Saturday, January 7, 2012

What the Bible Says About the Death Penalty

    Today’s Reading:
  • Genesis 8:1-10:32
  • Proverbs 1:20-23
Read Bible Passages Online

Genesis 8:1-10:32
It’s amazing how 3 short chapters can supply such a diverse range of topics – from the recession of the flood waters, to punishment of murderers, followed by the curse of Canaan, and finally ending with the re-population of all the nations and the people of the earth. It’s hard to imagine being stuck in a boat (even a large one) for over a year. I mean, they had faith, we know that. They were shown first hand. But it still has to be a bit testy to sit in that boat day after day; night after night. I know they had faith … but they also had to have doubts some of those times, don’t you think?

I no longer have any doubt of the righteousness of the death penalty after reading 9:5-6. God specifically told us that anyone who takes another person’s life will (and should) have their own life taken by human hands. He also says that any animals who kill a person must be killed. So for all those dogs, alligators, bears, whatever – if they kill a person, let the hunt begin. And for those of you who deliberately murder -- an eye for an eye. I don’t say I get enjoyment from finding this to be the case, and I’ve always kept a neutral opinion on the subject, until now. But wow! Two short verses can make my mind up on such a debated subject!

Isn’t the bible just chalked full of the most powerful information? Why haven’t I read it before? I love the lineage lines, and how everything is tracked, down to the nationality of the people. I think I need to be much more of a scholar to truly appreciate and track the lineage. I can certainly see how one can spend their entire life studying the bible, yet still learn new things all the time!

Proverbs 1:20-23
These verses refers to people who refuse wisdom and knowledge as simpleminded fools. Isn’t that the truth? There is an overflow of knowledge in this world, and unfortunately misinformation also runs rampant. I don’t care if a person has a strong opinion, as long as they base it on fact and knowledge, and not on what other people tell them. It kills me to see what people believe because they are too lazy to look up the information themselves and make an informed decision. Make up your own mind. Pursue wisdom. Don’t become a simpleminded fool.

I'm only a few days into my studies and already I’m so interested that I keep thinking about how I’m going to study the bible in a different way as soon as I'm done reading it through this way. I think I’ve discovered a new life passion, one that will never leave me -- and that is to study the bible. There are so many depths to it that I don’t think I can ever view it enough different ways. I think there will always be new, interesting angles to pursue.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Temptation of Christ

    Today’s Reading:
  • Matthew 3:7-4:11
  • Psalm 3:1-8

Matthew 3:7-4:11
This reading covered the baptism and temptation of Jesus Christ. I have heard the baptism story in its entirety, and therefore didn’t learn much new from it, but I didn't really know what the temptation of Christ actually involved.

Fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus passed a series of tests brought on by the devil. In each test, he held strongly onto his beliefs. Now that’s some strong faith! I think I would be about delirious after a week. I don’t know how I could hold on so strongly for 10 weeks. But he, of course, did.

My favorite part was contained in versus 7:5 – 7, where the devil told Jesus to jump off the highest point, and let God save him, to which Jesus replied that you “must not test the Lord your God” (7:7). I am appalled by the thought of those who dare test the Lord. These are the type of people who say “do this for me and I’ll believe,” or, “show me that, and I’ll believe” and so forth and so forth, yet it is never enough for them, because in the end they plain don’t believe. Now, of course there are exceptions, but I just can’t imagine someone taking it upon themselves to call out the Lord like that.

Psalms 3:1-8
Even though I don’t see it in the scripture, my bible credits this Psalm to David. I think it’s wonderful. I love the complete and absolute praise of the Lord, David’s faith that he will prevail through the Lord. It’s no wonder David so completely had the Lord on his side and was such an astounding, prosperous leader.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Noah and the Flood; Ancient Giants

    Today’s Reading:
  • Genesis 5:1-7:24
  • Proverbs 1:10-19
Read Bible Passages Online

Genesis 5:1-7:24
I laughed a little bit when I opened the page to my reading and immediately found a generation list for Adam. It didn’t really answer my question from the other day, though. At least it told me there were more children besides Cain and Abel. I knew that, I was just hoping for a more quantifiable list. But since Adam had 800 child-bearing years, I assume there was plenty of time for colonies to arise before Abel’s murder. The actual point of that particular list was to show the lineage of Noah and lead into the story of the flood.

I found verse 6:4 interesting because it talks of giants being born. These giants were “the heroes and famous warriors of the ancient times.” Now that’s a pretty amazing statement. Could these heroes and warriors be what the ancient considered Greek gods, or perhaps the mortal of offspring of such? I don’t yet know the timelines or locations, or if that’s really a possibility, but if it IS a possibility, that’s a pretty profound statement. I could see how famous giant heroes could evolve into a god-like worship by people over time.  Now that's no excuse for worshiping them instead of the Lord, but it just makes me wonder.

The reading then went on to talk about Noah and the flood.  It has always stunned me that everyone on the Earth could be completely wicked -- wicked enough for God to destroy the entire world. I just can’t fathom a world where everyone in it is wicked, and no one has good thoughts or actions. I wouldn’t want to live in a world like that.

It also makes me wonder if we’re not living in a world that’s close to that ourselves, and we just don’t see it. I don’t believe I’m completely wicked. I know I have wicked tendencies, but I would like to think myself a good person who tries to have God’s favor. But if God were to chose to wipe the earth again, would I be one of the people he wiped out?  I know that so much of that particular situation is gone, and replaced with that of salvation. So, when it comes down to it, I worry if I am really good enough to deserve, warrant, or be salvaged in the end.

The rest of the story pretty much went how I knew it. God flooded the earth for 40 days and 40 nights. What I didn’t know was that, in the beginning of the flood, “waters erupted from the earth” (7:11) in addition to the rains. I can’t imagine the fury of the underground waters erupting like that and the panic the people must have felt as it was happening. This passage also did not answer my question about whether or not this was the first time rain was experienced on earth. I guess I’ll just have to keep my eyes open for more about that as I continue to read.

Proverbs 1:10-19
 These verses advise us to stay away from those who plot to ambush, murder and steal. It ends by saying “Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.” (1:19). That verse is so very true!

I am really happy with all I learned today while reading my passages. It’s amazing how stories and verses you think you know and/or have heard a million times can bring you new perspectives, thoughts, inquiries and feelings as you read them for yourself. I’ve always been so ashamed for never actually reading the bible. So on one hand it’s really hard for me to admit all these lurking (what I feel are “stupid”) questions, that I’m afraid to ask lest I show people my true lack of knowledge. Well, I’m changing that now – one day at a time!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Salvation or Lack Thereof is an Eternal Sentence; One Nation Under God

Today's Reading:
  • Matthew 2:13-3:6
  • Psalm 2:1-12

Matthew 2:13-3:6
Herod was told that the Messiah had been born and was immediately angry and afraid.  In verse 2:16 we learned that Herod had all the baby boys in and around Bethlehem murdered, but Joseph had already been warned in a dream and fled with his family.  The act of ordering the murder of children alone is an unspeakable offense to me, but what makes it worse is the idea Herod really thought he could just kill the Messiah. That somehow Herod could give one order, and just wipe out the fulfillment of the God-given prophecy.  I guess to me the idea is ludicrous, for I know God's power is above all, but so many people think that if they don't believe it, then it doesn't apply to them.  Or they want the proof, but refuse to open their hearts to feel the proof for themselves.

My bible contains a small excerpt on "Herod the Great."  He was a brutal, ruthless tyrant.  He even murdered two of his wives and three of his own sons when he thought they were plotting against him. 

It's easier to deal with the fact that a tyrant like Herod or Hitler never knew salvation, but what of friends?  Friends who are really good people, but they just refuse to believe?  Family you love, yet whom you fear will never turn to know God?  We think of these tyrants and perhaps we feel justified that they will not have eternal salvation, but the fate of the regular -- and perhaps otherwise good person --  who just never found salvation carries the same eternal sentence.  It's tough to think about, isn't it?

Psalm 2:1-12
Psalm 2 tells us that the nations who submit to God will experience joy, while those who attempt to break free of the chains of slavery to God (2:3) will be smashed like clay pots (2:9).  The state of our nation really scares me at times.  I take pride in the fact that we are "One Nation Under God."  But how long will that last?  It surely doesn't feel like we are living in One Nation Under God any longer.
In many schools, the Pledge of Allegiance is banned for that sentence alone.  Lawsuits are filed over publicly displayed nativity scenes.  Stuff like that makes me more angry than anything else -- okay, so you're Atheist and you want to a non-denominational holiday to celebrate?  Fine, celebrate your X-Mas.  But don't take away our holiday in your fight just because you don't want to be reminded that CHRISTmas was founded as a Christian holiday.  I can co-exist with you, can't you co-exist with me?

Where is the Christian's right in all of this?  You have every given right not to believe in the Lord, and I don't protest when I see your non-denominational mickey mouse santa claus.  Why is it that the Christian has fewer rights than the non-Christian?  When did it become such an inconvenience for you to have to drive past a nativity scene?  How does that infringe on your rights?

The state of our nation scares me, and this will probably be a topic you will hear an awful lot about if you continually read this blog.  We have been a strong nation as we were founded UNDER GOD.  But take that away, and there goes our foundation, and with that comes the wrath of God and the end of our prosperity.

It seems the readings today have left me quite bitter!  Not at God, of course, but at all those who shrug away from God, all of those who think that they can best God, all of those who want to tear away our beliefs just because the very idea that there is a God infuriates them.  Compared to many times throughout history, throughout many countries;  even today throughout the world -- the Christians of America have it quite good and easy.  I will try to remember this in the future when complaining about minor annoyances such as nativity scenes.  At least no one is ordering the life of my son or outlawing Christianity from the United States.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cain and Abel (Am I My Brother's Keeper?)

Today's Reading:
  • Genesis 3:1-4:26
  • Proverbs 1:7-9
Read Bible Passages Online

Genesis 3:1-4:26
My reading in Genesis today covered the exile of Adam and Eve and the murder of Abel by the hands of Cain. I have heard the exile story so many times that I really didn't get much extra out of reading it. There were some things about the story of Cain and Abel that left me with questions, however.

The story of Abel and Cain is in chapter four of Genesis. The chapter starts with the birth of the two sons. Then Cain murders his brother and the Lord calls him out on it, sending him to exile. Here is where I'm confused -- he went to another colony, and married, and so forth. I'm just wondering where all the people came from? I mean, it's a given that they're brought forth from Adam and Eve, right?

So I guess I'll just assume that they had many children before Cain and Abel came along, and those children had already had children? I forget that the life spans were phenomenally huge. I just find it odd that no other children were mentioned before Cain and Abel. Perhaps there's a generation list somewhere else I haven't gotten to? I'm interested to know just how many children Adam and Eve actually had.

Proverbs 1:7-9
Wow, three short versus fill me with so many thoughts! Verses eight and nine are about the wisdom of our parents, and the importance of listening and following what they have to say.

I pay attention to what my father has to say to me when he gives advice. When I told my father I wanted to go into accounting, he told me that accounting would be replaced by computing. So I became a computer programmer instead. Was his advice a bit off? Well, yes, for today’s age -- but perhaps it will be true by the time my children have joined the working force. But I couldn’t be happier, especially when it comes to job security, because I know that even if I get laid off, I won’t have much trouble at all moving on. I am glad that I listened to and followed what he had to say.

What I get from my mother is the best gift of all -- the grace of God.  I don't think I would have a fraction of the faith I have now if it weren't for her.  This also ties in beautifully with this message because the first half of verse nine reads “What you learn from them will crown you with grace.”

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Today's Reading:
  • Matthew 1:1-2:12
  • Psalm 1:1-6

Matthew 1:1-2:12
Let me start by saying that I can’t believe I haven’t never attempted a bible reading plan before. All of my other attempts have been to read straight through, and I’ve never made it further than Leviticus. Therefore it was so exciting to read part of Matthew. I actually got to read about the birth of Jesus on my second day of bible study. 

I was dismayed when I immediately came to a generation list, but all that changed when I realized I recognized so many of the names in that list. Jesus came from the noblest of lines! I guess I should have realized that, and I know that I’ve heard it, but I just hadn’t seen it for myself. Another thing that amazes me when I read these lists is that they could even keep track of 42 generations. These days one has to really dig back to get their lineage, but I guess back then they kept that information going forward instead of trying to trace their way back.

The second chapter told about the virgin Mary and the angel appearing to Joseph. I have heard the story over and over again, but what I failed to realize was that Joseph had decided to break off the engagement directly before he was spoken to. I had always heard stuff like “he had his doubts,” but I didn’t know he had called the whole marriage off.

It's hard to even imagine how an unwed pregnancy would affect anyone back then when we live in such different times now. I wonder about the events that led up to that point. How many people knew she was pregnant? What happened to women back then who became pregnant, yet had no one to marry?

Psalm 1:1-6
 1 Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.
The closer I try to become to God, the more I realize how just being in sinful situations tears me away from his presence. It seems I don’t have to “join in with mockers”, because just “stand[ing] around with sinners” is enough to bring me down. I am working at tearing myself away from these situations, but I still surround myself with people and situations that I just shouldn’t be in. I am getting better and I shall continue to work on it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Before Rain Fell from the Sky

Today's Reading:
  • Genesis 1:1-2:25
  • Proverbs 1:1-6
Read Bible Passages Online

Genesis 1:1-2:25
My reading for today started with the story of creation in Genesis. I wondered if I would learn anything at all from it? After all, I didn’t have to read the bible to know the story of creation (or so I thought). But I was surprised by passage 2:6, which remarked that there was not yet rain on the earth. Instead, everything was watered from springs that shot up from the ground.

This made me think back to when saw ‘Noah the Musical’ in Branson, MO. During that show, they kept making remarks at how foolish Noah and his family were, for water had never fallen from the sky before. While watching it, I kept wondering if that were speculation, or if it was supported by biblical text. Again, I hadn’t needed to read the story of Noah in the bible to know it – or so I thought. I am interested to read the story of Noah, and I will pay attention to any mentions of rain as I continue my studies.

Proverbs 1:1-6
These verses gave me an introduction to what Proverbs will teach me. I actually didn’t know what the Proverbs were, exactly, before now. It seems they are a teaching tool – to teach people wisdom and discipline, to teach us how to lead successful, just lives, to give insight, knowledge and discernment. I want to start reading them now! But I shall wait, and pace myself, because I think that reading the Proverbs will be like a daily treat as I wait to see what I will learn next.

This is day one, and it’s a great day! I am so encouraged by all I have learned already. I really think that this time, with the yearly bible timetable, I will finally be able to read the bible through without losing interest.