Read The Bible, June 7

II Chronicles 28-29

Remember : the temple represents God’s presence – which also means His involvement.

Ahaz had turned to such evil that not only did he worship other gods, but this king destroyed the utensils of the temple and closed its doors. We’ve never seen this in Judah before. Horrible times in God’s promised Land.

Thankfully, however, Hezekiah becomes king and begins to restore things. He opens the doors of the temple and begins the repairs. He also re-institutes the sacrifices with the priests and Levites.

Interestingly, the people are ready for this good change, because when Hezekiah calls for the burnt offerings, more are brought than the priests can handle. They have to have the Levites pitch in with the work.

Now we get a hint as to how Ahaz could have gotten so far off course. When Hezekiah calls for the priests and Levites to consecrate themselves, the “Levites were more conscientious to consecrate themselves than the priests.” (29:34)

The priests had lost their zeal for God and had allowed Ahaz to run amok. God’s men, who should have been upholding His purposes – even when evil kings were on the scene – had stepped down from their post. They had allowed the temple to be ransacked and closed.

Today, if you look around you can see some of God’s men who are more faithful to the current trends of thought than they are to God. It is sad when this happens. God’s leaders are the keepers of the flame. Without those keepers doing their jobs, the flame can go out – or become very dimly lit.

It’s interesting in Hezekiah’s day, however, that the regular people and the Levites are more eager to get back with God’s program than the priests.

If the leaders won’t do it, God will raise up others who will.

I pray that the Christian leaders of today will rise to the occasion as our Father is calling for restoration. Many of them will.

But where leaders won’t, God will go to the next level and raise up other believers to stand up for Him.

Our God needs a voice in our present day, pleasure-driven society.

John 17

This chapter is what I call the “real Lord’s Prayer.” I know that we recite another one together, but this chapter is the real deal.

When you understand about prayer, you understand that God wants His people to ask Him for His purposes.That’s one of our privileges as a believer. It all goes back to the beginning  (Genesis 1-3),when He put man into the earth to “have dominion,” and “rule over” everything. Man has been given a certain amount of authority on the earth, which includes free will and the charge to ask for what we want from God. (His will).

I think that this prayer we see here is one of Jesus’ primary missions in coming to the earth.

If there was ever anyone who was in God’s perfect will and who could count on God’s will being done in His life it would be Jesus. Right? Well, isn’t it interesting that He tells God that the time had come? “Glorify Thy Son.” (V.1) Why? A man needed to pray that.

Then He goes on to pray for us. He prays that God will keep us from the evil one, and He says some shocking things.

“As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”(V.18). We are to represent Him when He has gone.

Just in case you may be thinking that this prayer was for the disciples of that day, look at verse 20. “I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word.” That’s us!

The next part of the prayer is one that the Lord is really working on today. He prays that we will be one – with Him and with each other, so that people will know that He had been sent by God. And that God loves us – just as much as He loves Jesus. (V. 23) Wow!! And again I say, wow!!

As soon as the church was instituted after Jesus ascended to Heaven, the church started dividing up. One group thought this; the next group thought that. Look at the many denominations and doctrines out there now, and we see where this division has taken us. A house divided.

Now I’m not endorsing Universalism, I am endorsing all Christian churches which believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, He paid the price for our sins on the cross, and He has sent his Holy Spirit back to earth to live within our hearts. If we believe that, then we need to honor each other and reach out for the common purpose of affecting our communities.

I think that when we get to Heaven, we are going to find that none of us was completely right or wrong. We all know in part and see in part, and we can learn from each other.

My husband, Mickey, does a lot of teaching along these lines. He says that we are twelve tribes, but one nation. As the tribes of Israel each had their own banner, customs, and leadership, so do our Christian “tribes.” But when they went to war, they went as a nation.

When our different Bible-believing denominations come together for His purposes – to bring His plans into the earth – we need to come together in humility, appreciating each other, loving each other, and affecting our communities as one.

Remember when we have seen all of the barbaric things happening in the early chapters of the Bible? Remember that God’s plan all through that was to raise up a nation which could introduce His plan of redemption into the world? And a nation that could bring forth a Savior? All of God’s dealings with the Jews under the Old Covenant were to introduce the necessity for a blood sacrifice and a true walk with God.

Well, look at verse 24. Jesus says that God had loved Him before the foundation of the world. Before any of what we see was even here, God’s plan of redemption had been established.

Does this make your head tilt? It should,because none of us are really walking in all that has been provided for us. There is always more to learn and more to reach out for as we journey with the Lord.

I hope you will read this chapter several times. This is the prayer that Jesus prayed for you! Think about it and meditate on it.

Are you living up to what Jesus did for you? Let’s keep moving forward – pressing toward the mark.

Read The Bible, May 25

I Chronicles 25-27

Do you like organization? Well you will love these chapters.

Once again we see a listing of lineages and assignments. This time it goes a little deeper, however. Not only does each person have an assignment, but timing for when they will perform their duties.

In chapter 27, the twelve commanders of Israel are enumerated – along with the months in which they will be in charge. Each of them have 24,000 troops under their command, and they have a specific month for their assignment.

All we need to do is look around at nature to realize that our God is very organized. Everything runs on schedule – the days and nights, the seasons, all of the animal behavior, seed time and harvest, and many more cycles. Not only does all of nature run on a schedule, but the many different schedules work together in a symbiotic way so that life can thrive and His purposes can be fulfilled.

For those of us who don’t have that gift in abundance (people like me), organization is sometimes seen as a necessary evil.

Yet anyone’s life and anyone’s work will be enhanced by applying some principles of organization. Systems in place can keep things humming.

So I, for one, purpose to endeavor to be more organized. I will watch those who have this down pat, and try to apply their principles.

I will also try to increase my ability to keep to a schedule when working so that i can accomplish more for Him.

I need His help, and I’m quite sure that I’ll get it!

John 9: 1-27

What are these Pharisees thinking? How can they be so spiritually dense?

Surely they would be happy to see a blind man healed and able to see! Well, obviously not on a Sunday.

This time these strange men don’t just complain about it, they go to the blind man and question him sharply as to who healed him. Then they go to his parents and question them.

Not once do we see any compassion in these people. Not once do we see them rejoice with this man who has been blind from birth!

No. They are too busy trying to persecute this Jesus who is getting all of the attention. They have Him now, they think. He obviously isn’t God’s man if he heals on the Sabbath.

These men just don’t know their God.

Our God is more compassionate than our minds can conceive, and His Son is representing this truth to His generation.

I pray that we will know our Father God so well that we will understand and embrace His mercy. We need it. So do those round us.

I also pray that more and more of us will properly represent our Lord as we mingle with those around us. He is extending His mercy to all, and we need to accurately represent Him to our generation.

Read The Bible, May 24

I Chronicles 22-24

David starts gathering choice material for God’s house, the temple which Solomon will build. David has the vision for the work, but he is prohibited from building it because he has been a man of war. Lots of bloodshed has come during his reign, and God wants a man of peace to build His house. Still David has the desire to build it.

One especially significant observation. Do you remember about David’s great sin of adultery with Bathsheba and then his setting up of her husband to be killed? (It was murder, really). Such an abomination to God and to us. II Samuel 11 covers this episode in detail.

However, in detailing David’s life in I Chronicles, none of that is mentioned. In fact, God goes on to crown Bathsheba’s son as king.

Wouldn’t those incidents be important in detailing history?

There is a reason for this omission. I believe that the record omits it because of God’s complete forgiveness. In Psalm 103:12 David says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

David repented completely, and his transgression has been stricken from the record of God.

What a loving God we have! He has removed our transgressions from us completely. Such an incredible Father we have.

All of us have things we have done or said which we wish we could have a re-do on. We can’t take them back, really. Once something is said or done, that’s final. However, through true repentance, our Father removes that sin from us. He totally forgives us, restores us, and puts us back in the game.

I praise Him for giving me a clean slate everyday. Every morning is new, signifying a fresh start. Today, I’m going to do it better than yesterday. In the meantime, He is not holding yesterday against me, when I am reaching for higher ground.

John 8: 28-59

Jesus makes the Pharisees so mad they pick up stones to throw at Him. That’s pretty mad!

He is contrasting the truth, as it comes from God, and lies as they come from the devil. He says to these religious leaders that their father is the devil, since they only hear the lies from him.

What an indictment, when these leaders think that they are God’s men. They are so deceived that they don’t even realize how far off they are.

From the first times of the Word, prophets have been talking about the Messiah who will one day come. These leaders jesus encounters are supposedly students of the Word, and they have not only missed recognizing the Messiah, but they have actively hated and persecuted Him. What a travesty!

Actually these men have taken the Word of God and used it for their own gain. They have held themselves in high honor, and have used the letter of the Law to control the people who look up to them. The Word was never intended for that purpose.

Now the Messiah, about which the Word teaches, has arrived. He is full of grace and truth, teaching the truth that will set people free – from sin and from bondage of every kind. The hard-hearted ones don’t understand it.

The hard-hearted ones never do. They don’t in our day.

Today there are those who are supposed to know what the Word says,  who use it for their own gain. They force rules and regulations upon the people, discouraging them and beating them down. In doing so, they lift themselves up to a higher plane.

The truth which Jesus preaches is that He is going to pay the price for sin and empower His people to overcome sin.

Don’t get me wrong. Jesus doesn’t say to go ahead and live a life of sin. He doesn’t want His people continuing in sin, because He gives them the power to overcome it.

That power He gives is the Holy Spirit living inside of men. His Holy Spirit which will lead and guide from within their hearts – and give them the ability to overcome the sin which tries to come upon them.

I am so thankful for His Spirit. He comforts, guides, teaches, corrects, and empowers so that we can live our lives for Jesus.

That’s the truth which sets men free. That’s the truth which Jesus brought to the earth!

Read The Bible, May 9

II Kings 7-9

These times in history seem far removed from what we think about today. The societies were much less sophisticated, and most people seem to be just be seeking survival. Very dark times, indeed.

In fact, it seems that the only people who are truly committed to the Lord are the prophets and a few kings.

These times are similar to the dark ages of the Christian church.  Roughly from the 6th century to the 15th century, the Christian church went into great darkness. There was a lot of corruption in the church, and lots of heretical teachings which took away the true power of God. In fact, the lay people were not allowed to read the scriptural texts for themselves; they had to have the priests tell them what they said.

People were taught that they had to go through the priest to reach God, and much advantage was taken of the people – large sums of money to “pay” for their sins.

In the 16th century, Martin Luther, a German monk was reading the scriptures when he realized that people are saved by faith and not by works. He wrote 95 Theses stating arguments against the Catholic Church and nailed them to the door of the monastery at Wittenburg.  Of course, he came under great persecution, but Luther set a fire in the hearts of men which led to the Protestant Reformation.

Throughout the Dark Ages, God still had people who truly believed him and kept the fire in their hearts, even though it wasn’t reflected in society as a whole. It was the same during these days of Jewish history in II Kings. It seemed that only the prophets were believers, but God spoke to Elijah and said, “There are 7,000 who have not bowed their knee to Baal.”

We are to learn lessons from these scriptures. First we are to see how easy it is for each succeeding king to go with the flow of culture and leave God out of the story. (That’s a warning to us). Then next it is easy to see that God is a rewarder of those who truly seek Him – even in the darkest of times. Right in the middle of the darkness, we see miracles and His hand working on behalf of those who honor Him and believe Him.

We also see that, even though they seemed far removed from Him, God still had His hand on his covenant people. Our God never forsakes a covenant He has made.

He does the same with us.

John 1:1-28

John’s gospel is my favorite. The three gospels we have read so far are called the “synoptic” gospels. They are similar in that they all cover the natural accounts of what Jesus did and said as He ministered on the earth. They recount His miracles and His teachings. Yet they make very little mention of what these things might mean.

John’s gospel is different. He shares an understanding of the deeper revelation of just who Jesus is.

John starts by saying that Jesus was the Word – and all things which came into being came through Him. This may be hard to understand, but if you and I will ask our teacher, the Holy Spirit, He will help clarify the concepts we are going to learn.

This concept reflects back to the beginning of the Bible when we see that God said this and that to create (or recreate) the world. He literally spoke the world into existence. Jesus was the One who spoke the Word. The Word of God is the most powerful thing on the earth. It has the power to create!

Then, too, when Gabriel came to Mary and spoke the Word to her, saying that she would give birth to the Son of God, she said “Be it done to me according to your Word.”(Luke 1:38). The Word spoken to Mary became flesh within her womb and Jesus was born into the earth.

I can hear the Star Wars music going off in your ears right now, but hang in there. This is good – and this is true!

Then Jesus is called the “light.” He came to shine in darkness. As the light, Jesus came to set off the light bulb within each of us. That ah-ha moment, when we realize that He really is the Son of God …that God really does love us …and that God really did send Jesus to die for our sins.

So all the healings and all the teachings Jesus did were to turn on the light in the hearts of people to let them know that God is on their side – if they will get on His.

Yet The gospel says that “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to be called the children of God.”(v.11-12) “Those who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”(v.13).

This second birth – the born again experience – is truly the greatest occasion of anyone’s life.

We’ll be reading more about this as we continue with the book of John. In the meantime, meditate on these things as you go about your day. When you truly grasp what is being said here, your life will be changed forever.

Read The Bible, April 3

Judges 19-21

Today we wrap up the approximately 335 years following Joshua’s death. Cycles of apostasy, oppression, and deliverance continue in the land. It’s hard to imagine that these people are thinking of God., yet every now and then there seems to be a little sign that they know that there are certain expectations.

One of these is when Israel rises against the tribe of Benjamin because of their treatment of a concubine. They are appalled at the rape and murder of this girl, so they take retribution. After the defeat of Benjamin, when there are very few left, the Israelites take an oath that none of their daughters may marry Benjaminites.

At that time, however, the other tribes mourn the fact that one of the tribes will become extinct. They have no wives to replenish their tribe – they have all been slaughtered.

Hey, wait. An idea pops up. Oh, when the great feast is held in Shiloh and everyone is dancing, the Benjaminite men may hide and watch. Then they can choose girls from the dancers and kidnap them. What a plan!

The last verse of Judges is a repeat of one we’ve heard before. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”(21:25)

Some strange things seemed “right,” didn’t they?

Better days ahead.

Luke 7:31-50

I love the way Jesus treats those around Him. He’s never ruffled by the charges of the arrogant Pharisees. He knows their hearts and thoughts, and speaks to them very directly.

At the same time, our Savior shows such love and compassion for those who are humbly seeking to be lifted out of their sinful lives.

We’ve seen this account in the other gospels, but I love reading it every time it’s presented. Jesus understands and appreciates the sinful woman who washes His feet with her tears and pours perfume on them. She is weeping and kissing Him because of her great love for Him. She knows that He has forgiven her.

“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”(47)

Over the years, I have seen this principle applied many times. Often you will see someone who came from a very sinful lifestyle turn to the Lord, and they will be the most radical christian in the crowd. Having experienced the love and power of Jesus, they know first hand how good He is.

I love to see those people as they share their stories. They have such a zeal, and often those people lead the way in evangelism.

He says, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”(v. 50)