Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

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God's Way Includes Me

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

BIBLE READING: Psalm 67

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations." (Psalm 67.1-2)

God’s nature is the primary reason for our praise. He is gracious and eager to bless humanity. He considers the affairs of all people and acts with justice and equity. Whatever he sets his face towards both benefits and flourishes (see also Psalm 1.3; 92.12). Even the most consistent [and taken-for-granted] earthly processes are a result of God’s goodness (Psalm 67.6; see Genesis 8.22). 

God’s sustaining grace is two-fold: That he may be known and that he may be trusted to save from the futility of this world (Psalm 67.2). In a world riven by human passions, we crave stability. We long for consistent leadership where justice prevails. We desire goodness and prosperity. While these things are outside our control, it is God who orchestrates them in his time. 

All this implies that without God’s blessing and grace, these things would not exist. How easily (and often) do we overlook the sustaining nature of God? We can carelessly get caught in the logistics of life and neglect the constant need for God. As the psalmist said, “If the LORD had not helped me, I would have died” (Psalm 94.17, paraphrased). Our lives of faith must include moments of reflection on God’s magnificent power. 

When we do this, we are reminded of something incredible: God’s power is for us. God’s way is towards us. In all the splendor of creation, God intentionally circles back to humanity. Ultimately, through Jesus, God stepped back down into this world to show us his way. Because of who he is, God’s way includes you and me. 

And yet, how often do we go our own way (Proverbs 14.12; Isaiah 53.6; 1 Peter 2.25)?

As the psalmist considers the goodness of God, he sets his attention to praise (Psalm 67.3, 5). He calls us to position ourselves in fear before God the Giver (Psalm 67.7). As trite as it may seem, to praise and affirm the sovereignty of God is the driver of our faith. His nature does not change (Psalm 102.25-27; Malachi 3.6). This fact sustains not only our lives but our hope, and matures us in humility. And so, in the good times, let us appreciate his grace; and in the bad, let us be steadfast in hope, always giving praise and thanks. 

“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.” (2 Chronicles 29.11-13)

God's Steadfast Love

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

BIBLE READING: Psalm 57

“I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” (Psalm 57.9-10)

Although David is remembered as a man after God’s own heart, his life was often troubled and tumultuous. Early on, his military success put him at odds with king Saul who saw David as a threat (1 Samuel 18.15, 28-29). At least twice Saul tried to pin David to the wall with a spear (1 Samuel 18.11). Ultimately, David was forced to live on the run as Saul pursued him with military force (1 Samuel 24.2). 

You can imagine the distress in David’s heart and mind. He was in such chaos he pretended to be a madman (1 Samuel 21.13-15). Emotionally he became desperate, trying to convince himself everything will be ok. “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!” (Psalm 57.7)

These are the circumstances in which he penned Psalm 57. You would expect the fervid emotions, but this psalm is also surprisingly optimistic. Although hiding out in a cave with his enemy around the corner, David gave glory to God and affirmed what he believed God would do (Psalm 57.2-3). David’s prayer reminds us how critical it is to not only seek God but to praise him in difficult situations. 

“God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!... Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!” (Psalm 57.3, 5)

We can speak boldly about how much we trust God, but the rubber meets the road when situations are beyond our control. Do we trust that God is faithful to do what he said he will do? God had promised David the throne (1 Samuel 16.1, 13) and David trusted this would happen. When situations seem desperate, our natural inclination is to consider our options when, instead, we need to rehearse the promises of God. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13.5)… “Trust in the LORD with all your heart… he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3.5-6).

The hardest part of faith is waiting and trusting. We want suffering to end now. We want resolution from our situation so we can move on. We want to see the goodness of God at work in our current situation. This will almost never happen on our time schedule (Ecclesiastes 3.11). We must learn to wait on the Lord (Psalm 27.14). As with David, “God is a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46.1). When things seem helpless, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel for those who trust in God. We must resolve to affirm God’s faithfulness and power by remembering what he has done for believers like David. 

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” (Psalm 27.13)

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The LORD of hosts is with us…” (Psalm 46.10-11)

Choosing a Good Name

Monday, August 10, 2020

BIBLE READING: Proverbs 22

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22.1)

Enron was the largest oil and gas conglomerate in the late 1990’s. They were making money left and right, and their stock was through the roof. Everybody was investing in Enron back then. But then the bottom fell out. They were exposed committing corporate fraud, filed for bankruptcy, and the company collapsed. In the years that followed, the company tried to get itself back together and move on, but nobody wanted anything to do with “Enron”. In order to move past everything, the company was forced to change its name. 

In our world having money will allow you to do a lot of things. It allows us to have influence over people, which can do good and encourage change. But the father says having a good name is better than that… why? We learn from experience that our name means something, and it matters what people think about when they hear your name. You can be the wealthiest person in the world, but if people think you’re a scoundrel it doesn’t matter what you have. 

What this proverb teaches is the power of influence and integrity. A good name is valuable because it demonstrates that we are people who do what we say we’re going to do ... and that is worth more than any amount of money.

For Christians, this should matter to us. I know you can’t control everything people think about you, but you can control your decision to do what it right, regardless of the circumstances. “Live such good lives among [those of the world] that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2.12, NIV)

What do people think of when they hear your name? 

Christians should be people that are consistent, trustworthy, and prudent. But there is more at stake than just our reputation. We are stewards of Jesus’ name. Those who do not know him will judge him based on our lifestyle and actions. Sadly, we have seen this taken lightly, and why many slanderously call Christians “hypocrites”. As ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5.17), we have a serious responsibility to uphold the honor of Jesus. This means, we must “Look carefully how [we] walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time…” (Ephesians 5.15-16) and “As much as depends on you, live at peace with all men” (Romans 12.18).

We will not win people to Christ through our accomplishments, abilities or what we have to offer them, but by showing them the life of Christ. His name is above every other name (Philippians 2.9); his integrity and faithfulness beyond all others (Deuteronomy 7.9; 2 Timothy 2.13). We honor his name when we emulate his compassion, mercy and love to others (1 John 2.6). When others talk about you, does it help or hurt the name of Jesus? 

“Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.” -Anonymous 

Our God, He is Alive

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

BIBLE READING: Psalm 53

"The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”” (Psalm 53.1)

To say the sun isn’t real does not make it true or cause the sun to be non-existent. It is clearly seen by everyone. We may debate how to define it’s existence, but its being is a matter of objectivity. So it is with God. “His invisible attributes are clearly seen” (Romans 1.20); so, to reject God is to reject reality.

These verses immediately call the atheist to mind, but they press further to also depict someone living thoughtless of God’s reality. God looks down from heaven and sees everything that is going on (Psalm 53.2), and yet this person lives unaware of God’s presence (Psalm 53.3). They make choices based on their own understanding, and do not consider God.

There are certain immutable traits about God we quickly admit but far too often fail to consider. If I believe that God exists (Hebrews 11.6) and that he sees my every move, shouldn’t I be considerate of how I live my life before him? We do this with our bosses, people of authority, and those with whom we are trying to gain favor… why then do we sometimes fail to do this with God?

Whether intentional or not, thoughtless living is foolish living. It is ignorant, and, frankly, is an affront to God (Malachi 1.5-14). He has revealed himself as our Maker, and his expectations for our existence. In fact, he continually reveals himself, using his creation as a witness to his existence so that we would not live thoughtless of him (Psalm 19.1-6). And so we are without excuse (Romans 2.1).

All of us will neglect God and go our own way (Romans 3.10-23, cf. Psalm 14), but by His grace and mercy we have opportunity to make better choices (Romans 6.1, 12-14). Since this is the case, then what sort of people ought we to be in response? (2 Peter 3.9).

We may not come out and say ‘there is no God’ but sometimes we live as if he doesn’t exist. We become near-sighted and caught up in the logistics of this life. The foolishness of these choices are not always evident now but they will be some day ( 1 Thessalonians 1.5-10). We need to set our minds on things above (Colossians 3.2), as we wait for what God has promised. This is our confident hope: “There is a God, He is alive, in Him we live, and we survive.”

“...what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, ... since you are waiting for [this], be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation...” (2 Peter 3.11-12, 14-15)

He is Distinctly Different

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

BIBLE READING: Psalm 50

“…every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hill, and all that moves in the field is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fulness are mine.” (Psalm 50.10-12)

My toddler is in the “this is mine” phase. She takes pillows off the couch, food from pantry, or clothes from our dresser, holds them close and declares “this is mine!” Sometimes it is selfish and other times she uses it to do something nice like “give” us a present. We always laugh because we know none of it actually belongs to her… but she doesn’t understand that yet. 

It appears God’s people had taken this same approach in worship. They offered sacrifices as though it were some great thing they were giving to God (Psalm 50.8-9), but He simply reminds them “I am God…” (Psalm 50.7). The sacrifices God required were not a gift from man to God, but a submission to give back to God (Psalm 50.7-11). 

Even today God’s people have nothing of physical value to offer Him. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24.1). The most “valuable things” in this world ultimately belong to God and therefore speak to His greater glory (Haggai 2.7-9). This does not mean we have nothing to give. However, because He is Creator and we are created, He doesn’t ask us to consider His needs. He tells us to obey his commands (Exodus 19.5-6; John 14.15). To impose our think-sos or ignore His words (Psalm 50.17; 2 Thessalonians 1.8) are an affront to His existence. 

“you thought that I was one yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.” (Psalm 50.21)

God is relationally similar to us, which makes it is easy to humanize God. Like a child with limited understanding, we assume because we get hungry, tired, frustrated, annoyed etc. God feels the same things we do, in the same ways. But He is distinctly different, and we must not treat Him as our contemporary.

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and perform our vows to the Most High and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Psalm 50.14-15)

Although He doesn’t exist as we do, we are designed as vehicles of His goodness and holiness (Psalm 50.5-6; Ephesians 1.4). He gives to us so we will benefit and bless Him in this world. We only know about God what He has revealed to us. We must be cautious not to impose on Him our characteristics and rationale. Rather, in humility, we ought to be thankful for what we are given and take it seriously. 

“Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart and there be none to deliver! The one who offers thanksgiving as a sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50.22-23)

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