Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday, January 31: Exodus 1-3 ~ Jay

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is:Exodus 1-3

As the title of the book indicates (Exodus) is time for God's people to leave.  Lots of gems and potential points for comments in today's passage, but I am a 2 finger typist:)

I find it very interesting that almost 400 years have passed since Joseph brought his family into Egypt and now a new leader decides that this group of people outnumber even the Egyptians! In vs. 2 of today's passage it tells us that Jacob's descendants numbered 70..... and when the new Pharaoh took stock of where his kingdom was at, they now numbered greater than the Egyptians...which would have been over 2 million people.  Recall that Joseph reiterated God's promise to his brothers in Genesis 50:24-25;  24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”  Now after approximately 400 years have passed, they are still in Egypt (no promised land yet) and on top of this they are going to be placed into brutal slavery. I would imagine doubt and skepticism would have set in about these promises of God's deliverance that were passed down from generation to generation.  Not much different than today.  We have God's promise that he will return and claim us to himself...but do we live each day with the thought that God is working through his plan and today could be the day? 

Another point that struck me was in Chapter 1 vs. 17. 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. When these Midwives were ordered by the most powerful person they knew to kill the male children, they did not follow these commands because they feared God. The consequence of disobedience was likely death, yet they feared God?  Where did this powerful fear of God come from? Certainly they would not have have had the same passing down of God's promises from generation to generation (as the Hebrews did), yet they feared God? Being observant they likely saw how the Hebrew people lived, conducted themselves, and how they were blessed; From this the midwives would have developed their overwhelming respect for the Hebrew's God.  It brings me to question my own life; If those around me observe how I live and conduct myself on a daily basis - Do they in turn fear God?

Something else that stood out to me was in Exodus 2 vs 24-25. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.  This passage re-confirms in my mind that God does hear us, God is true to his promises, and beyond that He has "emotion" and  concern for us. This was confirmed again in Exodus 3 vs 7. The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 

 The final point that I took notice of was around when God asked Moses to take on this great task of approaching Pharaoh and leading the people out of Egypt. He speaks to Moses out of a bush that is burning, without the bush being consumed.  On top of that God's voice is audibly heard coming out from the bush...yet Moses comes up with two lame excuses. #1 - Who am I;   #2 - What if they ask me the name of the God of our Forefathers?  How humorous this seems to us Moses is standing in front of God and visibly witnessing God's power yet he makes excuses to try and get out of this great responsibility God has called him to. Applying this personally..How ridiculous my excuses must sound to God when he calls me do his work.  

So summing up my thoughts around today's passage:

1) God is true to his word and fulfills his promises.
2) Our timing may not be the same as God's timing.
3) We need to conduct ourselves so others see and respect God through us.
4) God hears us and is concerned about us.
5) When God puts a task in front of us and asks us to step-up, we need to be willing - no matter how many excuses we might think are valid.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Exodus 4-6

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday, January 30th: Job 40-42 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 40-42

For many chapters Job has been begging for an audience with God, longing for an opportunity to please his innocence.  But when God finally gives it to him, Job wisely decides to remain quiet, recognizing that he, as a limited and fallible human being, had no right to judge the God who created the universe, nor the right to demand answers to things he didn't understand.

My Life Application bible had some good thoughts.....

Four Views of Suffering
Satan's view: People believe in God only when they are prospering and not suffering. This is wrong.
The view of Job's three friends: Suffering is God's judgment for sin. This is not always true.
Elihu's view: Suffering is God's way to teach, discipline, and refine. This is true, but an incomplete explanation.
God's view: Suffering causes us to trust God for who He is, not what He does.

When We Suffer
Here are six questions to ask ourselves when we suffer, and what to do if the answer is yes.
Am I being punished by God for sin? Confess known sin.
Is Satan attacking me as I try to survive as a Christian? Call on God for strength.
Am I being prepared for a special service, learning to be compassionate to those who suffer? Resist self-pity. Ask God to open up doors of opportunity and help you discover others who suffer as you do.
Am I specifically selected for testing, like Job? Accept help from the body of believers. Trust God to work his purpose through you.
Is my suffering a result of natural consequences for which I am not directly responsible? Recognize that in a sinful world, both good and evil people will suffer. But the good person has a promise from God that those sufferings will one day come to an end.
Is my suffering due to some unknown reason?  Don't draw inward from the pain. Proclaim your faith in God, know that He cares, and wait patiently for His aid.

It is very interesting that when Job does finally repent, it is not for committing secret sins, as his friends had thought, but rather for questioning God's sovereignty and justice. When things happen that we don't understand, we too, must choose between doubt and trust.

It's important to note that just because God restored Job's former blessings to him, (and then some!), that things do not always end that way here on earth.  We are definitely not guaranteed material restoration, but we are promised complete restoration in eternity.  May we cling to the knowledge that He is good, He is just, He will turn bad into good, He is sovereign, He is all-powerful - He is our hope.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Exodus 1-3

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday January 29th, 2016: Job 36-39 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Job 36-39

In chapter 36, Elihu continues on with his words of "knowledge" and "understanding" to Job.  Despite Elihu's perspective of himself and his perfect in knowledge claim, there were some verses that stood out to me in this chapter.

“God is mighty, but despises no one; He is mighty, and firm in His purpose."  Job 36:5

God is all powerful, and God's power assures the fulfillment of His purpose.  Whether we want to accept His purpose or not, His will, will be done.  God has a purpose for executing both goodness and justice, so we ought to place our faith in God, and gain our understanding of His purpose from Him.

"If they obey and serve Him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment."  Job 36:11

I do not agree with Elihu's theology here, which is the same as Job's three friends, but I found it interesting that people today are really not different than back then.  People want to be content and happy and think that if we do good things, good things will happen to us.  Just before I read the passage and wrote this post, I was driving home and saw a lady by herself in her van with a flat tire.  My first thought was that I should provide some assistance because if Pamela or one of our girls were in that situation, I would want someone to help them out too.  Kind of the "paying it forward" idea.  So I turned around to offer my limited car fixing ability to her in hopes that one day if needed, someone else would do the same for my girls.  How silly.

“The godless in heart harbor resentment; even when He fetters them, they do not cry for help.  They die in their youth, among male prostitutes of the shrines.  But those who suffer He delivers in their suffering; He speaks to them in their affliction.  Job 36: 13-15

Elihu is talking about people who do not know God.  However, if we do not cast our cares upon Him, and we pile up one grievance on top of the other, then we are not yielding to God and will not hear His voice in our suffering.  Even Elihu realized that the basic spiritual need of man stems from the hardness of his heart.

Elihu then continues on with how great and infinite God is, and that He is greater than anything we could ever imagine or figure out (vs 26).  He continues on and describes some of God's creation and the passage reveals a sophisticated observation of atmospheric conditions and their effects.  He begins chapter 37 by saying that his heart pounds and leaps from its place because he is stunned by His creation.  

Am I stunned by His creation?  Do I give enough praise to God when He sends the thunder?  How everyday the sun and moon provide their light and the clouds form from nowhere.  Can I say that I have given God the glory He deserves in His creation, how He commands the wind, the sun, the moon, the lakes, the rain, the clouds, and (I guess even the snow) and they obey?  I can safely say, that I have not.  My knowledge is limited and I cannot fathom the magnificence and magnitude of His creation.

God begins to speak to Job in chapters 38-39, and He quickly addresses the fact that no matter how wise a person may be, we can not be as wise as God.  God points out the mysteries of His creation, and since man has so little understanding of this, how can man presume to understand the action of God as in the case of the trial of Job?

These two chapters are full of illustrations of nature that are beyond man's comprehension with regard to their origin, or means of accomplishment.  They also demonstrate God's disdain for man's understanding of the ways of God in light of the fact that those who spoke to Job represented themselves as great men of wisdom.  God is just setting the record straight on their actual level of understanding.

We need to be careful to not be like Job and his friends.  It is easy speak about issues with uncertainty, and base it on a hunch and not a fact.  In times of need and direction, my prayer is that I will go back to the Bible for my counsel, and base my decision on what the scripture says.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Job 40-42

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday January 28 2016: Job 33-35 ~ Cameron

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 33-35

Elihu has spent the past 31 chapters silently listening to the exchanges we have read. Part of his speech that impacted me also illustrates why we should always be prepared to give an account for the joy we have.

 23 If there is a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness;
24 to tell him that God had mercy on him, that he delivered him from going down to the pit; that he found a ransom;
25 his flesh shall become more tender than a child’s; and he shall return to the days of his youth.
26 He shall pray unto God, and he will love him; and he shall see his face with shouts of joy; for he will render unto the man the recompense of his righteousness.
27 He looks upon men, and if any say, I have sinned and perverted that which was right, and it did not profit me;
28 God will ransom his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light." - Job 33:23-28 (JUB)

As we come to terms our own sinfulness, a Messenger or Mediator may Intercede and spare man from going into the pit.
Christ is that Mediator and He Intercedes for each of us every day.
It is His Flesh was renewed as He gave His Life as a Ransom for many.

When we think about our salvation, does it generate the type of reaction seen in vs 27 and 28. All of us "have sinned and perverted what was right" but "did not get what I deserved" (vs 27 NIV). By the Grace of God, our "life shall see the light" (vs 28 JUB). Salvation is not reserved for an elite group, it is for all who come and accept the offer of Christ to Intercede for us. That is it.

I am repeatedly amazed at the consistency of the message of salvation throughout the bible. The story of Job takes place before the prophets began to speak and allude the coming Messiah; before the exodus and the writing of the law. Yet salvation is understood to exist, even if mechanism of how it will come to pass is not.

From "In the beginning" in Genesis 1:1 to the final "Amen" in Revelations 22:21, we are assured that there is Hope for every human to one day be in the Presence of the Holy One.


Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Job 36-39

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wednesday, January 27: Job 30-32 - Emma

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 30-32

My dad asked me if I wanted to do his blog for him today, so I decided I would give it a go!

One verse that stood out to me was:

"They despise me and won't come near me, except to spit in my face." - Job 30:10

In my NLT bible, there's a cross next to this verse which points to a reference of Matthew 26:67, which reads:

Then they began to spit in Jesus' face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him,

This made me think of another verse, John 15:18 which reads:

"If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first."

Jesus didn't deserve hatred, yet people still hated Him! This is something to remember when we feel hated, or even disliked. 

Job trusted God and praised Him through all the problems in his life. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He praised God. Do I praise God when problems occur? Do I trust in His plan even though others laugh at me for it?

Father, help me to remember that I am Yours, and that You are on my side. Help me to feel Your love around me everyday, and help me to trust in You, even when I can't see where we're going. Amen

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Job 33-35

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday, January 26th: Job 27-29 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 27-29

Job 28 focuses on wisdom; on where man searches for wisdom & on God's wisdom.

There is a mine for silver
    and a place where gold is refined.

They tunnel through the rock;
    their eyes see all its treasures.
 They search the sources of the rivers
    and bring hidden things to light.   Job 28:1, 10 & 11

How often do we search for answers in the wrong places or attribute wisdom with wealth & success?  Do we really seek God or do we rely on our own ways to find answers to our problems?

What is true wisdom?  It is so much more than just being smart.  The dictionary defines it as "experience & knowledge together with the power of applying them critically or practically."  We may feel that applies to us in certain areas, but is certainly not something that we can achieve in all areas of our life or in full understanding in light of eternity.

Job goes on to say that man does not have an understanding of wisdom & it's not something that we can find on our own.

But where can wisdom be found?
    Where does understanding dwell?
 No mortal comprehends its worth;
    it cannot be found in the land of the living.   Job 28:12 & 13

Where then does wisdom come from?
    Where does understanding dwell?  Job 28:20

God understands the way to it
    and he alone knows where it dwells,
for he views the ends of the earth
    and sees everything under the heavens.  Job 28:23&24

There are good reasons for God to do (allow) what he does, but we are not privileged to his understanding & wisdom.  We need to accept that God's ways are beyond our understanding & trust him.

Why can't we have the same understanding?

Our human minds can't grasp it.  God is all-seeing.  Our perspective is limited to ourselves; we see what's happening in our own lives, at this time, & that is our concern.  God, though, views our lives on the scale of the world & in light of eternity. 

Perhaps the biggest reason, though, is faith & trust.
God has made it clear to us that he loves us & is in control, but the why & how things happen are not for us.  We need to have faith in his sovereignty & trust him.  Men will sometimes make choices or do things that may not make sense or will even come to regret, but God never will.  He will never make the wrong decision.  One day we will know & understand why things have happened the way they did, but that's not for us right now.

And he said to the human race,
    “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
    and to shun evil is understanding.”   Job 28:28

God will give us the wisdom that we need, in the amount that we need it, when we seek him.  Let's trust him even when we don't understand him.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageJob 30-32

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday, January 25th: Job 24-26 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 24-26

It is hard for us as believers to watch the wicked prosper.  It was hard for Job then, and it is hard for us now.  We know that justice will only come on the Day of Judgment, and we know that we only escape that judgment ourselves due to Christ's atoning work on the cross.  That desire for justice comes from God.  We are right to long for justice.  We are right to loathe the fact that the wicked prosper.  But we will not see that, at least not perfectly, here on earth.  Sometimes we see earthly justice served.  But more often than not, we need to trust that ultimately God's justice will prevail, and that in the end that is all that matters.

I find it interesting that often Job's thoughts often echo what God is going to tell Job near the end of the book.  He marvels at God's greatness, power, and mystery.

And that's what we ought to focus on.  God.  When we take our eyes off ourselves and all our problems, difficulties, and trials; and instead, focus on God, dwelling on Him and His attributes, becoming consumed with knowing Him instead of knowing the answer to the question "why?", that is when we will be able to live until the day we finally see judgment come.

While we wait, we must remember to be grateful that Christ's incarnation, sinless life, atoning death, and overpowering resurrection enable us to escape the very judgment for which we wait.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Job 27-29

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday January 24th: Job 21-23~Kelora

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 21-23

These passages are conversations between Job and his friends.  In Chapter 21 Job responds to his friend Zophar.  Previously Zophar thought that the happiness of wicked people would not last.  Job disagrees with Zophar as he knew that many wicked people were successful live full lives.

Have you never questioned those who travel?
    Have you paid no regard to their accounts—
30 that the wicked are spared from the day of calamity,
    that they are delivered from[c] the day of wrath?
31 Who denounces their conduct to their face?
    Who repays them for what they have done?

 Even though Job had been successful early on he was glad to serve God.  God mattered more than his wealth.

In Chapter 22 Job's friend Eliphaz describes the evil deeds he believes Job has committed and believes that is why he is suffering.

Is not your wickedness great?
    Are not your sins endless?
You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
    you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
You gave no water to the weary
    and you withheld food from the hungry,
though you were a powerful man, owning land
    an honored man, living on it.
And you sent widows away empty-handed
    and broke the strength of the fatherless.
10 That is why snares are all around you,
    why sudden peril terrifies you,

Eliphaz wanted to help Job hoping Job would confess his evil deeds to God and that God would forgive him and he would be successful again.  Eliphaz had no evidence that Job had committed any of these sins but as his friend he was trying to figure out the reason for Job's suffering.  Eliphaz meant well but unfortunately this would have been disheartening for Job to hear.

“Submit to God and be at peace with him;
    in this way prosperity will come to you.
22 Accept instruction from his mouth
    and lay up his words in your heart.
23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:
    If you remove wickedness far from your tent
24 and assign your nuggets to the dust,
    your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,
25 then the Almighty will be your gold,
    the choicest silver for you.
26 Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty
    and will lift up your face to God.
27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
    and you will fulfill your vows.
28 What you decide on will be done,
    and light will shine on your ways.
29 When people are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’
    then he will save the downcast.
30 He will deliver even one who is not innocent,
    who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

In Chapter 23 Job looked for God and he did not know where God was but God knew where Job was.  Even though Job said he couldn't find God he continued to follow God.  In times of challenges sometimes we want to see a sign of where God is but God is always with us even though we may feel at times like we can't see him.  Job remains strong in his faith even in his toughest times and he believes that when he stands before God that God will see that he remained faithful.  

My feet have closely followed his steps;
    I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
    I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Job 24-26

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saturday, January 23rd: Job 18-20 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 18-20

In Chapter 18 Bildad rejected Job's side of the story because it didn't fit with his preconceived notions of God.  God is just, therefore the righteous are blessed while the wicked are punished.  If Job is suffering it means he is being punished, therefore he must have sinned.  Logical, simple, cause and effect.

But Job KNEW it wasn't that.  Oh, he knew he wasn't perfect.  But he knew himself to be a godly man who lived a life faithful to God.  That was why Job was so frustrated - he couldn't understand it either, because the logic of that philosophy had likely been his as well, until he was the one suffering.

Previously, in 9:32-33 Job had cried out....
God is not a mortal like me,
so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.
If only there were a mediator between us,
someone who could bring us together

And in today's Chapter 19:25-27, we see these amazing words set amidst the unknown cause of Job's suffering....
But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!

Wow!  What an amazing ringing affirmation of absolutely confident hope!  Job didn't know about the conversation between Satan and God.  Job didn't have the books of the law or poetry or prophets to give him any information about the Messiah or the concept of the resurrection.  He also still had no idea why he was suffering to such a great degree.  He didn't know why God seemed to be against him at the time.  But he KNEW that in the end, God would be on his side.

And Jesus Christ is the answer to Job's heart's cry, and to our heart's cry as well.  Jesus is that mediator that we so desperately need.  Jesus gives us assurance that man will live again.  Jesus came in the flesh so that we might see him face to face.

We have so much more information than Job had when he made that incredible statement of faith.  Is our faith that strong?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Job 21-23