Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday, August 31st: Ezekiel 20 - 21 ~ Nathan

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

I'd like to look at the last two verses of today's reading,

Ezekiel 21: 31-32
I will pour out my wrath on you and breathe out my fiery anger against you; I will deliver you into the hands of brutal men, men skilled in destruction.  You will be fuel for the fire, your blood will be shed in your land, you will be remembered no more; for I the Lord have spoken.’ ”

We have been reading for awhile now about how God has grown tired of Israel's steady road of sin, but here we read what will happen at the end, to those that sin and make no effort to ask for forgiveness and do better. There is an end coming.

Do I sin and not take seriously that I need to ask for forgiveness? Do I think that soon all is forgotten anyway, and I can move on, and therefore not bother to make things right now by asking for forgiveness?

There is an end to everything, including my time on earth, at the end do I want my life to count for God's purpose and way?

God gives us many chances, but there is an end to it, we won't keep getting more chances. I need to do my best for Him now, before it's too late.

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tuesday, August 30th: Ezekiel 18-19 ~ Danae

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

Ezekiel 18:25-
Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust?

“It’s not fair! It's not my fault!” How easy to catch ourselves either thinking or saying something along these lines.

In chapter 18, Ezekiel is speaking for the Lord & clarifying the thinking of the people of Judah. They believed that they were punished for the sins of their fathers & if their fathers were righteous, they would receive God’s blessing & would live giving the, permission to live as they pleased.

In reading this, my first thought was “who would think like this?”  I mean, yes, we sometimes have to suffer the effects of the sin of people around us, but not that we are punished for them.  And who would believe they could get away with anything because of someone else's righteousness?

The basic issue here though is that no one wanted to take responsibility for their own actions.  So easy it is to blame the next person for our troubles & mistakes.  “If he hadn't done this, I would have done that,” “He was bugging me,” “They are doing that so why couldn't I”

Quite simply, we are responsible for the things we do & will be accountable for each one.  It doesn't matter if someone provoked us or if everyone around us is doing it too.  We need to know what is acceptable to God & live accordingly.

Ezekiel 18:30-32
“Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offences; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offences you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?  For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

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

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday, August 29: Ezekiel 16-17 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 16-17

The thing that stood out for me from today's readings was the very last line:

 I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” (ESV)

“‘I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said!’” (NLT)

I, God, said it—and I did it.’” (Message)

There are two ways to take this:

1. God will always keep his promises and if He said it, it will come to pass.

2. God will always place judgement on those who disregard his word, and there will be consequences.

Today's reading is focused on the later. The judgement and punishment of people who turn from God and His commandments.

This commentary says:

Still God is justifying himself in the desolations he is about to bring upon Jerusalem; and very largely, in this chapter, he shows the prophet, and orders him to show the people, that he did but punish them as their sins deserved. In the foregoing chapter he had compared Jerusalem to an unfruitful vine, that was fit for nothing but the fire; in this chapter he compares it to an adulteress, that, in justice, ought to be abandoned and exposed, and he must therefore show the people their abominations, that they might see how little reason they had to complain of the judgments they were under. In this long discourse are set forth,
  • I. The despicable and deplorable beginnings of that church and nation (v. 3-5).
  • II. The many honours and favours God had bestowed upon them (v. 6-14).
  • III. Their treacherous and ungrateful departures from him to the services and worship of idols, here represented by the most impudent whoredom (v. 15-34).
  • IV. A threatening of terrible destroying judgments, which God would bring upon them for this sin (v. 35-43).
  • V. An aggravation both of their sin and of their punishment, by comparison with Sodom and Samaria (v. 44-59).
  • VI. A promise of mercy in the close, which God would show to a penitent remnant (v. 60-63). And this is designed for admonition to us.
We can take comfort in knowing God's word is truth. His promises are true. Also, His wrath for our disobedience is true. We cannot run from God and our actions contrary to His desire are not without consequence. We may possibly be able to avoid consequences on earth as we see people living in sin flourishing in the eyes of the world but consequences in eternity last forever.

However, we are not without hope. Even in the depths of sin, in a hole that seems too deep to get out of, God can and will retrieve us--if we desire that. There is always hope even in the darkest sin.

This commentary illustrates that:

God was, in the foregoing chapter, reckoning with the people of Judah, and bringing ruin upon them for their treachery in breaking covenant with him; in this chapter he is reckoning with the king of Judah for his treachery in breaking covenant with the king of Babylon; for when God came to contend with them he found many grounds of his controversy. The thing was now in doing: Zedekiah was practising with the king of Egypt underhand for assistance in a treacherous project he had formed to shake off the yoke of the king of Babylon, and violate the homage and fealty he had sworn to him. For this God by the prophet here,
  • I. Threatens the ruin of him and his kingdom, by a parable of two eagles and a vine (v. 1-10), and the explanation of that parable (v. 11-21). But, in the close,
  • II. He promises hereafter to raise the royal family of Judah again, the house of David, in the Messiah and his kingdom (v. 22-24).
Even the sinfulness of these people, and the punishment they deserved from their sinfulness, Jesus would be born from this legacy. There is hope in the hopeless. There is hope for redemption from the brokenness. We are redeemed through Christ who knows our sin and conquered it.

God said it and He did it.


Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageEzekiel 18-19

Sunday, August 28, 2016

SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, 2016: Ezekiel 13-15 ~ Jay

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 13-15

A I read through today’s passage, the below items made an impact on me.

1)     False Testimony-  Ezekiel 13:2-8 describes God’s judgement that will come upon those who used His name to spread false prophesies and messages.  I thought of my own anger when I hear of someone who uses my name to validate an initiative or agenda that they are promoting either in a work or personal situation.  How much more impactful would it have been in the Old Testament and even today when one uses Gods name to promote their own personal agenda.  I need to be ground in God’s Word and constantly in communication with Him through prayer to have that grounding so I am able to discern between those who are aligned with God’s true mandate and those with an alternative motive.

2)     What do I Worship? -  Ezekiel 14:2: Son of man, these leaders have set up idols[a] in their hearts. They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin. Why should I listen to their requests? We too pray and ask God for guidance and deliverance in certain situations but why should he listen to our requests? Have we established idols in our own hearts that get in the way of communication with God? It is a personal challenge to me to be genuine and pray for God’s assistance in the removal of “idols” from my life so that my communication with God can be more effective.  

3)     Would God Consider me Wood or a Vine?- In Ezekiel 15:2-6 God describes the people of Jerusalem as vines and contrasts them with wood.  They both grow in the forest but one (vine) is fairly useless in terms of making anything of value out of it and is burned up quickly in the fire yielding little value even in terms of heat. The obvious contrast is a tree which has great value in terms of constructing items and BTU (heat) value. In considering my life and my witness / service for God- would God consider me a vine or a tree? I need to take stock and daily have a heart that is open to God’s leading and a willingness to be utilized for His service.   

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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday, August 27th: Ezekiel 9-12 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 9-12

Ezekiel 9:4 He said to him, "Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city."

My Life Application Bible says this (emphasis mine).....
God told the man with the writer's case to put a mark on those who were faithful to God. Their faithfulness was determined by their sorrow over their nation's sin. Those with the mark were spared when the six men began to destroy the wicked people. During the Exodus, the Israelites put a mark of blood on their doorframes to save them from death. In the final days, God will mark the foreheads of those destined for salvation (Rev 7:3), and Satan will mark his followers (Rev 13:16-17), who, like him, are destined for destruction. When God punished sin, he won't forget his promise to preserve his people.

Is our faithfulness obvious to God?  To those around us?  Does sin bother us to the point of weeping? Do we have even a slight grasp as to how absolutely holy God is and how sinful we are?  Is there evidence of our faith?

May God give us an ever increasing awareness of His holiness and His incredible mercy and grace, in light of our sinfulness.  So thankful for the blood of Jesus that covers the stain of our sin and make us acceptable in His sight.  Great is His faithfulness!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Ezekiel 13-15

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday, August 26th: Ezekiel 5-8 ~Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Ezekiel 5-8

If you fall to sin, it's usually in the hopes of not being caught.  Chances are if there was a camera was on us 100% of the time, there would be fewer laws and commandments broken.  If all our verbal conversations were recorded, we probably wouldn't lie because it could be easily reviewed.  I would imagine that there would be fewer cases of adultery knowing that there was the ability to watch what your spouse was doing.  Or less theft knowing that your face is on the video.  The not so funny thing is, is that we are on camera 100% of the time.

"Yet in her wickedness she has rebelled against my laws and decrees more than the nations and countries around her. She has rejected my laws and has not followed my decrees." Ezekiel 5:6

Ezekiel is warning the people of Jerusalem.  They have rejected God and His laws and were worshiping every god imaginable with the exclusion of the one true God.  The people were living the way the wanted to with no repercussions.  Until now. God was going to judge them harshly for rejecting Him and worshiping false gods. " Because of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again." (vs 9)

Just like the people of Jerusalem, we too are under God's microscope.  We may believe that we are able to hide and "get away" with our actions, but that is simply not the case.  God takes sin seriously and so should we.  God will hold us individually accountable for all of our sins, and thankfully He offers each of us a pardon through Jesus' death on the cross.

God has the ability to take us who are dead in sin, and by his Spirit breathe new life into us. God wants the whole world to know that he is Lord, and today's reading reminded me that we have a responsibility of letting others know about this wonderful act.  

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Ezekiel 9-12

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday, August 25: Jeremiah 27-28, 51:59-64 ~Cameron

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 27-28, Jeremiah 51:59-64

Zedekiah had just been made king of Judah. From both Hebrew account and the Babylonian Chronicles, Zedekiah was placed on the throne after his brother Jehoiachim was removed from king Nebuchadnezzar. (I know it's Wikipedia but link).

Surrounding kingdoms sent diplomatic envoys to Jerusalem to establish ties with the new king. What a great time to proclaim that they should all surrender and serve Babylon! Well that is exactly the message Jeremiah sent back to the visiting kingdoms. Jeremiah then gave the same message to young king Zedekiah. What a killjoy.

It isn't even surprising to learn that Zedekiah ignored this prophecy and rebelled against Babylon nine years later. Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem and it fell after a 30 month siege (2 Kings 25:1-7). Jerusalem was razed. The temple gutted. The king's house and all the other great houses were also burned down. Then the walls of Jerusalem were broken (2 Kings 25:8-12). The Babylonians were very thorough. I find it interesting that Babylon was only doing what God allowed, nothing more.

Nebuchadnezzar put him on the throne! In that way, Zedekiah was playing poker with house money. Except he had been told what everyone's cards were and how to play a winning hand. He wouldn't take the whole pot but he could still win. Instead, he ignored the game plan, bet his kingdom, and Judah lost.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Ezekiel 5-8

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 24th: Ezekiel 1-4 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 1-4

The start of the reading today reminded me of something that we would read out of Revelation.

It starts out and talks about a vision from God to Ezekiel, who was a priest, and is mainly about God preparing Ezekiel to minister to a people that were lost.

Ezekiel 2:5
And whether they listen or fail to listen —for they are a rebellious people —they will know that a prophet has been among them.

I sense that the Israelites have already gone too far and God is ready to give them what they deserve, but is willing to try again to save anyone who is willing to listen to Him,

Ezekiel 2:7
You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious

God is preparing Ezekiel for a ministry, to a lost people that have learned about God but fail to devote themselves completely to Him,

Ezekiel 3:10-11
And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. [11] Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says,' whether they listen or fail to listen. ”

We live in a fallen world just like the Israelites did in the times we read about. They are being given another chance, whether they want it or not, to turn to God. What an awesome and loving God we serve, that He would give that many chances to turn to Him.

When I think about it, it blows me away how awesome and loving God is. He takes all our sin and forgives us (when we personally accept Him and ask for forgiveness) then welcomes us into heaven to be with Him forever! Amazing!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Jeremiah 27-28, Jeremiah 51:59-64

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday, August 23rd: 2 Kings 24:10-17, 2 Chronicles 36:10, 2 Kings 24:18-20, 2 Chronicles 36:11-14, Jeremiah 52:1-3, Jeremiah 37-38 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Kings 24:10-17, 2 Chronicles 36:10, 2 Kings 24:18-20, 2 Chronicles 36:11-14, Jeremiah 52:1-3, Jeremiah 37-38

Jeremiah 38:15-
Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I give you an answer, will you not kill me? Even if I did give you counsel, you would not listen to me.”

This verse stood out to me today.

Already in Jeremiah 37:2&3, Zedekiah was not wanting to listen to Jeremiah’s words, but wanting the blessing of his prayers.  He wanted things from God but didn't want anything expected from him.

We have to be prepared to listen to guidance/direction given to us either directly from God or from godly counsel placed before us. God expects obedience from us.

Counsel can come in different forms.  Whether being the direction/path we're supposed to take or something that needs refining in us, we need to accept the counsel given (even when it goes against everything we want to hear) & follow.

Only in our obedience will we be able to receive the prayers of blessings.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Ezekiel 1-4

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday, August 22nd: Jeremiah 49:34-51:58 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 49:34-51:58

Sorry for the late post - I forgot it was my Monday!

Today's passage is a clear reminder that God is sovereign.  Nations, kings, and empires rise and fall according to His command.  God would use Babylon to punish Judah for her sins, and then He would use the Medo-Persians to punish Babylon for its own.  At its height, the Babylonian empire probably seemed invincible, but it was powerless against God's plan.

The same is true for us today.  With the disastrous looking election coming up for our neighbours to the south, it would be easy to become discouraged.  But no matter how that election goes down, God is still on His throne and He is ultimately the King of all kings (or presidents or prime ministers).  Perhaps God is bringing about a season of judgment, perhaps He is refining us through fire - it doesn't really matter whether or not we understand God's plan or know what He is doing.

We know that He is good.
We know that He is sovereign.
And that is enough.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage2 Kings 24:10-17, 2 Chronicles 36:10, 2 Kings 24:18-20, 2 Chronicles 36:11-14, Jeremiah 52:1-3, Jeremiah 37-38

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday, August 21th: Jeremiah 29-31` ~ Kelora

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is:Jeremiah 29-31

After reading these passages Jeremiah 29 stood out the most for me.  This chapter is a letter from Jeremiah to the captives of Babylon.  He reminded the people that even though they were experiencing troubled time that life keeps moving on and and that they should continue to live their lives and to pray for the nation that they were exiled to.  This was a good reminder to me that when troubles or hardship enter our lives not to forget to continue to pray and trust God.

I particularly like the verse Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."  What a reassurance this verse is especially the part about God giving us hope and a future.  My Life Application Bible had good notes on this verse It said:

We're all encouraged by a leader who stirs us to move ahead, someone who believes we can do the task he has given and who will be with us all the way.  God is that kind of leader.  He knows the future, and his plans for us are good and full of hope.  As long as God, who knows the future, provides our agenda and goes with us as we fulfill his mission, we can have boundless hope.  This does not mean that we will be spared pain, suffering or hardship, but that God will see us through to a glorious conclusion.  

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Jeremiah 49:34-51:58

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday, August 20th: 2 Kings 24:5-7, 2 Chronicles 36:6-8, 2 Kings 24:8-9, 2 Chronicles 36:9, Jeremiah 22:24-30, Jeremiah 23-24 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Kings 24:5-7, 2 Chronicles 36:6-8, 2 Kings 24:8-9, 2 Chronicles 36:9, Jeremiah 22:24-30, Jeremiah 23-24

Today's passage reminds us once again that leaders are responsible for those they lead and will be held accountable for how they do so.  We are all leaders to some degree or another, and should all take this to heart.

It warns once again about the prevalence of false teachers, something that we have in abundance these days!  There are a lot of prosperity preachers and those who claim to speak for God and yet call right wrong.  We must compare any teaching we hear with the truth from God's Word.  That is to be our only standard.

The story of the good and bad figs caught my eye in Jeremiah 24.  I appreciated this excerpt from my Life Application Bible....
The fresh, ripe figs represented the exiles to Babylon, not because they themselves were good but because their hearts would respond to God. He would preserve them and bring them back to the land. The bad, rotten figs represented those who remained in Judah or ran away to Egypt. Those people may have arrogantly believed they would be blessed if they remained in the land or escaped to Egypt, but the opposite was true because God would use the captivity to refine the exiles. We may assume we are blessed when life goes well and cursed when it does not. But trouble is a blessing when it makes us stronger, and prosperity is a curse if it entices us away from God. If you are facing trouble, ask God to help you grow stronger for him. If things are going your way, ask God to help you use your prosperity for him. 

Believers are the good figs - but not because of anything inherently good in us, but because of His grace, because of the Holy Spirit's work to soften our hearts to the gospel, because of His power to draw us to Himself.  

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Jeremiah 29-31

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday August 19th: Jeremiah 18, 35, 49:1-33 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Jeremiah 18, 35, 49:1-33

"But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him."  Jeremiah 18:4

Today's reading begins with God commanding Jeremiah to go and watch the potter work with his clay.  The potter takes his clay and begins to form something.  But before the clay hardens, the potter changes it completely and makes something else.

This demonstration was to show Jeremiah that Judah should turn from their wicked ways and be rewarded rather than rejecting God and being destroyed.  This verse applies to us today too.  The rewards that we will receive by following God, will outweigh any possible reward that we could achieve on our own.  Our ways are selfish that lead to destruction, where God's plan is to prosper us and provide us with hope.  God has the authority and power to form anything as He pleases.  He may dispose of us as He feels fit, and it would be absurd for us to dispute this (as the clay to quarrel with the potter).  When God comes against us in judgement we can be sure that it is for the sins that we have committed, and thankfully we have been given the gift of salvation through death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Dear Lord, I pray that I would be like clay in your hands and let you be the potter.  My life left in my own hands will lead to destruction and requires your touch to be reformed and shaped as you see fit.  I ask that you would provide a desire deep inside me that I would obey your words and learn from my mistakes.  Give me the strength to overcome temptation so that I can keep your commands.  You owe me nothing, and yet you choose to continue to show me patience, kindness, and compassion.  You have made me the way you wanted to, and it is my responsibility use those gifts to glorify you.  I would like to thank you for all that you have given to me and how you have always provided my needs.  Just as the clay will only find a purpose when it remains pliable and in the hands of the potter, so I too want to let you have your way with me.  Amen.    

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: 2 Kings 24:5-7, 2 Chronicles 36:6-8, 2 Kings 24:8-9, 2 Chronicles 36:9, Jeremiah 22:24-30, Jeremiah 23-24

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday August 18: Jeremiah 14-17 ~Cameron

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 14-17

Chapter 14:13-16 caught my eye.

Jeremiah, as with any of the prophets, had a tough gig. Bringing news of coming judgement is not a way to popularity. Being one of the few delivering a message of doom when other "prophets" are proclaiming peace would definitely increase the feeling of isolation. But God is not deceived and Jeremiah proclaims a severe judgement on those claiming to be speaking for God but are without substance.

While the message of peace is nice, the people of Israel and Judah knew their scriptures well. I wonder if at least a few of them paused from drinking in the warm and fuzzy feelings these "prophets" were serving and reflected on how little scripture backing these prophesies had. Then again, I wonder how many of us test the messages served to believers today. In my experience it is a frightfully low percentage and that apathetic attitude hurts the Church.

Placebo messages are common today too. They don't have substance but they still make people feel good. Pastors give messages intended to grease the wallets of the congregation so tithes flow more freely. Teachers shift the interpretation of the Word to make their message more palatable. And we see congregations empower these individuals or groups because it is the easiest path to take.

The "prophets" in this passage are not giving a message from God. But that does not mean those who heard them and did nothing are not still guilty. Rather, each message must be tested thoroughly. For prophetic predictions, the test is easy: did the event occur or not. Other messages require more examination.

This doesn't mean starting a confrontation every time a point comes up that you disagree with. What it means is that each of us must accept responsibility for the integrity of our faith and our eternal destination. It means reflecting on what is being taught, understanding the message, comparing it to scripture, being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and discussing it with others. Rarely are we called to be alone in our faith. Being able to discuss messages honestly ensures we don't delude ourselves, becoming the very thing we wish to avoid. But if you are ever called to confront someone on their message or teaching, do it in love with the goal of clarification and restoration.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageJeremiah 18, 35, 49:1-33

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday, August 17: Jeremiah 10-13 ~ Emma

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 10-13

A couple verses stood out to me in today's passage:

Jeremiah 10:6
LORD, there is no one like You! For Your name is full of power.

I find when I am feeling anxious or worried, I want to pray and talk to God, but I don't always know what to say. But God's name is so great that we can just whisper It, and in It there is power. It's like that 7eventh Time Down song: "when you don't know what to say, just say Jesus. There is power in the name, the name of Jesus."

Jeremiah 10:23
I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.

I am the type of person that I like to have things all planned out, and am always wanting to be informed of what exactly is going on. But God says that I need to just trust in Him because He has a plan for me. Even though I may have no idea what He is doing, I need to trust that "all things work together for the good of those who love Him".

Jeremiah 12:2
You have planted them, and they have taken root and prospered. Your name is on their lips, but You are far from their hearts.

Another reminder that we need to be all in for God. Our thoughts, actions, and words all need to point towards God. He didn't "half die" for us, so we shouldn't "half live" for Him.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageJeremiah 14-17

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tuesday, August 16th: Daniel 3, Jeremiah 7-9 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Daniel 3, Jeremiah 7-9

I love reading the book of Daniel & seeing, not only the miracles God performed, but the strength of faith demonstrated by Daniel & his friends.

In today's chapter, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego are told to worship the image or die.  In our human nature, it would have been easy to just obey this order to save their lives. They could have come up with a number of rationalizations for this – we will fall down, but not actually worship – we will do it this once & ask for God’s forgiveness – we’re not hurting anybody – if we get ourselves killed, who will help our people.

Some of these “excuses” touch a little close to home. How easy it is to justify our actions rather than follow the “letter of the law” when we are uncomfortable with what we know God would have us do. Or maybe, we don’t know how things can possibly work out if we don't bend the rules a little.

At first, some of these excuses almost sound rational. However, to have worshipped the image, it would have erased their testimony for God forever. Never again would they have been able to talk about the power of God above all other gods.

What excuses do we have for not standing up for God?

Daniel 3:17&18-
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, & he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

I find so much strength in those words: “but even if he does not.”  I know God can, but if he chooses not to, I will worship him alone.

Oh, how I pray for that kind of confident faith. I know my God can, but regardless of the outcome, I will follow him.

Jeremiah 9:23&24-
This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands & knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice & righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

I want to know God & have confidence in him like Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego did.  To have the kind of faith it takes to face the fiery furnace knowing that God is in control. To boast in him & his righteousness.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Jeremiah 10-13

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday, August 15: Jeremiah 19-20, Daniel 1-2 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 19-20, Daniel 1-2

Scripture: Daniel 1:5 & 1: 8  The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king........
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.

Observation: We are still responsible and accountable for our actions even when we are offered something that seems too good to refuse.

Application: Daniel was a man of integrity.

How easy it would have been to accept the King's food and wine and succumb to the ways of the others around him. Not only did Daniel stand up for what he believed but his friends joined him. Would his friends have also refused the King's food or negotiated a ten day trial with the chief of the eunuchs? We don't know but it seems to indicate that Daniel was the spokesperson or the leader. 

What opportunities do we have to show integrity when it would be much easier, and more common, to just do whatever is easiest? Do we correct a cashier that gives us too much change or misses an item? Do we go the speed limit even when we are running late? Do we take shortcuts in our work hoping no one will notice? Do we repeat rumours or gossip? Do we follow through on promises? How do we respond to others who do not act with integrity do we call them on it? Or let their actions slide because it's not our problem?

As a parent (and a teacher) I am constantly faced with opportunities to demonstrate and encourage actions that show integrity. I know that my own actions are being constantly scrutinized and I know that I often fall short. It's so hard to do the right thing all the time even when we know we should. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, we know that You will never place us in a situation that You are not there with us. You provide the way for us to obey and follow You. Give us strength and integrity to follow You in obedience without hesitation. May we be able to stand firm in Your commands regardless of any temptation that comes our way just as Daniel did. Amen.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageDaniel 3, Jeremiah 7-9

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sunday, August 14: 2 Kings 24:1-4, Jeremiah 25, 36, 45, 46~ Jay

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: 2 Kings 24:1-4, Jeremiah 25, 36, 45, 46

A few key thoughts jumped out to me today when I was reading through the various passages.
1)      2 Kings 24:3-4 - Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done,  including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive.  I appreciate that this was Old Testament and Christ had not yet died for the forgiveness of sins, but it really stood out to me that God was not willing to forgive Manasseh. It does not state whether Manasseh asked for forgiveness or not but it struck me that a line must have been crossed where God was no longer willing to forgive.  Do I consider the graciousness of God in granting me forgiveness? Do I take it for granted?

2)      Jeremiah 25:8 & 12- I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations….“But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians,[b] for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever.  Firstly, it was interesting that God refers to Nebudchanezzar as his servant.  Even though non-believers might not acknowledge or recognize God as being all powerful and in complete control of all created things….they are still subject to his authority (hence the word servant). Secondly, I found it interesting that God can use both those who worship and call Him Lord to accomplish His will, but He can also use the unbeliever. It was somewhat ironic that God used the unbelievers to accomplish His will and then after that he inflicted the punishment on the Babylonians based on their sins / unbelief.  God’s plans are so much greater than we can see based on our limited perception.

3)      Jeremiah 36:  After the king burned the scroll containing the words that Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 28 “Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up. People may not appreciate God’s Word, and may even try to destroy it…but God and His Word will stand despite powerful men’s attempts to subdue it.  

Prayer- Thank-you Lord for the forgiveness you grant us through your son’s death.  May we never view the aspect of forgiveness lightly and take it for granted. I marvel at how You work out Your will through various instruments.  Thank-you for your Word which you have provided for us, and the power it had to bring conviction, the path to forgiveness, and instructions for living as servants of yours.  

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:

Saturday, August 13th: 2 Kings 23:31-35, 2 Chronicles 36:1-4, 2 Kings 23:36-37, 2 Chronicles 36:5, Jeremiah 22:1-23, Jeremiah 26 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Kings 23:31-35, 2 Chronicles 36:1-4, 2 Kings 23:36-37, 2 Chronicles 36:5, Jeremiah 22:1-23, Jeremiah 26

I found it interesting that Jehoahaz (23) became king after the death of his father Josiah, instead of his older brother Eliakim/Jehoiakim (25). It didn't last long as Pharaoh Neco took Jehozhaz prisoner.  Jeremiah had something to say about this situation ....

22:10 Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss. Instead, weep for the captive king being led away! For he will never return to see his native land again.

King Josiah was a good king, but the people are instructed to stop their mourning for him after only 3 short months, and instead to cry about Jehoahaz.  Why?

It wasn't because the loss of Jehoahaz was a great loss to the public, unlike the death of Josiah. Rather it was because his case was. as Matthew Henry says, more deplorable....

Josiah went to the grave in peace and honour, was prevented from seeing the evil to come in this world and removed to see the good to come in the other world; and therefore, Weep not for him, but for his unhappy son, who is likely to live and die in disgrace and misery, a wretched captive. Note, Dying saints may be justly envied, while living sinners are justly pitied.

For the saint, death is no punishment!  Indeed, I read somewhere awhile back that death is actually a merciful act by a loving God. Imagine if you could not die, no matter how sick you got, how much pain you were in, or how much you were tortured.  Truly, for the believer, death is an act of mercy, removing us from this life of sin, pain, and heartache, ushering us into the perfection and joy of heaven.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage2 Kings 24:1-4, Jeremiah 25, 36, 45, 46

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday, August 12th: 2 Kings 23:29-30, 2 Chronicles 35:20-27, Jeremiah 47-48 ~Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: 2 Kings 23:29-30, 2 Chronicles 35:20-27, Jeremiah 47-48

Jeremiah 48:11 - Moab has been at rest from youth, like wine left on its dregs, not poured from one jar to another - she has not gone into exile.  So she tastes as she did, and her aroma is unchanged.

This verse caught my attention today.  Am I like Moab?  I'll be honest, given the choice, I would rather enjoy a relaxing day with minimal activity as opposed to a day of going from place to place.  I like rest, but too much rest is not good either.

As the verse states Moab has been at rest like wine left on its dregs.  I'm no expert on making wine, but my understanding is that you need to let the wine rest only for a period of time on its dregs in order to heighten its strength and flavour.

They say that wine gets better with age.  A way to improve a wines flavour and to clarify it, is to pour the wine from one vessel into another.  In doing so, this will also reduce the wines bitterness.

This process of wine making lead me to compare it to our Christian walk.  God needs to be our foundation (our dreg).  We do need to take time to "rest" with Him.  We need to read the Bible, pray, listen and obey Him.  It is God alone that gives us our strength.  By resting in Him, we will give off a flavour and aroma that is good and pleasing to Him.

But what good is our aroma and flavour if we never pop our cork and crack ourselves open?  We should not be lax about doing God's work.  By going out of our zone, we will expose ourselves to other elements that will cause us to trust in God and this allows us to grow and mature even further.  By staying in our own "vessel" this further growth cannot happen.

This is one of the reasons why the Moabites were in the situation they were.  They remained at rest.  They retained their old sinful ways, pride, and wickedness.  They did not challenge themselves to go outside of their comfort zones, they did not want to offend others, they became idle, and ultimately laid to waste (vs 9).  

Have I changed?  Has my aroma or flavour been transformed?  Have I been "salted" the proper amount becoming seasoned to show God's love to others, or am I like the Moabites who became stagnant and "salted" too much, and ended up unproductive?  

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage2 Kings 23:31-35, 2 Chronicles 36:1-4, 2 Kings 23:36-37, 2 Chronicles 36:5, Jeremiah 22:1-23, Jeremiah 26

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thursday August 11: Zephaniah 1-3 ~Cameron

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

Zephaniah appears to be unique among the prophets giving four generations of his lineage as introduction. One commentary said this was done to ensure that Hezekiah's name was included and that there was no reason to think this would not be King Hezekiah. See, not all prophets have to live in deserts or caves. This one may have been royalty.

As far as end times prophecies go, this book is pretty standard. Judgement to the offenders, Judgement of the nations, etc. But chapter 3 brought forth a great Truth in light of Judgement: salvation is available to both jews and gentiles.

God's Judgement culminates with chapter 3:8:

“Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord,
“for the day when I rise up to seize the prey.
For my decision is to gather nations,
to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
all my burning anger;
for in the fire of my jealousy
all the earth shall be consumed."

And yet,

“On that day you shall not be put to shame
because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty
in my holy mountain.
But I will leave in your midst
a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord" - Chapter 3:11-12

There will come a time when God shows Himself to the world. Don't wait until then to "take refuge in the name of the Lord". Salvation has been offered to all peoples and available now.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage2 Kings 23:29-30, 2 Chronicles 35:20-27, Jeremiah 47-48

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wednesday, August 10th: Habakkuk 1-3 ~ Nathan

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

Habakkuk was a prophet, and lived somewhere around 600 years before Jesus. In the book of Habakkuk, he starts off by asking some tough questions to God, and God answers him.

At the beginning of our reading, Habakkuk starts off by asking God for help but feels he isn't being answered,

Habakkuk 1:2-3
How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.

Do we feel like the world around us is getting worse and worse? How often don't we think back and think things were better years ago? (This type of questioning makes me feel old!)

He goes on in chapter 1 verse 13 B:
... Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

Habakkuk asks some tough questions, but God answers him and puts into perspective how simple man's ways are, compared to God's...

Habakkuk 2:18-19,
18 “Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? Or an image that teaches lies? For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak. [19] Woe to him who says to wood, 'Come to life!' Or to lifeless stone, 'Wake up!' Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.”

Habakkuk responds with a prayer that shows respect and honour to God....

Habakkuk 3:2
Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy

Israel wasn't doing good at this time - they had sinned for a long time against God, who had done so much for the nation of Israel. It is tough to stand up and do what God wants, and live how He wants. This was true then and is also true now. Habakkuk ends off with a verse of thankfulness and encouragement,

Habakkuk 3:18
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tuesday, August 9th: Nahum 1-3 ~ Danae

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

The book of Nahum is the prophecy of the coming judgement of the Assyrian’s. While it is primarily written to the people of Ninevah, we can be assured that anyone who stays arrogant & resists God’s authority will face his anger.

The Lord is slow to anger & great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind & the storm, & clouds are the dust of his feet. The mountains quake before him & the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world & all who live in it.
Nahum 1:3&5

God is slow to be angered.  But as the verse says, when he is ready to punish even the earth will tremble & it will come swiftly as a whirlwind.

We sometimes wonder why evil isn't punished immediately & yet, if it was, none of us would be here. God gives us the opportunity to come to him & we can be thankful for the time he gives for people to turn to him.

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

Monday, August 8, 2016

Monday, August 8th: 2 Kings 22:3-20, 2 Chronicles 34:8-28, 2 King 23:1-20, 2 Chronicles 34:29-33, 2 Kings 23:21-28, 2 Chronicles 35:1-19 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Bible In a Year Passage:2 Kings 22:3-20, 2 Chronicles 34:8-28, 2 King 23:1-20, 2 Chronicles 34:29-33, 2 Kings 23:21-28, 2 Chronicles 35:1-19

When Josiah was old enough to rule in earnest, he immediately began making changes in Judah - he removed pagan idols and shrines, restored the temple, and worshiped God alone. But when workers found a scroll containing the Book of the Law and Josiah heard, for the first time in his life, what it said, he was frightened and humbled.  He realized what a huge gap existed between the way the Israelites lived (and even his good intentions to lead them) and God's expectations of His chosen people.

My Life Application Bible says.....
He was overwhelmed by God's holiness and immediately tried to expose his people to that holiness. The people did respond, but the Bible makes it clear that their renewed worship of God was much more out of respect for Josiah than out o personal understanding of their own guilt before God.

How would you describe your relationship with God? Are your feeble efforts at holiness based mostly on a desire to "go along" with a well-liked leader or popular opinion? Or are you, like Josiah, deeply humbled by God's Word, realizing the great gap between your life and the kind of life God expects, and realizing your deep need to be cleansed and renewed by him? Humble obedience pleases God. Good intentions, even reforms, are not enough. You must allow God's Word to truly humble you and change your life....

We need to be students of God's Word - the entire Bible - so that we will know how God wants us to live as Christians.

A humble heart, a mind willing to learn, a soul searching to know God better, a willingness to obey God and pursue holiness - these are the marks of genuine faith.

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

Sunday, August 7, 2016

SUNDAY, AUGUST 7, 2016; Jeremiah 4-6 ~ Kelora

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

Reading these passages made me feel sad that the Israelites had turned their back on God. God gave them countless opportunities to change their ways and gave them many warnings of what is to come and yet they still did not listen. When reading Jeremiah 5:1 this verse gave me hope for the Israelites and also showed God's grace.  “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares.  If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city."

These chapters led me thinking that we can be stubborn in our ways as well and choose to ignore what God wants us to do and that there are consequences for our actions but God still gives us opportunities to change because He truly loves us.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:2 Kings 22:3-20, 2 Chronicles 34:8-28, 2 King 23:1-20, 2Chronicles 34:29-33, 2 Kings 23:21-28, 2 Chronicles 35:1-19

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Saturday, August 6th: Jeremiah 1-3 ~ Tammy

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

Our passage today contains one of the most oft quoted verses in the Bible - particularly on birth announcements.

Jeremiah 1:5 I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.

OK, so the "appointed you as my prophet" portion doesn't get quoted as often as the rest of it.  This is an important thing to keep in mind - this verse is quoting the words of God spoken specifically to the prophet Jeremiah, and therefore is not directly applicable to us today.

However, there are still truths behind it we can learn from.  God may not have appointed us as prophets to the nations, but He did know us before we were born or were even conceived.  And though His plan for our lives may be different than the one He had planned for Jeremiah, the fact is that He still does have a plan for our lives.  We all have a purpose.  We all have things to do for God's glory.  And we should do them both cheerfully and well.  And, if at times in our lives we do not know of something specific that God wants us to do, we know that we are all called to love, obey, and serve God, and to love each other.  So while waiting for any specific purpose or plan to be unfolded, we can always be diligent to serve God in the moment and circumstance in which we have been placed.

And, as v6-7 confirm, our age is irrelevant (in this case youth, but the same truth would apply to old age), as is any other excuse we may come up with. God is always with us. If He asks us to do something, He will provide a way to do it through His strength.

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

Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday, August 5th: 2 Kings 21:1-9, 2 Chronicles 33:1-9, 2 Kings 21:10-16, 2 Chronicles 33:10-17, 2 Kings 21:17-18, 2 Chronicles 33:18-20, 2 Kings 21:19-26, 2 Chronicles 33:21-25, 2 Kings 22:1-2, 2 Chronicles 34:1-7 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: 2 Kings 21:1-9, 2 Chronicles 33:1-9, 2 Kings 21:10-16, 2 Chronicles 33:10-17, 2 Kings 21:17-18, 2 Chronicles 33:18-20, 2 Kings 21:19-26, 2 Chronicles 33:21-25, 2 Kings 22:1-2, 2 Chronicles 34:1-7

In today's passage, there were a couple of points that came to my mind.....

We begin by reading about Manasseh, who becomes king at a young age of 12.  We read that he did evil in the eyes of the Lord in that he rebuilt the high places that his father demolished.  He also sacrificed his children.  He practiced telling the future, and witchcraft.  He even sought omens and contacted the spirits.

Manasseh, at this point, is not someone that I would take the pleasure in hanging out with.  The good news?  The story doesn't end there.  We read that this man who's  heart appears to be so distant from God has a drastic change.  While being at his lowest point being bound and shackled in prison and feeling distressed, he calls upon the Lord.

In 2 Chronicles 33:12, it says that Manasseh humbled himself greatly before God and prayed to Him.  God heard his plea and brought Manasseh back to his kingdom.

This reminded me that know matter how far we fall from God, He is always right there for us when we call upon Him.  This gives me hope for the family members and friends that I have who have yet to dedicate their lives to following Christ.  

Verse 12 also reminded me that I need to humble myself greatly before God.  It's not just the non-believers who need to do this, but I need to do this too.  And not once in a while but every day.  When I begin to think that I can accomplish things on my own that is when I need to humble myself and call upon the Lord, just like Manasseh did.

2 Kings 21:22 - He followed completely the ways of his father, worshiping the idols his father had worshiped, and bowing down to them.

This verse is speaking about Amon who is the son of Manasseh.  It reminded me of how our children from a very early age would copy us as parents.  We would see this when our girls would reprimand their barbies when "misbehaving", or they would say a phrase that we would normally say.  We need to be on guard all the time as to how we are conducting ourselves. Our children will look up to us and whether we are doing good or evil, the chances are they will follow in our steps.

The last point I want to make is that regardless of the mothers and fathers we had as role models, we have a Heavenly Father who is perfect and blameless.  That is where our eyes should be fixed.

Josiah was eight years old when he became king.  He made the choice to follow God and to do what was right.  His eyes were fixed on the Lord.

Where are our eyes fixed?  Ourselves, or God?  Are we proud because of our accomplishments, or humble because of how God has provided for us?  

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

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thursday, August 4th: Isaiah 64-63 ~ Jeannine

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 64-66

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.  Isaiah 64:6

The first 6 verses in this passage talk about God's appearance being so intense that it would completely overwhelm us.  How then can we possibly be saved? There is absolutely nothing we can do. In today's world that is hard as we strive and are pushed to do better and be better.  We are busier than ever, often with good things. And being better and doing more can be good but won't get us any closer to heaven.  In light of eternity and God's holiness there is NOTHING we can do...outside of accepting His grace and mercy and being in awe that He would be willing to give those to us despite our complete unworthiness.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage2 Kings 21:1-9, 2 Chronicles 33:1-9, 2 Kings 21:10-16, 2 Chronicles 33:10-17, 2 Kings 21:17-18, 2 Chronicles 33:18-20, 2 Kings 21:19-26, 2 Chronicles 33:21-25, 2 Kings 22:1-2, 2 Chronicles 34:1-7

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wednesday, August 3rd: Isaiah 60-63 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 60-63

Today's portion of scripture is told at a time when the Jews are coming back from captivity and returning to their homeland. It is a time of great joy.

I looked into this (Bible.Org) and the return of the Jews relates to what's told in the New Testament. The Jews had been in bondage but were now set free, and excited about their freedom. In the New Testament the bondage is sin and death, and the deliverance is spiritual and eternal, a cause for great excitement. Once again the Old and New testaments tie together and work with each other.

The Jews were happy to be leaving bondage, but with that came making an effort to do right (better) this time. It was a time of great joy that also lead to some self reflection about the past.

When I sin, do I make a solid effort to do better the next time? Or do I just ask for forgiveness, forget it happened, then make the same mistake next time and start the cycle over again?

I pray that God would make me aware of the sins I am likely to repeat and give me the strength and desire not to.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Isaiah 64-66