Today we start reading through the book of Deuteronomy. You might notice as you go that some of the things you are reading seem familiar. That’s because they are. Deuteronomy serves as a summary and reaffirmation of the covenant God has made with his Exodus people. Continue reading
I hope you’re still reading and enjoying the Bible in a year church reading plan. My college minister used to say, “Every time you read the Bible, it should change your life.” Some of our members have told me that they are having a difficult time believing this in the book of Numbers. One woman flat out asked me, “Would you please write a devotional that explains why we have to read the book of Numbers?” Yes, that’s easy.
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid.
Ain’t that the truth.
Today’s reading involves seduction, adultery, and an expensive sensual one-night stand. Some people say there is no excitement in the Bible. Those people have obviously never read it.
In Proverbs 7 we have the instruction of the wise father training his son to be a good man. Part of that instruction is knowing how to control and channel his sexual energy. We do our own children a disservice when we act like any knowledge of worldly ways will corrupt their tiny souls. A wise parent instructs his children at appropriate times and in appropriate ways to understand the trials and temptations they are likely to face in the world, fallen as it is. Continue reading
Our reading plan chapters today are Exodus 32-34 and Proverbs 6 (although I am going to smuggle in John 15 & 16). God had saved the Israelites, walked them through the Red Sea, guided them in the desert, and provided for them in the wilderness. Yet as soon as Moses is gone for more than a few hours, everybody panics and decides to build an idol of gold.
It is hard to overestimate the severity of rebellion against God. We see the people drunk, dancing in idol worship, and possibly (probably) fornicating — and yet we tend to say, “They just made one mistake. Why did so many have to die?” Then we tend to wonder if God is really as good as we have assumed all along. This is exactly what sinners think.
What do you do when no one in your life understands the plans of God? …when no one understands you? …when everyone is against what is right? …when their opposition makes it harder to even get the basic tasks of life done?
You trust God. Seriously, what else do you think we can do?
Who is even able to dwell in the presence of the Lord? Who indeed.
We have an interesting confluence of our two Reading Plan readings today. Psalm 15 asks us a question that must be answered “No one.” When we read the requirements to be found righteous, we have to admit that no one can keep all of these standards all of the time. And yet, Joseph shows that God does approve those whose hearts strive for integrity of worship.
Yesterday was busy, and I mean BIZ-SAY. Church stuff, home stuff, personal stuff, and prepping for Wednesday night Bible study: Yowsers!
I got a lot done, but do you know what I didn’t do? Read the passages for the Bible reading plan for Wednesday. Oh no, crazy day. Let me tell you what else I didn’t do.
- I didn’t freak out.
- I didn’t quit.
- I didn’t wail that I’m a terrible sinner that never should have even tried to do something right because I knew I would fail and how could God even love me anyway?
Instead, I decided to focus on my options:
- Read Wednesday’s passages today and just be a day behind until Saturday’s meditation/catch-up day.
- Read yesterday and today and just be caught up.
- Read yesterday and some of today, then read the rest of today with tomorrow’s readings.
At one time or another, I’ve done all of these things as I’ve read through the Bible over the years. To steal a phrase from one of my favorite theologians, the Reading Plan was made for man, not man for the reading plan.
The important thing is to be in the Word, and getting to know God better everyday. If you get a little behind, remember that God is actually a person who actually loves you. Some days I spend more or less time with my wife. Some days I play more or less with my sons. Some days I talk more or less with my dear friends. Some days I spend more or less time with my Father in Heaven. We dare not neglect any of these relationships, but we recognize that the most important thing is the consistency and not the daily minute count.
Love the Lord your God and do not lose your heart when you lose the time. Just pick back up and keep reading.
How do you make a decision? I don’t mean when you are trying to decide what kind of sandwich to have for lunch. Those choices are often (and rightly) up to simple personal preference – what tastes good to me, the expense I’m willing to pay, if it fits with my diet, etc.
Rather, I’m talking about the big decisions with potential life-long consequences: whom I will marry, the profession in which I will work, the city I will call my home. The servant of Abraham had just such a mighty issue before him. He had to find the wife for his master’s son.
The servant was not simply matchmaking here. He is much more than a patriarchal Chuck Woolery finding a love connection. Isaac is the future leader of the tribe that has gathered around Abraham – so numerous that kings feared him. The servant’s decision will affect everyone he knows and lives with. His efforts in this matter will have implications for his own children’s futures. It is no small task.
Saturday is our “reflection day” (or catch-up day) in the Reading Plan. I’d like to reflect on yesterday’s reading of Genesis 15-17.
In chapter 15, Abraham asks God to “make good” on his promises from Genesis 12. He asks for a son so that he will have descendants and a family line of his own. God promises him more than he can imagine and asks for a sacrifice of faith.
Abraham prepares the animals and then fall into a deep and dreadful sleep. What we see next is something like an ancient covenant-making ceremony. When two kings would make a lasting agreement with one another, they would sacrifice animals by cutting them in two. After professing their allegiance to one another, each would walk through the two halves of the animals to ratify the relationship. The action was symbolic to say, “If I do not fulfill my obligations, may I become like these animals.”