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When the disciples asked Jesus when the end times would come He responded, “Do not be deceived.” (Matthew 23:3-4) We see from Jesus’ response that deception is something that the Christian needs to be on guard against. It was the first thing He said on the topic of the end times. The first instruction He gave His followers.
From today’s reading we learn that being deceived can lead to departing from the faith. (1Timothy 4:1-3) We also learn that His word is a means of protection from being deceived. Praise God that He provides us with full protection. Psalms 119 is often known for its length. I have come to know Psalms 119 for its awe of God’s Word. The psalmist is in love with God’s law, His statues, His testimonies, His commandments. God’s word protects the Christian from being deceived. It is our sword in the spiritual battle for our souls. (Ephesians 6:17)
Today’s reading: 2 Kings 7; 1 Timothy 4; Daniel 11; Psalm 119:25–48
Suggestions for prayer: Ask God to place on you a love for His Word. Thank God for His promise to give you perfect remembrance of it to discern the truth from lies (John 14:26).
For further study: Read Matthew 23: 1-14 and consider what verse 13 means in light of the previous verses.
Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 6; 1 Timothy 3; Daniel 10; Psalm 119:1–24
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Psalm 119:1
Good Morning Everyone, let’s put on our Fitbit for God and look at our daily steps. These devices can count our steps and can also check our heart-rate. It can tell us where we have gone and guide us to where we want to go. With the touch of a button this information is shared with you and others if you would like. As Christians, having God’s word available is like a press of a button allowing you to navigate every step towards an eternity with Him. This Fitbit helps us stay on track with our faith and training for growth. So let’s push the button in the start of Psalm 119 and see where we are at as we count our steps.
Step: Psalm 119:1 Blameless and Walking in the Law of the Lord – stay righteous Proverbs 11:20
Step: Psalm 119:2 Keep His testimonies – love and serve Deuteronomy 11:13
Step: Seek with a Whole Heart – 100% all the time Psalm 139:23
Step: Psalm 119:4 Precepts keep diligently – focus and be intentional about his commandments Deuteronomy 4:13
Step: Psalm 119:6 Eyes fixed on Commandments – Ephesians 1:18
Step: Psalm 119:7 Praise Him – He deserves it all for all he has done and will do Psalm 33:1
So as you take steps today push the button to take a pulse on each step, each interaction, each hour spent, each conversation, each thought, each prayer. Allow God through His word guard you, teach you, focus your heart, and open your eyes to all that he has in store for us. Go ahead take the next step. God is with you always!
“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” (2 Timothy 2:8-10)
I must admit, I left writing to the last minute this week! Of course our Heavenly Father is always looking for ways to draw us nearer to him, and he’s got me tonight. I spent the majority of the last 3 days driving our van with our very spicy two year old in the back. She was a flower girl in a family wedding so she and I went on a very long journey to Topeka, KS to be a part of a very special day. Many miles later, I’m sitting down with my Bible and cup of water to connect with you and His word. This was my first read through, and what did I find? The very words I heard and prayed on at the wedding this weekend! This Bible Journal project has been such a blessing to me. Even on a night like this one, when I’m tired and not sure what to write about, God takes up the pen and sends a message.
I love that God gently nudged me to see this passage again. When I heard it during the wedding, I immediately thought about the surface level implications. God wants us to come to him as ourselves with modesty and with raised hands. He wants us to show him that our love for him is genuine. I heard the thread that reminded us all that a marriage is about bringing one another closer to God through good works, not just putting on fancy dresses and jewelry. Today, I’m hearing another deeper level of communication from my Father. He begins this passage by asking us to come and pray without anger or quarreling. I considered this even more tonight in the context of our first reading from 2 Kings 5. Naaman is suffering from leprosy but is hesitant to dip in the Jordan 7 times as God commands in order to be healed.
How many of us come to the alter carrying anger? How many of us are desperate for healing but aren’t quite ready to follow God’s path to get there? When families get together, there is always a Naaman. There is quarreling and old anger that wells up. God gives us an opportunity in 2 Timothy to come to Him with our hands raised, without the distraction of braids and golden rings. This weekend I witnessed some healing that I know was initiated by His love. Our family was broken many years ago by some infidelity, some lies and subsequent divorce. This event brought those people face to face for the first time in a decade, in a church. And in that church, we heard those words from 2 Timothy! And after that ceremony, there were some handshakes and even some hugs! Like Naaman, our family has carried this burden for years. When we come to the alter to pray and to give ourselves to Him, He heals us. At the end of the night, I said my goodbyes. Without fear or hesitation I opened my arms to the one that began this hurt so many years ago. Within that hug, I heard the words, “I love you.”
If you are hurting GO to Him. If you think that the pain is too deep, if you think you have been suffering for too long GO to Him. Ask him for healing and then follow his commands. There is hope in our Heavenly Father’s love.
What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? -Psalm 116:12
In the pale light of an October evening, I sat on my patio — under the yellow rain of the locust trees, crows cawing back and forth. The cool air was filled with the smell of distant smoke as I sat wondering: How could I be so blessed?
In this tranquil place I had broken bread with my family and friends, sharing stories of our lives that intertwined like vines in a vineyard, planted and grafted, pruned and picked. Not all bore the best fruit, but the ones that did were special.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. –John 15:1-2
Why was I so fortunate? Honestly I couldn’t think of anything that I had done to deserve all that I had been given. A strong and healthy family. A beautiful, patient, loyal and loving wife. Three amazing boys, all so different. My businesses had been prosperous in ways that made it hard for me to take the credit.
It had also been a life that revealed the hand of God in the splendor of creation.
A litany of people offering hope and direction to a scrawny freckled faced boy, and then to an arrogant young man. People investing time in me along the way, wanting nothing in return. Now I worked with trusted partners in collaborations reaching farther than I ever could have imagined. Still, I had this feeling there was more to my life.
The feeling I had on this crisp Autumn day was more than abundant gratitude, recognizing God’s incredible grace. It was a sense of responsibility, but not burdensome — more like the anticipation of greater opportunities around the next bend. Yes I had been given much and there was a reason for this, a reason I wanted to understand.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. –John 15:5
Nothing that was given to me was really mine. I had been entrusted with knowledge and treasures beyond my wildest dreams; perhaps even wisdom. I had been the unworthy recipient of unconditional love; this was the greatest gift of all. Yet when I finally realized that I was only the steward of these gifts, now I had to decide how better to use them.
In the brightness of Autumn it became clear, by surrendering all to God, the fulfillment of my purpose was possible. This was now my greatest opportunity.
Today’s reading: 2 Kings 4; 1 Timothy 1; Daniel 8; Psalm 116
Today’s reading: 2 Kings 3; 2 Thessalonians 3; Daniel 7; Psalms 114–115
It is 8pm on Wednesday night and I’m sitting down to write my post for this week. I just walked in the door from the third funeral visitation I’ve been to in the last ten days. I still have one more to attend on Friday. I don’t particularly like attending these events, as they tend to drain my emotions and make me really tired. But I still try really hard not to miss them. I believe God puts different people in our path for different reasons. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be able come along side grieving family and friends, remember loved ones, and help provide comfort by speaking about the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Yesterday, my friend Jane texted me for ideas on scriptures to use for her father’s funeral. One of the suggestions I gave her was Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven – a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
When we read through Ecclesiastes back in April, I wrote about this passage. I talked about how the poetic rhythm of Solomon’s journey through life’s different seasons is comforting. More important than the rhythm, however, is the incredible hope found in the illustration of God’s sovereignty. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that there is a season or time for EVERYTHING. As we journey through life, we experience a variety of different events, both good and bad. Because God is sovereign, meaning he has supreme power and authority, he has the ability to weave ALL these events together to accomplish his purpose. Aren’t you glad life isn’t just a series of random events? To know a master architect is fitting the pieces together for me is the hope I need to keep going, especially when I’m facing something as traumatic as the death of a loved one.
Like most people, I consider death and the memorial services that follow, to be one of life’s bad events. The room is filled with sadness, lines are long, and it is always a challenge to find just the right words to say. In reality, the words of comfort or encouragement I have to offer aren’t really mine. If it wasn’t for the faithfulness and care of a holy and gracious God, who sent Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord, I’m not sure what I’d say. Thank you God.
Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory… (Psalm 115:1).
What is your “Lion’s Den”? Have there been any adverse situations where you’ve fully put your trust into the Almighty God and realized you had absolutely no power to influence the outcome? Please take a couple minutes to read the account of Daniel and the Lions’ Den. It is a remarkable story!
Without sharing the details of my personal lion’s den, here are questions that come to mind as I considered my own journey through a recent challenge. Please reflect on one of your own significant adverse situations. It could be something current or the past, but try to consider something you vividly recall.
- Prior to even knowing of the challenge, what path were you on? What did your relationship with God look like?
- Were you able to prepare for the situation? Meaning, did you have some foresight that things were going to get ugly? If so, how did you prepare?
- What was your first response when you became aware of the pending adversity?
- Facing the situation directly, what emotions did you encounter? Did you feel prepared for what was happening? Did you feel the presence and power of God throughout and/or did you sense His presence when you were at the end of your own strength?
- Why do you think that God allowed this situation to occur?
- Did you consider viewing the scenario not as a problem, but as an opportunity? What if every perceived problem in your life wasn’t really a problem, but an opportunity? How would things be different?
- Have you shared this situation and results with anyone?
- Reflecting back on the situation, what would you have done differently?
- Have you given thanks, praise, and glory to the God who delivered you?
Consider Daniel’s situation. Chapter 6 starts with informing the reader that Daniel would be placed in a high position of power and leadership under the king. Things were going quite well from a worldly perspective and in parallel, Daniel had his priorities in order. It was well known that he was a man who humbly bowed down to God. Even after learning of the fateful law that had been signed, Daniel didn’t waiver; he went home and “knelt down as usual” giving thanks to his God (see Daniel 6:10). God was glorified as a result of Daniel’s obedience and faithfulness.
The story of Daniel reminds me of Jesus in the garden the night before he was to be tortured and crucified. Jesus had his heart right, he knew his purpose, and fortunately us he submitted to the will of his Father in Heaven, the almighty God so that we may have eternal life with him.
Will you face your next trial more like Daniel and Jesus?
As I continue to read through the old testament, I have a tendency to become discouraged. Mostly because I cannot figure out why the kings don’t get it. They repeat the same mistakes, over and over. Occasionally, one will appear to be different, attempting to do good. But, his efforts are often half-hearted and almost always stamped out by the next generation. This pattern will continue through our reading of 2 Kings and into Chronicles. As you read the stories, pay attention to these three common threads.
Kings have a way of using God’s good things for their own aggrandizement For example, today in 2 Kings 1, Belshazzar occupies the throne. He is enjoying the good life and taking full advantage of his reign as king. In order to prove his greatness above all others during a party, he ordered the treasures of the Temple of Jerusalem to be brought out for the guests. It wasn’t enough for Belshazzar to simply use them for the party. In fact, while drinking from them, “they drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.” Daniel 5:4 (ESV). These acts clearly illustrate contempt of Godly things.
The reign of a king is temporary. Maybe you didn’t notice, but they all die. In fact, many of them come and go without any fanfare at all. During their reign, however, they make short-term decisions, based on their short-term world-view. Their goal is simple. To maximize their existence.
Contrast these kings’ short-term world-view with Jesus’ eternal world-view. His decisions and actions are clearly different, focusing not on his own existence but on the eternal existence of all people.
God invites them to participate in His work. Throughout these stories, God attempts to get their attention. He does it often through the voices of others, generally called prophets. They are the ones that know God’s word and will. Even though the king may have asked a prophet’s advice, they rarely listen, attempting instead to preserve their own ego’s, status and power. They refute and disclaim the advice of the prophets, always with predictable consequences. In the end, they are forced into humility by others, or they die an early death.
Jesus invites us to participate in His work too. In fact, not only are we promised forgiveness, we are also given new life. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are a “new creation.” Think of all the good things that we can do.
A Christian is obsessed with God’s will. Our love of the LORD is synonymous with obedience to His Word (John 14:15). To know it. To do it. To serve Him is our greatest privilege. God’s Word speaks to so much but what about the things it does not speak to specifically?
As I read today’s scripture I’m reminded of advice I received with regard to discerning God’s will: focus on His revealed will. When we are faced with decisions in life that we cry out for discernment on we need to look to scripture and focus on God’s revealed will. In the past, I have acted like a child, just wanting my answer for my particular situation. ‘Should I major in this or that… God’s word says to love people… right, right, but what about my major….’
I have heard it said that God does not care when it comes to these smaller things. You may have heard it phrased as a question; “Does God really care who wins the super bowl?” In my estimation, of course He does! I have come to believe God cares about everything (1John 4:8). I have also come to believe that God knows everything (Psalm 139:4). If God is love (opposite of not caring) and God knows everything, my faith strengthens me to believe that His revealed will contains all I need (Isaiah 46:9-10, Romans 8:28, 2Corinthians 12:9). And so by the grace of God, those who love God, can face a specific decision and know that God’s will for you is fully contained in God’s revealed will. Praise God that we need not over complicate things nor worry and that obeying God is simple and the burden light if we let it be! (1John 5:3, Ecclesiastes 7:9) #FaithForward
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Today’s reading: 1 Kings 22; 1 Thessalonians 5; Daniel 4; Psalms 108–109
Suggestions for prayer: Ask God to place on you a love for His Word and to light your path.
For further study: Make a study of all the places in scripture where God reveals His will. Copy them down and share them with your family at the dinner table (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Ask your family to join in and add to the family collection of God’s revealed will.
Every day the power of God’s word is priceless when you listen and apply. At times, these words can be a reminder when we start to rely on ourselves or other times His word can be a resurrection when you have tried to live life without Him. I can validate both because I have lived life in both arenas. In our moments of fear, joy, loneliness, and happiness God is with us always. Stories shared through the biblejournal.net connect real stories back to the real word of the Lord. These stories connect us with each other and ultimately back to God. In our conversations, actions, time, and prayers we serve in the name of Jesus who holds it all. This week I have read multiple verses in our scripture that connected with my heart in different moments. Psalm 107 repeats a verse that I’m reminded of as I share the joy I find in the Lord with some loving relatives and faith that He has a divine plan for us.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. Psalm 107:6
I plan to share this link with my two special uncles this morning who I have both talked about God with. My prayer is God touches their hearts and a relationship is established. Enjoy Uncle Carl & Fred!
Our God will and does make a difference in all you do. He is also called the Great Comforter. ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-5). In Psalm 107:6, 107:13, 107:19, 107:28 these words are repeated by various people including those who were lost Psalm 107:4-9, those in the dark Psalm 107:10-16, those who are sick Psalm 107:17-19, and those who are in a storm at sea. Psalm 107:23-27. No matter where you are at spiritually now, God is able to help. He loves us and has grace and kindness for those in distress. God has done it all and we have so much to thank him for. When you live in His presence things are different and you want to tell others. Share the amazing ways he has changed your life.
So if you are lost, confused, hurt, tired, or searching for God He will answer. Anyone can receive the offer of Jesus to satisfy your pain. Jesus is the answer when its hard to get any sleep. The answer when there is loneliness in your heart. Jesus is the Way (John 14:6), the Bread of Life (John 6:35) , and the Giver of rest (Matthew 11:28-30). You can call on him at any moment and receive this life-giving offer.
Thanks for all you do. Thank you for the words that point us to Christ. We come to you in need of rest and renewing of our heart and mind. Help us to trust and be confident in your love for us. We love you! Amen
Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 21; 1 Thessalonians 4; Daniel 3; Psalm 107
Today’s Readings: 1 Kings 20, 1 Thessalonians 3, Daniel 2, Psalm 106
“For this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 3:7)
I just love these words from Paul. I read this chapter over and over this week, imagining myself as a new Christian in Thessalonica. Well the truth is, I am one of those new Christians. I’m just in Bloomingtonica. This weekend marks 5 years since I first made a real change for Christ. At that time I was at a lifetime low. Our son had been sick, very sick and then we were dealt a second blow. Almost by accident our pediatrician heard a heart murmur and what followed changed our lives forever. Our ten month old had two small tumors in his heart. My world crashed down around me. I couldn’t understand how a generous, giving and loving God could do something so cruel to mother and her baby. I turned from Him. I felt guilty and ashamed as if I had done something wrong earlier in my life and now I was being punished.
Often, as Christian’s I think we fall into that misconception that turning to God will help us to escape our suffering. I can remember praying harder and harder, longer and longer and being so frustrated that I wasn’t seeing any “results.” I’m smiling as I write this because of course, now I know that God used this time in my life to save my life. God rescued me through the strength and the powerful witness of another Christian. Now I understand that God doesn’t promise an easy life. He doesn’t promise to rescue us from darkness. Instead, he gives us power to grow through our suffering. Just as Paul says,
“We have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.”
He’s saying that as Christian’s it is our responsibility to encourage one another through persecution and suffering. And then he points to the great joy we feel to see another person come to faith in Jesus Christ in the midst of pain. This week, I had the opportunity to take our son who is now five to Disney World. We couldn’t afford it, but God made a way. A hurricane hit, but God made a way. Hours before we were supposed to leave, he started bleeding…we called his doctor on Saturday night and through the love and compassion of many health care workers, God made a way. On Sunday morning, I had the privilege of waking my child who has endured endless suffering to tell him his dream had come true. For three days our God held Oliver in his hand. The bleeding stopped, he had energy, he had endurance and he had joy. We watched live shows in which the villain was defeated every single time. We rode rides that made our hearts pound and our tummies flip. At the very end, while at a special Halloween party at the Magic Kingdom, we enjoyed a show at midnight. Oliver would want all of our readers to know that midnight is the latest he has ever stayed up…well except when he was in the hospital and the morphine wasn’t working (his words, not mine). He lasted until midnight out of shear determination, so that he could see the show called Happy Hallowishes. This show was a medley of all the best Disney songs while animation was projected onto Cinderella’s castle. After the songs came the most brilliant display of fireworks I’ve ever seen. I held Ollie the whole time because he was too small to see over the crowd. In the last few minutes I felt warm tears roll down his face onto mine. Our faces were pressed together as we watched the finale, our tears now mixing and falling to the pavement. Our villains have been defeated. Every single one of them. We know that there will be more pain on this earth. We know that Ollie will go back to the hospital time and time again. We know that there will be sadness and fear. But we also know that there is no financial barrier, no hurricane, no physical disease that our God cannot overcome.
Since that day when I first made an intentional change for Christ, I began living. Living for today, for the time we have now. Of course, I need reminders, all the time. That’s what my steady husband and Christian friends are for. Just as Paul says to the Thessalonians,
“…for now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.”
A few days ago, I met a mother that lost her son last month. Her son was 21, his flame blown out in an instant. She told me that her grief is insurmountable. She told me that some days she wonders what she did wrong, why God is punishing her. She’s full of guilt and sadness. I shared Paul’s words with her,
“For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.” (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4)
We are destined for affliction while we are on this earth. The strength and power and absolute majesty is in the maturation of our faith and in our togetherness as Christian’s. We can do all things in Christ who indeed strengthens us…together.