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Posts Tagged ‘Readings of the Day’

bible-4

Deuteronomy 23:1 – 25:19

Notable Verse 23:23

“Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.”

There is a joke I heard at an A.A. meeting that went “How do you know an alcoholic is lying? His lips are moving.” I am sure you have heard the same joke with either an addict or some other personality or occupation put in the slot.

We no longer expect the truth. We know politicians lie; commercials exaggerate their product’s claims. We don’t consider it lying any more. It is just how the game is played. God has a different view of speaking though. Our words carry weight and when we make promises, especially vows, God expects us to keep them even if they come at a great cost.

It is interesting to note that God doesn’t command us to make vows, but when we do, when we call upon the Lord to be a witness to our words, we are asking God to be a part of the promise. God is not a liar and He will not allow himself to be used by a liar.

 

Luke 10:13 – 37

Notable Verse v. 29

“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

This is a very familiar verse to most Christians and is the beginning to the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Over the centuries the question has been asked again and again to either justify apathy or to encourage anger.

I guess my neighbor is anyone I encounter, but the verse seems to point to something deeper. My neighbor includes the one person who is least like me, or the one I least like. So in no particular order or assigned grouping a few of my neighbors:

Muslims: Quite honestly they scare me. There are 1 billion of them. It is said 10% are of the radical variety.  That is 100 million or 1/3 of the total population of the U.S. That is a pretty big number. My chances of running into a radical are 1/10. Would I bind their wounds, take them into my house? I’d like to think that I would but being a Messianic American Jew, it would take supernatural effort to move past my own prejudices to do that.

My co-workers and family: How do I share the gospel and the reality of hell with people I work with and are family with? I am too worried about hurting their feelings then saving their lives.

As I read through this passage, I’d like to imagine that I am the Samaritan, but there are times I know I am the Pharisee, speaking well and running away lest I be seen and feel obligated to do something.

 

Psalm 75:1 – 10

Notable Verse v. 3

“When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. Selah”

The world is quaking. We are in an economic recession. There are terrorists all over the world despite what Obabo (ok, Obama) wants to call it. Depending on who you talk to, we may be getting warmer, or colder. Nothing seems stable.

It is nice to know that no matter how crazy the world gets, there is something firm to hang on to.

 

Proverbs 12:12 – 14

Notable Verse v. 13

“An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble.”

Recently I did a study on all of the things you can do wrong with your mouth. You can lie, gossip, backbite, blaspheme, break promises, spread dissention, speak out of bitterness and anger and a whole lot more. Each sin traps us. Either within ourselves, or locks us out of developing deeper and more meaningful relationships with others.

I discovered after reading this verse and meditating on my tongue. I realized I need to shut up a lot more often.

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bible-4

Deuteronomy 21:1 – 22:30

Notable Verse 22:6-7

“If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young.  7  You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go, so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.”

The reading today is a collection of assorted laws that seem to have to particular rhyme or reason for being collected the way they are other than that is how God to choose to write it. Today I read, or we if you are following along, how to handle discovering a dead body, rules on home building and clothing and in the middle of all of this is a very interesting pair of verses.

What caught my eye this morning was the end of verse 7. The blessing of taking the chick but leaving the mother is neither for her benefit, nor in some ecological roundabout way a blessing towards the earth. It is a personal blessing.  God seems to have a special place in His heart for mothers, even animal mothers. And damaging that relationship, even in what seems to be a very trifling way brings about disastrous consequences.

 

Luke 9:51-10:12

Notable Verse 9:62

“Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Sometimes it seems life is full of backward glances. I guess that is just part of being human. I don’t think God disapproves of taking stock of our lives as a whole. But this verse seems to link all the way back to Lot’s wife. The consequences for her were immediate and deadly, the consequence of a look back towards earth. We may not experience the results of looking back as quickly as Mrs. Lot, but the end result is just as deadly.

Every time I turn the dimmer switch to the light I am to shine to the world out of embarrassment, fear, or awkwardness I am declaring myself unfit for God’s service. This verse is leading me to repent and seek more courage. I hope it does for you as well.

 

Psalm 74:1-23

Notable Verse: v. 22

“Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long.”

I cringed reading this today. I subscribe to about 400 blogs (where do you think all of the H&D stuff comes from?) Every day, I get news from around the world that is just insane. Not merely atheistic, but intentionally going out of its way to make fun of God and His people.

Take a Gay Pride March as an example, not because I think it is the worst thing a person can do, but because the characters that are often seen there are most noticeable in what I am saying. In almost every newspaper or magazine there are the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence”, men dressed as nuns with overly done makeup, and have turned the habit itself into something trashy. Isn’t it enough to simply march and say “I’m gay, deal with it.” Why is there such a strong attack on the Catholic Church? Why is there such a need to mock?

Daily I get pictures of Jesus as a Pedophile, God as an ignorant fool, Bibles with warning labels (not to be taken literally or you will become stupid) and I wonder like David did, how long until His wrath is poured out. All God did was promise never to flood the earth again, there are many more ways to destroy a nation. Perhaps we are seeing this now.

 

Proverbs 12:11

 “He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.”

What is there to say? Stop dreaming, wake up and smell the coffee.

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bible-4

Deuteronomy 18:1 – 20:20

Notable Verse 18:2 “They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the LORD is their inheritance, as he promised them.

 

The whole tribe of Levi got nothing, at least in the eyes of the people. Nothing physical at any rate. The tribe were to consider God Himself their inheritance. It struck me reading this how much families can feud over who gets what, why an individual got a certain item that another wanted. What would happen if every Christian said to their family “Don’t bother leaving me anything, God is my inheritance, it is enough.”  It would be a fantastic witness to the world, but I can’t help fearing the reality of this situation.

 

Is doing this putting God to the test, something like playing with poisonous snakes? Would God be pleased with this action or would he say “A different time, a different place, a different reason”?

 

Rabbit  Trail Warning: In reading the Bible it seems that the priests always got the short end of the stick. No land, no inheritance, there were more stringent rules on their conduct and actions. It seems that most Christians live that way. 70+ countries have made Christianity illegal, evangelism forbidden. Most of the world lives in a post-Christian, never been Christian or Christians driven out land. We are constantly being asked to trust God as a father who may or may not provide for our needs, at least material ones. If that seems harsh, what can we tell the North Korean Christian living in a concentration camp, a Sudanese believer living in slavery, a starving Christian mother praying for milk for one more day and being denied? I don’t know what to do with this. Christians are constantly being judged to a different standard. Imagine a Christian who has an affair. The world screams “hypocrite” but has no problem with serial monogamy or sleeping around. If they have no problem with it for themselves, why should they be bothered by people who strive for an ideal they can’t meet. If it is a problem, why do they do the activity themselves. What do Christians really inherit of value? Nothing and everything.

 

Yet, despite my doubts, I would love to tell my family. You don’t need to leave me anything. I have God, what more could I need?

 

Luke 9:28 – 50

Notable Verse v. 45 “But they did not understand what this meant [Jesus just said he was going to be betrayed]. It was hidden from them, so they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

 

Here is a very interesting interplay between God and man. God (Jesus reveals truth), yet it was hidden from them (Holy Spirit?) and the Apostles decide not to ask what he means. Who is responsible for their ignorance.?

 

Beyond the issue of God and/or man, there is the issue of the desire for ignorance itself. How many times have we, have I, asked God to show me something only to be terrified that He actually would. “Show me my sins.” “Show me how I can share the gospel more effectively.” “Teach me to trust and walk in greater obedience.” or the most terrifying prayer for Christians “Lord, teach me patience.”

 

Why would God hide the whole truth from them? Probably for the same reason God doesn’t show me all of my sin at once. I don’t think I could really handle it.  I’d like to think I was brave enough to survive, but I don’t know if I could. The Apostles must have felt the same way.  The man they have trusted in, left everything to follow, they had seen many miracles, had put their hopes on just told them He was going to die. I don’t know if I would be ready to learn more or stay in denial and hope that the idea goes away

 

Psalm 73:1 -28

Notable Verse v.13 “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure; in vain I have washed my hands in innocence.”

 

I would like to think it is only children who say things like “It’s not fair!!!!” but let’s face it, we all do it. I imagine this comment is especially for true for Christians. We are constantly fighting an uphill stream against a world that at best thinks we are a bit backwards and crazy if not purposefully trying to shut down our voices.

 

It does seem that purity has little value. Imagine a gathering of co-workers on a Monday morning. One man is sharing in far too much detail about his weekend sexual adventures. Another is talking about a great party where alcohol flowed like water and everyone got wasted. Another is dishing out the new weeks gossip, another on how using “creative accounting” she was able to avoid paying taxes from her income. Finally it is your turn – “um…. Saturday I went to a prayer breakfast and met a friend for lunch… Sunday, I went to church….The pastor said something really interesting.” I can feel the embarrassment and shame leaping off the page. 

 

Luckily there is more to the story. Like the passage from Deuteronomy, God is our inheritance and our portion. We don’t have to compete, we shouldn’t even try. The ungodly, will have their day, either in this world or the world to come. There are quiet benefits in obedience, even if we can’t always see them and when we can’t feel them

 

Proverbs 12:10

“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal; but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

 

I remember when I was a teenager coming to the odd realization, or at least was able to put into words, very few people do evil for the sake of evil. Almost everyone had what seemed to them a perfectly logical reason for doing what they did. I remember being and I guess I still am intrigued by this.

 

The first idea that popped into my head as I read this passage today was the idea of abortion. Ask someone who supports abortion rights why and you will hear many reasons like being concerned about overpopulation, the rise in poverty, not able to care for a child, the child will have massive birth defects etc… and the list can go on. But in the end, what do you have? A dead baby and a woman dealing with the aftermath of killing her own child.

 

I would love to keep this verse as an “out there in the world problem” but how often do we do the same thing. How much do we justify our sins, just as evil, on a daily basis.

 

 Even the “best” of things can be done for the wrong intentions and is an act of cruelty. Let’s say I volunteer to do something at church like teach Sunday school. I really don’t care about the people, but I want to move up in the church hierarchy and know this is a good place to start. In the end, the people get a teacher that doesn’t care about them. I see them as something to be stepped over or on to achieve something I believe is for the greater good, me having power.

 

(btw, this is not the reason I teach Sunday school.  🙂 )

 

The second thing that hit me in this verse was the saying of Jesus regarding the care of “the least of these” The proof of goodness is not in how we treat our superiors, or our equals. The proof is in how we care for the weakest and frailest among us.

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bible-4

Numbers 24:1 – 25:18

Notable Verses Numbers 24: 12 – 13

Num 24:12  Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell the messengers you sent me, 13  “Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything of my own accord, good or bad, to go beyond the command of the LORD—and I must say only what the LORD says’?

Balaam is an interesting character. He is not a believer in Israel’s God, nor is he even friendly to them. A pagan king sends for him to curse Israel using black magic. But he can’t do it. Along his travels, he encounters an angel and the final result we can see above.

Balaam wasn’t a believer and sought out Israel’s destruction. Yet, he is being used by God. This is a difficult and frustrating passage. He was prevented from speaking what he wanted and was controlled at some level by God to be used for his purposes. He spoke what God said to. Despite all of this knowledge, and even spirit-given power, he never bowed his knee.

 

Luke 2:1 – 35

Notable Verse Luke 2:34 – 35

Luk 2:34  Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35  so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

A blessing with one hand and a slap with the other, as strong as the blessing was, so too was the curse. Jesus did cause the falling and rising of many people in Israel, and interestingly enough it wasn’t the people who you would have expected to rise and or fall. Jesus was spoken against to say the least. His teaching eventually got him killed. His name is still being used as a curse, His words still are spoken against and His believers are still being killed and imprisoned daily. He has for 2000 years shown the hearts of people who encounter Him, either with acceptance or rejection. Mary’s soul was pierced at Jesus’ death, and even before that, Mary must have suffered believing her own son was mentally unstable and revealing her own thoughts in the process.

 

Psalm 59:1-17

Notable Verse 59:17

O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.

Not much to say, but what a beautiful verse on the power, character, and beauty of God.

Proverbs 11:14

For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.

As we are in the midst of a global economic crisis, I can’t help but apply this verse to the situation. Aren’t we all saying “Who is giving him or her advice?” But that really is the wrong question. Advice and guidance aren’t really the same thing. Advice is usually based on gut reactions and feelings and can be either taken or left, while guidance implies a life-challenging teaching.

Why are we falling? Not because of leaders, but the lack of true guidance and simply running on focus group numbers, gut feelings, “wouldn’t it be nice…?” dreams.

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bible-4

Numbers 15:17 – 16:40

Notable verse 15:30 “‘But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people.”

What strikes me about this verse is that I wouldn’t have lasted a day, at the most a week in the camp. I would have been stoned or exiled. It is frightening to think how much freedom we have now. I have given up watching movies and most TV because of this very issue. What would happen, if at least the church decided “Oh you swore this week…. You can’t come back for a month. Sorry.” Would my language be different? Would immediate consequence move faster than waiting for the fruit of the spirit to grow in changing my life?

 

Mark 15:1 – 47

Notable Verse 15:23 “Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.”

Myrrh was a pain killer, it was offered as a kind gesture to a dying man. This moment is interesting for two reasons –

1.   Jesus could have chosen to escape at least some of the pain He was experiencing and chose not to. It is a powerful realization that He experienced death, in all of its agony, on my behalf, without attempting to escape even a drop of it.

2.   If you remember your Christmas story, you know that myrrh was one of the gifts given to Jesus by the Wise Men (side note, there is no mention of 3). It is almost as if the story has gone full circle. Life begins with myrrh and ends with it.

 

Psalm 54:1-7

Notable Verse – v.4 “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.”

Nothing to say, it says it all.

 

Proverbs 11:5-6

Notable Verse 6b
“…but the unfaithful are trapped by their evil desires.”

There are few things more frightening than living with an addiction. Having personal experience with an addiction or two of my own and having lived through watching those I love deal with their own addictions; I can tell you there is only one word for living with it – trapped.

I am not going to write here about how to get out an addiction. I only want to simply say, this verse is true. Unfortunately, very very true.

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bible-4

Numbers 14:1 – 15:16

Notable 14:3 “Moses said to the LORD, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them.”

Wow! God is really angry. None of us want to be in the room when mom gets angry much less God. Yet, here is Moses, not only in the room but is politely challenging Him. If you didn’t know who Moses was talking to, it would read like a human-human conversation.  I wish I would have such boldness to speak to God like that and such courtesy. It is either feast or famine with me. Either I speak to God as some disconnected middle management person I need something from but don’t really expect much action, or I yell and whine.

 

What is also impressive here, is how Moses speaks to appeal for the lives of his people. He could have spoken of their innate goodness, or how he had been leading them for so long that it felt like he was being ripped off. Instead he appeals to God about how he would be seen among those who didn’t believe in him anyway. I don’t know when I have ever prayed for the church so that God’s name wouldn’t be damaged among people who don’t care. It is easy to give up as a Christian to care about such things.

In America, after I don’t know how many sex scandals, the unchurched population just assumes we are all hypocrites. Speak of creation and you are an ignorant nut, uneducated and in need of remedial science. We get used to it. I know how badly the church is seen in the eyes of the world, you are evil and worthy of being stuck down by God whoever He/She/It is. It is interesting that Moses appeals to God concerning His reputation when the people in Egypt consider this batch of people runaway slaves with some zealot leader who Osiris needs to kill anyway.  

 

Mark 14:53 – 72

Notable Verse –v.68 “But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.”

I can’t imagine many more painful verses in the Bible than this one. We can read of the torture and death of Jesus, but behind the horror, is the truth that it was done on our behalf, but to deny Jesus, after witnessing so much, the miracles, the teaching, the transfiguration, watching a man sweat blood in fear is somehow unbelievable.  And yet, I am not surprised. How many times in word, thought or deed to I say to others “Jesus, never heard of him.” What do I think I am gaining? A moment of peace without being laughed at? Respect in the eyes of people who I honestly don’t really respect?  There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason to deny Jesus. Under torture I can believe it. I have had medical procedures done that were so painful, it would be easy to imagine myself denying Jesus if only the doctors would stop  (that is shameful enough to write) but when I deny Jesus for nothing, not even 30 pieces of silver. I have to come to the conclusion, at least Judas was paid. Peter and I have done it for free. It is a horrifying realization that in some ways I am worse than Judas. Thankfully Jesus’ death paid for that sin as well.

 

Psalm 53:1-6

Notable Verse – v.4 “Will the evildoers never learn— those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on God?”

Every day I blog on the persecuted church and every day the stories are just as shocking. Christians less than 100 miles from my house are being imprisoned and killed. Churches in India, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia are burning; Christians being chased from their homes is more countries than I can count. Every day some new tragedy comes across the wire and all I can do is pass it on and say please pray. And yet through all of this the church not only survives but flourishes. When will evildoers learn – you can’t stop the church because we serve an unbeatable God. If I die in some random or calculated attack, there will always be someone to take my place. There is a great comfort in knowing that I am not that important, the message will go on. The message is eternal and you can’t stop eternity from continuing.

 

Proverbs 11:4

“Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”

I read this today and wondered if we are in the day of wrath. Where has wealth gotten people? The won has gone from 800-1000 to the dollar to 1500, in America businesses are failing, “stable” industries and services are collapsing. Wealth will not buy us deliverance. There is no stimulus package to spare us from death. There is only righteousness.

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bible-4

Numbers 11:24 – 13:33

Notable Verse – Num 11:29 

But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!”

The first thing I wanted to write about was, were there still prophets and I realized that is “above my pay grade” (A special thank you to the American president for making this a household excuse).

So I guess I will take the second half  – put his Spirit on them.

I think every church leader has had the same thought, I wish the whole church would believe, would live godly lives, would give sacrificially, would…. And all of those things are works of the Spirit. The sad truth is, not everyone in that room is a believer. Some may be self-deceived, others may be there for the fellowship or make connections, but they know their hearts aren’t really in it.

I guess the ultimate question at the end is “Are you one of the believers or is someone wishing you were?”

 

Mark 14:22 – 52

Notable Verses 22-24

22  While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” 23  Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.  24  “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.

During the Passover meal called a Seder, there is a part where a piece of bread called the afikomen is eaten. During the meal, the piece of flat breat is broken off and is wrapped up so it can not be seen. At this point in the meal, the bread is taken out. The bread represents the sacrificed lamb. At the same time this bread is eaten, a glass of wine is drunk. The glass of wine represents the lamb’s blood and is called the “Cup of Redemption.”

So what Jesus is doing here is not anything magical like changing bread in flesh or wine into blood, he is saying. I am the Lamb of God. In the past, my coming was promised, I existed but you couldn’t see me. Now I have come to earth and I am to be a sacrifice for all who eat and drink with me. The cup is my blood; it will be shed for you.

Ps 52:1 – 9

Notable Verse – v. 3a

You love evil rather than good…

There is something instinctual about loving evil rather than good.

 Evil is easier to love and it is second nature, well actually as a Calvinist, I would say evil is first nature.  Because evil is easy to love, it is easy to encourage in other people.

Evil is exciting. Picture 2 people getting up in church and sharing their testimonies. One begins, “I was born in a Christian home, my parents taught me about Jesus. I knew I became a Christian when I was 6.” The other gets up and says “and I had a different girlfriend on my arm every night. The drugs were free and the booze flowed like water.” Which testimony do you want to hear and why? Wild sex stories sell better than “How I Kept My Virginity” stories.

Evil brings faster results. Take a drug addict, alcoholic, someone with an eating disorder, depression – ok, just take any person on earth. The addict says, I can go through withdrawal that will make me sick, make me feel miserable, make me remember everything that has gone wrong in my life and require hard work and change or I can pop this little pill, take a little sip, eat a few candy bars, put this gun to my head and it will all go away.

The Christian life is not easy to love. Jesus promised we would be persecuted; the life would separate father and son, brother from brother. Tonight I am teaching a class on sharing your testimony, why don’t we need a class on gossip?

The Christian life seems boring from the outside. Have you ever been ashamed of being a Christian because you know your weekend story is not as good as your co-worker’s story? You know what I am talking about.

The Christian life is a slow process and is often painful. Anyone who has ever told you that Jesus would make your life better or easier lied. Part of being a Christian is learning to embrace pain and suffering. To reflect, repent, and repair is part of the Christians daily routine. This 3R process will continue until the day we die.

 

Proverbs 11:1 – 3

Notable Verse – v. 1

The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.

No one likes getting ripped off. What about when you are doing the ripping? As I read this verse, it struck me there are more scales than the kind you find in supermarkets and airports. There are the scales that are each one of us judging people and actions.

Scales tip in both directions. There are people and actions that I will find offensive but tolerate in myself or those people I like. I may find myself defending a person because they agree with me socially or politically. I may refuse to agree with a person because they don’t subscribe to my way of thinking in general.

Before I start judging others, I better check to see if the action was done by my best friend, what my reaction would be. If I did it myself, would I accept it?

In general, I think God is more concerned with my heart scale, than the one at the airport that always says I am one kilo overweight.

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