Day 200 Bible Reading Plan

There is only one God

There is only one God

Yet without realizing it, our hearts can be divided in worship. There is only one God but we can prize things in this world above Him. Worshiping a strange “god” estranges us from God. Our relationship with God can become a transaction instead of the beautiful relationship we were meant to have.

The Psalmist is calling us to obedience. But not to the flesh or false gods—to the One Who made us!

Bible Reading of the day: Psalms 81-83 

Scripture of the Day:  Psalm 81:9-10

“You must never have a foreign god; you must not bow down before a false god. 10 For it was I, the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things.”

The word foreign is rendered “strange” in another It is the word, “zoor”, meaning to be a stranger, or to become estranged.

The Strong’s Concordance and Easy English Bible Commentary also said it means to come from another man, place, fanner, go away, estranger, thing, woman, to turn aside; hence to be a foreigner, to commit adultery, go away.

We Don’t Know What We are Worshiping

When we worship a strange or foreign “god”, we are worshiping what we do not know. And chances are, we are not even aware of it.

Because worship is not always so obvious.

Worship does not just happen on a Sunday morning when we hear worship music. Worship happens every day when we live out who or what is first in our lives.

Look at your checkbook and that might give you a clue. Or take note of what you think about a lot. False “gods” don’t have to be wooden statues We can worship things when our heart goes after those things above God. And we can even worship self.

Why worship or hope in what cannot deliver? Worshiping a strange “god” estranges us from the One true God. The Psalmist reminds us what God has done for His people.

Only God Satisfies us

What has your “god” done for you lately? There’s no contest other than our flesh can temporarily be satisfied with idolatry. God wants to satisfy us – Psalm 81:10 “… Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things.”  Psalm 81:16, “But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

But we have to come to Him for satisfaction and not try to satisfy the flesh our own way. Do we believe that friends? Or do we think God is a killjoy who won’t give us what we really want?

When we don’t choose to listen to God, we suffer consequences. But if we will seek God and obey Him, we are blessed abundantly: Psalm 81:11-14.

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel did not obey me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own plans. 13 If only my people would listen to me and Israel would follow my ways, 14 I would quickly subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes.”

So why doesn’t everyone obey God? We read about His faithfulness and goodness in the Bible. Who wouldn’t want that? Because we get deceived and we want our way. We think our way is better than God’s. And we can turn the relationship with God into a transaction. We want things or outcomes from God more than we want Him.

God judges all “gods”

In Psalm 82, the Psalmist asks God to judge the “gods” of the nations.

“God stands in the divine assembly; he pronounces judgment among the gods: 2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah 3 Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. 4 Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked.” 5 They do not know or understand; they wander in darkness. All the foundations of the earth are shaken. 6 I said, “You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High 7 However, you will die like humans and fall like any other ruler.” 8 Rise up, God, judge the earth, for all the nations belong to you.”

God is good. He reveals in this Psalm that false gods are not. False “gods” do not give justice or help the poor and needy. False “gods” cannot save. Only Jesus can.

In Psalm 83, The Psalmist is asking God to judge his enemies. In the first half of the Psalm, we see what the enemies are doing and in the second half, we see the Psalmist’s request of God.

Psalm 83:13-18

“Make them like tumbleweed, my God, like straw before the wind. 14 As fire burns a forest, as a flame blazes through mountains, 15 so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm. 16 Cover their faces with shame so that they will seek your name, Lord. 17 Let them be put to shame and terrified forever; let them perish in disgrace. 18 May they know that you alone— whose name is the Lord—are the Most High over the whole earth.

Application

  • Ask God to reveal if there are false “gods” in your life.
  • Worshiping a strange “god” estranges us from God.
  • Don’t turn the relationship with God into a transaction.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #200: Psalms 81-83

Scripture of the Day: Psalm 81:9-10

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Ps.81

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Day 199 Bible Reading Plan

God dwells in us

God Dwells in Us

Being holy is not something we can do on our own, yet God commands us to be. We who have accepted the gift of salvation have the Holy God residing in us. God dwells in us—How then shall we live?

We are finishing the book of Ezekiel today.

Bible Reading of the day: Ezekiel 43-48

The Israelites were in exile and God is injecting hope to His people through Ezekiel speaking about their future. The people were learning about worship in the new temple to come. And the glory of God will fill the future temple, returning to His people.

We are now the temple of the Holy Spirit and God fills us. But there will also be a future temple during the millennium when Christ reigns in Jerusalem.

God speaks through Ezekiel about the sins of the Levites, the duties of the Levites and priests, the allotments, borders and sacrifices.

Easy English Bible Commentary

“Some people say that this vision shows the eternal state. The ‘eternal state’ means the new heaven and the new earth. But this vision cannot be of the eternal state. In the new earth, there is no temple (Revelation 21:22). Then the river will flow from the throne (Revelation 22:1). In Ezekiel’s vision, the river flows from the temple.

I believe that the most likely time for this prophecy is the millennium. The millennium is the 1000 years when the Lord Jesus will rule on the earth (Revelation 20:1-6). This is before this earth ends and before the start of the new earth (Revelation 21:1).

During the millennium, people from other nations will worship with them in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:16). Ezekiel’s vision shows perfect practice in Israelite worship. In the Old Testament, the sacrifices refer forward to the Messiah. In the millennium, the sacrifices refer back to the death of the Messiah. The sacrifices never could take away sins. In the millennium, the sacrifices will not take away sins. The sacrifices will remind people about the one sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah. That was the only sacrifice that dealt with sin.”

Got Questions Commentary:

“According to premillennial, dispensational theology, this section of Ezekiel describes the worship of the Lord that will take place during the future 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth during the millennium (see Revelation 20). Christ will be reigning in Jerusalem. There will be a temple, the massive size of which is detailed by Ezekiel. The prince mentioned in Ezekiel 46, it appears, is the leader of the nation of Israel during this time. He is the representative of the nation of Israel and will bring offerings to the Lord and provide an example of devout worship.

As with any passage that deals with eschatology, this section of Ezekiel is open to some debate. We believe that the offerings Ezekiel speaks of are similar to the church’s taking of communion. They are a memorial pointing back to what Jesus did to secure our salvation. At the time foreseen by Ezekiel, Jesus will be physically present, reigning supreme as the Lord of all.”

Distinguish Between the Holy and the Common

We who have witnessed the grace of God must still distinguish between the holy and the common.

Ezekiel 44

6 “Say to the rebellious people, the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Lord God says: I have had enough of all your detestable practices, house of Israel. 7 When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in both heart and flesh, to occupy my sanctuary, you defiled my temple while you offered my food—the fat and the blood. You broke my covenant by all your detestable practices. 8 You have not kept charge of my holy things but have appointed others to keep charge of my sanctuary for you.’”

God’s people have rebelled. The crux of their rebellion is seen in Ezekiel 44:23

“They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and explain to them the difference between the clean and the unclean.”

We talked about this on Wednesday as we studied the book of Leviticus. We live in a time where people want to be casual. God is seen as the man upstairs. But do not be deceived – He is still holy.

We must distinguish between the Holy and the common in our lives, too.

What do we watch? What do we do? How do we walk?

God Dwells in Us—God Dwells With Us

Ezekiel 48:35, “And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE.”

God is still with us despite our waywardness. He will complete the work He has begun in us.

We fall short—how can we be holy? We cannot be in our own strength, but God will complete the work in us as we seek Him and study His word and ask for His help!

Scripture of the Day:  Ezekiel 43:2

“Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel appeared from the east. The sound of his coming was like the roar of rushing waters, and the whole landscape shone with his glory.”

Application

  • The glory of God fills this temple – ourselves – is this evident to those around us that God dwells in and with us?
  • We need to live holy lives in a common world.
  • Christ died so we could live a holy life.
  • He did not die just to cover our sins, but to help us rise above the power of sin.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #199: Ezekiel 43-48

Scripture of the Day: Ezekiel 43:2

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Ezek.43

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Day 198 Bible Reading Plan

But God.

Two words that change everything. When the kings of this earth do evil in the eyes of the LORD, but God. God is still sovereign. He is still in control. When there’s a pandemic and our nation is divided—but God. We don’t have to fret because we know God already knows the end and is using it all together for our good and His glory. When things seem to be falling apart, our God holds it all together.

Bible Reading of the day: 2 Kings 11-15

The Book of 2 Kings is a history of Israel’s and Judah’s kings. The rise and fall of kings occurred as each king followed God or not.

There is a struggle in 2 Kings. The same struggle we deal with today. Evil seeking to overcome good. The constant refrain, “He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight” is countered by the mercy and sovereignty of God. The grace and strength of God is available to those who seek it.

Leaders rise and fall and man thinks he has the power, but ultimately, when the people of God turn back to God and choose to obey Him, mercy triumphs in our midst.

Here are some examples from today’s reading of those who did not cave to evil, but sought God:

Choosing God Over Idolatry—2 Kings 11:17-18

“Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord, the king, and the people that they would be the Lord’s people and another covenant between the king and the people. 18 So all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed its altars and images to pieces, and they killed Mattan, the priest of Baal, at the altars.”

Jehoiada chose to belong to the LORD. And he acted upon it. When we choose God, it is not a once and done choice, but a daily choice.

Choose God Without Compromise—2 Kings 13:4-6

“Then Jehoahaz sought the Lord’s favor, and the Lord heard him, for he saw the oppression the king of Aram inflicted on Israel. 5 Therefore, the Lord gave Israel a deliverer, and they escaped from the power of the Arameans. Then the people of Israel returned to their former way of life, 6 but they didn’t turn away from the sins that the house of Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit. Jehoahaz continued them, and the Asherah pole also remained standing in Samaria.”

What is it in your life that is a stronghold? That thing that you make concessions for or rationalize away? That thing keeps you from God’s blessing.

But God—Undeserved Favor 2 Kings 13:22-23

“King Hazael of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz, 23 but the Lord was gracious to them, had compassion on them, and turned toward them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was not willing to destroy them. Even now he has not banished them from his presence.”

In two words, friends, “But God”. God’s grace covers our failings. God chooses us not because of our goodness, but because of His.

But God—God is in control

The king’s heart is guided like a watercourse wherever He determines it to go. We likely all feel the intimidation of the enemy, trying to silence the voice of Christians. But we dare not be silent. God has not called us to sit idly by at such a time as this. The battle we are in right now is spiritual. And the battle is the LORD’s. When we resist evil, pray to God and be a voice of righteousness in this generation, we make a difference.

Scripture of the Day:  2 Kings 14:26-27

“For the Lord saw the bitter suffering of everyone in Israel, and that there was no one in Israel, slave or free, to help them. 27 And because the Lord had not said he would blot out the name of Israel completely, he used Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, to save them.”

Friends, God sees us. None of the present day struggles are a surprise to Him. And He is still with us.

Application

  • Don’t just choose God once. Choose Him every day.
  • Don’t go with the culture. Go with God.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #198: 2 Kings 11-15

Scripture of the Day: 2 Kings 14:26-27

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/2Kgs.11

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Day 197 Bible Reading Plan

Are You Clean?

Are you clean?

I don’t mean have you bathed lately. I mean are you holy? Are there things in our life today that are making us unclean?

Christ has made us clean and set us free from the power of sin but we can struggle to walk in this reality. It is easy to be influenced by the world around us rather than to influence the world with the Kingdom of God. But friends, we are called to be set apart, and while it looks different than the Levite priests, we are still called to be Holy.

Bible Reading of the day: Leviticus 21-24

To those who are with us for the first time, we have learned some precious truths from Leviticus.

“The Jews called the Book of Leviticus ‘wayyiqra’. This is actually two Hebrew words, ‘way’ and ‘yiqra’. They mean ‘and’ and ‘he called’. These words are the first words in the book in the Hebrew language. When the Jews translated their Bible into the Greek language, they gave the book a new title. The new Greek title meant ‘about the Levites’. Our title ‘Leviticus’ is the Latin word for ‘about the Levites’. Leviticus tells us that we can have fellowship with God.” (Easy English Bible Commentary).

And we see the sacrifices required for sinful man to have fellowship with a Holy God.

It is costly because our sins are costly. The wages of sin is death, but God made a way for us to have a relationship with Him.

Being Clean In the Book of Leviticus

In Leviticus 21, there are instructions for the Levite priests in order for them to be acceptable for service in the house of God. Leviticus 21:1-8 says,

“The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to Aaron’s sons, the priests, and tell them: A priest is not to make himself ceremonially unclean for a dead person among his relatives, 2 except for his immediate family: his mother, father, son, daughter, or brother. 3 He may make himself unclean for his unmarried virgin sister in his immediate family. 4 He is not to make himself unclean for those related to him by marriage[a] and so defile himself.

5 “Priests may not make bald spots on their heads, shave the edge of their beards, or make gashes on their bodies. 6 They are to be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they present the food offerings to the Lord, the food of their God, and they must be holy. 7 They are not to marry a woman defiled by prostitution. They are not to marry one divorced by her husband, for the priest is holy to his God. 8 You are to consider him holy since he presents the food of your God. He will be holy to you because I, the Lord who sets you apart, am holy.”

How Does This Apply To Us?

They are told not to make themselves unclean with a dead body. Understanding this today is hard. We are likely not going around touching dead bodies and why  was this important?

They are told not to make gashes on their bodies, too, and other distinctives of what a holy life looks like.

This all seems foreign to us today because we are under grace. If we were under Law, we would have no access to a Holy God accept by the provision we see that God made so we could.

Are You Clean Enough?

God is not just making a bunch of rules. There is the very real reality of God being holy and simply put, we cannot be in His presence or we would die.

In our casual culture, holiness is not something people think about much. But the common cannot enter the presence of God except by God’s incredible grace.

We are called to be set apart, friends, and it looks different than the Levite priests, but we are also called to be Holy. Are there things in our lives today that can make us unclean?

Got Questions commentary

According to Gotquestions.org: “The Hebrew word translated “unclean” in Leviticus is used nearly one hundred times in this one book, clearly emphasizing “clean” status versus “unclean.” Animals, objects, food, clothing, and even people could be considered “unclean.”

“Generally, the Mosaic Law spoke of something as “unclean” if it was unfit to use in worship to God. Being “clean” or “unclean” was a ceremonial designation governing the ritual of corporate worship. For example, there were certain animals, like pigs, considered unclean and therefore not to be used in sacrifices (Leviticus 5:2); and there were certain actions, like touching a dead body, that made a living person unclean and temporarily unable to participate in the worship ceremony (Leviticus 5:3).”

What makes us unclean and unfit for service with God?

A New Standard of Cleanliness

We are under grace, but that does not lower the standard. It raises it. Jesus said even our thoughts will be judged. Let’s look at the standard today.

Matthew 12:36-37

“36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Hebrews 12:14 ESV

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV

“But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.””

1 Thessalonians 4:7 ESV

“For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.”

1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Romans 12:1 ESV 

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Leviticus 20:26 ESV 

“You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.”

Are You Clean Inside and Out?

God invites us to know Him and to have fellowship with Him. This does not mean we are not still aware of His Holiness. When we get too familiar with a Holy God, we can rationalize our sin and think He condones it.

So the good news is, friends, we don’t have a bunch of regulations. And we are not under the Law. We don’t earn our salvation with good works because frankly, we could never be good enough.

But God commands that we be Holy. We don’t avoid sin because of legalism. We avoid sin because we love God and He has called us to Holiness.

This will mean I will try to order my life after His word.

Are You Clean in Word and Deed?

What I say matters. How I treat others matters. How I behave matters. Let us not abuse the grace that Christ died to give us.

Friends, we have an intercessor today – Jesus Christ. He covers all of our sins – not that we would continue in sin, but that we would be free from the power of sin.

We have been set apart. Let’s live differently so the world can find Jesus. Let’s not be like the world.

Leviticus 22:31

31 “You are to keep my commands and do them; I am the Lord. 32 You must not profane my holy name; I must be treated as holy among the Israelites. I am the Lord who sets you apart, 33 the one who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord.”

Scripture of the Day: Leviticus 23:3

3 “Work may be done for six days, but on the seventh day there is to be a Sabbath of complete rest, a sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; it is a Sabbath to the Lord wherever you live.”

The Sabbath has been one of those hard areas for me. Resting does not come naturally to this girl. But because I love God’s word, I continue to ask Jesus to show me what rest looks like today for Christians. What areas do you struggle with?

Being clean is not about trying to fulfill the Law. We never could. But when someone has fulfilled the Law on our behalf, we show appreciation by submitting ourselves to His Lordship and by choosing to be like Him.

Application

  • Let’s live uncommon lives for a Holy God.
  • May we seek to be like Jesus, not the world.
  • May we humbly live these lives of grace and not abuse the precious grace we have been given.
  • God calls us to be Holy still.
  • Are you clean?

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #197: Leviticus 21-24

Scripture of the Day: Leviticus 23:3 

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Lev.21

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Day 196 Bible Reading Plan

Putting Christ Fiirst

Putting Christ First

We live in selfie-land today, all. But when life is focused on self, we are miserable. Putting Christ first in our lives helps life to fall into place. We are doing what we were made to do.

Putting Christ First Helps us to Overcome Drama

Life is hard, friends. When we get distracted by life’s drama we need to remember who we are in Christ. Don’t be pulled away, friends. When we put Christ first and everything else makes sense. This life is not about having a perfectly comfortable life, but it is all about Jesus and glorifying Him in this life that we are given. Life takes its toll on us and we can forget what really matters.

Lessons from Prison

We are starting a new book today—the book of Colossians. Paul has some lessons for us about having our lives centered around Christ.

This is one of Paul’s prison epistles likely written while he was imprisoned in Rome. He wrote this letter to the church at Colossae.

Colossae is a part of modern day Turkey today. The church at Colossae was made up mostly of Gentiles. Epaphras visited Paul in prison and told Paul how the church at Colossae was listening to false teachers.

From the Easy English Bible Commentary:

“Paul wrote more about Christ in this letter than in any other of his letters. He reminded the Christians that their past life had gone. Christ was now their life. Christ had made them free from rules and evil powers. Paul then went on to teach the Christians how to live this new life.”

As part of Paul’s initial greeting in this letter, Colossians 1 opens up with Paul encouraging the church at Colossae and thanking God for the Colossian’s faith in God.

Putting Christ First in our Prayers

And then Paul writes a beautiful prayer for spiritual growth for the Colossians that really got me thinking about how we pray for one another.

How do we pray for one another, friends? So often we pray for our troubles to be over. For health problems and healing. Or for financial situations to be fixed. Relationships mended. We pray for life to be easy. Discomfort gets our attention, doesn’t it?

But Paul is asking for spiritual growth for the church at Colossae. This convicts me to the core. Sometimes our prayer time can become a list of wants, can’t it?

We want blessings for loved ones and the removal of pain. But do we pray for their spiritual well-being? And do so constantly as Paul describes his intercession on behalf of the church at Colossae?

A Higher Prayer

“For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that: you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, 10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience,

joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. 14 In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Do we pray in this way for others?

Life takes its toll on us and we can forget what really matters. People need to be close to Christ—this is our joy—not a perfect life or temporary happiness in this world.

Sometimes a comfortable life pulls us away from God. Spiritual growth is necessary so we can live lives worthy. Paul shifts to then talk about the centrality of Christ. Everything in this life is about Him—not us. And when we order our lives around Christ first, before all things, life makes so much more sense than when we order our lives around self.

Putting Christ First Because He Is First

Christ is first whether or not we make Him first.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, 17 “He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.” 18 “He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.”

Is Christ first in your life, friends? Really stop and consider this question. What or who is first in your life? I would take it a step further and ask, is Christ your life? You see, sometimes I can try to make my life into what I want from it. We can become angry or sad when life does not turn out like we think it should. But this is idolatry.

Putting Christ First Means Everything is Under His Authority.

We no longer live. Christ lives in us. My life is not about me anymore.

First in my life can be goals in my lie or hopes in this life. But when these hopes and goals come underneath Christ coming first, then we seek God’s glory and purposes, and not our own as we seek to do His will.

This is a cataclysmic shift from self to Christ.

Instead of having me first and my desires, do I want Christ first in all of my life?

My prayer for my children becomes about them having Christ first more than having all the things I want for them.

My prayer for my success becomes a prayer for God’s will.

Scripture of the Day: Colossians 1:19-20

“19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”

God came to live as a man so we could know Him and be reconciled. Not so we could then live this life apart from Him.

Draw near, friends! Draw near to the One Who loves you more than anyone. Don’t let the enemy of our souls lie to you about how loved you are in Christ. Just because life is hard does not mean you are not the apple of His eye.

Let us not forget our condition before Christ!

As it says in Colossians 1:21-23

“21 Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds as expressed in your evil actions. 22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him— 23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard.”

Friends, we need to pray for one another that we don’t shift away from God.

Shifting happens by degrees.

The flesh is relentless and demands first place. But when we keep Christ first, life makes sense and confusion disappears. In Colossians 2:2-3 Paul describes what he longs for the church to have:

“I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of complete understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery—Christ. 3 In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Life is hard, friends. Yet Paul describes rejoicing in suffering because he sees what suffering produces. Paul prays for encouragement, love, a complete understanding of Christ.

This is what we need in this life. To know Christ. More than anything else. And the enemy wants to keep us from this life hack or secret—Christ alone and above all else is our highest joy and purpose in this life.

Life’s pain can distract us from Christ being first

Lack of knowledge because we are not in God’s word can distract us from Christ being first. Discouragement can keep us from the joy we can have in Christ. Don’t be pulled away, friends. Put Christ first and everything else makes sense.

In the remainder of Colossians 2, Paul warns the church at Colossae to choose Christ over the Colossian heresy. The false teachers believed that they had special knowledge and wisdom. They taught people how to understand this secret wisdom. But the false teachers did not believe and trust the true God.

Putting Christ First Helps Us to Recognize Lies

Friends, when we know the truth and make it our ambition to know Christ more, we recognize a lie more readily. Deception cannot cloud our vision when we choose Christ first and as our whole life.

Like bank tellers recognize counterfeit bills by being so well acquainted with genuine bills, we need to know Christ more so we can recognize all of the counterfeit idols in our life.

Colossians 2:6-10

“So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, 7 being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude. 8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ. 9 For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, 10 and you have been filled by him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

Christ is In Us

Did you catch that, friends? We have been filled by the One Who is Lord over all. Remember who you are and what God has done in you.

Col. 2:20

“20 If you died with Christ to the elements of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations?”

There were religious rules that people were making to try and get the new believers to revert to legalism rather than grace. Sometimes distractions are sin and sometimes distractions are seemingly good things.

Our faith is not rules – it is relationship.

Don’t let anything distract you from Christ.

Application

  • When we get distracted by life’s drama we need to remember who we are in Christ. (Colossians 2:12-15 reminds us of our heritage and who we are).
  • Don’t be pulled away, friends. Put Christ first and everything else makes sense.
  • This life is not about having a perfectly comfortable life, but it is all about Jesus and glorifying Him in this life that we are given.
  • Life takes its toll on us and we can forget what really matters.
  • Spiritual growth is necessary so we can live lives worthy.
  • Let’s pray for one another that we would become more like Christ.
  • And may Christ not just be first in our lives—may He be our life!

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #196: Colossians 1-2

Scripture of the Day: Colossians 1:19-20

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Col.1

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Day 195 Bible Reading Plan

fully God fully man

Fully God, Fully Man

Jesus was fully God, fully man as He laid down His life for all mankind. Only God could pay for our sin, so He came in the form of man to sacrifice on our behalf.

We are starting a new book today—the Gospel of John. Written by the disciple John whom Jesus loved, it is different than the other synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, which have a similar focus and view.

The Gospel of John does not mention the parables or any stories about Jesus’ birth or his baptism. John only recorded 7 miracles, which he called ‘signs’. But John recorded many long speeches that Jesus made.

Blue Letter Bible Commentary

  • In Matthew, Jesus is the Son of David (Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 1:1). Written to a Jewish audience. He is the King of the Jews. The Gospel of Matthew emphasizes the teachings of Jesus. Jesus fulfills the words of the Law and the Prophets.
  • And in the Gospel of Mark,  Jesus is the Son of Man (Zechariah 3:8; Mark 8:36). Jesus is the suffering servant, yet shows Jesus’ authority. The whole book is a declaration of Jesus’ work. Probably a source for Matthew and Luke.
  • In Luke, He is the Son of Adam (Zechariah 6:12; Luke 3:38). Jesus is the Savior of all. Luke was a physician who also wrote the book of Acts. Written by a non-Jewish person for non-Jewish
  • And in John, Jesus is the Son of God (Isaiah 4:2; 7:14; John 3:16). Focus is on the deity of Jesus. Jesus is God. John was written after the synoptic Gospels.

Scripture of the Day: John 1:10-14

Putting the Scripture of the day into a bit more context, and reading from the NET Bible translation today:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.

6 A man came, sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that everyone might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

Fully God, Fully Man—But Not Known by Those He Made

10 He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children 13 —children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.

14 Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. 15 John testified about him and shouted out, “This one was the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’” 16 For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.”

Fully God, Fully Man—More Than A Prophet

The Word is Jesus. Jesus was fully God. He was not just a prophet or a good person. Jesus was God in the flesh. Only God could die for the people He made.

In John 1-2 we see the Trinity in the first few verses. We meet John the Baptist and see the disciples being chosen by Jesus. We see Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. We see the cleansing of the Temple.

Everyone is Not a Child of God

John is telling us how we become children of God—by believing in Jesus. Everyone is not a child of God. We must be born again in order to be a child of God and that happens when we believe in Jesus and we repent for our sins and ask Jesus to save us.

Easy English Bible Translation Commentary

“John wants to tell us more than the story of Jesus’ life; he tries to explain the meaning behind the things that Jesus said and did. He tells us who Jesus Christ is rather than what he does. John wrote about the great mystery – that Jesus is God as well as a man.”

Jesus is THE Son of God

The Gospel of John reveals the promised seed that God’s people longed for—the salvation of God! False religions try to make Jesus “a” son of God, not “the” Son of God. This is very important. Because only God could pay for our sins.

This is why we need to understand Who Jesus is. He is fully God and fully man.

Jesus knew those He was saving were blind and could not be trusted. Yet He still chose to come and save them.

John 2:24-25

“Jesus, however, would not entrust himself to them, since he knew them all 25 and because he did not need anyone to testify about man; for he himself knew what was in man.”

Application

  • Jesus is fully God. God died for you, friends.
  • What are you going to do about that fact?
  • We are blessed to know this truth today and to live in grace.
  • May we not abuse this grace and we who have become children of God, may we act like it.
  • God did not come to save us for us to live like we aren’t saved.

Everyone is not a child of God. We become a child of God when we choose to believe in Jesus. Knowing who Jesus is matters. He was more than a prophet or a good person. Jesus was fully God and fully man. Only God could lay down His life for man. God did not come to save us for us to live like we aren’t saved. May we not abuse this precious grace we have been given so others, too, may become children of God.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #195:John 1-2

Scripture of the Day: John 1:10-14

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/John.1

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Day 194 Bible Reading Plan

Walk in wisdom daily

Walk in Wisdom Daily

Wisdom benefits those who walk in wisdom daily. Their life is defined by it. The truly wise don’t know that they are. They know their wisdom is from God and they see their need of God. Walking in wisdom is a daily choice. We are prone to wander, but seeking wisdom pulls us back to a place of wonder as we remember what this life is all about.

The first 9 Proverbs are somewhat of an introduction to the second part of the book of Proverbs, which begins in chapter 10.

Proverbs 9 lays out a comparison between wisdom and foolishness.

Wisdom invites us to live differently. Folly invites us to live dangerously.

Wisdom’s focus is on God. Folly’s focus is on self.

We need someone higher than ourselves to live wisely.

Scripture of the Day: Proverbs 9:10-12 

10 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.

    Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

11 Wisdom will multiply your days

    and add years to your life.

12 If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit.

    If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.

Walk in Wisdom Daily to Avoid Pain

When people try to get us to do something foolish, we will be the ones to bear the responsibility and the repercussions for every choice we make.

In Proverbs 10 we see a comparison and contrast between those who walk in wisdom and those who don’t.

The wise son:

  • Brings joy (v. 1)

A foolish son:

  • Causes pain (v. 2)

The wise son:

  • Harvest crops (v. 4)

The lazy foolish son:

  • Sleeps during harvest and is stupid. (v.5)

Here’s the thing about wisdom. It is not acquired once. It is a lifestyle

We choose to walk in wisdom daily. Or to walk in folly.

And walking in wisdom or in folly both render consequences.

Continue to Walk in Wisdom Daily

I am humbled by the example of Solomon who had wisdom but had compromise in his life that led to severe consequences. Solomon did not continue to walk in wisdom in his personal life. If that can happen to Solomon whose book we are reading, it could happen to us.

The wise live for God. The foolish live for self.

Are you walking in wisdom today?

Look at your life today, friends. The good news is that God promises to give us wisdom if we will just ask. (James 1:5)

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #194:Proverbs 9-10

Scripture of the Day: Proverbs 9:10-12 

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Prov.9

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Day 193 Bible Reading Plan

Confidence in crisis

Confidence in Christ in Crisis

I love the title of Psalm 77 in my Bible, “Confidence in time of crisis”. Crisis has a way of overwhelming us and getting our attention. But we can have confidence in Christ in crisis because our God is in complete control.

We can have confidence in the midst of crisis because of Who God is. But we have to know how to access this unshakeable confidence. Our faith is not passive. When we cry out and seek God with all our heart, He will be found.

We have to be willing to go deeper to get deeper with God. The same confidence we find in Christ our children can have, too.

Scripture of the Day: Psalm 78:4-7 (CSB)

“We will not hide them from their children but will tell a future generation the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, his might, and the wondrous works he has performed.

He established a testimony in Jacob and set up a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children 6 so that a future generation—children yet to be born—might know.

They were to rise and tell their children 7 so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s works but keep his commands.

As our children watch how we handle a crisis, we teach them how to have this relationship with God.

Confidence in Crisis Requires Perseverance

In Psalm 80, the Psalmist asks God to restore him three times. His request became more earnest each time he approached God.

Confidence in Crisis Requires Relationship

Each time the Psalmist approached God, his name for God was deeper.

Psalm 80:3

“Restore us, God; make your face shine on us, so that we may be saved.”

Psalm 80:7

“Restore us, God of Armies; make your face shine on us, so that we may be saved.”

Psalm 80:19

“Restore us, Lord, God of Armies; make your face shine on us, so that we may be saved.”

Confidence in Christ in Crisis Depends On Our Passion

It is during a crisis that we are more passionate in our appeal for help. We might start off crying out to God half-heartedly, but it is when we know God as the Great I Am—the Lord, God of Armies—that our prayer to Him is more than just a prayer to our God as our Creator. It is when we pray to Him as Our LORD.

Sometimes we have to look to the past to see what God has done to remind us to have hope and confidence for the future. God has been enough in the past—He will be enough now, too.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #193: Psalms 77-80

Scripture of the Day: Psalm 78:4, 7-8

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Ps.77

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Day 192 Bible Reading Plan

Dry Bones Aren’t Hopeless.

Temporary views cause us to be myopic. When we are dry and hopeless, God reminds us of an eternal view where His hope is endless. God restores and redeems what seems dead and lifeless. Ezekiel 37 has always been one of my favorite scenes in the Bible. A valley of dry bones . . . dead people . . . an army of people brought back to life because of the breath of God.

God Breathes Life Where Death Overcame Us.

Ezekiel 37:5-10

“5 This is what the Lord God says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live. 6 I will put tendons on you, make flesh grow on you, and cover you with skin. I will put breath in you so that you come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 As I looked, tendons appeared on them, flesh grew, and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath,[a] prophesy, son of man. Say to it: This is what the Lord God says: Breath, come from the four winds and breathe into these slain so that they may live!” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me; the breath entered them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army.”

Dry Bones Can Live Again.

These dry bones represented the nation of Israel. God was not through with Israel yet. He brings us all from death to life.

Ezekiel 37:11-14

“11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Look how they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says: I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them, my people, and lead you into the land of Israel. 13 You will know that I am the Lord, my people, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I have spoken, and I will do it. This is the declaration of the Lord.’”

God is our Defender

In Ezekiel 38-39 we see the final defeat of Israel’s enemies. We learn about Gog and Magog. Gotquestions.org says that:

Gog and Magog are referred to in Ezekiel 38-39 and in Revelation 20:7-8. While these two instances carry the same names, a close study of Scripture clearly demonstrates they do not refer to the same people and events. In Ezekiel’s prophecy, Gog will be the leader of a great army that attacks the land of Israel. Gog is described as “of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” (Ezekiel 38:2-3).

Dry Bones Aren’t Hopeless—They Can Be Restored.

God is a restorer. His punishment of Israel was to bring His people to repentance so he could restore them to Himself. God wants a relationship with His people.

We see this in Ezekiel 39:21-29

21 “I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the judgment I have executed and the hand I have laid on them. 22 From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. 23 And the nations will know that the house of Israel went into exile on account of their iniquity, because they dealt unfaithfully with me. Therefore, I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, so that they all fell by the sword. 24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and transgressions, and I hid my face from them.

God will Restore.

25 “So this is what the Lord God says: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have compassion on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name. 26 They will feel remorse for their disgrace and all the unfaithfulness they committed against me, when they live securely in their land with no one to frighten them. 27 When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the countries of their enemies, I will demonstrate my holiness through them in the sight of many nations. 28 They will know that I am the Lord their God when I regather them to their own land after having exiled them among the nations. I will leave none of them behind.[h] 29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.”

Scripture of the Day: Ezekiel 39:28

“Then my people will know that I am the Lord their God, because I sent them away to exile and brought them home again. I will leave none of my people behind.”

What will it take for us to know that God is LORD? Discipline from God is so our hearts will turn back to God. Sometimes man’s rebellious heart gets hardened toward God instead. But those who confess and renounce their sins and surrender to Christ’s Lordship are restored.

Dry Bones Aren’t Hopeless—We Have a Future

Ezekiel 40-48 according to the easy English bible commentary:

“The purpose of these 9 chapters is to give hope to the Israelites. They were in exile in Babylon. But the Lord spoke to them about the future of Israel. The Israelites will live in the land that God promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18). Then the Lord will take away their sin. They will be his special people. They will be loyal to him and he will be their God.

There will be a new temple in Jerusalem. The glory of the Lord God will fill that temple. There will be sacrifices for worship in that temple. There will be priests who serve in the temple. The people will live in the whole land that God promised to Abraham. Each of the 12 tribes will have a share of that land. There will be shares of the land for the prince, the priests and the city of Jerusalem.”

Dry Bones Can Live Again.

We are like the Israelites. We were dead like those lifeless bones in the valley. God breathed salvation into our souls and now we live again. But let this salvation be more than a one-time occurrence. We don’t want to drift away like the Israelites did, and then had to be exiled or punished to return to God.

How about you? What is your story of redemption and restoration? We need to remember what God has done to keep us in a right relationship with Him. God has sent prophets and His Holy Spirit to open our eyes.

Application

We don’t have to be dry and hopeless. Life’s circumstances don’t determine our joy or our hope. God does. And God’s desire is to redeem, restore and revive us.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #192: Ezekiel 37-42

Scripture of the Day: Ezekiel 39:28

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Ezek.37

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Day 191 Bible Reading Plan

God Fights Our Battles

God fights our battles. But sometimes we don’t let Him. We try to fight them on our own. When we are surrounded, if we will surrender to God instead of our fear, God will do miracles. God supplies what we need when we need it.

Today’s reading starts off with a lesson that God is in the business of doing the impossible.

Elisha is with a group of prophets and people who were following the prophets. As they were moving and building a place for more space, an ax head fell in the water. Even small things matter to God. God did a miracle through Elisha and the axe head floated.

God supplies what we need when we need it.

As Elisha and his company of prophets were in their place building, God spoke to Elisha about what the King of Aram was plotting concerning Israel. Elisha warned Israel each time the Arameans planned an attack.

2 Kings 6:11-15

“The king of Aram was enraged because of this matter, and he called his servants and demanded of them, “Tell me, which one of us is for the king of Israel?” 12 One of his servants said, “No one, my lord the king. Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in your bedroom.” 13 So the king said, “Go and see where he is, so I can send men to capture him.” When he was told, “Elisha is in Dothan,” 14 he sent horses, chariots, and a massive army there. They went by night and surrounded the city.

God Fights Our Battles—If We Let Him

15 When the servant of the man of God got up early and went out, he discovered an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. So he asked Elisha, “Oh, my master, what are we to do?”

Have you ever been in a tight spot like this? You feel surrounded by problems or maybe by someone who has decided to be your enemy. It can be overwhelming. Surely, an army of horses and chariots would be overwhelming, right? Let’s see Elisha’s response in the Scripture of the day.

Scripture of the Day: 2 Kings 6:16-17

“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.”

Elisha prayed that the LORD would blind the nation. And God did. Then Elisha asked them if they wanted him to lead them to the man they were looking for. Elisha led them to Samaria.

20 “When they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “Lord, open these men’s eyes and let them see.” So the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw that they were in the middle of Samaria.

21 When the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “Should I kill them, should I kill them, my father?”

22 Elisha replied, “Don’t kill them. Do you kill those you have captured with your sword or your bow? Set food and water in front of them so they can eat and drink and go to their master.”

23 So he prepared a big feast for them. When they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. The Aramean raiders did not come into Israel’s land again.”

God Fights Our Battles When We Surrender

When we are surrounded, we have God with us. God is greater than any foe.

Even a foe such as a famine. Due to Samaria being under siege by King Ben-hadad of Aram, they were on the brink of starvation. The king of Israel wanted to kill Elisha because of it.

We see what people are really made off when hard times hit, don’t we? God warned Elisha and then Elisha made a promise to the king of Israel

2 Kings 7:1-2

“Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Lord says: ‘About this time tomorrow at Samaria’s gate, six quarts of fine flour will sell for a half ounce of silver and twelve quarts of barley will sell for a half ounce of silver.’”

2 Then the captain, the king’s right-hand man, responded to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord were to make windows in heaven, could this really happen?”

Elisha announced, “You will in fact see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat any of it.”

God sent chariots ahead of His people and fought for them. The Aramean camp fled when they heard the sound of chariots, horses and a large army.

God Fights Our Battles and Restores Us

In chapter 8, I love how Elisha is still looking after the Shunammite woman – he warns her of a 7 year famine that is coming. And after she left and returned, she needed her land restored to her and shared all that Elisha had done for her.

Even when it seems like we have lost all that was ours, God sees us. He restores us.

King Ben-Hadad of Aram was sick and Elisha said he would recover, but that Hazael would end up killing the King of Aram.

Jehu was anointed as King and killed the house of Ahab as well as Jezebel for the wickedness they had done. Jehu also dealt with the Baal worshippers. He was zealous to obey God.

But not in everything.

2 Kings 10:28-31

“28 Jehu eliminated Baal worship from Israel, 29 but he did not turn away from the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to commit—worshiping the gold calves that were in Bethel and Dan. 30 Nevertheless, the Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my sight and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in my heart, four generations of your sons will sit on the throne of Israel.”

31 Yet Jehu was not careful to follow the instruction of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins that Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.”

Partial Obedience is not obedience.

When we are surrounded, if we will surrender to God instead of our fear, God will do miracles.

God fights our battles. But we have to be willing to recognize our need.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #191: 2 Kings 6-10

Scripture of the Day: 2 Kings 6:16-17

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/2Kgs.6

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