Welcome to Read the Bible 2012!

In order to encourage you in your own Read the Bible in 2012, I'm blogging the highlights of my daily read through the Bible. I'll plan to post 3 times a week. Remember, these are just my initial observations, questions and responses to my morning reading, not clearly thought out doctrinal positions. I'd love to hear from you about what God seems to be showing you in the text. Please leave a comment.
I am using the schedule in the back of my ESV Study Bible. There are a variety of excellent reading schedules you can find at www.esv.org.
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
(Psalm 119:27 ESV)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Great Is the Lord!

Psalm 40
All right, can we all just stop and memorize this incredible Psalm! What an encouragement! He set my feet upon a rock; He drew me up from the pit; He put a new song in my heart. 
V.4 is a great promise, Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust. What does that look like in your life? V.5, None can compare with you . . . so why do we so often settle for less Lord?
V.10, the psalmist refuses to be quiet about what the Lord has done for him. Are you speaking up about what the Lord has done for you!
Check out v.16, But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually "Great is the Lord." Are you saying this continually?!! We need to be. I want to be! Great is the Lord!

Genesis 37
You can see this one coming, the trouble Joseph is going to get into with his brothers. He gives his dad a bad report of his brothers' activities, he tells on them; he gets a special coat from his Dad, and his brothers are jealous. Then he reveals a dream to his brothers about how they will all bow down to him. This has sell your brother to slave traders written all over it.
Interesting that it's Reuben who wants to intercede for Joe. Maybe he is more mature, maybe he has kids of his own and appreciates how Joseph's loss will impact his dad.
Jacob pondering Joseph's dream reminds me of Mary pondering all those things about Jesus in her heart.
The sale price for Joseph, shekels of silver, anticipates the betrayal of Jesus. 

2 Chronicles 14
Asa sounds like a great King. I love how his reforms are said to bring rest to Israel. What a blessing. Asa plunders the Ethopians, recalls Moses plundering the Egyptians. Asa's declaration reminds me of David's Psalm 40 we read today. V.11, Asa says, Oh Lord there is none like you to help.

Acts 8
This is a great chapter in Acts, with two great characters - Simon the Magician, and the Ethopian Eunuch.
The Church is being persecuted and that sends the gospel beyond Judea, just as Jesus had foretold at His ascension, Acts 1.8: You will be my witnesses . . . 
Simon, you wonder, did things ever turn around for him? Did he repent, or was it too late? - See Peter's comment, pray to the Lord that if possible . . . 
The Holy Spirit is withheld until it can be witnessed by Peter and John, so they could affirm the Samaritans were truly in Christ.
Philip and the Ethopian reminds me much of the Road to Emmaus encounter. It's on the road. Philip shows the eunuch the gospel as it appears in the OT. Philip vanishes after, like Jesus vanishes from the disciples' sight in Luke 24. Are you willing to share the gospel with those who ask for an explanation? Do you know His word so you can be prepared?

I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. Psalm 40.8

Thursday, February 9, 2012

David, Esau, Abijah, and Stephen

Psalm 39
These sound like hard days for David. He's holding something in, about to explode, and then he does according to the end of v.3.
In vv.4-6 he's asking the Lord to enforce in his mind the brevity of life. Why? Is it to discourage the pursuit of foolish gain? Is this a don't sweat the silly stuff self talk? V.7, My hope is in you Lord. Vv.10-11 tell me this is a time of enduring God's discipline in David's life, coming via David's enemies. David is like, enough already Lord, your discipline is killing me.  What honesty with God. No doubt God can handle and welcomes the pouring out of my troubled heart.

Genesis 36 
Not a real exciting chapter. Esau's still taking wives from the Canaanites, a pagan people. This can't be good. We also see that Esau and Jacob can't live together because of their great wealth. I suppose a conflict because of expanding territories would be inevitable, and eventually they would battling over what belongs to whom. But I do find it sad, these brothers couldn't live in peace because they had to much stuff. We are surely going to see this again.

2 Chronicles 13
We are past the time of Solomon and David, and now we are reviewing the succession of the Kings of Judah. Here's Abijah in chapter 13, Solomon's grandson. He's having it out with Jerboam, King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In v.5, covenant of salt - what is that? My notes in my study Bible aren't real helpful here.
I appreciate Abijah's confidence in the Lord, in his pre-battle speech. Too bad the North didn't take heed - a civil war that cost half a million Israeli lives - really? Wow. I know there is some discussion about how the Hebrew numbers should be translated - need to learn more.
I am also thinking that in the Chronicles, the author is going easier on these Kings, then the Books of Kings do, lifting up more of what God was accomplishing by His grace through them, rather than highlighting their adultery and wickedness. I will keep an eye on this as we move toward the exile.

Acts 6.8-7.60
This is a huge section. The charges against Stephen and his death certainly recall the experiences of Jesus. Stephen is accused of speaking against the temple and the law - like Jesus. And then - talk about a sermon that didn't go over well. At the end they cry out, plug their ears, rush Stephen, cast him out and stone him. And wow - guess who is there watching it all.- Saul/Paul. Then Stephen is praying like Jesus did on the cross, except he is praying to Jesus - Lord Jesus receive my Spirit. I wonder if anyone was converted at the death of Stephen. Surely it made an  impression on Saul. What was it like when Saul and Stephen met in heaven? Stephen stoned for Christ - Paul decapitated for Christ.

Keep reading. God's Word is living and active and it will teach you and train you and correct you and rebuke you, making you ready and able to do God's work. Great job!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Praise Befits the Upright, Some Crazy Breeding Programs

Psalm 33
Praise befits the upright. What does that mean? I think it's saying we should be praising the Lord; from the mouths of righteous people we should be hearing expressions of praise, and thanksgiving to God. How is that going for you? Can you stop right now and praise God. Use the words of this very psalm to help you.
V.12, Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD - oh if this was true for you America. See v.16, our great strength can not deliver us. He delivers those who fear Him and hope in Him.
Psalm 33.20-22 would be a great memory verse. I dare you to memorize it.

Genesis 29.31-30.43
What kind of contest is this? I'm just seeing this for the first time, Leah and Rachel's son breeding program laid along side Jacob's sheep breeding program.
Rachel demanding from Jacob give me children or I will die. Poor Jacob. Is it his fault? Maybe it is. He certainly doesn't seem to be providing godly leadership. He lets his wives buy and sell him, and lays with their servant girls. What a strange way to launch a nation.
Do you get the whole sheep breeding program? What is it about the the pealed sticks that causes the speckled sheep? Any ranchers out there to explain this one?

2 Chronicles 7
We are here. We have come to the one chapter in the two books of Chronicles that most of us know a verse contained within. I'm talking about 2 Chronicles 7.14. What I'm observing in this passage is two recipes, one for restoration and one for disaster. Of course the recipe for restoration comes from our v.14 - humble themselves, pray, seek My face and turn from their wicked ways - and what results? God will hear, forgive and heal.
Check out recipe for disaster in v.19 - turn aside, forsake the Lord's commands, go and serve other gods and worship them - and what results? God will pluck, cast away, and make us an object of ridicule.
Pray for the restoration of our nation and that we might be spared the disaster. These prayers definitely apply on a personal level as well. Can you see how?

Luke 23.26-56
I recently preached these verses, the first sermon on the crucifixion and the second on the death of Jesus. The conversation among the three dying men still awes me. What a picture of the two responses to the gospel, to disdain Jesus, or plead with Him for mercy. The Lord's statement to the second criminal, Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise. It's one of the most fantastic statements in all of Scripture, so loaded with meaning. I encourage you to go to poulsbocc.com and download that message.
What most impresses you about the crucifixion account here? How about His death?
Jesus loves you! Love Him back!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Into Your Hands Psalm, Jacob's Ladder, Ark Moved

Psalm 31
This is the Psalm Jesus quotes, His last words on the cross. Into your hand I commit my spirit. David was praying for deliverance from enemies when he prayed this. Jesus was also praying for deliverance, trusting that God would save him, even from death. It is definitely a prayer of faith. Note how many times in this Psalm David declares he trusts the Lord.
Here's a great promise in v.19 -
Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
 What is the great encouragement for you in v.24? -    
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
        all you who wait for the LORD!

Genesis 28.10-22
I can imagine Jacob being fearful about all that was ahead, leaving home, perhaps for the first time, he's just lost his father, his brother wants to kill him. How gracious of God to meet him in this place and extend to him the covenant He made with Abraham and Isaac.To hear from the Lord in this moment that Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go. What a promise. 
We have that same promise in Christ and it seems to me our response to that promise should be like Jacob's - Worship the LORD - Commit our lives to Him, a commitment that will cost us in tangible ways.
Have you made this commitment to the Lord yourself???

2  Chronicles 5
Big day - the Ark is moved to the temple. Then God shows up in a big way with the cloud. This is the cloud that indicated his presence with Israel during the Exodus. Note editor insertion about the poles in v.10 - And they are there to this day. Does this mean the poles were there in the rebuilt temple at the time of this book being written, i.e. restoration period. Does this mean the poles are all that's left? Has the Ark been destroyed?
I thought there was other stuff in the ark - Aaron's staff and a jar of manna???
A truth to believe - For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Luke 22.1-46
Wow, Luke is picking up the pace as we move toward the cross. So much happens in these 46 verses - Judas makes his deal; Jesus institutes the Lord's Supper; Jesus predicts Peter's denial; Jesus praying at Gethsemane. How weak are we as seen in the actions of the men in these chapters. We need a savior. 
I love, I mean I really love v.32. Jesus telling Peter He prays for him, that his faith might not fail, and then commissions him, that when Peter turns again, back to Christ, he will strengthen his brothers. 
Jesus is praying for you, believer, that your faith will not fail. He prays for your restoration from sin, and he calls you to strengthen fellow strugglers. Who could you strengthen even today?? You can do it! Jesus is praying for you!!

Are you seeing the fruits of being in God's Word after a whole month of reading through the Bible? Tell me about it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Vindication, Abraham Dies, David Dies, Jesus on Humility.

Psalm 26
Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. So I'm thinking the context here is that someone has falsely accused David, and instead of defending himself, David is asking the LORD to defend him. That is some wise counsel. Linc, you don't need to defend yourself, let God do it. And then take the vow of v.11, But as for me, I shall walk in integrity; redeem me and be gracious to me.
Then the psalm closes with a vow to worship the Lord. 

Genesis 25.1-18
Interesting, Abraham takes a 2nd wife. Lives 175 years. Ishmael and Isaac are brought together by the death of their father. I think Abraham would have liked that. So is Ishmael the father of the Persians?? Is Esau the father of the Arabs?? Anybody know?

1 Chronicles 29.22-30
Here we are at the end of our first book. David dies at a good age, full of days, riches and honor. Sounds great! It sounds like Solomon is firmly established on the throne. This 2nd coronation was David trying to make the road ahead for Solomon easier - trying to defuse future challenges to Solomon's right to rule. David was really thinking ahead, regarding the Lord's house, and his descendants' rule. But in the end it wasn't David who made Solomon great, but the Lord - see v.25.
What am I doing now to prepare my children to serve the Lord after I am dead and in heaven? How about you?

Luke 18.1-30
Jesus is looking for a few humble men. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is a classic. The tax collector can't even lift up his eyes to heaven. Wow! What sin would you confess in light of this parable?
Then there is Jesus calling his disciples to receive the kingdom of God like a child. And then you've got the ruler who tells Jesus He's kept all the commandments - humility needed here! What keeps you humble??

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Shepherd Psalm, Sacrifice of Isaac, Roll Call, and Lost Things

Psalm 23
In today's reading we encounter two of the best known chapters in the Bible, Psalm 23, the Shepherd's Psalm, and Luke 15, The Parable of the Prodigal. I was looking at this Psalm with my daughters this morning. They keyed on vv.3 and 4. It's the Lord who restores my soul; if I'm to walk in paths of righteousness, the Lord has to lead me. He does it for His glory, not for mine - for His name's sake.
Our church family has been walking through the valley of the shadow of death, having recently lost a dear family member. I think about Donald Grey Barnhouse's illustration about the death of his wife, and how Jesus was hit by death, but only the shadow of death passes over the believer. WOW. I will fear no evil. What does that look like in the life of a believer, not fearing evil? Obviously it involves completely trusting God - I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. God help me to believe and embrace every truth in this Psalm. No wonder it's everyone's favorite.

Genesis 22
I'm struck by how much Genesis 22.2 sounds like John 3.16. This chapter is full of parallel's Christ to Isaac, looking ahead to God's provision of salvation in Jesus. See how Abraham tells the servants that he and Isaac will be returning. Abraham really did believe the LORD, that his offspring would come through Isaac.
Last Sunday I was asking one of our Sunday School kids what animal was sacrificed by Abraham in this passage, rather than Isaac. He told me a moose. - Okay, I didn't see that one coming. A MOOSE?

1 Chronicles 27
Some more lists. God what do you want to show us with these lists? Here's one cool insight - given how we are studying the life of Abraham at the same time, and just read God's promise to make Abraham's descendants as numerous as the stars, and the sands - God has done it. By the time we get to 1 Chronicles, here we have lists of thousands, hundreds of thousands of living descendants of Abraham in the time of David. See the note in v.23 to that very effect. God you did it all through Isaac. Amazing. How can I doubt your promises????
Is this the result of the census that David got in so much trouble for - 3 days of plague?

Luke 15
Is there a better chapter in the Bible?  The stories of the Lost Things. We spent 5 weeks on this chapter in our Sunday studies a while back. I love how in v.21 the lost son isn't able to get his prepared speech of repentance out, before his Father interrupts him with instructions for the party to be thrown in celebration of his homecoming. I love how the passage makes the point we are all lost. See the increasing percentages. 1% of sheep lost; 10% of coins lost, 50% of sons lost . . . scratch that last one . . . turns out both boys are lost, one in sin of rebellion, other in sin of self righteousness - 100% sons lost - i.e. we are all lost. 
What's your favorite verse in Luke 15? Do you see your story of salvation in this parable?
I am praying that you will keep reading. Great job!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rejoicing, Laughing, Singing, and Healing

Psalm 21
Did you see the structure in this Psalm? Blessings in the first half and curses in the second. Then at the end a statement of praise. Which is your favorite blessing? I want v.6 - You make Him glad with the joy of his presence. I encourage you to pray, Lord, make me glad with the joy of your presence!
I shared v.13 with Pastor Gordy this morning prior to worship - Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power. Pastor Gordy and worship team, thank you for leading us as we sing and praise the power of God!

Genesis 21.1-21
It was okay for Sarah to laugh at the birth of Isaac, but not for Ishmael, Hagar's son. Sarah is certainly at fault her. Her solution to bareness was giving Hagar to Abraham. A child resulted and now Sarah will have none of it, or him. Sarah, we reap what we sow!
Note the Lord's promise, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named.
What is the great nation that resulted from Ishmael? I assume these were the seed nations to those nations who are so hostile to Israel today.

1 Chronicles 25
David organizes the musicians who will serve in the house of the LORD. For a guy who didn't actually build the house of the LORD, David sure got things ready to do just that. What a great encouragement to those who begin a work for the glory of God but they don't know if they will live to see the end result. Faithfulness is the key, not living to see the day.
Makes me think of Moses. Moses dying before the Israelites entered the Promised Land certainly didn't diminish Moses contribution to seeing them prepared to enter it. Prayer: Lord, give me projects to invest my resources in that are bigger than myself, or even my lifespan, for the Kingdom's sake. What a privilege just to play a part! Amen

Luke 13.10-35
Jesus heals a woman with a disabling spirit on the Sabbath and the opposition goes nuts! Jesus is like, You hypocrites, you love your donkeys and your oxen, and you couldn't care less about this daughter of Abraham suffering bound for 18 years. These guys should have been doing cartwheels of celebration, but no. Jesus puts them to shame, the people rejoice and the woman glorifies God. Here is a good text for healing ministries - who is getting the glory in those ministries, the minister or the Lord?
That makes me think. I haven't heard a lot from or about some of the those well known Word of Faith Healers like I did some 10 years ago. How about you?
Anyway, I praise God He still heals today, and everyday! He is the great physician, and the great exorcist! Glorify Him!