Vineyard Life Journal

An online forum for our church family to connect around our 2012 daily Bible reading plan using the S.O.A.P. method.

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Day 90

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Welcome to Day 90 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Judges 9, 10; Psalms 49; 1 Corinthians 16 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Judges 9, Account of Gideon’s (Jerub-Baal) son, Abimelek… who murdered 70 of Gideon’s sons, leaving only one that escaped. Abimelek ruled only for three years until he was killed…  v 56 “Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers.”

Judges 10:6 “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD. They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines…” And because the Israelites forsook the LORD and no longer served him, 7 he became angry with them…”

11 “When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12 the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands? 13 But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. 14

Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!”

15 But the Israelites said to the LORD, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” 16 Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD. And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.”

1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.”

O bservation

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record… Israel turns from God to worship other gods, Baal and Ashtoreths. They are surviving or oppressed for 45 years after Abilelek… Hardly living the good life in the land of milk and honey to which they had entered several generations ago. All because they turned away from the LORD.

Remember back in Numbers 33:55? “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. 56 And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.” And that’s what happened. They didn’t completely destroy the Canaanites or the Moabites and it cost them.

God’s promise was simple enough, serve me and I’ll take care of you. Or not.

It’s so hard for me to watch this history unfold.

A pplication

In our culture today, and I touched on this a while back… there is a polytheism that has crept into our society.

As we have been reading, the Bible is pretty clear about what God thinks about other gods… All roads don’t lead to God. There is one road and that is through Jesus.

Yes, there are other roads but they lead to other gods. And that’s fine if other people want to follow that road… that’s their decision.

Christians are often criticized for being narrow-minded… for thinking it’s our way or the highway. I can show respect to others and their beliefs, and I do. But in the end, the Bible is very clear that “without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin.” See Hebrews 9. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6.

P rayer

I was thinking about the parable of the sower and the seed… I always thought it should be titled differently, because it’s more about soil… the soil of our heart, to receive God’s word and to let it grow and bear fruit.

But there are so many distractions, cares and worries that can choke that growth.

Lord, I want to have a heart that is good soil. Thank you for your word, for how clear it is that you just want us to love, trust, follow and worship you. And only you.

Join me for coffee!

Hey everyone!

I thought it would be fun for all our Life Journal-ers to get together in real life… over a cup of coffee!

In the world of twitter, it’s called a “tweet-up.”

It’s so easy to just connect on the Life Journal blog, or via facebook, but nothing can replace getting together in real life, face to face.

This will give us all a chance to put faces to all those comments being left by Dan, Shknick, Anne, Nicole, Lisa, Cheryl, Elizabeth, Stevebo, Cathy and so many others.

(And to the 250+ viewers that check out the blog EVERY DAY!)

No huge agenda… no pop quizzes. Just coffee and maybe a little sharing about our journey together through the Bible.

WHEN: Saturday, April 14, 2012, 10:00-11:00 AM

WHERE: The Lodge at the Vineyard church, 4051 Indian Ripple Rd., Beavercreek, OH.

Please RSVP by comment to this blog to let us know if you’re coming! I’ll be reposting this blog a few times leading up to the event.

I hope you can make it!


P.S. If you want to bring a breakfast item to share, that would be great!

Day 89

Friday, March 30, 2012

Welcome to Day 89 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Judges 8; Psalms 42; 1 Corinthians 15 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Judges 8, Gideon finished off the Midianites, declines ruling over Israel… then foolishly sets up an ephod for his people to worship. (Following in his father’s footsteps in the sin of idolatry.) He dies at the end of the chapter.

Amazing the courage with which he fought… btw. Going from hiding in a winepress to killing men on the battlefield, straight up.

Psalm 42, One of my favorite Psalms… A great Psalm to read when one is down. The Psalmist reminds himself to put his hope in God. Questions why his soul is downcast…

v 11 “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

1 Corinthians 15:12 “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless… and so is your faith.” (Emphasis is mine.)

v 58, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always

give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,

because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

O bservation

Very few people life a flawless life of faith. It’s usually a mixture of triumphs and tragedies. Gideon went from hiding to leading a victory over the Midianite army… He makes a great statement when declining the offer to lead Israel, Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.”

And then he set up an ephod to worship. Sad… Seriously makes me scratch my head.

There but for the grace of God go I.

A pplication

I am reminded almost daily of the marathon we run as believers. Easy to run all out for a hundred meters… not so easy to run the distance, day after day after day after day…

I wonder what idols could become a snare to me… to my family?

As Paul said, “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord.”

P rayer

I need your strength to run this race over the long haul… Give me wisdom to avoid idols that could be a snare. To always give myself fully to your work.



Day 88

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Welcome to Day 88 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Judges 6, 7; Psalms 52; 1 Corinthians 14 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Judges 6:1 “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.”

7 “When the Israelites cried out to the LORD because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

12 “When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” 13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 “The LORD turned to him and said,

“Go in the strength you have

and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” 15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel?

My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

Judges 7 “The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. 8 Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.”

15 “He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” 16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.”

20 “Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.”

Psalm 52:8 “I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. 9 For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for

your name is good.”

1 Corinthians 14, “The one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.”

18 “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

O bservation

God uses broken people… Gideon didn’t see himself as God saw him. “My clan is the weakest, and I am the least in my family…” Not a great self-image of a mighty warrior as the angel referred to him.

And God doesn’t fight battles, or call us to fight battles, in conventional ways. Gideon started with 32,000 men. Paired down to 10,000 men, paired down to 300 men armed with a trumpet, a torch and a bowl.


Imagine being one of those remaining 300 men. And all you have is a trumpet, a torch and a bowl.

Oh… of course they won the battle.

Love the verses from Psalm 52. He saw himself as an “olive tree flourishing in the house of God.”

Compare that statement to Gideon’s…

“I am the least in my family.” vs. “I am an olive tree flourishing in the house of God.”

1 Corinthians 14 is loaded with blog-worthy content… about prophecy and tongues and doing things decently and in order. But if the assignment is to focus on what stands out in each day’s readings… I need to focus on Gideon.

A pplication

This message has been preached for centuries… “Go in the strength you have, mighty man of valor.”

How God sees us, at times, is vastly different from how we see ourselves. How God fights battles is very different from how we might choose to fight them. His ways are higher than our ways. Etc, etc, etc.

How do I see myself? As the least in my family? Or a mighty man of valor?

I may never use the language David used, “an olive tree flourishing in the house of God,” but I like the imagery. Do I see myself as flourishing or floundering? Do I see what God sees when I look in the mirror? Am I content with trusting God and fighting the battles in life the way God instructs, or am I hiding in a winepress in fear?

God gives us what we need when we need it. If he calls me to fight a battle, he will arm me for it. We might think we need 32,000 to win… He says we need only 300.

As Paul said, “His strength is made perfect in weakness.” It’s not OUR strength that matters… it’s HIS strength.

God said, “Go in the strength that you have.” Sounds like a sliding scale to me.

P rayer

Give me your strength, Lord… Give me your strategies to fight the battles that need fought.

I pray that you would strengthen each person reading this blog today!





Day 87

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Welcome to Day 87 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Judges 4, 5; Psalms 39, 41; 1 Corinthians 13 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Judges 4:1 “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, now that Ehud was dead. 2 So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan…”

This was one of the most confusing chapters I’ve read… so many characters to keep straight! Bottom line, yet again, Israel’s disobedience and failure to destroy the Canaanites has cost them dearly.

Deborah is the only female judge mentioned in the Bible. She led a successful counterattack against the forces of Jabin, king of Canaan and his military commander Sisera in chapter 4.  Jael, the wife of Heber, a Kenite tent maker killed Sisera! (By driving a tent peg through his temple as he slept! Ouch!)

Deborah and Jael were two strong women!

Deborah Under the Palm Tree by Adriene Cruz

Psalm 39:7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for?

My hope is in you.”

Psalm 41 is a Psalm of David… penned while on his sickbed, he finds strength and hope in the Lord and in his promises and in his own personal experience with God.

1 Corinthians 13 is one of the great portions of scripture in the entire Bible. Read at nearly every wedding, this is the classic chapter regarding the importance of faith, hope and love. That without love we are nothing… no matter how gifted or prophetic we may be. We can give everything we have to the poor, but if we are not loving, it gains us nothing.

O bservation

Someone has to step up to the plate. Israel had been subdued by the Canaanites for twenty years. The time had come for them to fight back. Judges 4:8, “Barak said to her [Deborah], “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”

Amazing how we can draw strength from one another. Barak was taking TEN THOUSAND MEN with him, but Deborah, agreeing to go with him gave him the courage to fight this battle.

Deborah must have been an amazing leader, possessing great strength, wisdom and courage.

A pplication

I am not one who thinks I have much to prove to anyone. At this point in my life I am fairly secure in who I am and to what I have been called. I can lead when called upon, and I am a pretty good follower, because I believe it’s important to model that as much as modeling good leadership.

I often draw on the strength of others. I believe in the wisdom of “the multitude of counselors.” I appreciate other leader’s perspective and insight. I gather information, think things through and attempt to make good decisions or implement strategies that make sense.

And I am pretty quick on my feet.

My spiritual gifts are wisdom, leadership, administration, pastor and prophetic. I am very comfortable operating in the gift mix the Lord has given me. I know I’m not Doug Roe or Marc Dupont. I’m not Jeremy Riddle or Chris Tomlin. I’m Scott Sliver. And I’m ok with that.

God has gifted each of us, as we read yesterday and today, differently, according to his will. We should rest in what God has called each one of us to (poor sentence structure, I know.) I need to recognize the gifts in those around me and allow them to function in their gifting, even drawing on that.

We are fortunate to have an amazing staff at the Vineyard. As well as a deep well of gifted ministry partners with whom we are serving alongside.

We all need each other. The church, the body of Christ, was not designed for us to operate independently, but interdependently. The hand, feet, eyes, etc, all functioning in concert.

P rayer

Thank you Lord for the gifts you pour into our lives. Help us to walk in that gifting, “letting our light shine before men that they would see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.”



Day 86

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Welcome to Day 86 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Judges 1, 2, 3; 1 Corinthians 12 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Judges 1 Israel fought the remaining Canaanites but didn’t finish the job. And of course, it comes back to bite them…

Judges 2, “Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors,

another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.

11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress. 16 Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders.”

Summary in two words, disobedience and defeat.

Judges 3, a deceptive assassination and more warring against the Moabites.

1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.”

Obvious answer to that rhetorical question?


vs 11, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”

O bservation

So much to chew on today. I find myself very sad as I read from Judges… That the generations that knew the great things that God had done for them, Egypt, the Red Sea, the pillar of smoke, the tabernacle, etc…

Judges 2:10, “another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.”

How is that possible??

As much as I’d like to focus on the body analogy, I’m going to focus on Judges 2…

A pplication

Did you notice? Throughout Joshua, there is very little mentioned about the Tabernacle or the Law. Mostly war and taking the land that God had promised them. Only twice is the Tabernacle mentioned in Joshua. (Chapter 22.)

Keep in mind that Joshua and Caleb were the only men over age 20 to enter the Promised Land.

I know after having raised our four kids (ages 19, 21, 23 and 25) that it really does take dedication and focus living our faith, day in and day out, month after month, year after year. They had to see us living it out over the long haul. As God told Moses in Deuteronomy 6 “These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you,

your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God

as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life…” And it goes on from there… all the promises that God made to Israel, to their children, to their children’s children… if…

My kids are all young adults now. All across the board in terms of where they are at spiritually. They all believe in God. The foundation has been laid. But now it’s up to them.

Will they marry the right person? Will they serve other gods? What will they teach to THEIR children. Remains to be seen.

Having said all that, here’s the reality… It’s MY job to teach my kids. Not the school, at which there is no prayer allowed… Or even a Christian school’s job to teach my kids. It’s their job to support. Same with the church.

The church only has our kids a couple of hours per week… that’s if we show up regularly.

It’s what our kids SEE us living out every day that is etched into their hearts and minds and spirit. When we have a problem… when THEY have a problem, do we apply godly, biblical principles and pray? Or do we handle things the way the world does. Do we grumble and gossip or do we bless those who curse us? If someone asks for our coat, do we give them our cloak also? Go the second mile? Turn the other cheek?

I never wanted to be the father who was a pastor. I wanted to be the father who was a Christian. I don’t want to be known as a pastor in the community, but a man with integrity who happens to be a pastor. I don’t want to stay married to prove it can be done. I want to love my wife as Christ loved the church, thereby doing my part to keep our marriage in tact. I want my wife to WANT to be and stay married to me. I wanted my kids to SEE what how to walk out a life of faith. To see what a marriage can be. Including the warts that go with it.

Have I succeeded? Remains to be seen. The foundation has been laid… The seeds planted, but the harvest takes a time… a lifetime in fact. Not all the seeds we planted were good, I’m sure. We’ve made our mistakes, we have our flaws. I’d say it’s like being a doctor, “practicing” medicine. We’re all just working it out.

We’ll see…

The community of Israel was hundreds of thousands… Their parents all died in the wilderness… for their disobedience. I’m guessing beyond the sacrifices and festivals, they didn’t do a very good job of Deuteronomy 6-ing their faith… Obviously by Judges 2 they had failed miserably. They couldn’t even drive out the Canaanites.

P rayer

Lord, I pray that my kids… our kids would know you… More than your laws… your ways.

Day 85

Monday, March 26, 2012

Welcome to Day 85 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Joshua 23, 24; Psalms 44; 1 Corinthians 11 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Joshua 23, “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. 7 Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. 8 But you are to hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have until now.”

Joshua 24:15, “if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then

choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…”

16 “Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods!”

v 29 “After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten.”

Psalms 44:1-3, “We have heard it with our ears, O God; our ancestors have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago. 2, With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our ancestors; you crushed the peoples and made our ancestors flourish. 3 It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.”

1 Corinthians 11… Paul’s instruction regarding praying with one’s head covered or uncovered, and the Lord’s Supper/Communion.

O bservation

Interesting comparing Joshua’s final address to Moses’… Both instruct the people to follow the LORD. To remember his statutes and the covenant he made with them. Moses lived just ten years longer than Joshua…

A pplication

I love Joshua’s charge to the people, “Choose this day whom you will serve.”

I believe I face that same challenge every day. That’s not just an “in the future” thing… it’s now. Each day… Will I make the choice to follow the Lord and his ways? Or will I choose something else?

P rayer

Psalm 44:4-8, “You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob. 5 Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes. 6 I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; 7 but

you give us victory

over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. 8 In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.” Amen

Day 84

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Welcome to Day 84 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Joshua 21, 22; Psalms 47; 1 Corinthians 10 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Joshua 21, “So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 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. 45

Not one

… of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”

Joshua 22:24-27, 29, “We did it for fear that some day your descendants might say to ours, ‘What do you have to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? 25 The LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you—you Reubenites and Gadites! You have no share in the LORD.’ So your descendants might cause ours to stop fearing the LORD. 26 “That is why we said, ‘Let us get ready and build an altar—but not for burnt offerings or sacrifices.’ 27 On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the LORD at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings.” 29 “Far be it from us to rebel against the LORD and turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle.”

Psalm 47, “God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. 9 The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted.”

1 Corinthians 10:12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And

God is faithful;

he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

O bservation

First observation from the passage in Joshua… The eastern tribes built an altar as a reminder that though they had not crossed the Jordan river, they were still part of the community. They wanted to make sure that down the road they were viewed as such.

Yet again, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness. He’s faithful to his promises, to his people and to watch over us.

2 Timothy 2:13, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

A pplication

Regarding the building of that altar… in the short term, they were perceived as disobedient. The lesson here, a little communication goes a long way. They could have simply informed Joshua of their intent to build an altar simply for a reminder… that it would never be used to sacrifice a burnt offering.

I love that God is faithful. He remains faithful.

What about if/when we are faithless?? He is still faithful. He cannot deny who he is!

P rayer

Thank you for that Lord… that you remain faithful! Strengthen me to remain faithful to you!

Click here to listen to one of my favorite worship songs about our Faithful Father.

Day 83

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Welcome to Day 83 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Joshua 18, 19, 20; 1 Corinthians 9 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Joshua 18-19, Final allotments of land being distributed to the remaining tribes…

The tent of meeting was set up again. (Wondering how much time has passed since they crossed the Jordan? Days? Maybe weeks?)

Joshua 20, the cities of refuge are established. (Good to know God is looking out for people who have accidentally killed someone so they are safe as they await trial…)

1 Corinthians 9, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

O bservation

I like when the Old Testament readings make it easy for me to focus on the New Testament reading for the day. I love the letters Paul wrote to the Christians/churches in all the different cities…

For some reason, Paul felt the need to defend his “Apostleship.” At one point, he even used the term “super Apostles” (2 Corinthians 11 and 12) to refer to the other Apostles… haha. So he gave his resume over and over about the work he has done, the hardships he has endured and finally, in this chapter, he exclaims, “Have I not seen our Lord, Jesus?” (One of the marks of the early Apostles.) He even quotes “Don’t muzzle the ox when it’s treading the corn” in Deuteronomy 25:4, to justify his receiving support to continue his missionary work.

Paul was a straight shooter. But I love his approach to reaching people of all kinds. Remember in Athens in Acts when he saw the altar to the unknown god… he used that as a point of ministry. “This unknown god is the God I proclaim to you on this day! Jesus.”

Paul was willing to do whatever it took to preach the gospel. “Gospel” means “good news.” It’s always good news.

A pplication

I don’t like preaching doom and gloom. I don’t like talking about Hell. I would much rather tell the good news of how Jesus changed my life! I’d much rather talk about how much God loves us.

Paul was focused and used two analogies to describe that focus. A runner and a boxer. He said, “Run the race to win.” And, no shadow boxing. Be focused. Work hard. He told Timothy to work hard like a farmer, expecting a crop for your hard work.

He said, “I beat my body into submission.” That’s determination…

As believers, sometimes we have to do that… for the sake of the Gospel.

P rayer

Lord, give me THAT kind of determination. THAT kind of focus. THAT ability to connect with all kinds of people… that I might win some.

P.S. Someone told me last night that I am an “overachiever” in regards to my Life Journal… haha. I just want you to know that it’s easy to be an overacheiver when you have a few hundred people looking on every day.

This has been a great journey for me thus far. I am getting so much out of this trip through the Bible… and I’m so thankful to have you all on this journey with me… I believe this is going to have a huge impact on our church now, and in the future.

I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment to this blog! It keeps me running… yea, it keeps me running. (Doobie Brothers reference there! haha)

Day 82

Friday, March 23, 2012

Welcome to Day 82 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Joshua 15, 16, 17; 1 Corinthians 8 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Joshua 15:63, “Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah.”

Joshua 16:10, “They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor.”

Joshua 17:12, “Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. 13 However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.”

1 Corinthians 8:9,

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall., concerning eating food that had been sacrificed to idols…”

O bservation

The Israelites did not completely destroy all the people living in the land or drive them out of the land they were about to occupy, allowing them to live near them or as servants. Guessing down the road this will come back to bite them…

Focusing today on this idea of not causing others to stumble in their faith…

Always an interesting and difficult discussion, because on one hand, I am not responsible for the decisions that others make regarding such matters. Yet, I also don’t want to be responsible for someone making a decision to do something that goes against their conscience, causing them to sin.

A pplication

Paul expanded on this issue in Romans 14, one of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible, because it gives guidelines for making decisions regarding topics that are not otherwise clearly defined in the Bible as being “right” or “wrong.” Sin or not…

Of course we don’t struggle over eating meat that has been sacrificed to an idol. It just doesn’t happen in America in 2012. It could still be an issue in other parts of the world, but not here.

Our struggle may lie in other, yet similar, issues such as drinking wine, is it ok to go to movies, what music is ok, things like that.

For the topics in the Bible that are not clearly defined as sin… or let me say it this way, some things are obvious, Old Testament or New… Adultery is wrong. It’s black and white. Same with murder.

But what about going to movies that are PG13 or R? Does the content matter? Violence, language, sexual situations etc… The Bible doesn’t say, “Don’t go to movies.” But Jesus did say that the eye is the lamp of the body. Certainly, what we take in affects us… Those images are stored on the hard drive of our hearts and minds.

If I know that you used to worship in the temple of Diana/Artemis (in Ephesus) and I got meat from there… and I invited you over for dinner… it would be inconsiderate to serve that meat to you, knowing you came out of that.

Yes, I could say, “It’s a dumb idol. It’s nothing.” But, to you, it WAS and MAY STILL BE something. It could offend your conscience. I could cause you to stumble in your faith because of my freedom or liberty in that area.

Perhaps the meat we eat is not an issue, but you bring a bottle of wine to the dinner at our house, and we do not drink. I can either make an issue out of it, or I can simply allow you to drink it and enjoy it.

But what if you know I had an issue with alcoholism… and you bring the bottle of wine to my house. That could cause ME to stumble.

Obviously this is a sliding scale and is not a “one size fits all” conversation or solution. It’s a sensitivity issue or a consideration issue.

If one simply says, “That’s THEIR problem! I can drink it if I want to!” That may be true, but it’s highly insensitive and very selfish.

Some people are more offended by violence in a movie, others, strong language is offensive. Sexual situations can often be a stumbling block to a person’s faith. If a guy has an issue with pornography, knowingly watching a movie with sexual content is unwise, to say the least.

Most of Paul’s letters, especially 1 and 2 Corinthians were written to help Christians sort out issues of faith. The Law was clear, right and wrong. Black and white.

But they wrestled with, “Should Gentile believers have to be circumcised?” They landed on no, but still Paul told Timothy to be circumcised so that it wouldn’t become an issue down the road for him. (Timothy’s father was Greek, his mother was Jewish.)

Bottom line? Unless you are absolutely certain where others stand, better to err on the side of caution and in deference to others than to potentially cause someone to stumble.

And, just for the record, yes, one can carry this out to the nth degree and attempt to live life so as to not cause ANYONE to stumble… That is probably not possible, but it is a worthy goal. To a degree…

Maturity says, “I may not eat meat that has been sacrificed to an idol, but if you’re ok with it, then enjoy.” I can not make MY issue YOUR issue, because I am secure in my faith.

Make sense?

P rayer

Give me wisdom and sensitivity, Lord… Paul said, “Follow my example as I follow Christ’s example.” Words to live by…

I pray for all those looking on to today’s blog that Lord, you would speak to our hearts and give us wisdom and sensitivity regarding such matters, that we would all walk this out together in community, understanding that our freedom, can have an effect on those around us.

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