Saturday, January 5, 2013

Curses and Blessings of the People of Israel (Fearing the Lord)

Today's Reading:
  • Deuteronomy 28:1 - 68
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Deuteronomy 28:1 - 68
Deuteronomy chapter 28 is a really harsh one to get through.  It starts off with the Lord offering blessings for obedience.  He tells the people that if they obey his commands, they will be blessed in all things -- wherever they go and whatever they do, they will be blessed.

The Lord tells them that the rest of the world will stand in awe of this nation claimed by God (28:10).  That verse really struck me -- can you imagine how glorious a nation that is claimed by God and true to His word would be?  Think of the most kindhearted Christian you know -- the person whose light just fills the whole room.  If we were to be an entire nation of people who are truly letting the Lord's light shine, it would be an amazing sight.

The chapter starts to turn real dark at 28:15.  From there to the rest of chapter 28, the Lord talks about the horrible things that will happen if the nation disobeys the Lord.  It's hard to read the rest of the chapter because it so bad -- imagery of women eating the afterbirth and new born babies out of raw hunger (28:57); sons and daughters carted away forever into slavery (28:32); everything they've ever known taken from them and lacking in everything (28:48).  The things described in this chapter are horrifying.

There are some things I had to keep in mind while I read.  First off, I have to remember that I'm reading God's covenant with an individual nation.  Then I had to remember that the Lord took this people out of Egypt in the most miraculous way -- sending horrible plagues down on Egypt and even parting the Red Sea for the escape.  These people lived on food that fell from the sky magically every day and every night.  The presence of the Lord literally lived among them and guided them the entire way.  The Lord was right there among them -- how could they even dare disobey?  What reason would they have to?

And now I have to wonder, are we really that different from them?  We have the instructions of the Lord right in front of us.  I have like 6 copies of the word of God in my house.  The Lord lives inside me, and His works are evident throughout the world.  The Lord provides for me and my family -- He has blessed us greatly.  So what's the difference?  Why shouldn't we be as fearful as the Israelites when it comes to disobeying the Lord?

I guess the answer is that we should.  We should fear to disobey the Lord.  I have seen many references to fearing the Lord in the bible.  But I think that our culture focuses on the love -- which is a great thing.  I certainly focus on the love.  But perhaps I should be a bit more mindful about truly fearing the Lord. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Lord's Prayer (How to Pray); Right Thinking and Quick Tempers

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 10:38 - 11:13
  • Proverbs 12:15 - 17
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Luke 10:38 - 11:13

In Luke chapter 11 verses 2-4, we are given the Lord's prayer.  This is the second time so far that I have read the Lord's Prayer in the bible - the first being in Matthew 6:9-13.  Jesus is responding to a disciple's request to learn how to pray when Jesus tells him the Lord's Prayer.

Jesus then tells his disciples that persistence is key when praying.  Jesus gives an analogy about a man who knocks on another man's door late in the evening.  Eventually the man answered the door and granted the request.  Jesus says the following in chapter 11:
 9 And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeing, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
10  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
I have the feeling that these verses get misused often, as an indication that you can get, well, anything your heart desires.  I would first like to point out that the parable that preceded these verses involved a man who needed bread to feed a guest.  The request was urgent enough that the man just kept knocking -- he needed that food so his guest wouldn't go hungry.  This was a prayer for provisioning, which the Lord WILL provide those who ask.  It might come in the midnight hour but it will come.   

As far as prayers for other things go, I believe that your prayers must align with the will of the Lord in order to be answered.  The Lord knows an infinite amount more than we ever do.  Sometimes we are pray for something with our whole heart; something that we think is in our best interest; something that we think aligns with the will of God; yet we don't receive it.  In those cases we just have to trust the Lord has our best interests in heart.  Many times, later in life, you finally see a blessing in the fact that X thing didn't happen, even though you prayed so hard for it.  It's at those times that catch a glimpse of the glorious beauty of the Lord's plan for you life.  So consider every unanswered prayer to be a blessing.

Proverbs 12:15 - 17
15  Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.
16  A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.
17  An honest witness tells the truth;  a false witness tells lies.
I initially thought verse 17 was a bit ... erm, obvious?  But then I realized, maybe someone doesn't know what a false witness is.  Now if someone asks me, "What is a false witness?"  I can say "a false witness tells lies" and point out where it is defined in the bible instead of the dictionary. Pretty nifty, eh?

It is the first two verses of this reading that really catch my attention.  The subject is Fools -- and fools are taught about all throughout the bible.  It is a bad thing to be a fool, it is the opposite of being wise.  It carries death while wisdom carries life.  So I have learned to pay attention to all the bible says about fools. 

Verse 15 really draws me in, because I have a big problem when it comes to thinking my way is right.  I tend to do a lot of research, research about everything and anything.  When someone needs an answer, I have it, right there.  If someone tries to tell me otherwise, I can point out in an instant where that is wrong.  Pretty foolish, eh? 

Today I re-read Proverbs 3:3:7-8.  Those verses tell us not to be impressed with our own wisdom, and that listening to others will give us healing for our whole body.  Pretty powerful stuff, don't you think?  I really need to work on stepping back and not immediately throwing an answer at someone.  I need to learn to be humble and see what I can learn from another person, instead of only relying on what I can learn for myself.

As far as verse 16 goes, I try not to be quick tempered.  My temper has calmed down a lot over the years.  I still have plenty of room for improvement, though.  I am going to try to a silent chant when I start to get prematurely angry: "A fool is quick-tempered.  A fool is quick-tempered.  A fool is quick-tempered."  Wish me luck -- or better yet, wish the other person luck!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Psalms of Asaph

Today's Reading:
  • Psalm 75:1 - 10
  • Psalm 76:1 - 12
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Psalms 75 & 76
Psalm 76 is a psalm of Asaph.  Psalms 73, 74 and 75 were also psalms of Asaph.  It is interesting to see the contrast between these four psalms.  Psalm 73, the first psalm of Asaph, pondered as to why the wicked prosper.  The 74th Psalm focused on a nation that needed deliverance from its enemies.  I remarked how little praise was in that psalm.  This was a major contrast to the psalms of David, whom praised the Lord even in his lowest of times. 

Psalm 75 is a short psalm that praises the Lord.  All the praise that was missing from the previous psalm was evident in this one.  It opens up by saying "we give thanks because you are near" -- so I wonder if the people are praising the Lord because deliverance was at hand?

The next psalm, number 76, tells of a defeat against enemies at the hand of God.  I think it's interesting how these four psalms together -- 73, 74, 75, 76 -- seem to tell one cohesive story.  This is what I like about studying the entire bible as a whole instead of just individual passages.  You can only divulge so much information from a passage.  The bible is so complex that all these separate passages, themes, stores, etc. all give purpose to one greater understanding. Isn't the bible the most amazing book?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Obeying the Lord

Today's Reading:
  • Deuteronomy 26:1 - 27:26
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Deuteronomy 26:1 - 27:26
The people are preparing to go into the land that Lord has promised them.  They are being given instructions, and if these instructions are followed the Lord will bless the nation.  This passage from chapter 26 caught my attention:
18  The LORD has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands.
19  And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made.  Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown.   You will be a nation that is holy to the LORD you God, just as he promised.
 I think it's important to remember that God expects a commitment out of us when we declare ourselves to be a Christian.  We often focus on the fact that Christ died for us and that we are forgiven of our sins, but the Lord does expect that we obey Him after we accept Christ into our hearts. 

So this is what I'm keeping in mind as I start off the year 2013.  I need to be mindful that I am always obeying the Lord in all I do and say.  This is how I will show the Lord that I love Him.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's Time for me to Fess Up

Alright, it's time for me to fess up and tell you where I've been.  I have let this blog fall by the wayside ever since I started this little thing called grad school.  Yikes.  I was afraid that my graduate studies would get in the way, but saying it got in the way is an understatement.  It has consumed most of my non-working time.  This post is being written during my first break from school -- I have about three and a half weeks between my fall and spring semester.

I have not quit reading the bible, I just had to give myself permission to quit writing about it.  For awhile I was doing neither -- not reading, and not writing -- and feeling mighty guilty about it.  I realized that it was better to keep reading and not writing than it was to not do either.  That being said, I haven't been that faithful to my daily studies. 

It's almost a new year, and with that new year comes the realization that it's been a year since I set this blog up and made the original commitment.  My commitment still stands in that I WILL read through the entire bible and I WILL write about the entire thing, it just won't be in a year's time.  I will try to continue to get posts out, and will commit to doing better than I have in these previous few months.  I am also going to break the posts down further -- currently each post contains two readings, in the future they will contain one.  Anything I can do to keep myself reading, and writing when I can.

Please know that I haven't given up on this blog, and that I will never ever give up my faith or my commitment to study the word of God in its entirety.  May you all have a blessed 2013!