Friday, May 3, 2013

The Jordan River is Parted; 12 Stones Remain to this Day

Today's Reading:
  • Joshua 3:1 - 4:24
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Joshua 3:1 - 4:24

Today's passage was an amazing read!  The people of Israel began their journey into the promised land.  They followed the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant.  Here is where the amazing part comes into play -- when the priests stepped into the Jordan River with the Ark, the river parted for all to cross! 

When I read that, my mind was blown -- how could there be a whole other water-parting story in the bible that I completely didn't know about?!  Was I slacking off in Sunday school?  What happened here?  The surprise was truly thrilling, mostly because I love the story of the crossing of the Red Sea.  The pure power the Lord demonstrates is breathtaking; yet it's not even a fraction of what he can do.

I then read Chapter 4, verse 9, and became even more excited -- before the river returned to its normal course, Joshua constructed a monument of 12 rocks in the middle of the Jordan River, where they crossed.  The bible says that those rocks are there to this very day.

As I've stated many times before, I absolutely love it when I come across those words in the bible.  To know that these things remain, well -- I would just love to see them.  I don't need visible proof of God's existence -- the entire world is that -- but it sure would be nice to see some of these things that are written in person.

For most of my life, I have had no interest in visiting Israel.  Today, all you hear about are the deaths and wars and dangers over there.  The more I read the OT, however, the more I want to go to Israel, to see the places where Jesus physically walked to earth.  That would be so amazing!  I do plan on taking that trip -- eventually.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Carry Your Cross and Follow Me - Becoming a Disciple of Christ

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 14:7 - 35
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Luke 14:7 - 35

Following Jesus completely requires our entire heart and soul.  It requires giving up all the things we think define us.  Chapter 14 of Luke was a hard one to read because it really forced me to think.  Starting in verse 25, Jesus told the large crowd that was following him around what it would cost for them to truly be a disciple of Christ. 

Jesus told the people that they must love him so much that they hate everyone else by comparison - family, spouses, children, even themselves (14:26).  Jesus told the people that they would need to carry their own crosses (14:27) in order to follow him.  He then says that they would have to give up everything they own to follow him (14:33).

Reading passages like this one makes me feel widely inadequate as a Christian.  I know there are many people out there who do this very thing to this day - they preach in areas where following Christ could easily mean the death of them.  They give up their possessions, they become poor - they give up everything and go out onto the world as disciples of Christ.  Those, I think, are the most blessed of people on this Earth. 

I need to reevaluate myself -- what am I truly doing to follow Christ?  

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Discipline from the Lord

Today's Reading:
  • Proverbs 12:26 - 13:1
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Proverbs 12:26 - 13:1

Proverbs is one of my favorite books in the bible because it truly tells how to live a godly life and how to become truly wise.  Today's reading is four verses from Proverbs, which I haven't read yet - so let's see what words of wisdom I have in store for me today!

12:26  The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.
I do try to give good advice to my friends.  Good advice, in my opinion, is telling the person what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.  It is also telling them the truth, not some lie that will make them feel better at the moment but will make it hurt more down the road.  I have friends who give me good advice, and those friends are treasured in my heart. 
12:27  Lazy people don't even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find.
When I read this verse, I thought of the saying "waste not, want not."  This was odd to me because this translation (NLT) uses the word "diligent" to those who make use of everything they find, whereas the dictionary defines it as "Having or showing care and conscientiousness in one's work or duties".  Regardless, we are being told to make the most of everything we have, and this is definitely something I need to work on!
12:28  The way of the godly leads to life; that path does not lead to death.
I have seen this over and over and over and over; yet the message rings true each time.  Being godly, being wise; that is the path to life.  It is the path I want to be on!
13:1  A wise child accepts a parent's discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction.
When I first read this verse, I didn't know what to think about it - how could a child really decide he or she wants to become wise.  In other words; how is this relevant?  Then it hit me - duh! - we are all children of God.  And for us to be wise children of God, we must accept discipline and correction from our Father with a happy heart.  I have children, and I know the reason I discipline them is because I love them.  I want them to be happy, I want them to be safe, I want them to be healthy, I want them to be well managed, functioning adults.  I want them to live a long, happy life.  When I think of discipline from the Lord in this manner, it reminds me that the Lord somehow manages to love me!

Monday, April 29, 2013

An Introduction to Joshua

Today's Reading:
  • Joshua 1:1 - 2:24
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Joshua 1:1 - 2:24

Today is a monumental day, because today I started the book of Joshua.  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Number and Deuteronomy as well as many parts of the New Testament- those are all books that I have at least read parts of here or there over the course of my life.  Joshua is one that I have yet to ever even begin to read.  Don't get me wrong - I know the most famous story of Jericho - but I have not yet read it.  So today I embark on a journey further into the Word of God; and I am very excited to do so.

Joshua was the appointed successor of Moses - he was the man who was to lead the people of Israel into the promised land.  He had the full support of the people he was leading (1:16-17) and they were ready to take the promised land for themselves. 

Joshua sent out two scouts to spy on the area around Jericho (2:1).  Those scouts met a prostitute named Rahab who had remarkable faith in the Lord (2:11).  Rahab hid the scouts from the king's men and helped them to escape the city after the gates had been closed.  In return the scouts agreed to spare Rahab and her family, so long as she remained true to her oath not to betray them.

Chapter two ends with the scouts recounting the fact that the people were already terrified of the Israelites (2:23).  It looks like I should soon be reading the account of the battle of Jericho.  I am very excited to continue my studies!