Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I realized a few things as I read. First, God loves every single human being more than I can imagine. He loves you and me and everyone else with an infinite love, regardless of the positive or negative choices we've made in the past and continue to make day by day. In numerous ways, God calls people to Him so that He can give us life. This calling doesn't happen once and if rejected, never again. So many stories in the Bible show God calling people back to Him over and over and over again. He allows our choices to play out so that we can see that God's way is better. But in our misery or in our joy, God continues to call us back to Him.
I also learned that my relationship with God is based on my heart, not on my actions. Many texts, especially in the gospels, address the need for a clean heart, a pure heart, an undefiled heart. By spending time with God in prayer and in Bible study, I can become more like Him. When my heart becomes more like God's, my actions reflect what's on my heart. This is where keeping the commandments comes into play, honoring God with my actions because my heart is like His. I can't earn my way into heaven or God's favor. That's not what He wants from me. Instead, He desires my love and that my love would translate into actions.
Another glaring realization is that my priorities need to be rearranged. Life is not about having fun, following my own pleasures and enjoyments. Instead, I need to learn more about God, become more like Him, minister to my husband and to all the people I come in contact with. By doing this, I can be a great witness to the love of God. By loving like God loves, I can show people that I serve an awesome God and hopefully they will want to know more.
The last thing I learned is that both myself and often the Christian church in general places too much of an emphasis on the things of life that aren't that important. I have judged people on their appearance, criticized them for lifestyle choices, and felt superior because I "know more" or am "farther on my Christian walk" than someone else. However, wearing jewelry, eating meat, and watching movies, all these different lifestyle choices, are a choice and a conviction between an individual and God. It is not up to me or any church to dictate how someone lives their life.
As an individual and as a collective Christian family, we need to focus on the greatest two commandments - loving God and loving other people. This is the greatest joy and responsibility we have. This should be our focus every minute of every day. After all, a Christian is someone who takes on the ministry of Christ. Loving others. Pointing the way to God.
I would recommend reading the Bible in 90 days to everyone who would possibly be interested. It has opened my mind to new ideas and a new way of thinking. It really is a life changing experience and offers a unique perspective of God, His children, and our relationship to both.
Monday, March 29, 2010
It feels great. I have thoughts, but I'm going to post on Wednesday about the entire experience. It was a blessed one!
I marked several great promises in Jude and Revelation.
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne
I especially love this last verse. This is talking about Christ, as He was the one who created all things. He is worthy to receive glory and honor and power. Why? Many reasons, but also for the one listed here. Christ is our creator. He provides life for every living thing. And I really like the last part of the verse. For Christ's pleasure I exist and I was created. Christ created ME for His own pleasure. I can't help but want to praise Him and serve Him in every way I can.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Today's reading covered 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John. I marked another wonderful promise. I really do think that there are many beautiful promises in the Bible if we take the time to look for them.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is
1 John 3:1-2.
Praise the Lord. I can't wait to see God face to face, to really see Him as He is.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Before church this morning, I read Hebrews and James. Hebrews is a book I definitely need to study soon as it has a lot of information and guidance on Abba and Christ. I find the study of the sanctuary fascinating and much of the heavenly application is in Hebrews.
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted
These two verses tell me that Christ wanted to be made like us so that He would understand what we struggle with. Christ was tempted, the most famous temptations being those in the wilderness immediately after His baptism. Because Christ was tempted and overcome, He is able to succor (come to the rescue, aid, help) us deal with our temptations.
Along that same vein of thought:
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need
Because we have a High Priest who was tempted like we are, we can boldly come to the throne to find mercy, grace, and help whenever we need it. Praise the Lord! He is very good.
Friday, March 26, 2010
This morning I read 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. It was enjoyable reading and there was a lot of really good instruction included.
One of my struggles, as I mentioned fairly early in this challenge, is the idea of perfection being required by God. I've been assured by several people, including two pastors, that the idea of perfection is not about sinlessness but about love. I still need to do an in depth study for myself, but today I found two really powerful passages about that topic.
To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13.
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses
1 Timothy 6:11-12.
Maybe it's really not about doing all the right things, but instead about loving everyone as Christ loves me. When I love people, I will desire their good and try not to hurt them. I think that is where works comes into play, but only as an outpouring of love. I think the focus should be on love. Love God. Love your neighbor. The rest will follow naturally.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Today I read Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. There were a lot of really good verses in those three books.
This was my favorite passage:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ
It is long, but speaks volumes. To God be the glory!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Today's reading covered all of 2 Corinthians and Galatians. In 2 Corinthians, Paul offered an appeal.
2 Corinthians 6:2.
Now is the day of salvation. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Not next month. Not next year. Today is the day to decide that God's way is right. Today is the day to accept His offer of eternal life. Now is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation. Embrace it.
Abba, Father. Change me. Make me like You. Show me Your glory.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I haven't been reading much lately. Once I started having more energy after being sick (for over three weeks!), my reading dropped dramatically. The cleaning and most of the cooking fell by the wayside while I was sick and now I feel a desperate need to catch up.
With that said... I'm going to keep my reading list short this month. If I get to each book, great. If not, that's okay. The library will carry them again next month. I tell myself that but I also feel compelled to finish every book on my shelf...
Emma, by Jane Austen - I'm half way through this book, reading it for the first time. Pride and Prejudice is better, though I am enjoying Emma.
Beguiled, by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand - I received a review copy of this book and really need to get it read and post a review on my blog. I think I've read almost every book that Gist has published thus far and am looking forward to reading this one.
The Rewards of Simplicity, by Chuck Pierce - Another review copy that I really need to read soon.
My Life in France, by Julia Child - I believe this was on my list last month but I've only just started it. I need to finish this one shortly as it's due back at the library in a little over a week.
And that's it for my list. My priorities right now are spring cleaning our entire apartment, trying out new vegan recipes, and learning Japanese. Finishing the Bible in 90 Days project is in a category of its own and will be finished next Tuesday. Maybe my reading list will be more intensive in April.
I marked another promise that is really encouraging to me.
1 Corinthians 10:13.
This text tells me that I am not alone in my struggles. First, other people experience some of the same issues that I fight with. Second, Abba is not going to allow me to be tempted more than I can handle with His help. When temptations come, Abba provides a way of escape.
Too many times, I fight with temptations and fall. I need to keep my eyes on Him and He will provide a way for me to escape the temptations. All I need to do is ask.
Monday, March 22, 2010
When I started reading, I immediately found a text that is a wonderful promise.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith
Where is the righteousness of God revealed? Not in works. Not in our actions, much as we love to believe that our good works will earn us entrance to heaven. The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel of Christ. Amen!
I also came across another of my favorite promises:
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together
There are so many promises and assurances in these three verses. My favorite is the word "Abba." In the Aramaic, this word literally means "my father." This is the term Christ used as He was praying in Gethsemane.
Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible says this about the word Abba: "It denotes an affectionate endearing importunity, and a believing stress laid upon the relation. Little children, begging of their parents, can say little but Father, Father, and that is rhetoric enough."
There are two terms used in both Romans 8:15 and Mark 14:36, "Abba" and "Father." Abba is Aramaic for "my Father," which is what the Jews call God the Father. "Father" is actually the Greek word "pater." Why are there two different words for God the Father in one verse? Matthew Henry writes that "it also denotes that the adoption is common both to Jews and Gentiles: the Jews call him Abba in their language, the Greeks may call him patēr in their language; for in Christ Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew."
And in Romans, we are given the ability to call God the Father by the same term that Christ used. Even though I am struggle with sin, I can have a very close relationship with Abba. That's amazing!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I don't have any stories of God saving me from death by persecution or disaster. But I do have other practical stories of how God has led in my life. One of the clearest examples is how I've been in five car accidents and only have a twinge in my shoulder because of it. I was protected in each car accident when the other drivers were not paying attention.
Also, last year both my husband and I were out of work for six months. In that time, we had a bit of help from family members and very small unemployment checks. That income did not add up to our expenses/bills/debt payment. And yet we were able to pay tithe and pay every single bill that was due during that six month period. On time. It was a miracle because no accountant could have made that situation work.
God is very, very good. We just have to open our eyes and see it.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I also have a question about a text. I can't build doctrine on only one text, but this is the first time in this read-through that I'm seeing this idea.
My first thought is that I'm not understanding King James' Version of this text and that I need to look it up in another translation.
Nope, they all say the same thing.
The simplest explanation is that every single person who heard the message believed. Everyone is chosen. But I'm not sure that is what this text says.
I am reminded of this text, from the mouth of Christ:
I will definitely need to study this further.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Jesus' love amazes me.
Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home
While Jesus was dying on the cross, He thought of others. He forgave the thief for his sin. He placed His mother in John's care. He prayed for the forgiveness of the officers who were crucifying Him.
If I was undergoing difficulties, would my first thought be for someone else? Based on past experience, no. I want that pure love that Christ had for everyone around Him. "Amazing love! How can it be that You, my King, should die for me."
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Christ is so important. He is our connection to our Father. He is the giver of life. He is the Creator. The Saviour. The law-giver.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing
These two verses are packed with information and guidance. Christ instructs us to abide in Him. Not only that, but He will abide in us. A vine gives nutrients and life to its branches. Christ gives us instruction and life. If I abide in Him, I will bring forth much fruit.
What is the fruit?
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God
Christ gives us fruits of righteousness if we abide in Him. This is important because it offers glory and praise to the Father. Amen!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The reading covered Luke 21 through John 5. I love John. It's my favorite gospel. I feel John is packed with great advice, information about Christ, and motivational verses. John even starts out wonderfully.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men
This tells us that the Word is Christ. He existed in the beginning and is God. Christ created the world and formed Adam with His own two hands. For some reason, this makes the creation story so much more personal. Jesus Christ, the one who offered up His life for me, created cats and trees and water and whales and MAN. Not only did Christ create us, He is life. He is our life source. My overwhelming response is gratitude. What an amazing gift.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I marked one passage during my reading.
For some reason, I only knew this passage as it is worded in Matthew.
The first part of each passage is identical. The second half is where they differ. Matthew says that my Father will give me "good things" if I ask. This is how I've always understood this promise. However, Luke says that my Father will give "the Holy Spirit" if I ask. Luke's version is so much more powerful. Good things are always a blessing. But the Holy Spirit being in my life is vitally important. This passage promises that I all I have to do is ask.
Monday, March 15, 2010
I don't have anything specific to say about today's reading. I just read with a sense of sadness that the gospels are such a short account of such an important life. Christ's life should span 1,000 books. We have that much to learn from Him.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I noticed something today that made me very uncomfortable. As I was reading through the stories, I realized that I was concentrating on what other people were doing. For instance, in reading the story of Christ and the rich young ruler, I was focusing on the rich young ruler. In the story of Jesus and Caiaphas, I focused on Caiaphas and the false witnesses. While I believe there is much to learn from the stories of other human beings, my focus is in the wrong place.
The Bible is supposed to be a revelation of Jesus Christ and His Father. While reading it, I should be concentrating on what I can learn about God. Learning from the mistakes of others is beneficial. However, I want to be like God. In order to do that, I must study the character of God, His actions while on Earth, and how He deals with people. To become more like Christ, I must study Christ more than I study other sinful people.
I'm going to read the Bible again and intentionally direct my focus to God instead of people. I think I'll learn more that way.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
I've noticed in many of the healing miracles that Jesus is asking people to have faith before they are healed. He will ask them if they believe Jesus can heal them. Or He will ask them to rise up and walk. When the person makes the effort to rise, that is when they are healed. We can't just ask miracles of God without having faith that He will perform them. It is when we believe that we begin to see Him working in our lives.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I don't have any specific thoughts and I didn't mark any passages while reading. I'm glad that Christ came to live on earth for awhile but disappointed and saddened that He was killed. Why are human beings so threatened by anything different? We tend to live in our own little bubble, only socializing with people who agree with all of our religious and lifestyle beliefs. The Jewish leaders had their ideas of what it meant to be Jewish. Christ threatened their security. And for that they killed Him.
I don't want to get so zealous about minor issues that I fail to see the big picture. Christ criticized the Jewish leaders because they tithed mint but failed to grasp the ideas of judgment, faith, and mercy (Matthew 23:23). Tithing was and is important, but mercy is more important. It's important to have lifestyle standards like dress and food but even more important to love people. If your attitudes about what other people are wearing gets in the way of loving them, it's time to take a step back and analyze your religion. If my beliefs about food are causing me to judge others, I need to look at my priorities. People are more important than anything else and we are called to love.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men
This idea makes me a bit nervous. Christ is telling the scribes and Pharisees that while they think they are doing all the right things, they are actually being hypocrites. They are keeping the commandments, making up all these little rules for themselves that will make commandment keeping easier. But Christ calls their bluff. He tells them they are worshiping in vain because their hearts are not in the right place.
My church, like all churches, teaches that they are a commandment keeping church. They have guidelines that are supposed to keep people on the straight and narrow. Guidelines about jewelry, makeup, worship, music, food, etc. But if my heart isn't in Christ, my worship will be vain. I pray that God will keep my spirit teachable, that I will love Him and everyone else with the purest of intentions.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The chapters today covered Zechariah 11 through Matthew 4. Right away, I marked another Messianic prophecy.
And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD
My study Bible has a footnote regarding this verse. Mosaic law dictated that when an ox killed a slave, the ox's owner was to pay the slave's owner thirty shekels of silver as a reimbursement for his loss (Exodus 21:32). According to Judas and the chief priests, Christ was worth only the price of a dead slave. How tragic that the King of everything was sold for the price of a dead slave. How could He be so devalued?
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Between yesterday and today, I read Obadiah through Zechariah 10. Tomorrow I start reading the New Testament!
I marked down several more Messianic prophecies.
This last passage shows me what is really important to God.
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
God doesn't want thousands of burnt offerings or my first born child sacrificed on an altar to forgive my sins. What does He want? That I do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. Such simple requirements but so hard to follow. I pray that God will give me a spirit that will want to follow Him.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
I am noticing a theme across the Bible. I don't believe this is the only theme, but I think it's a major theme of the Bible. What is it? God loves us and keeps calling for us to return to Him. I know I've posted at least a few texts about God calling Israel back to Him, pleading with them to give up their stubborn ways and return to the life Giver.
And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil
No matter what Israel did, whether it was idolatry, murder, distrust, corrupt kings, sexual perversion... God called Israel back to Him. The people didn't always listen, but God kept calling. I know it is the same with us today. No matter what we've done, God keeps calling us back to Him so that we might have life. I hope we listen.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Today I read Daniel 9 through the end of Hosea. This is the first time I've read through Hosea since reading Redeeming Love. That book really touched me so I was excited to read through Hosea, the story that inspired Redeeming Love.
It amazes me that God told Hosea to marry a prostitute who was still living in sin. I understand the symbolism. God wanted Israel to understand His love for them and illustrated it through Hosea and his wife. But Hosea's wife left him and went back to prostitution. God told Hosea to retrieve his wife from prostitution. Hosea paid for her to bring her back into his home (Hosea 3:2). He paid for his own wife to escape prostitution. That's how important it was to him.
I love the imagery in this verse:
I want to sow righteousness and reap mercy. It is time to seek the Lord until He comes and rains righteousness upon His people!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
A few days later, I received an email stating that there were several nonfiction books eligible for book reviews. I chose one that sounded like something I would borrow from the library and read. The email said that requests will be filled as books are available, so I wasn't sure I would receive one.
My book came in the mail today! I'm going to be reading The Rewards of Simplicity: A Practical and Spiritual Approach. This is definitely something I would have chosen from the library and it also fulfills one of my 2010 reading challenges.
Now I need to read the book and write an honest review of it, discussing why I liked or disliked it. I'm really excited about both the book and the chance to review it.
I did find one text that reinforces the idea that a heart change comes before behavior modification.
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them
In these verses, God says that He will give us a new heart and His spirit. When that happens, we will walk in God's statutes, keep His judgments, and do them. That is powerful. It's not my determination that will cause me to keep God's commandments. Instead, I need to ask Him for a new heart, for His spirit in me. As a result of that new heart and His spirit, I will want and be able to follow God's laws out of love to Him and others around me.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
So many people think that God is vindictive, that He takes delight in punishing people for their sins. But this text says that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. In fact, God pleads with people to abandon their wicked plans and actions so that they can live. God wants all people to live, not die because of their bad choices. The Bible is very clear in that.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
God says about a faithful man and his son:
And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour's wife,
Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,
Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him
So, if a father is faithful and has a son who sins, that son will be held accountable for his own sins. BUT -
That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour's wife,
Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,
That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live
So if the father sins and the son learns from those sins and decides not to repeat them, he lives. I find this very comforting, that a person will not be held responsible for the sins of their parents. On the other hand, a person can also not ride on the coattails of their parents and expect to get into heaven. It is all decided on an individual basis.
Monday, March 1, 2010
This morning I read Lamentations and Ezekiel 1 through 12. I don't want to take things out of context, but I really hope this promise can be applied to me personally as well as having applied to Israel in the past.
That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God
I've been praying lately that God will give me a new heart. This passage shows that the order of our spiritual walk is: 1 - A new heart. 2 - Keeping God's commandments. We don't keep God's commandments in order to gain a new heart. Instead, we can pray that God will give us a new heart so that we can keep His commandments. I think that order is very important because otherwise humans tend to focus on works and what we can do to earn our way into heaven. But we have it backwards. We can ask God for a new heart and that will enable us to keep His commands. It's much easier and keeps us from taking pride in our own accomplishments. All I have to do is ask.