The Birth of the Messiah

Matthew 1 and Luke 2:1-38

The coming of the Messiah is one of the greatest desires of pious Jewish people. The desire for the Messiah to come is encapsulated in modern times by a statement of the 12th century Jewish teacher, Moses ben Maimon (Rambam): “I believe in perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah”. By the promise of God, the Messiah would be a descendant of King David.

Two Gospels, Matthew and Luke, record the birth of the Messiah (in Greek translation, “Christ”). As we saw in Luke 1, the birth of Messiah was proceeded by a visit from the angel Gabriel to a Jewish maiden, Mary (Miriam in Hebrew) in the Galilean town of Nazareth. Gabriel announced to Mary that her child would be the one to inherit the throne of David. Like Solomon, he would be called the Son of God. After the child was born, Mary was to name him Jesus, which is in Hebrew, Yeshua or Joshua, which means “Yahweh saves”.

The child was given this name on the day of his circumcision, the eighth day after his birth. The name Jesus is the name of the human being, the “man Christ Jesus”. “Jesus” is never the name of a pre-human divine being.

Matthew begins his Gospel by describing the genealogy, or in Greek the genesis or beginning or origin of Jesus the Messiah. Matthew traces Jesus’s origin especially to David and Abraham.

God had promised to Abraham that he would have many descendants, and that his descendants would inherit the Land of Canaan, that kings would come from him, and that he and his descendant(s) would be a blessing to all peoples on earth. God’s plan of redemption for the world was to come through a physical descendant of Abraham.

Some 800 years after Abraham, and 1000 years before Jesus was born, God chose a descendant of Abraham, David, and established the only perpetual divinely ordained monarchy on earth. God promised that one of David’s descendants would rule forever over God’s ordained monarchy. The genealogy of Jesus as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel declares that Jesus is descendent of Abraham and David in whom God fulfills His promise.

The birth of the Messiah Jesus was accompanied with miraculous signs that were evidence that Jesus is indeed the Messiah of God. Somewhat parallel to the first man Adam, who had no earthly father but whom God formed from the dust, the “second Adam” Jesus was formed by direct divine activity. Angelic beings appeared both before and after Jesus’s birth, to announce the coming of this divinely appointed human king.

Jesus’ mother came to the temple 40 days after Jesus’ birth for purification according to the Law of Moses (Luke 2:22, Lev. 12:2-6). His parents brought the baby Jesus along. There was a righteous man in Jerusalem, Simeon, to whom God revealed that he “would not see death until he had seen the LORD’s Messiah. Simeon took Jesus up in his arms and uttered a blessing and praise. He knew the child Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise to both Abraham and David:

“A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel” (Luke 2:32).

-Bill Schlegel

Bill Schlegel is the author of the Satellite Bible Atlas and general editor of the One God Report podcast.

Bethlehem in Judah

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Matthew 1 & Luke 2:1-38

Tomorrow we will read the rest of Luke 2 and Matthew 2 as we SeekGrowLove and follow along on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan. Print your own copy, read along and finish out the year 2020 strong!

God’s Return Policy

Zechariah 1-7

Have any of you ever bought something and then decided that you need to return it and you check to see what the return policy is before you take it back. In Zechariah, we will read about God’s return policy. The book of Zechariah begins in the 8th month of the 2nd year of King Darius of Persia. Babylon had destroyed the temple in 586 BC. The Jewish people finished building the new temple in 516 BC. This book takes place in 520 BC when Zechariah and Haggai, both contemporary prophets, urged the people to finish building the temple. God had made promises to Israel, and one promise was that the children of Israel would return to their land from exile and the Lord would return to His temple with them. Jeremiah 29:10: “For thus says the Lord; after seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good work toward you and cause you to return to this place.” In Zechariah, God was making good on His promises. Fittingly, the name Zechariah means “the Lord has remembered.” The children of Israel were returning to their homeland.

But Zechariah doesn’t just have messages for the children of Israel in 500 BC, it still speaks to us today. Chapter 1:3 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” This is a recurring theme in the Bible since the fall in the Garden of Eden, God, wants to have a relationship with His children, and He has promised if we turn to Him, He will turn to us. It continues in the New Testament, James 4: 8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” So often we, like the children of Israel refuse the offer of a close and personal relationship with the Lord of hosts. God used Zechariah to encourage the children of Israel in what may have seemed like an impossible task, rebuilding the temple. He wanted them to know that they could not do this task on their own but with His help, it would be done. In Chapter 4:6b it says, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” When we have a task that we think we can’t accomplish, we may be right, if we are depending on our might or power. We need to rely on God, and His might and power, when we have difficult times in our life. This verse seems very appropriate for what our nation is going through today. Chapter 7:9-10 says, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien, or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.”  In these verses we find the heart of God and how He wants us to treat others. The world will be a better place when we all take these words to heart and show the love of God to all that we meet and have contact with in our lives. It’s good to know that God’s return policy has no restrictions or exceptions. “Return to God and He will return to you.”

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Zechariah 1-7

Tomorrow we will read Zechariah 8-14 as we continue on our

Are You All In?

Jeremiah 32-34

Jeremiah 32 25 NIV sgl

The religious reformer Martin Luther once famously said: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

I thought about this quote as I was reading Jeremiah 32 today.  Jeremiah is being held in prison by Judah’s king, Zedekiah.  The city of Jerusalem was under siege by the powerful Babylonians.  To hold a city under siege means that you have it surrounded.  No one gets in, no one gets out.  More importantly, no FOOD gets in.  Hold a city under siege long enough and the people will get hungry, and some will come out voluntarily.  For those who hold out longer, they will simply starve to death, or become so weak that they are unable to fight.  It was a strategy of war that was used for thousands of years.

God had told Jeremiah the prophet to warn Zedekiah and all of Jerusalem that they were going to fall to the Babylonians, their city would be captured and destroyed.  Jeremiah had been warning them for over 2 decades.  They imprisoned him just to try to shut him up.  But here they were, surrounded by the Babylonians.  It was only a matter of time until the Kingdom of Judah would be destroyed.

So with all the doom and gloom what does God tell Jeremiah to do?  Buy a field.  Now, if you know that an enemy invader is about to completely destroy your nation does it make sense to perform a real estate transaction?  If an asteroid is headed for earth tomorrow, does it make sense to buy green bananas today?  If the Zombie Apocalypse has started, is it really a good time to order all of your Christmas presents early on Amazon?  If the world is going to go to pieces tomorrow does it make sense to plant a tree today?  Luther thought so.    Jeremiah, knowing that Jerusalem was about to fall to the Babylonians, went ahead and bought the field, signed the deed and put it in a clay pot for safe keeping.  Why?  because he trusted God.

God said that all that was about to happen to Judah, the destruction of the temple, the arrest and death of the king, the exile back to Babylon, it was all going to happen, but it was only temporary.  Eventually, they would come back, the Kingdom would be restored, the temple would be rebuilt, and a new King would be installed to reign.  So the question for Jeremiah is, do you trust God to keep His promise?  Do you trust enough to “put your money where you mouth is” and buy the piece of land, keep the contract safe so that your heirs will have a piece of land to rebuild a house on and plant crops, and maybe an apple tree or two?  How much do you trust God?  Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is?

Jesus would later talk about the “pearl of great price”  a treasure so valuable that someone would sell everything that they had to buy it.

Some might say that right now, in the midst of a global pandemic and societal disruption it feels like we are under siege from uncontrollable forces.  I’m not acting as a prophet right now.  God hasn’t given me exclusive insider information about how all of this is going to end.  Maybe we discover an effective vaccine?  Maybe we figure out a way to restore racial harmony?  Maybe not.  I don’t know.  Maybe we have another civil war and the United States of America will be no more?  I don’t know what’s going to happen with these current crises.  God used the powerful and evil nation of Babylon to punish His disobedient children 2600 years ago.  Maybe God is using disease, division, death and destruction to punish his disobedient children today.  Or maybe this is the devil doing what he does – “steal, kill and destroy”.

There’s a lot about our current situation I Don’t know.  But what I DO know is that God is still in charge.  God is still in heaven.  God is still all powerful.  God is still good. God made a promise that one day he would send His Son Jesus to bring a final end to sin and death, there will be a final judgment against sin, and there will a renewed heaven and earth and finally God Himself will make His permanent home in our midst (See Revelation 20, 21 and 22).  I still believe that to be true.  If I were a betting man in Vegas I would push all my chips onto that hand, I’d be “all in”.  I don’t know how much time I personally have left before Jesus comes again or before I close my eyes in the temporary sleep of death and await the resurrection, but this I do know, I’m betting it all on God.  I’ll buy that field.  I’ll plant that tree. I’ll spend every day of my life telling people that God is faithful and God is good and that Jesus is coming again. I’m all in.  I hope that you are too!

Pastor Jeff Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+32-34&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 35-37 as we continue our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Judah Kicked Out of the House

Jeremiah 10-13

Jeremiah 12 7 NIV sgl

We all understand what it is to make a promise.  When you were a little kid did you ever do a “pinky swear” with your friend?  When I was in high school we used to “go steady” with that special guy or girl.  If it was really serious you let her wear your class ring or your letter jacket (my HS girlfriend wore both my class ring and my letter jacket).  To go steady was to make a promise, “I won’t date any other girl but you.”  (note, in the 70’s dating in 7th grade might mean walking her from her locker to class, possibly holding hands publicly, and dancing exclusively with her at the sock hop… I know, times have changed.)  When things got rough, you would “break up”.  There would be tears and drama.  After you broke up, it was understood that you no longer were going steady and were free to walk other girls from their locker or dance at the next sock hop.

Marriage is a more serious commitment.  You make a public promise to God and each other before witnesses to love and be faithful to each other until one of you dies.  That kind of promise is known as a covenant.

The nation of Israel was God’s chosen people.  God entered into a covenant with Abraham and his descendants Isaac and Jacob (who later became Israel).  God promised to be their God, to protect them, to provide them with all that they needed:  productive land to live in, abundant children and animals, and protection from their enemies.  In return, God asked Israel to be faithful only to Him.  To worship only God and to follow God’s teaching, God’s instruction, God’s rules for living in community.  They were not to be unfaithful to God by worshipping false gods or man-made gods known as idols.  God warned Israel that if they were not faithful to their covenant with God, they would suffer serious consequences.  God might withhold rain, send plagues, or even allow their larger and more powerful neighboring countries to attack them and God would not defend them.  It was a covenant, a kind of marriage between God and Israel.  In fact, God referred to Israel as His bride.

The bottom line was clear- if you are faithful to God and to the covenant with God, you will be blessed, if you are unfaithful to God and to the covenant, you will be cursed (punished, not experience the blessings).  Throughout their history, Israel frequently went through periods when they were unfaithful to God and violated the covenant.  God would often punish them in some way, they would repent, which means they would turn away from whatever wrong they were doing and return to God, and then God would once again bless them.  However, as time wore on, Israel’s unfaithfulness grew worse and worse, God’s punishments grew harsher and harsher and Israel grew more calloused and disobedient.  Think of a toddler who absolutely refuses to obey his parents.  Usually, a swift punishment will result in repentance.  But after a long time, they had become rebellious teenagers who no longer repented, or as a better example, an unfaithful wife who continually cheats on her husband and doesn’t even bother to hide it from everyone.  Something had to change.

Several hundred years passed since the days of Abraham and later Moses and even King David.  Israel’s unfaithfulness to their covenant with God had grown more brazen as they worshipped Baal and other idols.  Finally, God had had enough.  God was sending his faithless bride into exile.

The prophet Jeremiah was one of several people God sent to Judah, God’s people who lived in the southern Kingdom, where God’s temple in Jerusalem was and from where God’s anointed King ruled.  God told Jeremiah to warn his people that the time had come for them to face the full measure of punishment for breaking faith with God.

Jeremiah 11:6-12

The Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey me.” But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’”

Then the Lord said to me, “There is a conspiracy among the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them. Both Israel and Judah have broken the covenant I made with their ancestors. 11 Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. 12 The towns of Judah and the people of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they burn incense, but they will not help them at all when disaster strikes.

This isn’t just, “I’m taking away your cell phone” or “I’m taking away your car keys for a week until you straighten up.”  This is “I’m kicking you out of the house because you refuse to follow the rules.”  It’s harsh punishment.  It’s called “tough love.”   Even loving parents are sometimes forced to have an “intervention” or in the South we say “come to Jesus meeting”.

To illustrate the point, in chapter 13 God tells Jeremiah to get a linen belt, go bury it near a river, then later go back and retrieve the belt, that by then was ruined, and then show it to the people as a visible illustration of what Israel did.  God joined himself to His people symbolized by the linen belt, it was pure and spotless, and yet his people ruined that covenant by their unfaithfulness.  Now, they must face the consequences.

If you are a Christian, you entered into a covenant with God as well.  It was a new covenant, not based on your birth as a descendant of Abraham, but through faith in God’s son, Jesus Christ.  Water baptism is a visible symbol of that covenant.  When you entered that covenant you promised to worship God alone and follow Jesus Christ and keep his instructions.  Have you stayed faithful to your covenant promise to God through faith in Jesus Christ?  Or have you treated your promises to God like that linen belt that’s ruined and worthless.  The good news is, if you’ve been unfaithful to your promises to God there is still time to repent.  What are you waiting for?  Will you do it today?  Pinky swear?

Pastor Jeff Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage, Jeremiah 10-13, can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+10-13&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 14-17 as we continue our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

2 Chronicles 19-23

2 Chronicles 20 1 NIV sgl

If you have been to any youth ballfield, the mantra of even the most uninformed coach or parent to his/her child in most all situations is “keep your eye on the ball.”  Whether it is baseball, soccer, football, tennis, or basketball, knowing where the ball is at any given point in a game is the greatest predictor of success and will result in the highest probability of a favorable outcome.  In order to strike, kick, tackle, return, or rebound, you have to know where the ball is.  It seems simple enough; yet, anyone who plays any number of the ball-including sports at any level suffers from the occasional mishap that begins with losing sight of the most important object to the game.  Why?  We get scared.  We’re thinking about our next move.  We get caught up in the emotion.  Or it might simply get lost in the lights.

 

“If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” –   1 Chronicles 20:9,11b

 

In today’s reading, Jehoshaphat gives us an example of what it looks like to keep our eyes in the most important place.  Not all of us play sports, and if we do, we most certainly may not play them well (present company included), but we all have a part to play in the will of God.  Without your eyes on the Father, you might still have a bit of fun, but there is no purpose in the participation of it all.  You are simply existing, a benchwarmer staring off into the distance, oblivious to the wonderful plan that God has for your life.  Yet, keeping our gaze affixed to Him isn’t exactly as easy as it sounds.  Even the most professional ballplayers have blunders. Here are a few reminders of how to readjust our focus, to make sure it is in the right place, no matter what “level” we are playing at:

 

To keep your eyes on God, let Him take away the worry.

 

There is a ton of uncertainty in the air right now.  Disease, political unrest, economies, natural disaster, not to mention all of the “typical” fears we have about things like acceptance and loss.  Jehoshaphat had a vast army approaching, yet he remembered that God had promised Israel and Judah the land they possessed. Remind yourself of the simple yet immense promises of God – He will never leave you, nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), We know all things work together for those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28), Do not fear, for I am with you always (Isaiah 40:1; Matt 28:20). The promises purge us of the pressure to take the entire crushing yoke upon ourselves and hand it over to God.  In exchange He will give us peace in the restless situations (John 14:27).

 

To keep your eyes on God, remember He has planned the present.

 

One of the greatest defensive failings in baseball is thinking about throwing the ball before you have ever fielded it.  Time and time again, the baseball zips “through the wickets” or is fumbled as it is being removed from the glove and falls flatly to the ground.  Jehoshaphat could have spent his time sending messengers to form alliances.  He could have armed the remaining men, women, and children to increase the size of his army. He could have sent out terms of surrender to try to salvage the lives of his people.  He didn’t do any of this.  He kept the most important thing as the most important thing; his gaze never faltered. He didn’t “throw the ball” before He fielded God’s response (as we saw yesterday).  Don’t forget to serve God now because there is a bigger, better plan you have made to serve Him down the road.  He is the God of tomorrow, but before then, the God of today.  Seek first the Kingdom of God. Don’t worry about tomorrow, for it will take care of itself (Matthew 6:33,34). He may call us to things that inconvenience, disrupt, or even abort the plans we have made down the road, but when those days come, or if they don’t, He has planned those days too.

 

To keep your eyes on God, make him the judge.

 

One of the most frustrating things is a competitor who doesn’t play fairly or feeling we are the victim of unjust treatment.  What’s even more frustrating is an umpire or referee who fails to see it or worse, lets it persist.  Our God doesn’t turn a blind eye to us; He sees the struggle.  He isn’t deaf; He hears the petition.  When we want to take matters into our own hands, be reminded that you too are a trespasser but also an unfair recipient of favored treatment. This more than anything, should make us compassionate and ready to forgive others.  We will be called to be God’s facilitator of forgiveness many times more than we will be judicator of justice.  Jehoshaphat made the appeal, but was also seemingly ready for whatever answer came his way. We must trust God, let Him be the judge, and maybe the hardest thing, be ready, like Jesus, to be dealt injustice, yet still forgive for the sake of the Gospel and our message.

 

To keep your eyes on God, eliminate the distractions.

 

The lights can be blinding.  The hecklers can be loud.  The teams’ morale can be affecting you. Even seemingly good things like family and church can provide an incorrect context of focus if not filtered through the lens of their role in God.  When we work, provide, heal, love, carry on, feed, protest, or serve, constantly remind yourself you are doing it all for the Lord.  Take a lesson from Jehoshaphat’s army; worship God while you are in the battle (1 Chronicles 20:22).  It would be challenging to give into your pride when you sing “Oh Spirit come make us humble…” It would be tough to look at inappropriate material when you sing “We turn our eyes from evil things…” It would be difficult to spend Sunday morning after Sunday morning with your family at the ballfield while singing “Oh Lord, we cast down our idols.” Filling our mouth with praise, worship, and prayer prevents anything else from slipping out.  The same could be said of our eyes, ears, hands, and most importantly, minds.  Engage God with everything you have, and you will be ready and attuned to His movement no matter where on the field He takes you.

 

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17

Aaron Winner

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Chronicles+19-23&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be the short book of the “minor” prophet Obadiah and Psalm 82-83 as we continue keeping our eye on the Father through our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Unworthy of His Greatness

2 Samuel 7 & 1 Chronicles 17

2 Samuel 7 21 NASB

Sometimes I feel like I keep beating the same drum but when we talk about David and the Psalms I have such a difficult time getting away from his heart. The heart of this man is extraordinary and I think because of this God made him into someone extraordinary. God molded him into someone that we are still talking about to this day. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here we go.

When we talked about David’s ability on Sunday, we talked about how he looked after God’s people and put their desires above his own. Today we will look at how David continued to be an impressive man after God’s own heart.

I want to look at the entire incident in 2 Samuel 7. In the opening paragraph David recognizes what he sees as injustice. The injustice being that though he lives in a house made of cedar, the ark of God dwells in a tent. David’s heart here is pure. He sees that what represents the presence of God for the nation of Israel is dwelling in a measly little tent while he is living in a full-blown swanky house made of cedar. He recognizes that this just doesn’t seem right. It seems very wrong that the maker of heaven and earth, the God of this nation, the reason for this nation’s success, the reason they even existed, the God who had blessed them and literally done everything for them didn’t have a proper dwelling place. He did everything from singling out Abraham and blessing him and all his descendants after him, saved them from oppression in Egypt by sending the plagues, delivered them out with Egypt’s spoils, parted the Red Sea as they walked between walls of water on either side, saved them from their enemies by collapsing that sea on the army seeking to kill them or enslave them. I could go on and on and on about all that God did for the nation of Israel. David didn’t forget any of this. He looked back in gratitude and decided that his God should at least dwell in a place as nice as the one he had. That gratitude sparked a desire in David to take the action of wanting to build a house for the ark.

God’s reaction to David wanting to build a house for him is quite interesting. He says, “Did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” God had never before asked someone to build him a house. Have you ever wondered why God never asked anyone to build him a house? Maybe he didn’t want one. Gods of other nations had physical temples. So why wouldn’t the one true God? When you look back in the history recorded in scripture it seems like God was hesitant to have a physical representation on earth that could be misconstrued. This was not without cause since in the time of the temple when God’s people had drifted away from him, they claimed that they couldn’t be taken over because of the temple. It seems like God’s focus is on his people believing in him and not becoming preoccupied with something that simply represents him. This is continued in the New Testament with what is defined as the church. God defines the church as his people and tells us that we are all the building blocks of his temple as the body of Christ. That is so awesome and mind blowing to me! The thought that I would be a building block of his temple is an overwhelmingly beautiful thought.

Let’s keep going with this passage, though. God continues to speak to David and tells him He would make a great name for him, plant his people and help to leave them undisturbed, give him rest from his enemies, make him a house, allow his children to build him a house, establish his child on the throne, love that child and discipline him as a father, establish his throne, house and kingdom forever. Dang, that is a list, right? Those are some amazing promises! For you girls, if a guy promises you the world – don’t believe him. But if God promises you all that, I would believe him. Utterly blown away is how I think I would feel if I were David.

David responds in the best way ever. He responds in the only way someone who was qualified to receive these promises should. Who am I and what is my house that you have brought me thus far? David didn’t let being king get to his head rather David knew that he was nothing without God. David knew without God he would still be that shepherd in that field. He felt unworthy of all that God had already done for him. Here is the thing, he totally was unworthy. David recognized he deserved none of these things. He recognized that there were better and smarter. David recognized how undeserving he was of the grace and love that God extended to him.

David’s response continues as I think he is lacking the words to even handle this and he says as much in verse 20. He continues to acknowledge and praise God throughout this response where he speaks about God’s knowledge of his heart, his greatness, how none is like him, praising him for raising up the nation of Israel, and stating that because God spoke those promises they would surely come true.

I think it would be too easy to disassociate from this passage and say “God never promised me any of those things” and in doing so we would miss the very heart that David had.

God sent his son to bear your sins. God has made the whole earth and it is all his. I didn’t make anything and yet I still have everything I need. My actions and my sin without the cross mean I don’t deserve a relationship with God, life or breath. My first sin should have been the end of my life and yet the Lord still gives me life and breath. He still wants me and a relationship with me. He is continually extending his grace to us EVERY SINGLE DAY. I don’t even want to think about what my life would look like without God’s grace.

In this way all of us should be responding every single day “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that you have brought me thus far?” (2 Samuel 7:18)

 

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+7%2C+1+Chronicles+17&version=NASB

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 25, 29, 33, 36 & 39 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Patience while Preparing

2nd Samuel 5:1-10 & 1st Chronicles 11-12

2 Samuel 5 2b NIV

We return to the people, places and events of King David’s life in our reading today.  The last we read of David, he had been named king of his tribe of Judah following the death of King Saul and he was ruling in Hebron.  It is now 7 years and 6 months later, David is 30 years old and he will finally be anointed king of all 12 tribes of Israel. And he will conquer the town of Jerusalem to convert into his capital city: The City of David.

He has waited a long time for this moment.  Remember the day long ago when the prophet Samuel was sent by God to the town of Bethlehem to visit the family of Jesse.   God had revealed to Samuel that one of Jesse’s sons would be chosen to rule over Israel.  And how surprised everyone was when it was the youngest son, David, a little shepherd-boy, whom God led Samuel to anoint.

Much has happened to David since then.  His life has been full of many twists and turns.  It was not an easy or clearly illuminated path to the throne.  There had been days with great news where it seemed the kingship might not be too far off: invited into the king’s court as a musician, killed the giant, the king offers his daughter to David in marriage, and the king’s son says he wants to see David become king. But, it wasn’t to be – yet.  There would be many difficult years of hiding in exile from jealous King Saul who wanted nothing more than to see David dead.  But, Saul’s plans were nothing compared to God’s.  God would protect David, and use this time to refine David and prepare him to be king of His people.

You may be questioning God’s plans for your life.  Remember David.  You may be wondering how long you will need to be patient.  Remember David.  Even when you aren’t sure what the next step will be – rest in knowing God’s plans and design is greater than man’s.  His promises come true.  Use this time to work on refining yourself  in preparation for whatever God is preparing for you.

Don’t miss the many striking similarities between David and Jesus.  From the town of Bethlehem.  To Jerusalem.  30 years old.  King of the Jews.

Never doubt that God’s plan continues through the ages – including David, and Jesus, and YOU!  And God has so much more planned – including the return of Jesus as King and a New Jerusalem and reigning with Christ!   How are you preparing for what comes next?

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+5%3A1-10%2C+1Chronicles+11-12&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Psalm 133 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Refuge

Joshua 19-21

Joshua 21 45 NIV

Chapter 20 instructed the Israelites to set aside six cities as Cities of Refuge that were to be used to protect an individual from retribution if they had accidentally killed someone.  The High Priest would hear their case, and allow them to be protected within one of the cities if it was clear that they fit the criteria.  This system will be reflected later when Jesus, our own High Priest, stands up to defend us and protect us from a punishment that we are due.  God is so good to have provided refuge for His people so long ago, and for all of us today.

 

Chapter 21 ends with, “So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands.  Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”

 

In addition to the refuge that God has provided, we see here that He is a promise-keeper as well.  So much of Joshua contains the details of the land areas that were given to each tribe, which seems kind of boring.  But this meant everything to the people of that time, and to modern Israelites today.  This not only shows that God keeps His promises, but also shows that this particular area is INDEED set aside for the nation of Israel forever.  The Promised Land doesn’t have an expiration date.  And neither does God’s love and care for all of His people, including you.

 

I hope you can take comfort in knowing that God keeps his promises, He cares for His people, and that includes you.  He provides a place of refuge for us today, in His arms, and has set aside a Promised Land of refuge for us in the future, the Kingdom.

 

 

Encouraging verse of the day:

 

1 John 4:16

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

 

 

Greg Landry

 

You can read or listen to today’s Bible passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+19-21&version=NIV

Tomorrow we will finish the book of Joshua with chapters 22-24 on our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

Remember

Joshua 1-4

 

The message I took out of the first four chapters of Joshua is especially timely.  We are living in unprecedented times.  Not unprecedented in history, but certainly within our own lifetimes.  Obviously, I am speaking of the coronavirus epidemic.  No one knows how long the effects of this will last, or when things will get back to “normal” But do not fear.  God is still on His throne.

 

After forty years of wandering in the desert, God finally allows His people to enter into the promised land behind the leadership of Joshua. The pivotal moment is when the Lord held back the flood-swollen waters of the Jordan river, allowing the tribes of Israel to cross over on dry land.  Of course, this bookends the forty years in the wilderness after escaping Egypt by similarly crossing the parted waters of the Red Sea on dry land.

 

But after this crossing, God instructs Joshua to have each tribe take a rock from the middle of the river, and stack them up on the side of the river they were crossing onto.

 

Joshua chapter 4, verses 20-24 say, “And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their parents, “What do these stones mean?” tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.’ ”

 

Our Heavenly Father knows that we are a forgetful people.  I am an expert at it.  But certain things are worth remembering.  Like when God has rescued His people, fulfilled promises, or performed miracles.  God instructed people to remember certain events throughout history.  Thankfully, we have the history of such events at our fingertips in His word.  We know that He has fulfilled every promise that has come to pass, and so we should have confidence that the Godly promises that have not come to pass will also be fulfilled.

 

But what about events that are not written down in the Bible?  What about events in our own lives?  Has God ever demonstrated His power and love to you personally?  Think about such events, and how they can serve as our own monuments for us to hold onto and recount that God is there with us. If God has delivered you through difficult times before, have confidence that He will do so again.

 

Finally, remember that no matter what the future holds, no one can take away the promise of the future Kingdom that we will have a part in.  Nothing that ever happens on earth will take that promise away, and today, and every day going forward, God is in control.

 

For you parents, remember that this is a great time to model real faith to our children.  It is easiest to show faith in God when everything is going great.  But how will you model your faith and trust in God during these difficult times?  That is what matters most.

 

I have added some verses of encouragement below (starting with one from today’s reading), and then after that, a link to a youtube playlist I created that has songs of encouragement.

 

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

 

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

 

Isaiah 40:31

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

2 Timothy 1:7

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 

 

 

Greg Landry

 

Welcome to the Books of History in our

Today’s passage, Joshua 1-4 can be read or listened to at

 

 

Restoration is Possible

Deuteronomy 30-31

Deut 30 4 NIV

Yesterday we looked at God’s promises of blessings and curses, rewards and consequences, for the choices that the Israelites made.  We also saw that God enacted those consequences exactly as described hundreds of years later with the Babylonian captivity.

Today’s passage in Deuteronomy provides some hope that even after God punishes, he restores.

In historical context, we once again see God doing just what he promised. (See books like Ezra and Nehemiah).

God’s response to us is really no different. His word is clear on what he expects of us, and the consequences we reap can be crushing.  But if we return to him, he will always restore us.  Always.

Make good choices

From the middle of chapter 30 on, we see God literally pleading with his people to choose his ways.  He lays it all out, and reminds them that he’s not asking them for anything too hard, saying,

“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.”

Then he reminds them of the promised rewards or consequences they will face and gives them a bit of an ultimatum and a plea,

“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live, and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.  For the LORD is your life”

Our sin hurts us.  But it doesn’t just hurt us, it grieves God.  His pleading with us to choose his path is not only because he knows that it’s ultimately the best for us.  He’s also pleading with us to choose him.  He loves us that much.

If you’ve found yourself suffering the consequences of bad choices, restoration is possible.  It is usually a long path, but worth every step.  Here’s a resource that you might find helpful  https://thesparrowshome.com/caught-in-sin-restoration-possible/

 

Susan Landry

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+30-31&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be the final chapters of the first 5 Books of Law – Deuteronomy 32-34 and then also Psalm 91 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan