Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Chance to Meet Jesus

Today's Reading:
  • Matthew 10:1-23
  • Psalm 12:1-8
Read Bible Passages Online
Matthew 10:1-23
In these verses the twelve disciples of Jesus are named. Jesus gives them the ability to heal every type of disease and cast out demons. Jesus sends them out in the world to do his will and spread his name. The journey, however, is scary.

You would think peopble would be overjoyed at the chance to meet Jesus, the chance to be healed and heard and blessed. But this is the world in which Jesus was crucified. I wonder what would I have done? The role of Jesus is well established in my religion today, but if I had been alive for the first coming of Christ, how would I have reacted? Would I have been weary even though I saw the miracles performed? How well would I have known the prophecy – well enough to know that Jesus fulfilled it all? To this day I still don’t know most of the prophecy behind his coming – something that I am working on remedying right this instant by studying the bible.

Without Jesus, would I even have known God? All of those points are irrelevant. I was born in this time period, quite possibly because I would have failed as Christian back then. I will never know. Anyway, I followed this train of thought because as Jesus sent his disciples out he prepared them for the hard times and persecution that would befall them for spreading the word and works of Jesus. These disciples must have been amazing men – despite being told they would be punished, persecuted, flogged and whipped -- they still met the challenge head on.  

Psalm 12:1-8
Another psalm from David, this time about how the godly people are disappearing. I wonder, does it always feel this way? I certainly feel like the numbers are declining, and the world is moving away from Christianity. Of course, it might have always been this way and I’m only now growing up enough to notice it? I’m just thankful that I live in a country where I am not persecuted for my religion. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Laban Chases After Jacob; Wisdom is a Tree of Life

    Today's Reading:
  • Genesis 31:17-32:12
  • Proverbs 3:16-18
Read Bible Passages Online

Genesis 31:17 - 32:12
Today I read about how Laban chased Jacob and caught up with him.  Laban was furious because he thought someone stole his idols, which was the case because his daughter Rachel had taken them.  So this makes me wonder, are these idols of other gods?  Are these idols of God Himself?  What exactly is an idol? When I think of the word "idol", I think of how God tells us not to worship these idols -- whether or not they pertain to him or of anything heavenly.  Rachel was not found out for stealing the idols, which is good since Jacob offered to have the person who stole them killed. 

Chapter 32 starts the story of how Jacob returned home and sent ahead a messenger to Esau.  Jacob then learns that Esau is coming with an army of 400 men to greet him.  Jacob splits up his camp into two in hopes that one of them will survive.  Jacob reminded God of the promises made to him; that he would be treated kindly and up to that point Jacob had so far prospered in response to God's word.  Today's reading ends right in the middle of this story before I get to find out what happened.  Sure, I'd like to find out what happened but leaving it like this gives me something more to look forward to.

Proverbs 3:16-18
Here I read a few more simple but sweet verses about Wisdom.  Wisdom will give you a long life and riches and a delightful, satisfying life.  Then, finally: Wisdom is a tree of life (3:18).  This is really profound.  Here we are told that being wise in our choices can give us a very satisfying life. 

How many of us yearn for a fully satisfying life?  The bigger question is, how many of us actually have a truly satisfying life?  I'm afraid I'm going to spend my whole life reaching for that pinnacle yet never achieving it.  I know that I am on the right path, especially as I am on this journey to truly discover and study the Lord's word and reevaluate and change my life to fit it.  I just pray that I don't fall from this path, and if I do, that I resume back on track quickly.  That I discover the knowledge I need and gain wisdom in all I have experienced, and have yet to experience.

It's amazing how 20-30 minutes of study and reflection can make all the difference in my day, in my life, and in how I see the world around me. I want to join a bible study and learn more and more!  I know, however, if I do that I run the risk of having a burn out and of not giving myself enough time to reflect and question what I'm reading day by day.  At least by starting out like this, I give myself a little bit to reflect upon and savor each day.  When I am through with this study then I will move on to more and more, hopefully for the rest of my life.  After all, I have a feeling this book will never fail to teach me new things -- no matter how many times I read it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jesus Raises A Girl From the Dead

    Today’s Reading:
  • Matthew 9:18-38
  • Psalm 11:1-7
Read Bible Passages Online

Matthew 9:18-38
Here we read more about Jesus and his amazing healing power. He even brought back a girl from the dead! (23:27). He cast demons out, enabled the blind to see and healed all kinds of illness and diseases. How lucky those people were, to literally walk with Jesus! To be preached to and healed by him. And how could anyone who literally saw those miracles choose not to believe?  

Psalm 11:1-7 
Another Psalm from David in which he professes his faith in the Lord to protect him. David also states that the Lord judges the violent and the wicked and loves justice. Honestly, I don’t have much more to comment on about this Psalm – not that the message doesn’t ring true – it’s just that most of the Psalms I’ve read thus far have been very similar.  They are all awesome in how they show how to truly praise the Lord.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Laban the Scoundrel

    Today’s Reading:
  • Genesis 30:1-31:16
  • Proverbs 3:13-15
Read Bible Passages Online

Genesis 30:1-31:16
The battle between Rachel and Leah continued. When Rachel couldn’t conceive, she gave her maid to Jacob. When Leah temporarily stopped producing children, she also gave her maid to Jacob. These women are sisters, yet they would more readily call the offspring of their maid their family than their own nephews and nieces. I can’t imagine spending my entire life fighting for the affection of my husband from another woman, or multiple women.

Laban is quite the scoundrel, isn’t he? First he tricks Jacob into marrying Leah, and then he tries to cheat Jacob out of his share of the flocks when it’s time for him to go. Everything this man does surprises me! But it just goes to show that God was on Jacob’s side, as he ensured that Jacob received his fair share, regardless. If only Laban had been honest, then surely God would have blessed him too for taking care of Jacob.  

Proverbs 3:13-15
These verses teach that Wisdom is the most precious, valuable thing. I know I cherish any bit of wisdom I have. And I always notice that elderly people, when asked if they would go back and be young again, usually say only if they could go back with the wisdom they currently have.

So next time someone your elder gives you advice, don’t shrug it off! Think about it, consider it. They might very well know something that you don't yet realize. They probably won’t be as technically savvy as you, and you might wind up having to explain a lot to them, but listen to when they give you life advice.  They just might know what they are talking about!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Matthew the Tax Collector

    Today’s Reading:
  • Matthew 9:1-17
  • Psalm 10:16-18
Read Bible Passages Online

Matthew 9:1-17
Here we see Matthew, who is a despised tax collector, joins Jesus as his disciple.  I think it’s interesting to note how people were so amazed that Jesus associated himself with those they deemed the sinners. But aren’t those the most important type of people to try to save?

That stigma carries forth even today. Have you ever been too embarrassed to stay with a church because you knew people were looking down on you for your lifestyle or choices? I know I have. But we’re the people that need help! And no matter how well I try or think I’m living my life, I know I will always be a sinner, and never do I ever have the right to think I’m better (or holier) than you or anyone else. I’m sorry, I’m ranting, but I do really get upset with those who think that it’s their job to judge because they uphold a high moral standard. All I can say is, try not to judge. Everyone judges, everyone has opinions, but just remember that the only one with authority to judge another person's soul and intentions is the Lord Himself.

Psalm 10:16-18
Here the Lord is called upon to help the helpless and those in need, and to serve justice to the godless nations. You know, this scares me, because I feel that every day the United States slips further away from God-fearing nation it used to be.  What happened to the motto “In God We Trust”? I have a feeling that we won’t be allowed to have that as our motto for too much longer. It’s just a matter of time before someone sues the government to get that removed. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many good people left in the States, but I can’t help but feel that it’s slipping away so quickly. I just hope we don’t become one of those “godless” nations that the Lord warrants destroying. 

Do you ever worry that there won’t be enough time to “fix” your life before you die, or before the Lord comes back? What would happen if you died today? Do you think the life you led would be satisfactory to the Lord? I highly doubt mine would, unless you get brownie points for good intentions and knowing your own flaws. Hopefully I have enough time on earth to address and change all I need and want to. At least I have gotten started. If you haven’t, I beg you to please start. Don’t wait. At some point tomorrow will be here, but you won’t. What will happen to you then?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jacob is Tricked into Marrying Leah

    Today’s Reading:
  • Genesis 28:1-29:35
  • Proverbs 3:11-12
Read Bible Passages Online

Genesis 28:1-29:35
Jacob has been sent away from Canaan for two reasons: (1) to allow Esau’s murderous rage to dispel, and (2) to allow him to find a non-Canaanite wife. On the journey to Paddan-aram, God speaks to Jacob and affirms that his blessings will be fulfilled through Jacob. Here is where Jacob accepts the Lord as his God and establishes the name Bethel for the land promised to belong to him and his descendants.

I find it odd, however, that Jacob only accepts the Lord as his God conditionally: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God” (28:20). I would think that being the son of Isaac, Jacob would have already affirmed the Lord as his God.

Chapter 29 talks of Jacob and his marriages. Upon arrival to Paddan-aram, Jacob meets Rachel and is taken with her. Rachel’s father (and Jacob’s uncle), Laban, agrees to give Rachel to Jacob in marriage after 7 years of labor. Once that time period was up, Laban tricks Jacob by bringing him Leah instead when it was dark. Can you imagine the betrayal? Laban, after being confronted by Jacob, agrees to give him Rachel – in exchange for 7 more years of work (Rachel was given to Jacob in advance, one week after he married Leah).

Next we learn that Rachel is barren and Leah, being unloved, is blessed with 4 sons. It’s so sad, because with each child, Leah thinks that having a son will make Jacob love her, but he never does. What Laban did was horrible for his entire family. I know that women didn’t have much choice in where they were to be married, and such, but one would certainly hope for a better marriage than one the husband had been tricked into. Poor Leah! And Rachel, who patiently waited 7 years also, has to endure Jacob being married first to another. And poor Jacob! Caught in the middle of it all.

Proverbs 3:11-12 
Here we read a very important message. This message urges us not to get upset when we are disciplined from the Lord, for he does it out of love. Anyone who has children will surely understand this! Isn’t it hard to look at your child’s tears after you’ve punished them? I know my heart tries to melt, and as much as I’d like to pick them up and take it all back, I can’t because I know it’s for their own good. I know it’s hard accepting discipline – especially when one becomes an adult and is therefore not used to being punished anymore. As hard as it is, we just have to remember that it’s because God loves us.  

How I wish that I could funnel all the knowledge of this book directly into my mind, to have all the knowledge now! I am thrilled that I anticipate reading the bible instead of feeling as if it is were chore to do so.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Having Faith in the Lord

    Today’s Reading:
  • Matthew 8:1-17
  • Psalm 9:13-20
Read Bible Passages Online

Matthew 8:1-17
Here we read about the amazing healing powers of Jesus. How could people not believe in a man who could remove sickness and diseases with a touch of a hand? I don’t remember where I heard this, but I have heard that healers were a dime a dozen back then. But surely none came close to the true power Jesus had to heal. It amazes me how people can be faced with the truth and yet turn their eyes away and act like it never happened.

My favorite part of this passage came in chapter 24, where a soldier came up to Jesus and asked him to heal his servant without ever seeing him. He had such faith that Jesus could do that; faith that apparently Jesus had not yet seen in Israel. We take that kind of faith for granted – today we must have faith that the Lord can act without his physical presence. People in the old days got to literally walk next to the Lord. They got to converse with him, they were literally touched by Jesus! Today we have to believe that the Lord can perform these miracles from afar.

 I think it makes it easier for people to deny the Lord's works today, because if they don’t SEE the Lord do it, it can be dismissed as “coincidence.” But it's still heartening that Jesus remarked on the faith the soldier had – faith that Jesus can perform miracles when he’s not right next to someone – faith that we all must have now because we have no other choice if we are to believe.  

Psalm 9:13-20
I read the first part of this Psalm (1:12) a couple days ago.  It consisted of David praising the Lord for overcoming his enemies.  David continues this Psalm by praying for mercy from and vindication to his tormentors.  It then ends with another cry for the Lord to judge the wicked. 

I know that this Psalm is supposed to be a song but it's really hard for me to look at words and imagine them as music -- especially when they don't rhyme!  Yeah, I should know better, but I don't.  I'm sure that if I heard it sung it would be a very powerful hymn.