Day 330-331 Bible Reading Plan – “Giving Thanks to God at All Times”

Giving thanks to God at all times

Giving Thanks to God at All Times

Knowing God is not a religion. It is not a list of do’s and don’ts. It is a relationship. Living in a covenant relationship with our Maker will require us to live differently. It means we acknowledge Him in all of our life, giving thanks to God for His forgiveness and acceptance of us, as well as for all His provision and protection.

Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 25-26 and Nehemiah 4-6

Today’s reading is from Deuteronomy and Nehemiah, so you can enjoy time with family tomorrow on Thanksgiving.

The reading from Deuteronomy sets boundaries for fairness and mercy as man related to one another in a fallen world and in a covenant relationship with God.

Giving Thanks to God at All Times—The Covenant Relationship

Sin is ugly. It has to be dealt with. It separates us from God. And when people violate God’s covenant, they will be held accountable.

Still, some of the laws and consequences seem pretty extreme, like the one about a woman intervening between two fighting men in Deuteronomy 25. I researched these verses and have links you can review on the blog post for today’s reading.

Sometimes when we look at laws set for another time period we can struggle to understand the application to us. The laws can seem harsh when we don’t understand the culture or the behavior.

But one thing remains the same for God’s people back then and today. Remembering what God did for us and giving thanks. He redeemed and rescued us. How then, should we live? How then should we respond to God?

Living out our covenant relationship with God has requirements. God’s people should live in accordance with what God has revealed in His word. God’s people should give their firstfruits to God, the One Who gave everything to them. And God wants His people to give thanks and enjoy what He has given them.

Scripture of the Day: Deuteronomy 26:11

“You, the Levites, and the resident aliens among you will rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given you and your household.”

God wants us to give thanks and rejoice in the good things and in the good God who gives it all. This is fitting as we celebrate Thanksgiving, but should also be our posture all year long.

This position of acknowledging and thanking God keeps our hearts humble. We need to remember that everything we have is from God so we don’t become prideful and think we achieved anything on our own.

Giving Thanks to God at All Times—God Blesses Obedience

As we live in a covenant relationship with God, we obey His precepts and He blesses us.

Deuteronomy 26:16-19

“The Lord your God is commanding you this day to follow these statutes and ordinances. Follow them carefully with all your heart and all your soul. 17 Today you have affirmed that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in his ways, keep his statutes, commands, and ordinances, and obey him.

18 And today the Lord has affirmed that you are his own possession as he promised you, that you are to keep all his commands, 19 that he will elevate you to praise, fame, and glory above all the nations he has made, and that you will be a holy people to the Lord your God as he promised.”

Friends, as we live in a covenant relationship with God, we will fear Him and walk in His ways. And our God will fight for us and defend us.

Giving Thanks to God at All Times—Especially the Hard Times

The question is, can we give thanks to God even when it seems like the chips are down?

Reading from the book of Nehemiah, God’s people were experiencing a lot of resistance. Nehemiah reminded them that they are supposed to fear God, not man. Nehemiah was lied to and threatened, but it was His relationship with God that saved and protected Him.

When people are against us, it is through the lens of Scripture and the fear of God that we should respond. To vicious rumors, Nehemiah spoke boldly.

Nehemiah 6:8

“8 Then I replied to him, “There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.”

Giving Thanks to God at All Times—When Threatened

To threats, Nehemiah listened to God and not the threats.

Nehemiah 6:10

“I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was restricted to his house. He said: ‘Let’s meet at the house of God, inside the temple. Let’s shut the temple doors because they’re coming to kill you. They’re coming to kill you tonight!’ 11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? How can someone like me enter the temple and live? I will not go.” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, because of the prophecy he spoke against me. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired, so that I would be intimidated, do as he suggested, sin, and get a bad reputation, in order that they could discredit me.

14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat for what they have done, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the other prophets who wanted to intimidate me. 15 The wall was completed in fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. 16 When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.”

The wall was finished in record time! And God fought for them.

Friends, take inventory in your life right now about the victories God has won on your behalf. Let’s give thanks to Jesus for saving us, for being for us and protecting us. Let’s give thanks during good and hard times. Our covenant-keeping God is with us and for us!

Application

  • When we are faced with troubles, look to God for our rescue.
  • Let’s not take for granted all that God has done for us and give thanks daily.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #330-331: Deuteronomy 25-26 and Nehemiah 4-6

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Deuteronomy 26:11

“You, the Levites, and the resident aliens among you will rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given you and your household.”

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Day 329 Bible Reading Plan – “Growing Up is Hard to Do”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do

Growing Up is Hard to Do

With four of my adult children transitioning to adulthood, my heart aches for the hardness that accompanies growing up. There are so many pitfalls and demands and sometimes it seems like it is hard to catch a break. But God makes the rough places smooth and perhaps we would not grow so much if everything were easy.

Bible Reading: 2 Peter

Since we are reading a new book of the Bible today, let’s look at some background information about 2 Peter. According to gotquestions.org,

“The Book of 2 Peter was written toward the end of Peter’s life. Since Peter was martyred in Rome during the reign of Nero, his death must have occurred prior to A.D. 68. He very likely wrote 2 Peter between A.D. 65 and 68.

Purpose of Writing: Peter was alarmed that false teachers were beginning to infiltrate the churches. He called on Christians to grow and become strong in their faith so that they could detect and combat the spreading apostasy. He strongly stressed the authenticity of the Word of God and the sure return of the Lord Jesus.”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—Growing in Hard Places

Peter wrote this book from a hard place himself, but he wrote from a perspective of strength. There is power available to us in this life. Power that enables us to grow in the grace of God. God did not save us and then leave us alone. He wants us to walk in relationship with Him and He has provided what we need to enable us to grow up and thrive – not just survive.

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—But God Provides

2 Peter 1:3

“His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, 7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—It takes effort

Friends, God has given us everything we need, but it takes effort on our part. How are we supplementing our faith? What are you doing to grow in your relationship with God? If we don’t grow, we die. There is no neutral. Like we need food daily for our physical bodies, our spirit needs nurturing daily to grow.

2 Peter 1:9-10

“9 The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble.”

Every effort. Not minimal effort. We will have to resist the flesh and do hard work to make it through this life. Don’t be intimidated by that. God is with us.

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—Avoiding Pitfalls

This world has some troubles and some wicked people causing trouble. It will not be easy to always spot the pitfalls. Peter warns about exploitation from others. We need to be aware.

2 Peter 2:2-3

“2 Many will follow their depraved ways, and the way of truth will be maligned because of them. 3 They will exploit you in their greed with made-up stories. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—Avoiding Pollution

Then there are those who will try to pollute us. Violating consciences and trying to influence people to live for the flesh and this world. But God can rescue us from that, too.

2 Peter 2:9-10

“The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 especially those who follow the polluting desires of the flesh and despise authority.”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—Avoiding Deception

Peter warns of slanderers and adulterers and deceivers. There will be influences in this world that try to pull us away. Their freedom is actually enslavement.

“19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—Make Every Effort

Ending where we began, make every effort to grow in Christ, friends.

2 Peter 3:14

“Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found without spot or blemish in his sight, at peace.”

“Don’t grow weary in doing good, for in due time you will reap a harvest” (Galatians 6:9).

Don’t allow the traps and pitfalls in this world to pull you down and destroy your faith. The day of the LORD is coming. Until that day, may we not shrink back and make every effort to be found faithful.

2 Peter 3:10-12

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. 11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness 12 as you wait for the day of God and hasten its coming. Because of that day, the heavens will be dissolved with fire and the elements will melt with heat.”

Scripture of the Day: 2 Peter 1:3

“His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Application

  • When life feels to hard, God wants us to grow in that place by His grace.
  • Knowing God is where it’s at. Every problem we encounter can be faced with God and His word counsels us.
  • Don’t neglect His word and counsel that provide solutions to our every need.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #329: 2 Peter

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: 2 Peter 1:3

“His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

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Day 328 Bible Reading Plan – “Having a Reasonable Faith”

Having a Reasonable Faith

Having A Reasonable Faith

Reaching the world around us is not so easy. There are worldviews and philosophies that get in the way, not to mention hard hearts and man’s reasoning. A reasonable faith might seem arbitrary and relevant to the ever-shifting world. It is as we reason from God’s word, not from the world’s everchanging viewpoints, that we have can be used to change lives. Having a reasonable faith that relies on God’s word might not seem reasonable to man’s intellect, but God knows what man’s soul truly needs.

Bible Reading: Acts 17-18

There have been many different varied attempts at reaching the world. The seeker-sensitive church, the hip churches with lattes, the multiple different ways of evangelizing, yet there is one method that rises above them all—simply reasoning from God’s word and not adding anything to it. Perhaps this sounds too simple because we can overcomplicate things. But Paul found this method to be tried and true.

Having A Reasonable Faith—Reasoning from God’s Word

Acts 17:2-4

“2 As usual, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and rise from the dead: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.” 4 Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a large number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women.”

Having A Reasonable Faith—Will Cause persecution.

Having a reasonable faith will lead to persecution from a world that worships human reasoning.

Acts 17:5-9

“But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some wicked men from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. 6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, 7 and Jason has welcomed them. They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus.” 8 The crowd and city officials who heard these things were upset. 9 After taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.”

Having A Reasonable Faith—From God’s Word

Reasoning from God’s word will be foreign to a world that does not have the Bible as its authority.

Acts 17:16-21

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed when he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with those who worshiped God, as well as in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also debated with him. Some said, “What is this ignorant show-off[c] trying to say?” Others replied, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities”—because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

19 They took him and brought him to the Areopagus, and said, “May we learn about this new teaching you are presenting? 20 Because what you say sounds strange to us, and we want to know what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.”

Having A Reasonable Faith—God’s Word Penetrates the Soul

Nonetheless, it is the word of God that penetrates soul and spirit, not reasoning with mere human thoughts.

Hebrews 4:12-13

“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.”

Isaiah 55:11

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Having A Reasonable Faith—Relying on God’s Word

Paul relied on God’s word and we should, too. If we can convince people of something in their intellect they can be convinced the other way, as well. It is God’s word and God’s principles that are timeless and that change hearts.

Acts 18:4-5

“4 He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself to preaching the word[b] and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah.”

Scripture of the Day: Acts 17:26-27

“From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. 27 He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

Application

  • Reason from God’s word, not from your own intellect.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #328: Acts 17-18

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Acts 17:26-27

“From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. 27 He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

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Day 325-327 Bible Reading Plan – “Take it to Heart”

Take it to Heart

It has become popular to just give bare minimum. Word choices like “whatever”, and “it’ll do” keep mankind subscribing to a second best mentality. Our efforts are “enough”. But this is not the standard that God holds us to. And ultimately, it is faithlessness rather than the faithfulness God desires. God invites us today to “take it to heart” what He has asked of us—in every area of our lives.

Bible Reading: Malachi, Psalms 132-134, Eccl 9-10

Today we are covering the reading for today and this weekend. We are reading from Malachi, Psalms 132-134, and Eccl 9-10. Friday’s are going to be chock-full with Freebie Friday and the reading for the weekend so you all can read as your leisure over the weekend.

It is hard for generations to be faithful. One generation seeks to establish another, but both generations will have to deal with their own sins in order to be faithful to God. The generation Malachi addressed was 100 years after God’s people had returned from exile. Perhaps the lessons learned by the generations before had been lost again. Restoration needs to be maintained by faithfulness.

Each generation has to decide to take it to heart what God has said. To live it out or not.

Take it to Heart—Carry the Message

A little bit about Malachi from my study Bible. The book of Malachi was likely written between 500-400 B.C., around the time Nehemiah’s ministry ended and when the last part of the Old Testament was written.

The prophet Malachi’s name means “my messenger”. Some have wondered whether or not that was a title or his real name. For example, “my messenger” in Malachi 3:1 has the same Hebrew form as the name Malachi. The book of Malachi is clearly more on the message than the messenger.

We are called to carry the message, but how can we carry the message if we do not live it out?

Israel’s struggle with complacency and apathy (we talked about apathy a couple of days ago in our reading), prevents Israel from God’s blessings and precludes Israel from carrying God’s message forward.

God tells His people to “take it to heart” in several areas. We are called to be faithful in what God has told us to do. Period.

Malachi 2:1-2

“Therefore, this decree is for you priests: 2 If you don’t listen, and if you don’t take it to heart to honor my name,” says the Lord of Armies, “I will send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings. In fact, I have already begun to curse them because you are not taking it to heart.”

The covenant God made with His people should illicit a response of devotion. But God’s people bring God down to their own size and forget to take to heart His holiness and His expectations.

Malachi 2:5-9

5 “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave these to him; it called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Armies.

8 “You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of Armies. 9 “So I in turn have made you despised and humiliated before all the people because you are not keeping my ways but are showing partiality in your instruction.”

God calls out areas where His people are not taking to heart His commands and way of life; let alone their relationship with a Holy God.

  • God called out their insincere worship and half-hearted devotion (Malachi 1:10-13). They were bring an offering to God of lame or sick or blind animals; bare minimum to God!
  • God called out their spiritual adultery (Malachi 2:10-11)
  • God called out their faithlessness in marriage.
  • God called out their faithlessness in parenting.

Malachi 2:14-15

“14 And you ask, “Why?” Because even though the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, you have acted treacherously against her. She was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant. 15 Didn’t God make them one and give them a portion of spirit? What is the one seeking? Godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, so that no one acts treacherously against the wife of his youth.”

  • God called our their faithlessness in their words and in their deeds.

Malachi 2:17

“17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied him?” When you say, “Everyone who does what is evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and he is delighted with them, or else where is the God of justice?”

Don’t we see this today? People in the church and in our surrounding culture will say things are permissible that God doesn’t. This is faithlessness. This is not taking to heart God’s word.

This phrase “Take it to heart” is defined by Merriam Webster as “to be deeply affected or hurt by something”.

  • God called out their disobedience to His commands and in tithing

Malachi 3:7-10

“7 “Since the days of your ancestors, you have turned from my statutes; you have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Armies. Yet you ask, “How can we return?” 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me!” “How do we rob you?” you ask. “By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions. 9 You are suffering under a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are still robbing me. 10 Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,” says the Lord of Armies. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.”

Listen, we all fall short and a rebuke is never fun, but we today need to take it to heart what those who have gone before us have done and what we are doing right now.

We can be blinded by our sin, but God’s word opens our eyes.

This world is such a distraction from us seriously walking with God. We are not deeply affected (which is what take it to heart means) by His word. We are creatures of comfort, often succumbing to bare minimum. This is the same behavior God called out in this generation of God’s people in Malachi. They were lukewarm and not recognizing how Holy God is. He requires our best, not our second best.

Looking at the Hebrew for the phrase “take it to heart”, the word “suwm” is the word for “take”, which is translated as “to set, to make, to transform into”. The word, “heart” or “leb (lave)” is translated as heart or soul of man, the seat of our emotions.

The Theological Workbook of the OT describes this word heart in this way: “The heart is the seat of the will. A decision may be described as “setting” the heart. The heart is the seat of moral responsibility. Righteousness is “integrity of heart” (Gen 20:5). Moral reformation is to “set one’s heart aright”. (Andrew Bowling, “1071 לָבַב,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 467).

Our culture says to follow our heart. God’s word says we are to direct it. Our hearts are deceitful. We must take to heart what God has commanded and not allow our flesh or heart or mind to pull us away from full devotion to God.

Malachi contrasted the faithfulness of the LORD with the faithlessness of Israel. Through God’s messenger, Malachi, God asked Israel to examine themselves

According to the Bible Project,

“Malachi accuses Israel of selfishness after the exile and announces that the Day of the Lord will purify Israel and prepare them for God’s Kingdom. One hundred years after the exile, the Israelites who had returned to Jerusalem were as evil and corrupt as their ancestors. The book of Malachi addresses their corruption while also stating that God will remain committed to his people and fulfill his promises . . . Malachi is designed as a series of disputes between God and the new generation of Israelites.”

Malachi tells the truth about our human condition—our sin and waywardness, but it also tells of a future hope for those who resist evil and follow God.

Take it to Heart—A Man After God’s Own Heart

Psalms 132-134

Contrast this message in Malachi with David in Psalm 132. What a heart for God – he was a man after God’s own heart!

Psalm 132:1-5

“1 Lord, remember David and all the hardships he endured, 2 and how he swore an oath to the Lord, making a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: 3 “I will not enter my house or get into my bed, 4 I will not allow my eyes to sleep or my eyelids to slumber 5 until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

When we take God’s word to heart, we live it out. We don’t make excuses, we own up to our mistakes because we recognize that we are accountable to God. He is alive. His word is true.

David invites us to enjoy the benefits of those who do take to heart God’s commands. There is harmony in Psalm 133, and a lifestyle of worship. When our lives are centered around Christ, we are centered.

Psalm 134:1-3

“Now bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who stand in the Lord’s house at night! 2 Lift up your hands in the holy place and bless the Lord! 3 May the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.”

Take it to Heart—Everything is in God’s Hands

I love when God just lines up His word with a resounding message. When He placed on my heart to focus on the phrase, “take it to heart” in Malachi, I also felt led to do this weekend edition including the readings for the Psalms and Ecclesiastes, not knowing how they would line up. All I can say is “wow, God!” he wants us to take it to heart for sure, the messages we are reading today. Going from David’s son, a man after God’s own heart, to his son, Solomon, check out Ecclesiastes 9:1

“Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: The righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands. People don’t know whether to expect love or hate. Everything lies ahead of them. 2 Everything is the same for everyone: There is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so also it is for the sinner; as it is for the one who takes an oath, so also for the one who fears an oath.”

Solomon has been ranting over the futility of life for weeks now, and here he takes it to heart in another rant. Only I come to a different understanding. Life is futile and mundane without God. Just living for this life is not what we were made for. Everything is not the same for everyone. Those who take to heart what God has said and live their lives in obedience to Him are blessed beyond measure. But the answers to this life cannot be found in the creation. They are found in the Creator.

Solomon reminds us that no one knows his time. Even pursuing wisdom is not it. Pursuing folly isn’t either. But pursuing God is.

Friends,our hearts can grow lukewarm. Honestly, we need to be vigilant and watchful – by being in God’s word and being accountable to others who might recognize when our devotion begins to become lackluster. The words of Jesus through the disciple John in the book of Revelation, written to the church at Laodicea are a poignant reminder to us.

Revelation 3:14-20

14 “Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea: Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I advise you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be zealous and repent. 20 See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

God loves us when He corrects us and it is not for our condemnation. May we hear His voice and take it to heart what He has spoken, constantly seeking Him so we might live in a way that pleases Him.

Scripture of the Day: Text

Ecclesiastes 9:1a

“Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: The righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands.”

Application

  • Take it to heart what God has revealed and live it out!

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #325: Malachi, Psalms 132-134, Eccl 9-10

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Ecclesiastes 9:1a

“Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: The righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands.”

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Day 324 Bible Reading Plan – “Rebuilding the Impossible”

Rebuilding the Impossible

Rebuilding the Impossible

Have you ever had a moment in your life when everything before your eyes was seemingly destroyed? Utter desolation. The grief is too much to bear and you struggle to comprehend it all, much less begin the effort of rebuilding. It is in such moments that everything we thought we knew is reevaluated through a new lens of great suffering. Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we fix our eyes on God, His Word, and promises. God makes a way where there seems to be no way. 

Bible Reading: Nehemiah 1-3

Nehemiah was in such a place. The people of God returned to a home that was completely destroyed after a 70-year exile.

We are in a new book of the Bible today, the book of Nehemiah. What a book it is!

From Gotquestions.org:

Author: The Book of Nehemiah does not specifically name its author, but both Jewish and Christian traditions recognize Ezra as the author. This is based on the fact that the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one.

Date of Writing: The Book of Nehemiah was likely written between 445 and 420 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: The Book of Nehemiah, one of the history books of the Bible, continues the story of Israel’s return from the Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.

Rebuilding the Impossible—A Place of Shock

Nehemiah 1:1-3

“The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: During the month of Chislev in the twentieth year, when I was in the fortress city of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived with men from Judah, and I questioned them about Jerusalem and the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile. 3 They said to me, “The remnant in the province, who survived the exile, are in great trouble and disgrace. Jerusalem’s wall has been broken down, and its gates have been burned.”

Shock is incredibly hard. But shock does not have to lead to more devastation if we look up rather than down and all around us. Emotions and passions can flare as we try to process our new reality. That moment of realization of the damage that had been done overwhelmed Nehemiah and the disgrace and shame of such a public display of the destruction yielded a response from Nehemiah that we can all learn from. Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we pour out our hearts to God.

Rebuilding the Impossible—Crying Out in Supplication

Nehemiah 1:4-11

“4 When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of the heavens. 5 I said, Lord, the God of the heavens, the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps his gracious covenant with those who love him and keep his commands, 6 let your eyes be open and your ears be attentive to hear your servant’s prayer that I now pray to you day and night for your servants, the Israelites. I confess the sins we have committed against you. Both I and my father’s family have sinned.” Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we cry out to God.

Rebuilding the Impossible—A True Confession

7 We have acted corruptly toward you and have not kept the commands, statutes, and ordinances you gave your servant Moses. 8 Please remember what you commanded your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples. 9 But if you return to me and carefully observe my commands, even though your exiles were banished to the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place where I chose to have my name dwell.” 10 They are your servants and your people. You redeemed them by your great power and strong hand.

11 Please, Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to that of your servants who delight to revere your name. Give your servant success today, and grant him compassion in the presence of this man. At the time, I was the king’s cupbearer.”

Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we examine ourselves, repent and turn toward God. Don’t let anything stand in the way between you and God.

Rebuilding the Impossible—A Place for Grief

Nehemiah began with a big ol’ ugly cry. Sometimes we can feel shame to do so. Yet crying out to God is the most productive cry we will ever have. That place of grief is holy. It is when we admit our pain and our inability to fix it. But Nehemiah’s grief was not bound in self-pity. He was sad for the state of God’s people. Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we admit our grief and don’t hide it. God is our Healer of all pain we endure while on this earth.

Rebuilding the Impossible—An Honest Humble Prayer

Nehemiah fasted and prayed. Fasting is a posture of humility and self-denial that can help us to focus on what matters most and to clear the muddy waters. He confessed his sins and the sins of his people/nation. Rebuilding the impossible is possible if we humble ourselves rather than being entitled or angry.

Rebuilding the Impossible—A Fervent Prayer

Nehemiah does not condemn himself or his people for their sins. He presses in fervently to ask God to act according to His promises as God’s people are faithful to return and repent. His prayer was a supplication filled with acknowledging who God was and what He had done on their behalf and what He promised to do. Even when we have failed God. We have an invitation to draw near. And if we will repent and turn away from worthless ways, God will hear us and answer. Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we pray with a fervent faith.

Rebuilding the Impossible—Notice Your Position

Another thing that Nehemiah did was to do something about the wreckage surrounding him. Note the position that God has you in. When life falls apart, God still has favor and will position you for His purposes and your healing. Don’t let devastation be your ruination. Your story is not over yet. Nehemiah was a cupbearer – though this sounds like a humble position, this was one of the highest positions before the king. A trusted position. Though it was not customary for a cupbearer to make requests of the king, Nehemiah seized the opportunity.

Rebuilding the Impossible—A Bold Request

It is not until your back is up against the wall that you might be so bodacious as to utter bold requests. Those requests that seem impossible. Nehemiah placed the matter in God’s hands and then he did what he could to help God’s people. He did not just sit around and give in to discouragement. He let that sadness fuel his desire to restore God’s people.

Nehemiah 2:1-8

“During the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was set before him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence, 2 so the king said to me, “Why do you look so sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.”

I was overwhelmed with fear 3 and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

4 Then the king asked me, “What is your request?”

So I prayed to the God of the heavens 5 and answered the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it.”

Rebuilding the Impossible—A Specific Request

6 The king, with the queen seated beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you return?” So I gave him a definite time, and it pleased the king to send me.

7 I also said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let me have letters written to the governors of the region west of the Euphrates River, so that they will grant me safe passage until I reach Judah. 8 And let me have a letter written to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so that he will give me timber to rebuild the gates of the temple’s fortress, the city wall, and the home where I will live.” The king granted my requests, for the gracious hand of my God was on me.”

Rebuilding the Impossible—with God

Nehemiah prayed before he moved or asked. Sometimes we can try to fix things, right? Only problem is, we often make a bigger mess. But when Nehemiah prayed first and sought guidance from God, God opened doors. Nehemiah was sure to give God the credit. “The king granted my requests, for the gracious hand of my God was on me.”

Having a sad face in the presence of the king was a social no-no.

Sometimes when we are bold we will get a bold “no”. That does not mean to quit. That means go another way. We will see this quality in Nehemiah, as well. But this first request, Nehemiah got a big “yes”. He could leave his position and go build the wall. He would even have safe passage and all of the supplies he needed. Notice that Nehemiah was not nebulous in his request. He gave a definite time of his return and he specified exactly what he needed.

Rebuilding the Impossible—Overcoming Obstacles

It would be great in some ways if the story of Nehemiah’s rebuilding ended with a big yes and he just built the thing without a problem. But there is resistance and there are obstacles in this life that will try to keep us from the work of God. Nehemiah’s big yes was followed up by much adversity.

Sometimes we can question God about that. We think adversity is wrong and want things to be easy. But adversity can be the very thing that causes us to press in more deeply to God and ultimately God gets the glory when He overcomes the obstacles on our behalf. Don’t resent difficulties—let them shape you into the person God has called you to be. Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we see obstacles through the eyes of Jesus. Nothing is too difficult for Him.

Rebuilding the Impossible—Overcoming Disgrace

Have you had such a moment of disgrace and heartbreak, friend? If not, I pray you don’t. And yet sometimes the biggest heartbreaks of our life can turn out to be the biggest deliverance from God.

I have been there. And spent a good part of my life just hoping I would never go through something devastating. I had the drill down. When I was an unbeliever, the mindset was just to be good enough to not invite such times in my life. Definitely step over the crack on the sidewalk. Definitely don’t do anything that could bring pain into my life.

But a mindset set on a pain-free life sets you up for a let-down. Expectations for a life void of pain should not be where our hope is placed. And as a believer, I learned where my hope should be placed.  

Rebuilding the Impossible—Overcoming Pain

That place when all you thought you knew about your life you didn’t—shocks you to the core. I know. I’ve been there. And pain is there with the shock and grief to try and snuff out any hope of ever being able to rebuild again. But when we look at the character of God, He doesn’t ever leave anything unfinished. Trust Him in the pain and hard places in this life. He is building and rebuilding in you will be far more beautiful than if nothing had happened at all. The places from the past that are shut off to us forever were not meant to be our destination.

Scripture of the Day: Nehemiah 2:20

“I gave them this reply, “The God of the heavens is the one who will grant us success. We, his servants, will start building, but you have no share, right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.”

Don’t let problems or people intimidate you from God’s calling. Build on God’s promises and purposes and trust God to complete the work that He has begun building in you. And when we face obstacles, people against us, grief, pain and overwhelming fear, shame, or sorrow, God is enough, friends. The One Who called You will do it when we turn our circumstances into a prayer and trust God with it all.

Application

  • Do you have shock or grief in your life right now? How are you handling it?
  • Does God have you to build or rebuild something right now?
  • What position are you in right now, friends? That position is a Kingdom position. Use it wisely for God’s purposes and not your own.
  • What bold prayer or request do you need to ask?
  • What action do you need to take, after prayer?
  • A mindset set on a pain-free life sets you up for a let-down.
  • Let’s embrace God’s promises in life’s hard places.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #324: Nehemiah 1-3

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Nehemiah 2:20

“I gave them this reply, “The God of the heavens is the one who will grant us success. We, his servants, will start building, but you have no share, right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.”

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Day 323 Bible Reading Plan – “Overcoming Apathy”

Overcoming Apathy and Igniting Passion

Overcoming Apathy and Igniting Passion

Just going with the flow living in status quo is not the abundant life God had in mind. But overcoming apathy and igniting passion in our lives is going to take a continual, intentional effort. In the natural, our flesh seeks comfort and does not want to be bothered with living on purpose. It’s easier to pop in a Netflix and eat junk food and numb ourselves to life’s demands than to rise up and tenaciously embrace responsibilities. But God calls on us to overcome comfort and to really care and have compassion for others.

Overcoming Apathy

What if God did not care? Think about that for a moment. Our hearts can accuse God when life gets hard, but the reality of His character and His promises and His actions is that He loves us deeply. So much so that He would come and die on our behalf. And this God who did that for us has every bit of authority to ask the same of us. We need to stop living for the flesh and live the passionate, abundant life He has for us. It won’t be easy, but it is far more fulfilling than just living to satisfy what our flesh demands.

Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 22-24

A little reminder about the book of Deuteronomy, which reads like beautiful sermons from Moses, reminding God’s people of true north and how to live out this relationship with God.

“The word Deuteronomy means ‘the second law’. This translates the Greek title of the book. The title in the Hebrew language is ‘these are the words’. Deuteronomy does not just repeat earlier laws. It is a record of the covenant relationship between God and the Israelites. It teaches people how to love God and their neighbors. There are 100 references from Deuteronomy in the New Testament. Deuteronomy is still important for Christians today, although the culture is different. The book is sometimes called ‘The Book of Covenant Life’.” (Easy English Bible Commentary). Today’s reading is part of Moses’ second speech continuing to discuss practical rules for how to live.

Overcoming Apathy and Igniting Passion—Rules Don’t Have To Spoil Our Fun

No one likes rules, and yet God’s commands and rules are given for our good. Knowing the intention behind the rules is a reminder to our hearts that we go astray but God’s plumb line brings us back. Rebellion is to be confronted and we need to point one another to the right way God has commanded that we should live. But it will be hard. Apathy and self-centeredness stand in our way.

Overcoming Apathy and Igniting Passion—Remembering to Care for Our Neighbor

At the beginning of our reading today, Moses reminds us to care. Don’t ignore other people’s problems if we notice them. Apathy keeps us self-centered and we forget sometimes to look up and notice others.

Deuteronomy 22:4

“4 If you see your brother’s donkey or ox fallen down on the road, do not ignore it; help him lift it up.”

The words, “do not ignore it” are a mantra repeated three times in the first four verses. Don’t ignore if a brother’s ox or sheep or donkey are straying. Do the right thing and look after other people’s things when trouble arises. Care and help others.  

Why would we have to be reminded to care? Because this world is hard and our hearts get hard, too. We are naturally selfish and need to have care and compassion for others just like God does for us.

Even in the care of animals, God notices if we are caring and compassionate or not.

Deuteronomy 22:6

“6 “If you come across a bird’s nest with chicks or eggs, either in a tree or on the ground along the road, and the mother is sitting on the chicks or eggs, do not take the mother along with the young. 7 You may take the young for yourself, but be sure to let the mother go free, so that you may prosper and live long.”

Prosper and live long because of how we treat even animals? Yes. When we are righteous, acting like Jesus would, it affects all of our life.

Overcoming Apathy and Igniting Passion—Going Against the Flesh and Walking in Righteousness

We don’t like to be told what to do especially when we are shirking our responsibilities. It bugs our flesh, right? I have dealt with that behavior in my children. When you ask them to pick up after themselves and they attempt to turn the tables on you – how dare you ask them and remove them from their land of comfort? Of course, it was they who made the mess.

And God even guides us in how we should dress.

“5 “A woman is not to wear male clothing, and a man is not to put on a woman’s garment, for everyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord your God.”

Look, we can say it hurts people’s feelings to uphold God’s standards, but letting someone live in perversion, which is twisting God’s righteous way of living is not love at all. We don’t have to reject a person to reject their sin. It might take some deprogramming from this world’s lies to help people see the truth. Gently and lovingly. God’s ways – the One who made us – are truly what is best and makes us happiest. Anything else is bondage.

Overcoming Apathy and Igniting Passion—Addressing Sin

I don’t really like to talk about sinful things. Ephesians 5:12 backs me up on this.

“It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.”

And yet, rather than legitimize sin, we do need to confront sin, expose it in our ranks and not permit it. And if we don’t address sin in our lives and in those God has called us to shepherd, then God will.

Psalm 50:16-23

“But God says to the wicked: “What right do you have to recite my statutes and to take my covenant on your lips? 17 You hate instruction and fling my words behind you. 18 When you see a thief, you make friends with him, and you associate with adulterers. 19 You unleash your mouth for evil and harness your tongue for deceit. 20 You sit, maligning your brother, slandering your mother’s son. 21 You have done these things, and I kept silent; you thought I was just like you. But I will rebuke you and lay out the case before you. 22 “Understand this, you who forget God, or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to rescue you. 23 Whoever offers a thanksgiving sacrifice honors me, and whoever orders his conduct, I will show him the salvation of God.”

Overcoming Apathy and Igniting Passion—Purge the Evil

Purging the evil from our lives is not always obvious. We acclimate to the culture around us and it sneaks in without us being aware.

The phrase, “you must purge the evil among you” is repeated several times in today’s reading. But it is not just about getting rid of evil influences and behaviors in our lives. We also have to put on. Put off and put on

Ephesians 4:17-31 underscores how we are to live in Christ.

Overcoming Apathy and Igniting Passion—How Are We Now to Live?

“17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

25 Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need.

29 No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him[m] for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

Scripture of the Day: Deuteronomy 24:18

“Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. Therefore I am commanding you to do this.”

Application

  • God’s rules are not suggestions. They are commands from a loving God.
  • God’s boundaries lie in pleasant places.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #323: Deuteronomy 22-24

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Deuteronomy 24:18

“Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. Therefore I am commanding you to do this.”

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Day 322 Bible Reading Plan – “A Perspective from Suffering”

A Perspective from Suffering

A Perspective from Suffering

Got any volunteers for suffering? I don’t think anyone would request suffering, and yet it is suffering that can be the very tool that enables us to stop living for sin or self and to live for God. There is a perspective from suffering that is not easily gained, but those who see it understand the blessing that suffering brings into one’s life.

Bible Reading: 1 Peter 4-5

1 Peter 4:1-4

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding—because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin— 2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the Gentiles choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you don’t join them in the same flood of wild living—and they slander you. 5 They will give an account to the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.”

A Perspective from Suffering—Attitude

Our attitude determines how we walk through suffering. In my recent COVID hospitalization, I could have easily given in to fear or discouragement. But those emotions propelled me toward fighting by arming myself with the mind of Christ and digging deeper into God’s word. I could not fight the fight alone that suffering requires.

Suffering is not just about a person being strong. A good attitude will not get us through. Our mindset is renewed when we seek to adopt Christ’s mindset rather than our own. Ultimately, it is admitting our weaknesses and relying on God that makes us strong. And in the midst of suffering, there can be a reliance on God that sets us free from whatever else we were relying on. Notice I say “can be”. We do have a choice.

Suffering does not have to defeat us. Surrender to the LORD is our victory right in that place of sorrow or hardship. God is enough, friends!

A Perspective from Suffering—Gifts from Suffering

Those who arm themselves with the understanding that we will have struggles in this world and with Christ’s attitude as well as the word of God gain these gifts from suffering:

  • They are finished with sin. I would say that we can drift from this place as comfort settles in again, but there is a perspective that suffering brings that has a lasting impression. We are not so motivated anymore for the things of this world.
  • They live for God’s will, not sinful human desires.
  • They stay on mission.
  • Finally, they have peace. There is peace when we can see things clearly and no longer live just for the comforts of this world. Our eyes are opened. And God is our Rock.

A Perspective from Suffering—How to handle and how not to handle

1 Peter 4:12-14

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you, as if something unusual were happening to you. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

  • Don’t be taken aback by suffering. Don’t doubt God’s goodness. And don’t let it throw you into worldly thinking.
  • Instead, choose joy.
  • You might be persecuted. People might mock you. But God. He will bless you for it.
  • Think eternally, not temporarily. Suffering will not last forever, but our redemption and peace will in Heaven.

Scripture of the Day: 1 Peter 4:19

“So then, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator while doing what is good.”

Do we trust God when we suffer? Really trust Him? Suffering messes with our mind. But we don’t have to let that happen. We can choose to think on God’s word and response to suffering and see what God accomplished in Christ and will accomplish in us. Suffering is never wasted.

A Perspective from Suffering—Final Strategies During Suffering

1 Peter 5:6-11

“6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. 8 Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.

10 The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while.11 To him be dominion forever. Amen.”

Application

  • Be humble during suffering. Don’t accuse or blame others. Accept it as discipline from a loving Father. He promises to use it for your good and His glory. (Hebrews 12:7, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”)
  • Pour out your cares and concerns to Jesus. Don’t complain about the, but cry out for God’s grace and strength. His grace is sufficient for us all.
  • Be sober-minded. Don’t cave to sin just because life is hard. Press into God and His word and find strength.
  • God promises to restore us after we have suffered.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #322: 1 Peter 4-5

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: 1 Peter 4:19

“”So then, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator while doing what is good.”

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Day 321 Bible Reading Plan – “The Lie of Tolerance”

The Lie of Tolerance

The Lie of Tolerance—Tolerance or Acceptance?

Acceptance is a beautiful thing—but what about tolerance? How do we handle unbiblical standards in the church today? The word tolerance is used a lot today, but what are we tolerating? And what are we not tolerating? The lie of tolerance is revealed in its fruit.

Paul reveals the need to address issues in the church. He did not back down from issues due to political correctness. If we do not uphold a biblical standard, we do not have one. In the end, friends, tolerate differences, but not sin. Accept people as Christ accepted us, but don’t accept what God’s word does not condone.

Guard the influences in your life. Live what you defend. Stumbling blocks have to be addressed or we will trip over them ourselves. And our tolerance of sin does not equate to God’s acceptance.

The Lie of Tolerance—Under Whose Authority?

In the world we understand that the Bible is not their authority. Our expectations for the world cannot be the same as in the church. But in the church, we need to have the Bible as our authority. Even seemingly good things – church tradition, admired leaders – do not trump the paramount importance of God’s word leading us and setting the standard for how we are to live.

The church is to be the light of the world, not an extension of it. If the church is not aligning itself with God’s word, it will be a puppet of the devil and fall away.

In the end, we will not be held accountable by the world on popularity or how we fit in. that will not last the sands of time. But we will be held accountable by God—the One Who gets the final say and sets the standard. Period.

People come and go and worldly influences will try to penetrate our lives and our churches. What should be our response? I don’t have authority over God’s word. But His word has authority over all of creation. And every knee will bow before Him.

Bible Reading: Acts 15-16

Acts 15:1-5

“Some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom prescribed by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 After Paul and Barnabas had engaged them in serious argument and debate, Paul and Barnabas and some others were appointed to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem about this issue. 3 When they had been sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they brought great joy to all the brothers and sisters.

4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

The Lie of Tolerance—Influencers

So How Do We Deal with Unbiblical Standards? Paul and Barnabas did not shy back from the ungodly influence that invaded their church and differed from God’s standard. Stumbling blocks have to be addressed or we will trip over them. And sometimes those stumbling blocks to a Biblical foundation are within the church itself. Paul and Barnabas addressed unbiblical influencers in debate and then set to task propagating the truth.

Influencers. Guard the influences in your life. Like a mantra, I shared with my kids the necessity and importance of this.

1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

The Lie of Tolerance—Religion

These men who came down from Judea in Acts 15 to stir the pot must have thought they were “in the know”. They thought they could impose religious hoops for people to jump through to be saved. But even when something sounds good to our religious flesh, if it is not backed up by God’s word, it is filthy rags as it says in

Isaiah 64:6

“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”

The Lie of Tolerance—Pride

We cannot win people to the Kingdom of God with pride. Our attitude should be like Christ, as in Philippians 2:5-7

“5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Christ humbled Himself! So should we! Self-righteousness is a plague when we think we have the truth in and of ourselves. No one is good, no not one. Christ alone is. And we were grafted in and included. We belong. May we always remember our humble stance as we seek to help others see. How is it that we see? God’s mercy and grace and incredible kindness.

The Lie of Tolerance—Debate

Debate. We have to be willing to have conversations. Sometimes hard ones. But how we communicate is crucial. And we have to live what we defend. Otherwise, the world is confused. We are not to be like the world and our weapons should be used to redeem and help people see, not to tear them down.

In can be uncomfortable to have a different opinion. But we need to fear God more than man. And we must prove faithful. Let’s love people while we help to dissolve the unbiblical narrative they have subscribed to. Let’s lovingly point them to God’s truth and humbly admit that we are flawed, ourselves.

Paul and Barnabas’ defense of the truth brought genuine joy in those who listened. They did not respond to shaming or intolerance by caving to the world. They stood firm and shared the truth and gave hope and joy as they clarified the muddy waters.

What does your church say? Does it acknowledge your need to be saved? Does it add or subtract from God’s standards? How about us? Do we have extra rules that we impose?

The Lie of Tolerance—Reaching the Intolerant World

The world preaches tolerance but is intolerant of Christian standards and beliefs. They feel that Christians are intolerant perhaps because they think differently and uphold a standard that is polar opposite of the world. Christians should not tolerate worldliness. But how we encounter worldliness will bear fruit in our lives and those who watch us.

Likewise, what we tolerate affects the faithfulness of our walk with God. We can tolerate sin in our lives, as well, not wanting to seem judgmental. But God never tolerates sin.

And our tolerance of sin does not equate to God’s acceptance.

On the world stage, we should not expect the world to have biblical standards. But that does not mean we should be silent on God’s way for man. But we will need to be wise. The world does not speak “Christianese”.

The Lie of Tolerance—Be Wise About the Battle

Be wise about the battle, friends. The Holy Spirit will reveal who has ears to hear and who doesn’t. Speak truth with grace and let God take care of the results. But speak when He says to speak and pray when He says to pray.

The fruit of our lives and our church will be obvious. Paul’s ministry bore fruit, not religion or rules – as he shared the truth.

And salvation rang in the lives of many. In Lydia, in a fortune teller, and in a jailer. One was a wealthy woman who likely did not see her need. Another was a tool of Satan who was set free. And The jailer had just secured Paul’s punishment but had a radical transformation as Paul lived out the message He spoke with humility.

Scripture of the Day: Acts 16:34

“34 He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had come to believe in God with his entire household.”

Friends, what we tolerate could keep someone from seeing Jesus. Boldly live out God’s word in such a compelling way like Paul did, that no one stumbles on their way to meet Jesus.

Application

  • What are you tolerating in your life?
  • Examine your tolerances through a Biblical lens and ask God for the Biblical standard in your life.
  • In the end, friends, tolerate differences, but not sin.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #321: Acts 15-16

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Acts 16:34

“He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had come to believe in God with his entire household.”

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Day 319-320 Bible Reading Plan – Weekend Digest

Where is your hope placed?

Where is Your Hope Placed?

What are you hoping in? Where is your hope placed? Or better yet—Who? Misplaced hope can lead to devastating lives. But when hope is in the right place, we are never disappointed and can have peace, joy, and hope in all circumstances.

Bible Reading: Psalms 129-131 and Ecclesiastes 7-8

Where is your hope placed friends? I am sure you have thought about this before. I know in our culture it is easy for people to say I hope I will meet my husband . . . or I hope this will be my outcome. We can say we hope in Jesus, but we can sometimes hope that things will go ok, don’t we? Uh . . . I just hope we will have a break.

I know sometimes in my life hope looked like achieving something or a status . . . or just peace. But true hope is not that at all. So we are going to look at the Psalmist here today about where our hope is placed.

In Psalm 130, the Psalmist is awaiting redemption.

Psalm 130:1-8

“Out of the depths I call to you, Lord! 2 Lord, listen to my voice; let your ears be attentive to my cry for help. 3 Lord, if you kept an account of iniquities, Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that you may be revered.

5 I wait for the Lord; I wait and put my hope in his word. 6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning—more than watchmen for the morning.

7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord. For there is faithful love with the Lord, and with him is redemption in abundance. 8 And he will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.”

Where is your hope placed—in God’s Word and Faithful Love

The Psalmist chose first to put his hope in God’s word and faithful love, but then he is asking Israel to do the same.

This hope is not something that is temporary. It is something we know we can count on. It is not just a desire. Cross my fingers . . . I really hope this turns out. No hope is something that is firm and secure.

Where is Your Hope Placed—What keeps us from hoping?

Fear can. Doubt. We don’t trust God. My song, “Layers” came from this place of wanting to hope but struggling to trust God when life seemed hopeless and God allowed a lot of suffering in my life and I did not understand why that level of suffering. We feel disillusioned and discouraged and hope just feels like, man I can’t be let down one more time. And I wanna put my hope in God, but God allowed these circumstances in my life.

These are real questions that if we are honest, we need to deal with them, right?

As we are thinking about this hope, we need to think about the obstacles to hope because there are so many things that stand in our way that want to keep us from hoping in God.

Where is Your Hope Placed—Patience.

The meaning of the word hope is to wait in a certain outcome. So if we are going to be willing to hope that means we are going to have to be willing to be patient.

Hope is choosing to believe either in a person or a God or an outcome and we are content to hope or trust no matter what goes on around us. That takes faith, right? Hope is closely tied to faith.

But patience is something that I think really plays into this. We don’t like to wait.

The Psalmist hoped in God, in His Word, and in His faithful love. The Psalmist hoped in God more than the watchman for the morning.

Think about the job of a watchman. I personally would not want that job. What are they doing? In pitch dark They are staying awake. I could picture a lot of coffee for this girl if that were my job. But you are staying awake and constantly on the alert watching. Can you imagine how much the watchman longs for the sun and the light.

The Psalmist is giving us this analogy. First he chooses to hope in God more than the watchman.

Anyone can wait a little bit. Christmas time is such an example of this. I think of my kids around Christmas time when it was hard for them to wait for the presents and one of my kids finally confessed that he would always take a peek at the gifts by slightly unwrapping the gift then rewrapping it. Some of the joy was lost on Christmas day because he already knew what he was getting.

Hope does not see it yet . . . but it chooses to trust in God and wait.

Where Your Hope is Placed—Why Hope in God?

Psalm 130:7 God is faithful. There is nothing else we can put our hope in. We don’t even know for sure who our next President is. We cannot put our hope in our elected leaders. We can’t put our hope in people . . . they are fallible. Or in circumstances . . . nothing. We don’t even know for sure what a day may bring.

Even though I have had a pretty tough year with Melanoma, COVID, etc., my God is still always faithful. Even though I am struggling with asthma, I have also been very blessed. And my God is always good and faithful.

Psalm 130:4 God forgives us. This is great hope. And this forgiveness last forever.

Psalm 130:7 God loves us. His love is faithful. Sometimes we put our hope in people who don’t really love us. I know that sounds harsh but sometimes in this world people just want what they want and they use people. But God loves us. So much. Hard times don’t mean that He does not love us or whether he is good. He is there with us. We just have to shift our focus from hoping for a perfect life to hoping in a good God.

Psalm 130:7 God redeems us. With Him is redemption in abundance. Overflowing. Redemption costs greatly. Sin destroys us and we need someone to redeem us. Redemption costs our Savior His life. He is our hope. What a secure place that is.

Where Your Hope is Placed—Pursue God, Not Happiness

Ecclesiastes 7-8

“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart. 3 Grief is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad.”

Now isn’t that interesting? A lot of times we pursue happiness. Our hope is that we will be happy. Why would Solomon say it is better to have mourning or grief . . . then you can be happy?

Sometimes when we don’t go through hard times we can take things for granted and we hope in futile things that keep us bummed all the time because they never pan out? But there is something about when you have been through pain in your life, then you see things from a different perspective and see all of the blessings in this life.

The beauty of hoping in God is that you can have an election go awry . . you can have a global pandemic . . . you can get COVID yourself and be hospitalized . . . overcome cancer and betrayal and all kinds of suffering and still have hope. Our hope is not in avoiding COVID, but inthe One Who controls everything. Then we have peace.

Where Your Hope is Placed—Where Hope is Found

Ecclesiastes 7:8

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning; a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit.”

To hope is to wait is to be trust in a certain outcome. We know God has a certain outcome . . . we need to trust Him with that outcome. Hoping is not holding tightly onto things and demanding things from God. It is a hope that God will use all that happens to us will bring Him glory. Hope is not for the American Dream . . . and I want this and I want that . . . and then I will trust in you, God. A true hope is that we will love God through it all and trust the hope He has for us.

Ecclesiastes 7:10

“Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” since it is not wise of you to ask this.”

Easy times don’t require faith or hope, do they? But when we wait on God in both times – when we are blessed, are we going to hope in God then, or hope in the blessing? And when times are hard, this is where real hope is. Real hope is not when everything is good. It is found when it isn’t.

And it is when we choose to say, “I worship You, God”. I can’t do this, but You are where my hope is placed, that we have hope this world can never take away.

Scripture of the Day: Psalm 130:5-6

“I wait for the Lord; I wait and put my hope in his word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning—more than watchmen for the morning.”

Application

  • Think about your hope and take inventory – ask yourself if you are hoping in God or things.
  • Go with God, your living hope!

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

“Where is Your Hope Placed?”

Day #319-320: Psalms 129-131 & Ecclesiastes 7-8

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Psalm 129:3

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Day 318 Bible Reading Plan

God remembers

God Remembers

God remembers. He never forgets, yet He was willing to cover our sins. Sometimes when it seems like the world is going crazy, God remembers. God sees us. God still has a plan. There is coming a time when God is coming to judge the Shepherds and His people, but then is judgment leads us to is redemption. What a good God!

Bible Reading of the Day: Zechariah 10-14

Pastors have a hard job, y’all. The sheep are harassed and helpful and sheep bite. Pastors have a hard job. But they are going to be held accountable. Do shepherds the status their sheep? This is a hard task because sometimes sheep lie and make it difficult.

But when pastors/shepherds are really diligent to know how their sheep are doing, and to feed the sheep, they are doing God’s work. But the sheep are responsible to follow.

Sometimes pastors can get stuck in the weeds. They can worry about being liturgical or political (church politics, y’all), while the people fall away.

In researching this morning about the book of Zechariah, I found that the Hebrew word ‘zechariah’ (or ‘zachariah’) means ‘God remembers’. He sees. He is not going to let His people be forsaken. Even though His own people forsook Him. And the Day of the LORD is coming when every wrong will be righted. Everything will be restored.

Today’s reading opens up with God calling to account false shepherds who are misleading his people. God is going to judge both the shepherds and the people.

God Remembers—Judgment is coming

Zechariah 11-14

“7 So I shepherded the flock intended for slaughter, the oppressed of the flock.[b] I took two staffs, calling one Favor and the other Union, and I shepherded the flock. 8 In one month I got rid of three shepherds. I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. 9 Then I said, “I will no longer shepherd you. Let what is dying die, and let what is perishing perish; let the rest devour each other’s flesh.” 10 Next I took my staff called Favor and cut it in two, annulling the covenant I had made with all the peoples.”

When we rebel against God, it is like hating God. Rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft. Despite this judgment from God, God never punishes without the goal of redemption and restoration. He does not desire that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).

We need to remember God’s character when we see discipline and punishment. God is good. We want to give ourselves a second chance, but God’s discipline is always to help wake us up from our sin. We need to understand the heart of God.

But God has to judge sin, lest man never turn away from it. There is a standard that God has set because He loves us and if we do not correct sin, we are enabling it. God is righteous in his judgment. Even when it seems cruel to us, we are viewing it from a human point-of-view.

God Remembers—Our sin will be dealt with

Man is wicked. He defaults to sin and rebellion against a Holy God. And God loves His people enough to deal with sin. Parents also need to love their children enough to set clear standards and require accountability.

As a parent, I will tell you it is hard to deal with sin in the camp and in the soul of our children. Sometimes they rebel and get angry with you. Sometimes they try to blame you. But if you keep your heart set on God’s will and way, you don’t have to be manipulated by children. We need to lead them to the right way and ultimately trust God to deal with their sin if they will not listen to us.

But look at what our Savior was willing to do on our behalf and again I think of an analogy of parents who give so much for their children and the children are often not aware of the worth of what their parents do.

Just as the Shepherds were accountable to God, we are also accountable to God.

But look at what our Savior was willing to do on our behalf. We are often not aware of what Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf is worth.

God Remembers—What is our Savior worth?

Zechariah 11:12-13 describes an allusion to Christ and the betrayal by Judas.

referencing 30 silver coins. (Matthew 27:3) Although this passage in Zechariah is about Zechariah requesting his wages, this is also a Messianic prophecy, which found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

“12 Then I said to them, “If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” So they weighed my wages, thirty pieces of silver.

13 “Throw it to the potter,” the Lord said to me—this magnificent price I was valued by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw it into the house of the Lord, to the potter.”

Think about how ludicrous it is that the death of God would cost 30 pieces of silver. We can approach God with a self-centered philosophy and fail to see how good He has been to us.

God Remembers—Messianic Prophesies

According to GotQuestions.org,

“Earlier, Zechariah had been commanded to watch a flock of sheep doomed to slaughter (Zechariah 11:4). He obeyed, using two shepherd’s staffs that he named Favor and Union (verse 7). Within a month, Zechariah fired the three shepherds working under him (verse 8). Then Zechariah abandoned the flock and broke his staff named Favor. Observers realized these actions were “the word of the LORD” (verse 11). The Lord would remove His favor from His people, allowing them to be harried by their enemies (verse 6).”

“A seeming difficulty is the fact that Matthew attributes the prophecy to Jeremiah, not Zechariah. The explanation is two-fold. First, Jeremiah also bought a field at the Lord’s command (Jeremiah 32:6-9). Second, the Hebrew Bible was divided into three sections: the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets. The Prophets began with Jeremiah, and it was common for people to refer to the whole section (which included Zechariah) as “the book of Jeremiah.””

Zechariah’s prophecy had a dual fulfillment: one in the prophet’s contemporary context, and one in the more distant future. The Jewish people of Zechariah’s day would be judged, as seen in the breaking of Favor, and the specific details regarding 30 pieces of silver and a potter’s field found a future fulfillment in the betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot.

God Remembers—And Redeems

Another instance of a Messianic prophesy is found in Zechariah 12:10

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”

It took the sacrifice of Christ for people to realize that their sin cost. And to realize that their God loved them so much that He would pay for and cover their sins completely.

A righteous God has to punish but He took the punishment – our punishment upon Himself. If we will look at the cross afresh and look and realize what God did on our behalf, God can help us to live a right way if we are aware of the cost of our sin. God remembers us . . . do we remember Him?

Scripture of the Day: Zechariah 13:1-2

“On that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the residents of Jerusalem, to wash away sin and impurity. 2 “On that day”—this is the declaration of the Lord of Armies—“I will remove the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered. I will banish the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land.”

Friends, this makes me think of the hymn, “There is a fountain filled with blood.”

Another prophecy from our reading today references the day of the LORD.

Zechariah 14:4 says, “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the Mount moving north and half moving south.” “That day” is a reference to the Day of the Lord, and the One who stands on the mountain is the Lord Himself. This passage predicts the second coming of Christ..

Application

  • Friends, will you be ready?
  • We need to prepare our hearts, get rid of idols, and make sure our Shepherds are helping us to see the truth.
  • And we need to shepherd those in our sphere of influence, without fear of man.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

“God Remembers”

Day #318: Zechariah 10-14

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Zechariah 13:1-2

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