Summer 2019 Bible Readings

I finished my three year schedule for bible readings. My plan is to start again from the beginning in September. I hope to invite others to commit with me to reading through the bible at that time. Until then, I will reflect on Psalms 120-131, the opening chapters of Mark, and the book of Proverbs this summer.

Wisdom is calling!

“To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.” (Proverbs 8:4)
Wisdom is accessible and available to all people.
It is written into the very fabric of nature… God built it that way.
If we take time to reflect on things, wisdom will reveal itself.
But if we act on impulse or desire, we will soon find ourselves lost.
God created all things by speaking them into being (Genesis 1:1-3).
That same voice still speaks to all people, pointing them to Himself.
This voice of wisdom eventually became human, also known as Jesus.
He also urged people to rethink their lives and choose the good.
He also promised, “those who seek me find me” (Proverbs 8:17).
Is it time for me to rethink my life, my priorities, my habits?
Is wisdom challenging me to reconsider some of my foolish ways?
My life itself is showing me that some of my ways are not good for me.
The voice of God is calling me because He loves me, and wants me to live!
“For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 8:35)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I am hearing Your Voice right now, urging me to rethink some parts of my life. Help me to listen to and respond to wisdom’s call.

Cling to what is good!

“Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 7:3)
This passage is a warning about the seductive power of temptation.
Although the temptation here is sexual, any form of temptation fits in.
What is your weakness, what is the ‘bait’ that Satan uses in my life?
But the point of this passage is to guard yourself against these temptations.
As a Jesus follower, we heed Jesus’s warning to cut off all sin issues.
If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:30)
The point is, don’t take any sin lightly, it is Satan’s way of defeating you.
The wisdom of this proverb is to be just as serious about clinging to what is good.
Bind it to your fingers, write it on your heart (memorize it).
Repeat over and over again what is wise and good and dwell on it (see Philippians 4:8).
As Jesus followers we are not only aware of sin, but we are eager for what is good.
With the Spirit of Jesus in us, we bind ourselves to the good, eager to live it.
In this way we can overcome the persuasive smooth talk of the tempter!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, this makes sense to me, and yet I do not put it into practice enough. Thank You for the reminder about how serious – and deadly – sin is!

The silence of the bystander

“Let us remember: What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander… Let us not forget, after all, there is always a moment when a moral choice is made….”

(Elie Wiesel, survivor of Auschwitz, author, and Nobel peace laureate)

Jesus’s missionary family!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 3:31-35
“Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)
Jesus loves all people, but he loves in a special way those who obey God’s will.
But who actually does this… we all fail to fulfill God’s will for our lives.
But Jesus is announcing good news, that by grace all people can be welcome.
God’s will is that those who repent, trust Jesus, and follow Him, will be accepted.
Look at the mixed of people with Jesus, what do they have in common?
They have all responded with humility and hope in Jesus.
And He trains them to help Him spread God’s grace around the world.
This is God’s will, that we admit our failure, trust His mercy, and help Jesus.
Those who do this have a special place in Jesus’ heart… but why?
Because this is His missionary family who will bless the rest of the world.
Those who know God’s grace will love all people and help them back to God.
As a Jesus follower, I am a member of Jesus’ family by grace!
As a Jesus follower, my calling is to obey God’s will and share His grace with others!
This is Jesus’ mission, and all who join Him have a special place in His heart.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, it’s not problem for me to admit my sinful heart and my need for mercy. Thank You for wanting me to be a part of Your missionary family, that together we can bless our creation family.

Open or closed to the Spirit?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 3:20-30
“He is out of His mind!”… “He is controlled by Beelzebub!” (Mark 3:21-22)
Jesus is warning those who reject what the Spirit is saying through Him.
Their critical, closed-minded response to Jesus is closing them to God’s Spirit.
What they see as crazy and wrong, what they reject as demonic… is actually God!
As Jesus followers, we ought to know that truth can come in strange packages!
Don’t simply reject people because of their perceived flaws or weaknesses.
Always ask yourself, ‘is there something God’s Spirit is saying to me here?’
I’m not saying that everything about them is right and good.
But if we’re critical and closed, we may miss what the Spirit is saying and doing.
In the church there are always new voice speaking in new ways and new emphases.
Too often the church condemned people if what they said didn’t fit their own ideas.
The life and love of Jesus is the litmus test for all truth claims.
In love we listen to others, we give them the benefit of the doubt, and we pray!!!
The Spirit of Jesus will lead and teach us if we’re open, but we have to be open…
As Jesus followers, we don’t want to be guilty of speaking against the Spirit of Jesus!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to be open to Your Spirit. Help me to stay in close fellowship to You, so that I can discern what is from You, and what is not.

Jesus picks me too!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 3:13-19
“Jesus called to him those He wanted.” (Mark 3:13)
Do you remember picking teams as a kid?
I never got to be the one picking, and was usually one of the last picked.
As captain, Jesus makes some odd picks, at least from a human viewpoint.
Peter the big mouth, James and John the ‘Sons of Thunder’, Thomas the doubter?
Judas the money-lover, Matthew the traitor, Simon the fanatical extremist?
These last two must have made Jesus’ journeys interesting.
Matthew was the kind of guy Simon the Zealot would want to kill.
As Jesus manages their differences, we get a sense of how the church works.
Often individual churches are made up of like-minded people (not always).
But imagine what it will be like when all christians stand together one day.
Yes, we can imagine it, because Jesus levels us all, humbles us all.
We’re all quirky misfits in a way, and yet Jesus wants us… Jesus picks me too.
I like Jesus’s team, there is room for everyone!
Now if only WE could start making room for everyone too.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to see my church community as the people You have chosen to be on Your team with me.

When the church needs to be silenced!

“But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.” (Mark 3:12)
Jesus silences the impure spirits, even though what they say is true.
He knows that they are not good press, that they cause more harm than good.
They want to whip up the crowds into rebellious frenzy, to make it harder for Jesus.
They claim the name of Jesus, but do not seek His honour.
As Jesus followers, we have been commissioned to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8).
The church through history has carried the Name of Jesus wherever it went.
But has it always been for His honour, has it always been good press?
The sad fact is many christians have caused more harm than good.
In Jesus’ Name we have enslaved, cheated, taken land and wealth, crushed culture.
Jesus silences demons, but I wonder how many christians He has wanted to silence.
Claiming Jesus’ Name is not enough, we must model the message of Jesus too.
As those saved by grace, we ought to overflow with the same grace for others.
The world may not be opposed to Jesus, but to the church which speaks for Him.
Jesus is challenging me to be sure my deeds support my words as I witness for Him!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I can see how frustrating this must be. Forgive us for allowing impure spirits to mess up our witness for You. And help us to show You with our actions, not just our words.

Saved to do good!

“Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil….” (Mark 3:4)
Do any of God’s laws prohibit doing good for others?
Goodness is God’s original plan, the ‘very good’ of creation restored. (Genesis 1:31)
Jesus saves us SO THAT we can live good lives again; with Him, like Him, for Him!
Consider how many times Paul urges Titus to focus on doing what is good:
— “Set them an example by doing what is good.” (Titus 2:7)
— “A people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14)
— “To be ready to do whatever is good.” (Titus 3:1)
— “Careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.” (Titus 3:8)
— “To devote themselves to doing what is good.” (Titus 3:14)

As a Jesus follower, I am set free from the curse of the Law.
No longer burdened by guilt and failure, I am free to do whatever good I can.
Not to earn God’s love, but because I am loved, and eager to share that love.
I should learn from the laws of scripture, but I am not bound by them.
How can I bless, serve, share or care? — this is what the laws were pointing to.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to look for ways to do good to others today. May the creation experience a little more goodness today, because of me.

A master we can love!

“As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master…” (Psalm 123:2)
In one sense, we are like slaves to God… and yet not.
Slaves to humans are usually treated with contempt.
But in this psalm, God is not the one who abuses humans.
Humans, not God, are the cause of cruelty, contempt, ridicule.
God has assigned care of the world to humans, and it has not gone well.
In this world we constantly face misery, violence and death.
But where do we look for hope, for help, for mercy?
“Our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.” (v.2)
God becomes human to make things right, to rescue humanity.
Through Jesus, and through His servants, God is turning the tables on evil.
He offers grace, mercy, peace, and His ‘slaves’ do the same.
Today the oppressed and burdened are looking for mercy.
When they look to God and Jesus, they see us as His followers.
Are we showing them the mercy of Jesus, or the contempt of humans?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You have been merciful to me; help me to be merciful to others, so that they too can experience the sweetness of our Master’s love.