Monthly Archives: April 2011

Leviticus 27; Psalm 34; Ecclesiastes 10; Titus 2

Oh, the heart of David. He makes it personal in Psalm 34. No complicated theology, just picture upon picture of a good God who loves and protects His people. David knew from experience that the LORD can be trusted and he is so thankful.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears (verse 4)

David has experienced God’s goodness firsthand and he wants all the saints to experience it with him.

Taste and see that the LORD is good;

blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Fear the LORD, you his saints,

for those who fear him lack nothing. (v8-9)

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;

He delivers them from all their troubles

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted

and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (v17-18)

Now that is a good God.  But to experience this, we have to “taste and see”. We have to truly seek Him. We have to give him a chance.

This Easter weekend we remember the cross and how Jesus died so that we could be righteous before God. Jesus is our redeemer. In Leviticus we learn about redemption, and at the end of Psalm 34 David gives us a promise regarding the ultimate redemption:

The LORD redeems his servants;

no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him. (v22)

What an awesome promise. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Thank you, LORD.

Happy Easter everyone.

Sue

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Filed under 66 Books, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Psalms

Leviticus 26; Psalm 33; Ecclesiastes 9; Titus 1

I attended a Passover Seder on Monday. Each guest read from the Haggadah, this “telling” of history, of deliverance from slavery … God makes a way for his people. We took turns reading, and there were songs, and we dipped parsley in salted water. I was sitting at the table with people I loved and people I had just met. Under each plate, the hostess had placed a card with a word written upon it and a question. Through these words under plates, we would all learn about each other. My word was hallel. A brief definition followed: praise, to praise and give thanks to God.

This holy week especially causes me to slow and consider the cross–scripture in Leviticus of the delights of obedience, the penalty and punishment of sin, of God making a way and repentance:

“But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 26:45 (NIV)

Other psalms are directly associated with hallel, but I think of praise as I read Psalm 33. Sing, make music, shout for joy. It’s all there. God scoops and breathes and speaks and he’s a great artist, lover, creator and king.

Earth is drenched in God’s affectionate satisfaction. (from Ps 33:4-5, The Message)

Opening lines of Titus and hope: the knowledge of truth that leads to godliness–a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light …

These words were written after a crucifixion, and yet they lead me straight to it.

On Monday, I was sitting at a Passover table, thinking of my Lord as he reclined and remembered. Later he’d be led to a cross … the payment of sin, the sacrifice, the final making of a way out of slavery.

On this side of time and the cross, I can celebrate his love, knowing as he said that it is finished–God doesn’t lie.

We’re depending on God;  he’s everything we need. What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own his holy name. Love us, God, with all you’ve got— that’s what we’re depending on. (Ps 33:20-22, The Message)

Brimming with joy and praise.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Leviticus, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament, Psalms, Titus

Leviticus 25; Psalm 32; Ecclesiastes 8; 2 Timothy 4

I don’t begin to claim to be an expert in Jewish customs, but the more I learn about them, the more I understand about Jesus.

The more I read their practices, the more clearly I see the fulfillment in Jesus.

Jesus is our Sabbath, our Redeemer, our Tabernacle, our Passover Lamb, and our Jubilee.

In digging a little deeper about the Year of Jubilee, I found this from about.com,

We still blow the Shofar every year after Yom Kippur, even in our times. Why? Because the blow of the Shofar still tells us that we can still be released from our bondage — the bondage of habitual mistakes. When a person is careless, and he lets himself repeatedly make the same mistake, he becomes habituated to constantly make that mistake. So to speak, he becomes enslaved to habit. Imagine the cigarette smoker. The first cigarette is a purposeful blunder on the smoker’s part. So too is the second cigarette, maybe even the first pack. But when a person becomes addicted to cigarettes, the cigarette becomes the master, and he becomes their slave. On Yom Kippur, we strive to gain control over our habits — symbolized by refraining that day from food and drink. Then, when the Shofar blows at the end of Yom Kippur, it is as if to announce, “All those who were enslaved (to their habits) are now free men!”

Is not Christ the perfect fulfillment of that? He has broken the chains, freed us from the bondage of our sins and made us free men. The Jubilee puts the past behind us as irrelevant.

Then we can say with David (Psalm 32),

1 Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the LORD does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

I will continue to learn and seek out the depth of God’s wisdom, but find comfort in the words of Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, “16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom . . .  No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.”

Fortunately, I have a relationship with the One who does know and understand it all. And, this weekend we will have a special celebration of His most important work, His death and resurrection as our year of Jubilee. Speaking of which, I have signs to make.  If fans bring signs to their favorite sporting event, shouldn’t we have signs to proclaim our allegiance and show that we came prepared to celebrate and cheer on the winning team?

I’m thinking — Christ Arose! Let’s Celebrate!!

What would you put on your sign?

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Filed under 66 Books, Ecclesiastes, Leviticus, Old Testament

Leviticus 24; Psalm 31; Ecclesiastes 7; 2 Timothy 3

I tend to gravitate toward people who tell me what I want to hear.  I suppose that is typical of most people.  But I find that a true friend is someone who loves me enough to tell me what I need to hear even if I don’t like it.  I imagine that the Apostle Paul, never one to sugarcoat things, had this kind of relationship with Timothy.  Amidst all of his encouragement in his second letter to Timothy, Paul tells Timothy: 

There will be terrible times in the last days.  2 Timothy 3:1

He goes on to warn Timothy that:

 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.   2 Timothy 3:12

This is hardly the kind of news one wants to hear from a friend. 

I am so grateful for the few friends in my life who will tell me the difficult truth rather than flatter me with half-truths; especially when that difficult truth has to do with my shortcomings.  As Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, states:

 It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to the song of fools.  (Ecclesiastes 7:5)

Father God,

Thank you for placing friends in my life that provide me with encouragement.  And thank you even more for their courage to tell me the truth when I step out of line.  Amen.

Greg (gmd40187)

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Filed under 2 Timothy, Ecclesiastes, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

Lev. 23; Ps. 30; Eccles. 6; 2 Tim. 2

Weeping may stay for the night,

but rejoicing comes in the morning.

In the night of my life,

I have found there to always be morning.

Some nights are longer than others with less rest, less dreams, more fits, and tossing and turning,

but there is morning.

LORD my God, I will praise you forever.

I will hold  on to you for the morning. And I will come to you throughout the night.

You are my salvation.

– christiancourier517

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Leviticus 22; Psalm 28, 29; Ecclesiastes 5; 2 Timothy 1

Psalm 28: 7:  “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.  Therefore my heart rejoices.”

2 Timothy 1: 7:  “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”

Years ago I went through a fear-filled phase.  I was plagued with anxiety.  It threw me for a huge loop when intense feelings of terror began to build up in my mind.  The fear made no sense to me… I was at a place in my life where everything was wonderful.  I had everything that I had ever dreamed of… a home, an amazing husband, 6 healthy and beautiful kids, friendships… The list could go on.  The anxiety that I was experiencing at that time was so frustrating to me.  I couldn’t shake it either.  Fearful thoughts ruminated in my head.  Physical symptoms of anxiety began to manifest themselves in my body.  This only perpetuated the problem, because I then began to fear how I was feeling.  I was miserable.  No matter what I tried, I still felt emotionally wrecked.

Well meaning friends told me just to pray and read the Bible and I would be fine.  I tried this, but there were times when I was almost too anxious to even pray.  I was so frustrated. Thankfully,  a friend of mine suggested that I meet with a Christian counselor to talk through my anxiety.  BOY, was this an eye-opening and amazing experience for me!  As the counselor and I talked, I learned so much about myself and how I processed feelings.  She equipped me with tools to be able to fight the anxious thoughts.  I learned to asked myself “what is the truth” when I would become overwhelmed with fear in a situation.  She re-trained me to adopt healthy thought patterns in my life.  But perhaps the coolest tool that I gained was using Scripture cards.  I took a stack of notecards and wrote down verses about fear and about trusting God.  I carried these cards with me everywhere.  Anytime that I would start to feel panic creep in, I would pull out my cards and read the verses aloud (depending on where I was) or silently to myself.  Being flooded with God’s truth in my mind replaced the lies and the fear that had me in such bondage.  Slowly the fear began to dissipate!

The two verses above were two of my notecards.

Psalm 28: 7:  “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.  Therefore my heart rejoices.” I love that by proclaiming that God is my strength and shield, through trust in Him, I can be helped.  And through that, my heart no longer has to fear.  By releasing control, my heart can actually rejoice.  That is such an amazing promise.

2 Timothy 1: 7:  “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”  Here, identifying the fact that fear is not of God, and acknowledging that God has actually given us a spirit of power, love, and sound judgment is huge.

God wants us to trust Him and believe that He is faithful to His word.  Choosing this isn’t necessarily easy.  In fact, sometimes it takes some work on our parts.  There may be situations where we may need someone to come along side of us and help us to examine our thoughts.  We needn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed if this happens.  Life is hard, and it can be a lonely journey where we can feel defeated.  My experience in counseling was life-changing.  Now, as I am in the final stages of obtaining a Master’s Degree in Counseling myself, I hope to be able to use my own experiences to help others to begin to taste freedom from bondage.  No more chains…. no more shackles…. just freedom.  And freedom feels really great!

Thank You, Jesus, that You have overcome the world.  In this world we WILL have trouble.  But thankfully, we do not need to fear! Help me to rely on Your strength.  Bind Satan so that he cannot tempt me with thoughts of fear.  Rather, help me to take every thought captive and to be able to sort out the truth from the lies that I so quickly believe. I love You, Jesus!

Amen.

Suzie (suzielawyer)

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Filed under 2 Timothy, 66 Books, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Leviticus 21; Psalm 26, 27; Ecclesiastes 4; 1 Timothy 6

I don’t like poetry. Never have. The best day of every year in grade school was the day we completed the poetry segment in language arts. The worst day was the day we had to exercise our own poetic skills for the whole class to see. I’ve just never had an appreciation for it as an art form. Therefore, it’s probably no surprise that I don’t pay too much attention to the Psalms. I love Genesis as the ultimate history book. I love Romans as the supreme example of logical theological argument. I read each with a sense of wonder. The Psalms? I’m probably one of the only Christians on Earth who’d rather read Deuteronomy. Yet, when my arm is twisted to read them, passages from the Psalms sometimes catch my eye.

Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have led a blameless life; Psalm 26:1

I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O LORD, Psalm 26:6

Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with bloodthirsty men, Psalm 26:9

Blameless? Innocent? Separated from sinners as if he were above them? DAVID??? This is the man who brought us the near-murder of Nabal and the completed murder of Uriah, the serial adulterer whose list of wives and concubines had no end, the king whose pride cost 70,000 of his subjects their lives (2 Samuel 24), and the father who appears to have neglected nearly every commandment concerning parenting that God ever provided. It would take a lot of growth for me to be even a tenth of the man of God David was, but blameless and innocent are not words I equate with him.

I read David’s Psalms and sometimes forget he composed them not at the end of his life, but over his lifetime. Some commentators state that Psalm 26 was written as a young man being hunted by Saul, before his epic failures. That would explain some things, I suppose, but God didn’t choose to include any justifying context here in the scripture itself. The same God who inspired the scripture passages documenting David’s great sins inspired this Psalm that labels the man as blameless.

…because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—   Colossians 1:22

What a difference an atrocity committed on a cross can make!

David’s view of himself as revealed in Psalm 26 may not have been true when he wrote the words, but they reveal a prophetic view of his coming redemption. Incredibly, the same sacrifice that made David blameless and innocent has made me equally so! When examining the ten commandments as Jesus explained them during the Sermon on the Mount, I see that I’ve broken every one of them many times over. I have a perfect track record in that I haven’t met a single one of God’s expectations for me. Yet, like David, I can state with confidence that I am entirely blameless and innocent. The fact that I rarely feel that way is simply an indication that I still don’t see myself as God sees me.

If I had no other reason to believe the truth of the Bible, I would believe it for this reason alone: No human would ever have the audacity to invent such claims.

 Happy Palm Sunday everyone!

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Filed under 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Colossians, Hebrews, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms