faith.  Yesterday's lesson in particular was talking about a pivotal circumstance being used to grow our faith in God.  If this story of David and Goliath wasn't pivotal enough for David and everyone else around to grow their faith in God, I don't know what could!  I know in my life there are areas that I need to be more diligent in giving them over to God.  God is the one who is all powerful and all knowing.  Why wouldn't we put our trust in Him?  We will be finding ourselves fighting a losing battle when we attempt to do things on our own.  

I pray that I would be more like David who demonstrated what happens when we place our trust and give glory to God, and to be less like the other Israelites who knew what needed to be done, but couldn't do it.  Lord, I also pray that my faith would become stronger by seeing You in the situations that I am going through, and also by seeing Your work being done by the "David's" of today.  We know that we can do some things on our own, but we can only do great things with your help and by the power of the Spirit.  I also ask that my motives would be in check and that I would always give You the glory.  I would like to thank you for David and the role model that he would have been in his day, and also thank you that he can still challenge us today to be a warrior for you!  I pray this in Your name, amen.       

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 19-21; 2 Peter 3

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday, October 18th: 1 Samuel 15-16, 2 Peter 1 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 15-16; 2 Peter 1

In our OT passage we see Saul once again disobeying God and attempting to gloss over his sin, and he paid a high price for it.

In 15:11 God says that He regrets having made Saul king.  My Life Application Bible says this....
was he saying he had made a mistake?  God's comment was an expression of sorrow, not an admission of error.  An omniscient God cannot make a mistake; therefore, God did not change his mind. He did, however, change his attitude toward Saul when Saul changed. Saul's heart no longer belonged to God, but to his own interests.

In v12 we see Saul building a monument to honor himself instead of giving glory to God.  How far he has fallen so quickly!  He went from hiding among the luggage to prideful disobedience and self-aggrandizement.

Saul's empty sacrifices could not make up for a disingenuous heart.  Motive is key, and Saul failed the test.  Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is still wrong.  Doing the right thing for the wrong reason but wanting to take all the credit is also still wrong.  The heart is key.

And when God chose the next king of Israel, He made it clear to Samuel that He judges, not on appearance or height, but on the heart.

What is our heart like?  Is our heart reflective of someone whom God would choose to hold a place of great responsibility, or to lead a nation?

We may not lead a nation, but we lead someone - whether it's our children, or simply the people around us.

As our NT passage shows us, we need God's power to grow in godliness.  Our pursuit of holiness proves our faith to be genuine, and is something we need to be proactive about and for which we need to rely completely on God.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 17-18; 2 Peter 2

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Saturday, October 17th: 1 Samuel 13-14, Ephesians 6 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 13-14; Ephesians 6

Pride is so dangerous and can quickly grow into an obsession as it did with Saul.  He started by taking credit for something Jonathan did, something which, though cultural normal, was not right.  Our true character is revealed when we give glory to God, and give proper credit where credit is due, not usurping it for our own benefit.

True character is also revealed when we are under pressure.  When Saul was under pressure he reacted badly, offering the sacrifice himself even though it was against God's law to do so.  How often doesn't God use delays to test our patience and ultimately, our obedience.  Saul had excuses, but Samuel said it plainly "You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you".  Saul would lose his kingship due to his disobedience and impatience.

As Saul's character begins to crumble, so too does his leadership abilities.  He had no communication with his son, he made a foolish curse, and ignored the welfare of his own soldiers, making them too tired to fight, so hungry they ate meat that still contained blood (against God's law), and then he almost killed his own son.   Talk about a living demonstration about the need to think before we speak!

My Life Application Bible says this about our NT passage...
If our faith in Christ is real, it will usually prove itself at home, in our relationships with those who know u best. Children and parents have a responsibility to each other. Children should honor their parents even if the parents are demanding and unfair. Parents should care gently for their children, even if the children are disobedient and unpleasant. ....The purpose of parental discipline is to help children grow, not to exasperate and provoke them to anger or discouragement.

Our goal as parents should not be simply to have kids who obey and make us look good.  Our goal should be to raise our children to be godly adults able to distinguish between right and wrong, helping them to grow in godly character, to nurture their love for God and their desire to know and serve Him, and to always reflect the gospel message to them whenever they (or we!) stumble and sin.

That's a huge responsibility.  As with all our responsibilities, we can only do it through the supernatural power of God, as we put on the full armour with which He has supplied us.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 15-16; 2 Peter 1

Friday, October 16, 2015

16 October 2015 1 Samuel 10-12; Ephesians 5:17-33 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 10-12; Ephesians 5:17-33

Although Samuel anoints Saul as the king-designate and the Holy Spirit changes Saul, people remain uncertain about his leadership. At times, we can question the direction the direction life is taking. We can call on the Lord, who always leads in the right way, even when it seems otherwise. The secret selection and anointing of Saul is made public in a national assembly, though Saul is still hesitant about taking on the role. When we hesitate to turn away from certain behaviors or to take on godly responsibilities, God’s Spirit brings change through repentance and faith. As we die to sin and live in Christ, He gives our lives deeper meaning. In the Spirit of God, Saul acts boldly and strategically. The nation unites in worship and praise to the Lord for the victory by Saul’s leadership and by God’s hand. Even though Samuel’s role as judge will cease, he will continue to be the voice of God in his prophetic role-interceding for them and instructing them in the ways of the Lord. Luther wrote: “Here we read that it is a sin against God if we preachers do not rightly instruct the people and pray for them. Also that it is sin when the people will not obey or fear God, who instructs them through us, his ministers” (AE 43:230). By words and miraculous sign, Samuel powerfully proclaims a message of judgment and promise. When you look back over your life, see that you have been less than wholly faithful to the Lord. Yet, “consider what great things He has done for you” (v.24).

Like the Ephesians, we are confronted every day by a world rebelling against God’s way. IN our struggle against its temptations, we can rely on Christ’s Word and Spirit to lead us. Paul modifies a traditional “household code.” For the Christian, the Gospel does not overturn the order of life, but gives it new meaning. Each relationship is reinterpreted “in the Lord”. Wives, children, and servants look on their husbands, parents, and masters as representatives of the Lord and submit to them. Husbands, parents, and masters likewise view the ones entrusted to them as Christ viewed the Church: with self-sacrificing love.

Submission in v. 21 isn’t mutual, but appropriate to each relationship. Within the marriage relationship, the wife “submits,” taking the place God has given her. She is to view her husband as an image and representative of Christ. Headship is not tyranny, but pictures one’s leader and source. If we think of the husband as the head of a marriage and the wife as the heart of the marriage (Paul uses “body”), we see that one is not more important than the other-neither can survive alone. Paul demonstrates their vital yet distinct roles. The Church’s primary relationship to Christ is defined not as Law (obedience), but as gospel (receiving). As the Church does not try to save herself, but graciously receives salvation from Christ, so the wife cherishes her husband’s self-sacrifice for her. IN contrast to the culture of the time, the husband is told not to rule his wife but to love her. Paul’s word to the husband is far longer than to the wife, for it is an opportunity to rejoice in the Gospel. Christ’s marriage to the Church is a major Gospel image in the NT. If the husband’s love for his wife is Christlike, he is willing to give up his very life for her.

Baptism is how Christ sanctified (made holy) His Bride, the Church. “The Church….should be cleansed in order to be holy. He adds the outward marks, the Word and Sacraments” (Luther). “When the Word is joined to the element or natural substance, it becomes a Sacrament” (Augustine). Genesis 2:24, which describes the institution of marriage, takes on added meaning when viewed in the light of Christ. This is the mystery, now revealed: from the beginning God designed marriage to be a Gospel picture of Christ and the Church. If we say with Paul that the husband is the “head” in a marriage, then we may say the wife is the “heart”. Is one more important? No, both heart ad head are necessary for life. We are inclined today to view our marriages selfishly: what can I get out of it? Instead we should consider what we can offer to our spouse and see behind each action a picture of the Gospel itself. 

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 13-14; Ephesians 6

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thursday, October 15th: 1 Samuel 7-9, Ephesians 5:1-16 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 7-9; Ephesians 5:1-16

What struck me the most about our OT passage today was how God's sovereignty was on display in Chapter 9.   God brought Saul, the man who would become Israel's first king, to Samuel using lost donkeys.  Lost donkeys.

God orchestrates the smallest details of our lives, and most of the time we are unaware of what He's doing, never mind why He's doing it, or what His ultimate plan is.  Saul had no idea when he got up that morning that his search for his father's lost donkeys would end with him being anointed king of Israel.

God definitely works in our lives during crisis moments or big events, but He also works through the "everyday-ness" of life to accomplish His plan.  No matter what our day brings, we can rest assured that God is sovereign, He is in control, and He is good.

In Ephesians we are reminded of the importance of pursuing holiness in our walk with God.  Is there a difference in our lives compared to the unbelievers around us?  There should be!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 10-12; Ephesians 5:17-33

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wednesday, October 14th: 1 Samuel 4-6, Ephesians 4 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 4-6; Ephesians 4

In our 1 Samuel passage we see the Israelites treating the ark like a good luck charm, and God like a genie ready to grant their every wish.

Following God because of what He can do for us is not faith.  Obviously, we need to rely on Him for our salvation - it was all Him.  Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, died for our sins, rose from the dead defeating death and sin, returning to heaven and giving us His Spirit which works within our dead souls to bring us to repentance and relationship with Him.  We need to put our faith in God because of who He is, loving Him, knowing Him, obeying Him.

I love how God demonstrated His power undeniably to the Philistines in the face of their worship of a false god.

Our NT passage focuses on unity within the body of Christ.  We are to love each other.  But unity and peace cannot come at the price of allowing sin to fester unchallenged. We are to speak the truth in love, but we're still to speak it.  Peace at any cost is too high a price to pay.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 7-9; Ephesians 5:1-16

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tuesday, October 13th: 1 Samuel 1-3, Ephesians 3 ~ Nathan

In 1 Samuel 1 we read about Elkanah who had 2 wives, Peninnah and Hannah. This took place during a time when the Israelites were not a nation but a bunch of warring tribes,  it was a time of chaos. 

Peninnah would taunt Hannah because she could conceive children and Hannah couldn't. The provoking got so bad that Hannah was deeply distressed and decided to leave to go pray. While doing this Eli the priest saw her deep in prayer and thought she was drunk. Hannah seemed to have been shamed as much as anyone could be. Yet she had a husband who loved her and a God who loved her as well, and before long provided her with a son.

Most of us would be overjoyed and would cling to this child for the rest of our lives, being thankful to God for giving us this child. Hannah did something different, she lent this child back to God for the rest of his days, by sending him to live with Eli. What obedience she showed here, after all the heartache of not having children, then giving the only one you have (at the time) back to God.

This is a good reminder for me that everything I have (or think I have) is really God's. If God decides to take something away from me, it may be painful, but it was His to begin with. This is easy to say but hard to do. I pray for the obedience and devotion that Hannah showed.

In our reading from Ephesians, again we find that there is a lot of information here to process. The  thing that stood out for me was found in verse 6:
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

It seems like the Jews needed to be reminded over and over that Jesus came to save the Gentiles as well. We read this reminder many times in the New Testament. I see this applying today at times when churches that both believe that Christ died to save us, rival each other and compete.

Do we put down other churches and think ours is superior to others?  We are on the same team,  and should work together. The goal is to save souls,  and we should think team first.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday, October 12: Song of Solomon 6-8, Ephesians 2-by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Song of Solomon 6-8, Ephesians 2

Scripture: Ephesians 2:3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind  and  Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Observation: God created us, we don't always do what we're supposed to, but He forgives us and loves us anyway.

Application: Song of Solomon speaks intimately about love and sex as God intended it. The passion that a husband and wife have for each other is God designed because the Bibles says "For we are his workmanship". He created us as male and female. He designed sex and intimacy to bond men and women to each other in a physical and emotional way. However, even the workmanship of God becomes flawed when people are given free will to choose and live out choices that are not part of God's plan. We live in a society that preaches and encourages people to "live in the passions of our flesh, carry out the desires of the body and the mind". Casual sex is promoted on tv, magazine covers, and expected among teens. Pornography, explicit movies, and raunchy song lyrics have leaked into mainstream acceptance and the widespread use of the internet means that access to vehicles to carry out the desires of the mind are never more than a few keystrokes and clicks away.

However, we are not doomed. Despite society pressure to belittle the effects of casual sex, growing acceptance and glorification of porn, and movies and advertising pushing the line of lewd behaviour we have redemption. All the good works and avoidance of the bad stuff are never enough to save us. We need more. God offers us the gift of a new start. Even if we have dabbled into the desires of the body and mind and lost our way we are not lost forever. When we accept God's gift of salvation we receive, by faith, his grace allows us a clean slate. Ephesians 2: 10 says: We are "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." We "should" follow the plans God set for us. We "should". But so often we don't. Thank goodness for God's mercy and grace to renew us and set us back on the right path when we fail. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, How amazing are our bodies which you created? The desire of a husband and wife for each other unites them physically but also emotionally in a way that cannot be by accident. Lord, we have taken something sacred and made it unholy. The beauty of sex has been marred by the commonness of it. It has become no longer sacred but ordinary or twisted and splashed over every billboard, movie, and magazine. Help us to recognize this. Let us not become immune to society's desire to make sex nothing more than an act to satisfy the flesh. And when we don't walk in the ways we should and we sin with our bodies or our minds, bring it to our conscience and may that lead to repentance. Amen.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 1-3; Ephesians 3

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday, October 11th: Song of Solomon 4-5, Ephesians 1 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Song of Solomon 4-5; Ephesians 1

In our Song of Solomon passage we are reminded that communicating love and expressing admiration in both words and actions can enhance every marriage relationship.

In 4:12 Solomon compares his bride to a locked garden, praising her virginity.  In society today the idea of saving yourself sexually until marriage is scoffed at and considered "impossible".  But God created sex and established the boundaries in which to enjoy it as He designed it to be enjoyed - marriage.

Chapter 5 reminds us that after some time passes marriage can start to lose its initial sparkle.  Conflicts, pressure, and other trouble may creep in.  But spouses need to remember to be a haven to each other, and to renew and regenerate intimacy within the relationship.

5:16 reminds us that in a healthy marriage, lovers are also friends.  Great marriage relationships are built on friendship, and simply enjoying being with the other person.  I am blessed to have that relationship with my husband and want that type of relationship for our children.

There is so much said in our Ephesians passage that it's overwhelming to even find one thing to concentrate on.  I love the concept that we have been chosen, we have been adopted as God's children - and that with that comes every privilege of true sons and daughters.  Truly the blessings are endless, and something to be so thankful for this Thanksgiving Day weekend!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Song of Solomon 6-8; Ephesians 2

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday, October 10th: Song of Solomon 1-3, John 21 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Song of Solomon 1-3; John 21

My Life Application Bible gives this background to the Song of Solomon....
Solomon frequently visited the various parts of his kingdom. One day, as he was visiting some royal vineyards in the north, his royal entourage came by surprise upon a beautiful peasant woman tending the vines. Embarrassed, she ran from them. But Solomon could not forget her. Later, disguised as a shepherd, he returned to the vineyards and won her love. Then, he revealed his true identity and asked her to return to Jerusalem with him. Solomon and his beloved are being married in the palace as this book begins.

In society today sex is portrayed explicitly and pretty much everything goes.

The Bible tells a different story.  Sex is important, but it is always mentioned within the context of a loving relationship between husband and wife.  Sex is an intimate and beautiful expression of love, but it is for the marriage bed and the marriage bed only.  Song of Songs speaks of this relationship in sensual terms, but with sacredness and purity.  We should speak of it in the same way.

Our passage begins with the wedding day, and then turn to reflections and memories of their courtship and engagement.   In each passage we see the beauty and joy of love and sex. They are God's gifts to us, to be used only as He intended, within the confines of marriage.

In John we see Jesus reconciling Peter to Him after his previous denials of Christ.  Peter loved Jesus, and proved it by his willingness to serve Him, and to commit his life to Him.  Sin does damage our relationship with Christ, but when we truly repent our relationship can be restored.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Song of Solomon 4-5; Ephesians 1

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday, 9 October,2015 Ezekiel 47-48; John 20 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan Ezekiel 47-48; John 20

In our Ezekiel reading for today, water is a huge symbol. Water is the symbol of the life-giving blessings flowing in the channels of divine grace. When, as here, it emanates from the temple where the reconciled God resides, it prefigures the restoration to life in the new covenant. The flow of this water never stops. Arabah was desert land including the area of the Salt Sea and extending southward from it. The Salt Sea, rightly called because its salt kills vegetation and marine life, could sustain life when the river flowed into it, overcoming its deadly properties. The miraculously increasing supply of water irrigated and fructified ever-widening banks, turning them into a paradise of trees bearing fruit every month. In ancient Israel, various leaves and plants had medicinal uses. Here, God provides a most beneficial cure. God’s grace transforms what was dead to bring forth new life. How great is His power! How gentle His kindness toward us.

When speaking of the sojourners and the native-born children, Luther wrote: “According to the second part of the prophecy and the new covenant, the Jews are no longer Israel, for all things are to be new, the Israel too must become new. Those alone are the true Israel who have accepted the new covenant which was established and begun at Jerusalem. For according to the old covenant I am no Israelite, or Jew. But I claim now that I am the son of St. Paul, and an Israelite or Benjamite. For Paul is my father, not the old Paul but the new Paul. He is still the old Paul, but out of the old Paul there has arisen a new Paul in Christ; and he has gotten me in Christ by the gospel [1 Cor. 4:15], so that I am in his likeness according to the new covenant. Thus all the Gentiles who are Christians are the true Israelites and new Jews, born of Christ, the noblest Jew. Everything, therefore, depends upon the new covenant, which the Messiah was to found, making all things new, as he has done” [AE 35:87-88].

Just as the temple complex symbolized ideal worship and the river symbolized God’s blessings flowing to His people, the land apportionment symbolizes God’s abundant grace. Each tribe is welcomed back. In the new covenant, God has reconciled every person to Himself-including us. The blood that flowed from Christ’s hands, feet, and riven side supply life to all who believe. Reconciled with God and declared a communion of saints, the former servants of sin bring to their Redeemer the sacrifices of praise and a sanctified life. They need not worry that the supply of royal gifts will give out, for they flow from the throne of grace in streams that grow in abundance. Nor will there ever be a moment when the gracious, protecting presence of the Shepherd/King in His flock will be in doubt, for it will always be true that “the Lord is there”. As Luther says: “This everlasting kingdom, however, contains in addition such immeasurable, glorious blessings as forgiveness of sins, peace with God, security against everlasting death and all evil, communion with the Divine Majesty and with all angels and saints, joy and pleasure in the whole creation, even in a physical sense. For this same body, which is now the old body, shall also become new, together with the whole creation, as the soul has already begun to become new in faith”. [AE 35:290]

The first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection see an empty tomb bearing all the signs of the fulfillment of the OT promises and Jesus’ own declaration that He “must rise from the dead”. The disciples were slow to believe, just as we, too, can be of little faith. Thankfully for us, Christ grants us His Spirit to work faith in us. Christ robbed the grave of death, confirming His own words, “I am the resurrection and the life”. After His resurrection, Jesus first appears to Mary Magdalene, who is led to recognize Him and goes to tell the disciples she has seen the Lord. The once-crucified Jesus then appears to His disciples, commissioning them for their work and equipping them with the Holy Spirit, Christians have received the most precious treasure on earth-the Gospel of forgiveness-but often keep it hidden from others. God raised Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and will equip us with every good thing to do His will (Heb. 13:20-21).

John, the author of this Gospel, clearly states its purpose and summarizes its central message. People commonly and mistakenly think that biblical books were written mainly to provide rules for godly living. Speaking through John, God announces the Good News that Jesus is His Son and that by faith in His name, we have life and salvation-the core message of the entire Gospel. 

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Song of Solomon 1-3; John 21

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thursday, October 8th: Ezekiel 45-46, John 19:23-42 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 45-46; John 19:23-42

Sorry this post is going to be so short, but I'm struggling with Ezekiel and wanted to focus just a bit on our John passage.

I love that Jesus, in the midst of His agony on the cross, makes sure that someone He loves and trusts will take care of His mother after He has gone.  Of course, unlike His mother or John, Jesus knows He's going to be gone, not because of His imminent death, but because of His ascension after His resurrection.  Jesus displays such compassion at a time when it would be entirely justified for His sole concern to be enduring the pain of the cross.  Such utter selflessness!

I also love the mention of Joseph and Nicodemus, secret followers of Jesus, who come out of hiding, risking their reputations, in order to give Jesus a proper burial.  Do we ever act like secret believers?  There comes a time when we need to step out and let others know whom we follow.  Are we willing to do that at the risk of our reputations?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 47-48; John 20

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wednesday, October 7th: Ezekiel 42-44, John 19:1-22 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 42-44; John 19:1-22

Ezekiel 43 is a picture of the glory of God, and a beautiful promise that one day we will surrounded by His presence and the glory that comes with it. Truly, we will be awestruck, in every sense of the word.

Rayburn says:
When the Lord promises us here a future dominated by his presence, he is promising us everything: human life in its complete and perfect fulfillment; human happiness, joy, and satisfaction so complete that we can scarcely imagine it. And this one thing more, we will be holy. We will not sin. And we can scarcely imagine what it will be like to be a human being without sin, without sin in the heart, in the attitudes, in the thoughts, in the words, or in the deeds. Love, purity, goodness all the way down and all the way out. That, my friends, is something to look forward to!

And what better way to look forward to it and to have more anticipations of it now than simply to strive as hard as we can to live now the way we are going to live then. It is highly likely, it is law of God’s kingdom and of his mercy, that those who strive to do that will also experience more now of what they will experience then. And since that experience is going to be everything that we long for, every little bit of it we can enjoy now is worth whatever effort it requires.

This verse also jumped out at me and tied into our NT passage perfectly.....
Ezekiel 44:24 In a dispute, they shall act as judges, and they shall judge it according to my judgments
We are to judge according to God's standards - not by our own misguided notions of right and wrong.  We cannot do as Pilate did, and allow fear, or anything else, to cause us to waiver from what we know to be true.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 45-46; John 19:23-42